Thursday, July 16, 2015

MY TWO-CENTS ABOUT JESUS AND HIS SUBORDINATION TO THE FATHER ETERNALLY.

Warning...heavy reading. Not for children
or for those who have to read children's stories. It is
for those willing to put away childish things.

For the moment anyway. :)


Does 1 Corinthians 11:3 actually say and mean that Christ is eternally subordinate to God the Father as some people say it does because that's what "head" means? Is the Son's "will" to be obedient to the Father's "will" in eternity to come? Is the Eternal Father OVER the Eternal Son in eternity future in terms of authority? Some say yes, yes, and yes.

I'm not so sure about that. I believe to be textually true and correct about this verse [1 Corinth 11:3] you would have to see what the meaning of the word 'head' really was to that culture and that is a difficult thing to do. "Kephale" [head pronounced "kef-a-lay"] in 1 Cor. 11:3 and would have, I believe, been understood by them to be referring to the origins or source of something and not to authority at all. If I'm correct, then it does NOT mean what many in our present Christian culture might think at first glance.

You see there are some perfectly good words in Greek [kuriotes, exousia, epitage] for "authority" but '"kephale" isn't one of them. I've examined every verse where Paul is speaking of "authority" or "rule" and a word other than 'kephale' is used. Add to that the Middle Eastern thought in the biblical culture of putting someone under your FEET as being a symbol of being above another in value or position [Still present in the Middle East as shown by the shoe thrown at then President Bush several years ago on a Middle Eastern trip.] and you would have good reasons for believing the idea of "head" does NOT mean authority in 1 Corinth. 11:3 or other places in scripture. [For example Colossians 1:18. See verses 16-17 for context.] 

In fact, the 'head' in Greek culture was often times thought to be the source of life. Just as the loins were thought of as the seat of emotions [See Philippians 1:8]  and the heart was the center or essence of being. So what we have in this verse is a word used that might make perfect sense to those of us living in the American culture today who think of it as meaning "boss." But it just did not usually have that sense in that day at all.

This is NOT to say that in the incarnation moment there was not a submission in Jesus to the express "will" of the Father. He was desirous to and He did submit to the Father. But always remember that the word used is a Greek word "Hupo tasso" meaning one of equal value and voice, choosing [middle voice] to serve another. That was, after all, the express PURPOSE of the incarnation [to live with perfect obedience as man] which culminated in the Cross where He became our substitute as the sinless Lamb of God.

That idea of submission is not, however, the natural flow of this 1 Corinthian 11 passage at all. Source is the natural flow.

And, by the way, do you realize that no where in scripture is a husband told to lead his wife? [He is told to serve her.] The words lead, leader, servant-leader, spiritual leader are not in the text of the scripture at all. Paul doesn't use them. Peter doesn't use them. And most of all Jesus never does.

These words are only DERIVED  LOGICALLY from the word "head" used here and in Eph 5 translating it the way our culture means it today. So if Paul had a different intention or idea he wished to convey to that particular culture, we will really miss it thinking of "head" the way we do in our present culture.


But back to our word "kephale." My favorite illustration of the natural meaning of this word to that NT culture is, as many of you who have heard me teach know, that of a river. When we speak of the 'head' waters of a river, we mean its "source" with no idea of authority at all bearing in mind what they thought "head" meant. That's the intention of Paul here I believe.

So what is being said in 1 Corinth. 11:3 is that we have God's only begotten Son coming from God who is the "source" referring to the incarnation. This verse was never intended to be a statement of his ]Jesus] ontological [nature] or functional [role] subordination to God the Father in either eternity past OR future. It was only speaking incarnately as the Son takes on a human nature in which He ASSUMES a subordinate relationship to God the Father. So 1 Cor. 11:3 is referring to God [ The Father] who is the SOURCE of Jesus coming in human flesh to accomplish His purpose and not the One who is 'BOSS' over Jesus pre-incarnation or post-incarnation. That idea has to be read into the text.

Phil. 2.5-11 helps clarify this when it shows that the pre-existent Son of God had the condition and status of being equal to God. This means Jesus WAS God in pre-time eternity one in nature or essence or being with the Father who is God and the Spirit who is God. One God----not three gods with three wills or three minds but One God with one will or mind---- who is expressed in three unique persons. Relationally, I suppose you could say, as did Erick Sauer... "Father-is the Lover, Son-is the Beloved, Spirit-is the Spirit of love" because God IS love.

But God the Son CHOSE to not abide in that condition of equality, but rather humbled himself [REMEMBER..involving a choice, not an inherent condition or state of the divine Son] and took upon Himself human nature with a human body. This, while never less than God in His nature. He, thus, became the unique God-man and while living as man was submitted to God the Father as the Second Man or Last Adam.

