Open Blogging: 05/27/2023

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43 Responses

  1. Linn says:

    It’s going to be 50 years since I received Christ this Tuesday!

    I went from inwardly rebellious teen to developing a healthier relationship with my parents. I learned God loved me unconditionally. I had a purpose in life-to love and serve God and others.

    How has my faith changed? Life isn’t easy but a burden shared with Jesus is easier and lighter. There is more to Scripture than I will ever understand, but I’m responsible to keep learning and growing.
    How have I changed? I face adversity better. I am content with what I have. I am very thankful that God has allowed me to serve in areas in which has gifted me. Keep the little things little, especially offenses. A decade ago I had a major dust up with a close friend that led to us avoiding each other for a couple years. We were finally able to reconcile and I was so grateful as she died a few years later. I try to keep those offense lists short and take care of my end.

  2. Michael says:

    I started off in the Assemblies of God, went briefly to the Vineyard, then Calvary Chapel, then Reformed and now an Anglican.

    Took me a while to find a fit.

    I’m far less certain about things than I was for most of my life, but much more certain about Jesus.

    My thoughts about the Bible have changed as has the way I read it.
    I’m still unlearning much of what I was taught and searching for things uncertain to fill the void.

    I understand now that suffering is part of the Christian experience …far less certain about its purposes.

    There is much more, but I’m pressed for time…

  3. pstrmike says:

    I grew up in an SBC church with an ultra-conservative, highly patriotic pastor. He would probably be labeled a Christian nationalist—whatever that is—today. He freely preached his ideology from the pulpit which didn’t square well with me after watching clips on the Vietnam War in the nightly news. When I was 12 or 13, I started slipping my time there between Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and the SBC church. Both were dispensational.

    I eventually left the SBC, tried being an atheist for a period of time, then became a functional agnostic for a few years. I started slowing coming back to the faith a year after being in alcohol and drug rehab. I ended up in Calvary Chapel (different city) and got fully immersed in their theological system. I became a CC pastor and planted a church. I ignored the inconsistencies, both in orthodoxy and orthopraxy, until I could no longer do so. I eventually dropped dispensationalism that CC taught. I left CCA, became independent for a season.

    I (we) joined up with the local Baptist convention which I did so because I felt it was a better fit for our church. I wanted to join the Vineyard, perhaps some day. it’s a mixed bag but I have met some folks that are more progressive which gives me a sense of hope.

    I feel I have at least one more shift in me. I’m attracted to Anglicanism, but I fail to see the need for some of the formality and vestments. I’m also attracted to evangelical Quaker thinking, but some of their doctrinal construction can be a bit hard to hold on to. But then again, that is part of the mystery. I am drawn to the mystics of the faith (of various households), but some of their views feels like they have no more an idea where they are going than I do.

    Systematic theology as a discipline strikes me as religious theorizing. Much of it well informed, no doubt, but theory non-the-less.

    I read the Bible less literally now and see it as this incredible piece of literature that it is. The Presbyterians and Anglicans at Knox Theological Seminary taught me that. I draw on the fourfold hermeneutic of the rabbis as a means to help me interpret the scriptures. I think the Bible does not tell us many things in great detail because it is part of God’s calling to live by faith. Because of that, I am becoming more comfortable with subjectivity in Biblical reading and interpretation—both that of my own, and others who come up with a different take. That’s the Spiritual Director in me…… thanks Michael

  4. Michael says:

    “I think the Bible does not tell us many things in great detail because it is part of God’s calling to live by faith. Because of that, I am becoming more comfortable with subjectivity in Biblical reading and interpretation—both that of my own, and others who come up with a different take. ”

    I appreciate this a lot…I’m on the same page, as you know.

  5. Officerhoppy says:

    When you say you read or understand the scripture subjectively, what does that mean? How do you apply passage like thou shot not commit adulterous of, steal or commit murder?

    Granted there are tons of passage that defy a clear understand and we are left to interpret it the best we can.

    But given the subjective approach how would one interpretative and apply this imperative “ Therefore, put to death what belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5).

    Not arguing. Seeking to understand the comment

  6. Officerhoppy says:

    8 mean if we approach the scripture subjectively then what value are the scriptures. Couldn’t II glean the same information from watching nature or even reading a phone book (remember those?!)

