The gravity of grace (3): Overview of Romans 1-5

Luther quipped that he hated the commonly accepted idea of “the righteousness of God” within Romans. Accordingly, he discovered a new definition that created a whole new way to interpret Romans.

We need to be aware that what we do not want to be true as well as what we value can exert powerful influences on how we interpret. I call this the hermeneutic of desire.

My goal in summarizing Romans below is neither to conform to nor reject popular understanding. I neither seek to stand in Luther’s shadow nor run from it. Using your Bible, you will have to decide to what extent the following represents Paul’s thoughts.

Whatever message we understand embedded within Romans will greatly influence how we interpret grace. This in turn will shape our Christian behaviors, values and teachings. Continue reading “The gravity of grace (3): Overview of Romans 1-5”

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”

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”

Sims, Animals & Biblical Teaching: Wielding the Power to Shape

The computer game industry caters well to testosterone. Want to command the power of an army, fly the world’s most devastating airplane, build a city, manage a world or expand an empire throughout the galaxy? There is a computer simulation game that will pander to your drive for power. While guys may be drawn more toward command and conquer, the gals are not without desire to control. The tempter shinnied up to Eve with a modest proposal. If you want to be like God, if the idea of possessing the power to know right and wrong is attractive to you, … Continue reading Sims, Animals & Biblical Teaching: Wielding the Power to Shape