Ethics

Art and Bible: Part 2 (JEWS IN ROME)

In Part 1 I began to mention some important background information about the church in Rome. Something else interesting and unique among Paul’s letters is his personal greeting of twenty six individuals in Rome. Why are so many people mentioned in detail. Most likely it has to do with the disunity that exists among the Christians in Rome. I think it is likely and maybe more helpful that we would consider the church in Rome to be many individuals who perhaps have little to no dealings with each other whatsoever. This could be a merely racial issue. As many of the early Christians in Rome were likely Jews who heard the gospel from those at Pentecost. These Jews being filled with the Spirit and beginning to place their hope in Christ as Messiah probably continued to meet in Synagogues and carry on being Jews in the normal sense. They needed the presence of one of the apostles to bring more clarity about what is happening. Jews without the presence of an apostle in Rome may have continued to hold Gentiles at an arm length even if they professed faith in God and now the messiah. Even though they were being filled with the spirit they may not have been welcomed so readily. No doubt this was part of the issue in Galatia. But how did Paul go about addressing issues in Rome. The other issues as I mentioned in ‘Part 1’ was that Jews had recently been expelled and then brought back to Rome. Gentile Christians in Rome had a chance to be the ‘church’ without ‘pesky’ Jews around telling them what they can and can not eat and so on. Having them back to Rome was not sitting well with some of the Gentile Christians in Rome. What is the responsibility of the apostle in this situation? How is he going to address this and bring unity and truth to the situation. Its clear that there are some potential errors on either side of the racial divide.  Jew In Rome

The picture today is interesting to me. After I finished I became aware of how extremely out of place the Jewish man seems with the Colosseum in the backdrop. This is how it must have felt for the Jews. Very out of place. And for Gentile Christians, is this how they saw them. Is this what part of what lead to the judgements and divisions between Jew and Gentile believers in the Messiah.

An interesting dilemma is brought up when we consider the earliest Jewish believers. Was it wrong for them to feel an obligation to maintain the traditions they had learned from youth while wholeheartedly embracing the messiah? I don’t believe it was. Take a look at the section in Romans when Paul addresses the area of practice. Jews maintained practices that set them apart. It is more obvious when you observe the early part of the book to see that Paul is pointing out essential areas of truth about God and what he has done to provide salvation for ‘his people’ (Jews and Gentiles). Then in the end he teaches them to learn to honor each other practices and the convictions they live by. Unity and Diversity. Something the church should always remember well.

For anyone interested by current reading list for the book of Romans is;

Paul and the Faithfulness of God – N.T. Wright

NIV Application Commentary – Douglas J. Moo

Eerdmans Introduction to NT – Joel B. Green, Paul J. Atchtemeier

Commentary on Romans – Ernst Kasemann

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Categories: Art, Bible, Church, Context, CSBS, Doctrine, Ethics, Faith, New Testament, Romans, School of Biblical Studies | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Living with Evil, living between the Cross and the Resurrection, and actively anticipating a New World.

Devotion to Saint Death in MexicoSo I’ve been reading steadily again. Also we are in full swing of things here at YWAM San Diego Baja. We have DTS running with 30+ students. We have the CSBS starting its 4th school now here with 15 students. And we have the brand new Titus Project running with nine students of which I am one.

I’ve been learning to improve my own teachings with more practical skills and a lot of good reminders and heart checks along the way. Also I read through the book “The Seven Laws of the Learner” by Bruce Wilkinson. Its been a great start to these new challenges I am excited to face over the next few months.

I’ve also begun to read the book “how to read the bible for all its worth” by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart. I read it for the first time 7 years ago when I was accepted to do the CSBS in LA. I’m enjoying it even more then I did then. I also just finished reading a wonderful short book by Richard Bauckham called “Bible and Mission”. What I wish to comment on though in this post is a topic I plan to read into further. Evil-and-the-Justice-of-God-0

I just finished the book “Evil and the Justice of God” by N.T. Wright. It is a basic 180 page run through on an intense topic. He quickly introduces the current problem of Evil that continues to be a relevant issue with the ongoing issues with the terrorist group Isis. There are other sensitive issues as a missionary that I am aware of but would rather not going into. Along with those sensitive issues there are some of my good friends who work down in the Red Light district of Tijuana. While people tell us we are foolish for being here and no matter how hard we try to convince them that we are safe. We also recognize with Samwise Gamgee that,

“It’s a dangerous business… going out your door.”