Now the rest of the verse makes sense as this whole idea of 'kephale' in 1 Cor. 11:3 continues to substantiate the 'source' of the woman being the man and Christ being the 'source' of the man?

The man as"head" [Kephale-source] of the woman can certainly be seen by going back to the Genesis story in which the woman is literally brought out of man. [The rib thing.] But someone might ask "how does the 'man' have his source in Christ?" I'm glad you asked. I read one person who said it well when he said there are perhaps two possible answers to this. One is when we remember that Paul stated that Christ pre-existed and was involved in the creation of the first human-kind [Adam] in the beginning. Col. 1.16 is quite clear about that as is John 1.

But also, we should remember that Paul is the one who articulated the Adam Christology as it applied to Jesus and that he said in a biblical reality Jesus is to be seen as comparable to the historical Adam and who, as such, is the founder/source of a whole new kind of human beings [redeemed] made up of all those who are in Christ, both men and also women out of every nation, tribe, and race on earth. [Whew, long sentence read it again.]

Which one of these is correct? I lean toward the first but maybe both are true. Either one would cause the words in 1 Cor. 11:3 to make good sense. Verse 12 seems to pronounce a benediction on the source idea as well.

So I don't see how 1 Cor. 11.3 can be used as a proof at all for the idea that Christ is eternally subordinate to the Father. I don't see it as providing any proof for the idea that men are perpetually in authority over women either. That's not what kephale means in this verse from my understanding. I have the same view of the language when interpreting Ephesians 5 as well.

My conclusion then, is that in eternity there are not three gods with three different wills and minds but one God Who has one will and mind expressed in three persons of equal nature or essence. The incarnation had a different purpose to be sure. Beyond this I have little understanding of the Trinity which is FAR beyond understanding with our finite minds anyway. So much more could be said but I had promised to give my two-cents and I want to do just that and no more.

Paul B.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

WWJD IN THE ELECTIONS OF 2016?

Remember the bracelet? WWJD? It caught on years back at least in the religious world. It sure sounds spiritual enough. [What Would Jesus Do?] It also seems true that concerning some [if not a lot] of the modern situations we face today the scriptures appear to be somewhat vague, if not silent, on giving specific directions as to what to do in those modern situations.

What has caught my attention, however is the use of the "WWJD" concept on  blogs in regards to our American geopolitical culture. It was reported on a blog I read sometime back that a certain girl had decided she is now a Democrat because [according to her] that political party [as opposed to the Republican party] gives more attention to helping her fellow man. She is a bible believing Christian who is quite intelligent as well as committed as she evidenced with an extended time working overseas with people in dire need of everything including the gospel. Her argument was WWJD?  He'd be more like the Democrats.

Her political change was challenged on that blog with the same argument that under-pined her decision. WWJD? They were, in effect, saying God is more like the Republicans. So both she and her opponents were sure each side was being true to WWJD!

So it got me to thinking, would Jesus vote Democratic or Republican? What Would Jesus Do?

That might be an enlightening thing to discover. In fact, a better approach might be to look at what Jesus DID do since He did not live in a vacuum those thirty-three years here on planet earth two thousand years ago, but in the context of a very political and vicious culture of His own time and place. What DID He do?

If He does become our guide for choices we make in facing a culture that is the antithesis of our gospel, as is every culture anywhere today since there is no favored nation status anywhere, we might be shocked at what His example really is. Remember, Rome was ruling, slavery was rampant, [Both race and gender] and the poor were repulsive to all. If ever there was a corrupt and degenerate society that needed altering His did. I ask again...what did He do?

When political parties were formed and attempted to change things did He join? When laws were passed that denied His own values what court did He file His grievance in? When a Mayor or Governor or leader was selected by whatever process might have been then, what were the guiding principles He used for His own choice or of a candidate? In fact, did He ever vote in any election at all? It surely would be helpful as a guide for us if we can find out as we are now facing a whole new cycle of political activity that is enough to make the very worst political junkie among us overdose. If we could see what it was that Jesus did when confronted with political processes in His day, then "What would Jesus do?" might take on new meaning.

The answer is so obvious. We don't know because He didn't make ANY known choices in a geopolitical sense EVER that is on record. If we were to do what we know Jesus would do by observing His example, we would do NOTHING! Zero! Zilch!

Now...does this mean we SHOULDN'T vote or participate? Does this mean we should do nothing during our election for President in 2016? Well..I would absolutely have to say it means I can't announce my choice as His choice and yours as not being His choice. I sure can't say you're sinning [missing the mark] if I don't know what the mark is because it isn't stated in scripture even in example. I can't say without some pause that I know categorically "WJWD."

What I can say is this. I believe I'm to use every principle that I've found in the New Covenant that pertains to life in general and relationships in particular and make use of those principles in coming to my choices. It does mean I'm not to forget to have confidence that the ultimate results of all issues are genuinely in His hands with purposes I may not know as of yet. It does mean I'm to submit to every ordinance of man, with rare exceptions, and even then ready to pay the price willingly for not doing so in those rare occasions. That's regardless of whomever is elected to lead this nation.

