Before The Storms Touch Down: A Prayer

For Those Touched By The Havoc Of Hurricane Gustav:

Lord, there are a lot of idiots in this world. To be honest with you, sometimes I feel like I just can't take them any more. Lord, there are people in this world who claim to be yours that are harsh, crude and nonsensical. They attribute evil, hate, suffering, pain and death to you. Why? Why do they do that? God, as the hurricane presses forward and before the storms touch down here, I pray that you will give your people a sprit of gentleness and wisdom. Lord, may we weep, as the writer of old did on the shores of Babylon, weep with these people instead of heaping undue judgment upon their heads (and yours). God be with those who have already lost loved ones from this massive storm and protect those who have not. We cry out Lord: "Be a balm to the souls of many". Our Lord, who is not in the storm, in the midst of all of this chaos and tragedy, may Your name be glorified. In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, amen.


Eschatology & Ethics

In your opinion, what is the relationship between eschatology & ethics? How does one affect the other or how do they both affect each other? Or, is there no relationship at all? What do you think?


Original Sin Vs. Original Blessing

I mentioned a while back that, recently, I picked up Matthew Fox's book titled Original Blessing. While I shy away from Fox's mystical cosmology, I am intrigued by his argument that many of us have misunderstand Genesis 1-3 because we have emphasized "original sin" over humanity's "original blessing" (e.g. being created to live in relationship with God). What do you think of this conjecture? Is it accurate? Fox seems to want to do away with the notion of original sin altogether so that he can focus on original blessing. Is this going too far the other way? Does there need to be a balance? Any input on this matter?


A Heads-Up On Biblioblog Carnival XXXIII

I just wanted to let everyone know that on September 1st at 9am, Biblioblog Carnival XXXIII will be posted here at Pisteuomen. It has been a fruitful month in the blogosphere and much ground has been covered by many people. I'm excited to host the carnival this month and I hope you find it both useful and helpful. Keep your eyes peeled.


Pisteuomen: Movin' On Up

While Mark Goodacre boasted of 4-million visits to his site yesterday and James McGrath, 150,000, I picked up my thirty-thousandth. The number of visitors to the site has been climbing consistently for the last few months. I enjoy interacting with everyone and while blogging can be challenging every once in a while, I am constantly reminded of the good that Pisteuomen has accomplished. Thanks again for helping make the site a success!


One-On-One German Tutoring Begins

Well, another benefit of moving to MI at this point in my life is that I have found a friend who, deeply studied and entrenched in the German language, has agreed to tutor me, one-on-one, just about every week. I am sooooo stoked about this! Thus, as time goes on, hopefully I will get around to posting some German stuff on here (maybe even about Mark's Gospel, like I wanted to a while back). I am also hoping that I will recall some of the things I learned in the German course I took last year so I can build on those. Anyway, our first session is this evening and I am quite looking forward to it. Maybe it will be a nice breather from the demands of parenting, working, reffing, etc. Yeah right!

Adding Christian Flavor Just Isn't Enough

I was reading a portion of one of my previous professor's (Larry Chouinard) books and I was seriously jolted into reality as I read the paragraph below. Honestly, this is one of the most cogent thoughts on "Church" that I have heard in a while! I couldn't even read the next paragraph (and still have not) because I can't get past the depth and insight of this one (even though it is so simple). Please, give this paragraph a read and think on these things:

"With all good intentions churches often assume that broken and fragmented lives can be fixed by spicing the particulars of life with a Christian flavoring. As long as the program or product is designated "Christian,” or the name of Jesus is somehow woven into the activity, the particulars of life are now sanctified and given meaning. So if we wear Christian T-shirts and only listen to Christian music, and attend only Christian weight loss programs or get into shape only by Christian aerobics, our lives will soon have a coherent core. The reality is that while we may build institutional loyalty and grow a prime time audience, there's usually not much thought put into how our programs connect the participant to a story with universal and cosmic significance. And the attempt to inject the event with spiritual significance strains credulity and sounds at best silly, if not blasphemous."

- L. Chouinard, Way of the Kingdom (self-published), 4. Free download here: Way of the Kingdom.


