I got Johnny Cash’s posthumous recording release (produced by Rick Rubin) entitled “American VI: Ain’t No Grave” (only $3.99 at Amazon.com). The only ‘original’ release is the song “I Corinthians 15:55.” The rest of the recording consists remastered, “pared-back” covers.
The purportedly final Cash composition (“1 Corinthians 15:55″) is a beautiful musical rendition of the famous verse: “Oh death, where is thy sting? Oh grave, where is thy victory.” Cash has his theology firmly planted in the Christian hope of a future, bodily resurrection (of which Christ’s resurrection is the first).
Relevant Magazine has profiled the “complicated faith” of Johnny Cash. The article is full of memorable quotes and a fair look at Cash as famous sinner (e.g., drug abuse, spousal abuse, poor fatherhood, etc.) and famous saint. The article quotes Cash as describing the spiritual toll that drug abuse took on him:
[The drugs] put me in such a low state that I couldn’t communicate with God. There’s no lonelier place to be. I was separated from God, and I wasn’t even trying to call on Him. I knew that there was no line of communication. But He came back. And I cam back.
Here are some of the lyrics to Cash’s song “Redemption Day”
I’ve wept for those who suffer long / But how I weep for those who’ve gone / Into rooms of grief and question wrong / But keep on killing / It’s in the soul to feel such things / But weak to watch without speaking / Oh what mercy sadness brings / If God be willing
There is a train that’s heading straight / To heaven’s gate, to heaven’s gate / And on the way, child and man / And woman wait, watch and wait / For redemption day
In this recording (only months before his death) you can hear the sincerity and wisdom of Cash’s age. His voice has a gentle tremble that comes with age, yet the lyrics and music display the perfect blend of insight, art, and simplicity.
My entire life I have heard the incongruous phrase “Judeo-Christian.” People talk about Judeo-Christian ethics, values, political views, etc…
I would like to propose a banishment to this phrase. Obviously there is some overlap between modern-day Judaism and contemporary Christianity. However, there is no Biblical basis for the distinction and reunion of Judaism and Christianity.
First, Christianity is a term applied to Christ-followers by non-believers. Second, Jesus (and Paul, for that matter) saw themselves as completely within the Biblical (read: Israelite) tradition. Gentiles are actually joined to the promises of God which He made to the Israelites. Paul also makes it clear that ethnicity is not the determination of genuine ‘Jewishness.’ The Biblical definition of Jewishness (according to the Hebrew Prophets and the New Testament Apostles) involves consecration by the Spirit of God (i.e., spiritual circumcision).
Back to my main point: Scriptures (Hebrew and Greek… and Aramaic) are clear that ethnicity, tradition, and morality are not the basis of one’s relationship to God. God relates to all people on the basis of their faith in Him. The term “Judeo-Christian” is confusing because it strips the gospel (i.e., the saving work of Jesus) from behavior. “Judeo-Christian” outreach relates on the lowest common denominator of behavior. I believe Christians should work for the good of all people, but ‘good’ behavior will not get me closer to God but is (rather) a demonstration of the grace that God has show toward me in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
As some of you may know from previous posts or personal knowledge that my dad is a pastor at a church working mainly in the area of music ministry. I liked the way Neue magazine humorously explained music ministry in an article titled “Low Pay, High Stress: Why Church Jobs Are Some of the Worst Jobs.”
Payscale.com recently named the 15 most stressful jobs — that also pay badly. The results came from a survey they did in which 36,000 people ranked their jobs based on the quality of life the job gives them.
Number five on the list was “Music Ministry Director.” (This is where everyone who isn’t in music ministry gasps because we thought all you had to do was pick some songs and sing well. Sorry for not realizing your job was harder and paid less than “Gym Membership Manager.”)…
All of the fuss about Tiger Woods’ most recent public apology has been laughable. Some have demonstrated how this public apology fits into a traditional twelve step program. Others have analyzed his body language and voice inflection.
As a sports talk radio aficionado I have heard one question repeated again and again, “Do you think Tiger was being sincere?”
I gave up a long time ago on judging other people’s intentions and motivations. I leave that up to God (1 Chronicles 28:9; Matthew 22:18).
If anyone has ever misjudged your intentions, then you should be slow to judge Tiger. His apology might be sincere or it might just be damage control. His robotic and laconic tone might indicate a lack of authenticity or he might be a below average public speaker.
The truth of the matter is simply that Tiger made serious mistakes. In time we will be able to tell whether Tiger was genuinely remorseful by the way he behaves.
I was rereading John 10 today (after hearing someone teaching this passage yesterday). I wasn’t able to get past by vss. 10-11. I noticed how the thieves throughout the chapter are trying to deceive the sheep. I am reminded in my own life of all of the deceptions. “Thieves” are often trying “steal, kill, and destroy” my joy, hope, and satisfaction in the true shepherd. Jesus, however, has come to give me a full life, an abundant life.
Two questions: What is an abundant life? How does the shepherd provide such a life?
