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
Translating ekklesia can be a puzzle.
It turns out translating ekklesia is not as easy as it seems. In part 1 of our series we saw that the English meaning of “church” has to do with a building, even though most followers of Jesus recognize this is not what it means in the Bible. We also saw that 1st century Greeks used the word in a political context.
In part 2 we examined how ekklesia was used in the Greek Old Testament or Septuagint, quoted by Jesus and the New Testament authors. We saw that Jewish readers understood ekklesia not as an assembly of Israel upon some particular occasion, but the people of Israel as God’s people distinct from everybody else.
Since the English word “church” does not normally convey either of these ideas, our task here in part 3, is translating ekklesia into an English form that conveys the 1st century understanding. Continue reading
“Church” can be confusing
What is Church? This is one of those questions to which the answer seems obvious until one starts to think seriously about the answer. Think about it… what is your answer? That building on the corner with the steeple? The body of Christ? All believers down through the ages? The people you fellowship with? All of the above? While each of these have some measure of truth depending on the context; the English word “church” bears scant resemblance to the Greek word it represents.
My last post was considerably longer than usual and generated several suggestions that I try to keep the length of my posts to a more manageable level. Unfortunately I am trying to cover topics or points of view, which are often misunderstood or poorly represented in today’s world. As a result they deserve in-depth coverage.
A case in point is today’s topic: “What is Church?” In order to do this subject justice, and keep my readers happy, (is that possible?;-) I am going to cover this as a multi-part series. In today’s post I am going to cover the origin of our English word, and introduce the Greek word which the New Testament uses: the word ekklesia (ἐκκλησία)
Those of you who have read my book know that the meaning of certain New Testament words seem to be obscured by transliteration as opposed to translation. Transliteration is simply rewriting a word from one language, using the spelling and pronunciation norms of another. Some common examples of transliterated words in the New Testament are baptism, apostle, and Christ. The Greek words baptizo, apostolos, and christos mean dip, immerse or wash; ambassador or emissary; and king, respectively. As you can see, transliteration does nothing to help a reader understand the author’s intent.
The English word church does not seem to bear any resemblance to ekklesia. As a result we might take comfort in the fact that at least it does not seem to be a transliteration, but we would be wrong. As we will see shortly Continue reading
The rulers of the nations…
The New Testament makes clear that the followers of King Jesus make up a distinct and different nation. In past posts we have examined how being born into this new nation places claims on our allegiance and transforms our national identity. This transformation does not eliminate the vestiges of our previous national cultures, but it does start a transformation that over time reveals the mark of Christian culture. We will consider a number of these marks, but today we look at the mark of servant leaders.
It is often argued that there is no such thing as a “Christian culture.” Rather it is held that any culture can be “Christianized.” I can see the truth in that statement, but it is usually part of an argument that does not recognize the existence of the distinct Christian nation we have discussed.The fact is that the Christian nation does indeed have its own distinct culture, and we will examine some of its marks in future posts.
It is important to remember the distinction between nation and State. A nation is a people group with a distinct sense of identity–a culture. A State is the governmental authority over a region. In the North American melting pot, we can see the influence of many cultures. The now diminishing impact of the New Testament has led many to mistakenly identify some North American States with the Christian nation. The United States, Canada, and other States in the world which give evidence of a Christian cultural influence should not be confused with the Christian nation itself.
In Douglas Adams’ sci-fi spoof The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy we are introduced to a civilization which has determined that no one who has any desire to rule is fit to do so. As a result, the method of choosing the the Galactic president is to decide who wants the position least. This sets up the humorous plot line wherein Zaphod Beeblebrox is hunted down in order to enforce his assumption of a position he does not want. 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
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.
And so it begins….
SEATTLE — The Washington attorney general has filed a consumer protection action against an eastern Washington florist who refused to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding, telling a longtime customer that it was “because of my relationship with Jesus Christ.”
As a student of the game of Chess, I find it hard not to envision the enemy of our souls engaged in a cosmic chess match with the Church. Unfortunately, it seems that sometimes the followers of our king have forgotten the lessons He taught us. Continue reading