Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Patterns in the mosaic and the music

Here's an attempt to frame our current discussion. We want to try and stand back a bit from the individual pieces of the mosaic that we see up close and ask what larger patterns God may be bringing into view. We've already at least touched upon worship, unity, justice, and several others. As we strain to oberve the wider mosaic of God's work more broadly, do we think we're gaining any sense, if not of The Big Picture, at least of a bigger picture? And remmeber, we're not simply vieiwng a mosaic, we are part of a mosaic that God is assembling right before our eyes. It is undoubtably huge, more huge than any of us or even all of us could ever completely get minds and hearts and lives around, but perhaps we're seeing some patterns emerging.

Following a musical metaphor, are we hearing some themes... hearing some variations and inventions on some familiar themes... finding delight in what we used to think was "noise" but are coming to appreciate as music, not merely in a different key or style, but in a whole new genre? I'm attempting to build on the theme of "hearing the sound coming from the mountain" and asking if the sound may in fact be formed of several strands of sounds, all issuing from the Throne.


Robert said...

Thanks Brian for bringing things forward. Our use of music, language, recitation, readings, actions, body language...all represent our attempts to recreate the great biblical themes of redemption. In one sense it is about drama. There is contemporary reaction to "performance"...insincere acting out things that don't have substance. In fact, the community of Faith gathers corporately to engage the drama of redemption...whatever approach we prefer, the intent is bring ourselves and others into an encounter with the transcendng presence of God and eternal realities. For Pentecostals, it may be the alter call, for the Presbyterian, it might be the proclamation of the Word, for Anglicans, it might be the Eucharist, for the emerging church...well, I am not able to speak to that because I have not figured it out yet. I don't think it is "gnosis"...but I am listening. I happen to be involved in a path that values historic formularies for which I believe there is biblical precedent...Jesus quoted ancient Jewish traditions. He also spoke of new wineskins. The Kingdom is like a scribe who pulls out of his treasure things old and things new. One does not negate the other...a beautful thing. I would love to see a well done hip hop the end, we have a liturgy...unless we are determined that next week we will not have one..and then we begin to create a new one.

steve H said...

For any who might have jumped in to this thread, it really began with my comment posted about 6:00 a.m. on June 6. There are about a dozen comments following -- at the end of the worship thread.

I apologize for the grammatical/spelling errors on my last entry there. Obviously, I was not working with full clarity; in fact, I was about done in.

I have had slow steady progress in recovery from the surgery, but seem to have turned a corner over night. Thanks to those who have offered prayers.

I have discovered something. Laproscopic surgery is better in the long run, but it is not necessarily less painful and difficult early on.

I wish I knew how to awaken the hearts of the people in our community to the "drama," to the "music," to the "mystery," to the "majesty."

We have long enjoyed intimacy and a sense of the presence and heart of God in worship -- often this begins in singing and carries over into personal sharing of scripture, spiritual words of various sorts, testimony and into the preaching. Sadly, rarely have we been able to stay in that place at the Lord's Table -- sad, since that should be the most intimate of all.

In our local community there is reaction to formality, and reaction to "traditions." I have sought to show the wisdom of bringing our treasures -- old and new.

It has been my thought that one of the things the younger generations among us may do is bring these elements that you (Brian and Robert) have highlighted in. In our case, I PRAY that the young people will not be satisfied with the status quo.

I'm praying that God is releasing a sound that will call them up -- not to reject what He has done among us, but to build upon what has been built. If God doesn't do something like that, then I don't know how much further we will go.

Whether or not -- it seems like I do catch a chord or a phrase here and there that this is part of the new sound that is coming.

Social justice is in there too. There is an awakening concern for the oppressed and the poor. The difficulty for the younger generations may be to distinguish between the heart and ways of God concerning these things as contrasted with the ideas of social justice that have been floating around at least since the 1800s under various labels.

I think there is some sign that we are awakening to the fact that the good news of the kingdom is especially good for the outsiders. I deeply appreciate Dallas Willard's perspective (in chapter 4 of "The Divine Conspiracy") concerning the crowds of whom and to whom Jesus was speaking in the Sermon on the Mount. His thoughts struck chords with me in that I have a growing consciousness that the Messianic annointing (Luke 4, Isa 61) is to good news, healing, and liberty to just such. If this characterized the Messiah's anointing should it not characterize the anointing on the Body of the Messiah (Body of Christ)?

I long to hear the sound more clearly here -- because I believe God's people must accurately image God's hear, mind, and method.

Robert said...

In my first post in this string, I said "recreate the great biblical themes"...I should have used the word "re-enact"...we can't re-create them...they exist for what they are. It is participating in the redemptive drama in a way that brings them...and us...alive in the present.

Robert said... would be an interesting study with your folks to dig in to resistance to form and tradition...find out what is really behind it. Don't want to take this too far down a rabbit trail...I do think it is relevant. When I was first baptized in the Holy Spirit, I moved hard away from Episcopal roots...they were did in my remembrance. I have since returned to an appreciation of form as a means of corporately expressing the language of worship and the drama of faith. Is it possible that the premium placed upon individual expression and the spontaneous have become icons without which we don't "feel" like we are "in" worship?

Robert said...

Wished we had the benefit of spell checks here....should have read "dead in my remembrance"...

Hey, maybe I just need to sharpen my spelling skills!

Brian Emmet said...

I would offer the observation that "Creation" is an emerging sound, both the physical Creation and God's commitment to it, as well as the new creation/re-creation that he has accomplished in Christ and is now outworking by the Spirit. and thihs new/re-creation is occurring in the midst of Creation (in the sense of the physical/natural world, but also encompassing the spiritual world as well.

To Robert's points on drama: have you come across NT Wright's formulation? He proposes that we see the redemptive story of God as a drama in five acts: creation; fall; Israel; Messiah; church. We have a clear "script" for the first four acts (i.e., the Bible), but do not have a "script" in the same sense for the act in which we find ourselves.
this means that "improvisation," as determied and directed by the Spirit, is a necessary skill for us to cultivate. We are not free to imporvise in any direction--we must stay faithful and committed to the first four acts, but within that faithfulness there is room, and need, for improvisation, innovation, etc.

Even a journey like Robert's, with its emphasis on connectedness with Tradition (in the best senses this word can carry for followers of Jesus)has large elements of improv.

Most of us approach improvisation through the world of drama, where it tends to carry an "anything goes--and the wilder the better" flavor. But if I'm not mistaken, the idea of "improvisation" began in the world of music.

In jazz, for example, you can hear the history of the genre recapitulated in each piece--you can hear spirituals, the blues, ragtime, be-bop, while being astonished at the inventions and variations that a skilled musician makes happen right at the same time. you have faithfulness to Tradition and a constant pushing of the Tradtion into new expressions and forms.

All of you who know way more about music than I are now free to correct my errors.

Robert said...


I like the thought as well as bringing content to the word "improv"...we need to redeem good words.

Jeremiah said...

The Sound

I recently read a book (can't remember the name) which is a history of the Covenant Movement. I was stunned by how many of the core beliefs resonated so powerfully within me. This was especially true of ideas/beliefs that I couldn't recall every having heard specific teaching on, but recognized instantly. I think the key is for you guys to communicate, through your lives and words the sound you have heard so that it becomes a part of my generation. I think it is also the responsibility of my generation to NOT SEEK A NEW VISION! To receive the double portion annointing we have to seek that the revelation GOD gave you will be given to us. I am content to receive your revelation. I don't need/want my own. If I will be content to receive your generations vision, I'll receive the double portion annointing. If I need my own vision etc, I doom myself to start over.

"Resistance to form and tradition"

I think this resistance is rooted in a rebellious anti-authority attitude. Robert I'm not trying to bust your chops on this ( I don't know you or your history), I'm speaking generally. The fundamental assumption of evolution (i.e. survival of the fittest), which is at the heart of almost the entirety of our popular culture, business practices, hard sciences, and soft sciences, and art, has with it the idea that anything old is "unevolved", "unenlightened", "obsolete",and "regressive". This is why our culture is so obsessed with the latest and greatest in every aspect. This has very much invaded the church, at least in the west. You see this in the obsession with "fresh fire" a "fresh word" et cetra ad nauseom. Fortunately as modernism has died its predictable death, post modernism is predictably just about at the end of its life span too. You can see this in Art. Has anybody besides me noticed yet the incredible lack of creativity in current pop art as evidenced by the overwhelming tide of remakes, retro, sequels, and so on? Art has died. Once Art became a celebration of the obscene, it had no where to go and so Post-Modernism is now dying as well. Paganism is consequently on the rise. Modernism exalted Man's reason over God's revelation and flowed out of the enlightenment. Post Modernism exalted Man's experience over Man's reason and was the natural consequence of Modernism once philisophically it became clear that the Law of Non-Contradiction has no foundation apart from a
Sovereign GOD. Paganism is the exaltation of Man's instinct as licensed by demonic revelation and is the result of a need to justify the exaltation of the experiential and a need to fill the spiritual void left by the thorough removal from the society of all Pre-Modern relics. Fortunately for us paganism is the environment in which the Cross seems to do best. So the enemy's blind rage is once again doing him in.

Sorry if I went on a tangent too far. It just seemed to work out that way. I guess I do have preachers blood in my veins. :)

steve H said...

I appreciated your insights, Brian. The "improv" analogy is helpful.

Robert, I think I know some of the resistance. For some with more of a historical church background, anything that appears liturgical, or traditional, speaks of dead formalism -- they didn't meet Jesus there.

For most, it's a heritage thing -- almost a spiritual force. We are located about 15 miles from Cane Ridge where the frontier revivals happened and the 1st truly American expressions of church began. The attitude against formalism, tradition, history, education, and authority is almost palpable in those with that backgroud. Underlying those attitudes, I think, are spiritual strongholds! (For a good look into this see Nancy Pearcey's "Total Truth" chapters 9, 10, 11.)

ASIDE: The non-Pentecostal holiness denomination, which began in Southern Ohio -- the denomination in which John M., Jose, and I grew up actually had it's historical roots in that heritage. The cardinal principles publiished with that denomination's Constitution and Bylaws demonstrate that. The principles were largely forgotten by the time our generation came along -- otherwise they could never have identified themselves as a denomination. I saw the discrepancy before I was "invited" to leave. Later historical research confirmed it.

Then there are a few in our group (some with the strongest background in the 19th Century Restoration movement) whose approach has been absolute "biblical literalism." If it isn't literally said in the Bible, then it's not worth considering.

Amazing that we are together! Only God could join us together!! Only God's radical covenant love extended to each other can keep us together!!! It's a transgenerational journey...

steve H said...

Jeremiah, Thanks for the comment! AMEN!

Sean said...

Hello, I have returned. The big picture, patterns and themes. This is great.

I see the grand theme to be the restoration of creation to its Creator. I agree with Brian on his last post. This theme is at the heart of everything God has done or is doing - redemption is a good word for it as Robert has said. God wants to undo the Fall. He wants to restablish His preeminence in the hearts of human beings, who were created to have a right relationship with Him.

How this works out or has worked out in various epochs has been varied. But this theme has remained constant and unalterable. God has not given up on His creation, which He has said is good and very good.

So, our liturgy, whether it is traditional or hip-hop (as Robert would like to see) must be founded in this basic message.

Social justice is an attempt to carry out this theme as well, although it has been hijacked by human-centered philosophy at times that is contrary to the basic theme. We need a Creator-centered vision of social justice, not a humanistic one that elevates man to the status of deity. So, I agree with you Steve H. We're not trying to build the tower of babel through social justice; we are trying to restore Eden (or God is through His dominion over us).

I think some of the problems we face in the church is because some of the themes in the Old Testament, particularly Torah, have been lost, at times unconsciously. Mary Fisher from Asbury Seminary really emphasizes the first 11 chapters of Genesis. I agree with why she does this. The great themes, the great drama between the Creator and creation is set up in these chapters. But it is lost because the Old Testament is seen as less relevant by your average churchgoer. But in these chapters is the foundation of what God is trying to do. Perhaps it is because of types of subtle replacement theology - i.e. because of Jesus and the New Testament church, the Old Testament is just that: old. We forget that the early church referred to the Old Testament as the Scriptures, not something old at all. It was at the very heart of Jesus' mission.

This is why I prefer the term Scriptures, whether Old or New Testament. Without this foundational theme given to us in Torah, Genesis 1-11 specifically, we are left with trying to grasp at what themes we should be doing. Incidentally, this is one of the major concerns with the Gnostics and Marcionites during the period after the first century. There was an attempt to do away with the Old Testament and the God of the Old Testament altogether. The Church Fathers fought against this. In some ways they succeeded. In other ways, they perhaps did not: some of them embraced some ideas in Hellenistic philosophy, especially in their thinking, replacing their Hebrew roots. But this is just a hunch of idea.


steve H said...

I appreciated your comments, Sean. Good insight.

I think you are right about the mixture that at least some of the fathers had with Greek philosophy. In part, perhaps, due to the remembrance of "Jewish persecution" in the pre 70 A.D. years. But also mixture with actual Greek philosophy. Augustine is one, for example, and yet he is given the most esteem in the western church (Roman Catholic and Protestant).

There is less of this, I think, in the eastern fathers. Thus, the (rthodox consider Augustine something of a lightwieght among the Fathers.

We do need to re-emphasize the Hebrew mind. At the same time, as I suspect, you'll agree, it would be wrong to devalue the Greek too much. Language means something! Language and thought-form are closly associated. The New Testament was given to us in Greek. A number of Greek "concepts" are reborn with new meaning in the New Testament -- meaning that is vital.