Mondays Are For Meditating (With Marcus Aurelius), Pt. 3

In II.7 of his work Meditations, Marcus Aurelius comments: "Do things external which happen to you distract you? Give yourself time to learn something new and good, and cease to be whirled around. But then you must also avoid going astray the other way. For those too are triflers who have worn themselves out by activity, and yet have no goal to which they direct their movements or their thoughts."

Once again, I find some similarities of what Aurelius says here, to things the Apostle Paul said. I am thinking of the passage where Paul uses nautical imagery in Ephesians 4.14-7: "Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming...So, I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking."

Meditate on these things.


What Do Raymond Brown, Matthew Fox & Herodotus Have In Common?

Answer: They were the authors of a number of books I got this week, for dirt cheap. Here are the books I picked up, 8 of them, for $9 even (once again, at the K-Zoo public library; by the way, the are selling the first edition of the 12-volume Interpreter's Bible Commentary set, as well as the 5-volume Greek Expositors Commentary set, for $50 each if anyone is interested, you can send me the cash and I'll pick either of them up for you). Anyway, here are the steals I stumbled on this week:

*Juvenal: The Sixteen Satires
*Herodotus: The Histories
*Raymond E. Brown: Biblical Exegesis & Church Doctrine
*Matthew Fox: Wrestling with the Prophets: Essays on Creation Spirituality & Everday Life
*Matthew Fox: Original Blessing
*M. P. Hall: Old Testament Wisdom
*P.A.T. : Talking About Genesis
*Beth Moore: When Godly People Do Ungodly Things (for the wife!)

I've said it before and I'll say it again, if you're ever in K-zoo, MI, you have to stop by the bookstore at the public library!


Cuban Fighter Kicks Referee In The Face, Punches Another...Banned For Life

Watch this video, it's crazy!!! Cuban fighter, Angel Matos (at about the 1:58 mark) kicks one referee in the face (there are a number of replays!). After that, he turns around and pursues another ref and punches him (replays also). Having just become a referee, I hope I never have to deal with this kind of crap. Anyway, give this a watch by clicking the photo below:

A Few Confessions

1. I don't subscribe to the belief that God had my life planned out before the creation of the world. 2. Nor do I believe that God ever planned my life out. 3. By the same token, I believe that what we refer to as "God's will" and "God's plan" is not individualistic but rather, collective, thus meaning, God's will and God's plan is the same for all of us: To both know Him and make Him known. 4. Because I do not believe that God planned or plans everything ahead of time and I don't believe there is an individual plan for "ME" alone, I am quickly turned off by comments like: "God has a life planned for you, you just need to trust Him and it'll happen." 5. Just as well, I am annoyed by people who act as if they are more holy and loved by God because they supposedly have their life, especially the spiritual aspect, all together. They think" God has shown me what I am to do but He has not shown this or that person, so, I must be more significant." The truth is, nobody ever has it all together, they only think they do. 6. I get frustrated with people who mistake their desires for God's call but aren't willing to admit it. 7. I believe it is more often the case that our talents and passions can compliment and fulfill God's desires rather than God giving us specific talents so that He can accomplish a certain end. That's too deterministic for me. 8. I believe that Christianity has to have some kind dynamic aspect to it and that it cannot be static, planned out, cookie-cut, etc. We must constantly be giving the Spirit more and more to work with and that means change, picking up new interests, cultivating new talents, finding new interests, etc.

Finally, I offer a hearty "AMEN" to the following statement of Susan B. Anthony as it pertains, quite a bit, to the above thoughts I just offered: "I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do,’ she once said, ‘because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.’ Having been somewhat of an expert on the sanctification of my own desires, I try not to pin them on God anymore. At the same time, I recognize the enormous energy in them, which strikes me as something that God might be able to use.”


Help Find This Child

I have people from all over the world and especially the United States reading my blog. With that in mind, I post this picture of a young girl for whom an Amber Alert (Missing Child Alert) was just issued. I'm not sure where she's from but she could be anywhere. The children's minister from the congregation where I used to serve sent it via email today and when I saw it, my eyes welled up with tears and my stomach turned. How disheartening that someone would harm such an innocent and precious child. I could not imagine someone taking my daughter. Thus, I post this picture to say: If you happen to see this young girl, contact authorities in your area immediately. In the meantime, pray for her, her family and her kidnapper. By God's grace, may she be brought home safely!


