Categories
atonement salvation

Atonement – plunging in

I began to think about doing a series on the ‘Atonement’ in life group as soon as life group started – sometime in September 2018. I plunged into the idea during July 2019. I began by getting the group to share testimonies, which was very good – though not as I thought it would be because there was so little atonement in their stories. Interesting.

In the meantime I had gone off and rejoined Oak Hill Library (where they train vicars…) What unbridled joy to be able to go in there again, where I used to study for my MA. I came out with an average sized pile of books to read over the summer. I sure do need a hobby.

Categories
creation Fall

The Fall – Consequences – Part 2

In consequences – part 1 we started by saying that on one level the effects of the fall are only too obvious as we look around us. We now have experiential knowledge of evil. We then began to dig into the often stated maxim that you become what you worship focusing on the loss or rather diminishment of our spiritual senses.[1] We reminded ourselves that the human heart finds it hard to trust in the creator.

Adam and Eve are now caught up in the constant cycle of growth and decay. Adam was originally taken from the ground (‘adamah’) and now they return to the dust – (‘to the adamah’). The death promised to them if they eat the fruit includes more than just physical death. Now they experience the ‘annihilation of their fundamental essense’ and are subject to the ever changing nature of their fallen being. [2]

Categories
Book reviews Egypt old testament

Ancient Egypt and the Old Testament

John D. Currid, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, 1997

Reading this book has been really eye opening. As someone who has always nurtured an interest in ancient Egypt, but have been rarely with any opportunity to express it, I could hardly contain my anticipation on opening it. Currid is an associate professor of Old Testament, and holds a Ph.D in archaeology. It is clear right through the text that he is driven by a desire to follow where the various sources lead, and is not on a mission to prove that the Old Testament says more (or less) than the authors intended.

At the start Currid takes the bull by the horns and looks at an issue that is “most troubling” or “nagging” for Biblical Scholars. [27]

Categories
creation Fall

The Fall – Consequences – Part 1

Throughout this short series of posts I have been attempting to get across the enormity of the situation that the writer of Genesis so economically presents. Once grasped, the implications are simply gigantic. The myth of Adam and Eve is embedded in our culture, and as such it can be difficult to access its power. It has become a ‘fairy story’ for children and consequently the message is largely lost as it is turned into a revenue generation tool for the corporations. It seems to me that our culture likes to minimise the ‘old myths’ and those who are open minded enough to pay attention are forced to grapple to gain anything useful beyond variations of ‘God saw that it was good’ and a sense that somehow things went belly up.

Categories
Fall

The Fall – Towards What it Was

In the previous post – “The Fall -What it wasn’t” we dismissed the idea that Adam and Eve were trying to become like God in a “divinity” grab or some form of status upgrade. We also saw that it is a good thing to desire the knowledge of good and evil. So what did they do wrong? On a superficial level their eating of the fruit was a simple act of disobedience. In this post we’ll take a closer look to see if we can shed some light on this topic.

When my offspring were little, they would sometimes defy us. This is natural and normal and I think we’d have worried if it hadn’t happened. We went through a time of putting them on the naughty step for their age in minutes. Once I was caught out and spent a glorious 40 something minutes of absolute peace with nothing to do. It was bliss. Punishment can backfire!

Categories
atonement Fall

The Fall – What it wasn’t

We have seen something of the awesome task given to our first Mother and Father – that of extending the temple (sanctuary) of Eden out to encompass the whole of the earth. Now it’s finally time to begin to answer that question – just what did they do wrong? Notice they – not Eve. Our culture has tended to emphasie the sin of Eve, and the stupidity of Adam, but to my mind the text clearly portrays a ‘both / and’ situation. In this post I want to look at a couple of common ideas about what was done wrong, and kick them out into the long grass.

Categories
creation Fall

The Fall – What were we doing in Eden?

The “Standard Model” of the fall raises many questions. Most important, at least for me, concerns just what it was that they fell from? If your concept of looking after the garden is limited to dead-heading the roses and keeping the ‘large mammals’ off the grass while planting out seedlings and cuddling rabbits then maybe the fall is a welcome opportunity to expand your horizons! Coupled with this there is the issue of how God is portrayed. If you think he is capricious and easily angered then you have no issue with what happened. If, however, you think that the revelation of God through Christ as love is a ‘sure foundation’ then either you enter into wrestling-mode with the narrative or you just park the issues.

Categories
creation Fall

The Fall – The Standard Model

In the last post we looked at bringing to life of an idol and what this means to us. Now its time to begin looking into the foundational myth of the fall of Adam and Eve. Even people with no exposure to religion have a grasp on it. You can see this if you look at some of the ways business has taken the story up. It is highly parodied, and often paints Eve as a seductive temptress and Adam as a childish fool. All this is totally predictable of course, since the myths themselves have so much to teach us that it’s no wonder ‘the world, the flesh and the devil’ have conspired to belittle them.

In this post I want to begin with a telling of the “Standard” version. I am grateful to a fellow student who wrote this in an essay entitled “What did Adam and Eve do wrong?” I have only slightly altered it.

Categories
atonement creation Devotional identity

Human identity – part 4 – godlike

In “human identity – divinity” we cemented the connection between image (tselem) in Genesis 1 and cult statues or idols. To the people of the aNE (ancient near east) an idol was the living embodiment of their god, and not just a physical thing like a statue in the local park. To them it was not only alive, and in it their god was fully present to them. If you think about it this sheds light on the way humans could worship idols them and lavish care on them. Clearly, the understanding of the writers of genesis was very different to ours.