Later in the controversies leading to the early ecumenical creeds, Greek concepts enabled some of the key eastern fathers to make powerful statements about the being of the Triune God and about the person of the God-man.

steve H said...

Beware! A brief interruption of the conversation follows!

If any of you are interested in Bob Dylan I'd recommend a couple documentary DVDS.

1. "Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan". 2005 release -- includes great insight inot Bob's gospel era 1978-1980 and documents the making of a CD of the same name by big name Black Gospel artists. The cd includes a song not on the DVD, Bob Dylan and Mavis Staples duet.

2. "Rolling Thunder and the Gospel Years" is a long, but well-made documentary of the years leading up to Bob's conversion and then a thorough discussion of Bob's conversion and the gospel period. For the first time, some of the Vineyard pastors and some Jewish believers involved talk about what was happening at the time. Could be good pre-evangelism material for the right people.

Jeremiah said...

Two things...

Restoration is not the "Grand Theme" of the Scriptures... God had a plan before restoration was necessary. Restoration is a hic-up (foreseen of course) in the path to GOD's "Ultimate Intention"

These conversations on "Greek" thinking vs. "Hebrew" thinking make me nervous. I wonder if we have forgotten that "...Greeks look for wisdom and Jews look for a miraculous sign, but we preach Christ crucified..."

I think either path leads to error.

josenmiami said...

Sean, I think you would enjoy "The Jesus Creed" by religion professor Scot McKnight. He does an excellent job of contextualizing the teaching of Jesus in his Jewish context.

Jeremiah: your point is well taken. However, the gospel must always incarnate itself in human cultures (theres that word again). In this case, the Son of God was first incarnated into a Hebrew culture with a Hebrew worldview. Later, the church adapted to a Greek worldview and culture. Recently (last several centuries) the church has adapted to a modern Western culture. Now, we are moving away from a modern culture to something different...something "not-modern" and probably not very western, but not pre-modern either. We can use candles, icons and/or the book of common prayer, but we cannot go back to swim in a pre-modern ocean.

This is the way of the kingdom... it is like leaven, hidden in a lump of bread dough. The bread dough is the culture (there are many of them)....the kingdom is the leaven. Like the old rock song says, "That just the way it is..."

I have just posted Part #3 of my paper on Organic Church Planting (I don't think you will like it Brian, help me re-write it in a way that will seem more edifying to you about existing churches without gutting my basic point). My good friend, London-based church planter Dick Scoggins responds with a comment on the church has a family.

If anyone else has a perspective on cp, I would appreciate your comments and feedback.

John M. said...

Steve, may I borrow those Dylan DVD's?

Sean, I really like what you are saying and agree with it. I do have a different take on the "restoration of Eden" idea. I don't think we are headed back to Eden. We are destined as God's family to be part of the New Heaven and New Earth that God will create.
We are destined for the New Jerusalem, for the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven.

I do think that there is a longing in all humans for the serenity and unspoiled perfection of the Garden. I think that is what leads to a lot of Mother Earth worship, nobel savage and Walden Pond type of idealism. Obviously humans in their own strength can't get back there, and I don't think God intends to take us back there -- He's taking us forward.

I imagine that you agree with me, and that is what you were saying all the time, but I do beleive that it is an important distinction. It came to me, I believe, by revelation one day when I was experiencing this deep primordal longing for the Garden to the point it almost hurt. I sensed that God said, "I'm not taking you back; I'm taking you forward..."

Jeremiah - Is this what you meant by "God's Ultimate Purpose"? If not, I would like for you to elaborate on what you did mean.

In regards to the Hebrew/Gk/Christian thing. You can't separate the three histoically or culturally or linguistically. The Hebrew scriptures preach Christ and Him crucified, and the primary documents that tell Jesus life story are written in Greek within the context of Helenistic culture. God used both Hebrew and Greek, linguistically as a megaphone to preach Christ and him crucified.

josenmiami said...

don't forget Aramaic...

John M. said...

OK Here goes the divided post move. I noticed that I'm not the only one anymore, and I would remind the recent arrivals that Jimmy was the founder of the divided post movement (Jimmy come back), even though Brian named it the "Meadows Move". I thought some of you might benefit from a historical perspective that goes back two months or so.

I want to go back to the "Sound". Jeremiah, I appreciate your comments about your generation talking what the previous generation heard and running with it. I agree that each generation needs to listen carefully to the "sounds" from the previous generations. In a historical sense there will not be a new sound in terms of quality and basic content. But I do think that each emerging generation picks up on a "present truth" that God is emphasizing for them.

That sound is not narrow, it is broad and diverse and includes many nuances and much of what was said to previous generations, but in other ways it is "customized" for the new generation. It's a little too mystical to describe very well, but it's like the book you read. Even though you had not heard some of those things articulated before, they resonated in you immediately. The same is true of the "sound". When you hear it, there is immediate recognition and repore. Usually, once you hear the sound and begin to follow it, there are streams that flow backward as well as forward and you find others throughout church history that heard the same or similar sounds. But the sound is still unique to your generation. I'm not talking about style or packaging, although they may be there. It is not primarily a literal sound as it is a content and quality that comes forth in the midst of the emerging generation.

In the 60's and 70's as has already been aluded to, it seemed that the sound transcended the Church or Chrsitain Community. There were glimpses of it in the contemporary culture, music etc. In the same way that God in the scriptures used pagan Kings to declare and demonstrate His Kingdom, It seemed that he used secular musicians, and cultural icons to begin to articulate the sound. The sound became something that God sovereignly used to reap the harvest of a generation. Many of the current movements, including the "Covenant Movement", and not a few of the famous Mega-churches, along with trends in the larger church and the whole "contemporary" Christian music industry have their beginnings in those who were coming of age in the late 60's and early '70's, heard that sound and were caught up in a soverign move of the Spirit.

My question. Is there anything like this in today's emerging generation, or is this just an idealistic idea that emerged form our baby boomer experience, but isn't necessarily the way God is moving today? If this phenomenon exists today, it will have huge harvest/evangelism implications. If it's just an old-timer's wish-dream, then we're barking up the wrong tree. What think ye O' young one's? (You old guys can chime in too!)

John M. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
josenmiami said...

oh... I think there is all kinds of it going on right now. I pretty much listen to nothing but secular music these days, particularly current pop music. I feel like God has opened my ears to hear the heart cry of this generation through their music. It is still mostly questions, longings and bits (or bytes?) of kingdom sound... certainly not a full sound or a full song... but the dew drops are clearly there in my opinion.

I'll try to look for some examples to post here later. There are a couple of songs by Dido that I would consider having an elusive "thread" of kingdom sound... there is also U2...

Before the erruption of "Jesus" music in 1969 and 1970, there were a lot of secular artists starting to sing about God: someone mentioned Barry McQuire and the "Eve of Destruction", I believe Steve mentioned (argh... my mind just went blank) ... the guy who wrote "The answer my friend, is blowin in the wind"... and then there was George Harrison and "My Sweet Lord"...

Love Song wrote a lot of their spiritual songs before they were even saved...while doing drugs...

why should we not expect something similar today?

steve H said...

As I'm sure we agree, we cannot produce the sound. However, we surely can pray for it! In fact, I suspect God is always making His unique sound in every generation --sadly His people seem to all too often be so caught up in what we think we know and the way we do things that we fail to discern the sound. After all, who is any more resistant to change than most church folks -- except in times of sovereign revival.

Jeremiah, what you say concerning God's ultimate intention is important. Please do expound upon it. So many Christians think the main thing is redemption. But I believe like you, that there was a purpose before the creation, a purpose in which the fall and redemption play a vital part, but are not the end goal.

John, You can certainly borrow the DVDs sometime, but you (and I) would enjoy them more if we shared the time.

Patrick said...

Jeremiah/Steve H - I think I agree with you guys. Let me see if this fits what you're saying... I think redemption is the first stop on the journey to His ultimate plan. Because of the fall, a couple of extra steps were added to the fulfillment of His original intention. And since that has now happened, on this earth, we are redeeming the times and reconciling people to God. There will come a day when creation will be fully reconciled and God will receive unhindered glory from His creation. I think the glorification of Jesus (Himself) is God's ultimate goal.

As far as a sound goes, there are simultaneously many sounds. Some are the most fundamental sounds, being emitted from the Throne room constantly and always forever. Other sounds are sent out for certain purposes, such as the sounds of the times and epochs. We are the sound carriers. We hear the sound and transmit it to the Body and the world. Those who love God like the good sounds and they come running, rejoicing. The others, who love themselves, close their ears in pain and disbelief. Ultimately, every sound that comes from heaven goes back, after having accomplished its purpose.

How does that sound?

Robert said...

Jeremiah...can't figure out why you might think I would think you were trying to bust my chops. I thought you did good job of pointing the contemporary impulses behind resisting forms and traditions. I had mine at 22...I am interested in what is driving the current generation's impulses...I think you nailed it...and it is not new...we just want to yield control...con-forming in the interest of corporiety is an expression of lost control...we can't do it my way and that way at the same time. The premium placed upon individual expression trumps everything. A stream of consciousness just kicked in...I better bail.

Robert said...

I did it again...I meant "do not" want to yield preference for preserving that it is what I say it is rather than being obligated to what has been handed to us. Obligate is another one of the words that needs to be "constrain." It suggests boundaries...limitations. Something from the past reels us in...tells us that we can't do whatever we are inclined to do without something that has been handed to us at great price falling off the table. There is a difference between being "dictated" to by the past and being "constrained"...reeled in to insure that we are responding to the Faith once handed down. Is the contemporary resistance to form and tradition an avoidance of "obligation?" Sometimes I get the sense that some just simply don't want anything from the past suggesting their present impulse is not a better point of view. Sounds post-modern...

John M. said...

Robert - What you are saying is generally true of Baby Boomers and Gen Xer's, but I'm not sure it is so accurate with Millenials (those born after 1980). My impression is that in the "emerging church" movement there is an interest and desire in the "ancient" as-well-as the "future". I don't know how serious the interest is, and if they are willing to be "reeled in" as you say. I guess time will tell. But with those under 25 or so, there is at least a window open toward the ancient past.

It dawned on me a couple years ago that I had been reading all these books about Gen-Xer's and applying those attitudes to my 7th graders, when my 7th graders were all Millenials, having been born in the last 12 years. The Millenials have a very different mind-set than Gen-Xer's. To Millenials, anything before 1995 is ancient history. For me it's like living in a continual time-warp, but it keeps me on my toes!

josenmiami said...

I'm reading a book by a Christian philosopher, Heath White, called Postmodernism 101. Here is what he says about postmoderns in terms of the past and the future:

"In a postmodern world, there is no particular reason that church services should remain the way they were instituted during the modern period. Some changes have already begun. As postmodern Christians have begun to arrange their own services, they typically juxtapose old and new elements, for example, using PowerPoint presentations in candlelight ceremonies.

This kind of juxtaposition expresses a laudable desire to assimilate the best of the old and the new, reaching into both the past and the future without fear of either.

The worship of the future may look like nothing we have ever seen before. Or it may borrow a lot from the worship of premodern Christians" (White:84).

Jeremiah said...


yes yes they can't be separated and yes the Society of the Kingdom must permeate each different society I just want to avoid the trap of holding up Hebrew thinking and trying to be Hebrew. That line of thinking led to baal worship (worship of power essentially) which was the same as what they were wanting from Jesus etc. and what Paul analyzed. I don't want to beat a dead horse anymore, I think we are all in agreement here.

Ultimate Intention

John, What you said about headed to the New Jerusalem is exactly what I'm after here. The reference is DeVern Fromke's book of the same name. We started in a Garden, we end in a City. The interesting thing is that people are always wanting to go back...either back to the garden or back to the early church or back to something else. GOD doesn't want us going back to either. The first was the infancy of humanity the second was the infancy of His Bride, The Church. He wants a mature Bride, not an infant. The days of the early Church are gone, she was a very cute baby, but He is going to come back for a Woman who knows how to love a MAN. And while this may not be the entirety of HIS "Ultimate Intention" it is certainly a large portion of it.

Jeremiah said...

Meadows Move

Joseph I've always thought of "Pre-Modern" as the Being focused on faith in Christ, but after your little challenge there I started thinking more and I think I would say the Pre-Modern was the exaltation of faith in God's revelation to the exclusion of reason. You are right, we aren't going back to that either, what is going to emerge from the upcoming fight with paganism is a Church who is able to carry Faith and Reason together, for possibly the first time in Her history. If it took ~1500 yrs to get to the age of reason, and now another ~500 yrs to get past the age of reason, maybe, with faith and reason working together, we will really get see the Kingdom Come.

steve H said...

Another author who has important insights into the message of Jesus and of Paul in the Jewish context is the Anglican N.T. Wright. Many of his writings seem to be addressed to the theological community.

Two of his books are easier for the non-theologian: "The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is" and "What Saint Paul Really Said: Was Paul of Tarsus the Real Founder of Christianity." Wright writes from the perspective that the Kingdom of God is the central message.

Wright also did some powerful work as the commentator for the book of Romans in "The New Interpreter's Bible" Volume X.

I think Wright addresses important issues in terms of God's bigger purpose.

josenmiami said...

hi Jeremiah, I have heard of DeVern Fromke's book, but have not read it. Mike Cook told me that it was very influential for him.

Steve: I have a couple of N.T. Wright's books but I have not had time to read them yet (too much blogging). Any chance we could get you to do a book review for us? 2 to 3 pages? (The same for you Jeremiah on Fromke).

I am currently reading Postmodernism 101 by Christian philosopher Heath White...he sheds a lot of positive light on what he calls "pre-modernism" in addition to modernism and postmodernism. He leans toward a return to a premodern view of scripture, which believes that interpretation of scripture must be preceded by love for God and spiritual maturity, aided by wise guidance from historic fathers (and mothers?) of the faith, i.e. the Patristic fathers plus other giants of the faith through the middle ages.