The more I read this section, an abundant life is a life in relationship with Jesus. Like the psalmist, a person who lives a full life is able to say that “the nearness of God is good” (Psalm 73:28). A happy sheep, is a sheep in the presence, protection, and care of the shepherd. In the words of John Piper, “my satisfaction in Christ alone must run so deep that no pain can shake it and no pleasure can compete with it.”
How does such a satisfying and good life come to me? Through a shepherd who is good (v. 11). A shepherd who has sacrificed himself for me. Jesus is both the shepherd and the sacrificial lamb.
I am reminded of the over-quoted C. S. Lewis line from “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe:”
‘If there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than me or else just silly.’
‘Then he isn’t safe?’ asked Lucy.
‘Safe?’ said Mr. Beaver. ‘Don’t you hear what Mrs. beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.’
Time for a rant. What’s up with TLC and their obsession with little people. I understand the why people are drawn to such shows — morbid curiosity. They want to stare at little people on TV. TLC obtained initial success with the reality show “Little People, Big World” that chronicled the life of the Roloff family. That show explained the daily difficulties of little people. However, it also showed that little people are just people. Their families are just as average as every other normal family (needless to say I am not too impressed with the Roloff’s parenting skills).
Then comes the show “The Little Couple.” To be fair, I like the couple in this show a whole lot more than the Roloffs. Bill and Jen (aka “the little couple”) are very normal, well-adjusted, loving people. My biggest problem with this show? It majors on the mundane. The producers spend time following the couple on benign vacations and birthday celebrations while failing to explain all of the triumphs and successes that had to occur for Jen to become an intensive care pediatrician! Essentially, this show follows very normal, intelligent, average people who happen to need a step stool to cook dinner.
I am not trying to minimize the difficulties of little people. I understand life is more difficult for someone with dwarfism. I just think we’ve turned disabled people’s lives into a carnival freak show. We pay the network our money and stare at the “Little Couple,” “The Little Chocolatiers,” or the “Little Parents.”
I saved my TLC rant about shows featuring morbidly obese people, or families with 20 kids, or anyone who is getting married…
You may have noticed an absence of posts the last few days. The simple explanation? My wife and I bought our first house! Between the walkthrough, closing, painting, and moving I haven’t had much time to write (or do anything else).
Needless to say, I will be back at it come Monday. I have plenty of thoughts on current events (think Men’s Figure Skating) and some book’s I’ve been reading (I’m on an N. T. Wright kick these past few weeks).
Hope all is well, here is a picture of our new homestead.
Christianity Today recently chronicled the Mark Driscoll/John Piper war-of-words regarding John Sailhamer’s newest book. To recap, here was the online verbal exchange:
Driscoll noted that he received Sailhamer’s newest work, The Meaning of the Pentateuch, a book he felt was appropriate for “hardcore uber geek theological types who love footnotes.”
John Piper responded with an appropriate verbal beat down:
To all pastors and serious readers of the Old Testament — geek, uber geek, under geek, no geek — if you graduated from high school and know the word meaning, sell your latest Piper or Driscoll book and buy Sailhamer… There is nothing like it. It will rock your world. You will never read the Pentateuch the same again. It is totally readable. You can skip all the footnotes and not miss a beat.
In fact, you might have to skip the footnotes unless your German, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and French are up to par!
A Little Background
I was first introduced to John Sailhamer and his writings when I came to SEBTS in 2006. After enduring four years of study at my undergraduate institution’s Religion department I was worn out from defending the historicity of the Hebrew Bible. Reading Pentateuch as Narrative and Introduction to Old Testament Theology: A Canonical Approach was a breath of fresh air. This hermeneutic took the text of Scripture seriously and made sense of of the New Testament writers’ interpretation of the Hebrew Bible. These books provided a necessary corrective to my hermeneutic. I had been so preoccupied by secondary textual issues in my reading of the Old Testament I had neglected to let the Old Testament shape my questions and concerns when I approached the text. After listening to Sailhamer and re-reading the Hebrew Bible, I no longer felt self-conscious about the intentionality and cohesion of the Old Testament. Further, from a scholarly perspective, I was made aware of the shortcomings of previous historical-critical approaches to the Hebrew Bible. The method I was taught in my undergraduate studies (e.g., Wellhausen) had been demonstrated by modern scholarship to hold little prospect for consensus. The meaning of the Hebrew Bible was opened as I saw new perspectives in reading the text as intended by its author(s) (e.g., Childs, Sailhamer, Rendtorff).
The Meaning of the Pentateuch
Sailhamer’s most recent contribution to Old Testament Studies is a legitimate tome in the field. It is the magnum opus of his great career. This text combines years of classroom teaching, scholarly research, and published books and articles into one collection. The result is a comprehensive approach to the Pentateuch explaining and incorporating a robust Biblical Theology and well-defined Hermeneutic into serious, careful exegetical examination of the Hebrew Bible. The reader will gain large overviews of subjects such as Biblical exegesis, Biblical theology, historical method, and philology.