Categories
atonement creation Devotional identity

Human identity – part 3 – divinity

In the first post “human identity – representation” we looked at the Hebrew words used for image and likeness. In “human identity – crowned” we looked into the royal meaning behind some of the words the Hebrew bible uses to describe Adam and Eve’s role and status. Given that the same ‘image’ language is used in Gen 5 it is clear that what was true of Adam & Eve is true for all of us – they were ‘God’s Royal Representatives.’ We briefly concluded by saying that to the cultures of the aNE, royalty were seen as children of a god. We cited two examples of this, and left the implicit link to Adam & Eve unspoken. It’s time to dig into this at last.

Categories
atonement creation identity

Human identity – part 2 – crowned

In the first post “human identity – representation” we looked at the Hebrew words used for image and likeness. We concluded that the authors of Genesis wanted us to think-in an holistic manner, which suggests that to their mind the image/ likeness was something included ideas around a statue ie physical. We also introduced the idea that we are made in such a way as to represent (think re-present or to “present again”) Yahweh God. We also saw there was a very clear, and somewhat disturbing “idol” theme to the word image (tslem). So there was lots to chew on. Back to our key passage Gen 1 for something a bit regal…

Categories
atonement creation identity

Human identity – part 1 – representation

In the previous posts I set out something of my thinking regarding the directions this series on atonement would go. We now come to look at Genesis to get a grip on what we, as humans, were created to be. Remember, our aim here is to look at our purpose and our nature as well – what can be referred to as our ‘ontology’. There will be several installments.

Reading in Genesis 1 26 we see:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea …”

Categories
atonement salvation

Atonement – why?

As I said in the first of these posts – atonement – ‘asking the question‘ this subject is a right old rabbits’ maze of dimly lit tunnels. One question leads to another and another and another – you get the idea. It is easy to get lost (unless you are a rabbit) and at times, you need to go back to the start…

Whatever people say, the bible does tie together. Sure, there are difficult, weird and mysterious bits.

Categories
atonement salvation

Atonement – our story?

When planning the Atonement series for our home fellowship group (ugh – what awful terminology) I started off by getting the members to give their testimonies. I had thought this would take two sessions, and I wasn’t wrong. In all eight people shared something of their various journeys to faith and it was really, really helpful. I deliberately didn’t give them much of a steer – just ‘take as long as you want’.

Most people started with ‘my testimonial isn’t very interesting’ or ‘mine isn’t very dramatic’ or some such phrase.

Categories
Devotional Gospels

Its all backwards to me

One time in home group we worked through Mark’s gospel reading a good chunk (like 3 chapters) and then considering it in the light of, well, whatever cropped up really. Without wanting to overstate it, this a great series – so much came out of our attempt to have a ‘first-time’ reading of it. The pace is remarkable.

So much of what Jesus said and did turned things upside down – the first are last, the untouchables are touched, the marginalized are heard, power structures are ignored. Marvelous.

Categories
atonement

Atonement – Asking the Question

Over the last four or five years I have found myself wondering deeply about my understanding of the many issues surrounding ‘sin’ and ‘salvation.’ It has been a long process.  There were several false starts but it really got going when one of my lecturers asked ‘What if God just forgave sins?’ Good question. What if he just did?

Categories
Devotional

How To Speak to Yourself

Recently I was looking for something to read. When we cleared out my parents’ house one of the hardest things to deal with was the books. Did they have some boring looking books –  and my mum had become something of a regular visitor to charity shops towards the end! But as someone who loves books it was hard to just throw them. So they have been sitting on my shelf for several years, and now I was packing for a holiday with nothing to read. In the end I just reached out, picked something off the shelf and zipped up the suitcase.

Categories
Devotional Walking with Jesus

Coincidence – Leave me alone!

When we go on our family holiday we always have what the girls refer to as ‘boring parent days‘. And I am pleased to say that in Spain we managed to get not one, or two but three ‘boring parent days’. On one of these I had one of those little experiences of God that leaves me wondering.

Categories
Essays

Micah – what’s it about and why was it written?

Micah lived in a time in which there was great exploitation of the middle and lower classes by the ruling, Jewish elite. He is appalled at what is going on, and his book is written largely in response. It contains many different styles of writing, and includes some very well know passages that have become part of the churches lexicon – good thing?

Whilst this is quite a technical paper, I found the opportunity to study a book about which I knew nothing most rewarding. I know it raises some difficult questions, especially the violence motiff – with its usual set of questions, ethical side-steps and misunderstandings… All I’ll say here  is that we need to remember that the bible records the spiritual journey of a people as their understanding, like ours, progresses. I certainly am reflecting at length on this as i write.

Categories
new testament

Three Points from 2 Peter 2

Three different questions were raised with me after the talk I gave on 2 Peter 2 at Brig. I thought I’d quickly respond to them here.

I do appreciate the conversations and the feedback so feel free to keep the conversation going if you’re interested.

What were those ‘Celestial Beings?’

In 2Peter2:10, speaking of false teachers, Peter writes ‘Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings’

I mentioned how there was a lot of debate about the word/phrase translated ‘celestial beings’ – a better translation of it seems to be ‘glories’ – so the question is what does Peter mean by the glories. I spoke about two possible translations – ‘dignitaries’ in the sense of those in authority and ‘angels’ (note there is no reference to good or bad angels). A third option was mentioned to me, which I did come across i my reading – that of it being the ‘apostles’ – so the false teachers were abusing the apostles – the glories. Whilst indeed this is in the commentaries that I read, it didn’t seem that popular – but it is interesting option.

Am I A Heretic?