Recently I came across a review of N.T. Wright’s new book on justification in the e-journal Themelios. Though I have not read the book I am familiar with the ongoing debate between John Piper and N. T. Wright on the nature of “justification” in Romans. Sidenote – an obvious conflict of interest exists when the reviewer is the executive pastoral assistant to John Piper. However, more to the point of reading the Bible, the reviewer criticizes Wright’s exegesis by comparing him to Piper:
Exegesis has two different flavors for Wright and Piper. Piper wrestles word by word, proposition by proposition, and then paragraph by paragraph. Wright moves much quicker through large chunks of Paul’s thought, refers frequently to whole chapters and paragraphs…
Mathis illustrates a common mistake in reading Scripture. To Mathis’ point, one must not merely hover over the text or keep the text at arm’s length. However, the myth of word-by-word exegesis has been propagated to the exclusion of context. Every word is important, but any given word, phrase, or paragraph is pointless if it does not contribute to a coherent whole. There are many contemporary examples of preachers, teachers, and scholars who purport to do Biblically faithful exegesis merely by teaching word-for-word through a text. However, it might be more impressive when one synthesizes and explains the content of an entire paragraph, chapter, or book in the Bible.
They say “ignorance is bliss.” It has always been my contention that ignorance is merely ignorance. I do not believe that genuine bliss can contain ignorance. Certainly when one is unaware they do not “worry” about their situation, but when informed with reality their is no true “happiness.”
If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us (1 Jn. 1:8).
The reality of our situation is one of sin. We are sinners in need of grace. Ignoring this fact may give one an excuse to live in their own fantasy world, but it does not change the reality of their situation.
Rather than live in the myth of my own goodness, I pray that I understand the reality of my sin and I live in the reality of God’s grace.
This will be my turn to brag a little about my dad. He is the most talented musician I have ever met. However, I have watched him sacrifice personal acclaim for the service of Jesus. This past Sunday night he taught from Psalm 118 at his church. If you are familiar with SBC churches you might understand how rare it is to find a “Music Minister” who is genuinely qualified and gifted to be a pastor.
When I was in high school I was tired of “church.” I was sick of people who called themselves Christians and demonstrated the opposite in their living. It was only the consistent example of my parents at home and in public that reassured me that Christianity was for more than just “show.” My dad has always modeled a servant’s heart, a scholar’s mind, and genuine commitment to the Lordship of Christ in all things.
The Bible is clear that the home is an essential component in the discipleship of children. I once heard a youth pastor say about the role of the church, “we can’t fix in four hours what you screw up in seven days.” Maybe not the most sensitive statement, but definitely true. Parents provide the framework for Christianity and the way they live and parent will either affirm or deny the legitimacy of the gospel in the life of their children.
October 23-25 Nansemond River Baptist Church (Suffolk, VA) hosted a D*Now weekend for young adults (“Disciple Now” for those unfamiliar). I wanted to bring in a few good teachers so I convened the “unlikely disciples” triumvirate. All of the Bible Study materials and worship services were directly focused on Paul’s letter to the Galatians. The result was a chance to hear, explain, and apply the gospel while modeling how to read a meaningful unit from the text of Scripture.
Below are the four main teaching times from Bryan and Andy (apologies that Bryan’s second message was truncated due to technical difficulties on the recording end).
Today I read a great blog post entitled “Myth of the Good Ole Days.” The author makes many cogent arguments.
There is no such thing as the good ole’ days. It is a myth constructed by people with amnesia who have forgotten or have chosen not to remember the problems and perils of earlier days.
This is a subject that I have thought about frequently.
The other day a sweet sister in Christ sincerely asked me how I could work with young adults. “They’re just so much worst than when I was young,” she said. Now I have no doubt that she was sincere in this observation, but I had to remind her that sin is not limited by generation. Technology and style has changed, manifesting sin in new and creative ways, but the human condition remains the same. In the twenty-first century Americans struggle with internet pornography and materialism, in the 19th century it was legalized segregation, in the 18th century slavery and oppression of Africans and Native Americans, and the list goes on and on. Materialism and greed is cross-generational and we still struggle with the early heresy of America as a Savior-nation.
As sinners we like to set ourselves up as the standard of “what is right.” We demonize the sins of others (e.g. homosexuality, abortion, etc.) and minimize our own (e.g., materialism, greed, etc.).
The gospel is for every generation. The human heart has always struggled with idolatry and self-justification.
It is disconcerting to be vulnerable on the “interweb.” I am about to share my marital woes with millions of my closest friends. Here goes anyway…
I’ve been thinking a lot about idolatry and my own life. I have a lot of idols (e.g., sports, dreams, job, popularity, friends, etc.). The most dangerous idol I have recently discovered is the one God has called me to love more than myself — my wife.
In my haste to love and adore my wife (which I most certainly do), I have put a lot of expectations on her. I noticed recently that I started to get very terse with my wife when she let me down in even the smallest ways. Their are a myriad of reasons why this is the wrong way to act (e.g., she is the most talented and loving person I know, I act like a jerk way more than she does, she demonstrates sacrifice toward me every day, etc.).
Here is one way that Donald Miller explained it recently:
I realized that for years I’d thought of love as something that would complete me, make all my troubles go away. I worshiped at the alter of romantic completion. And it had cost me, plenty of times. And it had cost most of the girls I’d dated, too, because I wanted them to be something they couldn’t be. it’s too much pressure to put on a person.
That is so true. Only God can handle the “pressure” of demonstrating perfect love. The application of this sentiment is what hit me the hardest. Here is how Miller finished his thought:
I think that’s why so many couples fight, because they want their partners to validate them and affirm them, and if they don’t get that, they feel as though they’re going to die. And so they lash out. But it’s a terrible thing to wake up and realize the person you just finished crucifying didn’t turn out to be Jesus.