What's Black & White & Itchy All Over?

Me, in this referee outfit! Even though the socks are pretty much pulled up to the bottoms of my boxers, and even though I have on a 100% cotton under-shirt, I'm still feelin' itchy. No wonder refs are always turning and adjusting (and yes, missing a few calls here and there--they're always itching!). Anyway, this evening I'll be taking part in my very first refereeing event (freshman footbal). I'm also going to be reffing basketball this winter. I'm excited about tonight and quite interested in this whole officiating thing. I've been shocked at how serious officials really take their jobs; I've been blown away at the level of seriousness actually. Well, I've paid my fees, attended the necesarry meetings and I've passed all three tests I had to take (scoring over 90% on them all), so, I'm a registered official now. What does that mean? Reffing in cold MI weather and memorizing and studying a lot of rules and signals. Fun times, eh!


Individualism Vs. Collectivism in Antiquity: Stones Speak

As those of us who have studied Mediterranean antiquity know, there was a great emphasis (much greater than in 21st-century America!) on collectivism; community was of the utmost importance. The "group" took precedence over "self". But I fear that many scholars who have acknowledged this fact often forget that individualism was certainly on the rise during the era consonant with early Christianity. I was reading a portion of a book today that I found quite interesting. The author was claiming that one can tell, by simply looking at ancient architecture, that individualism was pushing full-throttle ahead in those days. Here's a snippet:

"A change came with the new philosophy and the new politics of the Macedonian era. The older Greek City-states had been large, wealthy, and independent; magnificent buildings and sumptuous festivals were as natural to them as to the greater autonomous municipalities in all ages. But in the Macedonian period the individual cities sank to be parts of a larger whole, items in a dominant state, subjects of military monarchies. The use of public buildings, the splendour of public festivals in individual cities, declined. Instead, the claims of the individual citizen, neglected too much by the City-states but noted by the newer philosophy, found consideration even in town-planning. A more definite, more symmetrical, often more rigidly 'chess-board' pattern was introduced for the towns which now began to be founded in many countries round and east of the Aegean. Ornamental edifices and broad streets were still indeed included, but in the house-blocks round them due space and place were left for the dwellings of common men. For a while the Greeks turned their minds to those details of daily life which in their greater age they had somewhat ignored."

- F. Haverfield, Ancient Town-Planning (New York, NY: Oxford Clarendon Press, 1913), 11.


America's Greatest Exegete: Gordon Fee?

Well, that's what Bryan, Stephen and Shaun say. Andrew Bourne suggested the late Catholic exegete Raymond Brown but nobody seconded that motion. So (according to a few people at least), it seems that Fee (pictured to the left) is the greatest American exegete? Agree? Disagree?


Mondays Are For Meditating (With Marcus Aurelius), Pt. 2

Today, I want to offer two entries from Marcus Aurelius's Meditations. Both are from II.2. I will mention the first one only in passing and then comment on the second one.

* "Throw away your books; no longer distract yourself; it is not allowed."

* "Consider thus: You are an old man; no longer let this part be a slave, no longer be pulled by the strings like a puppet by self-seeking impulse, no longer either be dissatisfied with your present lot, or shrink from the future."

In the second quote (the first one's just crazy!!!) I think Aurelius sounds, once again, quite like the Apostle Paul. Actually, the first portion of the sentence sounds much like 1 Thess. 4.3-5, which says: "It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him." The second half of the sentence sounds a little like what Paul says in Phil. 4.12.-3: "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." Of course, the difference between Marcus and Paul is that Paul places trust in and reliance on Christ and Marcus doesn't. Perhaps this is a good illustration of where two philosophies with similar concepts arrive at two totally different conclusions!


The Greatest American Exegete

Who, in your opinion, is the greatest exegete in the United States?


