Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Today’s Kosher Authors

This is a bit of fun. Please don’t take me seriously.

Have you noticed that some authors are more kosher than others? If a speaker quotes, alludes to or indicates that he or she is reading any of the following, you find a willing audience nodding and approving of whatever next thing they say. And it doesn’t matter who they are or what they believe: Quote these guys and one is considered ‘in’ and reasonable, thoughtful and a little [but not overly] academic.

This my list is in order of kosher-ness:

1. CS Lewis
2. JRR Tolkien
3. Frederick Buechner
4. Philip Yancey
5. Dietrich Bonhoeffer
6. GK Chesterton
7. Brennan Manning

Are there any others? Should anyone come off the list? And are they in the right order?

Love, Justin.

PS I quote them all, by the way [as you see in the previous posts].

84 comments:

Craig Tubman said...

yes, yes - very kosher indeed.

For mind, the odd ones out seem to be Yancey and Manning - although I would definatly keep Manning in there and maybe just drop Yancey down a few spots (actually, maybe swap the two)
Would Carson get a look in? He would round here...
Or Stott - Cross of Christ or Contemorary Christian....kosher.

My only other thought would be 'the Doctor' - Dr. David Martin Lloyd Jones?

Benjamin Ady said...

Hmmm. I sort of got in trouble over 'profanities' in my sort of quoting of beuchner a bit ago. It didn't seem to get me an kudos...

Benjamin Ady said...

The rest are all very readable, but bonhoeffer is a bit obnoxious, if you ask me. (maybe he should have written some fiction...)

Christopher said...

Great post Justin,

I have heard people use DA Carson as if the good Lord had spoke it himself.
JI Packer and Stott are a couple of others, but the latter has that whole temporality of hell thing hanging over his head which obviously calls into question everything else he has written.

I think it is funny when you or someone else quotes a "kosher-author" that the other person has never heard. It knocks the wind out of the trump card if you recieve blank looks when you quote them.

Should anyone come off?
GK Chesterton is little, you know, Catholic. But Carson quotes him a lot so I guess he is ok.

byron said...

it doesn’t matter who they are or what they believe
Do you mean it doesn't matter who the audience is and what they believer? If so,I think this would remove Carson, Stott and MLJ. Perhaps we could add Winston Churchhill, Martin Luther King Jr., George Orwell and Nelson Mandela.

John P. said...

I think you would also need to add Henri Nouwen...He is another name that i have heard thrown around in many circles in many situations. Books like wounded healer, return of the prodigal son, and in the name of jesus all seem to have had a staying power in many church communities that i have been around.

CS Lewis definitely belongs at the top. Bonhoeffer is troubling yet true. Yet his work, from a theological standpoint, seems a little more rigorous (in my experience) than the rest.

I wonder what all those Bonhoeffer lovers would think if they branched out from reading only Cost of Discipleship. Would he still be as popular to claim? Nonetheless, i think he deserves to be #2 on this list.

Manning was big in circles that i frequented. he was so popular at one church i used to attend that they got him to preach there on a sunday morning! (in fact, you can listen to it here: http://www.gracecommunitychurch.org/Sermons/)

A great idea with a great list...well done.

Benjamin Ady said...

oh, by the way, where's george macdonald? He's got to be on there. he's got 'that whole temporality of hell thing' big time, and that's a huge part of the reason one has to love him, IMNSHM. ok, so since Lewis' claims macdonald as his master/mentor whatever ("I imagine I have never written a book in which I haven't quoted him" said Lewis), one is led to wonder "Who did all these other guys *always* quote in every book they wrote?"

Em said...

Is Don is good!
I would say the Don should be on that list for sure...(Carson that is)

DiscuZion said...

· Donald Carson
· John Stott
· M.L. Jones
· Chuck Spurgeon
· Jonathan Edwards
· J.I. Packer
· Augustine
· Martin Luther
· Karl Barth??
· Cranmer (in evangelical-Anglican circles)

Anonymous said...

I would love to read your non- kosher book list...

Benjamin Ady said...

hear hear--the non kosher book list would be ... excellent

Justin said...

OK. Thanks for the thoughts. First, here is your suggestions [so far -- happy to hear more] [I'll make comments in the next posts]:

John Stott
Martin Lloyd Jones
DA Carson
JI Packer
Winston Churchhill
Martin Luther King Jr.
George Orwell
Nelson Mandela
Henri Nouwen
George MacDonald
Chuck Spurgeon
Jonathan Edwards
Augustine
Martin Luther
Karl Barth
Tom Cranmer

John P. said...

By the way...(this may be stating the obvious) did you happen to see the latest issue of Christianity Today? It is their 50th anniversery issue and they list the top fifty most influential evangelical books.

many of these are there. though i am not quite sure how you define "influential."

have a look if you havent already.

Justin said...

John -- Thanks for the tip. For anyone wishing to pursue, here is the article.

Justin said...

OK. Thanks all for comments. Happy to have more, should you wish to post.

I ought to Clarify.

By kosher, I don’t mean people we like, read, or agree with. My list is not a list of people I necessarily like [although I do mostly]. I have actually left off the people I most read. If that were my criteria, I would have included Stott and Packer, and Carson etc.

By kosher, I mean this is a list of authors that almost everyone like, quotes, and agrees with. It doesn’t matter if you are Protestant or Catholic, Evangelical or Charismatic, High or Low Church, liberal or conservative. It doesn’t matter. You simply get kudos for quoting them.

So they are usually a touch poet. They are not always easy to pin down theologically. They are very often good with narrative and they are competant with literature. That’s why Lewis is at the top of my list. And Buechner is a must.

Under that circumstance, John’s suggestion of adding Henri Nouwen is the most appealing to me. And maybe Benjamin’s suggestion of George MacDonald.

But I’d be hesitant to include Carson and MLJ and Barth and Cramner. Because when you mention these guys, you get ‘schtick’ from 10% of people and they are often a noisy 10%. Maybe under these circumstances, Stott should be in my list. And Bonhoffer out of it.

Hmmm...

Yes?

Justin said...

Below is a classic example. I have no idea who Rhett Smith is. No doubt a nice guy. [He works, it would seem, at Nancy Reagan's church.] But look here at his influential list [side bar]:

C.S. Lewis
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Donald Miller
Eugene Peterson
Fyodor Dostoevsky
Henri Nouwen
Karl Barth
Miroslav Volf
Ray Anderson
Soren Kierkegaard

Classic.

[Hope he doesn’t mind me linking – Blog-world!]

Christopher said...

Isn't Buechner a litte obscure for your definition of Kosher?

