Does the New Testament Really Have a Unifying Centre? Maybe, Maybe Not!

One of the problems with coming up with a New Testament Theology is the many diversities within the New Testament, this poses a genuine problem for interpreters who are trying to identify a theological core in the New Testament, but the problem is not insurmountable.

To restate the problem, the differences across the New Testament collection are well rehearsed: Paul versus the Jerusalem church, the Synoptics versus John, the Lucan Paul and versus the Paul of the epistles, John the Elder vs the docetists and secessionists, and then in the second century the proto-orthodox church versus the Valentinians, Marcionites, and Ebionites. Concrete examples of this diversity and divergence in the New Testament are not hard to find. Although I am convinced that one can easily reconcile James’ and Paul’s account of “faith” and “works,”[1] nonetheless, one will have to admit that they differ markedly over the application of Gen 15:6 to Christ-believers. Whereas James incorporates a standard Jewish interpretive strategy of reading Gen 15:6 in light of Gen 22:9-18 (see 1 Macc 2:52), this is an approach that Paul explicitly rejects in Romans 4 and Galatians 3 whereby Paul disallows any attempt to read Abraham’s subsequent act of obedience back into Gen 15:6 or otherwise it would make salvation based on works and not grace. Similar disparities emerge if we look at different views on food sacrificed to idols in the New Testament. The Jerusalem council (Acts 15:28-29) and words of the risen Jesus according to John the Seer (Rev 2:14, 20) expressly forbid eating food sacrificed to idols, whereas Paul treats it purely as a matter of personal conscience (1 Cor 8:1-13; 10:25-33; Rom 14:15-23). This arguably signifies different strategies for negotiating the contamination of idolatry even if everyone agreed that idolatry should be avoided. It is diversities such as these – as well as genre, perspective, situation, intertextuality, and rhetoric – that also pose a serious challenge to identifying a theology nucleus or a type of theological centre to the New Testament. How does one find a theological centre in diverse and sometimes disparate materials? Afterall, what is prominent in Paul might be peripheral to Peter. What is affirmed in Paul and Luke-Acts (Christians can live peaceably under the aegis of the Roman empire) might be repudiated in the Apocalypse of John (Christians long for the empire to be burned to the ground). What is judged to be the central message of the New Testament might not even appear in the theology of the epistle of Jude. For many scholars, a New Testament theology is merely the chronicle of a cacophony of irreconcilable conflicting interpretations and plays for power.[2] To be honest, I think it is clear that trying to curate the New Testament into a tidy and timeless theology with a homogenous core is deeply problematic because of the New Testament’s inherent diversities, the on-going and often unresolved debates taking place, and even the developments of views held by New Testament authors.

Continue: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/euangelion/2019/11/does-the-new-testament-really-have-a-unifying-centre-maybe-maybe-not/

It Seems Hard To Love One Another

John 14:15

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

It seems hard to love one another. For example – I tried to cheer on the Washington Nationals as they were in the playoffs and eventually won Major League Baseball’s World Championship. Yet – pushback came from National’s fans calling me a pretend fan who was jumping on the bandwagon late. I also took pushback from others – calling me out for rooting for the Nationals – since I’m a diehard Orioles fan – as if I couldn’t root for another local team – simply because my team wasn’t in the playoffs. I could better understand if the Orioles and Nationals were in the same league or division and competing for the same league championship. But the Nationals are my National League team – since I was a young child – I’ve rooted for the local Washington team – back in the day it was the Senators (my dad was a big fan). When I was 12 – I began to root for the Orioles and have stayed with them ever since.

More: https://raymcdonald.wordpress.com/2019/11/08/it-seems-hard-to-love-one-another/

Love God and Your Neighbor by Knowing God’s Word

~ Lara

You probably learned and heard in Sunday school what the most important commandments are, or maybe in the midst of a fight with a sibling your mother was quick to remind you of this often-quoted command:

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31)

When we think of ways to grow in our love for God and our neighbors, we often think of public or visible acts of service in which we give our time and resources: volunteering in church, donating money and clothes, babysitting for a tired mom, cooking a meal for a mourning family, and the like.

But have we ever considered that loving God and loving our neighbors well means that we must know God’s Word well?

Love God with All Your Being

Jesus commands us to love God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength. This is a whole person command. Loving God doesn’t only involve our feelings and emotions. We don’t only love Him with our intellect. Loving God doesn’t only require physical action. Loving God involves all of those components together, and each of those aspects come into submission to the Word of God.

Our emotions must be submitted to the Word. The knowledge that our minds collect must be in line with what the Bible says. Our actions must be obedient to what Scripture has revealed. The Bible, being living and active, equips us for that. As Paul wrote to Timothy:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

The Bible also fuels us to love God with our hearts, minds, souls, and strength. Doctrine and theology should ignite a passion to go and live for God and be obedient to Him. Theology gives us courage to go forward when we are fearful, downcast, or dismayed.

When we are fearful about evangelism, knowing God’s sovereignty over salvation can kill our fear. Knowing God is using our suffering for good helps us find joy even in the midst of our trials. Knowing God, and how He is at work, grows our hearts to love Him more.

The rest is at: https://unlockingthebible.org/2019/09/know-word-love-god-neighbor/

In This is Love – podcast

https://renewingyourmind.org/2019/08/16/in-this-is-love

Make Sunday Mornings Uncomfortable

by Rebecca McLaughlin

Guest Contributor

“Sorry to cut you off!” I’d just started connecting with a close friend at church. I was eager to catch up. But as she talked, I noticed a woman sitting alone, thumbing through her service sheet.

Honestly, I wished I hadn’t seen her. Interrupting my friend would be rude. It’s good for me to invest in friends! Someone else will likely spot that woman. These were some of the excuses that ran through my head. But the woman was clearly new, and for all I knew, not a believer. So, reluctantly, I interrupted my friend.

As soon as I sat down with the newcomer, I thanked God I had. Raised Catholic, she hadn’t been to church in over a decade. Her fiancé had just broken up with her right before their wedding, and she needed something else in life. I took a risk and asked if she’d like to come to our community group. She said yes. She’s been coming to church and Bible study ever since.

This was one of many opportunities my husband Bryan and I have had to connect with not-yet-Christians inside our church building. We have very little else in common. I’m an extrovert; he’s an introvert. I’m from England; he’s from Oklahoma. I’m into literature; he’s an engineer. But God drew us together around a shared sense of mission, and Bryan recently expressed that mission in three rules of engagement at church. These rules make our Sundays less comfortable, but more rewarding. If you’re tired of comfortable, you might want to give them a try!

You want to read the rest: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/make-sunday-mornings-uncomfortable

We meet with God when we meet with one another

https://www.kevinhalloran.net/we-meet-with-god-when-we-meet-with-one-another/

Max Lucado Shares Three Steps to Loving One Another despite Political Division

https://www.christianheadlines.com/contributors/maina-mwaura/max-lucado-shares-three-steps-to-loving-one-another-despite-political-division.html