The Theology Of Michael Phelps

"Behold, I go quickly. And I say hold fast to what you have so that nobody takes your crown (or even comes close to taking it)." - Rev. 3.11


Images of Antiquity: Corinth & Cenchrea, Pt. 13

Here is the last slideshow in my series dubbed "Images of Antiquity". This set of photos covers the sites of Cenchrea and Corinth, both of which are mentioned in the New Testament and both of which were frequented by the Apostle Paul.

The first picture of is the shore in Cenchrea. This is one of the locations where Paul, when he was sailing / boating, would have docked. Acts 18.18 reports that oen time, at this location, Paul cut off his hair because of a vow that he made to God. This is also where Phoebe ministered (Rom. 16.1).

The second photo is a picture of a typical small temple; this one is of the Apollo Temple in Corinth. Following this, we see a bust of the Emperor Augustus. After that, there is a picture a colored plaque with a lion's head. I post that here to remind us that in antiquity, things like statues, columns, busts, arches, etc. were all colored. They did not have the plain, marble look that they do today.

After the lion picture, we see another photo with Apollo's Temple in the background. In the foreground, however, there is a large, square rock. I included this in the slideshow because, interestingly enough, this rock has a spring flowing under and out of it. It is quite possible that this rock conjured up images of the "Moses striking the rock" story in Exodus, which Paul mentions in 1 Cor. 10. If you remember that story, you will remember that when Moses hit the rock with his staff, a spring of water flowed from it.

Subsequent to that photo, we see the infamous "Erastus" Inscription. Erastus was one of Paul's friends and co-ministers. He is mentioned three times in the NT (Acts 19.22, Rom. 16.23, 2 Tim. 4.20). It is clear that he was an important figure in Corinth as he was the "director of public works". Most probably, given his position, he oversaw things like Olympic games, public functions, etc. It is highly likely that he would have let Paul make / sell tents during the games, so that Paul could make both money and in-roads for the Gospel. This is a very telling and important historical artefact.

In the next two photos, we see both Corinthian mirrors and pottery. As we know, Corinth was known for being a mirror-making town. As you can see, these mirrors are quite dark and they are very hard to pick up reflections in. No wonder, in 1 Cor. 13, Paul says, "Now, we see in a mirror darkly..." In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul also uses pottery imagery, which, of course, would have been an image readily available to him (2 Cor. 4.7, "But we have this treasure in clay jars...").

In picture #9, we take note of a Corinthian shop, probably much like one Paul would have worked in while making leather, etc. In the last photograph, we see a statue of a man named Valerus. Valerus is depicted as armed with a sword, probably a common site around Corinth. This could have been yet another image for Paul to draw on (1 Cor. 16.13). I hope this series has enabled you to "image" antiquity as you read about it. Hopefully, some day, you will be able to visit and tour these sites for yourself. There's something about walking in Paul's footsteps that stirs up a passion in you and makes you want to share the Gospel with the world. May it be!


Need Help Finding A Song

I've been hunting for a song for a few weeks now and I have yet to find it in audio, tab or even lyrical format. It's a praise chorus from a few years back that begins like this:

We have come to worship You
We have come to worship You
Yes, we have come to worship You
Look deep into our hearts
And You will see that
We have come to worship You


Anybody know this song?


Oh My Gosh: Worst Olympic Injury Yet

These commentators, though not meaning to be, are quite funny but the video, oh my goodness, it's almost too much to watch:



Mondays Are For Meditating (With Marcus Aurelius), Pt. 1

Here's a portion from chapter 2 of Marcus Aurelius's Meditations. I'm citing it here because it sounds uncannily familiar, kind of like, oh, let's say, Paul of Tarsus. Here's the text: "For we are made for cooperation, like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like the rows of the upper and lower teeth. To act against one another then is contrary to nature; and it is acting against one another to be vexed and to turn away."

-Marcus Aurelius, Meditations II.2

I like here, how Aurelius goes a step further than Paul in a passage like the one located in 1 Cor. 12 and talks about how, when the parts are not working together, it is not only self-defeating but contrary to nature. In other words, had Paul gone a bit further, he could have suggested that the "nature" of the Body of Christ has to do with both unity and diversity. That implication may be buried in Paul's metaphor but because it is not explicity, it may often be overlooked. Good stuff!!!


What Hath Kentucky To Do With Japan?

