Wednesday, December 2, 2009

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Friday, August 14, 2009

The New Perspective on Paul

So I haven't really been on the blogging scene much this summer, which I regret. Despite my lack of blogging, I still have been thinking and working on different things: mainly my summer class concerning Romans. Romans and much of Pauline theology has been roiling in debate for the past thirty years or so because of "The New Perspective on Paul". I just wrote a big fatty fat fat paper that dealt with this discussion, so I thought I'd share it with the rest of the world!

After you read it (if you DARE) comment on it. I think a good discussion about christian theology is long overdue on this blog. Bring it to me people...

From Luther to Wright: Interacting with and Confronting the New Perspective on Paul


In many reformed theological circles, a heated discussion has been broiling for the past two decades. These debates center on the teachings of the Apostle Paul, his ministry, and its intended purpose for the church. Theologians such as E. P. Sanders, James Dunn, and N. T. Wright have found themselves at the forefront of these discussions as they press new ideas and viewpoints upon the reformed theologians of today. This paper will give an overview of the Reformed perspectives, the New Perspective on Paul (NPP), and finally will close with my personal analysis.


During the reformation, the faith of the western world was solidified through the interpretation of biblical texts by Martin Luther, the father of the Protestant denomination. Martin Luther was the first to assert that it was a personal relationship with Jesus that would lead to salvation from an individual’s own sins, and that no amount of good works would ever be able to make a man righteous before a holy God (Associated Content). This caused quite the ruckus within a Roman Catholic faith that was based upon “works” righteousness, and the stark division between the two denominations was born. Luther’s interpretation of the bible had been accepted as truth within protestant circles until New Perspective theologians proposed the idea that it was possible justification for the individual’s sins wasn’t a central theme in the gospel, but rather justification for membership within the kingdom of God was (The Paul Page). This paper will look at each side of the argument, discuss the different viewpoints of NPP major theologians, and will close with my own personal analysis. No 1st century Jewish writings will be used in this study, but a myriad of other modern texts will be considered.


It has already been asserted that justification is one of the major tipping points between Protestants and Catholics, but this paper has not clearly examined it. Developing an understanding for each side of the argument will be crucial for comprehending the scope and reorientation of the NPP, and the arguments that are held against it. Despite this difficulty, the most basic idea and form of justification can be stated as “the act of declaring someone innocent” ( This definition holds true for both the reformed and the new perspectives on justification.

Reformed or “Old” Perspective

As time has continued on, the reformed perspective on Paul’s teachings within the New Testament have developed in a variety of ways, ultimately leading to the modern doctrine that many follow today. Reformers fought for the idea that justification was instantaneously received, unlike the progressive justification that was being taught and practiced by the medieval Roman Catholic Church (Berkhof 512). The reformed theologians claimed that justification before God came about the moment that an individual believes in the salvific work of Christ Jesus. The main proponents of these views were the reformation fathers Martin Luther, John Calvin.

The most important stance that reformed theologians hold to is that a believer is justified through faith alone, through Christ alone, and is justified before God by grace alone (Venema 7). This view of justification before God is what shapes much of the reformed ideas of biblical study, evangelism, systematic theology, semantics, and spiritual discipline. Justification is the venue and medium through which a sinner becomes vindicated before God and gains righteousness through Jesus Christ.

The “Old” Gospel

Through the reformed view of Justification, the Gospel becomes focused on an individual sinner’s relationship and belief in Jesus Christ (Soteriology). Romans 1:18-32 states that man has lost community with God because of his own individual sinfulness and moral shortcomings. No former covenant with God protects a sinful human from God’s wrath in the final judgment, thereby grouping together the need for salvation to Jews and Gentiles alike. While we are sinners and were estranged from God because of our sin, it is because of God’s need for his own personal holiness that he sent Christ to die for us. The Gospel of Jesus Christ then has become “Good News” to all who believe in it. Because God sent Jesus to die on the cross for every sinner’s sins and to achieve victory over death, the proclamation of the Gospel is one of personal salvation from sins. Jesus became a substitute for us in the penalty of sin (penal substitution), as is stated in Romans 3:23-25, thereby giving humanity the opportunity to once again join in community with God.

Reformed Justification

The reformed tradition of belief claims that justification before God is obtained strictly through faith alone, or sola fide (Venema 7). There is no amount of work, Jew or Gentile, which would be able to make up for the breach in humanity’s former relationship with God. Reformed theology also strongly opposes the idea that “works”, or “good living”, maintains the justified state that a sinner receives from God upon believing in Christ. The Pauline epistles of Romans and Galatians are two of the strongest accounts of the Apostle Paul’s rebukes of Judiazers and Israelites that were trying to gain righteousness with God because of their works. (Gal. 2:16; 3:10-14; 5:2-4; 6:13; Rom. 2:6; 3:20,28; 4:2-4; 9:32). The doctrine of sola fide was obvious to the reformers.