Truly anything can happen but more then that a good many things could happen. We don’t have to try to hard to use our imagination because the reality is that people often disappear in Mexico. People disappear in the USA. Big cities are a risk in general. So with all the potential for evil that looms it is for sure the because of the Grace of God that we step foot out our front doors and proceed to get in cars and drive down to the Red Light area to work with homeless men and women and attempt to bring some light, love, and life.

I am challenged to be proactively thinking about what the nature of evil really is. To write the word, to say the word, and to use it in a way the is consistent with the way scripture uses it and how God has dealt with it and plans to eradicate it. Beyond that I am challenged not just to have thoughts, or philosophies about evil but that when I come face to face with it I will have a response that is consistent with Gods own model. So how then should we be preparing ourselves. A couple months ago i finished listening to the dramatized version of the book by C. S. Lewis, “Screwtape Letters”.  In the preface he describes two wrong approaches to the demonic. One, an over emphasis on the power of demons, and dark spiritual forces of evil. Two, to not give a proper acknowledgement to the world of spirits and demons. So I feel no hesitation to prepare my own philosophy on evil, and to prepare myself for right actions or responses to the evils that may come. Of course we never fully know what we will do until such moments come.

What is our reaction and response to the crisis for Christians and citizens of Iraq and Syria under the terrorism of Isis? N.T. Wright points out that we can not draw the line with terrorists on one side of the line of evil and the innocent on the other side. Because no one is really innocent. In that he really means to say that evil is a line that runs through all men and women. Thought he avoids talking about that line running through children or infants is beside the point. All men and women from an early age develop rebellious, sinful, and yes the potential for evil. Well this is a more and more difficult thing to say in a post christian world. People used to say that divorce was a terrible scandal, homosexuality was an outrage, and pedophilia a an outright disgrace to the human race. This point Wright also pints out is interesting because perhaps the only remaining of these three in a category of ‘evil’ would be the issue of pedophilia. When we consider the line of evil and that it runs through all men we are reminded of another area of weakness in the Christian response to evil. We might go to another extreme and say since the line of evil runs through all men and I am a sinner just as Hitler is a sinner then there are no categories or varying degrees of evil action in the world. This is also a huge mistake and a huge immaturity when it comes to the issue of evil and justice in our world. While both myself and Hitler are sinners, both capable of extreme evils, both prone to hatred, envy, bitterness, violence, manipulation, hurt, and confusion. While I may have killed men in my thoughts toward them, committed adultery with women in my thoughts towards them, and even cursed God himself, I have not committed the same acts in space, time, and history, leaving my mark upon the human race and on Gods good creation. I have left a mark with my sin, my lies, my foolishness, my immaturity, my anger, and my tongue have done damage and the consequences I too must face up to. Among the consequences of my sin, an eternal death and separation from God does not have to be a reality because of Christ. Same for Hitler. Wild as that may sound it is true. But the overarching point here, though God forgives trespasses of those who have trespassed the most there is still a responsibility by authorities put on earth by God to prosecute and provide consequences for all human evil. There is a right consequence for theft and fraud and there is a right consequence for those who commit violent crimes such as murder, rape, child abuse, hate crime, bullying, cruelty to animals, and outright abuse of the environment. Only to name a fraction of crimes that do violence to Gods created order.

The consequences for such crimes ought to fit the crime done. This is a basic rule of law and order. This is at least the beginning of the way in which such a discussion must go. That evil is something found in all men also conceived of biblically as ‘sin’. But though it is in all men not all evil done to man, creation, and to God is to be considered equal not the treatment of it.

The final few thoughts on the subject come to us as we engage with the message of scripture. That all of histories evils and injustices were building up as a case not only against mankind but as a case against the good nature and purposes of God. What was Gods way of addressing in the most meaningful way the problem of evil and injustice in the world?

His own death and resurrection gives us a shocking answer if we allow it. Notice we mean to say that it is God’s own death on the cross that makes a way. For it is on the cross and in his suffering that the perfect lamb of God would take on all evil, and injustice, as a way of dealing with the case that was building up heavily against man. And In a way the injustice and evil of God. At least in the minds of men and women in his good creation does the idea of God’s evil and injustices exist. That too was however addressed also with the final act of removing all guilt from men and all possible guilt previously heaped on God by men now atoned for and finished with the work of the cross. Easter then acts not only as a resurrection of the one God-Man Jesus Christ. But as the resurrection of all men and women who receive the cosmic gift of his atoning sacrifice.

