Archives For September 2012

thinking reader

 

 

I have been thinking a lot lately.  I have so many thoughts about so many things that my mind is a bit of a jumble.  This is what happens when I am on the threshold of major change.  I’ve been taking some notes on some of the ideas that are blasting through my synapses so I can explore them more fully at a later time.  Some of them, however, blast right on past and are lost in the ether of my mind.  They are not gone in their entirety, but rather they become part of the mental furniture of my mind.  Yet, as individual thoughts and concepts, they are lost in the moment.  Or at least temporarily so.  At some point in the future, many of these will reappear as suddenly as they disappeared — and I will be equally amazed the second time as the first.

But in this moment, I am thinking a lot about what it really means to be a follower of Christ.  Not an attender of  church services, not a “Christian” as we understand that term in our society today, but what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.  I discussed this to a certain degree in “The Best Meal You’ll Ever Eat.”

This year has been fraught with difficulty for our family, but for the most part I have been positive about the challenges we have faced.  However, I recently went through a pretty rough patch.  This rough patch propelled me even deeper into the questions I was already asking and forced me to confront far deeper questions — questions charged with emotional and spiritual import.  And so I did what I always do in this situation — I wandered over to one of my bookshelves.

I love books.  To a small degree, I am a collector of books.  Quite often I purchase books I believe to be significant, but with no intention of reading them in the moment.  Rather, their purpose is to wait patiently for their appointed time.  That’s because when I’m lost or unsure, I often turn to books.  For one of my books, the appointed time arrived this week.  Brushing aside the dust bunnies, the spiders and the cobwebs, I pulled “The Ragamuffin Gospel” off the shelf.  It has been just what I needed, a proper antidote to much of what is ailing me.

Yesterday, while I was reading in chapter 7, I came across a Bonhoeffer quote that seemed eerily familiar.  I flipped to the back to check the footnote –it was a quote from “Life Together.”  Life Together!  That’s one of my lost books!  You see, because I love books, I can’t resist loaning them out to others.  Often these are loans to fellow book lovers, but not always.  I think this impulse to loan books is driven by a desire to bring others into contact with the power of the pages, a power that can change who we are!  But only if we will meet the book and let it meet us.  And so I loaned out Life Together.  And it never came home.  But somewhere, I am confident, it is still changing the life of the person who holds it in their possession.

Life is a journey and this Bonhoeffer quote in The Ragamuffin Gospel spoke powerfully to where I find myself today. (note: the added emphasis in the quote are inserted by me)

He who is alone with his sins is utterly alone.  It may be that Christians, notwithstanding corporate worship, common prayer, and all of their fellowship in service, may still be left to their loneliness.  The final breakthrough to fellowship does not occur because, though they have fellowship with one another as believers and as devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout, as sinners.  The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner.  So everyone must conceal his sin from himself and from their fellowship.  We dare not be sinners.  Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous.  So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy.  The fact is that we are sinners!

Over the past few weeks I have become acutely aware of this.  One of my goals in blogging is to discover why “Mens Ministry” in the church is struggling to connect with the men it seeks to minister to.  I believe that this is one of the main reasons.  We are afraid to be transparent with each other.  We are afraid to be truly vulnerable.  We fear that transparency and vulnerability will lead to rejection and ridicule.  And we fear that there will be consequences to our openness — a price to be paid for our honesty.

But I believe that this vulnerability and transparency is where true freedom comes from — the freedom of the fellowship of the sinful.  Not as unredeemed sinful, but as the redeemed, yet sinful.  The freedom that comes with understanding what true grace really is.  Not a mechanism that is a part of the process of salvation, but rather a living, breathing, grace — pneuma is a word that comes to mind.  Grace as breath, wind, spirit.  Something that breathes new life into our very existence.  Into our hurt, our pain, our failures and insignificance.  And when we have truly experienced this grace, we feel compelled to extend it to others.  And when we extend to others the grace that God himself extended to us, we are able to partake in the fellowship of the undevout, as sinners.  Sinners saved by grace and saved for grace.