I would think that only CS Lewis, and maybe Chesterton would fit the box.

Billy Graham? No one reads his books, but no body would blink if you quoted one.

Justin said...

Christopher -- maybe you are right. But my thought [or what I meant to say] is that you can quote and allude them, even if everyone doesn't know them. You can quote Buechner and most people who have read him nods their heads. Everyone else then simply nods too.

Am I wrong?

:)

Christopher said...

You are not incorrect.

But then maybe we are getting into the whole herd mentality of auidences.

HughD said...

Hey Justin, What about John Donne?
I know his works aren't quite so voluminous - but they are good stuff...

"Batter my heart, three person'd God etc."

-H

Julia Collings said...

I'll back John Donne!!His poetry is most inspiring and totally theologically kosher...problem? no -one quotes him...they should, but they don't...
I know a particular speaker (who shall remain nameless) who loves to quote Barth...how about Keirkergard (sp?)? a philosopher is always a good inclusion...
I will always back Stott too...I was surprised not to see him on your list Justin;)(but your explanations are clear!)

Benjamin Ady said...

Hear hear--out with Bonhoeffer (just fulfilling my role as part of the noisy 10%).

Benjamin Ady said...

hey, didn't amazon.com do a poll for best book of the millenium and all the LOTR books came in the top 5? 'Cause I can't find that anywhere now. Help...I was wondering if your kosher guys all made it into that

Anonymous said...

Someone who rarely makes an appearance on such lists, but who nevertheless is worthy, is M. Craig Barnes, author of "When God Interrupts," among other fine works.

Anthony Sacramone

Luke said...

"I wonder what all those Bonhoeffer lovers would think if they branched out from reading only Cost of Discipleship. Would he still be as popular to claim? Nonetheless, i think he deserves to be #2 on this list."

If people actually understood and took seriously what Bonhoeffer wrote and said, I don't think he would be an "in" theologian in American "Christinity." He is about as misquoted and misunderstood as Jesus Christ, Paul, Augustine, and others like Martin Luther. But it is usually the strongest followers of Jesus Christ who get abused the most by the latest "theology of the day." People pick and choose what they like about a theologian rather than taking their entire work as a UNITY. The most devastating thing is when people quote a work and use it in opposition to the greater point of that very work.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer took seriously the call of Jesus Christ that takes place thru Word, Sacrament, and the communion of saints. You cannot take his theology out of that context of Jesus Christ, the means of grace, and the Church. But people do it all the time for their little side agendas.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was in my opinion the greatest theologian of the 20th century, but by no means is he "kosher" or "safe." His theology is not able to be harmonized with the current trends in American "Christianity", he takes the Scriptures and the Word and call of Jesus Christ far too seriously to be "kosher."

Justin said...

Luke. Thanks for joining and commenting.

It looks like I shall be taking Bonhoeffer off the Kosher list then! But for an entirely different reason to why Benjamin wanted him off the list.

I see from my Stat counter that you found my site simply by searching for 'dietrich bonhoeffer' in Blogger Search. Do you like to see what people are thinking about him?

Andrew & Jessica said...

J - we heard 3 lectures from Miroslav Volf this week presenting Regent College's Laing Lectures - brilliant! Never read his stuff though (yet) ...
Good to see a Regent prof on the list! Dr J.I. Packer is as impressive as the Lord's humble, gracious and sinful servant, as he is great in writing Knowing God. Also, he is as articulate and focused, at 80 years old, as a man half his age, and leading the good fight in a very sick Anglican Church of Canada.

Benjamin Ady said...

I wanted him off because he is "obnoxious", which could be construed as the same as "not able to be harmonized with (that is, unpalatable to) current trends in American Christianity" I did force myself to read all of "life together", but he pretty much lost me with the very very strange stuff about how singing harmony is wrong.

Luke said...

Justin,

Indeed, I have a very strong interest in how people approach him and view him. And it seems to be a good start when I feel like reading blogs I haven't been exposed to before.

You are very right about my reason differing from Benjamin's. But I do appreciate Ben's honesty about his "obnoxious"-ness. At least that is a more honest opinion than when people use Bonhoeffer for a cause that his writing doesn't agree with. But that is normal in theology and a fascinating thing to observe. How many people make opinions on theologians without actually reading their writing? At least one ENTIRE work in order to get the full context and setting of one train of thought?

We should all make a more concerted effort (myself included for sure!) to respect the works of theologians by reading more of them and judging them less on hearsay. Here is a question: Can we break the 8th commandment in regards to someone who has passed on in this life? Is misquoting a theologian break the spiritual nature of the 8th commandment?

Luke said...

"I did force myself to read all of "life together", but he pretty much lost me with the very very strange stuff about how singing harmony is wrong."

Benjamin,

Bonhoeffer never says "harmony is wrong" per se. His point about unison singing is in an effort for us to understand how as the communion of saints our goal should be to declare the works of God in Jesus Christ with one voice. Singing in church is not about musical quality or enjoyment, it is about confessing with one voice what we believe and the works that our God has done for us. We are one in the Body of Christ and therefore we should sing as one when we proclaim Christ. We need to lose "self" when we enter the Body of Christ and submit to the Head who is Christ Himself.

Therefore I don't think it is fair to Bonhoeffer to say that "harmony is wrong", because his point wasn't about harmony, his point was about answering this question: "What is our purpose in singing as a Church body?"

Benjamin Ady said...

...Isn't the 8th commandment not to steal? I'm a bit confused as to how misquoting someone, alive or dead, amounts to stealing (but don't mind me, I'm often a bit confused =))
Also wanted to say I'm opting out of your "we" for the "we should all ..." statement. I'm right into eschewing the use, in regards to myself, of "should", "ought" and "behoove".

Luke said...

Benjamin,

I apologize, I should have been more clear since how one numbers the commandments is arbitrary and differs amongst groups. I was referring to: "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor" (Exodus 20:16). This is the one I have always numbered as #8. This is the commandment I was referring to when we quote theologians without reading the entire work or when using that quote to support something the author did not clearly support.


Also, I am not following what you are stating/asking/clarifying with the "we" vs. "we should all..." Can you explain? Thanks.

Benjamin Ady said...