While Christ has undergone his own resurrection we await our own. For we are still hear between the cross and the resurrection. We are challenged live now with the atoning work of Christ and the secure hope of resurrection in active anticipation of the new heaven and the new earth. Just as Jesus teaches in a number of parables on forgiveness, that the kingdom of God will look like a place where debts are cleared and jubilee is at last a reality. We can actively anticipate this new world by engaging in a real kind of addressing evil as evil but then trying to help people and help ourselves take steps to forgive the debts of others.

I am extremely challenged then to live not only in between the cross and resurrection but between the resurrection and everything else before. All of the previous evils, the evils we will face tomorrow once they have been committed and even my own evil. How will I actively and honestly address my evil, the evil of others, as well as find forgiveness for my own evil and the evil of others. While I anticipate the ongoing evil works around me I am also actively anticipating the resurrection and the day when all evil, injustice, and suffering will be done with for Good. These are the wonderful challenges to both philosophy, biblical understanding, as well as current and active dealings with evil that I have received in prayer while reading a wonderful little book in the issues.

Please Read: “EVIL AND THE JUSTICE OF GOD” – by N.T. Wright

Also I suggest on Topic some more balanced reading relating to the world of spirits, demons, and devil.

C.S. Lewis “Screwtape Letters”

Dean Sherman “Spiritual Warfare”

My next Three Books on the Topic

“Exclusion and Embrace” – Miroslav Volf

“No Future without Forgiveness” – Desmond Tutu

“Raging with Compassion” – John Swinton

Categories: Bible, CSBS, Culture, Doctrine, Ethics, Faith, Mexico, New Testament, Philosophy, Theology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Plato, Epicurus, and the New Testament

What is the importance of Philosophy for the Average Bible Student?

Ancient Greek Philosophy of Plato, Epicurus, the Stoics and rhetoric of Cicero have massive implications for the world of the first century church, the writings of Paul and the rest of the apostles and in particular the Gospel of John.

Greek Philosophy that started maybe even before Judah went into exile to Babylon had been developing and built upon until the time of Christ and his disciples.
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We know well that today the western world has been massively influenced by greek philosophy. Early church leaders such as Philo and Origen were massively influenced by Plato. Some with later Bishop of Hippo Augustine and the 6th century philosopher Boethius who’s work along with Augustus and early church leaders was influential throughout the Middle Ages in Europe until further greek learning continued with the enlightenment and renaissance period.
The explosion of philosophy that was built most heavily upon Greek and Roman learning. Plato, Aristotle, and Epicurus among the many to be rediscovered by so many. It was in the 15-16th centuries that western history turned back to the ‘wisdom’ of the Greeks. Perhaps the reason it was so popular was that very nature of Plato and Epicurus’ dualism. Under Platonism the soul or spirit world was always superior. Epicurus set out to disprove the stoics on their eschatology. He foresaw nothing after death as opposed to world destroyed by fire and born anew like the phoenix. Death was nothing to him as expressed in his famous line, Non fui, fui, non sum, non curo (I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care).

His view of anthropological dualism was to exalt the physical over the human soul. Giving credence to philosophy and ethics of characterized by an absence of divine principle. The Epicureans believed in the existence of the gods, but believed that the gods were made of atoms just like everything else. It was thought that the gods were too far away from the earth to have any interest in what man was doing; so it did not do any good to pray or to sacrifice to them. The gods, they believed, did not create the universe, nor did they inflict punishment or bestow blessings on anyone, but they were supremely happy; this was the goal to strive for during one’s own human life.
Epicurus
Epicurean belief is now characterized in the “enlightened” philosophies of modern deism/atheism or humanism. The Platonic belief are now characterized in a large portion of evangelical christianity. The answer is not a stoic attitude of balance. Nor do either of these positions get it right then or now. It is important to realize the nature of these dualisms of man, dualisms or cosmology in order to rightly grasp the NT’s gospel. It is the philosophy of modern evangelicalism and modern humanism that our western students are likely most influenced by in their thinking.