Recent events have reminded me how much I desire this kind of fellowship and how badly I want others to extend this grace to me.  And recent event remind me of how often I fail at extending this grace to others.  Father God, extend your grace to me, a sinner among the righteous.

On to the journey!

(or maybe the bookstore, I think I need to replace that lost book!)

A Ray of Sunshine

Pilgrim in Progress —  September 21, 2012 — Leave a comment

About a year ago I embarked on a project.  I like to rebuild things.  Whether those things are mechanical, business related or idea/concept related, I like to rebuild.

Around 22 years ago I bought a new motorcycle that I loved very much.  This particular bike soon came to be considered a “cult bike”, because they failed to gain mainstream popularity, but had a small, but loyal following.  This was the second “cult bike” I owned, which also probably says something about my personality!

Over the years, we went through some financially difficult times and the bike fell into disrepair.  I kept hanging on to it, hoping that it would one day roar into life again.  There were a few occasions where I was tempted to unload it, but in those moments of weakness, my wise wife urged me to hang on.  In the beginning, I just made sure that the engine and transmission were still functional.  Then I began to work on the rest.  Although my occupational downsizing occurred during my project, I was still able to continue because I had stored away a fund of money for completion.  Last Sunday was the first time I was able to take the completed project out for a ride.  My only regret is that riding season is almost over!  I can’t wait for spring!

This is what it looked like a year ago

 

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This was last Sunday afternoon

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I love the ghost flames, the painter nailed the look I was wanting.  You can only see them when the light hits them just right.

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This project has been a wonderful rain of sunshine for me on some very dreary days!

And now, what shall the next project be?

On to the journey!

Read At Your Own Risk

Pilgrim in Progress —  September 18, 2012 — 1 Comment

Editorial note: This post has been modified.  It was originally written using a bit of literary embellishment to drive home the point more forcefully and with greater impact.  However, my literary genre raised some concerns, so I have made some changes.  I have attempted to convey much of the message, but I think the post loses a bit of its rhetorical punch.  I have also removed a paragraph that could have been construed as a personal attack on others.  It was not my intent to attack any individual, rather my concern has to do with mindset and values. 

 

I may regret this post.  I have wrestled with whether to write my thoughts and feelings since about 9 a.m. this morning.  Once I put this “out there,” it is “out there” forever.  That always causes me pause when I write.  Yet, when I undertook this blog project a couple of months ago, it was with a specific intent.  The intent to work through “out loud” what it means to be a man and a follower of Christ.  To ask the questions about how we as men should live in community with others and with each other.  To ask what our roles and responsibilities are before God and others.  If that is the case, then doesn’t it follow that I have a responsibility to some level of transparency and honesty regarding my own life?

I was officially severed from my company early this year.  When the event occurred, I was shocked, but initially I was positive about the occurrence.  While a layoff is sure to bring some challenges, it also brings opportunity.  A chance for a new start, a chance to explore new vistas and opportunities.  To pursue those gifts that one has that may have gone largely unused in the former capacity.  I took that optimistic route.  I began to pursue areas that I knew I was gifted in, but had not been formally employed in.  And I got smacked down by a rotten economy.  Transferable skills mean nothing in an economy where 15% of people are unemployed.  Yes, I know the “official” number is lower, but it conveniently does not account for those who have lost hope and checked out.

To ensure that our financial needs were met without an undue raiding of our rainy day fund, my dear wife changed her status from part time to full time.  She became the sole bread winner and I collected the government (unemployment) check – and became the house husband.  Still I remained optimistic.  God has always taken care of us, even though it hasn’t always been easy.  But as my wife’s “full time” status morphed to 60 hour weeks plus the commute, we faced new challenges.  Funny thing is, a mom wants to see her kids, keep a nice home, cook nice meals, get some exercise, maybe enjoy a hobby or two.  And when you are gone from 5 am to 5 pm (or later) that just isn’t possible.  I do my best to pickup the load around the house, but let’s be real – I’m way out of my depth here!  And even if I can complete many of the household tasks, I can do nothing to replace the time that my wife has had to sacrifice because of my job loss.  Time with our kids, time for other relationships, time with God, time for her own personal health.