Today, the majority of my afternoon will consist of driving through four states: Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. Before one of those massive Michigan snow storms decide to show up, I'm going to head south to spend a couple of days (that's not very long!) with family and friends. I'll still be blogging this week but for today, I thought I'd back off and let you enjoy this awesome 14-second Japanese flic about my old stomping grounds, that is, my old KY home:


Books I'm Reviewing For Journals

Currently, I have a couple of books I'm reviewing that will be published in journals next quarter (while a few others should actually be in-print this coming quarter). Here are the one's I'm reading right now, both quite interesting in their own right: 1) Jesus: The Village Psychiatrist, 2) Recovering Paul's Mother Tongue: Language and Theology in Galatians.


BBQ & Books

So, I raved a couple of days ago about a few books I bought in Kalamazoo at the library's bookstore. Well, I went back in yesterday, after they had stocked some new things over the course of a week and once again, I was not let down. After I spent a whopping $4, I went a couple blocks over to the city's annual Ribfest and had some good barbecue (or as we southerner's like to spell it "bbq"). Here's what I picked up at the store (again, for only $4!!!):

* Daily Life in the Time of Homer (Mireaux) $1.00
* Meditations (Marcus Aurelius) $1.00
* Cicero: Selected Works (Penguin Pub.) - $.50
* Biblical Semantic Logic (Gibson) - $1.00
* The Counselling of Jesus (Buchanan) - $.50

And, here's me eating some ribs:

A decent day, if you ask me!


"Let the Reader Understand" : Studies in Mark, Pt. 71

In yesterday's post, I mentioned a number of books I recently purchased. One of those was A. N. Williams's John Mark. You can see the cover of that book to the left. What I find very fascinating about this picture is that in it, Mark is holding a number of scrolls. Not that this cover is (by any means) my starting point for ideas or the "say all, end all" of my views, but it does suggest, however implicitly, that Mark probably didn't write first. At this point, I do not think Mark wrote first and in fact, I would also say that it doesn't really matter who really wrote first. Another thing this photo suggests, and I've been pondering this view a long time, is that just as Luke traveled with Paul as an amanuensis, Mark may have done the same for Peter. But one other thing that this photo illustrates for me is that Mark was probably a traveling author.

In fact, as I have argued before, I think Mark traveled around delivering his Gospel account as a type of drama. I think that's one of the reason's for great mixture of Aramaic, Latin, Greek and Hebrew idioms and explanations. Mark was constantly adapting his story/act to his audience. I think the remark, "Let the reader understand" in Mk. 13.14 reveals this too! That statement, I must say, was not written for you and me (the last time I said that, a Church-person looked at me in shock; he thought it had been added in modern translations for emphatic reasons, so that you and I would think harder!). I tend to think that the phrase was a kind of marginal or parenthetic note, added by Mark, for performance / dramatic reasons. It kind of acts as a cue to the reader / performer, making them aware of what's being said / acted.

Showing up where it does, in Mk. 13, I would also suggest that it was a type of reminder to the performer that what was being said pertained to the destruction of the Temple. If performers were to pick up on that, instead of taking the story some other direction (and we all know how much that happens w/Mk. 13) the remark would have served to keep the drama in context. And that, in my view and at my present level of understanding, is what the reader is to understand.


Good Books, Great Deals

Since coming to Michigan, I've found that Kzoo has quite a number of good bookstores (when I say "good" here, I mean decent works at low prices). Honestly, the bookstore at the Kzoo library is the best used book shop I've ever been to and believe me, being on the verge of 2,000 books, I've been to a lot of bookstores! If you're ever in the area, you MUST stop there!!! Here are some of the titles I've picked up recently (from the library and another shop), all for under $13:

* Oedipus Rex: A Mirror for Greek Drama (Cook)
* An Anthology of Greek Drama (Robinson)
* Terence: The Comedies (Penguin Classics)
* The Dead Sea Scriptures in Eng. Translation (Gaster)
* John Mark (Heroes of God Series, Williams)
* The Hidden Jesus: A New Life (Donald Spoto)
* Prayers (Quoist)
* Der Protestantismus Des 17. Jahrunderts (Zeller)
* Oxford Hachette French Dictionary (FR-Eng / Eng-Fr)


Addition to the Blogroll: Verily Verily

I'm adding a new blog to my blogroll today that is titled "Verily Verily". It is maintained by a new friend of mine that I met back in March at a conference, his name is Rafael Rodriguez (he sat in on my paper presentation and had some good thoughts and input afterwards). Rafael earned his PhD at Sheffield in the UK and is now professor of NT at Johnson Bible College in TN. Check out his blog here: Verily Verily.


