Answer for Evil

The Bible is full of creepy guys. Literally, these guys make your skin crawl they are so evil. Ahab was one of those guys. We’re told that “Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.”

What I love about God is that He doesn’t forsake His people. When a bad guy comes, God always has a good guy ready. Ahab is mentioned first in 1 Kings 16 28. By 17:1 Elijah, the chief of the prophets, is on the scene!

Just when it seems like things couldn’t get any dumber, God comes along and totally redeems the situation. You can never get discouraged with bad guys, bad times, bad situations, because God has something good coming. Sometimes it takes a long time; sometimes the good comes quickly.

Doesn’t really matter: good is coming! Keep the faith!

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Is Israel’s Kingdom in Minneapolis?

One of the central tenets of Reformed/Covenant theology is that the Kingdom of Israel is now fulfilled in the Church. The Church has replaced Israel, therefore, Israel will not get a kingdom, thus making reformed and dispensational end times views vastly different.

This is a huge sticking point for me. I do not see how you can read the Bible and not come to the conclusion that God will restore the kingdom to Israel. The only way you can do it is to “spiritualize” the text, to make it say what it does not literally say.

Here’s one “proof” that reformed theology misses the boat. At the beginning of Acts, Jesus tells His guys to wait for the power of the Spirit to come on them. The disciples ask, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6)

If Reformed theology were true, Jesus would say something like, “Oh, you guys, don’t you get anything? Israel won’t get a kingdom, I gave it to a bunch of white guys in Minneapolis.”

However, this is not even remotely close to what Jesus says. Jesus says, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons.” In other words, not yet guys. This obviously implies that Jesus thought the Kingdom would indeed be restored, He just wasn’t telling them when.

“Restore” means to reconstitute, to bring back again. In other words, Israel is going to get back their kingdom. Next time Christ will reign and the Kingdom will be more awesomer than it ever was before. This will fulfill the covenant God made with David that there will be someone on David’s throne forever.

Reformed theologians say Jesus’ answer dismisses their question, they missed the boat still thinking about an earthly kingdom. But if this were the case, Jesus would not have answered about time, He would have answered about place. He does not correct their question, He answers their question in relation to time, by refusing to reveal when it would occur! No doubt because it would have been highly depressing.

The disciple’s question was correct it just wasn’t time yet. To deny that is to twist words.

The Faith of Harry Connick Jr.

Harry Connick Jr. did a brief interview with Christianity Today about his faith, which is “practicing Catholic.” Keep practicing, maybe someday you’ll get to play. Here’s a snippet.

“When I was young I felt more tension between my faith and entertaining than I do now. When I was 22 there were things that I thought were wrong that I now know are not wrong. For example, I don’t have a problem with profanity in movies. I did for a while and I did many movies in which I would not curse. I wouldn’t kiss an actress. I realize now that’s silly. Part of the reason God put me here is to be an entertainer.”

Holy Priesthood

“No lead pastor” view guys quote 1 Peter 2:5,9, we are the holy priesthood of God. They follow it up with, “See, I’m a priest myself, I don’t need a pastor.”

This is an ironic point because serious contenders for the “no lead pastor” view use much ink in telling us not to use the OT examples of Moses, Joshua, the priests, or the king as an example of pastoral power today. A point I agree with.

However, by saying, “since I’m a priest I don’t need a pastor” they now switch the argument back and equate the OT priest with the NT pastor. You can’t have it both ways.

Peter’s point is that we are all the priesthood of God in that we are all capable of offering God spiritual service and showing forth the praises of God. Believers are all God’s representatives and can all approach the throne room of God and can all serve Him. There is no special class of guys who get closer to God than others.

Peter’s point is that we all, in Christ, fulfill the pictures of the OT and are God’s representatives now. It’s not a temple, a class of priests, a selected nation. It’s a people born again to new life in Christ.

This is a far cry from saying that there are no leaders in the church. Ephesians 4, which details gifted men who lead the church, tells us that these gifted men are there to equip believers to do the work of the ministry, i.e.–teach them to offer spiritual service to God as a priest might do.

Furthermore, Hebrews 7 says that Christ is our priest. “No lead pastor” view guys argue against using OT offices as NT guides to church leadership, as they were all fulfilled in Christ. I agree, but again, they switch it back and now claim to be the office of priest!

The word Peter uses for “priesthood” (again with the Greek concordance here), is different from the word “priesthood” used in Hebrews to talk about Christ. The priesthood in Peter is not a class, it’s a description of believer’s actions.

We have one high priest today and that is Christ. Christ has gifted men in the church to equip believers to do the work of priests–spiritual service. Thank you. That is all.

Pastors

Seriously, I like much of what Frank Viola says. His critique of the problem is excellent. His solutions, a tad one sided. Here’s another example.

He mentions that the word “pastor” is only used one time in the NT, therefore it’s odd that we make so much of pastors in our day. Two things.

1) “Love thy neighbor as thyself” is mentioned one time in the OT, yet appears rather important to the mind of Christ. Let’s be careful not to determine how important God thinks something is based on our obsession with numbers.

2) I don’t know, with all due respect, Mr. Viola needs to implement a Greek concordance. I mean no disrespect, it’s just that my Greek concordance undermines much of what he says so authoritatively about certain words.

The King James uses the word “pastors” one time in Ephesians 4. However, the Greek word and it’s derivatives are used several times.

1 Corinthians 9, in defending the paying of pastors, says that shepherds eat from their flock so to should elders/pastors get paid.

1 Peter 5 tells the elders to feed the flock of God. “Feed” is the Greek word “pastor.”

Acts 20:28 says again to “feed,” pastor, the flock of God while speaking to the elders at Ephesus.

Saying that the word “pastor is only used once” is right in that only once is a man called a pastor. However, calling an elder a pastor is not a mistake, is supported by the activity a pastor is to do and is also what Ephesians 4 does indeed call them.

The shakiness of the central points trouble me.

Spiritual Rank

I’m trying to maintain composure. It really frosts me when people use Scripture in a twisted way. This Reimagining Church book is starting to get to me. Boy I wanted to like this book.

Exousia is a Greek word that means “authority.” The author maintains that at no point in the NT is one believer given exousia over another believer. All are equal, there is no hierarchy and no rank.

In order to maintain this, he has to fudge words around and ignore passages, like most of 1 and 2 Corinthians, which is Paul’s defense of his authority over them, even using exousia a few times.

If a guy were to look up the word “rule” in the NT he would find that this word, proistemi, (which is defined as “to stand before in rank”) is used several times of the higher rank of some in the church over others.

When he does mention “rule” he says it means to “guide.” I don’t see this at all in the word. Pro means “before” and histemi means “stand.” It means literally to stand before, in front of. One might say to rank ahead of.

In fact, Romans 12 lists ruling, having rank over others, as a spiritual gift! 1 Thessalonians 5:12 says we are to esteem those who have the rule over you in the church highly! One of the qualifications of a pastor is that he rules his own house well, how else can he care for the church?

However, the author would have us believe there is no rank in the Body. Does this mean believing parents don’t have authority over their believing kids? Does this chuck the whole man is responsible for his woman deal?

1 Thessalonians 5:17 says those elders who rule (rank) over you well get double honor. We are warned to stay away from “brothers” who are unruly (those who don’t submit to authority)!

Goodness. It just bugs me more that he’s so sloppy with Scripture. I truly wanted his point to be true. I did. But it’s not. It just isn’t.

It bugs me that he doesn’t even veer into these passages. He just skips them as if they don’t exist, mostly mentioning them in an appendix and he uses words deceptively to walk around passages. It’s like talking to a Calvinist. Man. What a bummer.