Essentially the essence of Plato and Epicurus lingers on heavily in Christian thinking and throughout any culture that might call itself modern. It has crept along not only through the western world by through the principles of materialism. It has crept up from its Platonic origins into full fledged gnosticism that threatened to permanently distort Christian orthodoxy. Gnosticism was snuffed out and rears its head but Platonic dualism of man and cosmology subtly continues on in christian theology. It was Plato who taught us that the soul or spirit is superior to the body or mind. It was Plato who taught us that the physical world is only a dismal shadow the bright heavenly afterlife. And we believed Epicurus’ eschatology about the destruction of the world by fire. It helps to be able to distinguish Plato and Epicurus from Paul and John. To accept the hebrew view of cosmology, anthropology, and eschatology as something touched, breathed, and created by a personal infinite God who redeemed and recreates things visible and invisible.

At risk of over simplification Plato and Epicurus and their philosophies were prevalent in the time of the original audiences of the books of the New Testament. Their dichotomy of man and cosmos and elevation of either spiritual or material realities does damage to the way we live out our lives in this world. The teachings of Epicurus are prevalent in modern philosophy of materialism and humanism. Plato’s influence is equally prevalent in and around the world of Christian worldview, particular areas of eschatology, anthropology, and cosmology.

If we are aware of these things the gospel would seek to break down then we can find a way to live today without these dualistic views of ourself, of all of reality, and of the future.

Christian Philosophy begins with a good God creating a good world. The good dichotomy is that God is God and creation is creation. But both are good and one is not merely spiritual and the other material. The material is good, it is touched, breathed, or spoken into existence by a good God. Christian philosophy ends with recreation. After man has fallen, though he to was made good, in Gods image, his sin has effected all of nature. The incarnation, inauguration, resurrection, and ascension of Christ reflects his ongoing work of recreation. His new covenant is a new creation the mirrors the first one. Its important then to see that the bible gives answers for the most profound philosophical questions of origin, ultimate meaning, reality, morality, and destiny. Things started somewhere and are going somewhere. And in between we are somewhere and not nowhere. Man made in Gods image has a job. He gets to make, and nurture life. This meaning or purpose given in the beginning is again picked up on in the new covenant. Go and make disciples of all nations. Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all of creation.

 

 

Categories: Anthropology, Bible, Context, Cosmology, Culture, Enlightenment, Eschatology, Ethics, Genesis, History, Modern, Modernism, New Testament, Old Testament, Origins, Philosophy, Post-Modern, Renaissance, Society/Culture, sociology, Spiritual, Supernatural, Theology, Worldview | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Pluaralism & Sexual Orientations: A Moral Roller Coaster Ride

bildeThe past week we have been on a post-modern moral roller coaster ride.

World Vision recently embraced new policies that honor same sex relationships within their organization only to reverse their decision days later for the sake of the poor across the globe. My wife and I are regular supporters of the organization and we are happy to learn that the donations will continue coming in for all the good work WV is doing across the globe.

I wish to weigh in on this in such a way that may provoke thought and discussion over the nature of human morality. Obviously in our pluralist culture we may wish to say that we should treat people well no matter what their sexual orientation is. That is culturally, the correct answer. To answer otherwise would make for ones self, many new enemies.

On the other hand are the religiously devout immoral in their imposing religious agendas on others in this pluralist era?

In consideration of the whole World Vision drama people are asking, what is more immoral?

Is it it more immoral to be a homosexual?

or

Is it more immoral to consider homosexuality immoral?

And if we want to be good pluralists, we are forced to say that both are in fact immoral but it would be immoral to pass judgement on the immoral. But my question was which is more immoral. I did not say that those who consider homosexuality to be immoral are to also be passing on judgement. But maybe there is a such thing as using your good judgement to make the case that homosexuality is actually immoral.

People speak of the love of Christ as if it were the only element of the character of Christ Christians were to imitate. Jesus speaks often of this kind of moral judgement. That is not something that we seek because we are left to ourselves in this world to determine our own version of morality. But our judgement is to determine what is right and what is wrong. Many things are permissible but not all things are beneficial.

Maybe then we can say with the Apostle Paul to the present issues of our day, “many things are permissible culturally, or naturally, but not all things are beneficial.” This line comes in reference to consistent biblical concept from Genesis that man in all of his humany-humanity is prone to choices that are not beneficial for his life, his health, the health of others, the future world of the next humanity. Are we to accept our present sickness and not look for a restoration and a completeness. This line from the apostle Paul is part of the answer to these moral challenges.