Luke,

thankyou for the commandment clarification. Further regarding that, To me the question is not so much "Can we break the 8th (or any other commandment) by doing _______?" as much as "Can Benjamin refrain from breaking *any* of the commandments?" The answer to this latest is gererally a resounding *nope*. It is in the midst of the tension between this "nope" and an internal overwhelming desire that I could answer "YES!" that I am most able to connect with God and other people. But again, that's just me.
With regards to the "we" thing, you said "We should all make a more concerted effort ..." and I was just saying that actually, I was choosing not to be a part of the antecedent of the pronoun "we"--that is, I was explicity opting out of the group to which you referred when you said "all". I wanted to do this because I made a decision a long time ago to avoid shoulding on myself. I made this decision because I recognized that all my shoulding on myself was not moving me toward life, but rather towards death. Hope that makes some sort of sense.
Trying to find a copy of life together so I can see, again, what bonhoeffer said in regards to harmony, cause I thought I was a bit stronger than what you seem to think it was. But I can't find a copy so far.

Luke said...

Benjamin,

I totally agree that we are not capable of keeping the commandments perfectly on our own, however in Christ we do indeed uphold the law thru HIS grace and HIS work. Therefore as a matter of daily and every moment repentance it is important to hold ourselves up to the standard of the law and teachings of God and to then look to Christ alone as our hope, life, and solution.

Sure, we must not live in "fear" of sinning, but in Christ it is imperative that we not throw God's will to the wind, but that we see it as a gracious opportunity to follow Him in this life. The reason I refrain from misquoting theologians is not because I think I keep the commandments on my own, the reason I do it is because in Christ I now know the living will of God that is only in Him. In Christ we seek God's will in our bold living of life. To do otherwise is only to give ourselves a license to live for our OWN selfish will and to in fact lose sight of Jesus Christ altogether.

It is because my focus is in Jesus Christ and Him alone that the commandments take on the role of being God's gracious and merciful will for my life, and therefore with the psalmist I say: "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the Torah of Yahweh, and on his Torah he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers" (Psalm 1:1-3). And with Paul: "In my inner being I delight in God's law" (Romans 7:22).

I therefore think this rolls right into the discussion about the word "should." The law's purpose is to show us what we "should" do in order that we might see how depraved and lost we are in sin, and then so we might be able to prove God's living will for our life once we are in Christ. If you don't like the word "should" then let me word it like this: Do not misquote theologians and writers, using their words in disharmony with their intentions and purposes and thereby bear false witness against them. With Paul we say: "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12:2). Seeing this is not "moving towards death", but is living actively IN Christ Jesus. How can I be IN Christ Jesus and not actively rejoice, delight, and desire God's will, teachings, statutes, and judgments?

"May my tongue sing of your word, for all your commands are righteous. May your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts. I long for your salvation, O Yahweh, and your law is my delight. Let me live that I may praise you, and may your laws sustain me. I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands" (Psalm 119:172-176).

Justin said...

Benjamin -- in a freaky way -- have you met in Luke your bizarro nemesis...

Keep it up guys...

Benjamin Ady said...

Justin, I'm thinking I'm the bizarro nemesis, described perfectly in the wikipedia article: "Although Bizarro wanted to be accepted, his appearance and erratic behavior scared people" This made me chuckle. Also my pasty white skin--I think I'm in something like the 95th percentile for lack of melanin. I find it fascinating about you that you know about this character--are you or have you been a reader of comic books? This is an area of my education which is largely blank, much, I think, to my own loss and detriment. I enormously enjoyed Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which game me for the first time ever a little taste of the enormous breadth and depth of the world of comic books.

Benjamin Ady said...

Luke, you've given me another synonym to add to my list of banned words next to "should", "ought", and "behoove"--namely "It is imperative that"
As for the rest ... It seems possible to me that you and I are on such vastly different pages that conversation will be difficult at best. Maybe we can talk a little about the Psalm 1 thing.
The writer is saying that a certain type of person is happy, or "blessed" or perhaps "in right relationship with God" and he goes on to say that "whatever he/she does will prosper". The same thing happens to me here as often happens with scripture these days--a gut repsonse of "exactly what the *!#@>* is the writer talking about??? I'm rather with Victor Hugo--"there are *none* happy" (emphasis mine). This is what I see all around me--no one is happy. Furthermore, this person described doesn't seem to me to exist--described in Eugene's translation thusly
"How well God must like you— you don't hang out at Sin Saloon, you don't slink along Dead-End Road,
you don't go to Smart-Mouth College." There's *nobody* who meets these qualifications.
This speaks to this strange dichotomy that the bible always draws, from front to back, between these two groups of people--Jesus talks about them--the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad--here they are again in Psalm 1--first the goody from the first part of the psalm, and the "ungodly" which are "not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away". My first problem with this is that I've never met anybody who consistently manages to get into the first group, and my second problem is that even if there were such a group of people, I could *never* get into it--the second group is where I fit, its who I am, and much experience has taught me that I'm basically stuck there.
Sorry to be so long winded. I'm aware that theologically Jesus is the one who is in the first group, and somehow (magically) that means we get into the first group, but it so often just doesn't really seem to work out that way in day to day experience. plus it seems to me like the people who talk about that a lot ("christians") somehow seem to be very out of touch with present reality and they also often seem to resemble the second group more than the actual second groupers. Plus there's all this stuff about how a lot of people who thought/think they are in the first group are going to be very unpleasantly surprised one of these days to find out that (oops) they actually *aren't* in the first group at all, and sianara off to hell with you, etc, which I suppose won't be very surprising to people like me, who self place in the second group and see the people who claim to be in the first group as all too often seeming to be full of ... um ... of "excrementum" (I do hope I don't get in trouble with Mr. Moffat for profanities. This is not my intention. Please let me know if this is too strong, and I'll make sure to step the knob down yet another level.)

Benjamin Ady said...

May I just say "hooray" that, whatever the reason, bonhoeffer is off the list (desparately trying not to feel slightly smug...) (failing, and therefore expecting karma to boomerang on me in some way)

Luke said...

Benjamin,

Are you really out to ban the entire language of the Scriptures, both Old and New? I guess I don't see the purpose in not using words, considering they only find their true meaning in the matrix and context of other words. The writers of the Scriptures use the very language you wish to throw out for important reasons. Do we truly wish to throw out every command and teaching of God? Every exhortation of Christ and the Apostles?

I agree with your general assessment of the dichotomy of Scripture, with the righteous and the wicked. But I do not see how this dichotomy is leading you to the conclusions you are drawing. The key, as I feel you have alluded to, is Jesus Christ and He alone. It is IN Christ that all these Scriptures which condemn our fallen, wicked, helpless, and depraved selves are transformed into the bold prayer of those in Christ Jesus. We are definitely with the side of the goats by nature and are completely deserving of eternal damnation, judgment, and condemnation. However it is thru the work of Jesus Christ that we live as the sheep of God. It is thru Him that we pray the prayer of the righteous in Psalm 1. This psalm is not a self-righteous prayer, it is a prayer that sees the Messiah and relies on the gracious and merciful redeeming work of Him.