    Again, not being snarky

  7. bob1 says:

    Pstr Mike, is the fourfold hermeneutic of the rabbis similar at all to the Wesleyan Quadrilateral? Or is it apples and oranges?

  8. Michael says:

    Officerhoppy,

    I believe the Scriptures contain the word of God.

    The Bible is such a diverse collection of writing styles and cultural norms…all written in foreign languages over thousands of years.

    There are places where a literal reading is indeed the word that God desires to communicate.

    However there is much in the book that is poetry where a literal reading is neither expected or helpful, (as in Genesis,for example.)

    The apocalyptic sections are full of ancient symbolism and numerology that takes a great deal of study to interpret and even then we are unsure of the correct message.

    I think pstrmike would agree with me that dealing with any passage without an understanding of the historical and cultural setting of the writer and the first hearers is an invitation to error.

    The scriptures were written to be read and interpreted in community…and we have two thousand years of that to learn from and wrestle with.

    The grand meta narrative of the Bible is evident by any readings, is the Gospel.

  9. Michael says:

    The value of the Scriptures is priceless…every study I do assures me more and more of the reality of God and the pre-eminence of Jesus in all things.

    I don’t have to be certain about anything but Him.

  10. Michael says:

    If anyone is interested in this topic, there are some books that will help…

    Surprised by Scripture by N.T. Wright along with Scripture and the Authority of God by the same author.
    Seven Thing I Wish Christians Knew about the Bible by Michael Bird

    Most folks aren’t familiar with Bird, but he’s always worth the time to engage with.

    I engage with Pete Enns and Bart Ehrman often…they both add to my understanding even when I differ with them.

  11. Michael says:

    To a degree everyone is subjective when coming to the Scriptures…most have simply accepted the rumination of one sect and its interpretations.

    The dispensationalist reads the Scriptures through a totally different lens than the non dispensationalist, as do the Reformed, the Lutheran, etc…your lens determines how “literally” you take any passage.

  12. Jean says:

    “How have you changed?”

    That’s a hard question for me. I know I’ve changed, but I don’t know if I could disentangle or distinguish the influences of that change between my sanctification and just growing old and gaining wisdom from the experiences (many of them hard knocks) of life.

    I do think that many people want but lack an anchor in life, even if they can’t articulate that desire. In contrast to objective truth and truth that is unchanging and indestructible, which is what an anchor provides, many people are adrift. Drifting is a great source of anxiety. As a Christian, I (we) have peace in any circumstance having that anchor, by which we understand ourselves, the world and our destiny.

    Christ is the anchor, and I know him, who he is, what he wants, what he gives, what he’s done, and what he will do, by what the Spirit has breathed into the writers of the Scriptures.

  13. Michael says:

    I still teach every week and I usually teach a chapter at a time.

    Before I begin a new book study, I always buy at least one new commentary on the book and usually have a number of them on a given book already.

    I want to know what the most recent scholarship is on a given book and want to see what fresh eyes have gleaned.

    I always learn something new and its exciting to pass it on to my congregation if it helps us to understand the text more fully.

    I’m teaching Revelation at the moment and primarily use four commentaries and a few other works on particular elements of the book…and I’ve learned so much that eluded my in prior studies that my lenses couldn’t see.

  14. Michael says:

    “Christ is the anchor, and I know him, who he is, what he wants, what he gives, what he’s done, and what he will do, by what the Spirit has breathed into the writers of the Scriptures.”

    I agree.

  15. Michael says:

    Probably the biggest change I’ve gone through was losing my naivety and trust in the church and it’s leadership.
    I assumed that all pastors walked in the fear and knowledge of God and people who went to church did likewise.

    What I’ve learned through the years is that real men of God and true pastors are not common…and that no one group of people lacks real discernment as much as professing Christians.

    The real ones I know are like gold to me…and I am blessed to know many.

  16. Jean says:

    “no one group of people lacks real discernment as much as professing Christians.”

    If true, then citizens loyal to their favorite politicians, must be a close second.

    Perhaps there is a common denominator?

  17. Michael says:

    Jean,

    Favorite corrupt pastors and politicians…yep…

  18. Officerhoppy says:

    Thanks Michael. I have some things to think about and read

    As you probably know, Enns is not well respected in some theological circles.