I think if you really love your wife, a time comes when you have to say “screw the new vistas, screw the new opportunities” and you do what needs to be done.  Isn’t that perhaps a bit of what “for better of for worse” really means?  Our society tells us to love ourselves, to put ourselves first, blah, blah, blah.  Jesus tells us to put others first.  My wife put me first, now it is time for me to return the blessing.

So I have jumped back into the career pool I was swimming in before.  And I really thought I had a position coming.  I was one of the last two, I fit the job perfectly.  But I kept getting strung out.  I’m pretty sure now I was being played by the manager.  That he was stringing me along as backup while he worked out the details with the other candidate.  And then he dumped me.  Frankly, I’m kinda pissed about it.  That is not how people should treat one another.

I’ve got 12 years in sales.  I’m used to hearing “no.”  I am used to rejection.  But I’m getting really sick of the rejection that comes with unemployment.  And I’m getting sick of what each rejection does to the ones that I love.  And to be quite honest, I’m getting really sick of waiting on God.

Have you noticed that many times, if there is stress, frustration or difficulties in one area of life, another area will compensate — a life giving well of sorts?  Unfortunately, what I would have hoped would be a life giving well at this point in time feels like a dry well.  Am I too optimistic when I think that a body of believers – a church – should be a life giving well?  Maybe it is my fault.  Maybe I’m too old fashioned in that I don’t “toot my own horn.”  Or employ marketing techniques at church to  “drive my own brand.”  Perhaps I’m silly to believe that my mission as a Christ follower can be simply summed up as the following:  to be faithful to God, to love him and to love others.

The totality of the events I have endured over the course of this year have led me to begin thinking that nobody really cares about anyone else.  Not in the church and not outside the church.  Nobody anywhere cares about anybody but themselves.  The “me first” culture has won the day.  That’s how we choose our church, our small group at church, our circle of friends, where we work and who we associate with.  It’s not about what we can give, what we can share, how we can help others to love God and love others.  No.  It’s about what we can get, what benefit we can gain, what status we can advance.

I guess I’m raging against the machine of pop christianity.  Against the market driven, consumer culture christianity of modern America.  But I’m tired of it.  I’m tired of trying to point people towards Christ, when they don’t really care.  I’m tired of trying to motivate Christlike thinking amongst those who are inoculated against it by the religious culture itself.  I’m tired of a christianity that cares more about personal success and self esteem than it does about others.  I’m tired of a christianity that cares more about the next world than the one in which we live.  I’m tired.

And as tired, frustrated, disappointed, disheartened and disillusioned as I am, I just can’t close this out on such a hopeless and negative note.  Maybe, just maybe, by the grace of God, I can find a few men who do care. Who can help me care too.  And together we can begin the process of “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.”  Isn’t that really why Christ came?  Not to take us away to heaven some day and sit on a cloud, not for some type of religious escapism accomplished through a secret rapture, but to inaugurate his kingdom here on earth.  “To proclaim good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

The dangerous journey continues.  God help me.

 

 

You know how you have those memories that are indelibly imprinted in your mind?  The past 24 hours has surfaced a number of those in my life.  The first is the anniversary of the tragedy that occurred on 9/11/01.  Probably the majority of us remember exactly where we were when we first heard the news.  I was driving down Mineral Point Road, approaching the light at South Gammon Road when I heard the announcement on the radio that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.  At that point, they didn’t even know the type of plane it was — whether a large jet or a light aircraft.  And they did not yet have an inkling of the real scope of what was about to unfold.  Although my memory is notoriously deficient, many of the details of that entire day are seared in my  memory.