You will like this guy, Robert. He is not "reactive" to postmodernism... in fact in many places he is sympathetic. He clearly exposes the fallacies of modernism's break with authority and exaltation of reason, and in that he appreciates the postmodern critique, but in terms of biblical interpretation he sees that extreme postmodernism ultimately leads down a dead end.

He believes that some sort of return to the "fathers" and church tradition will be necessary (similar to R.R. Reno).

one of the things this blog community can do to serve one another is to bring up these books and discuss them together.

Brian, I am still thinking about some of your criticisms of Hirsch's book. I think I am seeing one particular flaw in his reasoning that may be pushing your buttons, but I will need to some time to develop it. to be continued...

Jeremiah said...


That guy sounds like what I agree with in regards to those topics.

josenmiami said...

he gives the clearest Christian response I have seen yet, without any reaction.

Brian Emmet said...

This is rich, brothers! My thanks to all.

The way I think about God's ultimate intention has come to center on the Trinity. The God who is love purposes to draw all that he has made (is making, and is making new) into his very life. I thinbk this is what Paul was getting at in referring (1 Cor 15) to Christ handing over the kingdom to Father so that God would be "all in all," and what Peter had in mind in inviting us to become "partakers of the divine nature." All of our Biblical language--bride, New Jerusalem, consummation, eschaton (in the sens of "purpose or goal," not merely temporal 'end')--is a metaphorical attempt to point in that direction.

I like the mosaic picture--each individual piece is beautiful, the "local" pattern is beautiful, and as we step back (or up or in) we see a enlarging and broadening pattern that includes every single individual tile, every "local" pattern and is at the same time larger than all. We tend to get fixated on the individual tiles, or our "local" pattern. In one sense, that is about all we can do, being human; at the same time, we need to remind and remind ourselves again that there is more going on than we see or know. This metaphor, like all metaphors, breaks down, and can be misused. My main point was about God's desire to draw everything and everyone into God, God understood as he has revealed himself in Scripture and in Christ by the Spirit.

It is this Triune-God-who-is-Love that is calling us, drawing us, wooing us, constraining us, summoning us, commanding us, capturing us, conquering us--and not just us alone. I think something like this helps deliver us from needing to conceptualize the Kingdom too finely/specifically.

Brian Emmet said...

Now as for the Hebrew/Greek stuff: I'm not persuaded it is all that helpful. It is helpful to recognize how "the Hebrew mind" thought about things, and how the Greek mind did the same; but to attempt to become "Hebrew rather than Greek" strikes me as futile. The very thinking we do in this is itself already a product of Hebrew, Greek, Roman, Reniassance humanism, etc., etc. Joseph has a piece on "Translateing the Kingdom" which I think made the point well: God is always "translating" his word and ways into human cultures and languages, and the idea of the church as a "translation medium" is one I find helpful and powerful. I suspect that as we disciple people into Scripture (as one central aspect of discipling them into Jesus), God the Spirit working through God's Word will renew their postmodern, millenial, consumerist, tribalist minds...

...along with ours!

Brian Emmet said...

Finally--and this is not a Meadows Move but a Jimmy Jump...

...the Meadows Move is the breaking of one longish comment into two shorter ones so that Commenter will not come across as long-winded (long-fingered? Hyper-typer?) or hoggish with respect to the conversation. If mom didn't want you to take too big bites, she also didn't want you to offer your guests too large chunks of food.

The Jimmy Jump, on the other hand, is when a Commenter really has three different areas to address and does so in quick succession, jumping as it were from one to the other, as I am here demonstrating.

John the Musician said...

For everyone involved, your chops are now officially busted. In response to Steve H's first post in this thread, I personally don't think I've ever truly felt the "drama," the "music," the "mystery,"or the "majesty." I think this is a vitally important part of it all, because what is it after all that draws us close to God? Well, a big part of it is the mystery and the majesty. However, I haven't ever felt that, and I would venture to say that many others haven't truly felt the mystery of God. In fact it's quite the opposite, almost everybody has become bored with God. Or at least the God that's been portrayed through the church. I would venture to guess that the majority of young adults in the western world do not go to church simply because they're bored of it. This might only apply to those of us who have grown up in the church structure, but I have a feeling that it's an over all sentiment towards the church.

I guess all this to say, that I think part of the reason for the out cry of secular music in this day and age is that everybody desires what God is, love, mystery, majesty, but no one wants the god of religion. This is of course a huge generalization, but if you think about how good young people are at detecting the truth of things, then you'll see as well that they can see the lack of power in most churches. They can see the lack of love in most christians, and they want nothing to do with what they believe to be false.

steve H said...

That's huge, John the Musician!

I want to say more -- especially give a quote from an unexpected source who says a related thing. However, we have Ted Sandquist here to do some stuff with us on declaratory prayer -- so I'll get back ASAP.

Jeremiah said...


Rich indeed! I slightly disagree with you however when you say HE is drawing all things into His very Life. I think it more appropriate to say HE is pushing HIS very Life out into all things. The difference is subtle, I agree, but GOD seems to me to be ever expanding, ever increasing, ever multiplying, every releasing. Furthermore, as M.C. (I know you are reading, if not writing :) )once pointed out to me, this issue is addressed specifically in Eph 3:10 "...His intent was that now, through the Church, the manifold wisdom of GOD should be known..." This point of GOD pushing His Life outward through the Church is also illustrated in the miracle of the fish and loaves. Father <=> Holy Spirit <=> Christ => Disciples => People. Christ, having incarnated human body, is always the bridge between GOD and us.

Jeremiah said...

Jimmy jump 1

Finally, are they metaphors or are they actuallity? I have a hard time taking the words in that Book as metaphors unless specifically stated or undeniably obvious. I'm not sure the harm in being as literal as possible. Transcendent descriptions of a reality too wonderful for the broken speech of a sinful fallen race? More likely, but maybe I'm parsing words too much here.

Jeremiah said...

Jimmy jump 2

(whose Jimmy anyway?)

John the musician, am truly sorry that you have never felt the "drama," the "music," the "mystery,"or the "majesty." You have more faith than I do to have carried on this long with out it. Jesus said blessed are those who have never seen and still believe. To touch the All Consuming Flame is a wonder beyond description. To glimpse, for just one brief fleeting eternal instant the Glorious Bride descending for Her Groom pierces the heart deeply. But to persevere through the valley, carried on by trust in those who have gone before, is valor such as the Angels will sing about for 10 million million years. I don't know exactly what the blessing is for that obedience, but I earnestly pray that the fullness of it bears you into Light of Glory of the Knowledge of the Face of Jesus.

For any of us who have witnessed, by whatever faculty we did, to whatever degree (more or less) we did, WE MUST CARRY THE FIRE OF GOD! WE MUST LIFT JESUS UP! All the theology of the world is worthlesss if Jesus Christ, crucified, descended, ascended and seated glorified as the majestic ruler of all things isn't the center center of whatever we do! I'm not upbraiding, I'm calling out! We can discuss what the church ought or ought not to be, we can talk about pre post and whatever modern, but if we don't carry Jesus in such a way that HE is first we've absolutely lost!

Finally, I can say in all honesty that I do touch all of these things in each of you as you write, but there are so many who do not that it makes my stomach sick. I pray to GOD that if for one minute I would bring dishonor to HIM or to HIS Church that He would mute my tongue and blind my eyes so that the King and His Kingdom do not suffer from my foolishness. I would indeed rather be crippled than see the Cross of Christ suffer dishonor.

John M. said...

Brian - Thank you for explaining the difference between the "Jimmy Jump" and the "Meadows Move". I had not made that distinction, and therefore had made them synonomous, when, as you so aptly described, they are actually quite different in purpose and use.

I like what you're saying about the Triune God and the power of the Word and the Spirit to transform our hearts and minds despite whatever cultural/generational nitch in which we find ourselves. Regarding whether God pushes out the Kingdom's influence or draws all things to Himself. I say a resounding, "Yes, that is what He does"!

John the Musician - I am reading a book, "They Like Jesus, But Not the Church", which says pretty much exactly what you are saying about your generation. The author builds relationships with 20 something's and then asks them their opinions about Jesus, Christians, and the Church. You could be quoted in that book.

Jeremiah - I love your passion and fire! I admire your ending statement, but am acutely aware that I would now be a deaf, dumb, limbless, zombie (if I were still alive) had God literally done to me what you're asking. I can only cry out grace, grace, if it weren't for God's grace I would be the above -- or worse, most likely, much worse. I'm sure you agree, and I'm glad you can say what you said with integerity of heart and mind. I'm sorry to say, I can't. I'm too aware of my soft underbelly!

Jeremiah said...

Yes, Grace and Mercy 1000 fold! If Paul is the Chief of sinners then I am his first Lieutenant! I cringe sometimes when I think of the things I've done, but "...forgetting those things that are behind..." I do say those things with all my heart and I think God hasn't ever said yes to that prayer because he wants me to know that all of the good in my life flows from HIS grace. I just wish it didn't have to cost other people pain for me to learn to trust HIS Grace.

I'm with you brother!

Dual Smoking Barrels said...

Hey thanks for the reflections and letting me know that I was at least somewhat on the mark with that earlier statement. Jeremiah, I completely agree that we shouldn't dwell on the failings of the church, that's not what it's about. However, I guess what I said was geared towards helping us understand an outside perspective. Often the best way to "beat" an opponent is to put yourself in his shoes, in the same way, if we put ourselves in the shoes of the world it will probably help increase our understanding of how we can reach out to those people. As for me I spent time with several guys chain smoking cigarettes and getting drunk. (that's not the right approach neccesarily, but it is a nice perk) However, the more down to earth I was with these guys, the more receptive they became. Once they realized that I wasn't going to judge them and that I would even join them, they became open to what I had to say.

Just some thoughts. =O)

John the Musician said...

Err sorry guys, Dual Smoking Barrels is my other account name.

josenmiami said...

I trained him oh too well! (where is the chagrined smiley face when you need it?)

josenmiami said...

...And when He broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour (REV 8:1).

Robert said...

Going back a few posts...the comments on thinking Jewish/thinking Greek made me think of Rob Bell's web site If you go there, click his bio and then scroll down to his recommended books. They are mostly about viewing through a Jewish lens.

BTW, if you have not seen any of his short subject productions...they are pretty effective story telling. They run for only 11 to 15 minutes. Great small group discussion starters. He is the pastor of Mars Hill Church. That was a little rabbit trail...back to the path...if I can find it.

John M. said...

Hey DSB (and Dad) - Maybe our next thread should be the subject of "becoming all things to all men", and how far we can/should press the envolope in enculturating with those we're wanting to share Jesus with. One observation: Jesus did't get labeled as a "wine bibber" (KJV) for drinking grape juice out of miniture shot glasses in Sunday worship!

John M. said...

Jimmy Jump! (Ahwww...that feels good!) Another thought/question regarding reaching and understanding the emerging generations. Missiologists use the term "redemptive analogy" to describe an idea, myth, story, cultural norm, song(s), etc. that exists in a people group before the missionary arrives,that can be used as an analogy to share with them about Jesus, redemption, the active rule of God etc.

Some missiologists believe that every culture has at least one, and perhaps several redemptive analogies.

What are the redemptive analogies in the emerging generations? My suspiscian is that there is at least one for each subculture out there -- perhaps it breaks down even more and becomes the story that is unique to each person, like Jesus' conversation with the Samaritan woman regarding the "living water". Does anyone have any thoughts? This is a little like the "sound" thing, except perhaps more concrete and personal for the individuals and subgroups (tribal vampires?) that we interact with.

Brian Emmet said...

[Brian approaches carrying several buckets of cold water..]

Uh, guys, I kinda think we're losing an important part of our vocabulary in speaking of reaching the emerging generation, subculture, tribal group, etc. It is the language of sin. Yes, people have longings for God...AND they are fundamentally, deeply and hopelessly committed to being their own gods. I just don't want us getting so sensitive to cultural clues and longings that we miss the essential hopelessness of everybody's situation. Our God-longings do not in fact draw us nearer to God. We are in danger of reducing everyone's problem to an educational one (i.e., the basic human problem is a lack of knowledge, information or awareness, which can be overcome through some kind of 'educational process'), which interestingly is a mistake parallel to the modernist impulse captured in a book like "Evidence That Demands a Verdict"--if only we just explained it to them clearly enough, they'd get it and just 'naturally' become disciples.

[Having dumped both buckets over his own head, Brian retires to his room to ponder the inelutctable modality of the visible--BONUS POINTS if you can identify this obscure literary reference! The winner will have the next 'blog move' {ala the Meadows Move and the Jimmy Jump} named in his or her honor.]

John M. said...

Brian - One of several redemptive analogies in the Motalone tribal group (the book "Bruchko), was story that at one time long ago the whole tribe had known God, but that they had allowed them selves to become deceived by "sakamdoji", who led them down the wrong path, away from God. Now they were far from God and didn't know how to find him or please him. i.e. they were very aware of their sin and separation from God. Does that sense of alienation from God exist today in the hearts of those who swim in our self-centered, narcicisstic culture?

josenmiami said...

I used a redemptive analogy recently with some of the people who are interested in vampire mythology. The question was, why did God drive Adam and Eve out of the garden after they took from the tree of knowledge. The answer was, "to protect them from eating from the tree of life and becoming immortal without redemption...which would have made them a little like vampires.

