Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hermeneutics (I Had To Look It Up)

Kim is confused....aren't the Supremes supposed to rule per the law/Constitution and NOT per the social and cultural mores of the times? Does NPR know this???!!!

The Supremes' job is to interpret the Constitution. ALL interpretation, whether the Constitution or the Bible or whatever, is based on one's worldview and cultural norms. This is why appointing the Supremes is so significant, because that indicates what cultural norms are going to be used. And the recent effort by appointees to say that they are "objective" and don't use cultural norms to interpret are just being disingenuous.

I thought the idea was to interpret based on the Constitution as per the original intent. But, apparently many think that the document was written with "wiggle room" for the ages to come.
As for Biblical interpretation, it's supposed to be done with a SOUND hermeneutic basis. But I don't even know if i spelled that correctly. Thing is, we are human and we sin, so there is human error, even with the most steadfast folks. No matter how much integrity I bring to Scripture, I am sure that I goof it up at times. That's one of the places His grace coems into play.
But getting back to the Constitution, if you want Supremes that interpret according to the way the wind is blowing at that time, you would definitely want a new crop in on a regular and more constant basis...they were talking about every 10 years...

The fact is, the term "sound" (and that other word which I use often enough but I also don't know how to spell) is also interpreted. Thus, our method of interpretation is interpretation. I want to use the interpretation of the apostles in studying the Bible, but that's hard to do, and even that is disagreed about. What about a secular document like the constitution? Every form of interpretation is just a form of cultural values

What is Fruit About?

just read gospel of john chapter 15, verse 8. it says when you bear much fruit then you are my disciples. i was wondering what is meant by "fruit"? i know the evangelicals think it means that we must bring many to making a decision for Jesus. i was wondering if it could mean other things in your opinion. i realize that the fruit of the Holy Spirit are fruit, but can we bear fruit of the Holy Spirit. i thought it was the Spirit in us that did that. not coming from us, but a work done through us, as we are willing vessels in him.

"Fruit" really means doing what Jesus said. We can see this clearly in Matthew 7 where it says "You shall know them" meaning false teachers "by their fruit." And he goes on to talk about good and bad fruit. The passage ends with two warnings of judgment-- one against false teachers who were "lawless", meaning disobedient and another warning about hearing and doing what Jesus says.

In John it's the same. Do the teachers who say that "fruit" is getting converts also think that people who don't make converts get burned in hell?
"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

6 "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.

(John 15:5-6)

It's saying that all who live in Jesus has "fruit". If you don't have "fruit" you don't live in Jesus. And then you are separated from Jesus and get "burned"-- punished. All that for not having converts? I don't think so.

As far as the Holy Spirit "fruit" goes, love is borne is us as a result of having the Spirit. If a person doesn't partner with the Holy Spirit in having love-- in refusing the Spirit's influence to love and gentleness-- then the Spirit doesn't hang around. We see this in Romans 8--

"and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him."

Also in Galatians 5--

"If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit."

The fruit of the Spirit isn't just something that happens to us, although we might be surpized at the changes that occur when we begin living in the Spirit. Love is something that the Spirit gives us the ability to do and we, in agreement to be followers of Jesus, partner with the Spirit to act that way.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mennonites and Anabaptists

LeeAnne asked if the Mennonite church supports Anawim and she gave her general support of Anabaptists:

I replied:

Some Mennonites do get involved, and Anawim has been an inspiration to the Mennonite church. I've just been asked by Urban Connections-- a Mennonite publication-- to write an article about our response to the recession. A local Mennonite church serves a meal once a month and sings hymns. And Mennonites have sent us socks, etc.

Mennonites are different than Anabaptists, really. The Mennonite church is the denominational descendent of the historical Anabaptists. Modern Anabaptists are those who are directly influenced by the historical Anabaptists. There are a lot of Anabaptists in the Mennonite church (I'm one of them), but not all Mennonites are Anabaptists and not all Anabaptists are Mennonite.

Friday, February 13, 2009

12 Values

I also received yesterday from the same person 12 values to live by. I had already made my own, but I revised it:

Freedom: To grant everyone the God-given freedom they have to make their own choices, even if poor

Tolerance: Accepting that others believe differently than I, while still standing firm in Jesus.

