Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Mountian  (TSO Photography)

This is really nice. 

~ The Billy Goat  ~

Friday, May 20, 2011

Calvinists, says one Calvinist, misunderstand some of their history and theology. A review of 'Ten Myths About Calvinism.' (Roger E. Olson,  posted 5/18/2011)
"We need fewer angular, sharp-elbowed Calvinists who glory in what distinguishes their stance from others," Stewart argues, "and a lot more supporters of the Reformed faith who rejoice in what they hold in common with others."
AMEN to that brother!!!!
Yes I Believe in the Rapture, and I don't Apologize for Doing So!

This post was triggered by recent Blog discussions of Harold Camping's misguided predictions regarding the timing of what he calls the pre-tribulational rapture of the church.   If you read this after May 21, 2011, according to Harold you missed it.

We let the dispensationalist debate about the rapture cloud the meaning of the word “rapture” and its context in the 1Thessalonians 4:13-17 passage. At the end of that passage Paul tells us to “comfort one another with these words..” The snatching or taking up (rapture) is taught in the passage. The issue is not one of will there be or not be a rapture. The real question is when it will occur?

I am very well aware, and have been for many a year, that the 1 Thessalonians 4 passage has behind it a picture of the King approaching a city and the dignitaries of the city going out to meet that King, and escorting the King into the city. . I also read in verse 17,  “arpagasometha ‘en nephlais” and “eis aera”. (Pardon my crude transliteration.) The initial meeting does not take place on the “ge” (earth), but in the clouds; that is, "in the air".  We will then escort the King down to the “ge” (earth).

There seems to be an assumption by many dispensatinalists and non-dispensatiinalists alike that believers “being taken away someplace else other then earth” is a sin qua non of any rapture theology.  My contention is that it is not; that one can hold a rapture theology consistent with the picture of the royal approach of the King.

Jerome supposedly translated “arpagasometha” with the Latin word from which we get the English word “rapture”. You may argue that word, but please don’t argue with "arpagasometha ‘en nephlais” or the factual events Paul says will happen.

It bothers me GREATLY that non-dispensationalists diss the rapture concept as though it is ONLY a dispensatinalist concept. If the “snatching up” (rapture) is not a Biblical concept then why did Paul talk about it at all?  I have my doubts about the pre-trib rapture of the church. I have no doubts whatsoever about the rapture of those believers still alive on earth at Christ’s return. We are in danger of letting the debate about timing steal from us the comfort Paul intended for us to get from his words, and in doing so we miss Paul's pastoral intent in writing about the matter in the first place.

In that light I refuse to give up the concept of the rapture because I refuse to give up clearly Biblical concepts period. And pardon me if I get a little passionate about reclaiming a Biblical concept from the dispensational abuse of the concept.  Pastoral concern demands no less.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Holy Meal: The Lord's Supper in the Life of the Church

by Gordon T. Smith (Baker Academic, 2005)

I found this to be an excellent reading on the Biblical meaning of the Lord's Supper.  The writing is not shallow, but neither is it overly academic.  Often one's view of the Lord's Supper is skewed by the particular emphasis of our particular Christian tradition.  Dr. Smith opens with discussion of the meaning of eating, symbol, and sacrament. He then looks at the Lord's Supper as described by the following seven chapter headings:  

  1. Remembrance: The Lord's Supper as a Memorial
  2. Communion: The Lord's Supper as Fellowship with Christ and with One Another
  3. Forgiveness: The Lord's Supper as a Table of Mercy
  4. Covenant: The Lord's Supper as a Renewal of Baptismal Vows
  5. Nourishment: The Lord's Supper as Bread from Heaven
  6. Anticipation: The Lord's Supper as a Declaration of Hope
  7. Eucharist: The Lord's Supper as a Joyous Thanksgiving Celebration
In my own church background and circles the historic emphasis has been on the Lord's Supper as a memorial.  As Smith rightly points out, the Lord's Supper is indeed a memorial, but it is not just a memorial.  This realization makes the Table even more meaningful and personal. 