Brian, I am trying to think of an example in the gospels where Jesus hit a lost person in face with their sin right out of the starting gate: Samaritan women? not exactly; Zaccheus, definitely not; Nicodemos, again not exactly; Legion, no -- he did exorcism; the women caught in adultery? sort of...he said "neither do I condemn you--go and sin no more....Perhaps the best example would be the rich young ruler, although it was not obvious sin, but more like a heart attitude.

...and what about the scripture that says that judgment should begin with the household of God? In other words, if we have our hands full trying to get 'saved' church people to repent from sin, why make that our starting point with lost people? it is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance.

1 Cor 6:9-13 makes it rather clear in my opinion that we are NOT to judge the sin of those who are outside of the circle of faith. Paul says we are not to associate with immoral people IF they claim to be Christians or are in the church...but that the implication is we ARE to associate with immoral people in the world in a redemptive fashion, otherwise we would have to isolate ourselves from the world like the amish.

In my experience, people come in through all kinds of ways in all kinds of sequence such as "repent-believe-receive" or even "receive-believe-repent" but rarely do they even become fully aware of their sin until they have experienced God and began to study the scriptures.

steve H said...

Josesph, Concerning when people are able to repent -- perhaps you are touching on one of the big changes in dealing with converts that took place after the first "generation" or so.

In Acts and New Testament times, most converts appear to have been Jews, prosylytes (Gentile converts to Judaism), and God-fearing Greeks. (Some such as those "some" who joined Paul and believed at Mars Hill appear to be exceptions.) Most early converts would have had significan exposure to the Old Testament -- to the Scriptures. Thus repentance as well as the hopes for Messiah and the prophecies about Jesus would have meaning to them. When these then believed the New Testament indicates that they were immediately baptized and added to the church.

Based on what I've read, however, by at most the middle of the 2nd century (150-200) this had changed. By this time converts were mostly coming out of paganism. Thus the church developed the catechetical system. New believers (catuchumens) usually went through extensive discipling. (both teaching and training in the way of life)for about two years before being baptised.

In fact, these catechumens would come to church meetings for the 1st part of the liturgy -- the reading and exposition of the Sciptures and the prayers. Then the unbaptised would be dismissed before the eucharistic celebration.

By this time many (maybe even most) baptisms took place on Easter. Lent appears to have developed out of a season of intense preparation, including deliverance, leading up to these Easter baptisms when the new followers of Jesus would identify with his death and burial and be raised to walk in a new way of life. They would both be baptized in water and be chrismated (hands laid on for the reception of the Holy Spirit) in that Easter celebration. Then would for the first time join the community of believers at the Lord's table.

josenmiami said...

thanks Steve. I was aware of the change in the mid-second century to long periods of preparation and delayed baptisms...I had consideredd it as an early corruption of the 1st century gospel. Your insight about paganism puts a whole new spin on it for me. I think the thing I am becomeing aware of is the adaptability of the church in every age. Obviously we can draw from the first century, but we cannot go back.

I would ask for your prayers. Some of you may remember Rob Reynolds. I have been talking with him for several years and we have built a trusting friendship in the midst of the chaos of his life. He is on his way here to stay with us for a few weeks and look for a job. He just called me from Opalocka and should be here within the hour.

Since this is Sunday morning, the Lord's Day, and in keeping with Robert's encouragement to draw treasures (new and old) from the Patristic and Medieval periods of the church, I want to offer a prayer this morning from St. Patrick. It is long, so I will only post the first three stanzas and the concluding verse.

I arise today,
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today,
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with his baptism
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels
In the service of archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

last verse:
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.

steve H said...

Thanks for sharing St. Patrick's prayer, Joseph.

In the shower a few minutes ago, I had a few more thoughts on stemming from the topic I last addressed -- the change in dealing with converts.

1. As Americans we are entrenched in democratic ideals. As contemporary Americans we are pressured by inclusiveness and tolerance and "personal rights" to not make distinctions.

There are aspects of each of these values which have some relation to Scriptural teaching. However, all are distorted, perhaps even corrupted, in contemporary culture.

I think these values may make it difficult for us to distinguish as fully as we should between covenant and non-covenant people, between committed disciples, and interested learners. We may sometimes be too quick to bring people into the "fullness" (however full that may be) of our community life in Christ.

2)I do not see us a being bound by the practice of the early church or as being able to go back.

However, we do tend to have a "cultural arrogance" that inclines us to assume we know more and are able to do things better (somewhat of an evolutionary assumption, if you will).

Perhaps the church in the early centuries learned some things the hard way that we would do well to learn from.

In previous generations most converts in the U.S. and Europe were culturally formed in values and ways of thought that were to a large degree reflective of a Scriptural worldview. In the U.S. many if not most unbelievers had been fairly thoroughly exposed to Scriptural teaching.

However, we are in the U.S. and in Western Europe increasingly in what Francis Schaeffer called a post-Christian era. We know that we can no longer assume that our fellow Americans have any such shared assumption.

As far as I can see, we are increasingly living in a time that has more parallels to the late Roman era (early Christian centuries), than to the culture of Christendom. Therefore, I think that the wisdom of our early Christian fathers is often of great practical value to us in this culture.

josenmiami said...

Rob arrived and we have had some good conversation this morning. I hope this is the window to finally help him get his life back on track.

Steve: when do you consider the "Christendom" era to have begun? I would tend to date its begining with the rise of Constantine and promotion of Christianity to the status of a state religion by the end of the 3rd century.

I would agree with you that there are many parallels between the first century and the twenty-first. That would probably hold true through the entire period in which Christianity was a minority religion persecuted by the Roman civil religion. I tend the think that the parallels rapidly diminish in the 3rd century as Christianity became more "Roman" and "civil."

Regarding democracy: I think my political studies in the master's program gave me a new appreciation for democracy, especially in contrast to the religious monopoly of Christendom. When we talk about the kingdom of God being a "Christocracy" and as being superior to democracy, the rub is deciding who gets to determine the athority for a theocracy or Christocracy. The Iranian Mullahs have tried to install a theocracy...Al Queda wants to establish sharia law in renewed Islamic Caliphate.

I personally would not want to live in a theocratic system or Christocracy in which guys like Rushdoony or Gary North get to determine the law. Only slightly less scary would be a "Moral Majority" under Robertson, Falwell (God rest his soul) or Dobson. Currently, the church cannot even run itself, much less society.

Until Christ physically returns, I am 'down' with democracy...I would quote Winston Churchill:

-"It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried."

steve H said...

Joseph, I would see the stage being set for Christendom in the years following Constantine's conversion. I don't think it was full blown, however, for several centuries after that.

I think the big issue of that time was not having a clear understanding of the either distinction between or the relationship between the jurisdictions -- especially that of church and state. The western church tended to consolidate power in the church/pope. The eastern churches tended to consolidate power in the emperor. Both ultimately led to bad fruit.

I'm not sure we have yet seen a healthy relationship between church and state. The early years of American history may have been the closest but by then we were dealing with a already seriously divided church. So the church / state "separation" was originally both a protection of the churches from civil government and a protection of the churches from one another.

May God bless you interactions with Rob.

Jeremiah said...


This historic discussion is fascinating, but has little to do with the original discussion on evangelizing lost people, let me say that I agree with both Brian on the one hand, and with Joseph and John M on the other.

We must be "all things to all people", BUT we must never forget that IT IS NOT our ability "to relate to people" that draws them to JESUS. It is certainly not our sharing with them in their sin that does so either. HE said that "No one comes to me unless the Father draws them..." and again "I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." We must simply strive to carry HIM.

I have read "Eternity in their hearts" and I do understand the implications of finding the "redemptive analogies". The implication is that if you can find where Jesus has already revealed Himself to a society then it is a much shorter walk to be able give them the fuller revelation of HIM as defined in the Holy Scriptures.

Finally, how "comfortable" do you think the Jews felt with Peter when He declared in the first evangelistic sermon ever (Jesus never preached one) (and it must have been a good one as thousands converted) that "Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, WHOM YOU CRUCIFIED, both Lord and Christ". If that wasn't smashing them in the mouth with their sin, I don't know what it was. The result was they were "cut to the heart". When was the last time we confronted a lost person with the reality of their sin and they were cut to the heart and in anguish cried out "what shall we do?" Now that's evangelsim! I, unfortunately, have never done it. Maybe one day I will get to. Unfortunately, (in my opinion) we are too worried about offending someone to risk them falling under conviction.

Ok I have settled back down. Apologies all around if I've been too caustic. And sorry again to all the pastoral guys who are now sure I've gone off the deep end :) (I really still am your friend) LOL

John M. said...

Haven't been on all day. It took a few minutes to catch up with the discussion.

Steve - I hear what you're saying about people with a Jewish background in the scriptures being further along on the "repentance and understanding" scale. That probably has some bearing on your comments, Jeremiah, about Peter's sermon, because everyone there was either a Jew by birth or a Prosylyte (convert) to Judaism.

The question I have concerns Paul's being sent to the Gentiles. I know he always went to the Synagogue first and usually had some converts from the Jews there, but are you [Steve] saying that all the Gentiles he went to were Prosylytes? I have always assumed (probably my main mistake!) that many of the Gentiles he went to were pagans. I'm thinking of the folks in (brain freeze, can't remember) who thought he and Barnabas were Roman gods and tried to worship them.

Joseph - Tell Rob I said, "Hey".

Jeremiah said...


Good point. I think you are right, Romans 9, I think shows us what Pauls heart for Jews was and I think that is why he always went to the synagogues. But remember Ephesus where he spent 2 years in that lecture hall? (of course that was after he spent time in the synagogue) It seems to me that perhaps, because of his great love for his people, it was tough for Paul to ignore them and get on with his main assignment, but this is speculation.

steve H said...

I was not intending to suggest an "always," John. A careful reading of Acts does seem to indicate that many and maybe most of the early Gentile converts were either proselytes or God-fearing --Cornelius is an obvious example and Titius Justus another.

And there were clear "exceptions," if you will, such as the Philippian jailer. We don't know his background but it certainly appears that the miracle of the earthquake and the "miracle" that the prisoners, although loosed, all stayed with Paul and Silas were the things that got his attention. Even in his case, I wonder if he had not been exposed previously to some truth since he he did want to know how to be "saved." (By the way, I think that term "saved" probably had somewhat of a different content for him than for those of us with an evangelical background.)

Jeremiah, I do think there is a connection (however loose it may be) between this and the original discussion of the "sound." I believe God had prepared ("in the fullness of time") that generation of Jews and Gentiles to be able to respond to the "good news" -- and that the "news" was truly "good" in their cultural context.

J.Aviles said... I did not think I made such an impact as to have a posting stratagem be named after me…I don’t know whether to be flattered or what? HAHAHAHAHAHA.

Great discussion by the way guys, I’m trying to process your discussion before I comment (so I can keep it short and not have to employ a “Jimmy Jump”)

I’ve tried to keep up with all the postings even though I was not proactive in my participation. But it really is like a full time job to keep up with all of you. I feel as though I should be paying for this Theology class and taking notes cause their might be a final at the end of the course worth 100% of my grade. =)

At the moment my son’s are both napping still so I had some time, ill most likely catch up on my reading (the blogg) tonight and in true “Jimmy” fashion (and to hold true to Brian’s much earlier comments about balance and 2am postings) will post my thoughts on topic sometime late this evening.


Brian Emmet said...

jimmy, the "Jump" named for you is definitely an honorific. Mr. Meadows pointed out that it was in fact you who pioneered the "break my long comment into two shorter ones" move, which was erroneously named the Meadows Move (probably because John M tended to use it, uh, a bit more frequently). So the Jump, which names another useful blog technique (three or more comments on different subject in quick succession) was a make-up call to rrecognize you and your unique and valuable contributions and participation! Welcome back, enjoy the kids' nap, and look forward to hhearing from you (at a balanced time!)

josenmiami said...

Steve, I agree that the early years of the U.S. was the healthiest in terms of the relationships between religion and the state; precisely BECAUSE the church was so divided. Thank God it was divided! This forced the various "churches" (in each of the states) to have to exercise mutual toleration...which would probably not have happened if there was one American church aligned with the state.

This goes back to an early discussion that Brian, Robert and I had in another blog before we started this one on the nature of authority.

I get vary uncomfortable when I hear brothers talking about dominion and theocracy because of my orientation around history. It is clear, both in history and in the teaching of Jesus that part of the consequence of the fall is the human tendency to dominate and subject others. One-upmanship. Donald Miller calls it the "lifeboat theory" (whoever you would throw out of the lifeboat in order to survive is at the bottom of the pecking order or food chain -- in American history was Native Americans followed by African Slaves).

Whenever the "Church" obtains political and social power, and a religious monopoly, bad things happen. Jesus never intended for people to be 'coerced' in his name, much less tortured, dominated, subjugated or put to death...and yet that is the overwhelming lesson of church history.

If we are going to "value" our historical legacy, we must also face and acknowledge our historical sins.

Perhaps my reticence about dominion talk is the fact that as an historian, I am more oriented around the real particular facts of history than a theologian, who might more oriented around theoretical ideals, as well as future possibilities.

Remember Genesis 11? The vertical tower and a united people attempting to stay cohesive and find a name for themselves?

I think disunity in the church is more God-inspired and provoked than it is of the devil. God does not want us to be unified because of the great damage we would do to one another and to the world with our absolutism. He is the great scatterer...the great pluralist.

Unity will only come through him when he sees meek and humble "other-serving" motives of our hearts...authority only comes through death and the cross, only through surrender.

Democracy is not an ideal system...but it enforces Jesus' principle of "loving our enemies" or at least tolerating our political opponents (only just barely!). It is a HUGE improvement over Christendom, feudalism, the divine right of Monarchs and every other system tried before. It will have to do until Jesus really forms a church according to his spirit and until his reign fully comes.

