Community Hermeneutics and Individual Responsibility

Yesterday I listened to three theologians talk about the authority of Scripture. I was surprised when one of them said, “We don’t read the Bible individually. We read it in community.”

That sounded postmodern to me. The speakers did not go on to give a clear explanation of what this meant. I thought it meant that our community tells us what a given text means. If our community has more than one view of a given text, then those views, plural, are the only views we can hold.

I went online to see what I could find out about reading the Bible in community. It turns out that emergent church leader Brian McLaren discussed this question in his book A New Kind of Christianity. (For more details see the two-part review, “Christianity and McLarenism,” by Kevin DeYoung at thegospelcoalition.org.)  One of the ten questions McLaren considers is “How should the Bible be understood?” He thinks that the Bible need not be consistent (that is, one Biblical author can contradict another) and that we learn what the Bible means by conversation within our community. He also evidently does not believe in an orthodox view of verbal plenary inspiration.

With further online research, I found that reading the Bible in community means slightly different things to different people.

There is more: https://faithalone.org/blog/reading-the-bible-in-community/

Humble Service

~ Don Merritt

Romans 12:3-8

Paul set out his proposition in verses 1-2, that we offer ourselves as living sacrifices and be transformed by the renewing of our minds as a response to grace in verses 3-8 we have our first lesson on how to go about it: Serve the body of Christ in humility.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. (12:3)

So, it would seem that the first step in the transformative process is that we adopt an attitude of humility. Right away, we can see that not being conformed to this world was something Paul was very serious about (v. 2) for in this age of “game”, “swagger” and “bling” humility is very much out of style. Verse 4 uses the metaphor of our bodies in the same way that Paul uses it in 1 Corinthians 12 as he shows that each of us has a unique part to play in the Body of Christ. While this is easy enough to grasp, he takes another shot at the attitudes of this world in verse 5 when he says each member belongs to all the others. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen Christians bristle at that one.

In verses 6-8 Paul refers to spiritual gifts that each of us has received by the Holy Spirit.

I hope you will consider this carefully: In a context of humble service, a context that is not only counter-intuitive but also counter-cultural for most of us, Paul tells us to exercise our spiritual gifts in humble service to the Body of Christ. Think about the magnitude of the implication of this…

Not only are we to adopt an attitude of true and honest humility, not only are we to consider or positions as members of and belonging to the Body of Christ, but we are to serve the Body of Christ. Yet even more striking than that, we are to rely upon our spiritual gift from God in our service, which is to say that we are not to rely on our own strength, ability or talent, but on God’s grace alone.

 

Comment at: https://lifereference.wordpress.com/2017/05/05/lesson-1-humble-service-2/

The Whole Christian Life Every Sunday

~ Tim challies

A well-planned worship service is a tremendous blessing to those who participate in it. A well-planned service is not necessarily one in which the projector never flickers and the microphones never buzz, or one in which the transitions are smooth and the sermon doesn’t go long. Rather, a well-planned service is one whose elements have been carefully planned to fulfill God’s purposes for the public gatherings of his church.

How, then, do we plan our services? What elements should a service have? There are many ways to answer the question, but at minimum, the service needs to have singing, praying, Scripture-reading, and preaching. On a regular basis, if not every week, it should also have the Lord’s Supper. Each of these elements is demanded or displayed in the New Testament.

But I want to look at it from another angle that I believe can be helpful in planning our services. It’s unfortunate but realistic to assume that many people come to church on Sunday having given little thought to their faith the previous week. Many people worship on Sunday, then get busy living their lives and neglect the disciplines of the Christian life. They mean to pray, but don’t discipline themselves to actually pray; they intend to read the Bible, but allow laziness or the tyranny of the urgent to keep them away. Then a new Sunday approaches and they come to church feeling weak and needy and probably a little bit guilty.

