my books: friends & counselors: #4

It is just so bloody! Why should I read it?

That, or the equivalent, is one of the most frequent comments I encounter when folks tell me why they rarely, if ever, read much of anything in the Bible from Genesis through Malachi.

Well, J. Gerald Janzen gives us insightful and practical answer in his commentary on Exodus 17.8-16 (the scene where Aaron and Hur hold up Moses’ arms as Israel and Amalek do battle at Rephidim):

… human history is a drama moved not only by love but by hate, not only by cooperation but also by conflict. It is a drama whose plot is a thick weave of peoples loves and their wars. The passages of the Bible that portray war at least make contact with the dark strands in our emotions and motivations. The way to deal with them, I suggest, is to stay with the story and to see what happens to the themes, motifs, images, and scenarios that relate to Yahweh as warrior (Exod. 15.3) as we move through the biblical narrative from Genesis to Revelation.

What we find is a progressive transformation of these images, in such a way that the very theme of Yahweh as warrior who vanquishes the enemy becomes the theme of God who in Christ conquers the world (John 16.33), not with the sword, but simply by bearing witness to the truth as he is crucified by this world’s political and military powers (John 18.33-38).

One stage along the path of this transformation is marked in Isaiah 51-53, where the exiles invoke the old ‘arm of Lord’ to overcome their enemies with the sword (Isa. 51.9-11), and where the arm of Yahweh that is raised in response to this invocation is the suffering servant (Isa. 53.1-9) whose victory leads him to share the spoils of victory with the very “great” and “many” who were responsible for his death (Isa. 53.10-12).

… if we stay with the story and follow it in its transformations, perhaps our own tangled motivations and emotions, and resolves can undergo a steady transformation until we find ourselves in the place where the New Testament would leave us: Jesus’ warfare against untruth and evil, a warfare he conducts simply by his witness to the truth.

Exodus by J. Gerald Janzen (Westminster John Knox Press, 1997); pp.123-124.

my books: friends & counselors: #3

This quote is needed and powerful truth!

“All truth is God’s truth, and so Christians should not fear what science discovers about creation. …

“Though Scripture contains everything necessary for salvation, it is not an encyclopedia of all possible knowledge. Christians sometimes speak of Scripture as if it contained modern scientific theories or hidden knowledge of nature if interpreted correctly. Of course, it is possible for God, as Creator of the universe, to give us a Bible like this. But Christian theologians since almost the start of church history have recognize that God’s revelation has been accommodated to the understanding of the cultures in which it was written, which includes beliefs about the natural world.”

A Little Book for New Scientists: Why and How to Study Science by Josh A. Reeves and Steve Donaldson (IVP Academic, 2016); pp.25,26-27

my books: friends & counselors: #2

Archaeology has always fascinated me. And so, when Dale W. Manor, long-time professor at Harding University and field director of excavations of Tel Beth Shemesh makes this observation his concluding word in his book Digging Deeper Into the Word: The Relevance of Archaeology to Christian Apologetics (Warren Christian Apologetics Center, 2015, p.80), I take note:

“… the biblical narratives are embedded in historical circumstances. Only the Hebrew religion and Christianity present themselves as rooted in history. While other religions have historical roots to the degree the Buddha lived, Muhammad lived, and so forth, their circumstances of divine intervention into human activity do not exist. A mass of inscriptional materials intersect with the people, events, and circumstances of biblical revelation.”

my books: friends & counselors: #1

Though by the time I encountered Mark Strom’s book The Symphony of Scripture: Making Sense of the Bible’s Many Themes (P&R Publishing, 1990) I was already aware that Scripture – all Scripture – simultaneously works multiple angles and levels, it was a very simple diagram in that book that deeply drove that thought home within me.

The diagram was part of one of Strom’s comments (p.173) on Matthew 13.1-23 (one of the accounts of Jesus’ parable of the farmer sowing seed).

Parables-Matthew-13 - Copy

Scripture is always deeper and more involved, more varied and nuanced, more complex and full than any mere “just read it and take it at face value” approach can ever discern, understand, grasp, or appreciate.

* Note: This series of posts is totally random in nature; I’m simply pulling a book off the shelf and sharing with you something this book has shared with me.

sharing some of the counsel I’ve received

Through the years I’ve come to possess a number of books.

“… in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” (Proverbs 11.14 NRSV)

The vast majority of them are meant to be “consulted,” not “read through” (i.e. – they’re reference works). Their authors – thankfully! – continue to provide me with advice and counsel, insight and knowledge.

“… the wise listen to advice.” (Proverbs 12.15 NIV)

And so, starting tomorrow, I intend to begin sharing with you here, on a regular basis, a tiny taste of some of the good stuff (e.g. – facts, quotes, diagrams, maps, etc.) I’ve found in all of them.

“If you listen to advice and are willing to learn, one day you will be wise.” (Proverbs 19.20 GNT)