Is wrong wrong because it offends ‘the conservative right wing” or is it wrong wrong because it is actually not beneficial for the world of tomorrow’s?

The church is learning to accept what is beneficial from post-modern culture. Modern Evangelicals would never give in to the pressure to accept what is being accepted in today’s culture. But post-moderns are learning to be okay with people making choices for themselves even if the church feels they are wrong choices. But that is exactly the point. The church (that can actually call itself the church) will not give in to pressure that says, “these choices people are making are right because they love each other and they love God”. It will still be a wrong non beneficial choice.

So for me, I’m okay with my friends and family making their own choice in their sexual orientation. I will not shun you. I will not quote scripture at you. But I will believe, and if asked, I will say, “the choice your making is not going to be a beneficial one. In other words it wont be healthy. Granite you may find some happiness, you may have companionship, but you will miss the benefits of the life God intended for you to have had you made the tough choice that is right.” That opinion I will not force on you but if you have to ask, that is my belief. Truth be told, I’d rather not have to say any of that. I would like to display what I think would be the most Christ-like thing, that would be to spend more quality time, and share a deeper friendship with you. I love you.

The problem with most Christian theology on the issue is that people would prefer to make their standards clear in order to not be mistaken by other evangelicals as an advocate for homosexuality. So I make a point here not to engage heavily in all the bible verses one might wish to throw at this issue. I’m not interested in that in the least.

I’d rather be a friend, and go have a drink with the ones who’s choices are non-beneficial. The problem with theology on the topic is not that it is wrong. It is that it is theology. Theology does not help people wrestling with choices, passions, temptation, and Love. It helps to have someone who is not pretending to love them from afar. It helps to have a person to share that drink with, and to share their love with, and to speak of passions and temptations and choices.

So I challenge me, and I challenge you, do not love from afar, and don’t love with your theology. I appreciate good theology. But in almost every relevant case, theology is at its finest when it is acted upon. When people are treated as whole people or at least people that might one day be whole.

 

*** I will be monitoring comments for this post. Appropriate comments will be allowed. By rules of general fairness towards humans on both sides of the argument.

Categories: Bible, Church, Culture, Ethics, Mission, Modern, Philosophy, Post-Modern, Society/Culture, Theology, Worldview | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Being Human

humanity-dieselsc-comThis post could be classified as theology because I support the thesis with scripture, but it is also supported by psychology which I know very little about. Also based on the title, being human has the potential to effect everything. Though I think being a real, whole person, will immediately effect all forms of human contact. That is if being a whole person means you recognize others as whole people,  as opposed to sub-human people.

I recently wrote on the trinity. I recognize trinity as something essential in all of nature. The concept of the parts making up one whole. So in human anatomy, biology, psychology, (again no expert) there are three parts of what males up the person. Though many secular studies only attribute two; mind and body. A third might often be the human conscious. But according to the bible, man is composed of three parts. Mind, Body, Spirit or soul. I prefer spirit. It is very important for us to believe that man is spirit as well as body and mind because God himself, being spirit, made man in his likeness. Though we aught also to presume that mind and body represent some aspect of Gods own likeness because our whole being was created after the image of God.

When I live in a recognition of what I have just explained I find myself pursuing, in my daily life, things that fulfill men not just physically; sports, food, drink, sleep, sex, emotional connections with others. But I also look for way to stretch my imagination, my intellect, my ability to reason, and learn knew things. My mind is hungry for this sort of activity. That is the two parts that are most readily realized by most. But then there is a third hunger for something spiritual. My faith, though it is based on all parts of what it means to be a person; logic and reason, as well as an emotional-physical belief in a God who Loved me, and spoke to me, and gave his word and his own flesh for me. This God draws me to recognize that I am also hungry for what is spiritual though not removed from the rest of -being human.

This answer the human quest for meaning, and fulfillment. That its primarily found when I know what it means to really be human and I know where to get it. And this revelation is exactly that. It is not my creation, it does not belong to someone else who i stole it from, it is revealed by God through his living word. The bible.