Christ tells us that the problem with man is not his external behavior, but is the wicked heart from which flows all the sinful thoughts, words, and deeds of our lives. Therefore there is no solution to sin but in Christ Jesus Himself. The powerful words of Ezekiel speak of this fulfillment in Christ Jesus: "I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances" (Ezekiel 36:25-27). IN Christ we are given a new heart that now causes us to walk in God's "shoulds" and "imperatives", as we live boldly as His creatures. No longer do the "shoulds" and "imperatives" kill us and strike us down, because now IN Christ we have been raised to live for Him and His righteousness: "Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness" (Romans 6:11-13).

So is it dangerous to think we are with the sheep that Christ speaks of? Well it is first off true that we must heed the words of Paul: "If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!" (1 Corinthians 10:12). However this is an admonishment and exhortation of the law which is meant to point us back to Christ. It seems to me (just what I am reading from you) that you wish to almost throw out the law, demands, and imperatives of God. This is a very dangerous path because the law is meant to be used for this constant purpose: "The law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith" (Galatians 3:24). We are no longer under the "supervision" of the law when we are in Christ, but we still are led by the law to fall in repentance before the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf.

It is this very law which Christ applies in the example of the sheep and goats, teaching us never to rely on where we think we stand or what we have done. It is not our "words" that matter, it is not our "deeds" that matter, what matters is Jesus Christ and the fact that He has died to save me. This shattering law breaks us of all self-righteousness and leads us to fall helpless before the cross and emtpy tomb. I have no chance on my own, so I need Christ 100% and at all times to be my shepherd. If He doesn't seek me out then I am lost; but praise God He has come after me thru His incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection. "The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost" (Luke 19:10). "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent" (Luke 15:4-7).

Benjamin Ady said...

Luke,

I have the distinct sensation you are trying to "evangelize" me. This is a surprising sensation--it's not something I've been on the receiving end of for many years. Thankyou for providing me with the experience. Although not altogether pleasant, it's novel, which makes it enjoyable somehow.

1. “Are you really out to ban the entire language of Scriptures, both Old and New?”

No. not the “entire language”.

2. “I guess I don’t see the purpose in not using words …”

Au contraire. Actually, I bet there are lots of words you purposely don’t use. I could mention a few, but I am trying to abide by Mr. Moffat’s family-friendly genre for his blog.

3. “The writers of the scriptures use the very language you wish to throw out …”

A. I don’t wish to throw it out, I merely wish to stop using it myself. Others can use it all they like, as long as they don’t use it in regards to myself.
B. Where?

4. “Do we truly wish to throw out every command and teaching of God? Every exhortation of Christ and the Apostles?”

Nope. Actually we only wish to throw out the ones we disagree with or don’t like. (but we won’t get away with it.)

5. “…But I do not see how this dichotomy is leading you to the conclusions you are drawing.”

Indeed.

6. “In Christ we are given a new heart that now causes us to walk in God’s “shoulds” and “imperatives”, as we live boldy as His creatures.”

Not at all. This is untrue both internally and externally. I was a “Christian” for many years, and this certainly was not true about me. Furthermore, as many as 2 billion people on the face of planet earth claim to be Christians, and as a group and as individuals they (we) all excel at refusing to and failing to walk in the “shoulds” and “imperatives” you speak of. I see *no* large scale evidence for this bold claim.

7. “It seems to me that you wish to throw out the law, demands, and imperatives of God”

I can see how it could seem this way to you. This is one half of an antinomy which is contained in me. Therefore it is absolutely true. And it is also at the same time true that I have an enormous internal longing for the ‘shalom’ that these laws are originally meant to bring about., as I suspect most people do, at one level or another. (although this is complicated by the fact that I do my best most of the time to deny the existence of that longing for shalom, with the vain intention of avoiding the pain of having the hope for shalom deferred.)

8. in reference to the story of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25) “…it is not our “deeds” that matter …”

here I am tempted to use a profanity. I thing this is a ridiculous misreading of the text—a bad case of eisogesis. (as an aside, I love this chapter because it has one of the most brilliant phrases when taken out of context—namely “God’s kingdom is like ten young virgins.”)

Anonymous said...

Benjamin - do you mean by throw out the should's - the vibe in 1 peter ' to the elders....be shepherds of god's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers - not because you must, but because you are willing as god wants you to be ..." (1 Peter 5:1-2)....
i have to confess i haven';t read the thread too carefully :)
rhea

Megs said...

Gotta add Bob Dylan to that list Justin! I like your comment, Rhea - i think that 'ought' or 'should' imply lack of desire.

Luke said...

Benjamin,

I am certainly not trying to "evangelize" you, unless by that you mean proclaim God's Word (for that is my goal)...but I am glad you brought you a "somewhat enjoyable" experience...ha.

"Au contraire. Actually, I bet there are lots of words you purposely don’t use. I could mention a few, but I am trying to abide by Mr. Moffat’s family-friendly genre for his blog."

No, I wish to ban NO word in and of itself. I truly believe this: "Everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer" (1 Timothy 4:4-5). This goes for EVEN all words. There is a place for all words, and the only reason I refrain from using certain words is so that I may not offend any of my brothers.

"Not at all. This is untrue both internally and externally. I was a “Christian” for many years, and this certainly was not true about me. Furthermore, as many as 2 billion people on the face of planet earth claim to be Christians, and as a group and as individuals they (we) all excel at refusing to and failing to walk in the “shoulds” and “imperatives” you speak of. I see *no* large scale evidence for this bold claim."

Are you not siding with personal "experience" and "observation" over the Word of God given to us in Ezekiel? I say that God's promise in Ezekiel to give us a new heart and cause us to walk in His commands is fulfilled in Christ Jesus. This is not something that we need to look for outside evidence of in ourselves (since the right hand does not know what the left does), but is something that we take on FAITH, because God has declared it and promised it in Jesus Christ. Is not Paul the perfect example of how this manifests itself in this life? "In my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:22-25). Of course we will never be "perfect" in this life, and this is not what I am claiming. I am simply claiming that God gives us a new heart of faith in Jesus Christ by which we now delight in God's law and cling to Christ as our righteousness, living for His will in our life.

"here I am tempted to use a profanity. I thing this is a ridiculous misreading of the text—a bad case of eisogesis. (as an aside, I love this chapter because it has one of the most brilliant phrases when taken out of context—namely “God’s kingdom is like ten young virgins.”)"

