Juan Carmen, a brother loyal to our king.
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has loyalty/faith but does not have works?
In the last couple of posts I have been dealing rather broadly with the subject of faith. First we looked at the apparent contradiction between faith and intellectual humility, and then we examined the meaning of the New Testament words associated with faith
There is an important subtlety here that is easy to overlook. I am not simply suggesting that we replace the word faith, with the word loyalty. You will remember from last week I said words are not pins in a map but are more like nations. They cover areas of meaning. Words in one language rarely cover exactly the same area of meaning as words in another language.
This is the origin of the saying “all translators are lairs.” Remember that the English word “faith” does encompass the meaning of loyalty. Our problem is that it is only a minor component of the word, and is not immediately apparent in everyday use.
It is my contention that while there are cognitive aspects attached to the biblical words translated as faith and believe, this is not where the emphasis usually lies. In English faith is usually associated with believing something without proof. In Greek, the equivalent word, pistos (πιστός) carries a much stronger connotation of loyalty.
It is not uncommon to see faith and works pitted against each other, and many words have been spent trying to explain the apparent discrepancy between the words of James and Paul. I suspect that many of those apparent discrepancies will appear much less significant if we can learn to hear scripture with first century ears. Notice how different our opening passage sounds as we start to emphasize the loyalty aspects of pistos. Continue reading →
Semper Fidelis: Are you as faithful to your Lord, as these men are to theirs?
Biblical faith often seems at odds with other Christian virtues such as humility. In my last post I shared some of my thoughts on the apparent conflict between intellectual humility and faith. In response Brandi Eissinger shared an excellent link which nicely defined intellectual humility as follows:
Intellectual Humility: Having a consciousness of the limits of one’s knowledge, including a sensitivity to circumstances in which one’s native egocentrism is likely to function self-deceptively; sensitivity to bias, prejudice and limitations of one’s viewpoint. Intellectual humility depends on recognizing that one should not claim more than one actually knows. It does not imply spinelessness or submissiveness. It implies the lack of intellectual pretentiousness, boastfulness, or conceit, combined with insight into the logical foundations, or lack of such foundations, of one’s beliefs.
It is my prayer that this attitude be clear in all that I write or speak, and I invite you to please call me down as soon as any other attitude is seen rising up in me. At the same time, I invite you to allow yourself exposure to some of the difficult ideas I offer here, and pray for our Lord to show His truth to you–to help you to accept, or if need be, to refute what I share.
There remains however, our problem with the popular understanding of “faith.” The meanings of words are not pins stuck in a map. They are more like nations whose borders expand and shrink with time and are occasionally prone to migration, bifurcation, or even extinction.
This link shows an animated map of Europe over the past thousand years and makes a good analogy for the way the semantic domains of words can change over time. A problem arises when this “semantic drift” affects our understanding of God’s word. This happens because we attach special significance to words in the Bible, and then fail to change our Bibles when the meaning of those words change, because of the culture we are embedded in. Continue reading →
The time has finally come to address The Problem with Christ.
The Problem with Christ
In recent posts I have detailed a point of view which was clearly the position of the early Church. This position is often expressed in the New Testament, but is strangely absent from the teaching of most churches today. I have even alluded to the fact that modern translations consistently make choices that seem to obscure the very possibility of even seeing the position the early church held, in the Bible.
While many hold that the first followers of Jesus were in error on this point, I have found no church historians who deny that what I have presented was indeed their position. Please let me know if you can show me a source I have missed.
We have heard our third-century brother, Origen explain why the church refused to participate in politics because of its allegiance to its King Jesus. You have read how Paul expected his readers to give up their nationality to be members of Jesus’ new nation. Your have read how Jesus said the “royal power of God” was being taken away from the nation of Israel and being given to another nation. You heard in the last post: “…the rock is Peter’s confession that Jesus is the “christos,” which we now understand means king.
Whoops, I goofed! I failed to realize that while this proposition has been stated several times in the course of this blog—I have never defended the proposition, nor given you any significant reason to believe it. Now is the time to change that. For the past two years I have been working on a book to communicate this idea clearly and convincingly. That book was released as a Kindle edition about two months ago. After several revisions the print edition has just been released.
The book, The Problem with Christ; Why we don’t understand Jesus, His enemies, or the early Church, is an integral part of the ministry of this blog. While it is possible to understand the book without reading the RadicalFish blog; it will be difficult to fully understand the blog without reading the book. Continue reading →
Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing its fruit.—Matthew 21:43 HCSB
Consider this verse and ask yourself, to what nations was Jesus referring?
The stone the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone…
Who was He taking the kingdom of God away from? More importantly, for our topic, who is the nation to whom He is giving the kingdom of God? Where do we find the Christian nation?
In the last post I introduced the idea that the New Testament teaches that when people come to Jesus they are expected to leave their former national identities and allegiances behind. I realize that this not only sounds strange to most of you, but that it may sound down-right heretical. After all, aren’t we told that becoming Christians should make us better citizens, and didn’t Paul claim his Roman citizenship? We will deal with objections in future posts, but please write them down as they occur to you. We want to be sure to deal with them later. For now I would like to offer further support for my basic thesis.
