Is this a bucket of metal, or a bucket of water?
Are you a part of the Gentile church, or the Jewish church? Does such a question even make sense in a New Testament context. Whole systems of theology are based on these seemingly legitimate questions. Yet my reading of the Greek New Testament convinces me that the “Gentile church” in a myth based on a misreading of the text, compounded by the use of Gentile–a word which the does not even have a Greek equivalent.
I closed my last post with controversial statement that if we want to continue translating the Greek word ethnos as “Gentile” we are forced to conclude that according to scripture, today”s Jews, who have not accepted Jesus as king, are Gentiles. Of course this makes no sense in English because in our language Gentile means “non-Jew.” 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
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