Let me illustrate my point from the text of Scripture, with the sermon on the mount. First off Christ tears apart our "words": "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21). Here Christ tells us that no perfect claim of Christ as "Lord" is good enough to get us into heaven. He tells us we have to do the will of His Father in heaven.

Many in the world stop here, but Christ continues: "Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" (Matthew 7:22-23). After tearing down our "words" Christ tears down our "deeds." Man will come to Christ pointing to their deeds and to their works done according to God's will, but what does Christ tell them? Get away from me you evildoers! Why? Because not even our deeds are good enough to make us God's sheep. It takes Christ KNOWING us for us to be His sheep. He must seek us out and save us. Therefore it is not about our "words" and not about our "deeds" it is all about Jesus Christ, from first to last.

If on Judgment Day we point to what we did in Christ's name and on His behalf then He will toss us into eternal fire, for all our righteous acts are nothing but filthy rags (Isaiah 64). On Judgment Day the only thing that matters is Jesus Christ...we must point to Him or we are doomed.

Benjamin Ady said...

Justin,

Does this make a record for your blog--44 comments!

Luke,

1. "No I wish to ban no word ... everything god created is good. ... I refrain from using certain words ... so that I may not offend any of my brothers."

So you would be willing to ban a word from your vocabulary if... let's say... the vast majority of people you interacted with (your 'brothers') were 'offended' by it? How about if you were 'offended' by it. By 'offended' here do you mean 'caused to sin'? because it seems that we now find common ground--i have banned these words because they offend me-that is, they cause me to 'sin'.

2. "Are you siding with personal experience and obseration over the word of god?"

Yep. You nailed it.

3. I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree on the meaning of the story from Matthew 25. But I'm rather of the opinion that if more 'christians' were to take my view of the meaning, the world would be a much better place, whereas if more 'christians' were to take your view of the meaning, it wouldn't really affect the world that much.

Luke said...

Benjamin,

"So you would be willing to ban a word from your vocabulary if... let's say... the vast majority of people you interacted with (your 'brothers') were 'offended' by it? How about if you were 'offended' by it. By 'offended' here do you mean 'caused to sin'? because it seems that we now find common ground--i have banned these words because they offend me-that is, they cause me to 'sin'."

The distinction I draw in this matter falls into whether something is superfluous or whether it is necessary. I would argue that there is a "necessary" language for communicating the law and gospel of the Word of God. This language I will never forsake whether it offends someone or not. What I will forsake is things like "cussing" or other terms that are "unnecessary" and offend my fellow man. The reason I will not forsake the language of the law and gospel of God's Word is this: love. Love is not giving people what they "want" or what doesn't "offend" them. Love is giving people what they NEED. In parenting this is illustrated very clearly where the parent will often "offend" their children and upset them for the sake of the child and his good. The child doesn't know what they need and so in many cases we must go against their wants and desires in order to truly love and care for them. Therefore I will use the "offensive" language of the law and gospel at all times because it is what we NEED to hear, regardless of whether we want and desire it. In order to love my fellow man I must look out for his ultimate good whether he knows it or not, and whether or not he comes to hate and despise me for it. I am willing to be hated and despised by my fellow man in order that I may bring him the truth of the law and gospel that we both need so desperately. Jesus Christ did it for me, how can I not do the same for my fellow man?

"2. "Are you siding with personal experience and obseration over the word of god?"

Yep. You nailed it."

If this is true then we are coming from two totally different sides in this discussion and are not working from the same foundation. Everything I say is founded on this singular point: The incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that is proclaimed in the very Word of God. This Word I have no choice but to tremble before and fall prostrate before because it is the Word of God Almighty. No feeling or experience or wisdom or reason of mine can stand above this Word. Everything I am must bow in broken humility before what the Word of God proclaims. When it speaks galaxies are created and snuffed out and mountains jump. Who am I to stand opposed to its declaration? The Word of God is always above and has an authority nothing from me can even come close to matching.

"3. I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree on the meaning of the story from Matthew 25. But I'm rather of the opinion that if more 'christians' were to take my view of the meaning, the world would be a much better place, whereas if more 'christians' were to take your view of the meaning, it wouldn't really affect the world that much."

In Matthew 25's sheep and goats text there are a couple key observations to be made. In those who are the sheep God sees nothing but what they have done. All their sins thru both deed and omission are forgiven and therefore all that God sees on Judgment Day is what is left in Jesus Christ. The goats on the other hand are judged by God on what they didn't do. All that they have done is lost because what they didn't do has not been covered and forgiven in Jesus Christ. This is why Jesus Christ is the heart and life of Matthew 25. With Him the sheep go on to eternal life because of His work of forgiveness and sanctification in their life. Without Him though the goats are eternally condemned because nothing that they have done or left undone can stand before the judgment seat of God Almighty. Without Christ, all God sees is their filth and wickedness, for apart from Christ their is no good and no righteousness at all.

So is this life about making the world a "better" place? No, not from a human perspective. But God is indeed making this world a better place by creating new creations in the sheep He calls and summons. Their lives are drawn up into Christ's life and the life they live is one of God's work. "We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" (Ephesians 2:10). "It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose" (Philippians 2:13). All the human deeds in the world can only bring a false sense of making the world "better", for the only goodness in life exists in God's will in Jesus Christ crucified and risen. This life is not the ultimate fulfillment of God's righteousness in creation, it is the new earth and heaven to come in Jesus Christ that are the home of righteousness: "In keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness" (2 Peter 3:13). In this life however we are given pockets of this new creation in Jesus Christ, in His Word, in Baptism, in the Lord's Supper, and in the communion of saints. "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Benjamin Ady said...

Luke,

I would love to hear a bit of your story--how you came to hold so strongly the positions you currently espouse...

Justin said...

I would like to know more about Luke too.

Luke said...

Benjamin,

"I would love to hear a bit of your story--how you came to hold so strongly the positions you currently espouse..."

In a nut shell? Jesus Christ and His call and Word. It's that simple and that "boring." The work of God and His Holy Spirit thru the law and gospel of Jesus Christ in my life is how I hold the views that I do.

Paul's words sum it up best: "I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day" (2 Timothy 1:12).

Because Jesus Christ has burst into my life I know whom I have believed and I have no choice but to make that known. "The word of Yahweh has brought me insult and reproach all day long. But if I say, 'I will not mention him or speak any more in his name,' his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot" (Jeremiah 20:8-9).

Because of Jesus Christ's work I am bold to say with Paul: "I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace" (Acts 20:24). And when all is said and done it would be my prayer that I may boldly proclaim to all those in my life: "I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God" (Acts 20:27).