Brian Emmet said...

I fear I was unclear in my comment on sin. I was not advocating judging people's sins, or hitting them over the heads or in their faces with their sin. I am not against the finding and using of redemptive analogies.

Instead, I meant to remind us of the reality and power of sin (as opposed to sins) and the subtle ways in which I think we're all tempted to overlook this power at work in people's lives. Sin is not more powerful than the Cross, the Word, or the Spirit, but I do think we sometimes reduce the sinner's "problem" (annad the church's problems) to a primarily "educational" one--if we could just get the church more culturally sensitive, if we could just find the key redemptive analogies for our culture (with its many subcultures, and the many anaolgies needed there), and communicate them more winningly/effectively, things would be better.

Things might well be better, which is why these discussions and the innovative practices that may develop from them, are important. At the same time, let's not forget that the Church has never really had a 'Golden Age'--as one wise saint once commented, "The vast majority of church life happens somewhere in the middle of the Book of Judges."

To which I reply, "Ouch. Yes. Lord, have mercy on us all!"

And, being an equal opporttunity weisenheimer, I should probably name yet a third blog technique, the Brianic Bloviation... you know, when a guy just goes on and one and on... doesn't matter if it's one comment or twelve, he just goes on and one and on...

But we do need to get back to the PATTERNS we think we may be seeing!

Jeremiah said...


as near as I can tell this blog as lost all sense of direction. Consequently I would like to share this brownie recipe with everybody...

Just kidding. I want to respond to Joseph's discussion regarding the failing of the Church throughout history when it has been "in power" First of all, one way of looking at human society is that it is separated in to five distinct regions of authority, personal, family, church, business, and civil. Tyranny can be functionally described/defined as what happens when one of these five regions begins to take over functions which by rights should belong to the others. Joseph, I would submit to you that if you compare the damage done by the Church when She has been a tyrant, to the damage done by the other 4 regions when they have been tyrannical you might find that the damage is fairly minimal. Briefly, lets look at how many millions have been killed through abortion (tyranny of self), how many millions killed by communists, nazis, islamic dictatorships (tyranny of civil government), uncounted numbers killed in tribal warfare throughout Africa (tyranny of family), uncounted millions destroyed by slavery (tyranny of business). As aggregious as the Church's failings have been, she makes a much softer tyrant than the rest!

Jeremiah said...


Hi Jimmy!

josenmiami said...

Brian, (i'm not necessarily disagreeing with you) the purpose of a "redemptive analogy" is not to educate, it is to communicate good news. Jesus did it with new birth (john 3), living water (john 4 or 5), bread, and a number of other examples. It is only to build a bridege, not to excuse sin, or justify sinners.

ROM 10:14 ...And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?

Jeremiah: I don't necessarily buy the jurisdictional theology...but I don't think can you quantify and dismiss the church's sins of violence and coercion quite that easily by comparing it to other human institutions. I understand the businesses, and political ideologies are going to be sinful and coercive...but Jesus never said "I will build my business" or "I will build my political party"

He did say "I will build MY church" and he also said "love your enemies" and "Judge not"....

I would have to say what you guys refer to the "Church" in history was not HIS church at all, or at least a large portion of it. Certainly not of his Spirit...character, nature, etc.

steve H said...

Whatever and whoever of the historical church was God's will have to be up to God -- too big for me. Also God's people were known to do bad things even before the "church" as we know it.

This is probably not the place to argue the "jurisdictional" interpretation; however, having looked at in for over 20 years now and having "bought into it" for more than a dozen years, I can only say that I think it can be fairly strongly supported in Scripture.

In fact, I believe that sometimes the "oppression" we see is God judging one jurisdiction by using another jurisdiction to oppress another. Even as in the Old Testament when God's people failed to submit to his yoke, then he put them under the yoke of oppression by means of another government.
In my previous comment, I did not mention dominion. Ultimately, Babylon got dealt with too, but first God used Babylon to deal with his own covenant people. On the other had he used his covenant people to deal with the Canaanites.

Does God still do that? Probably! But it's beyond me to evaluate the whens and by whoms.

The answer to this kind of oppression is not primarily (and maybe not at all) resistance, at least in the sense of rebellion, or political action. Rather it is repentance and submission to the heavenly King.

Granted both the issue of unity and dominion are tough ones. However, Jesus prayed for the unity. The epistles call us to a profound unity -- same love, same mind, same heart, same spirit, one body... How can we look for less?

And mankind was created to have dominion -- to rule on earth as the representatives of heaven. The Great Reversal of the cross and resurrection are producing a new creation -- and dominion is still a key part of that. Having "all authority," Jesus sent us to disciple the nations... With Abraham and His offspring Jesus we are coming into an inheritance, the world, the nations. Although we don't yet see everything submitted to mankind humanity, we do see the God-man seated with all authority and we are heirs with him of all things. We shall reign with him on the earth.

I think I'm aware of the dangers and the abuses. Even so, I cannot pray for less and believe for less than God has revealed is his intention! "Thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

At the same time that does not mean I think that we go after either dominion or unity in the power of our flesh. I desire to live as a living sacrifice, serving in love at every opportunity. (And God knows how far short I fall.) The rest is up to God.

Jeremiah said...

I am not saying you can dismiss the sins of church. I am not saying her record has been spotless. I am just saying if I had to choose, I would rather have the church be the tyrant than any of the others as she will do less damage.

Do I think she should be excused? No. Do I think she should be judged? In most cases it has already happened, in a lot of cases it is happening. I want to see the Bride w/o spot or blemish as much or more than the next guy.

However, my practical side has to say that given a list of bad options, I will pick the one that is the least "bad" or does the least amount of damage.

As far as the jurisdictional issues go, why do you disagree? I don't see A) that they are unbiblical or B) that they are illogical, or C) that they are not functional

Biblically speaking, we could find quite a bit that does corroborate them as "working truth".

I definitely am not arguing on this just to argue (I try not to do that anyhow) I really want to know what flaws in that thinking you see. In truth, I frame a lot of issues in terms of whose jurisdiction they fall into and if the model is flawed I want to know.

Jeremiah said...


Steve and I did a double post. Steve I do agree with what you said, however.

josenmiami said...

good discussion! Steve, I was not meaning to imply that you were using the term "dominion"... I was probably unconsciously arguing in my mind with the old Covenant talk about dominion theology.

I appreciate you guys, and I recognize that we see through a glass darkly and that we know in part. Our oneness in Christ is based on our mutual commitment, not our doctrinal agreement.

got a run! I'll respond more when I have time.

John M. said...

Hey Guys - Jimmy, it's good to hear from you. Glad you've been reading along. I wonder who else is lurking in the stream, but not commenting. If you're in that catagory, you could just check in and say, "I'm here; I'm reading". That might inspire some of us to write even longer posts! Brian, I wish I could get my medium-legnth posts down to the size of the ones you apologize for being too long. Hey, I just had a flash of insight. Maybe it's because I talk too long in my introductory paragraph without really saying anything. That probably means I should say something...

OK I'll say it. Commenting on the last few posts regarding unity, dominion, theocracy, democracy, separation of church and state, interpretations of church history, the nature of "Christendom" (as Joseph is using it) vs. the nature of the "true church" etc. It seems that we are all looking at the same ultimate outcome through different ends of the telescope. The unanserable question is, "How much of the 'already' should we expect to experience before the 'not yet' kicks in?

I think the key is doing what Jesus said, Occupy until I come; pray Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, as in heaven so on earth; go into all the world teaching all peoples and nations to obey what has been commanded; making disciples to Jesus and baptizing them into His body/Kingdom; striving and praying for the unity of the faith and looking for a pure, spotless bride; all the time recognizing that our own efforts will never accomplish these things, only the power of His spirit; while we refrain from trying to quantify the degree of the ideal we should expect, or get too intense about the timing of the fulfillment; being confident that the King of the Universe has it all in hand.

Brain is there an award for the best "Pauline sentence"? I would really like that "honorific" aspect tied to an award, and I get the impression that the "Meadows move" title is not exactly intended to be "honorific".

Jeremiah said...


That was an inspired sentence! You get my vote.

Now that you've settled all our doctinal issues does anybody want my recipe for brownies?

Kidding (again)

I was serious though on my opinion of how good of a sentence that was....

As Joseph said, I'll write more later.

Brian Emmet said...

Au contraire, John, having a 'move' named after yourself is honor indeed!

And I agree that your sentence was Perfectly Pauline, so it rates a 'P-squared' designation.

josenmiami said...

hi guys, I have just 30 sec. before my history class starts.

I have felt led to work on identifying and releasing my "attachments" this week. I felt like the Lord showed me that I had at least 37 areas in my life where I was too the things of this life, rather than to the Lord.

So far today, I 'think' I am down to 29. I have identified and released 8 areas (not easily, I may add).

I got in a rain storm on the way here and had to wait in my car. The Lord showed me that I needed to let go of my attachment to my opinions! My brillant insights and a dollar probably won't buy a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Our beliefs are important, but they won't change the world. Only our love for, and intimacy with Him is worth anything.

John M. said...

Thanks Jeremiah and Brian. I feel truely honored. And after reading Joseph's 30-second post, I feel truely humbled -- although I was trying to say something similar in my post -- Joseph's is more simple, direct and humbling. Thanks Lord for reminding Joseph (and us) of what really matters.

Robert said...

The problem I am having with this...and other if you step away for a day or two, the task of catching up with the twists and turns of thought along with the personal interactives is daunting. There also appears to be some who have more time in the course of the day to engage with thoughtful comment. That leaves others trying to stay up but without having the time to engage...thus becoming background observers. That is not an indictment of anyone...just an observation of why others may not be registering. Back a bunch of post ago, I made a comment for which there was no response. I concluded that folks thought I farted...

josenmiami said...

sorry Robert, that has happened to me on occasion also. it is not always predictable what will strike a cord with me and elicit a response...probably true for all of us. This is more like a non-linear conversation than a book, or series of essays... it often takes unexpected turns and chase Rabit trails...I'll go back and revisit your post.

John the Musician said...

I'd like to submit a topic for discussion on some other thread.

War/Peace. My personal thoughts about it are that external war (or seeming chaos) brings internal peace, and vice versa. The funny thing though, is that I strive for external peace all the time. What does that mean about my internal state? I think most Americans do the same thing, we all strive for external comfort as much as possible, and yet our marriages, parent/children relationships, friendships, all of them have possibly more conflict than they would if we were simply more honest about whats going on. This of course could relate in some way to why the world is what it is. It's a violent and beautiful place and from the beginning was probably intended to bring us to a place of internal peace. However, I wonder how we can defeat our desire for comfort. I think Jeremiah's pretty good at it! =OP

John the Musician said...

Robert, that's a really important post. I've been burnt out on commenting on here for the last two weeks or so. My comments were occasionally passed over, and I felt that I obviously wasn't that important. I think it's important for us all to realize (or perhaps just me) that our thoughts are important and if something that we write isn't commented on then it's no biggie. Everyone most likely read it, and I think we all respect one anothers thoughts even if we don't comment on them.

Jeremiah said...

as far as not commenting on a post, I tend to comment on the ones that I either really really agree with or the ones I really disagree with. Many of the ones I don't comment on are either completely non-related to the particular thread I've been thinking about or I tacitly agree with or I disagree but don't think it is something I should try to convince them otherwise on.

Jeremiah said...

Jimmy Jump 1

(oh how I love saying that!)

As far as war and peace go, I think it is not a matter or external/internal as much as it is rooted in a person's relationship to GOD's sovereignty as expressed through HIS rulership. This is very strongly linked (in fact I would say it is just another way of expressing) to the topic I was going to suggest and that is "What position should the Law of God have in the ordering of a society?"

Jeremiah said...

Jimmy Jump 2

(it roles off the keyboard like poetry)

Thank you for the comment regarding not being comfortable. I consider that high praise. I personally believe (and fall short of this ideal daily) that the Lifestyle of the Cross is the way GOD lives His Life from eternity past to eternity future and is the way we are expected to live from now until forever. It does not leave any room for personal comfort. Alas! I can say with Paul what I wretched man am I! I do what I do not want etc etc etc...

Thank GOD for Grace to change!

i.e. thank you old guys for still setting an example on this. 37 items is a big list. That I would even make that observation implies that I am "unconsciously incompetent". Reflecting on this i come into conscious incompentence and see that if I were to get it down to 37 items I would be making progress.

steve H said...

Robert, I too have a difficult time following the thread much of the time. I complicate that by responding to a minor point and essentially chasing the proverbial rabbit. Right now, I do have a bit more time -- since I've been essentially housebound. And I've regained enough strength and coherence that I'm able to sit here at the computer a little longer than I had been.

Quite often I don't comment much on your items because I tend to agree with what you say.

Referring back to some of Robert's early posts on this string, I too would like to hear more from some of you younger people talk about your views or non-views on the matter of receiving from past generations of God's people as well as hearing the spirit for ourselves and our own generation --particularly in terms of some of the "forms" in which the Chrisitian way of life and worship is done.

steve H said...

John the Musician -- I have to war in order to main internal peace in the midst of external conflict, and often fail.

Are you primarily addressing some sort of "peace of spirit" in the midst of a "chaotic world"?

Or were you also including the matter of peace/war in terms of social and international relationships.

josenmiami said...


I went to and checked it out. I'll browse it more later when I have a little more time (Rob is wired pretty tight and is soaking up a lot of my free time).

Is Rob Bell in the same church as Marc Driscol? Driscol is also in Mars Hill Church, but I am not sure if it is the same one.

