Things I Think…

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63 Responses

  1. Kevin H says:

    I’ll say the “Amen”.

  2. Michael says:

    Thanks, Kevin…we won’t get many…

  3. filistine says:

    regarding #5–this will be especially true as the season of ‘hats in the ring’ and primaries are ramping up. To identify a candidate that fits the standard may require a lot of digging, quite a bit of contradiction from ‘within the camp,’ and ultimately, a decision to focus on priorities other than politics.

  4. Officerhoppy says:

    In some of the comments here regarding the liturgy of the church prior to scripture have got me to thinking. Calvary places a high value on the practice teaching scripture. But, the NT scriptures weren’t codified until about the 3rd, 4th or 5th century.

    So the question posed to Calvary guys was what did the church do prior to the codification of the Bible.

    In my research, I found that the process of the recognition and collection began in the first centuries of the Christian church. Very early on, some of the New Testament books were being recognized.

    Paul considered Luke’s writings to be as authoritative as the Old Testament (1 Timothy 5:18; see also Deuteronomy 25:4 and Luke 10:7). Peter recognized Paul’s writings as Scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16). Some of the books of the New Testament were being circulated among the churches (Colossians 4:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:27). Clement of Rome mentioned at least eight New Testament books (A.D. 95). Polycarp, a disciple of John the apostle, acknowledged 15 books (A.D. 108). Ignatius of Antioch acknowledged about seven books (A.D. 115). Later, Irenaeus mentioned 21 books (A.D. 185). Hippolytus recognized 22 books (A.D. 170-235). The New Testament books receiving the most controversy were Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 2 John, and 3 John.

    So while not codified, it looks like scripture was around in the first century. My guess is, the early Christian’s studied them to some degree

    Looking forward to reading ya’ll’s comments

  5. Michael says:


    ‘ ultimately, a decision to focus on priorities other than politics.’

    Well said and amen…

  6. Michael says:


    The question raised was not “if” the early church studied Scripture, but “how”.

    They didn’t study in an expository manner…as was said , chapters and verses were a 16th century addition made on the back of a horse.

    In the first century books like Clement and the Didache were often circulated as scripture…and exposition was often allegorical.

  7. Michael says:

    The Didache has an early service in it…

  8. bob1 says:

    Wasn’t it the Reformed who added numbers for each verse?

  9. Michael says:


    It predated the Reformation…I can’t remember the guys name, but he did it while traveling on horseback…

  10. Michael says:

    Robert Stephens…1561…it was Reformed…

  11. Dan from Georgia says:

    Michael, I say amen here for all 10! Your thought number 8 in particular is rather well-stated – humility.

    And for thoughts 1-6, I wonder how many of us truly think through the consequences of holding to lies to bolster our political/cultural opinions.

  12. Terrie R. Beede says:

    I’ll throw in a heartfelt “Amen” as well to all of the above. The more faithful we are to Scripture, the less we look like “liberal” or “conservative” and the more we look like “other”. I believe that “other” is at least part of the definition of “holy”.

    With respect to Officer Hoppy’s comments on exposition, I do wholeheartedly believe in Exposition as a primary method for teaching – primarily because we live in an age where God’s people do not in fact know Scripture.

    But I firmly believe that the Gospel is present in the Old Testament. In fact, I am of the conviction that to a very great degree, the New Testament is in fact an exposition of the Old Testament. If the Church studied and understood its Old Testament better as the Words of Jesus Christ, we would have far less trouble understanding the New Testament. And, to points 1-6 above, we would spend far less time addressing the cultural/social/political issues of the day, and far more time focused on trying to be and become the Kingdom of God.

    Exposition is not necessarily dependent upon chapter and verse numbers, but upon text and context. We have exquisite examples of that in the Words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in the New Testament writers.

  13. Michael says:


    I’ve told the story many times about how I thought I knew it all when I first got online…joined a high brow theology list and found out I didn’t know much and much of what I thought I knew was nonsense.

    Those folks didn’t just embarrass me…they gave me the tools to do better… I’m grateful every day for them.

    I love to learn more than I like to eat…

    I don’t think many have thought through those consequences…it gets worse every day.

  14. Michael says:

    Terrie R. Beede,

    I actually teach in an expository fashion every week.

    It’s effective when done well and the pastor isn’t faking a knowledge of ancient languages he doesn’t have.

    As for the New Testament being an exposition of the Old…that is true to a degree…but there are many instances in the NT where the writers develop the OT in a way that would have been a big surprise to the original authors…

  15. Linn says:


    I love expository preaching, especially when it is does in the context of other texts (like Hebrews/Leviticus, for example).