Do You Agree? Morality Vs. Reality

I came across this paragraph recently and found myself continually re-reading,ittrying to figure out if I agreed with it or not. Do you agree or disagree?:

"Very often, a commitment in faith is wrongly idenitified with morality--rather than a stance toward reality that begins the process of setting everything else in order. And so the sayings of Jesus are wrenched out of context and made, by preachers, to serve moral matters: sin versus virtue becomes the touchstone of a life well lived, and in the process there is often a failure in translating the spirit of the sayings of Jesus."

D. Spoto, The Hidden Jesus: A New Life (New York, NY: St. Martin's Griffin, 1998), 151.


16 Stars Who Didn't See Their Last Movie

Here's a very interesting list: 16 movie stars who didn't live to see their last movie:

1. Tupac Shakur
2. Chris Farley
3. Brandon Lee
4. Bruce Lee
5. Jean Harlow
6. James Dean
7. Clark Gable
8. Phil Hartman
9. Natlie Wood
10. Heath Ledger
11. Marilyn Monroe
12. Spencer Tracy
13. Aaliyah
14. John Candy
15. River Phoenix
16. Gary Cooper

ht: Bizarre

Tips For Searching For People On Yahoo

By accident, I found out that a "people search" website called "Intelius" can be pulled up on Yahoo, so that you can search for people there. You can see a snapshot of it at work above but here's how to get the table to show up: In the Yahoo search bar, type in this text and after you've done this, hit "enter" or click "search":

first:"" last:"" city:"" state:""

Of course, first and last stand for first and last names. Put the names in between the quote marks. City and state are self-explanatory. Have fun searching!!!


Through A Carpenter's Eyes: Studies in Mark, Pt. 70

In the commencing verses of Mk. chapter 2, we encounter a terribly fascinating story. I've already approached this episode from one angle, arguing that is suggests that Jesus owned a home near Lake Galilee (click HERE to read that post). I've also argued that this story, as part of a larger narrative, was one that Mark used to begin to show mounting or building hostility towards Jesus by the political and religious leaders of His day. Here, I want to take yet another angle on the story and look at it through carpenter's eyes.

Of course, the carpenter I'm referring to here is Jesus. I do not wish to get into the argument about the Greek term "tekton" but I would say that the evidence is clear that it refers to someone who has worked with wood, stone, etc. It is my view that Jesus, indeed, worked in the field of construction. I have wondered too, if being so close to the Lake, He ever helped build boats? But to get to the point, in Mk. 2, we read of an instance where, when Jesus was teaching in a jam-packed house, two men tore apart the roof and lowered a man through, down to Jesus. Now, it is quite easy to jump to theological conclusions about this passage (e.g. determinism in antiquity, the divinity and humanity of Jesus, foreknowledge, etc.) but I want to come at this differently: through the eyes of a carpenter.

In fact, if we read this story in Mk. 2 through that lens, I would contend that what we see is, while everyone in the story appears to be so serious, Jesus is actually being humorous. Yes, He is serious at points but right after the roof is ripped off, He makes a comedic statement. I think this may be one of those points where we have to stop reading with such a "dry" mentality and add some flavor and tone to the story. What if we read Mk. 2.5 with a humorous tone instead of a serious one? For instance, "When Jesus saw their faith..." should be read humorously. As a carpenter, He knew what what it was like to build a roof and to take it apart. Seeing them tear the roof (perhaps His own roof!!!) off, He couldn't help but be suprised. And then, we hear the punch-line: "Son, your sins are forgiven."