The problem that comes from the idea of sola fide is that faith itself is not what justifies a sinner. A sinner is justified through their faith in Christ, but it is God’s grace (sola gratia) and Christ’s atoning sacrifice that actually imputes righteousness upon a believer (Piper and Wright 35). Faith is the medium through which God’s righteousness is imparted upon us, and it is this faith that continues to draw us closer to Christ.

As a result, there are 2 major components of a reformed view of justification: A believer is forgiven of all of their sins, and they are accepted into the family of God as an adopted son. (Rom. 8:15) The individual believer obtains a righteous acquittal in the name of Christ, and the spirit of God begins to dwell within the believer. God’s spirit begins the process of sanctification and the regeneration of the individual’s spirit and soul. It is beneficial to the believer because with the acceptance of Christ’s righteousness, the believer also receives a “perfected blanket of righteousness” in Christ. In Christ no condemnation will be found, and so all sins, even those committed when belief in Christ had already occurred, will be wiped away.

New or “Fresh” Perspective

For hundreds of years, mainline Protestants have accepted the reformed father’s interpretation of Paul and the doctrine of justification as dogma. Despite this, the questioning mind is ever present in scholarship and critical thinking. The questioning mind that sparked the fire for the NPP was the theologian E. P. Sander. He was the first to assert that the theologians of the reformation had given an inaccurate portrayal of the 2nd temple Judaist situation, therefore incorrectly interpreting the Gospel, Paul’s mission, and justification before God.

Sanders delved into extra biblical Jewish texts from the 1st century and came up with a form of Judaism that was more focused on grace than it was upon rote legalism. He coined this new view of Judaism “Covenantal Nomism”, and this new 1st temple Jewish structure completely undermines the reformed interpretations of Paul (Clary). Covenantal Nomism is in opposition to the belief that 1st century Judaism was a religion that was focused on gaining their righteousness before God by their own personal works. This thinking is also sometimes called Pelagianism (Lusk). Covenantal Nomism claims that believers received their salvation through the grace of God, but they were obligated to maintain their status within the community of the saved by their works.

The first question that comes to mind from Sander’s new view of 1st century Judaism is, “If the Jews weren’t legalistic, then what is Paul confronting throughout the letters of Romans and Galatians?” Sanders claims that instead of confronting the 1st century Israelites about religious legalism, Paul was actually confronting “the rejection of the new reality of God’s saving work through Christ” (Venema, 30). This view of the Jewish religion greatly challenges the reformed interpretation of much of the Pauline corpus and the implications of what Paul intended with his epistles.

Works of the Law

E. P. Sanders laid the foundations for the NPP movement, but it was James Dunn who began to further re-orient the scriptures to fit into the NPP. Dunn is known as the theologian who worked upon the meaning of “the Works of the Law” within scripture. This simple phrase has a far-reaching interpretation that affects the way Paul is understood.

Within the NT and especially within Paul’s writings, “Works of the Law” have traditionally been understood as a religious legalism that barred Jews from grasping the new covenant promises through Jesus. Dunn projects that this is in fact incorrect, and even that this view has fueled anti-Semitism ( Dunn understands that “Works of the Law” is actually referring to Jewish exclusivism within the new body of believers.

If the law was functioning as a marker of exclusion for the gentiles, then the law was functioning in a sociological sense instead of in a personal sense. This revelation focuses much more on the ecclesiological (or the communal) nature of the law as opposed to the soteriological (or the individualistic) (Mattison). With the old “boundary markers” that the Israelites had to identify themselves from non-believers (circumcision, torah based laws, and other religious requirements) the basic thought from NPP theologians was that these habits were dying hard.

Because Dunn suggested that Paul rebuked the Israelites for exclusivism instead of for legalism, justification and righteousness within reformed doctrine needed to be reordered and reinterpreted. An ecclesiological gospel is much different than a soteriological gospel in practice and profession.

“Fresh” Justification

The most significant theological topic that has received a new perspective “makeover” is the topic of justification. Reformed justification came under fire from the theologians that were making headway underneath the banner of the NPP for its soteriological focus and incorrect interpretation of 1st century Jewish justification. (Gilley) N. T. Wright, the biggest proponent of the NPP view of justification, claims that justification isn’t about how a sinner is saved from their own personal sins, but rather how a sinner can tell if they are part of the covenant community of God (Venema 39). Wright also holds to the belief that it is the requirement of the believer to join the covenant community through faith in Christ, and that the believer stays in the covenant community through their works. Unlike the reformed view of justification (one is justified before God when they turn to Christ in repentance), NPP justification comes after a sinner has turned to Christ and God professes that they are justified before him. This profession from God imbues the covenant membership that is a sinner’s salvation. Interestingly enough, this view of justification makes huge strides in bridging the gap between the protestant and catholic denominations. NPP thinking says that, “If everyone who believes in Christ is in the same body, then all other religious views are not significant causes to separate the covenant community.”

