Showing posts from July, 2020

Chapter 4: Reading the New Testament

Chapter 4 begins by taking a look at how the early church bore the message of Christ into the wider world. The Jewish faith gave two main paradigms that the early church could pull from. One paradigm was that of exile. In this paradigm, Israel had abandoned its call to love their God with all their heart, mind, body, and strength. They had also neglected to love their neighbor as themselves. Through the prophets, the people had been called to repentance but had declined to turn from their ways. The exile was caused by their unwillingness to repent. It was punishment for failing to keep the covenant. But there was another paradigm available to the early church - one of deliverance. The Exodus had been the foundational event in Jewish history. God had heard the cry of his people and delivered them from slavery. Wright points out that "when Israel was enslaved in Egypt nobody ever said it was a result of their sin." Jesus himself seems to point the church to this paradigm by roo

Chapter 3:Jesus and the Gospels

Wright starts chapter 3 by acknowledging the fact that Christ changes the course of the conversation. In the past, the Prophets have had a very specific ministry. With Christ on the scene, the famous “but now” has arrived to herald something new and unique. Wright begins this chapter with a passage from Luke, and I think it’s worth looking at the passage itself. It reads:     There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1-5) Here we see Jesus affirming two compe

Chapter 2: Reading the Old Testament

Chapter 2 starts with a quote from the prophet Amos: For the Lord God does nothing     without revealing his secret     to his servants the prophets. (3:7) Of course, even in the times of the Old Testament, having a prophet wasn’t always a hedge against disaster. The problem, which was almost immediately apparent, is that there could be false prophets. People could claim to speak to God while in fact they were furthering their own interests. The book of Deuteronomy even contains instructions for how to identify false prophets. Wright states that, even today, many prophets end up saying “what they were wanting to say anyway.” But Deuteronomy gives us an interesting context to approach prophecy. The book details the Covenant that God made with the nation of Israel. The covenant is clear in laying out the rules that Israel is to adhere to. In very general terms, these can be broken down into two rules: (1) Love God with all your heart, mind, and strength and (2) love your ne

Chapter 1: Where Do We Start?

I grew up reading a lot of apocalyptic science fiction, so I feel like I’ve always been primed to think the worst is coming. The meteor is on its way, the containment protocols have failed in the lab, and the bombs are already falling! And the media stands ready to stoke these types of fears. We’re constantly being told to be afraid. Of the avian flu, the swine flu, SARS, the West Nile virus, Ebola, and a countless number of other things are precariously poised to end the world. I even remember talking to Jen about putting off having more children until the Zika virus was under control. I think for many of us, the most surprising part of the last four months has been that for once many of the predictions have come true. N.T. Wright opens his book by exploring the exact phenomenon. So why is this happening, and more importantly, why is it happening now? Of course, as Wright points out, “In the old pagan world of Greece and Rome, the assumption [when disaster struck] was that you hadn’

God and the Pandemic

I remember when St. Timothy's made the decision to suspend in-person worship services back in March. The thinking then was that we might have a couple weeks off to get everything sorted and in order, and then hopefully be back once we had this whole virus thing under control. It was lent, and we pictured ourselves as wandering through the wilderness on a journey that would quickly be over, hopefully by Easter. And then it was hopefully by Pentecost. And from where we're sitting now, the conversation has shifted. We've stopped trying to make guesses, and many of us are resigned to the fact that this could last for at least a year, if not more. That's a sobering thought. Although our meetings have resumed, it will be a long while before all of us feel safe in gathering together again. And of course, we all question. Why? Why is this happening? What does it mean? What is our response in the face of this? How are we continue being the church? Where is God in all of this?