  19. Michael says:

    Officerhoppy,

    I know…when I was among the Reformed they thought him a traitor and a scoundrel.

    That often happens to people who ask hard questions…
    I don’t always agree with him or his guests, but I always come away with something to consider.

  20. Officerhoppy says:

    Michael
    I’ve read one of his books “The Bible Tells me so” like you, while I didn’t agree with every thing he me think and I walked away with something too. It might be good for me to read “Curve Ball”.

  21. pstrmike says:

    bob1

    here is a link to the four means of Jewish exegesis.

    https://www.noahsarkfellowship.org/aja/pardes.pdf

    I like the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. Actually, Free Methodists might be another alternative. I think it is useful for developing theological thinking and construction while the Jewish framework of PaRDeS (see the article) is more about biblical interpretation. I hope that article is of use to you.

  22. bob1 says:

    Much obliged, pstrmike!

  23. Max says:

    Michael, would you be willing to share your current teaching on Revelation?

  24. Jtk says:

    30 years

    My sophomore year of college, right after my dad died.

    I’ve been in ministry for most of the time.

    Don’t know how to answer that question briefly….

    I was so angry, bitter and rebellious, and despite some
    awful circumstances, some personal attacks, I’ve refused to go back to those previous ways.

  25. Michael says:

    Max,

    I don’t have any way to do so, short of re-writing it all for the site.

    I’ve thought about doing just that, but my current situation makes it hard to commit to anything with any confidence that I can deliver.

    I will post the source material I’m using if it would be of interest.

  26. Michael says:

    Revelation and the End of All Things: Koester
    Revelation: A Shorter Commentary: Beale & Campbell
    Revelation For Everyone: N.T. Wright
    Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament: Beale
    Revelation Through Old Testament Eyes: Longman
    Revelation For the Rest of Us: McKnight

    Those are the primary sources I’m using…I suggest going through Longman’s treatment of Daniel beforehand.

  27. Michael says:

    I think Daniel and Revelation need to be taught consecutively…Daniel teaches us something about how to live faithfully in exile and assures us that all human empires fall and the only security for the people of God is in their God.

    Daniel makes it very clear that times will always be difficult for the people of God (we really have no clue about real persecution) and that the beast empires will act with more and more ferocity and brutality as the end comes upon us.

    There is not a hint of escape from such…both these books demand endurance to persevere faithfully even unto death.

    Revelation fills in some details…a study of the letters to the seven churches should have us wearing sackcloth and ashes today.

    A study of the four horsemen is instructive not only of the end, but of things we can see happening around us now.

    Both books assure us that God wins and the people of God with Him.

    They also assure us that we are victors through the same means as He conquered by…sacrificial love and death.

    My study won’t pack the place with end times wonks…but it’s a vital message, in my opinion.

  28. Michael says:

    The “fun” thing about both books is that they speak so much about what is going on in the unseen world.
    We seem to have fallen so hard for rationalism that these things don’t interest us.

    I’m also fascinated by The Lord removing lamp stands…how many have been taken without notice?

  29. Max says:

    Thank you for your response. Unfortunately I am not cut out to be a scholar. Even in my attempt at college I found I was more suited to living and working outdoors. I would say I am very much in agreement with your comments fwiw. Completely understand you not being able to post. You have enough on your plate. God bless you.

  30. Alan says:

    Changed? Much!!!
    From fundamentalist to fun
    From complimentarian to egalitarian
    From SBC to independent charismatic
    From alcoholic to abstinent to responsible
    From Jesus coming soon to he came and reigns now and evermore.
    From mildly Calvinist to not
    From hell to conditional immortality
    From memorialist to sacramental
    From inerrantist to inspiration
    Always Christocentric
    Always Trinitarian
    Always Covenant
    Always Grace
    Always Truth
    Always Cross

  31. pstrmike says:

    Alan ,

    I laughed at your post, our journeys, which were wildly different when we first met have become similar.

    “From fundamentalist to fun”

    And…..

    “From alcoholic to abstinent to responsible”

    Yep. Still planning on having those beers together one of these days.

  32. Alan says:

    Pstrmike

    Indeed!