Driscol was involved in some controversy recently over gender issues. Seems like he said some rather insensitive things about the big mega-church guys wife in CS (Ted Haggard) not being hot enough to keep her husband away from other men. oops! got him in a lot of trouble with some Christian women leaders.

anyway, Alan Hirsch says that whenever their is a new "Jesus" movement", there is initially a return to a new emphasis on Christology...I think I see this in a lot of the ferment going on right now in Christianity...a renewed emphasis on interpreting the life and teaching of Jesus through his jewish cultural roots. Of course it can be taken too far.

John's comments about "external war/internal peace" are coming from his observations from reading Tolstoy's War and Peace recently. It got me thinking.

Jeremiah...I am down to the mid- to high twenties now. It is going much slower than I anticipated. For example, one of the things that God showed me that I had to surrender was my attachment to Miami: specifically my attachment to a vision for transforming Miami. But then I had to deal with all of the subdimensions: people I know in Miami, my familly, children grandchildren, the churches I started, the young people I know, my friends, ministry associates, the weather, etc, etc.

This morning, the Lord busted me for idealism. It was a shocker to realize how much idealism I still have because I HATE IDEALISM!!!

so... today I will be meditating and surrendering to God my idealism.

steve H said...

As you work to surrender idealism, Joseph, I am reminded of a quotation from Derek Prince in New Wine magazine... decades ago. It went something like this:

Maturity is the ability to live in the real without letting go of the ideal, and the ability to live according to the ideal in the midst of the real.

(If anyone has the exact quote, or can remember it better, I'd love to have it. My old copies of New Wine exist but are packed away right now.)

Jeremiah said...

That is a pretty good quote Steve.

(notice my newfound thread etiquette as I try to comment on things so people don't feel ignored?) LOL

I would like to come back to my previous comment on the position of God's Law in ordering a society. When we talk about God's Kingdom coming on the earth in the same way as it is in heaven. it seems to me that the social aspect of the Law (man to man vs the sacrificial aspect, man to God) was GOD's communication to us concerning what that would look like. Do you guys agree, disagree, or plan on ignoring this? :)

steve H said...

Jeremiah, for some, sadly the law is a dire spectre -- having been wrongly pitted against grace. I even find that many misinterpret Galatians and see the law as a curse rather than to rightly understand the curse of the law which is "the soul that sins shall die" or "the wages of sin is death."

If the 10 commandments summarize the law... If the whole law is fulfilled in the Great Commandment and the Second which is like it... If the law is eternal and holy... and all these statements are true according to the New Testament!

The issue is to use the law lawfully which in the context of 1 Timothy 1 seems clearly to be the laws application to social order.

Even if one would not agree that every nation and social order should be subject to the law of God, where in the world would we find a better model than the one God set in establishing a nation on the earth? Make one up out of our own wisdom -- or out of thin air?

Thus I think this is a topic well worth discussing.

I'm also looking forward to hearing more from John the Musician regarding war and peace.

josenmiami said...

I am at the u. campus and just found out that the Latin American Studies dept. decided to award me an extra $1069 for my ticket to Brazil! When I made plans to go with Debbie, I didn't have the money for her travel costs...but I proceeded by faith and it is coming in from unexpected places.

Steve, I appreciate Derek's comment, but it is not exactly congruent with the process I am in. There are so many different kinds of idealism, especially philosophically, that I don't want to compare apples and organges.

I think there is a kind of deception when we learn to cling to an "ideal" of love, brotherhood, friendship, or community, rather than fully embracing the flawed, human love, brotherhood, friendshp or community that God actually gives us.

Dow did a teaching on the danger of idealism years ago that impacted me. He the used the illustration of the Civil War as causing massive loss of human life over the "Ideals" of individual human rights and anti-slavery sentiment in the North and the Southern "Ideals" of states rights and ....what shall I call it? Patriarchy?

I think our ultimate, universal "Ideal" is a person, the Logos, and we should be primarily attached to Him, and him alone.

Jeremiah, are you referring to the Lev. regulatory laws? or the Law of God reflected in the "Jesus" creed?

John noticed a theme in War and Peace in which some of the characters fought externally but found internal peace, and others sought to avoid the war with the French but found internal turmoil. It had some resonance in his personal life.

Brian Emmet said...

Feeling somewhat like a lion in a den of Daniels, I'm goiing to point out (a) we're quickly nearing the 100-comment mark, which means (b) it will soon be time for a new post, which (c) I am going to attempt to frame somewhat narrowly so that

1) we will (perhaps!) stay more "on topic"

2) we will do a better job of responding to one another's comments, rather than generating more and more ideas to discuss.

But being the lion, I am of course open to the suggestions of the Daniels surrounding me...

steve H said...

Joseph, I wonder if the following quotation from Alexander Schmemann's journal says anything that relates to your wrestlings with idealism:

Speaking of life, he wrote about there being "a strong sense of 'life' in its physical, bodily reality, in the uniqueness of every minute and its correlation with life's reality.... What is that correlation? ...It is not an 'idea': I feel repulsed by 'ideas'; I have an ever-growing conviction that Christianity cannot be expressed by 'ideas.' This correlation is not an 'idea' of the Christian world, Christian marriage, etc. This correlation is a tie, not an idea; an experience. It is the experience of the world and life literally in the light of the Kingdom of God, revealed through everything that makes up the world: colors, sounds, movements, time, space -- concrete, not abstract. When this light which is only in the heart, only inside us, falls on the world and on life, then all is illumined and the world becomes a joyful sign, symbol, expectancy."

Jeremiah said...


If God is before all things, then when anything that has been created, was created, it must be a reflection of some aspect of GOD. What could else could it be based on than HIM? This then is the foundation for your statement that
"...our ultimate, universal "Ideal" is a person, the Logos..." If all of the King's Kingdom points to the King (and doesn't just point to Him, but in fact is a reflection of some aspect of Him), then the ideal who we look at to determine the ordering of the Realm is, of course, the King. I've said all this to say I agree with you.


regarding a topic, right now the two which have been suggested are the balance between internal peace and external conflict (or vice versa) and "How to order a society on the Law of GOD"

My thought on these two topics is that they are inextricable. Ps. 119:165 says "Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble." To deal with either topic is to deal with both. (in my opinion, which I'm trying to hold loosely :) )


I don't know what the second of the two phrases you mentioned means. When I look at the law as defined in the Pentateuch, I see two broad categories, the first governs the relationship between man and God and is primarily concerned with sacrificial requirements. The second governs the relationship between humans and tends to be primarily concerned with "crime & punishment". The first portion was obviously fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ through the descent to earth and incarnation, the action of the Cross, His descent into hell, His resurrection from the grave and His ascent into Heaven. (i.e. the 5 points of grace) The second portion of the law, as near as I can tell throughout scripture, still stands. When Jesus said to "go and make disciples of all nations." I think a good case can be made that this was part of how they were intended to disciple a nation. (i.e. Mt. 13:52).

Now all that is the boring part, but here is where it gets neat. You can conceptually sum up the 10 commandments as follows:

1) Worship
2) Vision
3) Identity
4) Rest
5) Honor
6) Life
7) Covenant
8) Property
9) Truth
10) Contentment

First of all do you guys agree with these? I thought and thought and can't think of a more concise way. maybe you guys know of some scholar that did it different or better.

Anyway, if you look at John 14:6-14 all of these ten items are laid out. which, Joseph, gets back to your comment that Jesus is the ultimate ideal that contains all others. I think that is awesome! It is always so amazing to me the interrelatedness of the entire scriptures.

Finally, I read something in Proverbs about 6 months ago that really scares me. Prov 28:9 says that "If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law, even his prayers are detestable" I had to wonder, how many prayers go unanswered, not because of a lack of faith, not because of a lack of fervor, not for any other reason than we live in a lawless society where our individualism has so taken over everything that we, being a law unto ourself, are creating detestable prayers? I mean what does detestable mean? It means they are raw sewage. Obviously if we have prayers which GOD regards as sewage, we are in a state of internal war as well as external war with the Almighty. I mean, who has peace with something or someone who they detest?

Anyway, I'll stop now, I've neither performed a Meadows move or a Jimmy jump but have just given free reign to the preacher genes that are buried in there.

John the Musician said...

I motion to make a new "honorary move." The Emmet ABC123. Alright that's lame but I thought I'd give it a shot. Also, I'm sorry Steve H. for not being able to respond. First off, I don't think I have a real desire to go back to previous centuries of church history and learn from them. I do have a desire to learn from the older guys that are still around today. I always love to hear about you guys' experiences with God.

Also as far as the War vs. Peace, I don't think it's a rule that external/internal war mandates external/internal Peace or vise versa. However, I think that often that is the case, not only as far as the chaos and war that we fight everyday of our lives trying to keep our heads above the water of the world, but also the same in literal war/peace. For instance, we often see civilizations in history colapse while they are at peace rather than at war. If we look at the Roman Empire, it's obvious that while it was at war it expanded and prospered internally. I think that we can say the same about humans. I know that when I am most lax with the law on the external, then I become most full of spiritual turmoil internally. When I am fighting my old nature and the demonic relm on the external it seems that inside I am calm and trusting in God.

Well that's pretty long, but I think I got my thoughts accross sufficiently. =O)

Jeremiah said...


I've been thinking about what you are saying here and I'm trying to figure out why it is true. There are quite a lot of examples of it. I wonder if it is the principle of the Cross? I mean, if I am actively laying down my life for others (i.e. at war, in a sense, with my own desires) I will be at peace with everyone else. Could it be that the general principle of The Cross underlies the Law? Hmm I never thought of that before, but it certainly rings true.

(of course if it is true for individuals it would then reflect upwards into corporate society)

You old guys better step in here...

steve H said...

Thanks for your expanded thoughts on the war/peace issue, John the Musician.

Perhaps your experience of inner peace (health) when in external war is at least in part explained by the fact that we were created for war.

Since it was God's eternal purpose to demonstrate his many-faceted wisdom to principalities and powers through the church, then a part of our purpose for being and our assignment is to be warriors.

Rather than to wipe out principalities and powers with a word, God decided to demonstrate his wisdom and power by defeating the higher order of creation by means of a lesser order. Mankind, the lesser order, when operating in a loving and obedient relationship with God, will eventually have "all things under his feet" -- a reality which has already begun with the God-man's defeat of the principalities and powers in his death and resurrection. The God-man has already ascended to the throne of the universe having received all authority even as redeemed mankind, the church, His body, continues the clean operation.

The old saying has merit: "Idle hands are the devil's workshop." There is no better way to inner health and peace than to be doing what we were created and redeemed to do.

josenmiami said...

Steve: (2 posts back)

Yes, the citation from A.S. accurately describes the internal process I am in. Idealism is another slippery word--Prince was probably using "Ideals = God's principles" in which case we can hold on to them. But "Ideals = constructed human concepts" that are held in our souls as almost holy and universal are things best surrendered to God, so that we can really experience the God "who is really there" and surrender our thoughts in order to learn his thoughts.

I am down to about 19. Today I am working on surrendering my theological "ideals".

My apologies to everyone else that I ignored. thats all I have time for at the moment.

Patrick said...

Hey guys, I know it's been a while since I've written. I have been keeping up with you, just as a spectator. I could not sit this one out.

This war/peace issue is intriguing. Especially since Steve H. stated that "We were created for war." I wonder how this would look if we take it in context of Eden and Eternity. I love to war and to fight. Down here in Alabama, we aren't afraid to get into a skirmish if words fail. (See recent Alabama Senate fight, in which R-Sen. Charles Bishop punched D-Sen. Lowell Barron in the head. Barron supposedly called Bishop an SOB. "I responded to his comment with my right hand," Bishop said. Yes, I know this is immature and embarrassing. But it's still amusing. There's a video on YouTube.)

I heartily agree with the fact that our idleness is the devil's breeding ground. The Western church, as a whole, has lost focus in the last 50 years of what we should be doing. If we are passionately accomplishing that which God has called us to, we need not worry about the "deadly" posings of the enemy. Eldredge's "Wild at Heart" has a few things to say about fighting the battle.

josenmiami said... more thing, and then I will be out and about for the rest of the day.


going back to your last post...This blog started nearly at the same time as when my semester ended. I have had a lot more free time while I am on summer break. That may end next week when we go to Brazil. I would not (or will not) have this much time during the school year which begins in August and runs through the end of April. Also, most of my free time is in the mornings...all of the graduate classes start around 5:00 PM, about the time some of you guys maybe getting home from work.

About war/peace: I have heard that Tolstoy was a spiritual man. I read somewhere that Gandhi's admiration for Christ came from reading Tolstoy. I am taking a book with me to read in Brazil by Tolstoy called "The Kingdom of God is Within You." I'll let you know how it is. It is quite possible that John picked-up on a spiritual truth in Tolstoys writings.

I think about Islam. Jihad in the classical islamic sense means to struggle to overcome one's own sin and flesh in order to submit to God. A 'Muslim' is 'one submitted to God'. If I declare war on my own flesh, (violent men take the kingdom with violence) and resist the devil and the world, I most likely will find greater inner peace.

Peace with the world (or passivity, accomodation or whatever) and surrender to our flesh, most like will mean inner turmoil.

Jeremiah said...


This is a good point, what would an unfallen world look like? There are many aspects to this question, one of them being what place the demonic powers would have in it. I have speculated for some time, that GOD's original idea of hell was to place the demons in an environement where they were being continually defeated by inferior beings and forced to impotently watch as heven was established on earth by these inferior beings. I'm not sure if there is biblical support for this, (beyond the tenuous support of Eph 2) but I don't think there is refutation either.

It would explain nicely the root of the warrior nature that is often so strong.

