Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus - - - a comment

There's much truth which needs to be spoken and this brother in Christ has spoken it. There is no objection to or denial of the problem which he hates. I value and accept heartily what he says. Clearly, he has understood and responded to the fundamental call of Jesus to follow him. I commend him for it. If Americans prefer to watch a video than read a post it holds doubly true of their love for catchy slogans and phrases such as, "Why I hate religion, but love Jesus." This brother, to his credit, has offered much explanation behind his phrase.

I'll take up a cue from his opening words, "What if I say to you?" What follows in the video are his strong convictions. There are a couple of points I would like to address because although this written message holds little appeal for a video audience others may prefer reflecting on the written print. My brother uses the terms "religion" and "Christianity." These are terms which can easily be misunderstood by nonbelievers as well as believers of the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

Those who are familiar with video cassettes remember the expectation: rewind before returning it to the rental store. You were expected to RE wind it. That is, to wind it AGAIN. Note the appearance of the prefix RE in these two sentence. It means AGAIN. It is from the Latin RE just like LIGION. Although the term is widely associated, even as this brother does, it has nothing to do with religion. The implication inherent in the term is of one who was at one time bound, but severed that bond. The application of religion to the term is neither wrong nor inappropriate. When applied to God it says, in the strictest sence, the one who is religous towards God is one who after living a life being severed from God CHOSE to be bound (ligion) again (re) to God. So, in this respect my brother is absoutely, if not unwittingly, correct when he states "religion puts you in bondage." (timestamp 2:54)

The other term used by my brother is "Christianity." It, like the term "religion" is widely used and as widely misunderstood. The term was coined by the world to refer to "the faith that is in Christ Jesus." I do not have a problem with the use of the term, but it does suggest to me something about how a disciple has been influenced by the world and probably does not know it.

These words spoken by Jesus bring an imagery to mind of the yoke placed on the neck of oxen.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

However, it is more than an imagery. It is a reality. It is a binding on us when we take on the teachings of Jesus. It is religion. I understand there's an aversion to "commandments" by many saints who equate that with rule-keeping as mistakenly as they equate faithful attendance to the assembly as their fulfillment of the righteousness of God. I take another cue on aversion from my brother. Speaking claims of one's aversion to religion does not equate to understanding those teachings to which we are bound anymore than claiming to love Jesus equates for understanding his teachings.
There is one word noticeably absent from my brother's message of hate and abhorence: hipocrisy. No, this is neither an allegation or charge of hipocrisy on my brother. Rather it is the biblical, and to take another cue from my brother, I can say to you is found in the teachings of Jesus by which those called out of sin to walk in the newness of life are bound. The reality is that there is a related or flip side to his message of hate of religion. It is another familiar slogan: "I'm not religious, just spiritual." Many there are who will craft their own idea about what it means to be bound to Jesus so as to free themselves and dissassociate themselves, in a manner in which Paul never did, from our brothers and sister in Corinth or the fellowship of the saints in Christ today.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Christianity and Gender - - - a comment

This is a comment I posted on this article on the author's blog. My own article on this subject is here.

It was good of you to began with the much discussed Greek terminology on the silence/quietness of women which, ironically, has not quieted the discussion of this subject. Also, a very good point is that Paul urged and encouraged quieteness and orderliness among men and women when praying or prophesying in the assembly. Lastly, the admonition against the haphazard, weapon-like use of the passage is well stated.

Where I do pause is on the connection you draw between the false teachers in I Timothy 1 to include the women in that false teaching. Hence, the apostle's instruction to the women. I understand your efforts to justify this connection in the opening words of chapter two, “Then I urge you first of all…” and then to support it with the patriarchial culture.

There definitely was false teaching. There was/may have been a patriarchial culture, but this key, I believe, towards understanding Paul's instruction to women and which is evident in several of his letters. I am referring to the prevalent dominance of the female culture of Artemis in the very city where Timothy ministered. It was there that the Holy Spirit enlightened the church to Artemis. What the law of Moses was to Jews in Jerusalem and Judea, Artemis was to the Gentiles in Ephesus and Asia.

Paul had himself received no less a similiar instruction directly by the Holy Spirit as he gave to the women when he was prohibited twice from preaching in Asia. Although we never read that prohibition was removed exited then reentered Asia at Ephesus where he stayed two years. It was as much an evangelism strategy by the Holy Spirit as was his direction through Paul for the women. During a time when there was a bit of false teaching at Ephesus and which could potentially have been as bad or worse than Corinth Paul determined this was NOT THE TIME for women, in the female-culture city of Ephesus, for our sisters to take on more than the most passive form of learning and teaching. Paul himself, in a physical manner, was prohibited and restrained by the brothers from stepping into the fomenting mob Demetrius had stirred up in Ephesus in Acts 19.

There are many beliefs attributed to Artemis and although there are various forms of those beliefs these three were pretty much universal. They are alluded to in I Timothy and other of Paul's writings in such a manner that those who had come out of the Artemis cult worship would readily recognize: 1) She was BORN FIRST then turned to assist her mother give birth to her twin brother Apollos, 2) She ensured the succession of KINGS, and 3) She was the SAVIOR of WOMEN. Just in I Timothy 1 & 2 these three are not too subtely countered and refuted by Paul's assertions of Jesus as the FIRSTBORN, the KING and the SAVIOR, not of women alone, but all MANKIND.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The unwearied human body

I confess. Sometimes I grow weary of the endless barrage on the church. This from saints in Christ.

I know a brother who goes on long and tiring about the church's misuse of funds for buildings not authorized by Jesus. Thousand, hundreds of thousand and even millions are spent and still the church cannot meet her budget.

I pointed out the Jews built meeting places. The synagogues were neither authorized nor prohibited under the law of Moses for Israel. Jesus and the apostles taught in those synagogues. It was never a source of contention for them or something about which Jesus castigated the people of God for all their shortcomings, failures and sins.

Clearly, at least it seems to me, the principle of a meeting place for the people of God and the practice of doing so are matters of liberty for the discretion of the saints in Christ. So why does any of this matter?

It matters because as I pointed out to him he has not hit upon some great discovery of the church's sin concerning buildings. Furthermore, I said, imagine the wide open door for smugness and self-righteousness were the church to boast in her self-sufficiency to meet her budget.

As it is the church is as human as you and I and every brother and sister who struggles with finances and various other matters, but who presses on trusting in the Lord to provide for her, not for herself, but for those to whom she ministers.l She is a body. She is human. She, like her Savior, bleeds yet does not grow weary. Blessed and praised be God, her Lord and Savior.