One reason that this idea is not usually even considered is found in the fact that many translations render the Greek word enthos here, as people, which almost completely obscures what Jesus is saying in this passage. I submit that you are not familiar with it, and it sounds strange to you, because you have not been allowed to see it. I am not proposing a human conspiracy here, but am so bold as to suggest that someone does not want this truth exposed. Remember—We fight not against flesh and blood… Continue reading →
You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led.—1 Cor. 12:2
I submit that most Christians today, by their own admission, are still pagan in the biblical sense of the word.
Please read on to see if you are in fact a “pagan Christian.” Once again, we are plowing through unfamiliar waters, so please take your time and read carefully. Please, jot down any questions and post them below.
In my last several posts I have presented a view which has been lost in great measure for almost 1,700 years—that our citizenship is in heaven. Those who are familiar with this idea almost inevitably take it as a metaphorical or “spiritual” truth, with limited application. It is so foreign that I suspect most of you still do not realize its full significance, or realize the pun intended in the use of foreign.
Pause for a moment and think—What does the word pagan mean? Seriously—stop reading and say out loud what you think pagan means in the verse above. Continue reading →
The most dangerous lies are the ones that are most believable, and to be believable they should be mostly true. Casual fact checking will give them a pass, and once past the gates of our mental defenses they are free to unpack their deadly payload. Then they will affect our thinking, and ultimately compromise our behavior. Consider today’s title: Ultimate Allegiance of Christians—A Most Unique Error.
It contains two significant errors. If you paid attention in middle school English class you should have caught at least one. Unique means one of a kind—you cannot legitimately attach a comparative to it. If something is truly unique, one of a kind, it cannot be more, less, or most unique. It is either one of a kind or it is not.
The second error is far more insidious, and scarcely a day goes by that I do not see this subtle but potent error wreaking its havoc on the church. Continue reading →
What’s wrong with this picture?
©2013 Joshua Gorton
I was prepared to kill for my God.
That was almost 40 years ago. I was raising through the ranks of the ROTC, and the Christian Karate Association preparing to fight. As I understood it, Roe Vs Wade had declared open season on the killing of the unborn. If you believed in your right to kill someone trying to rape your daughter, but were not willing to kill an abortionist to save the life of an unborn baby–you were either a hypocrite, or a coward.
That was then. Christian priorities on July 4th meant honoring a country God had blessed for honoring Him. Continue reading →
In my last post I introduced an idea that, no doubt, seemed alarming, and possibly heretical to a number of readers. (If you have not read it, I strongly suggest that you do so now, by clicking this link: The Enemy Within; Why Christian allegiance Matters.) In it I made the claim that being a committed follower of King Jesus in some way makes one unfit to serve in the national governments of this world. Conversely, I claim that participation in this world’s systems, almost always, requires a betrayal of our king, and subsequent loss of spiritual authority.
If you were raised thinking Christians in politics are the norm, and have never heard such things before, I know it is going to take more than a few blog posts to convince you otherwise. If for no other reason than curiosity, I hope you will continue reading cautiously, with your mind (and Bible) open, and your heart sensitive to your Lord’s leading.
I closed the last post by telling you that I would present evidence to support the fact that for the first three centuries of her existence, the view I am presenting was the norm. Even more astounding I will show you that the view commonly held by Christians in the United States today (maybe even your view), is almost identical to that of the enemies of the early church. In order to do so, I am honored to present today’s guest blogger, Origen of Alexandria (c.185 AD-.254 AD). Continue reading →
Note: Things are not always what they seem – this is a long post, but please read it to the end. This is a critical subject….
As the time of our Lord’s appearing draws closer, it is more important than ever that Christians in America exercise their God-given obligation to stand in the gap for the country that they live in. Threatened by enemies from without who are calling for the destruction of the United States, and so-called “friends” from within, who seek to distort or even destroy the basic values upon which this country was founded; the church can no longer afford to be complacent.
For too long, those who claim to follow Jesus have allowed the weak and feeble powers of this age to direct their thinking and actions, and as a result, America’s enemies have grown strong and the church has become a pawn to be manipulated by the powers that be. It is time for the church to wake up and claim her rightful and legitimate place in the political arena. If not, she risks wearing the banner of Ichabod and allowing organized religion to grow into the tool of tyrants and her own worst enemy.
These are strong words, but they are not unfounded. The handwriting is on the wall, yet no one seems to notice. Even so, one person can still make a difference – you can make a difference. That is if you are willing to rouse yourself from your slumber. If you are willing to take action and be counted a fool for Jesus. If you are willing to suffer at the hands of His enemies, or even of His friends. If you are willing to be guided by the Spirit of Jesus as He reveals the scriptures to you.
Are you willing? Are you willing to follow even if it costs you everything? These are tough questions, but they are not meant to be rhetorical. Consider your response seriously. If you cannot answer these questions in the affirmative it might be better for you to stop reading now and hope that God will grant you mercy in your ignorance, rather than hold you accountable for the light you might be about to receive.
Continue reading →