    As for numbers 2 and 3, I have so many friends that use social media as a platform for suspicions and opinions that I have chosen to stick to cats and funny anecdotes. I don’t like getting into “fights” on Facebook (or anywhere else). A forum, such as PP, where people show courtesy and respect, even while disagreeing sometimes, is much better.

  16. Michael says:


    I’m at about 85% cat content on social media…it makes me feel better and I hope it makes others relax a bit as well.

  17. Michael says:

    I’m all for expository preaching…the argument here was over the historicity of the practice. I will fight the losing battle to get people to learn church history with my last breath…or cough…or however it goes…

  18. Josh says:

    Exposition isn’t the problem, it is a good and necessary tool.

    The problem is the verse by verse, book by book part. It ensures that you are going to spend weeks or months away from actual focus on Jesus. Don’t get me wrong, most preachers shoe horn Jesus in the end of the sermon somehow, but why not just start there.

    Example – played bass at a church this weekend. Pastor is a wonderful man, and an excellent example of the expository verse by verse style of preaching. UNfortunately, the verses this week were from Corinthians (and it will probably take them at least 6 months to get through Corinthians) about eating meat dedicated to idols or refraining from doing so if it is offensive to others. So you end up with this OK-ish moral lesson about laying down your own freedom for the sake of others (is that really what Paul meant? as an absolute, for all times, proclamation? Or was he making a point specific to a situation he knew about in Corinth?), but there was basically no mention of Jesus is the exposition portion. Like 30 + minutes of no Jesus.

    I say start with Jesus and approach any other Scriptures only through that lens.

  19. Michael says:


    I’m pretty much with you…there are times when I’m teaching a topical study on something like immigration…but that always comes back to Jesus as well.

  20. Linn says:

    Felix just sent you a gigantic PURR!

  21. Michael says:


    Give him my regards…he is a fine feline and a great companion…happy you have each other!

  22. Officerhoppy says:

    As a proponent of expositional teaching, your comments resonate with me.

    I took 3 preaching practicums at Western Seminary. They had 5 criteria for a good sermon and the most important of the 5 was “Christocentricity”

    And the professor was a stickler on how one gets to Christ. A lot of guys used a turn of a phrase, or would manipulate a word to leap from from the intended meaning of a text to get to Jesus.

    The Bible is not simply a collection of ethical principles, moral platitudes, or abstract life lessons. It may take work, but the purpose of all Scripture is to reveal the plan of God and the restoration of earth that culminates in Christ.

    We were assigned seemingly obscure passages in the OT. We found how they each fit into the plan of God revealed in Christ. Took work. But it’s the only way to accurately study scripture.


  23. Duane Arnold says:

    A revolutionary approach to Scripture is to read it as the literature that it is. I suggest getting a version in which the text is presented in paragraph form, without verses or chapters. Read the gospels in terms of stories and sayings. Read the epistles as the letters that they were intended to be. Read them not with a goal of interpretation, but with a goal of understanding, just as you would any other piece of literature. It is revelatory… I always remember Robert Alter saying that while the scripture is more than mere literature, it is not less than literature.

  24. Officerhoppy says:

    The Bible is a different sort of book from all other books. While God may inspire an artist, or the Holy Spirit draw a reader toward a divine revelation through art, the Bible is more than just a literary experience.

    Recognizing the Bible as literature opens us up to a fuller appreciation of the holy book than if we treat it like an instruction manual or to-do list.

    It is a bibliography of genres, including poetry, song, lament, prophecy, history, narrative, parables, letters, dreams, and so forth. We should practice reading to enjoy the fullness of that literary experience.

    But as a book divinely authored by God, the Bible also stands apart from all literature penned by human authors.

    God inspired human writers to pen the words, but God also authorized those pages. No matter what other beauty, truth, and goodness may be found elsewhere, other works of literature lack the authority that Scripture has over Christians.

    So the Bible is a wonderful piece of literature. But it’s more than that. It’s also our boss or our guide

  25. Josh says:

    “We were assigned seemingly obscure passages in the OT. We found how they each fit into the plan of God revealed in Christ. ”

    I also went to a seminary that taught expository preaching, so I get what you are saying here. To me now, this seems backwards. You take some Ot passage and then dig and dig until you can find a way to tie it Christ. Most of the time, the original author wouldn’t have meant that at all.

    I would start with Jesus, and then address the rest of Scripture through him. It means you wouldn’t preach every text of the bible, but a whole bunch from the gospels. I think I’m OK with that.

  26. Michael says:


    Reading the epistles as letters changes the perspective…I bought Alters OT work…amazing.