Responsibility: Whatever results from our actions, we resolve to deal with the negative ones

Community: In whatever community we live in, we resolve to live by those principles, even if uncomfortable

Faithfulness: To keep our word and our loyalties in relationship

Do No Harm: To never, under any circumstances, damage another unless for their benefit by their will

Golden Rule: Treat others with the same amount of respect, love, care, compassion, and consideration that we would be treated

Compassion: Putting myself in the other person’s need, and trying to meet it

Generosity: Never keeping anything for myself that someone else needs more

Self-Sacrifice: Meeting other’s needs even if it means to not meet my own

Courage: Standing up for Jesus and His gospel in all situations, especially with other believers

Hope: Trusting in my actions that Jesus is returning to rule the world

Nine Principles

I received yesterday "9 principles" that someone lives by. I didnt' care for them, so I made my own:

9 Principles:
1. The only nation without compromise is the Kingdom of God

2. Jesus is my chosen Lord over that Kingdom

3. Jesus is my Lord and I will obey Him over all other principles or laws.

4. God is my allegiance and I will work for and serve Him.

5. Those who love God will obey, work for and serve the Kingdom of God over the nations of men.

6. The people of the Kingdom of God are the poor and persecuted who live in Jesus, and those who unequivocally support them.

7. Service to the Kingdom of God is using whatever resources we have for those who have greater needs than ourselves

8. All true power rests in God, so to make real change we must pray.

9. No one has the right, in the name of God, to damage anyone.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Martin Luther

I also got a question about Martin Luther. The question is of the type which says: "What about Martin Luther?"

This is reasonably vague enough that I can pretty much post what I want to about the man. Below is a brief summary I wrote about him in my Biographical Church History, which can be read in The Faithful, a blog I created to talk about 20 followers of Jesus who changed the world:

But about Martin Luther: He was a great man, a hothead, a stubborn mule, a Bible student, a prolific writer, a professor of theology, but not a really great thinker. He really did change the world by insisting that church tradition be based on Scripture instead of money or power. He stood firm when the church wanted him to change his views on the book of Romans and the basis of salvation. And in trying to escape the inquisition, he inadvertantly created a new church and a new political map of Europe, especially Germany. He also wrote the first modern translation of the Bible into German, which is still used as an important translation today. But by the end of his life, he got kinda strange. Because Zwingli didn't agree with him on an interpretation of the Lord's supper, he agreed to a war between his principality and Zwingli's. Because the Anabaptists were opposed to his views on baptism and the state, he agreed to have his government persecute and kill them off. Because the Jewish people didn't listen to him any more than the Catholics, he preached the worst anti-Semitic sermons you could think of.

So, while he truly changed the world, I wish he had been a better follower of Jesus.

My chapter on Luther:
Martin Luther—1500s
No Salvation Through Money

Background Check:
In the late Middle Ages (1300-1500) much of the Roman church, which ruled over Western Europe, was corrupt. The Romans church was controlled by rich people, who taxed the poor so that they could live luxurious lives. The priests and the monks were the only ones who could preach, but they often did not know the Bible at all, only the theology they were taught by other priests and monks. And then came a practice known as “indulgences”—The church requesting money from people so that their loved ones would not suffer harm from God. In the early 1500’s this became a popular form of devotion, and a way for rich people to feel that they were “saving” their dead loved ones from harm.

His Story:
Martin Luther was a young man riding his horse when a lightning storm struck suddenly. He was scared out of his mind, and so pleaded to God for deliverance. After not being harmed by the storm, Luther decided to live with a community of monks in Wittenberg, Germany (The “W” is pronounced like a “V”). Although he lived by himself, his task was to teach the Bible and theology to the young monks.
In 1517, it became known that a caravan of the Roman church was coming to Wittenberg to encourage people to give indulgences. Luther became angry and wrote out 95 points (or “theses”) against indulgences and then nailed them to the Wittenberg church door (which was the community bulletin board). These points were well presented, written in German and they became printed on a new machine called a printing press. Soon the 95 Theses were all over Germany, and the church leaders were not happy about it.

The church leaders called Luther to a trial in another part of Germany, called Worms (Remember, the “W” is pronounced like a “v”). There, they accused Luther of teaching heresy, but Luther simply stood by the word of God and challenged them to correct him by the Bible. They could not, so they let him go. On his way back home, Luther heard that some of the church leaders were going to try to kill him, so he ran away and hid with some friends.