Traditionally, justification has been seen in an “already, but not yet” sense of fulfillment. The believer is justified before God the moment they believe in Christ. This is not the case within NPP theology. Justification, according to Wright, is entirely eschatological in its scope. Wright states, “...justification by the anticipation in the present of the justification that will occur in the future, and gains its meaning from this anticipation” (Baker 22). The justification that is experienced in the present is just an announcement of the impending justification that will occur before God in the final judgment of all souls.

The “Fresh” Christ

The atoning work of Christ takes a very different approach within NPP studies. Christ’s death is seen as a “representative” death and his resurrection is seen purely as his personal vindication before God (Venema 54). It is Christ’s death that is the climax of the Abrahamic covenant with Israel, and through Christ’s resurrection the covenant is reinstated to the entirety of mankind (Venema 55). Through Christ, God made it possible for others to approach him to gain a righteous standing before him, but Christ’s death itself did not justify the believer before God. Because of this view, Wright and other NPP theologians downplay the importance of penal substitution greatly (Venema 54).

The “Fresh” Gospel

Within NPP justification, the orientation for the believer is a communal one. The message of the gospel (the medium for justification) is not one of “how a sinner gets saved” but rather “who is Lord?” (Venema 39). Jesus is seen to be the fulfillment of all the Abrahamic covenants with Israel, and it is the knowledge of who he is, his coming kingdom, and his lordship that make up the message of the gospel. NPP theologians state that there is no mechanism within the gospel that purposes itself with the salvation of an individual’s sins. Wright blames the reformed view of the gospel with over exaggerating the doctrine of justification, causing the true purpose of Paul’s mission to become ever foggier (Venema 39).

“Fresh” Righteousness

The NPP has begun to restructure much of the traditional beliefs around Pauline theology, but possibly the most controversial is the NPP view of God’s righteousness. It has been customary within reformed theological circles to understand that righteousness from God is imputed to the sinner when they believe in Christ. This is not so within NPP ideology. Righteousness from God is not a trait that can be passed from person to person, like a material object. Wright proposed that the reformed view of righteousness is incorrect because of the “court room” images displayed when discussing God’s righteousness. Wright states,

If we use the language of the law court, it makes no sense whatever to say that the judge imputes, imparts, bequeaths, conveys or otherwise transfers his righteousness to either the plaintiff or the defendant. Righteousness is not an object, a substance or a gas which can be passed across the courtroom…to imagine the defendant somehow receiving the judge’s righteousness is simply a category mistake (Clary).

In lieu of righteousness being imparted upon the believer, God’s righteousness carries out two objectives: to show God has been completely faithful to the covenants that were made between He and Israel, and to be the divine badge that signified membership within the covenant community of the righteous chosen. Picture God as the judge at the end of time, and the individual sinner as the plaintiff or defendant. God does not physically give his verdict to the accused as an object, but rather he grants a “title” to the accused: guilty or not guilty. It is this view of righteousness that the NPP holds to (Meadors). The believer receives God’s righteousness as a “righteous standing” in the covenant community, while the non-believer is condemned to hell to pay for their sinfulness.

Critique & Personal Opinion

Now that the foundations of both views have been laid, I will sound off on what I believe to be true. While NPP theology is the cutting edge center of study within the Christian religion, I personally still hold to the reformed camp’s theology. Reformed theology is not without its cracks, knocks, and loopholes, but I still believe that Christ was sent to the earth to justify humanity before a holy God.

Semi Pelagianism

NPP theologians assert that the 1st century Judaism that was proposed by reformed church fathers was incorrect. The NPP believes that Judaism was actually a religion based within God’s grace, not in idolatrous religious legalism. Through Covenantal Nomism, the Israelites approached God graciously, and the first major flaw within NPP theology can be seen in this claim. Covenantal Nomism was no doubt a system that involved God’s grace, but there is no evidence that supports the idea that Covenantal Nomism only involved God’s grace and not works (Venema 62). Reformed theologians have accused NPP of a “proto-pelagian” viewpoint on 1st century Judaism, or a blending of pelagianistic views and a grace based religion ( Throughout the history of the church, there have been many different pelagian movements that have been attempted; yet all of them have failed. Pelagianism has been determined to be an “illegitimate form of Soteriology” by the church, and there is no reason that it would have been any different within the first century ( Reformed theologians have also stated that Covenantal Nomism bears remarkable resemblance to the semi-pelagian medieval Roman Catholic Church and its views of justification (Venema 65). Secondly, it is very presumptuous of NPP theologians to state that all of 1st century Judaism was a “covenantal nomistic” religion. Judaism had multiple denominations all vying for power within the scope of the first century, and each denomination held its own specific beliefs ( Lumping all of 1st century Jews into Covenantal Nomism is a historical error and an inaccurate claim.