So before the bible gets around to communicating the gospel, as we know it, with the central figure of Christ the incarnate God of the whole bible. Before all of that, its message is, “this is what it means to be a person,” not a Christian, not a Jew, not a chosen one, not any of the badges we hold to today. It just tells us what it means to be a real whole person who may find fulfillment in his many tasks. It also reminds us why we are unfulfilled. This happens as early as the third chapter.aexpulsion

This happens because the whole man fell. Not just mans spirit, his mind, or his physical body. But the whole man made a conscious choice to begin a way of life for all other men. That mankind would now seek to know the right knowledge of good and evil without the revelations of God, or the perspective of God. If there is a true dichotomy that exists today it is not between spirit in physical. Because both fell. But the true dichotomy is that man without God has a limited perspective, and man with God has a limitless perspective. Revelation can be gained by relationship with God.

Man and his wholeness has a better relationship with God when he understands Gods wholeness. The more we understand God he reveals about each area of our lives. The nothing is to be set apart as secular, or sacred. Just as in creation everything made by a holy God was good.

So this gets me on to the whole point. When we get that about ourselves, and we get it about other people, than relationships with family and strangers will be more natural, supernatural, and intellectual.  Sometimes people are immediately turned off by a religious or spiritual fanatic. To much relation as a spiritual guru wont actual work for everything. Likewise, to much nerdy intellectualism will rub some people the wrong way and not be effect with everyone, and believe it or not to much touchy-feely, flower power, free hugs, and free everything might seem like your trying to hard to some people, some may be touched but still walk away unchallenged. Just saying, too much of one thing is not seeing people as people. People being composed of mind, body, spirit. Sometimes we need to be perceptive and sense the need people have for something intellectual, something tangible, or something spiritual. And maybe in the course of a conversation your able to bring all of this together. That might actually help people see that being Christian, is really about being human, in the sense of Genesis one and two.

This is a new kind of Evangelism. At least new in the sense that I have not read of it in a book or heard it said. Though a look at my library and you can see the type of people that have influenced my thinking have helped me to see that there is something such as a whole person. I think the most influential would be Francis Schaeffer.

Some say the best way to do ‘evangelism’ is to just begin by loving people. I think there is a lot to that, but there are two parts to loving people. The ‘loving’ part and the ‘people’ part. This whole post has been about the people part. What it means to be a person. So maybe to end with this idea of loving, we can remember that in order to really show love to a person you need to know what a person is.

The final implication here for seeing people as whole people. Not merely seeing their spiritual potential or their secular potential. But seeing all of mans potential for glorifying God and setting the highest example for humanity of what it means to be a person. This should happen on all levels.

The video posted below is a great reminder of these implications of wholeness.

Categories: Anthropology, Bible, Ethics, Genesis, Philosophy, psychology, Spiritual, Supernatural, Theology, Worldview | 7 Comments

Everyone I know Needs to do CSBS

I grew up in the church. I’m glad I did. Though many Sunday’s I made the “Lords day” more like hell for my parents. I would have rather spent my Sunday mornings sleeping in until pregame started and then pure football all day.

Given some time with good influences, some within the church and most once a made a decision to go work with some wonderful people at a summer camp for a couple summers I found that the Christian life had strong merits. I’ve always been emotional about the gospel of Jesus. I cried at church from time to time as a child when we sang my favorite hymns.

logo_uofnEvery now and then my dad, the pastor, would give a sermon that really got me. And I would ask Jesus into my heart, again. I think I got saved at least 100 times as I was growing up. After summer camp I went to YWAM. I found out later lots of people feel that YWAM is a cult. Really its actually just an inter-denomination, multicultural, worldwide missions organization and its roots are actually in the Assembly of God Movement. But again, it is inter-denominational. I don’t have to speak in tongues if I don’t want. 🙂

It wasn’t until after my DTS that as I and my good friend Justin Lechner were preparing to head out to LA for the School of Ministry Development, that his mom, gently encouraged us to check out the CSBS now starting in LA. We actually said we would go look at it and we both felt strongly that we were to go for the Bible School instead.

I did not realize that I was about to make one of the best decisions of my life. I also did not realize how much I needed the story, (That’s what I may now refer to the school as).  I needed the beginning all the way to the end. I needed it in order too. And for the first time in 30 years of this school being run in YWAM it was going to be put in Chronological order.

I did not feel academic enough to start this fairly rigorous course. They said it was at least the equivalent to the study of a 2 year collage course crammed into nine months. They said, I would be graded, and that it was a school in which you could fail. Regardless, I was so ready to do this.