Today a whole new set of memories flooded  my mind when I read the news of the savage and brutal attacks on our embassy in Libya and the ensuing murder of United States Citizens, including the ambassador.  Do you remember when the U.S. Embassy in Iran was attacked and the occupants held as hostages?  I sure do.  Iranian students played a key role in that attack.  There was also a very large contingent of Iranian students studying in the Universities here in the U.S.  Although I was still in high school, I had a brother away at a University where many of the students were quite vocal about supporting the revolution in Iran.  I worried about he and his families safety.  Of course memories of the hostage crisis invoke memories of the policies of President Carter.  And not just foreign policy memories like the bumbling of the hostage situation.  But domestic memories.

I remember standing at the counter of the post office filling out my selective service form.  The Iranian hostage crisis had ended just a few months before and memories of the not so distant Vietnam war played in my mind.  Although the draft had ended around 1973, President Carter had recently decided that all young men such as myself should be registered “just in case.”  Since I was the second oldest in my high school senior class, I was in the vanguard of my peers – many of whom were being pressured to register as “CO” due to their religious heritage/beliefs.  I will never forget the weight of that moment, the soberness of that occasion.  The knowledge that I could be called upon to give my life for my country and for my kin.

I remember where I was standing (the bedroom in the NW corner of our home) when I realized my dream of farming was dead on arrival due to inflation rates in the teens and interest rates around 20%.

All of these memories flood my mind today.  They illicit so many questions, and uncover so many concerns.  Concerns for our country, for our future.  More specifically, concerns for my wife, for my children, and for their future.  What does our future hold?  Does it hold additional armed conflict in the middle east or other parts of the globe?  Increased economic instability here at home?  Or are these concerns all for naught?

Throughout the ages, men have faced times of crisis, times of difficulty, times of uncertainty.  But the question still remains: how will we step up to each of these occasions?  What is the proper response at a time such as this?  How do we as men, as father’s, as husbands, prepare, protect and lead at times such as these?  For the Christian man, I think this questions is doubly difficult. We seek to follow the teachings of Christ from within a culture that in many ways has become Christ-less.  We seek to differentiate the clamoring cries of the culture warriors from the quiet voice of Christ.

The choices each of makes in how we approach these times of crisis, difficulty, and uncertainty will greatly affect the future of our family and our community – for better or for worse.  Our culture specializes in slogans, bumper sticker philosophies and quick  fixes.  But the real answers for questions like these at times like these are far more complex.  Answers that often seem inadequate, or frail.  Answers that rely partly on faith, partly on wisdom, partly on experience.  Answers that are often forged in the fire of experience. Answers that may be best learned, formed and articulated amongst a group of men who are committed to God, to family and to each other.

What do you think?  I’m interested in your thoughts.

 

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Over the years, as I have pondered American history, it has struck me that the exploration and settlement of the West is illustrative of the differences between men and women (in general terms, there are undoubtedly exceptions to what I am about to write).  If it wasn’t for men, I doubt the west would have been explored.  If it wasn’t for women, it would never have been settled.  There seems to be something in the heart of a man that draws him to adventure, excitement and danger.  A thirst to conquer, to achieve, to empire build.  But once the challenge has been conquered, the achievement has been reached, the empire built, men are ready to move on.  To move on and seek more adventure, excitement and danger.  On the other hand, there seems to be something in the heart of a woman to put down roots, to create community, to build relationships.  Something that resists adventure, fears danger, and eschews excitement.  We are wildly opposed in our fundamental mindsets, yet we are inexplicably drawn to one another.  Living in tension, yet balancing each others inner impulses.  Living out the journey together.

I pulled my old desk top computer out of mothballs over the Labor Day weekend.  The primary purpose was to give the kids access to Legos.com.  However, I also discovered a plethora of old pictures as well as papers I had written during seminary.  Even in that computer they were filed under “archive” since they had come from yet a previous computer!  Do you remember when a 386 chip was a big deal?  Yeah, back then.