  27. Josh says:

    I can’t tell you how many sermons in my life I’ve heard on Abraham and Isaac and the vast majority are horrific if you really think through the consequences of what is being said (Would you be obedient even if God asked you to kill your child?). None, not even one, was good. And that is an easy passage to relate to Christ, but has to be done so allegorically. If you really get into the word for word weeds, its just an awful story.

  28. Officerhoppy says:

    My fear in that approach is that I force a text to say what it was never meant to say. At least my brain can be real creative!

    I hear what you are saying but I don’t think we have to massage a text to get to Jesus. So In the absence of an obvious connection, I ask “How does the text fit into or illuminate the plan of god and the redemption of his creation in Christ?”

  29. Josh says:

    Right, but if you are teaching verse by verse, you are giving a lot of long, weird stories and wrapping them up with “This is how it fits with Jesus / redemption/ God’s plan”. Its backwards to me. Start with Jesus. Where Jesus illuminates an outside passage, introduce it. iF he doesn’t, don’t.

  30. Officerhoppy says:

    But by starting with Jesus (and maybe I need to understand what you mean by that) are you guilty of imposing an idea to the text? I’d rather lay the foundation (the scripture) and see how it features Jesus.

    I don’t think there was a single message that I gave that didn’t wrap itself in Jesus.

    Again, I probably need to understand more about what you mean by starting with a Christ.

  31. Josh says:

    The Gospels. The part of the bible that is explicitly about Jesus. Start there. If that opens itself up to sharing a verse from Leviticus.
    Don’t read a chapter from Leviticus and do back flips to show how it relates to Jesus.

    But look, there are a tone of big successful churches doing the verse by verse, book by book thing. I just think it is flawed.

  32. Josh says:

    I also don’t see any reason that a 30 minute to an hour sermon has to be the focal point of a worship service. Early church services were centered on the Eucharist, which in itself was an object lesson completely about Jesus.

  33. Michael says:

    “Early church services were centered on the Eucharist, which in itself was an object lesson completely about Jesus.”

    Josh wins the internets today…

  34. Alan says:

    “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”
    ‭‭Romans‬ ‭8‬:‭32‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

    Eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the unspared son is easily as horrific as the Abraham.

    The Jews were pretty offended at it and they didn’t hide from the Abraham narrative.

    Can’t agree with Josh.

  35. Josh says:

    I don’t expect agreement, because I haven’t even landed yet…but

    One practice is the metaphorical memorialization (it may be more than that, but I’d not less) of the death of our savior…

    In the other, God demands a dad to murder his own son, just to see if he’ll really do it. The implications of that are awful.

  36. Alan says:

    Not sure how we can be offended at a death that God clearly intended to supernaturally prevent. Then be un-offended by a death he intended and didn’t prevent from a son who told us to eat his flesh and drink his blood without explaining it as symbolic.

    The Abraham incident l ended any speculation that YHWH would require what the other gods insisted upon. It’s of zero offense to learn that YHWH is different than the gods.

    Meanwhile Christ gives us his flesh to eat and intentionally offends the minds of his hearers even calling Jews to drink blood. He pressed the matter to offend them.

  37. Michael says:

    Well said, Alan.

  38. Officerhoppy says:

    “ He pressed the matter to offend them.” really? That’s why he instituted the Eucharist? To offend? I thought it was a constant memory and reminder of his giving his life as penalty for our sins. So that we’d never stray away from its importance.

  39. Michael says:

    ohn 6:47    “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. 48 Yes, I am the bread of life! 49 Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. 50 Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.”

    John 6:52    Then the people began arguing with each other about what he meant. “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” they asked.

    John 6:53    So Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. 54 But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57 I live because of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 I am the true bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever.”

    John 6:59    He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

    John 6:60    Many of his disciples said, “This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?”

    John 6:61    Jesus was aware that his disciples were complaining, so he said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what will you think if you see the Son of Man ascend to heaven again? 63 The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But some of you do not believe me.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning which ones didn’t believe, and he knew who would betray him.) 65 Then he said, “That is why I said that people can’t come to me unless the Father gives them to me.”

  40. Michael says:

    “I thought it was a constant memory and reminder of his giving his life as penalty for our sins. So that we’d never stray away from its importance.”

    No Christian thought that for 1500 years…

  41. Josh says:

    I disagree Alan, but we know that.

    I feel like I never realized the Abraham / Isaac story was horrific until I woke up one day and it was horrific.

