Archive for November, 2007

Review: The Great Elephant

Nik Ranieri has accomplished what few could or will ever do. He is an award winning Disney animation artist who has contributed to classics like Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas, and The Emperor’s New Groove. What’s even better is that Nik has employed his amazing artistic ability for the glory of God.

If you’ve ever wondered what Disney animation and redemptive content would look like married together then Nik’s children’s book The Great Elephant should answer your curiosity. The story follows a young mouse named Quinn who goes on a journey in search of “the great elephant.” Along the way, Quinn meets a vast assortment of characters who challenge his trust and even a snake that persuades the young mouse to take a “wide road.” This being an allegory, we learn that there is more to this “elephant” than meets the eye.

Many allegories are short-sighted and leave very little to the imagination or for further discovery. Ranieri, however, manages to plot the story at a good pace. Our three year old holds on to every word and can practically finish every sentence. The illustrations are what you would expect from a Disney professional and offer more detail than any book on my kid’s bookshelves. The Great Elephant lays a great foundation through child-friendly literary eloquence. Your kids will want to read it again and again and it’s rare for adults when a children’s book doesn’t wear thin after repeated readings. I highly recommend this great book, The Great Elephant.

Great Elephant, The

1 Corinthians 11 for Evangelism?

POST-SCRIPT God’s Word is absolutely amazing.  It is powerful and it is sufficient (Heb 4:12, 2 Tim 3:15-17).  It is life changing and it is clear.   Sometimes we study the Word of God and have no idea how God will use a particular passage in our own lives or the life of someone else.  Sometimes we listen to a sermon and we say, “Yeah, yeah, yeah I already knew that OR how does that really apply to my current situation, etc, etc.”  It’s possible some people may be thinking this after studying 1 Corinthians 11.   

On Saturday I was watering my lawn and I noticed a Jehovah’s Witness making house calls around my neighborhood.  She went house to house passing out the Watchtower magazine and inviting people to her cult church.  I was praying this lady and her 7 year old daughter would make the turn and come visit me.  Why you ask?  Because this family is part of a cult.  A cult that denies the deity of Jesus Christ.  A cult that does not embrace Jesus Christ as Savior or as Lord. 

To make a long story short, this lady started off her presentation by having her daughter read me a verse in Scripture and then handed me a Watchtower magazine.  After we discussed a couple of neutral issues I turned the conversation around so we could discuss the deity of Christ (we went to John 10 and a few other key texts).  This lady did not have many good answers to the questions I asked her but she did have answers.  Finally she turned to a Scripture passage in 1 Corinthians that talked about the different roles between the Holy Father and the Holy Son.  In her mind this proved her major point that God the Father and God the Son are not fully equal.  She told me that Jesus was before Abraham but that He is not an eternal Being (Jesus is a created being).  She also let me know that Jesus is not God very God and the Trinity is a Christian invention. 

I was able to use 1 Corinthians 11:3 (of all passages) to show this lady that Paul makes just the opposite point…That even though the Father and Son have different roles/functions they are still fully equal (just like men and women).  I was able to show her that this is actually the major point of 1 Corinthians 11:3!    Of course at this point the lady said her daughter needed to move on because she was getting really hot from the sun.  I think she was telling the truth but it might have been the other Son… Why am I sharing this particular story with you?  Because friends you never know how God is going to use you and His Word.  Who would have thought that 1 Corinthians 11:3 would be used to defend the deity of Christ in an evangelism context?  The Bible is God’s Word.  Let us seek to accurately understand it and then apply it to our own lives and the lives of those around us.   

Recap of the Divorce Debate

By way of review, how exactly did evangelical Christianity end up on the pages of Time Magazine? 

Weekend Fun: A candidate for your music ministry

In case you’re wondering, yes we have resorted to the lowest form of blog life. As pastors we have all been extremely busy so the posts have been in short supply. As a token of our appreciation I offer the following for your weekend enjoyment.

Should the Senate investigate churches?