Anyway, I opened one of the papers I had written that consider the compassion of Christ for the poor, the outcast, the downtrodden.  It is too long to post in its entirety here, but I thought I might put up an excerpt from near the end of that paper.  If some of the formatting appear a bit funky, that is because it was originally written on WordPerfect and was subsequently converted by Word.

 

.  .  .  .  No where is the theme of freedom for the captive and oppressed displayed more vividly than in Mark 5:1-20 and in Matthew and Luke’s parallel accounts.  None of the three evangelists give a reason for Jesus’ journey to the other side of the Lake of Galilee.  They record only the water crossing, the encounter with the demoniac and resulting departure.  One wonders if Jesus’ sole purpose in this journey was to set this captive free.  Whatever his reason, Jesus and his disciples arrived in the region of Gerasenes, a predominantly Gentile area.[i]

As Jesus disembarked from the boat, a demon possessed man came running out to meet him.  The demoniac was considered a menace to society and his attacks were so fierce that Matthew writes that “no one was able to pass by.”[ii]  This man lived among the tombs and according to Jewish tradition, this was a mark of madness.[iii]  Garland writes that “the man’s home is the unclean place of the dead, and he himself is home to unclean (evil) spirits.”[iv]  One cannot be sure of the demoniac’s motive in falling before Jesus to worship.   It is possible that genuine worship was intended, or it may have been a demonic ploy to manipulate Jesus.[v]

A battle ensued between Jesus and the demons that inhabited the man.  The demons initially attempted to either control or manipulate Jesus.  When their strategy failed, they asked permission to enter a herd of pigs.  During the first century it was commonly believed that demons detested the disembodied state.  Since they perceived that Jesus was about to evict them from the man, they sought another body to inhabit.[vi]  Mark and Luke both record that in response to their request, Jesus “gave them leave.”  Jesus did not specifically send the demons into the pigs, rather he allowed them to leave the man and enter the pigs.

At first glance it appears that the demons got off easy.  After terrorizing the man and his community, Jesus allowed them to continue practicing their despicable behavior in a herd of pigs.  The demons, however, true to their destructive nature, stampede the pigs over a cliff to their death.  To a Jewish audience, this is a very humorous story.  The unclean spirits and the unclean animals have all been eliminated in one fell swoop.[vii]  For the people of this region, however, it was not a laughing matter because it represented a substantial loss of income.

The swine herders ran to the city telling everyone they saw what had occurred.   The villagers curiosity drove them to the lake side where they found the man clothed, sane, and sitting at the feet of Jesus.  The townspeople, astonished at what had happened begged Jesus to leave.  Perhaps they were afraid of the power that Jesus had demonstrated.  Although the demoniac was dangerous, the people were more comfortable with his destructive power than they were with Jesus’ power to heal.  While Jesus was more concerned about one man than a whole herd of pigs, the townspeople may not have shared his conviction.  Someone wandering about the countryside casting demons into pigs would be deadly to their profits.  Whatever their motives were, they dismissed the one who came to give freedom and salvation.[viii]

The Gospel accounts paint a heartbreaking picture of a tormented, naked man, living among the dead, bruising himself with stones, screaming in agony to no one in particular.  All attempts to restrain him had proved futile and he had been rejected by society.   No one was willing to extend help or compassion to this hopeless man.  Alone, rejected, despised and insane, the demoniac was relegated to a life of  hopelessness.

Although the demoniac’s screams of agony  were directed to no one in particular, Jesus heard his cry.  It was Jesus who took the initiative and sought out the one who was despised, rejected and tormented.  The demoniac was not searching for healing and initially he resisted Jesus’ compassion.  Yet, for his sake,  Jesus had traveled across a lake to a country of unclean people.  Jesus had come to heal an unclean man who lived in an environment of impurity and was filled with unclean spirits.  There is no one that is too unclean, too hopeless or too far away for Jesus’ compassion, grace and healing.  His oppression and bondage were smashed by the healing power of Jesus.  The former demoniac experienced the freedom that salvation and restoration brings.