Even if there was no external conflict, if the Way of the Cross is the eternal way of Life GOD lives and has for us to live, a drive for conflict would make that way much more palatable too.

BTW as one hillbilly (Ky branch) to another I say Howdy!

John the Musician said...

I'm not sure what to say, except that I know how dangerous it can be to seek peace with our surroundings. I often sink into depression, or have conflicting thoughts when I try not to step on any toes. I suppose it's possible that if we have real love for our brothers, then we can step on their toes and them on ours and yet the love will hold us together whether or not we have some conflict. Why do you guys think it is that we (or at least me) try to avoid conflict so much?

steve H said...

Avoidance of conflict, abdication of responsibility, if you will is a primary temptation men (males) have have had to deal with ever since Adam, who received the command about the tree, stood by and watched Eve be tempted. Adam did not intervene even when she displayed a misunderstanding of God's command -- Do not eat the fruit of the tree OR EVEN TOUCH IT, she said.

Adam had the responsiblity to convey God's command to his wife. Adam had the responsibility to protect her and to serve her by leading, but he stood by... he abdicated... he avoided the conflict -- with her and with the serpent. Thus Paul wrote Eve was deceived and then transgressed but Adam flat out sinned. (1 Tim 2, Rom 5, etc.)

Seems to me our biggest temptations are to fight in the power of the flesh or not fight at all:
Fighting by taking the way of the cross...
Fighting by standing under God's word...
Fighting by depending on the Spirit...
Now, there's the rub!

josenmiami said...

hi Patrick, Jeremiah....good points STeve...

John, to answer your question, one reason might be the turmoil you grew up in, in your early years. You saw me slide into depression while dealing with spiritual warfare, financial problems, church and team conflicts....and you probably blamed yourself and wanted to "not be a burden".... part of that was not wanting to cause conflict.

can u locate the feeling in your body and push it out?

Brian Emmet said...

Jeremiah, or John the Musician, or Patrick, how about one of you hosting the next post on "war and peace"? I confess that I'm having some difficulty getting my head around just what this topic/theme is about and how to focus the discussion so that it doesn't overflow its banks and flood the world, and think I would therefore nnot be an effective moderator/host. What say ye?

Jeremiah said...

Hey guys,

Not sure what the next step here is. I guess we keep going until Brian starts a new thread. I think it is more appropriate for John to moderate as it was his idea. I'm willing if he or Patrick don't want to however.

I think we are about to get into some really deep waters when we start exploring what the nature of conflict in an unfallen world would look like. Entwined with that question is the mystery of how GOD can eternally be warrior and also be the Prince of Peace. I feel like we are standing at the edge of a cliff...

Patrick said...

Hello, Jose, Brian, Steve H, John, and Jeremiah,
I think we unfortunately lost some folks in the momentum of this post. (Robert, Sean, Will...) Sadly, I don't think that is what we want to do. Sacrifice those involved for conversation. Maybe we could find a way to just be careful about what is being said, as if we were sitting around a table with stogies and brewskies. One man having the floor or something.

About the next topic, I think we're onto something. Make peace with all men, or live boldly and freely? Avoid conflict, or do something? There's something there. John has the offer to moderate since he introduced the topic. Jeremiah would also do excellently. Let them fight it out....or decide peacefully.

Patrick said...

As an aside, here in Mobile we have started a Google "group" which combines emails and blogging. We use our same blogger names and passwords, but it allows us to have multiple threads at the same time.

If you would, check out this one I made for CovThinklings, as an experiment and see if it'll work or not. Throw a post up there to get the feel for it. I'm trying to make peace here. And incorporate as many people as possible. (It's no secret that the speed at which comments get posted up here is straining at times.)

There's a lot of advantages to this format. Also, benefits and quick access. Plus I'll even dub Brian owner and moderator if y'all like it.

Patrick said...

After some tremendous research, I have come to three daunting (thanks for the word, Robert!) conclusions:

1. In 2 days, we will all celebrate the 2 month birthday of Covenant Thinklings [at this address, anyway]!

2. Robert did NOT fart a lot of posts ago, he actually said something profound. (Not to say that farting is un-profound, or that Robert does not fart.)

3. I have outposted myself while all you guys are in bed. But I forgot to add this in response to Jeremiah: I know that trying to grasp life before the fall is unreasonable. It would all be conjecture. However, I would wonder if we would be warriors in the absence of such an instance. But more intriguing is this question to me: Will we fight after the end of time? It says a place of peace, yet if warring is part of a God who never changes, would it be peace as we see it? I'd like to think we could at least wrastle hillbilly style.

Patrick said...

Sorry, I know. Geez. I'm going to bed.

(psst...Jose, google groups has a place for you to post your paper so we all could read it. Remember a while ago when you asked if blogger could do that? on google groups, click "upload file")

John the Musician said...

Well I feel tremendously gracious to you all for offering to allow me to moderate, but in truth I'm not sure what all that intails, and I'm fairly sure that you, Brian, would do a much better job. Is there perhaps some way we can clarify what we are discussing? I agree with Jeremiah that it seems like we're treding deep waters, and I think it's rather exciting, but if need be there is nothing wrong with starting a different thread.

In fact I think part of the problem with our conversations so far is that there is no ability to pick and choose, it's more like there is one topic and once that one's done we'll go on to the next. It might work better to put up several new threads and allow the readers to pick and choose which thread they would like to follow, as well as being able to follow all of them. Just a thought.

As far as clarification, I suppose in a very general way, we are talking about the combination of War and Peace in God's nature, as well as the many examples that we have of external trials or war bringing internal peace, and vice versa. For instance, Daniel in the Lion's Den, I bet most of us would have just tried to sit real nice and quiet in a corner, but he had the peace of God and was able to triumph over the circumstances.

Jeremiah said...


I'm not sure why you can't host, but that's your choice.


It is unreasonable in the sense that it might be "beyond reason" but that does not make it well worth doing. In fact, quite the contrary, the most worthwhile tasks have all be suprareason. Nontheless, the points you are starting to pick at in regards to the state of conflict in the next age etc. are the ideas that prompted my "edge of the cliff" comment. I wish Brian would start up the new thread so we could get going.


I don't know if you farted or not. I'm not sure that I have the proper upgrade to my computer to let me know that. Is that kind of like a webcam for smell?


Better stop this quick...

steve H said...

I don't know how to start a new thread and thankfully wasn't asked to do so -- therefore, I continue the conversation a bit.

Patrick, I agree that trying to figure out what things were like before the fall -- or even if there had not been a fall is conjecture.

What we do know on the basis of Scripture is that God in his sovereignty and omniscience was not taken by surprise by the fall. Therefore, the fact that we were created in his image and that we were created to participate in "war" seems to indicate something of who God is.

Is there a sense in which "war" or the nature of the conquorer could not be associated only with overcoming evil, but could be a positive thing?

What about the fact that mankind was given the task to "subdue" the earthly creation before the fall?

God gave the first man and woman a garden to begin with. The command was in essence for them to be fruitful and multiply so that there would be enough people to expand the garden -- to subdue the earth, to make the whole earth a garden. A garden untended goes wild. It has to be "conquored."

Is man's task concerning the garden a picture of God's work and purposes for the everexpanding universe? Will that "conquoring" of the universe now include us since God became one of us so that we could become one with him?

josenmiami said...

hey Patrick,

I went to the link and joined and uploaded my paper. Looks pretty good. I assume, then, that anyone will be able to start a thread or a new post?

by-the-way, how did you do the html for the link above? I have leaned how to do bold, and italics but not links.

also, has anyone else read War and Peace? I read it a long time ago and have forgotten most of it.

I think as we move into this new era of history, we will need multiple means of communication, face-to-face, email, phone, txt, blogs, google groups, web cams, podcasts, "its ALL good"...

Steve and Jeremiah, don't mean to ignore you...I just don't have anything to add to what you have said.

Patrick, you said above that we lost some people in this thread and made a comment about being careful what we say or how we say it. If you are aware that I have offended anyone or made them uncomfortable, please email me privately and tell me. Thanks!

Jeremiah said...


I'll follow Steve's lead and launch out.


I don't necessarily have anything against another format, but I'm having a tough time keeping up with just one website to check, it might be overwhelming to have multiple threads going on. Also there are some who might be less technically savy that it would be tough for.

Onto War & Peace

I think there are a few "big ideas" here which we can fairly easily project to get a good picture. The first is God's eternal nature. The second is the nature and source of "Entropy". The third is God's intent for mankind.

God's eternal nature.

If all else is transient except Him, then anything that is a part of HIS nature is independent of all transients. (I know, basic stuff) Because of this eternal essence, He is not a warrior (EX 15:3) because His creation needs HIM to be one. He was in fact a warrior when nothing existed except Himself. Thus, His Warriorness was manifested within the perfect community of the Trinity. We see this obliquely acknowledged in the comment of "The Lamb slain from before the foundations of the earth". I don't see another way this warrior nature is manifest within the Trinity except through the way of the cross (and that is probably because I am a small dumb human that can't contain anything more wonderful than that). This also points to His warriorness not being diminished or extinguished in peace. Hopefully this means wrastling in Heaven.


Entropy is the idea that creation tends to fall into a state of disorder unless acted upon by an outside influence. (I know, I know still basics) If GOD is omnipresent, why does He allow this? I've never thought about this before, but I think (and this is really just an Echo of what S.H. said) that this is the context that HE has given us to express our warrior nature. In essence GOD has decided that HE is only going to affect the created order through certain conduits. One of those conduits is humanity. The conflict between humanity and entropy is allowed by
GOD and was in existance before we were created (i.e. formless and empty) This is independent of fallenness.

God's intent for His relationship with Humanity.

I believe that GOD is using the conflict (whether against entropy alone in unfallen surroundings, or against entropy + sin in fallen surroundings is somewhat immaterial) to shape His relationship with us. i.e. "learning obedience through the things He suffered." This, applied to the #1 Son, gives us a lot of keys that apply to this discussion.

ok that is enough longwindedness for now. I'll post this on the other website for now as well.

John M. said...

Hey Where is everyone? I checked over at Patrick's link and not much going on there either...I guess I'll risk a post.

I'm not convinced that entropy existed before the fall. Yes, there was work to be done -- naming animals, cultivating and stewarding the garden, building family and extending the garden outward as Steve said. But the difficulty associated with work -- sweat of the brow, weeds, thorns, hard, rocky soil, toil etc. were part of the curse resulting from the fall.
I don't think original creation was made with obsolescence built in. God's intent was: No death. No deterioration...I think it is impossible for us to conceive just how far we have fallen.

Regarding the phrase, "God is a warrior...", I am not the one to exegete the Hebrew there, but I would recommend that we put some careful research and thought into the concept before we jump to the conclusion that it means what we conceive of when we think of a warrior. The King James says, "God is a man of war..." Perhaps this is one of the many anthropomorphic references to God that gives us insight into His nature, but are not meant to be taken literally. God is certainly aggressive, persistent, focused toward completing his purposes. And in a fallen world that means blood-shed and death -- Jesus on the cross is the ultimate warrior.

But it seems to me that death, killing and war are always a result of sin. The earliest record we have of war is the war that occurred in heaven when Luicifer/Satan rebelled. But that war, too, was a result of sin and rebellion.

You guys were joking about wrastlin' in heaven. That brought up a question for me...what about competition? It seems that competition is related to war. Many sports are designed to be a mock "battle". In some ultimate fighting competitions and in some extreme sports competitors actually are killed at times, and in most sports serious injuries occur from time to time. How does this all fit into the war/peace discussion? Did God design competition into creation, or did man create it after the fall? It's hard for us to imagine a world without competition -- most of our society, business, education, dating, sports are based on competition. I have trouble imagining a world without it. But I also have trouble imagining competition within the Trinity...

John the Musician said...

Hey John M, I agree with you as far as competition goes. I can rarely go for much time at all without comparing myself to others, others to others, so forth and so on. Errr... Brain fart. Sorry for some reason I thought you were talking about comparing rather than competition... It's been a long night. I guess there is a connection though, when we compare ourselves with others it's a form of mental competition, many times for instance, two opponents will size eachother up and compare each other before the competition starts. It's kind of like a pregame warm up. Heh.

As far as God's warrior nature, I'll have to think about it. It seems though that what you've said is pretty accurate. Sin seems to be the harbinger of war in most examples. I read a novel recently in which a vampire is taken into the spiritual relm, and witnesses the crusifiction. In the novel, God basically becomes Jesus for the purpose of fulfilling humantiy's violent expectations. Of course that's not what actually happened in my opinion, but it seems to hold some truth as far as God graciously becoming the warrior Jesus to conquer the sin that we allowed to infiltrate the world.

Also, it's interesting that you point out that the curse was what made the human job discription difficult. It seems to imply that anything done before that time (like naming and remembering the names of ... a lot of animals) was actually rather easy. I know I couldn't name hundreds of things and then remember what I called them. =O)

Also, I wanted to ask what you guys thought about the way God opperates. We will probably never know, but it seems like there are two possiblities as what happened during the fall. I believe that God telling Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, was kind of like a parent telling his/her child not to walk in the street. When a child is 3 or so, we don't generally tell them that they shouldn't walk in the street because they could get hit by a car, but rather, we just tell them don't do it, because they wouldn't understand what we meant if we told them about the dangers of cars. In that case, it seems like God was planning to bring Adam and Eve into the knowledge of good and evil, or else why would he have the tree in the first place? This however, makes it seem like God didn't know what was going to happen, or simply allowed it to happen.

The other option, is that God knew exactly what was going to happen, but still felt it necessary to give humans freedom of choice. However, I'm sure that he would have been able to give them a more detailed explanation in order to help them understand better the decision they were making.