One thing we have never done much of around here is discuss politics. I have a running debate with Waymeyer as to whether he is a true conservative or just conservative (do you see the difference?). At any rate, this NY Times article is making the rounds and it leaves me with mixed emotions. It appears that Senator Charles Grassley (R) has called for a Senate investigation of six well-known preachers and their suspect financial dealings. Most readers to this blog will recognize the six as a who’s who of “word-faith” charlatans. Benny Hinn, Paula White and Creflo “guess why they call him” Dollar are some of the preachers under scrutiny. My first inclination is to say “what took them so long.” Anyone with a thimble of discernment knows these are some of the worst purveyors of tom foolery. So here’s where it gets interesting.

What authority, whether legal or constitutional, does the Senate have to investigate churches or individual preachers at any level for any reason. I would like for anyone who thinks this is a good idea to make the case based on the Constitution. Someone might scoff at my questioning and ask, “Paul, do you think these preachers are innocent of duping people out of millions of dollars?” My own opinion is that they are about as innocent as Bill Clinton at a sorority party. The question of innocence is irrelevant to my larger question. I am questioning whether anyone thinks its a good idea for the Senate to investigate churches and if so why (not to mention that the Senate has no right to investigate private citizens for any reason).

If we suspect there are incongruities in these particular ministries (such as probable tax evasion) then their local district attorneys should take up the charge. When was the last time a Senate investigation yielded anything of value? Even more, what sort of precedent does this set for investigations for other issues that a Senator might perceive ill on the part of a preacher? I have watched many Christian blogs today applaud this as if something good is taking place but all that is happening is one blind man pointing out another blind mans lack of eyes.

Footnotes:

Theologian Ben Witherington thinks the investigations are a great idea and hopes for more preachers to be added to the list.

Christianity Today has a round-up of the issue.

Styles of Worship…

It seems to me that excitement and passion for God are valid elements that help make up a redeemed communities praise and worship service.  As Christians it is easy to become people of extremes.  For example we could focus so much attention on the holiness of God and on what it means to really fear God that we may miss the joy and excitement of being a redeemed people (community).  At the same time we may focus so much attention on needing to be joyful and excited that we could miss the importance of the holy reverence and fear that God’s worshipers should possess because after all He is a Holy, Holy, Holy God.  The Christian life is often full of tensions; tensions that need to be considered from time to time.

I personally believe that if everyone at our church lived fully for Christ each week that when we gathered corporately on Sunday we’d probably shake the sanctuary…The overflow of a grateful heart in my estimation is worship.  Gratitude leads to adoration. 

Now with that said, Christians often respond to theological praise songs and/or hymns differently.  C.J. Mahaney’s reformed charismatic church is likened unto a Christian rock service where people dance, raise their hands, head bang, etc to the glory of God.  A more traditional church like John MacArthur’s is quite different.  The sanctuary is still rocking as people sing their hearts out to God but the tone is much different than C.J.’s.    I know one man at our church told me the last time he was at Grace Church he cried throughout the whole worship service…He was lifted upward to heights of heaven in song, special music, Scripture reading, etc.  Bruce Ware told me his wife had a similar experience while worshipping at C.J.’s church.   

I believe our Senior Pastor has tried to help our people understand that personal and cooperate worship can take on various expressions.  As its been rightly said: “All spirit and no truth and the church blows up.  All truth and no spirit and the church dries up.  All Spirit and all truth and the church grows up.”   

This past Sunday one person in our church (may have) expressed this passion through raising his arms high in the sky (which happened).  I responded singing out heartedly unto the Lord yet in a more “conservative” fashion.  In short, I believe people can worship in Spirit and truth and still have it look differently.   

Perhaps a potential danger in my expression of worship is that it could lead to joylessness and can become dry or stale.   Perhaps the danger in a more expressive (charismatic) form of worship is that one could turn his or her worship into an emotional experience instead of having Divine truth move one’s spiritual affections.  When divine truth impacts our hearts and our heads I believe people well worship the King with passion and enthusiasm.  None the less, this spiritual passion for God is often expressed differently from congregation to congregation and from person to person.   