What I most enjoy about this book is Dr. Sailhamer not only makes summary hermeneutical/theological/philosophical statements but he also demonstrates how he arrived to these conclusions. Further, he demonstrates an exhaustive knowledge of the history of ideas in relation to Biblical exegesis and theology. As a historian, Sailhamer is able to trace the historiography of Old Testament interpretation and explain how modern evangelicals have arrived at their current hermeneutical guidelines.
Sailhamer takes seriously the compositional strategy and the words of the text of the Hebrew Bible. For Sailhamer, proper interpretation seeks to find the intended meaning of the author by the words he uses and the way the text is structured. As a result he spends a significant amount of time exegeting the theological commentary that occurs at the seams of the Tanak (e.g., Deuteronomy 34, Joshua 1, Malachi 3/4, Psalms 1-2, Chronicles 36). For him, these “seams” provide significant interpretive clues to the intended meaning of the Hebrew Bible. Within the Hebrew Bible (and, even, the New Testament), Biblical authors act as Biblical theologians as they interpret previous text (e.g., compositional themes, prophets, apostles, etc.).
Organization of the Book
The book is organized into three sections dealing with foundational issues (e.g, hermeneutics, Biblical theology), text specific issues (e.g., compositional strategy), and theological conclusions drawn from a reading of the Pentateuch (e.g., covenant, blessing, messiah, Mosaic Law, salvation).
Much more can be said about Sailhamer’s discussion of theology and compositional strategy. Hopefully what has been discussed will whet your appetite to read this book and (more importantly) to examine the intended meaning of the Pentateuch.
In order to increase the traffic at my new blog and be generous, I have decided to give a brand new copy of John H. Sailhamer’s The Meaning of the Pentateuch. To enter this giveaway merely comment on this post (make sure to use a valid e-mail address so I can contact you if you win). The winner will be chosen randomly and contacted via e-mail. Please share this contest with other people via Twitter, Facebook, blog, or neighborhood flyers. Only one comment per person, but you’ll get an extra entry if you link to this post on your own blog!
The demise of serious political discourse today consists not least in this, that politicians are still trying to whip up enthusiasm for their versions of this myth — it’s the only discourse they know, poor things — while the rest of us have moved on… That is why the relentlessly modernist and progressivist projects that the politicians feel obliged to offer us (“vote for us and things will get better!”) have to be dressed up with the relentlessly postmodernist techniques of spin and hype: in the absence of real hope, all that is left is feelings… What we appear to need, and therefore what people give us, is entertainment. As a journalist said recently, our politicians demand to be treated like rock stars while our rock stars are pretending to be politicians.
— N. T. Wright, Surprised by Hope
As a recent graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary I cannot express how thankful and proud I am for the godly leadership of Danny Akin. He is one of the main reasons I decided to attend S.E.B.T.S. He has been one of the leading proponents of a “Great Commission Resurgence” in the Southern Baptist Convention.
In the following video you will see Dr. Akin preach from Romans 12:1-2. While watching this video I was again challenged to give God everything. I don’t mean to use that word “everything” lightly. I want to live for God as a “living sacrifice.” I want to be a dead man walking.
Also, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Dr. Akin preach without notes or a manuscript! Must be a message particularly close to his heart. As you’ll notice, it doesn’t take Dr. Akin but a few moments to teach the gospel and how it calls us to proclaim the gospel to the nations.
He explains Romans 12:1-2 using three words: consecration, transformation, and satisfaction. However, to get to Paul’s point in Romans 12:1-2 one has to understand Romans 1-11. That is the beauty of this message! Dr. Akin walks through Romans 1-11 in a beautiful, succinct, clear manner that does complete justice to the intended meaning of the text.
Here are a few poignant quotes from Dr. Akin’s message:
Why do we need a gospel? Why do we need the power of God? Why do we need to be justified? Why do we need to be saved? The answer is — we have a massive sin problem.
Revelation brings responsibility.
Your salvation was not an accident. Your salvation was not an afterthought. Your salvation was not ‘Plan B.’
God wants your eyes. God wants your ears. God wants your mouth. God wants your mind… God wants your hands and your feet. In fact, God wants all of your body — every single part of it. He’s not interested in most of it. He’s not willing to negotiate and bargain… You can’t give God part of you.
The mind is a very delicate thing that must be brought under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
The Bible says if you’re not careful, both as a Christian and as a church, we can begin to look a whole lot more like the world than like Jesus.
I find that there are a bunch of stupid Christians… They love Jesus with their heart but they don’t have a prayer of a chance of explaining to somebody what they believe or why they believe it.
[Read a book] that will stretch your mind so that you can think more Christianly day-in and day-out rather than being a surface, sloppy, silly, stupid, Saint – we don’t need any more.
Any system of theology that lessens your passion for the Great Commission and evangelism is a theology not worth having.
In the day and age we live, you can’t be a stupid Christian. You have to be able to think well about the gospel and the implications of the gospel. You have to be able to explain and understand both what you and believe and why you believe. If you don’t read, that’s not going to happen.
For the audio-only version of this message see my previous post on the 20/20 Conference at SEBTS.