What do the various pericopes that have been evaluated reveal about the ministry of Jesus?  Clearly Jesus rejects tradition, cultural norms and man-made laws in the interest of compassion for the oppressed.  Jesus inaugurates a new lifestyle that supersedes some Old Testament Levitical Law to bring good news to the outcasts of society.  Jesus has leveled the ground and extended equality to all people, whether Jew or gentile, man or woman, clean or unclean.  It is not those who keep the law meticulously with a strict adherence to tradition that Jesus is seeking, but those who place their faith solely in him.  .  .  .



[i].          Morris, Matthew, 208.

[ii].         Ibid., 209.

[iii].        Nilland, Luke, 407.

[iv].        Garland, Mark, 202.

[v].         Ibid., 203-204.

[vi].        Ibid., 204.

[vii].       Ibid., 205.

[viii].      Ibid., 206.

David E. Garland,  Mark (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub., 1996)

Leon Morris, The Gospel According to Luke, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1974)

John Nilland, Luke, vol. 35a, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word Book Pub., 1993)

I remember when I first discovered The Message, a Bible translation from Eugene Peterson.  The stories lept off of the pages.  It was vibrant and alive and I devoured the text with new found joy.

The great majority of people who read the Bible today have no idea how much is lost in translation from the original language to the English text (or added, for that matter).  So, how can one rectify this problem?  You could take classes in Greek and Hebrew, then supplement that with additional classes in exegesis, and finally spend a prodigious amount of hours engrossed in the original languages.  Or you could just pick up a copy of The Message and enjoy the work that Peterson has done!

 

Why was The Message written? The best answer to that question comes from Eugene Peterson himself: “”While I was teaching a class on Galatians, I began to realize that the adults in my class weren’t feeling the vitality and directness that I sensed as I read and studied the New Testament in its original Greek. Writing straight from the original text, I began to attempt to bring into English the rhythms and idioms of the original language. I knew that the early readers of the New Testament were captured and engaged by these writings and I wanted my congregation to be impacted in the same way. I hoped to bring the New Testament to life for two different types of people: those who hadn’t read the Bible because it seemed too distant and irrelevant and those who had read the Bible so much that it had become ‘old hat.'”” (from BibleGateway)

 

After that glowing review I must note that I have not read The Message in a very long while.  Moreover, the fact that I read it today was an accident — an inadvertent switching of versions in my Bible app.

And I just happened to be reading in Matthew 5.  Have you ever been confused by the Beatitudes?  Have you wondered, “but what does that really mean?”  You see the words, but struggle with translating those concepts into ideas that can impact your present reality?

Let’s look at that passage in Peterson’s translation (I am underlining and bolding some of the parts that I just love).

 

When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.

“Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

Don’t you just love that?  Hearing Jesus speak this way fires me up!  It makes me want to be one of the committed, climbing that mountain with Jesus, drinking in every word.  It makes me want to partake in the best meal ever.  It makes me want to go public, to bring out the God-colors and the God – flavors of this world.  And it makes me want to be part of the dangerous journey of following Christ, because the danger always turns into blessing when we are committed to him.

How about you?  How did these words hit home for you?

On to the Journey!  On to The Best Meal You’ll Ever Eat!

 

I would like to point you to an interesting post I read a few weeks ago at The Internet Monk.  Too often we fail to fully appreciate the historical context within which God revealed himself in the Scriptures.

I think the so-called “New Perspective on Paul”is of tremendous importance for a more accurate understanding of the Gospel and the teaching of the New Testament.

I have always felt that way, from the my first exposure to E.P. Sanders, Krister Stendahl, and James D. G. Dunn in seminary back in the 1980s.

On the other hand, I never thought that what they were saying was necessarily in contradiction to more traditional “Reformation” readings. In my view, they added context to those readings and broadened my understanding of such teachings as justification by faith. I never could fathom the harsh reactions of many to “the new perspective.”

Please read the rest of the post here