  33. Officerhoppy says:

    Do we really know much of anything about God? There seem to be conflicting ideas about his character and how to worship him. Baptists tells their people one thing, Cal insists another. Arminians say “no,no, this is who God is”. Calvary Chapel guys have their thoughts about god, Pentecostals say you’ve got to speak in tongues to be filled with the HS. Anglicans say one thing, Lutherans another and on and on. I get confused sometimes and don’t know what to believe or think. I am tired of trying to defend my position except that other than salvation and forgiveness, can/should I expect any thing more from him.

    I am trying to unc.utter my confused thinking and simply love god and do what I want. I spent many years trying to figure out if god had a plan for me and my ministry. I’m tired of trying to figure that out and after 53 years of following him, Even though I tried, I am unsure of the “god leading” decisions I’ve made.

    I’m really confused and uncertain even after being a pastor for about 30 years. I feel like I have to learn to love god all over again.

    Ever feel that way?

  34. Michael says:

    Officerhoppy,

    Our contentment with God will depend on the narrative we adopt.

    I have a meta narrative that doesn’t explain everything, but is one that I can flourish in.

    I am free to ask questions that make other people uncomfortable…make them feel like they need to defend God and their own need for certainty.

    God needs no defense…the cross is His defense…but if we don’t wonder why He doesn’t intervene as often as we would think is promised, we need to ask those questions or we simply don’t give a damn.

  35. Officerhoppy says:

    “I am free to ask questions that make other people uncomfortable…make them feel like they need to defend God and their own need for certainty.”

    I appreciate that because I ask a ton of questions about things I learned and have taught for nearly 30 years. I piss off my CC friends. I think the few I interact with think I’m a heretic or as one pastor said “shipwrecked”

    Theologically, I don’t really know which lane to run in. All I know for sure is I am not a Calvinist or Arminian. I have to be honest and say semi-pelagianism seems to make sense but was deemed heretical long ago. So I come down as an antinomist.

    I am so confused and lacking self confidence that I am having a difficult time having an any meaningful relationship with God.

    But I am a knucklehead and tend to overthink these things

  36. Michael says:

    Officerhoppy,

    Most of the church outside America doesn’t really concern itself with this stuff.
    Here, people think there are only two ways to do theology…either Arminian or Calvinist.

    People that think that way limit themselves from a bunch of historic teachings of the catholic Church.

    If you’re really interested in opening up you have to read and study outside your tradition.

    Find the best of the Anglicans, the Orthodox, the Lutherans, etc and consider it a trip to a place you’ve never been.

    If you affirm the ancient creeds and confessions that define Christianity…don’t give a hoot in hell what they think.

  37. Michael says:

    Calvary Chapel breeds clergy who think that they have to be “right” and be “certain”.

    They irritate hell out of me.

    Real theology is not nearly as much about certainty as it is possibilities…

  38. Michael says:

    I’ll give another example…I’m an Anglican…which means I can dine at whatever table that suits me and eat and drink freely if I choose.

    Last year I went through the book of Hebrews and updated my commentaries, etc.

    I noted that Alan had done a series online and decided to give it a listen.

    Alan is a charismatic and we differ on some significant secondary issues.

    He also preached the single best series I’ve ever heard on Hebrews.

    It was freaking amazing…so helpful that I stole from it early and often for my people.
    I’ve been blessed by teachers from pstrmike to Rowan Williams to long dead saints of the early church.
    Duane is a walking, living library that is priceless.

    Ask questions…but don’t expect people from your sect to have any better answers then. you already have…

  39. Officerhoppy says:

    Michael
    Good advice to a struggling brother

  40. Linn says:

    Officer Hoppy,

    Whenever I start having questions about who God is, I go back to the Psalms and the prophets. Right now I am reading through Isaiah, and the one statement that comes out in (imaginary) bold letters on the page is “I am God and there is no other.” This is after several times when God takes Israel to task for choosing a tree, carving it into an idol, praying to it, and then using what’s left to heat up lunch. I’ve journaled regarding God’s attributes and I often incorporate them when I pray. This has helped me to get a sense of who he really is.

  41. Officerhoppy says:

    Thanks Linn

  42. Alan says:

    Thank you Michael

  43. Duane Arnold says:

    Good company… many thanks.

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