Soon, an important political leader called Fredrick the Wise decided to assist Luther and he kept him in his home and Luther was free to give Fredrick advice and to write his books—all of which were printed in German and were very popular in Germany. Luther also translated the Bible in German so that all the people could read the Bible. All of these acts together caused what was called “the Reformation,” or the worldwide challenge to the Roman church. Luther wanted to cause a change in the Roman church, but when the leader of the Roman church, the Pope, rejected Luther, then Luther began a new church, called the Lutheran Church.
Later in his life, Luther did not continue to follow the ways of Jesus, but advised Fredrick and other Lutheran leaders to kill Roman Catholics, Anabaptists (also called Mennonites) and Jews. This immediately caused horrible wars and persecutions to erupt between Christians in Europe for more than a hundred years.

Jesus also spoke out against the hypocrisy of people. He constantly said that the leaders of God’s people could not be trusting in money, but in God. And he was rejected and persecuted for this opinion, just like Martin Luther. However, Jesus never affirmed the killing of others. He recognized that people would be judged for their sins, but he held that God would do such punishment himself, and not support the killing of others. Thus, while Jesus might have supported Luther’s ideals, he would not have supported Luther’s ways of achieving God’s righteousness

Final Word (of men)
Martin Luther began a church named the Lutherans, and he actually changed the world upside-down. Because of his writings and teachings the Bible was focused on more by all Western churches and a new kind of Christianity was supported, generally named the Protestants (so called because they broke away from the Catholic church). Most Western Christians honor Martin Luther and his stand against hypocrisy.

A Word From Our Sponsor:
He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and he who is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, which will entrust you to true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? No slave can be enslaved by two masters; either he will hate the one and love the other or he will love the hone and hate the other. No one can be enslaved by both God and Mammon.
Luke 16:10-13

Beware of scribes, who like to go about in long robes, and to have salutations in the market places and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.
Mark 12:38-40

Helpful Hint: Getting To The Heart of the Matter
In every age, the church had a weakness in following Jesus—and often more than one! The Faithful saw that weakness and spoke boldly to correct it. They were never interested in dividing the church, but only to make the church more faithful to Jesus and His teaching. Anthony saw the worldliness in the church and sought to correct it. Luther saw the demand to live by unfruitful deeds. As we will see, Martin Luther King saw the favoritism and spoke against it. The church was never happy to hear this message—instead, the Christians of these days fought against the message of Jesus! But the Faithful never failed to bring the message their church needed to hear.

What About Prophets?

Someone wrote me: What does the Bible say about prophetic gifts (Bill Johnson style)?
Below is my basic teaching on prophetic gifts and discerning prophecy. Just to summarize, I need to say that prophets are real, that they hear God's voice and speaks to God's people. However, it is easy to dismiss all prophets because some false prophets get all the publicity. We need to listen to Scripture (I Thess. 5:19-20) , "Do not quench the Spirit" in other words, let the prophets speak, "but discern all spirits", determine what spirit the prophet is speaking with-- the Holy One or a false one.

What is Prophecy?
There are these people out there and they are obnoxious. They get in your face, and say things you aren’t comfortable with and often they claim to be speaking for God. Those who want to say something positive would typically say, “Oh, he’s a prophet” (inevitably, the prophet is a “he”). But just because a person has a “hard message” does that make them a prophet?
Not necessarily. A “prophet” in Scripture is specifically someone who has a message directly from God through God’s Spirit. This isn’t just a message from the Bible or a rewriting of a Bible text. It is something one hears from God directly. Not everyone hears God’s voice in the church, nor does everyone who hears God’s voice necessarily have to speak his messages to others. But a prophet receives a message from God and then he or she must go and speak it to the ones God commanded them to tell. Prophecies could be in dreams, visions, voices or just listening to a silent voice. But it is clear, and it is clearly from God.