It's all about Jesus Christ incarnate, crucified, and resurrected. "I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2).

Benjamin Ady said...

Luke,

why do you diminish god by making your story 'boring' (your word, not mine)? I bet your story, in your own words, not Paul's, is not 'boring' at all. I bet it's fascinating, astounding, heartbreaking, glorious--in a word, all the wonderful things that so draw us as humans to good stories. Again, I would love to hear! So a question for you...What is the most terrifying moment you ever experienced?

Luke said...

Benjamin,

"why do you diminish god by making your story 'boring' (your word, not mine)? I bet your story, in your own words, not Paul's, is not 'boring' at all. I bet it's fascinating, astounding, heartbreaking, glorious--in a word, all the wonderful things that so draw us as humans to good stories. Again, I would love to hear! So a question for you...What is the most terrifying moment you ever experienced?"

I only used the word "boring" because that is the human perspective. I on the other hand am fascinated and in awe at God's humble work.

My story is Adam's story, my story is Noah's story, my story is Abraham's story, my story is Isaac's story, my story is Jacob's story, my story is Joseph's story, my story is Moses' story, my story is the children of Israel's story, my story is Joshua's story, my story is David's story, my story is Solomon's story, my story is Isaiah's story, my story is Jeremiah's story, my story is Daniel's story, my story is John the Baptist's story, my story is Peter's story, my story is John's story, my story is Paul's story, and most importantly and inclusively, my story is Jesus Christ's story.

If you know those, then you know MY story. That is not something distant to me and I do not say this lightly, that is indeed MY very story. I fell into sin with Adam, I was rescued with Noah, I wandered with Abraham, I was delivered with Moses, I struggled with David, I stood alone with Jeremiah, I stood in awe with John the Baptist, I denied with Peter, I was transformed with Paul, and most importantly I was tempted with Jesus Christ, I suffered with Jesus Christ, I was crucified with Jesus Christ, and I was raised to new life with Jesus Christ. This is MY story.

Boring? Not at all. It is full of God's justice, judgments, and wrath but also full with the amazing mercy and grace found in our redemption.

So what is the most terrifying thing I have ever experienced? Sharing with Jesus Christ in His crucifixion; facing the judgment and wrath of God for my sin. Absolutely bone-jarring and terrifying. But praise God that Jesus Christ stood there in my place where I could not stand without Him.

Please do not take what I am saying lightly, I am being absolutely serious and I am not avoiding your question, I am answering it in the real sense I can. The journey of mankind from Adam to Jesus Christ is MY story and explains who and what I am. Nothing else will ever be able to explain that. It is for this reason that the genealogies of Matthew 1 and Luke 3 are so profound and important; they are MY history and MY story.

Benjamin Ady said...

sigh... (Justin?)

Benjamin Ady said...

"So what is the most terrifying thing I have ever experienced? Sharing with Jesus Christ in His crucifixion; facing the judgment and wrath of God for my sin. Absolutely bone-jarring and terrifying."

Fine fine. but how? what specifically? I mean, it's all very well to say the the most delicious thing you ever ate was food. But it doesn't lead to much of a conversation...what color was the food? what smells did it have. What was the temperature, and the consistency, and where were you at when you ate it, and with whom, and how hungry were you, and what spices were used, and how did you come to be at that particular meal, and who prepared it, and what color was the hair of the person sitting next to you, and what was their state of mind, and what was the lighting like--was there a view? Was it indoors, or outdoors, or somewhere in between? was it raining? I could go on...

that is to say--*how* did you share with JC in his crucifixion? Was it a specific time and place? If so, where and when? If not, was it a process? Can you point to the beginning of the process? was someone else there? what led up to it? What followed? Who else was involved, and how did you know them?

Justin said...

sigh... (Justin?)

My question is Jesus' question...

:)

Luke said...

Benjamin,

"that is to say--*how* did you share with JC in his crucifixion? Was it a specific time and place? If so, where and when? If not, was it a process? Can you point to the beginning of the process? was someone else there? what led up to it? What followed? Who else was involved, and how did you know them?"

*How* did I share in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ? Thru the promise and work of God in my Baptism: "Don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin" (Romans 6:3-6). It is in my Baptism that I was united with Jesus Christ, it was there that I was crucified with Christ and there that I died to self and there that I was buried with Him so that I might be raised up with Him to new life in faith. "All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ" (Galatians 3:27). Christ's story became MY story in my Baptism.

So my Baptism is the objective place where God promised to unite me in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It happened for me on August 3, 1980, and the active agent was God Himself: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. HE baptized me, it was HIS act of grace in my life; I was simply a passive recipient of God's choice and election in my Baptism. My parents were there and my grandfather "officiated" my Baptism, but it was God alone who was at work by the washing with water thru the Word. "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless" (Ephesians 5:25-27).

This promise of God to work in me for the sake of Jesus Christ incarnate, crucified, and resurrected, no man can take away from me. His Word and promise stands in my life regardless of whether men laugh at it, shun it, or reject it. "What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God's faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and every man a liar" (Romans 3:3-4). Men are liars, God alone is true. God promised Jesus Christ's work to me in my Baptism, therefore I will trust that He is true and faithful no matter the storms in my life that may assault me. "The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever" (Isaiah 40:8).

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of Yahweh, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.' Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you" (Psalm 91:1-7).

Justin said...

Luke -- I like your words. I am on a similar page to you with regards the gospel. I especially like these words:

If you know those, then you know MY story. That is not something distant to me and I do not say this lightly, that is indeed MY very story. I fell into sin with Adam, I was rescued with Noah, I wandered with Abraham, I was delivered with Moses, I struggled with David, I stood alone with Jeremiah, I stood in awe with John the Baptist, I denied with Peter, I was transformed with Paul, and most importantly I was tempted with Jesus Christ, I suffered with Jesus Christ, I was crucified with Jesus Christ, and I was raised to new life with Jesus Christ. This is MY story.

However -- and I don't know Ben well, having met him only 3 times -- I suspect that Ben was looking for something different. You got the closest when you mentioned an actual date: August 3, 1980!

Am I right, Ben?

Luke said...

Justin,

I am glad to see that you are seeing where I am coming from (and thank you also for your kind words).

I do also sense that I am not giving Benjamin what he is looking for, but I am, as of yet, unable to perceive what he is really trying to get at. So far I am just answering the questions he has posted to the best of my ability. Maybe it is just that my perspective is that much different than his that we are talking past each other.... I don't know...?

Benjamin Ady said...

Justin--in answer to your question (but not Jesus' question!)--I did. although I would change the question. I would change "ruler or mediator" to "commenter (commentor?)" and "over" to "with". There ya go.