  42. Alan says:


    Let me try again by agreeing with you that the story is offensive on the face of it. However YHWH has revealed himself as faithful to Abraham for decades by that time. Abraham now knows that YHWH has promised and he will not fail. The promise of a seed that blesses the nations will come through Isaac. “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named”

    YHWH is not like the gods of the nations who will require such sacrifices. YHWH is faithful. When Jesus told us his resurrection was in the scriptures. We go straight to the son of the promise and find him rescued from death as an image for the resurrection.

    Of course it is horrible because the effects of sin are horrible and God has predetermined to enter into that extremity to effect our rescue.

    So I am not wincing at your recoil which is necessary within the narrative. I wince at your failure to discern your LORD’s goodness in the terrible narrative.

    I cannot ‘woke’ as I am awake from the dead already.

  43. Alan says:


    “Constant memory and reminder of his giving his life as a penalty for our sins.”

    That of course is shorthand for penal substitution theory. We posit that he took our punishment. The old canard that God’s love and wrath are opposed to one another and the latter must be appeased for the former to prevail.

    When Christ died what he did was act as a substitute for our disobedience. Adam disobeyed making us sinners. Christ obeys the father hallowing his name even unto death. By his obedience we are made righteous not by his punishment. Ro 5:19

    In the Eucharist Christ gives his life TO us. In the cross he gave his life for us. But what he gave in the cross was his obedience so that sin might be condemned in the flesh. Ro 8:3 By condemning sin he puts it away for us. Thus he offers to us his resurrection life. The life is in his blood. Thus he gives his life to us.

    Jesus did intentionally offend the minds of the Jews in John 6. “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” How indeed that is the mystery of our salvation. A God who takes flesh and enters death to destroy death. Yes he offended them … to save them. I would suggest that perhaps many of them were saved when he died as the passover sacrifice and manifested his glory.

    I think evangelicalism has given a caricature of the Gospel and this is why we have the present apostasy.

    We must have a gospel nothing else will do.

    Christ gave himself for us to give himself to us and he gave himself to us to live his life in and through us. We must have a gospel.

  44. Officerhoppy says:

    Because people were offended doesn’t necessarily me he intended to offend them.

    To me, communion is a memorial of the death and resurrection of Jesus, in response to his words at the final meal he shared with his disciples, ‘Do this in remembrance of me.

    I know Michael has a different view and that’s ok as long as we take the elements

  45. Michael says:

    It doesn’t matter what view I hold.

    What matters is that the early church until the 15th century and the vast majority of believers today read this as a sacramental passage and practice accordingly.

    The “memorial” view is nothing but a snack…

  46. JoelG says:

    “doesn’t necessarily me he intended to offend them.”

    He knows our hearts and as long as we open our hearts to Him He might just intend to offend us into repentance, trust, humility and obedience, even when we don’t understand Him.

    “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

  47. Josh says:

    Imagine a long time believer shows up at your doorstep for some pastoral counsel:

    “Man, I’m really struggling with what to do next. I’m pretty sure God is telling me to kill my son.”

  48. Alan says:

    Unpack that for me Hoppy, Jesus preached an offensive sermon that he knew would offend them and he did not soften it for them or say “Wait this is not what you think.” He pressed the matter when after repeating himself about eating his flesh he definitely upped the ante by telling them to drink his blood. That was forbidden to them and he knew it. Of course he meant to do it. This is how he shepherded them.

    22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 1 Co 1:22–23.

    32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” Ro 9:32–33.

    Eucharist is receiving the cross it stumbles the mind of the Jew.
    Yes of course he stumbled them to bring them to repentance. Without changing their minds they could not be saved.

  49. Alan says:


    So? What? That is hard for you? I would not need to reject my bible or my gospel to correct that nonsense.

    I would stop him even as the Angel stopped Abraham. That is a mental health problem not a theological one.

  50. Josh says:

    The Goodness of God in the story is only in the Allegory. God provided a substitute. For us, that substitute is Jesus.

    There’s no goodness in the literal interpretation (God tells us to kill our children. God will up and test you in horrible ways, even to the point of commanding you to sin, and you have to be ready to go through with it regardless of how evil it sounds…etc.)

    I’ll ignore the being woke crack for now. Not sure why that was mentioned as it seems below the current dialogue.

  51. Officerhoppy says:

    I appreciate your view. I don’t understand it but I still hold to the memorial view. Makes the most sense.

    Like said, I don’t think one’s view of the Eucharist matters to God as long as we partake

    But that’s me

  52. Josh says:

    Not hard for me. I would tell the guy today, just like I would’ve told Abraham then – The God I know isn’t going to demand that you murder your son.

  53. Alan says:


    Where in the narrative did God tell us to kill our children?