Smith does not separate the Supper from the Word or the working of the Holy Spirit.  It is the Word that gives us the context and informs us of the meaning and purpose of the Supper.  It is  the Holy Spirit that makes the meaning and purpose of the Supper real to us in our corporate church life as well as in the individual lives of each believer participating.  The author also understands there is a certain mystery to the Lord's Supper that our intellect will not fully comprehend, but it is also that same intellect that informs our humble obedience in observing the Supper.

The reader may come across a statement or two in this book that could cause the eyebrows to raise in question or disagreement.  Dr. Smith's own view of the Lord's Supper has roots that go back through John Calvin, and as such reflects an overall view of the Table that I am personally sympathetic to.   Whatever few statements raised my eyebrows were far out weighed by the positive contribution Dr. Smith has made to the church's understanding of the Lord's Supper. 

If you are sensing that there is more to the Lord's Supper then your tradition's peculiar emphasis; that perhaps there is something about the meaning and purpose of the Lord's Supper that you are missing, this will be a helpful  book to read.

~ The Billy Goat ~

Saturday, May 14, 2011

New Mercies Every Morning

" soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, "My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the LORD."

Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him." The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.

(Lamentations 3:17-25)

"Kyrie eleison!" (Lord have mercy!) has been the heart cry and prayer of the people of God from time immemorial. The more we sense our desperate need, the more we cry out "Kyrie eleison!"

There have been more then a few times over the years when I have found the cry for mercy to be the only prayer I can make. In those times I feel like a sheep that can only bleat one phrase over and over again.

"Lord have mercy..."

The cares of the world press in. You see the needs of others around you and the desperate crying needs of the world at large and sense how quickly your own world could be turned upside down. Your own needs and fears become overwhelming. You have a sense of how vulnerable and fragile your life and world really is, and how it all hangs as by a thread that could so easily break, shattering your world and leaving your life in shambles.

"Lord have mercy..."

So it is that over the past week or so I have found encouragement and joy in meditating on that part of Lamentations 3 that reads "The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."

His mercies toward His people NEVER end. His mercies are NEW every morning.

Jesus said, "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof" (Matt 6:34). We can also say sufficient unto the day are the mercies thereof.

Each day the mercies of God toward His people are new and fresh. His mercies don't get worn out or wrinkled with age. The reservoir of God's mercy is as limitless and as infinite as God Himself. And we will continue to be the recipiants of those mercies throughout eternity.

Kyrie eleison...

~ The Billy Goat ~

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Subtle Evangelical Narcissistic Navel Gazing

The response of the Evangelical blogosphere to the news of Osama bin Laden's death was frankly disturbing. The overwhelming fixation on "how a Christian should respond" quickly reached the point of nauseous. I very early stopped reading any of the numerous posts on the subject. Of those I did read, the best was Steve Scott's subtly sarcastic response here.

In interaction with another blogger I asked for specific examples of inappropriate responses by Christians. This brother did respond with some examples, but again I was left with the feeling the vast majority of Evangelical and Reformed blogging or posting in social media on the subject had little to do with those specific examples or any specific examples at all. For some reason the OBL story became an occasion of an Evangelical and Reformed pontificating to a degree that was just plain overly excessive. Given the nature of blogging and social media such as Facebook, it was probably inevitable.

And the world at large? The truth is the media at large, the media beyond the Christian Evangelical world, really didn't care what Evangelicals thought about it at all. The silence on the "Christian response" from that media was deafening. They rightly were focusing on other more pertinent aspects of the OBL story.

But that was not the point was it? We as Evangelical or Reformed Christians can now smugly pat ourselves on the back because we "responded appropriately" to the news of OBL's death, thus insuring our own self-righteousness and preserving our "testimony". The truth is that it was much ado about something no where as overwhelming as we made it out to be.

Could it possibly be that underneath all the Evangelical and Reformed pontificating about "how Christians should respond" was a certain degree of subtle narcissism? Could it just possibly be?

~ The Billy Goat ~