What if Jesus' statement is like a double-entendre here? What if it has a serious meaning to it but is said with a joking tone? Can you imagine Him saying this and the people in the crowd laughing? I can! What if Jesus' remark has the idea of: "You seriously just tore my roof apart, you guys!!! But...I forgive you for it, I forgive your sins." In my mind's eye, I can see the whole place erupting in laughter while some teachers in the corner see no humor in the statement but rather a threat. And then, just as the laughter dies down, Jesus does the unthinkable and restores this guy. The move from humor to restoration, along with the mixed emotions of the crowd, is, in part, what gives this story such force.

As a carpenter, Jesus had an "inside" on what it took to tear that roof apart. As a homeowner, Jesus was surprised that people tore His roof apart. As a man with a sense of humor, Jesus was able to make light of the situation. As a teacher, Jesus was able to take the situation and turn it into a teachable moment. And as the Messiah, Jesus knew that saying and doing these things would ultimately get Him killed but He loved people so much that He followed through with it anyway.


The Zedekiah Seal, Archeology And Biblical Reliability

It seems that new discoveries of ancient relics are constantly being made. The Jerusalem Post reported today another finding: The Zedekiah Seal. Just prior to this, in the world of archeology, you will remember that a few weeks back, The Messiah Tablet (which has actually been around for quite a while) also got people talking (and tempers flaring). Of course, archeology is nothing new and Christianity is certainly no newcomer to archeological conversations. But here's my hang-up with all of this: Why do we act as if archeology can really prove or disprove Christianity.

Or, why do people act as if archeology can really prove or disprove the Bible, that is render it true or untrue. Now, I'm saying this as a person who values the historicity of the Biblical personages, stories, locations, etc. But I am also saying this as a person who used to, but no longer necessarily believes that the sacredness or the validity of the Hebrew/Greek Scriptures (e.g. The Bible) stand, fall or rise on archeological data. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that archeology is invaluable. Neither am I saying that history and historical data are unimportant. Instead, what I am saying is that archeology is not the say-all, end-all.

Take this Zedekiah Seal, for example. While the seal's imprint aligns with what we find in Jeremiah 38.1, can we really use this seal and what it says to make statements such as "This 'proves' the Bible"? A few years ago, I would have said "Yes". Now, however, I would say "Not so much". Why? Because all that this seal does is comport with historical information that we already have. Yes, it may illumine our understanding of a portion of the Bible or it may affirm certain theories or hypotheses but what it does not prove (or disprove) is that the Bible is true or untrue.

Really, what this all comes down to is how one understands the Bible. For those who act as if God Himself dropped the Bible from the sky or whispered in the writer's ears, telling them what to say, the tendency is to say "The Zedekiah Seal proves that the Bible is true". Actually, such statements are evangelical code language for "See, the Bible is inspired" or "See, the Bible is inerrant". But if we evangelicals are honest with ourselves, things like the Zedekiah Seal have no bearing on or role in the formation of a doctrine of inspiration or inerrancy. For example, we could not say "The author of Jeremiah 38.1 was inspired by God and what he wrote was inerrant and the finding of this Seal proves it."

God did not hide this seal in the mud somewhere knowing or expecting that one day, someone would find it so that the Scriptures could be proven or disproven. But it is underlying assumptions like these that tend to shape pepole's understanding of and beliefs about the Bible. Instead, all that we can say about the relationship between the Zedekiah Seal and Jeremiah 38.1 (a part of the Bible, not the whole of it!) is that, historically speaking, we can confirm that there was a King named Zedekiah who had a servant and reigned around 580-600 BCE.

I think it is high-time for people to start being honest (especially evangelicals) about their views of, and more importantly, assumptions about, the Bible and particularly its relationship with things like archeology. Yes, archeology often sheds insight on the Bible and the world it was developed and composed in but no discovery can shatter or further Christianity. This means, too, that skeptics need to start being honest with themselves as well!

Pisteuomen & Facebook

I wanted to post a quick note on the site today to inform my readers that I have joined "Blog Network" on Facebook. If you use Facebook, click HERE to add Pisteuomen to your FB apps list. If I already have you marked as a friend on FB, you should be recieving a message from me within the next few days asking you to join. Thanks to Alan Knox for putting me on to this app!!!