I think all of us here at E.T. desire (both in our own lives and in our peoples lives) to participate in passionate enthusiastic worship of our amazing God and Lord…Worship that is befitting the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

Your needed dose of weekend fun

In my humble attempt to add to this blog, I give you my rendition of weekend fun. If Public Access Cable does not scream America is the land of opportunity, I don’t know what does.

1 Corinthians 11:2-3 (pt 2)

A few questions should be considered. We know Eve was taken from Adam’s rib, but Andrea (my wife) did not come from Caleb, did she? Did the man originate from Christ? How did God create the first man in Genesis? Should the Greek words in verse 3 be translated husband/wife or as man/woman? Are their any good textual or grammatical reasons to interpret the words more specifically as husband/wife over the more general terms man/woman? (note the NAS and the ESV here).  Most importantly, what does the word “head” (“kephale”) mean in this particular context? Complementarian scholars believe it means “Authority.” Egalitarian  scholars believe it means “Source/Origin”

Let’s examine how Paul uses this same word (head) in a similar context. Here the word is also used figuratively.  More specifically it’s used in the context of husbands and wives. Observe Ephesians 5:22-24, 22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Women should submit to their husbands (their God-ordained authority figures), as the church submits herself to Christ.

Let’s also observe the inspired words of Ephesians 1:20-23; 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Head (kephale) clearly means authority here. Jesus Christ is the leader of the Church. He is our glorious head. He has authority over the Church.

Before we move on let’s also check out a usage of this word in Colossians. Colossians 2:9-15, 9 For in Him all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form, 10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; 11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. The concept of Jesus’ authority and supremacy is clearly declared in this wonderful text.

The word “head” in I Corinthians 11:3 clearly implies “authority”. Let’s read this verse using “authority” in place of “HEAD”. But I want you to understand that Christ is the authority of every man, and the man is the authority of a woman, and God is the authority of Christ. (Note: A few of the good modern day English translations use husband and wife instead of man and woman).

Some of you lay theologians may object to this understanding: “I thought the members of the Trinity (Father, Son & Spirit) are totally equal in essence, nature, personhood, and being? Isn’t that true? If I answer ‘no’ here I would rightly be labeled a heretic. Why? Because the Bible clearly teaches us that the Father is God very God, the Son is God very God, and the Holy Spirit is God very God. I love to sing the following Christian song lyrics, “Praise the Father, praise the Son, praise the Spirit, three in one!” The doctrine of the Trinity is central to biblical Christianity. The Bible also says that though perfectly equal in nature and being the members of the Trinity have different functions and roles! This understanding is absolutely crucial. If you miss this point you won’t understand the gospels or the Trinity or Biblical manhood and womanhood.There are no “ontological” differences between Father and Son but they do have different roles. That qualification in no way undermines their fully equality. The Nicene Creed was 100% correct here. Jesus is of the same substance as God the Father. There are three members that make up one Godhead. Three distinct persons but just one God.A distinct role does not logically imply inferiority! The Son submits to the Father in various Bible passages (just observe I Cor. 15:28, Jn 3:17, 14:28). The Father commands and sends and the Son obeys and comes. Dr. Bruce Ware has done some wonderful research that further proves this point if you want a more detailed study of this.

The subordination the Bible talks about deals with order and relation not being or essence. God is the head over Christ yet He is not essentially greater than Christ. Generally speaking Christian women are under male authority but they are not inferior to men. God gave women different gender defined roles that in no way undermine their full equality with men. The same is true in regards to the Trinity. Christian feminists and radical feminists miss God’s mark when they try to promote equal roles in the church and the home. If you don’t believe me study the Holy Trinity! Carefully follow Paul’s logic in I Corinthians 11:3. Do an in depth research project on the role of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has willingly taken on a role in which He eternally exists in the backdrop. The Spirit lives to bring glory to the Son and He seeks to bring about the will of the Father. What an amazing example of Divine humility and submission for all of us to consider. (Examine Bruce Ware’s wonderful book “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”)

When kephale (head) is used figuratively (speaking of people or relationships) it always conveys the idea of authority. Dr. Grundem adds this helpful comment, “Therefore there is no linguistic basis for proposing that the New Testament texts speak of Chirst as the head of the church or the husband as the head of the wife can be read apart from the attribution of authority to the one designated as ‘head.’” [For a more detailed article that supports this claim check out “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” Appendix 1, pp 425-468]

The holy Trinity proves that men and women can be totally equal yet they can also have different functions and roles that are gender defined by Divine design. 