Benjamin Ady said...

Luke,

"I do also sense that I am not giving Benjamin what he is looking for, but I am, as of yet, unable to perceive what he is really trying to get at..."

Contemplating...
I want to know about *your* story--your individual iteration of the bigger story you keep speaking of--the Adam/Noah/Abraham/Moses/...Jesus story. I mean each of these guys had individual iterations, right? I mean Adam was in a garden, naked, with a fruit tree and a snake and his wife and zebra. Moses was in the academies of the world superpower until he ended up as a shepherd in the desert, wanted for murder. I am looking for stories, and stories have specific settings--they engage the five senses--they have details. I love stories. I love *new* stories. I've already heard all those iterations you keep bringing up--a 1000 times. I have never heard *your* iteration. Perhaps it would help if I told a bit about me, to give you an idea what I am looking for...

Justin said...

Benjamin -- I reckon Luke's answering you for real. I reckon what you see is what you get. I have no idea, since I reckon I'd struggle to place Missouri on a map [Except for maybe Blaine, Missouri.]

If you were asking me, I would descibe to you [with your metaphor] -- who I was with, where I was, the texture of the food, what happened after, how it shaped my heart and emotions, what friends I made, (and maybe even lost), etc.

But I reckon that Luke is answering his way.

Are you OK with someone answering in their own way? Or are you cynical that this is a real answer? Is that the problem?

Justin said...

You've answered my question, I think. In the previous comment. That I hadn't read. Yes -- to stories.

And I'd would like to hear yours, Benjamin. I just read your wife's Blog.

Benjamin Ady said...

Justin,

In general, I am cynical, but I'm thinking that I'm not cynical that this is not the real answer, perse. Sure, I'm totally kewl with someone answering in their own way. Here's to refusal to accept the underlying implications and categories of questions. I do that all the time. And I hope that other people are kewl with me reshaping and sharpening my questions in order to help myself figure out what I really wanted to know in the first place.

Benjamin Ady said...

"I would like to hear yours, Benjamin". As an antecedent for "yours" here, do you mean "story"? or do you mean more specifically "story with regards to the thing Megan said in her blog about Benjamin which she is struggling with"?
Because I am working on a post for my blog which answers my original question to luke about terrifying moments in a way which reflects an answer to the question which I actually meant to ask (whatever that means) (huh?)

Benjamin Ady said...

Just had an epiphany. So one of the things that postmodernism is about is "incredulity towards metanarratives". I think that is what I am experiencing here. As a person living in the zeitgeist of postmodernism, this incredulity is very much internalized. So maybe that's part of my problem here. hmmmm...

Luke said...

Benjamin,

"I want to know about *your* story--your individual iteration of the bigger story you keep speaking of--the Adam/Noah/Abraham/Moses/...Jesus story...I've already heard all those iterations you keep bringing up--a 1000 times. I have never heard *your* iteration. Perhaps it would help if I told a bit about me, to give you an idea what I am looking for..."

I think I now know where we are not seeing eye to eye. Let me give you my foundation and basis in a little more detail:

I am a very firm believer in the one Body of Christ, the communion of saints, the Church of Jesus Christ. The story isn't about "me", it's not about "saving my sorry butt"; it (life) is all about God's work in Jesus Christ incarnate, crucified, and risen. The picture is so much greater and bigger than "me" and so that is why I am not concerned about my individual "iteration." I feel the American "Christianity" tendency towards individualism is very dangerous; people selfishly are only on the look out for their own "sorry butt" when in reality it is all about Jesus Christ and His Church. We are in this together, as one Body.

Sure, I am called to Jesus Christ as an individual, lost, lonely, and separated in my sin, but when I am called, I am called out of my individual selfishness into the Body of Jesus Christ. Life ceases to be about "me" when I die to sin with Christ; life is now all about Jesus Christ and His Church. Thru Baptism and the Lord's Supper we are called out of our selfish individuality into the communion of saints, the very Body of Christ: "The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body" (1 Corinthians 12:12-13). "Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf" (1 Corinthians 10:16-17).

It's not about my "iteration" and it's not about "me" at all. It's about Jesus Christ and His Body. That is my identity now. The selfish individual, "me", who used to stand alone in his sin has been crucified, and now I live as the creature of my Creator in Jesus Christ incarnate, crucified, and risen. To speak of MY story apart from Jesus Christ and His Church is impossible for me, for their is no "me" apart from that.

Benjamin Ady said...

(grinning...)

Benjamin Ady said...

(have chosen to give up...)

Benjamin Ady said...

oh--guys, you can see my answer to the most terrifying moment question here

Benjamin Ady said...

also a bit more of my story, in answer to part of your question, Justin, here

Anonymous said...

hello! i liked reading those posts, and luke, thanks for being genuine, and taking so much time to tell your story, and I am challenged by how your life is hidden with christ.Rhea ... PS: Ben I read your most terrorfying moment - wow!

Anonymous said...

hey ben, I read your links ... and thanks for sharing your story - i mean that. It's refreshingly honest and, yeah, i guess that's all i wanted to say - its important to me that when someone shares something of their life, that its acknowledged! i appreciate it. Many thank youse! :) Rhea

Luke said...

Benjamin,

Thanks for sharing those posts.

Once upon a time I would have answered your inquiry with something along the lines of the interview in the second post. Is that what you were looking for?

Sure, I am an individual human being in this life and have daily personal experiences that shape me and teach me, but I have learned in the process that is not "my story." God has created me and chosen me to live in Jesus Christ and so my story now revolves around that purpose and work. Thru my individual life and experiences God is glorified and He uses me for His purposes. But in the end the story (even my iteration thereof) always points back to one thing: Jesus Christ incarnate, crucified, and risen.

Please don't think I am avoiding the question, it's just that my world has been so profoundly changed that I can no longer see life from only the perspective of "me." Jesus Christ came to save me from myself, so it would be ridiculous of me to think I was following Him while still living for and revolving around "me."

Luke said...

Rhea,

Thank you for your kind words and also thank you for reminding me of a couple important verses that illustrate exactly what I am trying to communicate...

"You have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3).

"I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:20-21).

"O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you" (Psalm 63:1-3).

My life is hidden in Christ and in fact, to live IS Christ. And as the psalmist says, God's love is indeed better than even life itself.

Justin said...

Benjamin or Luke -- next time you are in NYC, let me know. I want to take you both out to dinner. Simply for my pleasure and enjoyment!

Benjamin Ady said...