Anyways, just something I've thought about for a long time. I've been trying to understand whether or not we can actually change God's plan. It doesn't seem likely and that's probably because he knows us so incredibly well that he knows every decision we'll ever make in our lives. Then you have stuff like Judas and you have to wonder, did God create Judas specifically for the purpose of betraying Him?

It's all very confusing.

I'm officially naming this post,
The Jumbo John

steve H said...

Concerning God's plan as regards good and evil, John the musician, have you considered the implications of Hebrews 5.12-14?

In Hebrews 5.7-9 we read that Jesus THE SON "learned obedience" through suffering, and in the process he was "being made perfect." Jesus was sinless already, but he still had to learn obedience in order to become perfect / mature / complete.

Verses 12-14 seem to point to a similar process for us -- as children we have to become skilled in the word of righteousness. (Is that obedience?) The goal, however, is to become mature -- that is, to have our "powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

Adam was created sinless. It would seem that ideally Adam and Eve would have learned to discern good and evil through practicing obedience -- rather than experience good and evil through the practice of disobedience. I wonder what perfection / maturity / completeness mankind might have reached had Adam and Eve obeyed?

Come to think of it, we have seen it already in what Jesus became through accepting God's training program and practicing obedience.

Jeremiah said...

John M.

I was wondering where YOU went :) Good comments and points well made.

Biblically I was basing by ideas on two things

1) The reference to "...formless and empty..." in Gen. 1 was what I was basing my entropy speculation on. Entropy is obviously not eternal, but it is something GOD allows. Possibly it is rooted in lucifers fall, possibly it is something GOD sovereignly allows, possibly both. My point is that it predates Man's creation.

2) "...the Lamb slain from before the foundations of the world..." out of revelation. This states that death had entered into the community of the trinity before the creation of the world. This is a mystery and I have no explanation, I just know it is true. The implications, however, is that there is some sort of death which is eternally a part of GOD, through the cross. Again a mystery, but I think relatively undeniable if we take the scriptures at face value.

I think that the "dance" you see in John 15,16,17 of the Father glorifying the Son, The Son Revealing the Father, The Holy Spirit Glorifying both and revealing both, is part of a revelation into the "Way of the Cross" which is how GOD lives eternally. If there is an eternal element of death it is GOD laying down His Life for Himself. If there is a competition within the trinity, it is each element trying to do so more than the others.

John the musician,

Since GOD is a revealer, the context of Knowledge should always be in what HE reveals. That is the true egregiousness of Man's fall. It was Man looking for Knowledge apart from GOD.

John M. said...

This is getting deep! Jeremiah and John the M., I love the way you guys are thinking.

J.- I see your points on entropy and death. The idea that death, laying down one's life, is an eternal part of the Trinity is mind-blowing -- you're diving deep on that one. I've quoted that verse for years, and never really thought out the full implications. Powerful ideas.

J.t M. - You are asking some great questions. Theologians have been chewing on those issues for a long time. You're touching on the free-will/predestination, Armenian, Calvinism debate. And there has been a discussion going recently among some theologians called "Openness". I am not an expert on any of these issues, but openness is the idea that we can not only "change God's mind", but that God chooses not to know the future and watches us "work it out" so to speak. If anyone figures this all out, by all means write a book! One way to by-pass the whole discussion is to realize that God is so beyond our understanding that when we come up with all these theories of how he operates, they all have some truth and merit to them, but all of them ultimately fall short of explaining the whole enchilata. Even knowing that that is ultimately true, we still develop our ideas and opinions about how we think it all works. Meanwhile God smiles...

Speaking of the tree of the K of G and E. It's interesting that God had only one rule in the garden before the fall. According to what we have in the scriptures God didn't explain, just said "don't". Would He have explained later had they remained faithful. We can only imagine. But my take is that God did not intend for Adam and Eve (and us) to experience evil -- just like we don't want our 3 yr. old to experience getting hit by a car. I assume that at some point God would have explained the fact that evil/Satan exits, but I don't think he wanted us to have to actually experience sin and evil. Did He know what would happen...?

That brings us back to Jeremiah's observations about Jesus being the Lamb slain for eternity past. Was Jesus the Lamb slain because God knew Adam and Eve's outcome or was Jesus the Lamb slain because that is God's nature? Or is the answer, "yes" to both...?

Brian Emmet said...

OK, we've established a new record of 120 comments, but participation is thinning, so I'm going to head us off in a different direction shortly. Get your last licks in!

Check out Patrick's suggestion for a googlegroup as a way to have mutiple conversations on mutliple topics--see his comment about a dozen up from the current end-of-list.

John M. said...

I don't want to have the last comment on this thread. I need to hear you comment on my comments...I need...I need...I need...

Jeremiah said...

John M.

Of course GOD didn't want us to experience evil, but HE did cast the devil to earth before the fall. So with him around at some point we would have to know about it. So would we entrust GOD with our instruction or do we strike out on our own? (apparently we struck out on our own) The question I have asked on this in the past is why would HE put the devil on the earth with us? Did HE intentionally want to mess this place up? The only conclusion I have come to that makes sense and is biblical (Eph. 2) is that GOD's original idea of hell was to place the devil and demons in an environement where they were being continually defeated by inferior beings and forced to impotently watch as heven was established on earth by these inferior beings.

I would love to have your guys' take on this as I haven't ever discussed it before and I'm not sure if it is orthodox. JM? SH? BE? JH? Am I on shaky ground here or is this safe?

Jeremiah said...


Everybody I am double posting on both sites until we get sorted out which way we are going with this.

josenmiami said...

its cool...I don't really have a strong opinion on the subject one way or the other.

steve H said...

Another double post:

Interesting, Jeremiah, that you bring up the matter of Satan being cast from heaven to earth. I have long taught that Satan was cast
to earth before the fall. However, last week Ted Sandquist was with us and in his teaching on declaratory prayer, Ted presented a different point of view based on Rev 12.

In that passage Ted saw the woman as Israel, the male child as Jesus the Messiah, and the "church" as those who keep the commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus. The defeat of the dragon, according to Ted happened by
the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. It was at that point the dragon / the serpent / the devil and a third of the angels were cast out of heaven and are now "contained" here on earth for the body of Christ to deal with in Jesus' name. (Ted didn't mention this, but I immediately
thought, "That would explain how the devil could show up with the sons of God before the throne in Job.")

I'm still chewing on that one -- but at the time Ted presented the
interpretation it made great sense.

John M. said...

Then where did the demons come from that Jesus dealt with so often in the Gospels? And what was Satan doing in the Garden?

If you take Ted's view, you would have to say that Satan was not in Eden independently but at God's direct command. Yes, I know that Satan was afflicting Job in some ways at God's direction -- at least at His suggestion -- this discussion just shows how little we know doesn't it? It certainly messes with things I have believed and taught as "foundational".

josenmiami said...

Angels seem to have the ability to travel around in, and back and forth in both realms at the same time: heaven and earth. Even Moses and Elijah made return visits to this earthly realm to talk with Jesus on the mount of transfiguration. I have always thought from the story in Job that Satan seemed to have that same unrestricted access to heaven and earth. I have wondered myself if when Jesus said that he saw Satan "fall like lightening from heaven" if he was talking about the garden, before creation or of his vision for an imminent defeat of Satan on the cross and in the resurrection. There are even some Christians who believe it has not happened yet, that it is a future event fortolded in Rev. 12:9 that will happen after the rapture.

It might be interesting to look at Ephesians 6:12 in this light, with "spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places" which Paul seems to be describing as a current experience.

steve H said...

Heavenly places is quite often thought to be the "second heaven" which would be the atmosphere and maybe space, but not the 3rd heaven, the place of God's throne and the true temple (Hebrews).

In Job, when Satan showed up at the God's throne, Satan reported that he had been roaming the earth. At that time he appears to have had some access to both places.

Isn't amazing how much we don't really know for sure? And how much some people think they KNOW? And how little much of it really matters when you come right down to it?

John M. said...

Steve - You last paragraph nails it.

Jeremiah said...

(Double post)

Big John

Orthodox Christianity teaches that Pride is sin and that Lucifer was originally an archangel who had an exalted place in heaven (see Is. 13 & 14) but when he fostered pride in his heart he fell from grace.

Steve H, John M. & Jose H.

Interesting perspective from Ted. I will think about it but am currently indifferent. But whether the devil was cast out of heaven before the fall, or it hasn't yet happened is somewhat irrelevant to the point that I am making concerning why GOD would allow a hideous creature like the devil onto a perfect world. And I am still convinced, and even more convinced when I think about the example of Job (which someone brought up, but I can't remember who). The example of Job fits with Eph. 2. Here is GOD, very proud of HIS people, kind of rubbing it in to the devil that HE has such good folks, AND to add insult to injury, there isn't anything the devil can do about it.

When it gets down to it, there are SO MANY good, righteous, holy reasons for suffering that it is a pity we don't embrace it more.

1) GOD is pleased with us and HIM allowing us to suffer at the enemies hand and not blaspeme or break is one way HE gloats over the enemy and gets glory.
2) It destroys our carnal nature
3) It is a proper outlet for the warrior nature GOD has given us.
4) It allows the Cross to work into our lives.
5) It teaches us obedience.
6) It allows us to receive comfort and then to give comfort to others out of the overflow.
7) It gives us an opportunity to forgive.
8) It gives us enemies who we can pray for.
9) it affirms that we are not fatherless.
I guess I could go on until you guys ban me from the posts. Don't get me wrong, I like comfort as much as the next guy, but I don't see much scriptural basis for being comfortable (at least not nearly as much as there seems to be for embracing suffering.

John M. said...

Jeremiah - Your first paragraph is how I teach it (to my 7th graders every year). And I've always taught that Satan's and the rebellious angels' removal from heaven occurred before the fall. I think if scripture is taken as a whole that is the version that fits best. I Satan was full of pride and rebellion at the time of Adam and Eve, why would God tolerate his presence in heaven until Jesus' victory on the cross or until the "end times" of Revelation? I believe it does matter whether we see Satan and the demonic realm as presently resident on the earth and active in it's "heavens" ie atmosphere. Satan is the "god of this present age", and of the "kingdom of darkness". The world system/present age/kingdom of darkness represent Satan's domain and is ruled by him through the demonic realm (fallen angels). That is what I have taught/believed for over 30 years. I'm always willing to have my theology adjusted, but I haven't heard enough yet to change my mind. If Satan has no "helpers" except fallen humans, and he only visits the planet periodically, then what does that do to our concept of warfare and how does it explain the seemingly overwhelming presence of evil on the earth? Maybe the depravity of mankind has been totally responsible for this mess, but I still think that Satan and the demonic realm play a large role as well.

Jeremiah - How does suffering destroy our carnal nature?

Considering the comment on comfort... Based on John the M's idea of peace in the midst of conflict. Isn't it possible to be "comfortable" in the midst of suffering? Even when we are passing through the valley and the shadow of death we are not afraid and His rod and His staff "comfort us".

steve H said...

Thanks for the thoughts on suffering, Jeremiah. Like you, I think we modern American "Christians" (can't speak for others) have not had a godly perspective on suffering. Suffering is not something that we have to inflict on ourselves in the way some ascetics did -- wearing prickly shirts, self flagellation, living on pillars. But the suffering that goes with godly self-denial and with the journey that God leads us on has the benefits you mention.

Plus, I am convinced that there is an intercessory aspect to it as well. Our fellowship in Christ's afflictions "fills up what is lacking" (whatever that may be) for the sake of His body, the church. Paul's suffering was a factor in the Colossians' (whom he had never seen face to face) maturing according to Colossians 1.24-2.5.

It's challenging to realize that Paul not only wanted to know Jesus the Messiah and to know the power of His resurrection, but Paul also wanted to share in His sufferings (Phillipians 3.10-11). Paul clearly taught that coming into our inheritance with Christ is contingent on our suffering with Christ (Romans 8.16).

I thank God for some who have emphasized the faith message in a way that has called me to expect more from God, especially more for the advancement of His kingdom purposes. I grieve that so many hear the faith message in a way that causes them to devalue the proper place of suffering (to devalue the cross, if you will) in the purposes of God.

josenmiami said...

hi guys,

I just wanted to suggest to the 'older' members of our group ("elder" has ecclesiological implications -- evil grin) that you consider talking with Jamie about 1) sending some of your young adults to the NeXt conf. in Atlanta this year, and 2) perhaps go yourselves to participate and meet wonderful young people (Patrick and William: is it by invitation only?).

Although I knew of Patrick and William, that is where I really got to connect with them and start developing a relationships with them. I think it would also be especially good if Sean and Jeremiah could join them.

Jeremiah: NeXt is a sort of "multi-stream" covenant 'sodality' that was started by Jamie Johnson and his gang of revolutionary covenant rabble rousers. Jamie is about your age and is clearly apostolic, although humbly and postmodernly so.....(another ironic grin).

Some of you other older "dudes" (Steve, Johntheoldmusician, Brian, Michael T. come to mind) could bring some of your kids, and you have a lot of rich stuff to contribute.

This might be our best, and most economic shot at getting together to blow some theological and Domincan smoke....since Jamie, Patrick, William, JohntheMusician and Robert Grant will already be there. Perhaps we could tack on an extra day for theological musings.

What say ye? (makes me think of Aragorn in the cave of death or
whatever it was).

If we don't kill each other there, that might open up for future "fun-in-the-sun" gatherings further south.


Brian Emmet said...

Congratulations on setting a new comment record!

I have put on my ceremonial headdress, taken my Administrator's staff in hand and am hereby redirecting us to a new post and subsequent comment stream. See you 'round the corner...