1 Corinthians 11:2-3

This is one of the key New Testament texts that highlight many essential principles of Biblical manhood and womanhood. Verses 2-16 address the roles of men and women in the worship service or during some other setting where believers gathered together. Dr. Schreiner believes this section addresses actions that were taking place during the public worship service while Dr. MacArthur believes that Paul is addressing problems in a different context. It appears to me that Paul is trying to correct some of the problems that where taking place during the church worship service in chapters 11-14.

None the less, Paul goes back and forth with statements about men and women (see Garland’s chart below). Clearly this passage is very applicable to the subject at hand. David Garland notes, “Whatever the motivation, the structure of Paul’s argument makes clear what the issue is:

11:4 Every man who prays or prophesies
11:5 Every woman who prays or prophesies

11:7a On the one hand (men gar ) the man. . .
11:7b On the other hand (de) the woman

11:7 A man ought not (ouk opheilei) . . . the head
11:10 A woman ought (opheilei) . . . the head

11:11a Neither a woman apart from the man
11:11b Neither the man apart from the woman

11:12a For just as the woman . . .
11:12b Thus also the man . . .

11:13 It is shameful for a woman to pray to God uncovered
(no parallel)

11:14b On the one hand (men) the man . . .
11:15 On the other hand (de) the woman . . .”

According to Garland the crux of the argument is probably located in verse 13. 1 Corinthians 11:13, Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with head uncovered? No parallel statement is made here as David Garland’s chart (listed above) shows. That is a significant observation to keep in mind.

There are only two commands in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. The two imperatives are found in verse 6 (let her cover herself) and in verse 13 (judge for yourselves). With that said, certain details in this section are very difficult to understand. This is not an easy portion of Scripture to understand yet the central theme of the passage can be discerned and applied. In the words of Dr. Schreiner, “There is an abiding principle in the text that is applicable to the 20th century.” It is an important principle for all Christians to understand and apply.

So how does verse 2 relate to vv 3-16? Verses 3-16 indicate there were some problems in the Corinthian church. Why then does Paul open this section with a commendation in verse 2? 1 Corinthians 11:2, 2 Now I praise you because you remember me in everything, and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you. In parenting, it’s normally wise to reinforce positive Christ-like behavior in the lives of your children (see Tripp’s, Shepherding a Child’s Heart for more detailed guidance on this point). If your child does something well or is obedient I believe it’s wise to draw attention to those behaviors. Some parents on the other hand focus exclusively on their children’s sin and mistakes. That is not wise parenting. Why? Because encouragement is an essential medicine of life. Before Paul corrects the “Corinthian problems” in chapters 11-14, he seeks to encourage them for the things they’re doing right. In the words of one commentator, “The situation of the church is not bleak in every respect.” They were doing some things well which Paul wanted to draw attention to and reinforce. If you’re a boss or a pastor or a parent or a teacher there is biblical wisdom in Paul’s approach to shepherding/leading. Notice his example in 1 Corinthians 1:1-6 Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, 2 to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours: 3Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I thank my God always concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and ball knowledge, 6 even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you…” Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians are amazing in light of all the problems this church was going through. Just read 1 and 2 Corinthians through in one sitting and you’ll see what I mean. Let me encourage you to follow Paul’s example and encourage others as much as you can!

After praising the Corinthians in verse 2, Paul addresses some of their problems in 1 Corinthians 11:3-6. But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. 4 Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying, disgraces his head. 5 But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying, disgraces her head; for she is one and the same with her whose head is shaved. 6 For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head.

I believe verse 3 is jam-packed with theological significance. It is probably the most important verse in the entire section. If you get this verse right you’ll probably understand the rest of the passage as well.

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