Such people are genuine believers, but immature ones or ones who are going through those tough periods of spiritual stagnation. Perhaps they are in a difficult time in life or are deeply grieving. And in their apathy or their torment they ease off in their pursuit of the Lord, they falter in their Christian walk.

How can we best serve these people? We can best serve them by giving them the whole Christian life on a Sunday morning. We can give them the whole Christian life in miniature.

  • We can provide a call to worship in which we express the joy of worshipping the Lord;
  • we can provide a time of confession in which we privately and corporately confess that we have sinned against God;
  • we can provide a time of assurance of pardon in which we receive God’s guarantee that he has forgiven us;
  • we can provide a time of prayer in which we seek God’s favor and plead for his grace;
  • we can provide a time of Scripture reading in which we hear God speak through his Word;
  • we can provide a time of preaching in which we are taught from the Bible;
  • we can provide an opportunity to give financial gifts and in that way express generosity and experience the joy of giving;
  • we can provide times of singing in which we rejoice together as we offer praise to God;
  • we can provide the Lord’s Supper so we can solemnly celebrate together and be reminded of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf;
  • we can provide a benediction in which we are assured that God loves us and will be with us;
  • we can provide a time of fellowship in which we have the opportunity to minister the Word to one another and to be ministered to by others.

In this brief service, we have the whole Christian life neatly summed up. And as we progress through such a service, we trust that the downcast are lifted up and encouraged, that the apathetic are stirred and challenged, that the weary are fed and revived. We trust that they can take what they have experienced on Sunday morning and imitate it through the week as they live the Christian life—they, too, can pray and read and learn and sing and serve. On Sunday we give believers what they need not just on Sunday but on every other day as well. In this way our services are the training ground, the place where believers are equipped to live the Christian life every day.

Comment at: https://www.challies.com/articles/the-whole-christian-life-every-sunday

“Unfeigned love of the brethren”

The title is part of 1 Peter 1:22, which reads, “Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently”. The word, ‘unfeigned’ is used four times in the bible: one other time in reference to love as here, and twice to describe true faith. It is a very demanding word for the serious christian. We are commanded to love one another; not just those we like, but all who are Christ’s. We are to love them because they are Christ’s; and we have to love them unfeignedly, that is, sincerely. Let us look more closely at this word.

To put it in the simplest language, unfeigned love is sincere love; love without pretence; love which is true and unstained with hypocrisy. In fact the word in the original language, translates simply as ‘without hypocrisy’. This standard of love is very high, even for those who are in a state of grace, that is, people who are RightWithGod through Jesus Christ. Christ Himself was the only one ever who was able to practise this love perfectly, and His command to us His people is, “That ye love one another, as I have loved you” (John 13:34). His love was truly unfeigned love; it was perfect love which had no trace of hypocrisy in it. That is the standard that He set for us. We must never stop trying to reach this standard, although we will never reach it in this life. This quest makes us long for heaven where we will be separated from sin forever, and be able to love Christ and one another with unfeigned love.

More at: http://www.rightwithgod.net/?p=465

About Judging Others

Romans 14:1-12

https://lifereference.wordpress.com/2017/05/09/about-judging-others-2/

How Are You Doing with Compassion?

http://thecripplegate.com/how-are-you-doing-with-your-compassion/

Friends

funnyI can’t comprehend why we’re not all friends at church, but some people are more concerned about clambering up — what in their mind — the dogpile. They think they have to step on others.

Not me. I just want to enjoy friendship. And I wish everybody were a friend.

This side of eternity, friendship is the greatest thing. It is one of the loves (marital and family is another). Friendship occurs when you appreciate each other and share meaningful moments (they can be goofiness or enjoying watching a sport together or working together in a common cause).

The king of the dogpile is the ultimate loser for me. He thinks he’s got everybody’s respect. Maybe what he has is everybody’s fear. I’m afraid of him. Perfect love casts out all fear. I’m far from perfect yet.

from Mustard Seed https://mustardseedbudget.wordpress.com/2017/04/26/friends/