The new birth calls us to action

The letter of 1 Peter reminds us God has provided us with new lives filled with hope and characterized by our souls being cleansed. Yet, the new birth is not just about what we receive. In the ancient world and within the New Testament, it was understood that progeny exhibit the qualities of their parents. God expects particular behaviors from us. Continue reading “The new birth calls us to action”

The God of new beginnings: the new birth’s cleansing

The letter of 1 Peter reminds God’s people how God has enabled us to have a new life and what we can expect from this new beginning. While its opening verses reveal that the new beginning God provides enables us to have hope for tomorrow, when we step further into the letter we discover that it also transforms who we are today! Continue reading “The God of new beginnings: the new birth’s cleansing”

Inventing the reason why: Galatians 3:28

As they opened their front door, immediately their eyes fell upon the shattered vase on the floor. The babysitter was sleeping soundly upon the sofa. One of their two young boys greeted them with, “the dog broke it.” At that moment their other son was nowhere to be seen.

Like most parents, an innate detective gear kicked into action. The dog was still in his doghouse in the backyard. In spite of the rain, no muddy dog prints were on the kitchen tiles. The babysitter had slept through the crash and could offer no insight.

Explanatory stories are powerful. Explanations answering “why” empower attitudes and action. Accurate explanations point us in the right direction! Continue reading “Inventing the reason why: Galatians 3:28”

Bonhoeffer, Culture & 1 Corinthians 11

Dietrich Bonhoeffer is frequently praised within Christendom for standing up against the prevailing culture of Nazi Germany in support of biblical principles. I recently witnessed a celebration of Carl Spain, whose chapel speech in 1960 at an all white college condemned racism among Christian colleges.

The question invariably comes to mind, why were there not many others, who profess Christ, standing with Bonhoeffer or Spain? Seriously? Continue reading “Bonhoeffer, Culture & 1 Corinthians 11”

The hermeneutics of desire and fear

Have you ever heard something that you did not want to be true? We all have.

I remember a visiting professor from Oberlin College and Conservatory telling our class that when it comes to church history, practice has often preceded theology. Everything within me screamed this was wrong. Our understanding of God’s word should shape what we do and how we think. What we want or what we are doing should not determine how we read God’s word!

Walking with him across the parking lot after class, I discussed this with him further. He graciously pointed out that “what is” does not always align with “what should be.” My naivety was crushed. I had not considered that some might want to take a path other than the original message. Continue reading “The hermeneutics of desire and fear”

The new birth

During the 1st century some rabbis described Gentiles as “a new-born child” when they converted to Judaism (Yebamoth 22a, 48b, 97b). Proselyting to Judaism required a baptism. During the same time that the rabbis were using this language of new birth, John the Baptizer was calling people to reorientate their lives with a baptism of repentance. (Luke 1:15-17; 3:3)

This was the religious background when Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a member of the Jewish ruling class, visited Jesus.  Jesus taught Nicodemus that no one can enter God’s kingdom unless he is born from above, namely “born of water and Spirit” (John 3:3,5). Continue reading “The new birth”