Must confess that the idea of figuring out some way to force Luke to answer the question the way I want continues to float around in the back of my head...
Am thinking if I could make a good case, using only Scripture, that Scripture commands us to acknowledge/think about/come to understand/proclaim our own personal iteration, for the glory of God, then I bet Luke would acquiese... hmmmmmmm.....
(but I strongly suspect that Scripture *does* command this, although not necessarily in these words...)
(must consider this further...)

Luke said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Luke said...

Benjamin,

Haha...you crack me up. :)

I am always willing to answer specific questions about my experience and past, but these words will always be my focus, center, and story:

"We do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake" (2 Corinthians 4:5).

Benjamin Ady said...

Does this mean you are preaching yourself as my servant for Jesus sake?

"I am always willing to answer specific questions about my experience and past"

ok--here's one. What specifically do you need Jesus to save you from?

Luke said...

Benjamin,

"Does this mean you are preaching yourself as my servant for Jesus sake?"

It means I am not preaching myself at all, but Jesus Christ alone. I am nothing but His servant, an extension of Him in the same way that a servant is nothing but an extension of his master. So sure, I am your servant in and thru Jesus Christ.


"What specifically do you need Jesus to save you from?"

From my sin. What is sin? It is my completely inwardly turned will, it is my selfishness that has made my self and my desires the center of the universe. Jesus Christ came to save me from my "self" from my self-consumed, self-loving "self."

What does this mean specifically?

Christ came to save me from my apostasy towards God, from my rebellion against the authority of God as the only God, who is alone the source of all good and righteousness. I have not trusted, not believed, not feared, and not loved God with my entire being and self. I have put my self and other things in the world above God.

Christ came to save me from my misuse of God's name, from my false doctrines, teachings, and beliefs in regards to God. I have not kept God's name, teachings, and truth holy and pure. I have recklessly blasphemed God's good name before the world.

Christ came to save me from my failure to uphold God's day of rest. I have failed to keep God as the number one priority in my life and give to Him the time He deserves. I have not given the appropriate time and respect to study God's Word and to silently wait on Him. I have been restless and unwilling to wait on God in His time.

Christ came to save me from my rebellion against God's established authorities in this life. I have not honored and respected my parents and the figures of authority put over me. I have ignored the governments above me and have not given them the due respect and obedience that I owe them. God established them as an extension of His authority in this life and I have not honored them.

Christ came to save me from my unjust anger and hatred toward my fellow man. I have not respected the creatures that God has created in this life and I have sought to take their lives into my own hands, manipulating them for my own selfish desires. I have hurt countless people and have not loved them as the creatures of God.

Christ came to save me from my lust and sinful cravings. I have not respected God's established use of sexuality and have perverted it for my own pleasure and self-seeking. I have not honored my body as the temple of the Holy Spirit and as a very member of the Body of Christ.

Christ came to save me from my reckless use of God's resources. I have squandered the blessings of this life and used them thoughtlessly for my own desires. I have not helped my fellow man who has been in need of my assistance and have kept God's blessings from him.

Christ came to save me from reckless words of destruction towards my fellow man. I have lied and spoken against my fellow man and have not uplifted him with my words. I have cut down and betrayed those in my life with hateful and lying words, and failed to encourage and strengthen as I should.

Christ came to save me from my anxiety and lack of trust in God's ability to provide for me. I have desired the things of this world that are not mine to have and desired to hoard what was my neighbors for my own benefit. I have desired my own possessions, honor, and security more than my fellow man's.

In short I have failed God totally and completely. I have rebelled against everything that He is and have raised myself as "god" in my life. It is because of this utter selfish depravity that Jesus Christ came to save me. He hung on the cross in my place in order to bear the complete punishment for this total rejection of God that I have done.

Benjamin Ady said...

Wow. thankyou.

Is there any room in your theology for what Dr. Allender refers to as "ruined glory"? In the same way as one can look at, for instance, the remains of the Roman coliseum, or the remains of old castles in Europe, which are now in ruins, and one can get a sense of the glory and the beauty and the power these places once contained and represented, in their primes, so also is it possible to look at humankind, and specifically, to look at Luke, or at Benjamin, and get a sense of the glory and beauty and power that god was talking about when he looked at adam and eve and said "very good" (rather than just plain "good")? Do this idea of humans, and of Benjamin and Luke, being 'ruined glory' work for you/make sense to you?

Luke said...

Benjamin,

I do not believe that "ruined glory" is an adequate analogy or way to explain the Scriptural teaching of sin and human fallenness.

I believe that our entire nature (to its center and core) has been totally corrupted in the fall of man into sin. "Yahweh saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time" (Genesis 6:5). Each of us is so completely fallen in the depths of our hearts and being that we are no longer recognizable to what God created in Adam and Eve in the beginning. "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure" (Jeremiah 17:9). It is therefore only in Jesus Christ that we can finally see what God intended and desired for us as His creatures.

This does not mean that we are still not the creations of God, but it means that we as His creations have fallen so far as that it is impossible apart from Jesus Christ to even see the part that was "very good" to God in Adam and Eve. Our sin is not a blemish to our good nature, but a complete corruption of what was originally good. We are not just broken buildings that retain some of their goodness and structure, but we are buildings who have been corrupted and demolished so completely that we are unrecognizable and helpless in the dusty remains of the ground.

In Jesus Christ however we regain our identity as the creatures of our Creator and in our rebirth and recreation in Him we begin to see once again the signs of the good essence and image that Adam and Eve once had in the beginning. This redemption though is not visibly complete in this life, and we await the second coming of Christ where we will share in the renewal of all creation. "We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently" (Romans 8:22-25).

Benjamin Ady said...

so do I understand you to be saying that christians can and do represent in some way what God was referring to when he said "very good", whereas those who are not christians cannot and do not in any way represent this "very good"?

Luke said...

Christians only carry the "very good" of the new creation in a hidden way, within Jesus Christ. Christians will not visibly become what Adam and Eve were, but in a hidden and enshrouded way they do in fact carry the new creation of Christ within them.

Benjamin Ady said...

so....no visible fruit of the spirit?

Luke said...

No, I did not say "no visible fruit", but we will not become what Adam and Eve were in the beginning. The full redemption of our bodies will not take place until Christ comes again, and therefore we still remain trapped within our sinful flesh and nature. However, in Christ the first fruits of the redemption are seen; small hints and glimpses here and there.

Yes, we can see some fruit and hints of Christ in the lives of Christians, but the transformation will not be complete until the resurrection from the dead. Like Romans 8 says (that I quoted earlier), we eagerly await the full visible redemption of the body and because it is something we hope for it is not something that is yet completely manifest.