Do We Need Prophecies?
The Bible says we do. God often spoke to prophets in the past, and Moses exclaimed, “I wish that all of God’s people would be prophets!” (Numbers 11:29). All of Jesus’ followers receive God’s spirit and all of them have something from God’s spirit to share with others (I Corinthians 12:3-4). Some people are led by the Spirit to serve, others to give, others to teach. Prophecy is one of those “gifts” that some have received from the Spirit.
While prophecies are uncomfortable for many, Paul says that prophecy is essential. He calls it the most essential work of the Spirit for the community of believers. Why? Prophecy, more than any other service to the church, can point out the weaknesses and the issues the Lord wants a particular congregation to work on. The Lord can speak both encouragement and rebuke clearly and immediately without confusion or as many interpretation problems.

How should we respond to a prophet?
If a prophet has a message to give to a church, they should be allowed to do so. This may not be comfortable for many, but Scripture tells us clearly not to “quench the Spirit or despise prophetic utterances.” (I Thessalonians 5:19-20). Prophecy may be a hard pill to swallow, but it is necessary from the Spirit. Such a prophecy should be shared at an appropriate time determined by the leader of the worship time, so any prophet should ask for an opportunity to speak and not be upset if they are asked to wait. Only two or three prophecies per service so that others may share what they have from the Lord as well (I Corinthians 14:29-33). The prophet should speak the exact words of the prophecy and allow the people to test and interpret the prophecy. “No prophecy is of private interpretation” says the Scripture, so the prophet should not interpret the prophecy themselves before they give it to the congregation (I Peter 1:20).

Testing the spirits
After a prophecy has been given, then the spirit of the prophet must be tested. There are many spirits, and not all are the Holy Spirit come from God. We must test every word we receive from a spirit.
We can know if a message is not from the Spirit of God if:
• It encourages people to sin
• It encourages people away from the God of Jesus (Deuteronomy 13)
• It slanders someone with an evil act that is not already publicly known. (Matthew 18:15)
• It serves the personal interests of the prophet.
• It is a message to the whole people of God, but only one group of God’s people has received it. (I Corinthians 14:36)
Another indication that a prophet is sent from God is if they speak a prophecy about a future event, and the prophecy does not come true as stated. If a prophet is inaccurate about the future, then Scripture says “You need not fear that one.” This means that they are not a true prophet from God (Deuteronomy 18:22)
However, a prophecy is more likely true if:
a. The prophet is humble before the Lord and God’s people, and shares with love and gentleness. (Galatians 5:22-23)
b. The message the prophet shares is accurate with the Bible. It does not have to be accurate with popular theology, but it must be accurate with the message of Jesus in the New Testament. (John 14:26)
c. The message leads people to godly repentance, drawing them closer to a relationship with the Lord.

How should we respond to Prophecy?
If a prophecy and the prophet has been tested and has passed, then the word of the Lord is to “fear that prophet”. We must do as the prophecy says. We do not need to tell other people to obey the prophecy, unless they were given it personally. But we need to do it, for it is the word of the Lord for us. If we do not listen to the prophet who spoke truly, the Lord will judge us for not listening to Him. (Deuteronomy 18:18-19; Ezekiel 3:19)

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Shane Claiborne and Celebrities

Craig asked, "What's your take on Shane Claiborne? I didn't care for his book, The Irresistable Revolution, I didn't think it was well written and it seemed to have a "look at me" viewpoint rather than looking at Jesus. Should I give him another chance?"

My feelings about him are very complex. First of all, clearly, the book was well enough written that its a religious best seller. I think its a very popular, autobiographical style that is very interesting to his readership. Secondly, I'm really happy in general about the message he's getting out. I wish he would nuance his stances a bit, but overall he's heading in the right direction-- war is bad, poverty is bad, we need to stand up in Christ and do something about it.

On the other hand, I he's a celebrity. He's getting interviews everywhere, and even MCUSA was thinking about asking him to speak at Ohio this year to "pull in the young people." I don't like people being promoted because their famous. The thing that bugs me the most is that he hasn't done all that much about what he's talking about. He did stand with some homeless folks who were being ejected out of an abandoned church. That's wonderful. But does he really relate to the poor, connect with them? No, he's too busy travelling around the country being a poster child for "Radical Christian."

On the other hand, I have a friend who spent a bit of time with Shane before the publicity hounds attacked him. And he says that Shane is humble, kind, friendly and just an all around great guy. One of my other friends who had a chance to take part in an interview with him last night said the same.

What can be said? God is using him. He probably deserves to be used. What more really need be said?

Monday, February 02, 2009

Anawim Photos

Check them out: