Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dear atheist

This is from youtube user NephilimFree..after it is an email I sent to a former Christian.

This was written a while ago in an email(modified just a tad)response to someone who said some pretty horrible things about God because of all the suffering in the world.To someone who used to be a Christian but abandoned God,sadly.:

I don't think God is playing games in Job at all..he is allowing Satan to do his dirty work but God wants to prove to mankind that he is NOT the one causing these atrocities and we should serve him knowing he has the power to bless,resurrect,and magnify his benevolent sovereignty IN THE END(regardless of how we suffer now,always being aware he isn't responsible but allows it for a PURPOSE even though it is hard to accept sometimes)..How would we know what rebellion against his will for us would cause ultimately unless we see it?We have to learn and are now in fact learning that man leading man leads to chaos and ruin and suffering.(Ecclesiastes 8:9)Otherwise we might always wonder and have the desire to rebel to "see what happens."He gave us his word so we would understand that this life isn't even the "real life" to begin with(1 Tim. 6:19),that we would see many dreadful and pathetic things,that it is certainly temporary,that there will be a resurrection and that ultimately in the end there would be no more of anything like we see now.It will all be made new and perfect and eternally good.(Rev. 21:1-6)He also let us know that ,like you,he DETESTS the wickedness and suffering of mankind.Why does he hate homosexuality and fornication and drunkenness and lies etc?..because he is the creator of all things and knows those things are either unnatural or harmful.(Is. 48:17,18)He is the potter ..we are the clay.(Is. 64:8)He has the right to govern us and we have the free will to either accept or reject his authority..I think the tribulation of this life is NOTHING in comparison to what is ahead(Rom. 8:18-21) and he lets us know this to keep us hopeful for that kingdom.(Matt. 6:31-33)He allows this for a purpose...NEVER getting any pleasure from it at all..It makes him sick too..that's why he will "destroy those destroying the earth" (Rev. 11:18)and "make all things new".His holiness and standards require action when the world becomes as wicked as it repeatedly did in the OT and now(yes..intervention is soon)..

We have VASTLY different opinions about the God of the OT..who could be seen in Jesus Christ himself.(and no I don't think he is Jesus Christ himself,obviously)..I cannot make you love God nor can you make me not believe in him etc..I like that your heart is so big but hate that you don't give God credit for that and so proceed to look ahead to his blessings etc...He likes that you hate the injustice in the world but hates that you don't understand that he does too and so will soon bless those who hate the world and make one new for them :).(1 John 2:15-17,John 18:36,Dan. 2:44,Rev.11:15).I wish you could recognize your need for him again and that in a fear inspiring way how wonderfully made you are!(Ps. 139:14)There is no excuse to reject him as he is clearly seen in that which we can observe all around us.(Rom. 1:20)Even though the creation has fallen,the beauty,complexity,and precision in it(the cells,the universe etc. oh my!) is beyond remarkable.To say that it's all by chance from nothing,or some unintelligent "something" is absurd and illogical in the highest order.Hopefully you will soon come to know your father again.I hope that innate profound need is still present.He will accept you with open arms any time you recognize and love him back.He always begged his wayward sons to return to him.All he wants is love and obedience and recognizance of his presence and glory and the right to show you the way in Christ.After all,he knows what's best and will bless those who know he does!It is his justice and holiness that requires an elimination of all evil.The kingdom could not flourish nor even be at all full of rebels who hate their creator and of wickedness,of course.He is patient and kind.God bless.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Does Philippians 2:4-11 prove that God became a man?

*Brief disclaimer*Please don't take my word for anything!If your spirit doesn't bear witness with God's that something you read is true,don't accept it.Prayerfully consider what seems rational and question EVERYONE.Question your teachers and preachers as much as you question me!Question your traditions and trust the spirit to guide you.The youtubes are below.

The historical context is that the Philippian church had within it “selfish ambition” (1:15; 2:3) and “vain conceit” (2:3), arguing and lack of consideration for others (2:4 and 14), and a need for humility, purity and blamelessness (2:3 and 15). (scriptures I gathered from a website.)These are the human tendencies we sometimes have to be disciplined for thanks to the Adamic fall and our tainted flesh.So Paul here in Philippians is exhorting them to imitate Christ in how he humbled himself,not to conceive we're *Gods who become men* but men who put others first,not seeking our own interests but those of others.We are told to have the same mind as Christ so if that mind was one of God who became a man then these scriptures aren't helpful to anyone.Let's examine them.

Philippians 2:4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Verse 4 establishes a context of self sacrifice and humility.Though we are free future kings in Christ,a holy priesthood being built up,gifted and privileged to know God and be in his love,a special inheritance(1 Pet. 2:5)..we are to be willing to sacrifice anything for others and even give our own lives for the sake of Christ and the good news if need be!Christ knew he must accept the horrendous fate of a degrading humiliating death to ensure the fulfillment of God's word and purposes for mankind!Would we be willing to do the same,knowing our exaltation is imminent,for God's love?The "dual nature" doctrine robs Christians from actually being able to imitate Christ because he wasn't ever a true man,only God with an "added nature."He never ultimately emptied anything,but rather "gained something" that limited him whenever a trinitarian so tells you that is the case to fit their mold. These texts are rather about being faithful by putting others before our own interests and desires and being willing to suffer anything for Yah and the kingdom and others like Christ

Phil 2:5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus

Is the mind we're asked to have here one of a True God or preexistent heavenly spirit creature willing to empty ourselves of that glory to become a Godman(fully God with only a "man nature") or a man?OR is the mind we're asked to have one of self sacrifice,again,being willing to suffer anything for the sake of the kingdom?The answer to that question should give you the key to the true understanding of these verses and the KIND of humbling in view that Christ suffered for his ultimate glory.In other words, NOT a preexistent creature falling to earth to live among men but of a king with a privileged inheritance and relationship with God being willing to suffer like a good for nothing criminal/slave.

Here's a quote from:

"In reality these verses are very simple. They are very practical verses written to the Philippians on how they are to conduct themselves in this world. How are we to conduct ourselves? Not by imitating Adam who lost everything by his attempted grab for power (his own desires), but by imitating Christ who through his humility and obedience to God (God’s will) gained it all."--
Juan Baixeras

Moving on..

Phil 2:6: who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,

Morphe(*form* in Greek) is synonymous,interchangeable even,with eikon(the word for image).Even the FIRST Adam had the image of God.And the first one(Jesus is called the Last Adam),being in the image of God,gifted and made to live forever to fulfill the will of God by caring for the earth in perfect peace and bliss,DID count equality with God "a thing to be grasped" when he partook of the fruit that Satan told him would ensure his "being like God."Jesus is being contrasted here from the first Adam in these texts' historical context.You might occasionally(or often depending upon your studies) encounter trinitarian sophistry where a theologian will claim something like James White does when he says "form" in Philippians 2:6 means "the outward display of the inner reality of substance"(people are ACTUALLY buying this)which is HIGHLY improbable given the use of the word in other texts where it has nothing to do with an inner substance.(Mark 16:12,2 Timothy 3:1-5,Dan. 3:19,Is. 44:13).Put simply,in the first Adam/Last Adam contrast that Paul is establishing in these verses,the Last One(our extolled Lord and king)did not try to seize equality with God like the first one did by defying his creator when he partook of temptation thinking he could "be like God",again.Christ rather,unlike Adam,didn't want or try to seize or snatch violently(what the Greek word for *grasp* means) equality with God which can ONLY mean he didn't possess equality with God in the first place.Because no way can you steal or try to snatch violently from someone something you already possess.Somehow trinitarians have ventured from the true meaning of "grasped" to a fictional idea of "holding fast" (in that they say Christ could try to rob what he already has?!)It makes moot of the true sense of the verse.

The Expositor's Greek Testament says: “We cannot find any passage where [har·pa´zo] or any of its derivatives [including har·pag·mon´] has the sense of ‘holding in possession,' ‘retaining'. It seems invariably to mean ‘seize,' ‘snatch violently'. Thus it is not permissible to glide from the true sense ‘grasp at' into one which is totally different, ‘hold fast.'”—(Grand Rapids, Mich.; 1967), edited by W. Robertson Nicoll, Vol. III, pp. 436, 437.

I believe Jesus was God's image and form the same way Christians conform to the image of Christ,by imitating him and demonstrating the same character.By speaking as he would and doing what he would as he works through us.Same goes with God and Christ.God was IN CHRIST reconciling a world unto himself.(2 Cor. 5:19)Which means he wasn't Christ.Unless we're Christ because Christ is in us.God was pleased to dwell in and work through Christ just like Christ will hopefully be pleased to dwell in and work through us by means of an operation of God's spirit that God has given to Christ "without measure" to dispense to us,he being mediator after all.(John 3:34,1 Tim. 2:5)This is how God and Christ are one and we are one with God and Christ.It all has to do with God's spirit bearing testimony to us that we are his children in Christ even as Christ is in us and God is in Christ.(Jn. 17:21)

Moving on,

Phil. 2:7 says: but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

The reference to Christ taking the form of a slave pertains to his suffering unto death(the MAN Christ's humiliation is in view) as opposed to his emptying a preexistent glory.What's in view was a willingness of his to accept utter degradation and an ignominious fate when it was certainly undeserved..for he was sinless king,created for inimitable exaltation by his own God for the glory of God,himself,and obedient mankind.Despite that(& his unmatchable rights as one who could call for legions of angels if he so desired!Matt. 26:53),he was willing to suffer unimaginable humiliation,atrocities, and horrors on our behalf to save mankind from the first Adam's inherited corruption.And this is HOW he "made himself nothing" and appeared as a servant(when he was REALLY the Lord who serves not because he has to but because he wants to in willful submission.)

"This hymn is best understood within the framework of Adam Christology (James Dunn, Christology in the Making pg. 114-115). Though the hymn is obviously about Christ, it defines him against the background of Adam’s failure. The hymn presupposes Adam’s fateful choice, his desire to "be like God," (Gen. 3:5), his failure, and his downfall. Jesus is the second Adam. Where the first Adam failed, the second Adam is victorious. Where the first Adam sought his own interests, the second Adam remained obedient to the point of death.This Adam Christology is a feature of Paul’s writings (Rom.5:12 – 21, 1Cor. 15: 20 – 28) and of early Christianity. For example, the temptation stories in Matthew and Luke have in their background the temptation of Adam in Genesis."--Juan Baixeras (from website linked above)

This is a fantastic summary:

"the great antithesis in this hymn:
Adam the audacious man -
Christ the man who humbled himself;
Adam the one who was humbled forcibly by God -
Christ the man who voluntarily humbled himself before God;
Adam the rebellious man -
Christ the man who was utterly obedient;
Adam the one who was ultimately cursed -
Christ the one who was ultimately exalted;
Adam who wanted to be like God - and in the end became dust;
Christ, who was in the dust and indeed went to the cross - and is in the end the Lord over the cosmos"--Karl-Josef Kuschel "BORN BEFORE ALL TIME?: The Dispute over Christ's Origin " pp. 251-252

"His(Christ's) life proved him to be in form as man.Notice,not "as a man",but AS MAN--that is,as representative man,as one with fallen man,as Adam."-James Dunn "Christology in the Making" p. 118

I know a lot of trinitarians will scratch their heads wondering why I don't recognize that Jesus wasn't *just* the Last Adam but also the very Son of God!The title "Son of God" doesn't advocate the conception of a trinity. Jesus was the Son of God not because he WAS the same God(whose Son he was) who caused his birth but because God was his father:

Luke 1:35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; THEREFORE the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God."

You will not find a description here of any preexistent glorious being transmigrating through Mary's womb.He found himself as MAN because God willed him to be the specially born Last Adam to reverse Adam's curses when the "full limit of the time" (Gal. 4:4)had arrived for his word to come to fruition in Christ's flesh,God's bread from heaven..(Jn. 6:51)The first Adam was also a special son of God while being fully man without ever being "fully God."So it is with the Last One.How apropos!

These Philippians verses call to mind:

2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.

This text speaks of "grace" which is always connected with Christ's death and resurrection (Rom. 5:15,21;Gal. 2:20;Eph. 1:6) as opposed to a preexistent being(God or archangel or any other) becoming a man.Again,this truth should help us understand Paul's intended purpose for Philippians in relation to HOW Christ became poor.Because we have an obvious correlation here with other texts that describe what that grace was exactly.Christ the man humbling himself unto death on the cross as opposed to God becoming man,again.

"Paul would not think of creatureliness as poverty over against the riches of deity.But he could readily think of Adam's fallenness as poverty over against the riches of his fellowship with God,just as the reverse antithesis,becoming rich(despite our poverty),presumably denotes a coming into fellowship with God(Rom. 11:12,1 Cor. 6:10;9:11;and the not so very different profit and loss imagery of Phil 3:7).Though he could have enjoyed the riches of uninterrupted communion with God,Jesus freely chose to embrace the poverty of Adam's distance from God,particularly in his death,in order that we might enter into the full inheritance intended for Adam in the first place."James Dunn "Christology in the Making" p. 123

Moving along..

Philippians 2:9 *Therefore* God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Why has God "highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name?"We need only go back to verse 8.It was because "he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death."Hebrews 1:9 expounds further that it was because he "loved righteousness and hated wickedness" that he was "anointed with the oil of gladness beyond his companions."So what we DON'T have is an "ontological right" as the second person of a Greek triune consubstantial substance because Christ was also the true God he called his father the only one of(John 17:3) but rather a deserved and gifted exaltation of a beloved Son by a proud and kind father who epitomizes love precisely because that Son was faithful and true,a humble and extraordinary servant.A servant as a man and not in some "subordinate" preexistent glory.In my opinion,it should go without saying(which is the language Paul uses in 1 Corinthians 15:27 & 28) that the "name above every name" isn't a name above Yahweh's name.Because even though Christ is Lord of all with all things subjected to him,as Paul makes clear there are certain things that should go without saying.And one of those would be that even though Christ has been exalted to the second most high position in the entire universe,there is still one who is his God(Rev. 3:12,1 Cor. 11:3) above him,the one who subjected all things TO him.Let us never forget that we don't worship any other unless God commands or allows it to his own glory,oft being relative worship of an exalted king.(1 Chron. 29:20)Sometimes God commands people(even angels in the case of Jesus!) to venerate those he adores because he loves them.(Revelation 3:9)This does not make them "people" of his "own being."

To summarize, in conclusion:

"Adam was already in the image of God(Gen. 1:26) and was created for immortality.But he chose to grasp at the opportunity to be (completely) like God himself-Gen. 3:5,22).Snatching at the opportunity to enhance the status he already had,he both lost the degree of equality with God which he already enjoyed and was corrupted by that which he coveted(Rom. 1:21-23,7:9-11)Not content with being like God,what God had intended,he became like men,what men now are.The contrast in other words is between what Adam was and what he became,and it is this Adam language which is used of Christ."James Dunn "Christology in the Making" p.116

It is the remarkable power and authority (as the anointed Messiah that God fully performed through and lived within by spirit) that Jesus sacrificed in his horrible death and humiliation at the cross.He willingly accepted what he certainly did not deserve!And this is the humbling in view in Philippians.He appeared as a powerless *everyman*(falsely deemed criminal even!) in the face of his mockers and killers and accusers.Christ's sinlessness,perfection,and special relationship with God as savior of the world and as the Messiah ,who didn't need to be reconciled to God at all like the rest of fallen mankind does,entitled him to NOT have to suffer unto a torturous death because he wasn't a sinner who grasped at equality with God like the first Adam. Despite this, he didn't "toot his own horn." He wasn't haughty & proud for who he was,he exceptionally being the Great Amen and fulfillment of all God's purposes from the beginning to the end of time,but he rather suffered the worst humiliation and degradation anyone could ever imagine because he was love like his father,loved BY his father,and determined to fulfill his father's will and make sure we're kept in his love all the way to the kingdom.Now that's a man we can imitate in whatever we might have to suffer,whatever humiliation we might have to endure as we carry OUR cross.What we cannot imitate,the mind we cannot have,is that of God willing to become a man.

"His(Christ's) whole life constituted his willing acceptance of the sinner's lot(2 Cor. 5:21).In other words,Phil. 2:6-8 is probably intended to affirm that Christ's earthly life was an embodiment of grace from beginning to end,of giving away in contrast to the selfish grasping of Adam's sin,that every choice of any consequence made by Christ was the antithesis of Adam's,that every stage of Christ's life and ministry had the character of a fallen lot freely embraced...Phil. 2:6-11 depicts its character in terms of Adam typology in language drawn from Gen. 1-3."--James Dunn p.121

I agree with Dunn when he says "the question of preexistence is rather more an irrelevance and distraction than a help to interpretation."(p. 19) and that there's no evidence anywhere that Christ was "contemporaneous with Adam" but Adam was rather a "type of him who was to come."(Rom. 5:14)Christ came AFTER Adam as the Last Adam.The only way he preceded Adam was in that he was "slain before the foundation of the world"(Rev. 13:8) in God's forethought and plans for a kingdom realized in & through his Lamb and beloved Son.Purposed before the world was made to save it from the fall because of Adam's sin that God foreknew.He intended from the beginning to save us in Christ who was his will for mankind's salvation and redemption,his word and wisdom and gift to the world,to appear in the flesh when the time came for all to be fulfilled.

"Christ by his life,death and resurrection has so completely reversed the catastrophe of Adam,has done so by the acceptance of death by choice rather than as punishment and has thus completed the role of dominion over all things originally intended for Adam"--James Dunn "Christology in the Making"p. 19

And thanks to that he has ensured his brothers and sisters who have his *same mind* of humble service that we may also share in that role of dominion over the upcoming restored new earth,even as we look to him as Lord and savior and as the forerunner to our own exaltation for all time!Yes,we shall all confess that Jesus is Lord to God's glory!Now and forevermore.Like Jesus,we can receive unimaginable gifts by God's grace and love.We don't have to have an "ontology" that's worthy.Simply a mind like Christ's and faith in him!Why?Because God's beloved Son made it possible for US too to be beloved children!Every perfect gift comes from God and his greatest gift was Christ and the eternal life he offers us in Christ.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Proverbs 8:22-31

Said of wisdom:

Proverbs 8:22 “The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of old.
23 Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
24 When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
25 Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth,
26 before he had made the earth with its fields,
or the first of the dust of the world.
27 When he established the heavens, I was there;
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
28 when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
29 when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
30 then I was beside him, like a master workman,
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,
31 rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the children of man.

I cannot tell a lie.These used to be amongst my favorite texts in scripture because I thought they poignantly depicted the relationship between Yahweh and his preexistent Messiah.And though I still think the allusion is there in that Jesus was always with Yah and alive to him as the foreordained Christ who would become his wisdom to the world,as the righteousness and redemption and sanctification of it,I have come to behold a larger picture and to examine alternative possibilities that make much more sense to me.A year ago,you probably couldn't have convinced me that this wasn't explicit proof Jesus preexisted no matter what you said,given the seeming implicit correlation of John ch1,Col.1,Heb 1. etc.(as well as the texts that call Jesus the wisdom of God in the NT)..And even after I began to think it wasn't very likely Jesus preexisted given my understanding of the majority of the bible,I still had issues with "Wisdom Christology" and what I thought were those "airtight" correlations just mentioned.That's when I had to examine ALL the evidence to try and make sense of it all.I came to find too many texts to count where Yahweh creates in his word and wisdom(that aren't people apparently!)but that BECAME a person in that Christ fulfilled them..The bible explains how.Jesus was slain before the foundation of the world and at the cross said "It is finished."..God's word made flesh fulfilled indeed!And the wisdom he became was the righteousness and sanctification and redemption of the world,a reconciliation of a fallen world to Yahweh.In these remarkable respects he embodies,represents,and brings alive fully God's will,word and wisdom.From the beginning.That which God had with him from the beginning.But I no longer am able to say he was named Word and Wisdom in the OT.It seems somewhat perplexing to me that people say so at all now that I've thought & prayed so much about it.There is a book called "Christology in the Making" by James D.G. Dunn that articulates the truth about God's word and wisdom far better than I ever in my wildest dreams could..because it is complex.Yet simple at the same time,strangely enough.Hard to articulate for me personally.But I guess that's why the guy's a writer.:)Though I certainly don't agree with every conclusion Dunn reaches in his book..I really like it.It expounds what I thought I knew but was unable to put into words.He put it into words for me and for that I am moved by his book.What I am going to do is quote some of the points he brings out in the hopes that it will make the scales fall from eyes that may be blinded.From the eyes of people so inundated in their traditions and presuppositions that the truth isn't even an option.All quotes are from pp. 163-176 of his book.

About the "wisdom passages",Dunn says(and this skips around everywhere so my recommendation is to read the whole book of course.):

"If we set out the passages in the most likely chronological order,it becomes evident that there is both a development in the talk about Wisdom,and that the development is due in large part to influence(positive and negative) from religious cults and philosophies prevalent in the ancient near East at the time."

He goes on to say:

Attractive to many scholars is the thesis that Prov. 8:22-31,and more clearly Sir. 24, has been greatly influenced by the cult of Isis from Egypt.The chief point of comparison is that Isis proclaims herself as the divine agent who created and sustains the universe,as the teacher who has revealed to men the principles of morality and the laws and arts of civilization--we know of at least one hymn in the first person to this effect which circulated widely throughout the empire of the Ptolemies probably as early as the 3rd century BC.

Skipping ahead..

However deeply rooted in Palestinian soil and Jewish faith was the last Israelite talk of Wisdom,many of the images and words used to describe her were drawn from wider religious thought and worship--**the aim being to present the worshippers of Yahweh with as attractive as possible an alternative to the cults and speculations more widely prevalent in their time..**

In order to understand what meaning such words and statements had for those who used them,WE MUST INTERPRET THEM IN THE CONTEXT IN WHICH THEY WERE USED.

Skipping ahead again..

No worship is offered to Wisdom;Wisdom has no priests in Israel.That is to say,when set within the context of faith in Yahweh there is no clear indication that the Wisdom language of these writings has gone beyond vivid personification.

For the Jew of Alexandria as well as the Jew of Palestine the wisdom of God had been most fully and clearly expressed and embodied in the Torah.(and we know Christ fulfilled that as the greater embodiment of wisdom!The Torah was a tutor that led to Christ,so this point makes sense to me.)

It would appear then as though the Jewish wisdom writers do indeed take up some of the more widespread language of Near Eastern religious speculation,and do so in CONSCIOUS AWARENESS OF ITS USE ELSEWHERE.;but they DO NOT draw the same conclusions for worship and practice as the polytheistic religions do.On the contrary,they adapt this wider speculation to their own faith and make it serve to commend their own faith;to Wisdom understood (and worshiped) as a divine being(one of Isis' many names)they pose the alternative of Wisdom identified as the law given to Israel by (the one) God.

The Jewish wisdom writers use it (Wisdom) alongside affirmations of Jewish monotheism without any sense that the latter is in any way threatened by the former."

Dunn then goes on the give tons of examples where wisdom is used and personified,where it is clearly and irrefutably NOT a person.Here's JUST one:

Prov. 3:19 The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;
by understanding he established the heavens;

To me,this text is as clear as another one:

Ps. 33:6: By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
and by the breath of his mouth all their host.

Yet Christians think this wisdom and this word are a literal person alongside him in the OT.Jesus fulfilled God's word and wisdom to be sure but is Jesus REALLY a person in these texts except in the sense God didn't create anything without knowing Jesus would fulfill all things?Be honest with yourself.

Dunn goes on to point out that ben Sira speaks of creation without any reference to Wisdom in a number of passages,that he had no intention of giving Wisdom the status of an independent entity.Dunn also points out that the author of the Wisdom of Solomon had not the slightest thought of it as an independent divine entity.(He gives lots of texts and support for this in his book..again,recommended.)

He goes on to say:

"Wisdom as a divine hypostasis,involves the importation of a concept whose appropriateness here is a consequence of the technical meaning it acquired in the much later trinitarian controversies of the early church.It has NOT been demonstrated that Hebrew thought was already contemplating such distinctions within its talk of God.On the contrary,for a Jew to say that Wisdom "effects all things",that "love of Wisdom is the keeping of her laws"(Wis. 8:5,10:15,6:8),was simply to say in a more picturesque way that God created all things wisely,that God's wise purpose is clearly evident in the exodus from Egypt and most fully expressed in the law he gave through Moses."

He goes on to mention that wisdom is only one of a number of words in the OT and intertestamental literature described AS THOUGH they were divine entities independent of God.(Some examples:Ps. 85:10,96:6,43:3,45:4,Job 25:2,Is. 51:9,Wisd. 11:17)

James says:

"The judgment that in such passages we are more in the realm of Hebraic personification than Near Eastern "hypostatization" is further confirmed when we recall that not only divine "attributes" but also more human characteristics can be personified in precisely the same way.So for example with injustice,wickedness and sorrow.(Job 11:14,Ps. 107:42,Is. 35:10)."

Dunn concludes:

"It seems that we have little ground for dissenting from the views of those most familiar with Jewish thought in its rabbinic expression.The Hellenistic Judaism of the LXX did not think of Wisdom as a "hypostasis" or "intermediary being" any more than did the OT writers and the rabbis.Wisdom,like the name,the glory,the Spirit of Yahweh,was a way of asserting God's nearness,his involvement with his world,his concern for his people.All these words provided expressions of God's immanence,his active concern in creation,revelation and redemption,while at the same time protecting his holy transcendence and wholly otherness....It is very unlikely that pre-Christian Judaism ever understood Wisdom as a divine being in any sense independent of Yahweh.The language may be the language of the wider speculation of the time,but within Jewish monotheism and Hebraic literary idiom Wisdom never really becomes more than a personification of a FUNCTION of Yahweh,a way of speaking about God himself,of expressing God's active involvement with his world and his people without compromising his transcendence."

The way the Jews borrowed concepts from paganism simply to make a point and attract those who may be deceived by it to Yahweh and his will and wisdom for the world reminds me of Jesus borrowing language and concepts from the pagans to teach the Pharisees a moral lesson in the Rich Man and Lazarus parable.(1 Cor. 9:19-23)These bible authors were taking views prevalent at the time and not adopting them,but using them to teach something,to give their listeners something to think about outside THEIR worldviews,to attract them with their own language used in a fresh way.As a way to bring people to the truth or teach something true,and that truth is always God's word fulfilled in Jesus,the light of the world that God gave to mankind,foreordained before he ever made the world in his wisdom.God knowing that his wisdom would be revealed exceptionally,inimitably,and fully in his Lamb,the redeemer that he created NOTHING without foreknowing as the fulfillment and sanctification of it all.Of his intents(word) and WISE plans from the beginning!Yahweh never intended anyone to stray from the faithful ancient strict Jewish monotheism in the OT,prevalent amongst some of his greatest OT servants.The Shema doesn't reform,but men can be mistaken, and frankly, egregiously are with their false triune God.Jesus:

1.Confirmed that his father alone is the God of the Shema.(Mark 12:28-34)
2.That his father created in Genesis with no hint he was involved.(Mark 13:19,Heb. 4:4,Is. 44:24)
3.That his father is the only true God and greater than he was,not because he humbled himself unto death,but because he HAS a God,while THE God does not.The bible does not split Jesus in two.Men who misuse scripture do.(John 17:3,John 14:28,John 20:17)

God didn't create anything without his wisdom and word that BECAME Jesus when he was born as a man,the Son of God because God begat him by spirit through a virgin womb.God's plan and redemption for mankind(his word and wisdom) at last revealed so beautifully.(1 Cor. 1:30,Col. 1:26)This all becomes so easy to understand once we heed Hebrew thought-forms and God's purpose for man from Genesis to Revelation,a kingdom represented on a new earth by sanctified faithful mankind made possible by THE prototype perfect exalted beyond measure Son of God.(Rom. 5:12-21,1 Cor. 15:45,Gen. 3:17,Rev. 22:2,3)A way to salvage what he knew Adam would lose!In Christ,the LAST Adam.:)The most beautiful truth and word I've ever heard!Our hope is a resurrection at the last day to live forever with Christ.(2 Tim. 4:6-8,1 Thes. 4:16)A temple for Yahweh to indwell forever as we inhabit and reign his footstool.(Is. 66:1,1 Pet. 2:5,Heb. 3:6,Rev. 5:10)

As noted above,the references to Yahweh's functions and attributes in the bible and intertestamental literature are both vast and oft entail vivid personification.To isolate a couple "wisdom" ones and call it a person,I think would be a mistake.(Prov. 3:19,again)Though I've no doubt some of the NT creation passages in reference to God creating in Christ might have a poetic allusion to Proverbs 8,I don't think it's because Jesus was a person creating for God but because Jesus BECAME what God created everything in,his word and wisdom.As the bread,the MAN,who came down from heaven,the flesh that would give life to the world.With God from the beginning,a plan he brought forth before he made the world to save it.But that plan wasn't a spirit creature who created for Yahweh and came down from heaven,because God created alone(Is. 44:24) and it is flesh that came down from heaven,figuratively.(John ch. 6,a bible chapter chockfull of figurative language)And that BREAD(flesh) was the word and wisdom of God.A preexistent spirit creature wasn't.

Wisdom of Solomon ch. 9 says: 1: O God of my fathers, and Lord of mercy, who hast made all things with thy word,
2: And ordained man through thy wisdom, that he should have dominion over the creatures which thou hast made,
3: And order the world according to equity and righteousness, and execute judgment with an upright heart:
4: Give me wisdom, that sitteth by thy throne; and reject me not from among thy children:
5: For I thy servant and son of thine handmaid am a feeble person, and of a short time, and too young for the understanding of judgment and laws.
6: For though a man be never so perfect among the children of men, yet if thy wisdom be not with him, he shall be nothing regarded.

Do these have allusions to Jesus?Perhaps,because Jesus became God's ultimate representation and fulfillment of his own wisdom.However,it should be clear this is poetic language where wisdom isn't a spirit creature.Obviously,personification is called precisely that because it makes the function or attribute sound like it's a person,even though it's not.Though a person may embody it.In these instances and in every other where poetry or personification is used,"wisdom is a real person" shouldn't be assumed.

Monday, October 4, 2010

What is the Gospel?Where's the true Kingdom of God in your preaching?


1 Corinthians 15:1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures

I've no doubt this is part of the gospel,but should it be to the exclusion of Jesus's main gospel?

Luke 4:43:“I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.”

Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Let's examine the historical and biblical context of these Corinthians passages to help us determine if the truth of Jesus's death and resurrection is all we should preach.To quote Anthony Buzzard from his book "Our fathers who aren't in heaven:the forgotten Christianity of Jesus the Jew":

"The point at issue in the Corinthian letter was the resurrection of Jesus which some of the Corinthians were beginning to doubt.--"How do some among you say there is no resurrection from the dead?"(1 Cor. 15:12)In response to this particular crisis in belief,Paul reminds his audience that the death and resurrection of Jesus are of absolutely fundamental significance in the Christian gospel.Without the death of Jesus to gain forgiveness for all of us,and without his return from death to life through resurrection,there can be no hope of salvation in the coming Kingdom.The Gospel of the Kingdom is nullified if in fact Jesus has not been raised from the dead."p.326

Further,Buzzard says:

"The Corinthians had already accepted that belief(in the Kingdom of God)as part of the Gospel of salvation.Thus Paul is able to elaborate on the already understood doctrine of the Kingdom only a few verses later.Having just mentioned the future coming of Jesus(1 Cor. 15:23),he speaks of the kingdom over which Jesus will preside at his coming.(verses 25-27)."p. 326

Christians should not be isolating these Corinthians passages out of context as the sole Christian message because the theme of the bible is ALSO the kingdom of God,from Genesis to Revelation.

The ground was cursed and the tree of life was off limits to Adam who brought death upon himself and every man via sin,rebellion,and disobedience.(Gen. 3:17,24,Rom. 5:12)The Last Adam(Jesus the Christ) via faithfulness,obedience and love for Yahweh his father and his God(John 20:17) restored everything the first Adam lost.(Rom. 5:19,1 John 3:8,Heb. 1:9,1 Cor. 15:22,Rev. 21:1-4,22:2)Since this is the message from Genesis to Revelation,then we should be preaching it just as Jesus and the apostles did with vigor and determination to follow Jesus's footsteps closely,to give hope to mankind!(1 Pet. 2:21,2 Peter 3:13)The message of Jesus's death and resurrection without the promise of a heavenly kingdom on a new earth in the future,at the Last Day when Jesus returns from heaven with his rewards,(Acts 3:21,Rev. 22:12) is missing a key INTEGRAL component.For that was the whole purpose for Jesus's death and resurrection!To impute righteousness to faithful mankind so that they may inherit the earth and dwell forever upon it in peace and bliss.

Psalm 37:29:The upright will have the earth for their heritage, and will go on living there for ever.

Psalm 72:7:In his days may the righteous flourish, And abundance of peace till the moon is no more. 8:May he also rule from sea to sea And from the River to the ends of the earth

Matt. 5:5: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."

How could Christians possibly miss this biblical theme and promise as an essential preaching tool to bring disciples to Jesus,the king of the upcoming eternal kingdom?It's pretty devastating when you think about it.

On one hand ,we have the Jehovah's Witnesses who faithfully proclaim a new earth for humanity while at the same time denying that all Christians have this hope(144,000 will be disembodied heaven dwellers),and that to have the hope at all,those within their organization must obey a few men who are anointed and born again while the rank and file simply cannot be.(John 3:3,Eph. 2:15-22,4:5)Satan has entered the picture and tainted it with deception!On the other hand,we have orthodox Christians who faithfully(well,some of them) proclaim that we become disembodied immortal spirits at death while we fly off to heaven.And that the resurrection isn't of actual people but simply,well,"dust."Essentially transferring the hope for mankind to something far removed from a genuine resurrection at the LAST DAY that was the true hope of every single biblical believer,as opposed to a glorification and inheritance LONG BEFORE.(1 Cor. 15:52,1 Thes. 4:16,2 Tim. 4:6-8,Heb. 11:40,Acts 2:34)Again,Satan has entered the picture and tainted it with relentless deception.

Abraham was to look all around him at his inheritance that he saw afar off but with eyes of faith knew would come to fruition.(Heb. 11:8-10)He wasn't commanded to look UP to the sky because he would inhabit the same residence as those made to be angels and heavenly beings.This SAME hope for Abraham was prepared in heaven,and is being still,(John 14:3)for Abraham's offspring,heirs of the SAME PROMISE,a new earth.(Matt. 6:10)This truth is so far removed from modern Christian thoughtforms that it's downright astounding.

Genesis 13:14 The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, 15 for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. 17 Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.”

Galatians 3:29:And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God's promise to Abraham belongs to you.

Romans 15:8: For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs

"The promise made to Abram(Gen. 12:1-4) provides the bedrock foundation for God's subsequent dealings with mankind.The Christian faith is incomprehensible when divorced from the divine oath of promise which formed the basis of God's covenant or contract with Abraham(Gen. 15:18),justly called "the father of the faithful"(Rom. 4:1,11,12,16).As Paul the apostle remarked,the Christian good news(or gospel) of salvation had been preached in advance to Abraham.(Gal. 3:8)God's dealings with Abraham forge a link between the patriarchs and the Christian faith as taught by Jesus,uniting the story of the Bible in a coherent whole."p.21 "Our fathers who aren't in heaven:the forgotten Christianity of Jesus the Jew" by Anthony Buzzard

The hope of Christians is the same hope Abraham had,again,to inherit the land..north,south,east,and west!And to have dominion over Paradise.:)We will be sitting at that same kingdom table,feasting with Jesus and the OT patriarchs(Matt 8:11),who again weren't promised to reside in heaven but to inherit a new earth,a kingdom from heaven,a heavenly kingdom.Anything that comes from God could be described as Godly or heavenly.Anything with it's origin from God in the heavens could be said to be heavenly.

Daniel 7:27: And the kingdom and the dominion
and the greatness of the kingdoms UNDER the whole heaven
shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High;
their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom,

Hebrews 2:5: Now it was not to angels that God subjected the world(the land,or earth) to come, of which we are speaking.

We were made MEN and WOMEN by God,to inherit a new earth(if faithful) from heaven,under heaven.He made angels and the like for a different purpose,a different glory.I don't see anything good in scripture coming from anyone desiring to reside where they weren't created to reside or to be who they weren't created to be.(Gen. 6:1-7)Paul scoffed at the idea of disembodiment and his hope was for a CLOTHING at the Last Day.(2 Cor. 5:2-4)Logically,this means he never wanted to be a disembodied spirit creature or to inherit immortality before the Last Day.(2 Tim. 4:6-8,Heb. 11:40)How could this be missed by the majority of modern Christianity?

God will descend to dwell amongst men(whether that's literal or not would be conjecture on my part since he can dwell in people and amongst people without LITERALLY stepping down.) New Jerusalem DESCENDS to the earth after being prepared in heaven..In other words,we don't fly away to live in heaven with God and New Jerusalem doesn't ASCEND.As propounded from biblical cover to cover,our eyes on the prize should be a transfigured land,a transformed heavenly earth,even as we place our hope in heaven from whence our blessings will descend.(Rev. 21:2,3)

"The gospel records of our Lord's life and teaching DO NOT SPEAK of going to heaven,as a modern believer so naturally does.Rather the emphasis is on that which is "heavenly" coming down to man...Our modern way of speaking of life with God as being life "in heaven" is not the way the gospels speak of the matter."----William Strawson "Jesus and the Future Life" p. 38

I appreciate the way Anthony Buzzard words it in his book when he articulates what the gospel of the death and resurrection of Jesus WITHOUT the true kingdom message involved means:

"The loss of Christianity's central point may be likened to a team hoping to go to the moon.They decide that they need a launching pad and a spaceship in order to realize their dream.After they have acquired the necessary equipment for the journey,they forget what it was they needed the equipment for.Their interest in the pad and the spaceship remains,but the trip to the moon is forgotten.

In NT Christianity the prospect of a place in the future Kingdom of God provides the stimulus to the whole Christian venture.The death and resurrection of Jesus make possible the believer's hope for a share in that kingdom.Grasping the nature of the hope is the first step to be taken by the disciple.Belief in Jesus provides the way to the goal and guarantees its ultimate realization.

In contemporary presentations of the "Gospel" people are being asked to "believe in Jesus," in the absence of a clear idea of what Jesus stands for.They are not exposed to Jesus' Message about the kingdom,which he preached long before he spoke of his death and resurrection.The situation is comparable to a political campaign in which a candidate appeals for support before the voters know what his manifesto is.It is difficult to express intelligent faith in Jesus unless one understands what Jesus meant by his "News about the kingdom"--the gospel as Jesus proclaimed it."pp.338-339 "Our fathers who aren't in heaven:the forgotten Christianity of Jesus the Jew"

The disciples asked:

Acts 1:6:“Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”

No one should doubt that the disciples knew what the kingdom was,where it is going to be,and what their inheritance was!If Jesus preached the kingdom constantly along with his apostles,is anyone REALLY to believe they didn't know what it was?Jesus didn't rebuke them for their definition of it but simply for trying to know the times and seasons that only his father knew.They were eager for that land promised to Abraham!Why exactly are the best known theologians,the majority of preachers,the every day Christians oblivious to these basic bible truths?Well,there are many reasons,but I'll espouse one,as quoted in Anthony's book:

"Like all concepts the meaning of religious terms is changed with a changing experience and a changing world view.Transplanted into the Greek world view,inevitably the Christian teaching was modified--indeed tranformed...Jewish presuppositions tended to disappear.Especially were the MESSIANIC hopes forgotten or transferred to a transcendent sphere beyond death.When the empire became Christian in the 4th century,the notion of a Kingdom of Christ on earth to be introduced by a great struggle all but disappeared.Immortality--the philosophical conception--took the place of the resurrection of the body....As thus the background has changed from Jewish to Greek,so are the fundamental religious conceptions..We have thus a peculiar combination--the religious doctrines of the bible run through the forms of an alien philosophy."--G.W Knox(professor of philosophy and the history of religion) Encyclopedia Britannica 11th ed. vol. 6 p. 284

Basically,what is obvious to me and noted by too many scholars and experts past and present to count,modern Christianity has divorced biblical revelation from it's Jewish context,it's Messianic hopes,and imposed upon scripture Greek philosophical concepts that simply aren't really present at all,except through egregious misuse of scripture and a blind denial of clear texts.

"The NT speaks always of disapproval and usually with blunt denunciation of Gentile cults and philosophies.It agrees essentially with the Jewish indictment of the pagan world...The modern church often misunderstands its relation to the OT and Israel,and often inclines to prefer the Greek attitude to the NT view."--F.V. Filson,The New Testament Against Its Environment,pp.26,27,43

Again,to exclude the bible's hope from Genesis to Revelation,a restored renewed earth,from our gospel is an injustice to the message,creating a truncated one.

What God begins and ends his holy book with should demand attention and proclamation!

Genesis 2:9:And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.(KJV)

compare with

Revelation 22:2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

FINALLY God's purpose for man fulfilled..from the first book to the last,at last his kingdom come,the heavenly government where blessings will flow from the heavens to the earth and we can only imagine the gifts to come!

Ecclesiastes 3:11:It is beautiful how God has done everything at the right time. He has put a sense of eternity in people's minds. Yet, mortals still can't grasp what God is doing from the beginning to the end [of time]

That's one integral reason why we must declare: "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"(Mark 1:15)

Romans 10:16“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Preach the Lord,his death,resurrection and the purpose for it!The Kingdom of Yahweh and His Christ.

Revelation 11:15:“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”

Daniel 2:44:the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever

"How different the churches might be if they ceased trying to fit Jesus into a traditional Greek philosophically-influenced straitjacket and presented him as the Jewish Messiah and savior of the world,offering his followers something far beyond promises of "heaven"--as a disembodied soul!...The Bible,if read as a Messianic document,tells a thrilling story of a gracious Creator's intention to rescue our planet and restore permanent peace and security for all nations."p.12 "Our fathers who aren't in heaven:the forgotten Christianity of Jesus the Jew" by Anthony Buzzard

Christians should be able to properly define death(because if they can't do that then naturally our real hope at the Last Day will be transferred and all but ignored) and God's kingdom,to recognize where our hope for immortality and glorification REALLY lies and Christ's return and not prior..Generally,they're not.It's inexcusable and tragic.Their reliance on and utter trust in their blind leaders and tradition is every bit as disconcerting as the Jehovah's Witnesses'.Some of Christendom's false doctrines like hell,automatic immortality of a soul,and the trinity have led many astray TO religions like Judaism with no Messiah,the WT society,even atheism.Their bloodguilt is profound.I'm not condemning individual Christians just like I'm not condemning individual JW's..I'm simply appalled at certain systems and certain Greek philosophically influenced and saturated doctrines within them that have strayed from the truth and refuse to be properly reformed.Because they think they already are.