Those Other People, Outside the Chosen Ones (Book Review)

(a review of chapter 13 for A Theology of Luke and Acts by Darrell Bock in the Zondervan series ‘A Biblical Theology of the New Testament)

Reviewing a theology text can be tricky as people come with different filters and lenses through which their own world makes sense. With that said, Bock’s volume serves to help the reader connect the big dots when reading the Biblical texts of Luke and Acts. Why is this important? Because in our world of tweets and sound bites, we can lose sight of some pretty important ideas in an ocean of details.

The second reason Bock’s volume is important is not just that it connects the dots, but that it does in two of the New Testament’s most pivotal books. The gospel of Luke, with the Christmas narratives, the parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son, and the Crucifixion account stands as one of the most quoted and referenced books in the Bible as well as world history. Think about the impact of the Good Samaritan which has even influenced the passing of laws mandating that first responders stop at the scene of an accident. And think about how many times a parent has rehearsed the story of the Prodigal Son, praying that their wayward child would return. Bock, in chapter 13, takes on an amazing subject entitled, “Gentiles and Nations in the Gospel of Luke”. In other words, it’s Luke’s account of ‘those other people’ who are not Jews and who are not chosen.

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Treating Pastors Like Restaurant Managers

If your pastor said he is an apostle, you probably wouldn't be thrilled. You may even hit him with the five books of Moses, or smack him with the four gospels. But you would be wrong, at least according to Paul.

I recently said that we don't compare ourselves to Elijah, but (in some cases) should. Your pastor may not call himself an apostle, but maybe he should. I'm a bit bias about this, and here's why.

I was called to a spiritual office at an early age. This experience made me ask, "Why do I meet people who fell into the pastorate after an internship, or who thought becoming a pastor sounded fun?" My experience couldn't be more different than theirs. Shouldn't every position in the church be a calling?
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Fundamentalism: The Serial Killer of Biblical Interpretation

Many fundamentalists thrive on violently murdering honest biblical interpretation. I have seen it happen to others and myself: a sound scholastic reading of the Bible is presented and is denied because it doesn’t fit within religious parameters. Let’s talk about the fundamentalists, the serial killers of sound biblical interpretation, and see whose the real literalist: me or them?

First, let’s define fundamentalism:
1. A movement in 20th century Protestantism emphasizing the literally interpreted Bible as fundamental to Christian life and teaching
2. A movement or attitude stressing strict and literal adherence to a set of basic principles

Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary

Now, from Merriam-Webster’s definition, I could almost (not quite) classify myself as a Christian fundamentalist. However, I don’t think the fundamentalists I know really understand what it means to be a literalist. If we are literalists, then we need to realize a few things, like the fact that God has spoken in other ways besides for His written Word (the Bible is not our only source for knowing about our God). Most fundies I know would say, “No way! God's ultimate plan of redemption is in the Bible and therefore there is no need for Him to speak anywhere else.” Well, there is a few problems with this kind of strict Bible-only view of God’s revelation. Let’s use the Bible as our starting point to show why this view murders honest biblical interpretation.

In Rom 1:19–20, when Paul is convincing the Romans why idolatry and worshiping  Graeco-Roman gods is wrong, he does not appeal to Scripture, but to creation: “For what can be known about God is plain … because God has shown it to [everyone]. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So [idolaters] are without excuse” (ESV). When anyone makes a choice to not follow the true God, Yahweh, as He is revealed through His Son, they are without excuse, not because He revealed Himself in the Bible, but because He revealed Himself in creation.

Oh, but the serial killing of this belief about how God speaks continues on—just look at how many times Acts 17 has been brushed over, or excused. Paul during his sermon at the Areopagus (commonly known as Mars Hill) quotes the Greek poet-philosophers Epimenides of Crete and Aratus (Acts 17:28) to explain the true God, Yahweh, and His plan of redemption through His Son. He also claims that the inscription to an unknown god on one of their altars is a reference to Yahweh (Acts 17:23). Paul synchronizes (on a very simple level) the religious beliefs of the Areopagus philosophers (and the Greeks in general) with Christianity. For Paul, God has revealed Himself in many different ways.

The above examples show that most fundies are actually not literalists. Because if they were, they would have a lot broader understanding of how God reveals Himself.

So, am I a biblical literalist? In the sense that I interpret the Bible based on what it actually says, Yes! But, am I a fundamentalist? Not in the sense of affirming a set of principles outside the Bible that deny things like God’s revelation happening in creation and other literature as well. But I am a fundamentalist in the sense that I affirm the basic set of principles God has commanded me in the Bible. The Bible is fundamental to Christian life and teaching, but as the above examples show, most fundies interpret the Bible within their set tradition and in doing so often don’t allow for it to be read literally. Please make the serial killing of honest biblical interpretation stop.

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Culture & Natures


I was reading the interestingly-titled and well-written "Why Are There Never Enough Parking Spaces at the Prostate Clinic" by Carl Trueman at Reformation 21 and a sentence in his last paragraph had an important conviction/reminder for me as a Christian who somewhat of a cultural commentator.


Trueman says, "Alternatively, I could try to move out of my own little world, start thinking less in cultural and more in biblical terms.  I could become less obsessed with particularities and more concerned with universals.  I could engage less with the accidents of culture and more with the substance of nature." [emphasis mine]


That is something I wanted to bring up, especially among all of the cultural conversation on this site.  We can get so busy scanning our culture like iTunes' "cover view" feature or flippantly analyzing every cultural flash in the pan and completely miss the point as Christians.  As Christians our lives are lived in view of eternity, in view of the one and only God who creates and sustains and who has revealed Himself to us in the Bible and continues to do so every day.  These facts carry with it some fundamental truths that we, in all of our contextualizing bluster, can skim right over: God has a nature and we have a nature.  That is exactly where the greatest Christian missiologist/apologist/evangelist started his Gospel presentation in the last half of the first chapter of Romans.

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