Does this mean it's better to not participate? That's not the point I'm making at all. The right or the wrong would not be in voting or not voting. The wrong would be to announce one vote as Christian and another as not. Someone has said it better than can I when he said, "Nowhere in the NT is there even a hint of a command for us to participate in the human political election processes, nor do we find it a forbidden activity either."

It is obvious to me that this quote isn't saying it's evil to vote or not to vote. What it's saying is each believer is free as a citizen of both countries [heaven and earth] to use his or her judgment in such matters as they live their lives under their particular form of national government, the Constitution of the USA for us, following their National and State elected leaders in some matters and under the guidance of the New Covenant principles for life and relationships in all matters.

It is also true that any vote a believer ever casts is to be done as an act of faith or it is sin. This is no matter what candidate one votes for. Romans 14 clearly points this out. So to vote for a person out of fear or anger or judgment [condemnation] or any other reason, except faith, puts us in jeopardy of missing God in it.

So, for whom am I voting in 2016? I don't know yet. But whatever my choice as a citizen of America, my confidence is not in that person or that party or those promises made.

What would Jesus do? He's already done the work of the Cross and has left us [believers] with that message which far transcends any geopolitical message or situation and is needed by every person of every nation and is to be our greatest concern and must never be mixed with or confused with any political party. Let me say it clearly for myself at least.

God isn't white or black! God isn't a Democrat, Republican or Independent!

God isn't even an American!

Paul B.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A SMORGASBORD CHURCH LIFE



A stark statement from James A. fowler.

Forgive me a moment of nostalgic reminiscence... Remember the days when the proprietor at the mercantile, the clerk at the grocery market and the attendant at the gas-station would take the time to really "serve" the customer? They regarded pleasant, helpful service to be their primary responsibility, whereby they might maintain loyal, satisfied customers. Their mottoes were displayed on the wall: "Service with a smile." "The customer is always right."

Today, ours is a society of convenience stores, fast-foods and self-service. Aptly referred to as the "Me-generation," we want just what we want, and we want it "now" for the least price.

Ours is the age of supermarket shopping. We choose the product of our choice from a selection of multitudinous varieties. Willing to purchase not only what we need but almost everything we want, we expect to find everything at one location and a complete stock of every variety. We prefer that it be on "sale," or at least have a rebate, for we refuse to pay the full price. Our busy schedules mean we are always in a rush. We resent having to wait; we expect immediate service. Increasingly we are demanding that the commodities be delivered to our door.


Remember when our mothers and grandmothers would shop at the local grocery for fresh food items, or go down into the food cellar to get "canned" food items from the previous season? They would spend hours, sometimes days, preparing meals for the family and friends. Mealtimes were a time of meaningful family fellowship and personal interaction.

Fewer and fewer family meals are prepared today. When mealtime approaches we pile in the car to drive to restaurant row. "Let's take a vote. What sounds good to us today?" Sampling the delicacies of the innumerable food preparation establishments, we cater to whatever suits our "taste" at the moment. There are ethnic emphases, culinary specialties, a smorgasbord to appease every appetite.

Needing fuel for the automobile, we stop at the gas station. Remember how the friendly attendant used to come out and check the oil and water, wash the windows and pump the gas? We even used to call it a "service station." Few are willing to pay the additional price for full-service anymore. Instead we pull up to the "self-serve" island to "pump and pay." Having taken on fuel for the week, we drive off in a hurry to the next convenient, self-serve satisfaction of our every desire.

It is not difficult to liken the foregoing shift in consumerism to the contemporary ecclesiastical situation. This is the age of "supermarket Christianity" where we shop around for the commodities we desire. Though unwilling to "pay the price," we demand satisfaction of every perceived need and immediate delivery.

The institutional church has catered to such consumer Christianity by attempting to offer a smorgasbord of every delicacy on restaurant row. "Where shall we go to get 'fed' today?" Some even conceive of a gas-station Christianity where people can "pump and pay" for a weekly spiritual "fill-up."

Whether it be the pleasant personal service of the past or the self-service style of the present, the entire concept of a consumer-oriented Christianity must be challenged. Are we consumers demanding to be served, or are we Christians, indwelt by Jesus Christ, living and loving to serve the needs of others?

 
Self-service Christianity is an abomination! Let us return to real Christian service with a smile.

Friday, June 12, 2015

WOMEN AND THE CHURCH

Sometimes you can't say it as well and certainly not better than someone else has said it. So why say anything? Read here what I believe to be the definitive statement about women and the Church with a fresh look at THE ONE passage that seems to give everyone so much trouble. You can thank me later.