Biblical Horizons

This world is not my home…or is it?

Those who follow me on twitter may see several tweets with the hash-tag #Ruthproject. The Ruth project is a new work I am working with a fellow pastor from Birmingham. We are working on a commentary on Ruth. But this will not be just a normal, exegetical work, it is actually a pastoral and theological labor focusing on the nature and goal of redemptive history. We will focus on the content of Ruth’s majestic love story, but also detailing why Ruth serves as a miniature picture for all of God’s history.

We will offer a theological framework for how we are to look at redemptive history and how God is working in it. The commentary hopes to be practical, pastoral, and layman-friendly.

Here is a quote from the introduction:

What you believe about the future shapes how you live in the present.  If your final expectation is just to go and dwell forever in ethereal heaven, compare what your world view and your practice would be to someone whose final hope is of dwelling in a renovated and perfected physical creation in a resurrection body.

Lord-willing we will be able to provide a manuscript draft to our publisher by the end of the summer. Our goal is to have it published by the Family Advance Conference in November.

Saturday Night Live (SNL), DJesus Uncrossed, the Romans, the Jews and the God of the Bible

DJesus UnCrossed is SNL’s latest attempt to de-christ Christ. Of course, in our day, Jesus is easy to disrespect. One wonders if SNL would attempt a comedy journey through the life of Muhammad. No further comments needed.

David Flowers believes that the skit has something to teach us, and that we should begin to listen to our critics. He argues that the skit has hermeneutical problems, but that it shows our hypocrisy and inconsistency in our faith. Flowers argues that this is the result of an American-shaped Jesus. He is correct to assert that humor has a way of offending Christians and revealing weaknesses and hypocrisy. We should be aware of them.

The Jesus raised from the dead murdering Romans out of revenge seems bizarre in light of the biblical narrative. Flowers is correct to assert that it reveals the Jesus kick-ass motif portrayed by many in our evangelical culture. It is easy to object to the video’s false portrayals, but in what sense is this skit true, even with its exaggerative and faulty hermeneutics? There is something to be learned here. Flowers is correct that we are to listen to our critics. The point, however, is that our critics don’t go far enough.

Surely the 2nd Amendment Rights’ Jesus is very American and Neo-Conservative like. But that doesn’t even begin to describe the type of justice-driven Messiah we as Orthodox Christians believe.

For starters, we believe in a Messiah that is ascended to the right hand of the Father, and from that place of kingship rules and reigns over us and creation. He is not an unmoved Mover. Further, Jesus did not have the Romans in mind when He judged, He had the corrupt and idolatrous first century Jewish generation in mind. Upon them, He brought a profound tribulation (Mt. 24). The Gospel Lesson this Sunday is Luke 13:31-35 where Jesus laments over Jerusalem. He sought her with love, but she continued to kill and murder the prophets sent with a message of salvation and deliverance. The vengeful Jesus portrayed by SNL has no interest in context, but it should well observe that the Messiah who destroys is first the Messiah who shows mercy.

How Can we Learn from SNL?

First, Saturday Night Live is not a theology show. Its humor is devoid of accuracy, and frankly, that is not their interest. They have been on the air for 37 years because of their exaggerated (especially in the last ten years) view of current events. This is important to keep in mind.

Secondly, use these opportunities to correct false information. Bill Maher, the well-known HBO atheist host, does this better than anyone I know. He takes a portion of Scriptures and twists its meaning in a fashion that would make even the devil jealous. This is a good time for Christians to be hermeneutically savvy. In fact, go ahead and make a t-shirt with that slogan “I am hermeneutically savvy.”

Thirdly, do not allow an exclusively New Covenant narrative to shape your theology. As James Jordan observes: “The division of the Bible into “Old Testament” and “New Testament” is merely for convenience, for the Scriptures are one narrative from beginning to end.” It is important to note also that this one narrative portrays God as a God of justice who says all vengeance belongs to Him. The modern Marcionites have failed us just as much as SNL has.

Finally, remember that the life of Jesus–especially as we meditate upon it in this Lenten Season–is a life of cross before glory; suffering before resurrection. The Jesus that came out of the grave was first a Jesus that came riding on a donkey as the Prince of Peace. But that same Jesus has promised to come again riding a horse of judgment upon Jerusalem and upon all those who despise His Name.

Back Home…

I was not able to stay for the last two days of the BH Conference. Nevertheless, it was joy to get to know some of the speakers. I wish critics had a chance to spend a day with Peter Leithart. Peter is a delight to know; a godly father and a careful scholar (as we could see from his detailed presentation of Leviticus 18).

Last evening’s Vesper’s Service was truly excellent. Peter led us in liturgy and music. We conluded the evening singing what has become my favorite hymn this year called Acension written by William Owen in the 19th century.

The last stanza reads:

Hark, those bursts of acclamation,

Hark, those loud triumphant chords!

Jesus takes the highest station;

O What joy the sight affords!

Crown him! Crown him!

Crown him! Crown him!

King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.

Biblical Horizons’ Conference 2009, Day 3

I came in during Leithart’s excellent talk on Leviticus 18, which served as another demonstration of my lack of knowledge on Leviticus. Peter focused primarily on the sexual prohibitions.

Jeff Meyers followed on Luke explaining–among other things–that Reformed people need not have a phobia of the gospels. He argued that catholics typically remain in the gospel narrative, while Reformed prefer Pauline writings. Jeff explained that to understand Paul we need to grasp Luke, since Luke wrote more than Paul in terms of content.

The inimitable Rich Bledsoe spoke on the church as stupid weakness factory. He explained that the Spirit of God works in between churches; reconciling them.

I may have to drive back to Pensacola this evening, but it has been a great conference.

Biblical Horizons’ Conference 2009, Day 2

It has been a great joy thus far to be here at the BH Conference in Valparaiso. I’ve had a chance to see some old friends and meet some new friends as well. One of my greatest delights has been to spend  some time interacting with Dr. Norman Shepherd. He exemplifies godliness and Christian love.

After a wonderful evening Vesper’s Service, Jim Jordan gave his second lecture on Holy War.

We closed the evening at a local BBQ place.

Biblical Horizons’ Conference 2009, Day 1

We had a wonderful Vesper’s Service in Valparaiso. It is the official start to the BH Conference 2009. Jim Jordan led us through through a litany of prayers and chants of the Beatitudes and the Psalter. This was followed by Jim Jordan’s first talk on Leviticus and Holy War.