We began with the Gospel of the John; “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”

How better to begin the story to find out that your central character God was incarnated in the Word and then later in flesh. So that you know that what you are engaging with is not a dry old book but the incarnated God later to be revealed in flesh.

Cliff Davis our school leader. A brave man who took on way too many teachings pushed us as students all throughout the OT, to look to Jesus without the name Jesus, to anticipate a messiah without injecting everything we think we know about him until you meet him afresh as a student. Though all of us Christians with his Holy Spirit in us guiding us through the school we entered the shoes of the Original Readers, the Original Audiences of the OT message. We became a little stiff-necked in the process. When we reached the book of Matthew we, along with the 1st Century original audience we wrestled with this new character who claimed he was from heaven, who spoke beautifully, and challenged the leaders of the synagogue, who was eventually crucified, and stories of a Resurrection began to spread. As students we had truly entered the ancient world of and allowed our thoughts to conform to theirs.

I needed to see the story unfold in a powerful way, and more than seeing, I needed to study it in context as if I was a part of the story. Because at the end it became clear to me. The story I worked hard to try to inject myself into really was a story that I was a part of. The crazy thing is that this is not just a story for the few who might like to engage in it as I have. It is ‘the’ story; That takes us back to the beginning. The ‘good news’ for all humanity needs to go back to the very beginning. So that all of humanity can be sure that this message is not just for certain people.CSBS Emblem

Crazy enough, the God who created all things began with a garden called Eden. Located in modern day Iraq. God created man and women. He began to create and co-create humanity with Adam and Eve. Two people capable of co-creation. All nations came from God, all nations came from those who he created. The narrative of Genesis 1-3 shows us that Gods purpose for humanity was pretty simple. Co-Create, and Co-nurture. Gods two jobs given to Adam and Eve where to create more people, and to have dominion over the things God created. In dominion is implied not what is often misunderstood about this word. That man can do whatever he wants because he has dominion. Rather he is to nurture, to understand, to value, and help make what God created even better. It is no wonder why man has grown to love science so much, why conservation groups are growing more popular. One of the primary roles of man is to care for nature. One of the other primary roles is creating other men and women. We tend to think of things with a naturalistic framework. That makes man and woman’s role in child making purely physical. But if you take a step back there is much more of a dimension to co-creating. God made man in his image. Part of the role in co-creation is following the example of God in parenting the child in order that they too learn to function as a caretaker of nature, and creator of life. Of course one last crucial element was that God had perhaps a third role of man. That was continued allegiance to God the ultimate creator. This is demonstrated in Gods warning not to eat of the “Tree of Knowledge of good and evil” for the day you eat of it death will come into the world.

This brings us the reality we are more familiar with. Death, murder, disasters, chaos, random chance. We know that Adam decided for all of humanity that death we be a normal part of our lives. From the time of Adam man has looked in hope to the idea of a resurrection. When one dies what will bring them back. Death though is a reality was not meant to be.

The reality we are familiar with may be such a strong reality it blinds us from the hope of a Resurrection, or simply from a full life. According to the story mans hope is not in vain. Nor does the story leave out this common hope. God is not silent as to this resurrection hope. Though death is the common reality that seemingly has nothing good to do with it. It is not all bad. For when a plant dies its seeds fall to the ground and produce more life. Death is a reminder that man has fallen. It is a reminder of the garden, and there is hope for a resurrection.

All this to say, the bible in Genesis is helping us to see who we all are, what we are to be doing that brings fulfillment, why certain things don’t fully fulfill any more, and what we are looking forward to. Man has always been faced with yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Every moment is fleeting. But there is always past, and always future. Knowing where we came from and what we can rightly look forward to can help us make decisions in every moment.

The power of this story is a reminder that human choices have a special power endowed by God for creation, nurturing, building up. That our choices are however are own, that we can choose not tear down, infect, and destroy. Morality or ethics.

The Story; Origins of All, Purpose of All, Morality of All, Destiny of All

The story touches on all of these things not just for those like me who feel like giving it some time. But this is the missing link for all peoples. No one single piece can bring your life into perfect harmony. But together knowing where you came from, where your fulfillment is found, what your responsibility is, and where it is all leading is what we all need.
Christian or Not. The bible has answers for what it means to be a whole person, and what it means to be a real Christian.

Categories: Bible, Church, Context, CSBS, Ethics, Faith, Genesis, New Testament, Old Testament, Origins, YWAM | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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