    The goodness of God was not allegorical. He literally stopped Abraham and literally did not spare his own Son. And nothing in the narrative or the whole of scripture implies that we should do as Abraham did.

  54. Josh says:

    Alan – 1. Refer to my first post on the topic. My main issue is with how this is preached in verse by verse type preaching.

    2. Genesis 22:2 God is quoted as telling Abraham to burn his son at the stake. In my above hypothetical, a modern guy tells us that God told him the same thing. We’re going to have to do some form of “God doesn’t do that kind of stuff anymore”, which will be followed with “I thought God was the same yesterday, today, and forever”, and we’ll squirm and probably tell the guy he’s going to hell for thingking that way, etc.

    3. You are comforted by the fact that God finally intervened. Isn’t there some point where we should be able to take God at His word? Is this how God works? Puts us through all kinds of horrific tests, but its OK, because he’s going to bail us out before it gets too bad?

    4. The Allegory of the story is pointing to Jesus. I think we agree that is where the goodness is found.

    5. God didn’t tell us to do as Abraham did, but is there a spot where he said “Don’t worry folks, I’m only acting like this just this once. I’ll never tell the rest of you to murder anyone.”?

  55. Josh says:

    Verse 12 is also a doozy:
    Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.

    That is God speaking…why did it take this awful bit of theatre for the all-knowing God to “Now” know that Abraham fears God?

  56. Alan says:


    That is certainly a better dialog response. Thank you.

    1. In verse by verse preaching unless someone has the codvenant clearly in view they are not exegeting the passage. Isaac is the offspring that will bless all peoples. He is the entire focus of Abraham’s 25 year odyssey.
    2. Actually the text says that “Christ is the same yesterday today forever” which is exactly why we preach the entire Old Testament through the lens of the revealed Christ. There is no need for any “God doesn’t do that anymore” There is only God has DONE this … no squirming necessary. You must have had some encounter that prodded this.
    3. Yes our faith is tested.
    4. Yes we agree except I am riveted to the historical literal outcome … the allegory is the resurrection promise … the resurrection is of course literal.
    5. This point is where you spin into caricature … we’ve covered it.

    I do actually believe that this narrative vanquished any idea that covenant YHWH was asking for child sacrifice and that differentiates his covenant people. The mystery of incarnation and atonement lies underneath it all…

  57. Michael says:

    What is not addressed in these comments is what I think God was addressing with Abraham.

    Abraham had often shown himself to be faithless…note his giving his wife to Pharaoh, etc…

    He was more than willing to sacrifice Ishmael and Hagar to appease his wife…that story is the thing in “after these things” that begins the chapter.

    The “test” wasn’t to prove something to God…it was to prove that Abraham had finally developed a moral conscience.

    Alan has exposited the rest…

  58. Alan says:

    Vs 12 is indeed a stunner…

    There are often such statements in scripture that wreck our systems but we tame them. This is one of the passages that Open Theists would use to declare that God knows all possible outcomes but does not know the freewill choices of human agents until they have been performed. In other words the idea is that God knows all that can be known but these type of things cannot be pre known without being predetermined.

    I would commend you to Greg Boyd and his two volume Crucifixion of the Warrior God

  59. Josh says:

    I have read Boyd and find some things attractive about Open theism.

    I don’t get why we can’t just acknowledge that its horrific that God would tell a follower to kill his son.

    Its awful, and its not how any of us think God works. We make apologies and build a system to deal with it, I’ve read the same commentaries, but in the end if we read of Muhammed’s god doing that we are going to call it wicked. Because we start with the supposition that everything that come from our God is good, then this is good too.

    I can only say that doesn’t sound like God to me. if HE did that exactly as reported, I don’t get it.

  60. Josh says:

    Michael – I do think that is a helpful direction. Abraham doesn’t get nearly enough credit for being a disaster on wheels.

    Also, this is juts one story, one that I already said is easy to point to Jesus. There are plenty of other horrific OT passages that I have no clue why they are there.

  61. Alan says:

    I’ll let you have the last word on it. I spoke mine.

    And Michael I too agree… I often speak of Abraham’s stumbling faith. Only after I express that I am glad that it was he and not me.

    2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. Ge 12:2.

  62. Michael says:

    ‘There are plenty of other horrific OT passages that I have no clue why they are there.”

    True…I have no problem with the story in front of us, but there are some really difficult passages elsewhere.

    I would probably solve those issues differently than most here…I don’t think “inerrancy” is helpful in those places…undertanding the myths of that historical period is…but that’s for another day…

  63. Officerhoppy says:

    Ben reading thru Michael, Alan and Josh’s comments. Great discussion..

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