Work of The Law

The NPP claims that whenever Paul uses the phrase “works” or “Works of the Law” he is actually referring to an Israeli nationalistic exclusivism that was barring Christian gentiles from joining the saved covenant community because they lacked traditional Jewish customs and laws. The interpretation of “works” that reformed theologians claim is incorrect, as their presupposed version of “works”, grinds an axe against Pelagianism and merit based Soteriology. Despite assertions from NPP theologians, scripture itself speaks to the multi-faceted nature of the phrase “works of the law”. Paul uses the phrase in a very broad sense, covering such topics as religious legalism to semi-pelagianism (Rom. 3:19-20; 7:7-12; Gal. 3:10). The evidence lends itself toward the reformed camp of thinking, or more specifically that “works of the Law” is referred to as religious legalism more than a form of nationalistic exclusivism (Venema 70).


Lastly, the doctrine of justification is a fitting end to this critique. This doctrine has been the last vestige that NPP theology sits upon, and it is this new foundation that possibly differs the most from mainline reformed theology. NPP justification is Ecclesiological, not Soteriological in its focus. It should be noted that any discussion concerning justification has an ecclesiological emphasis at some point in the discussion, but to say that a communal view of justification is the sole purpose is far too narrow. Paul writes abundantly on the topic of justification, and through his writing we can see that there was a strong correlation to an individual’s salvation. (Rom. 6:20-23) Romans 1-5 is completely concerned with the realization of an individual’s sins.

John Piper sums up the reformed view of present justification and future justification in a compact, yet powerful way.

Present justification is based on the substitutionary work of Christ alone, enjoyed in union with him through faith alone. Future justification is the open confirmation and declaration that in Christ Jesus we are perfectly blameless before God. This final judgment accords with our works. That is, the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives will be brought forward as the evidence and confirmation of true faith and union with Christ. Without that validating transformation, there will be no future salvation (Piper and Wright 35).

Without the doctrine of penal substitution to connect the relationship with the believer and Christ (maybe use “… the relationship a believer has with Christ), the NPP has a very thin theology; to explain the relationship a believer has with Christ, his atoning sacrifice, and the reception of God’s righteousness. (Rom. 3:22) Belief in Christ is relegated to the position of a “stepping stool” into the covenant community, and it is this weak view of faith in Christ that leaves the scent of universalism in the air (Gilley). Without the reformed view of Christ’s atoning sacrifice, a massive chunk of the power of the Gospel is also dissolved.


No matter the argument within biblical studies, the view that is most supported by scripture is always the view that is “victorious”. Through this paper both the reformed and new perspectives on Paul’s epistles, justification, God’s righteousness, and interpretations of biblical texts have been examined and critiqued. While the NPP is indeed an audacious venture into the true meaning of Christianity, there is not enough solid evidence that supports its claims. The reformed traditions and viewpoints of scripture still hold the most water within scripture, and I’m personally willing to place my cards within the reformed camp of thinking. Christ came and died on the cross for my sin, and in him I am free from damnation. I cannot think of better news for all that are willing to listen to his call.

Works Cited

"An Evaluation of the New Perspective on Paul - a knol by Ian Clary." Knol: a unit of knowledge. 14 Aug. 2009 .

Baker, Levi. "Hope Possessed or Hope Postponed: Paul’s Presentation of the Believers’ Present Justification and Future Hope in Romans 5-8 in Comparison to N.T. Wright’s Future Justification Perspective." 13 Aug. 2009 .

Berkhof, Louis. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1941.

Clark, Denise. "Martin Luther: Father of the Great Reformation - Associated Content." Associated Content - 10 Jan. 2007. 14 Aug. 2009 .

Gilley, Gary. "The New Perspective on Paul - Part 1-3." Southern View Chapel :: Springfield, Illinois :: An Independent Bible Church. 14 Aug. 2009 .

" Justify Definition | Definition of Justify at ." 14 Aug. 2009 .

LUSK, RICH. "Theologia » Putting the New Perspective into Perspective." House of Horne. 14 Aug. 2009 .

Mattison, Mark. "A Summary of the New Perspective on Paul." The Paul Page: Dedicated to the New Perspective on Paul. 14 Aug. 2009 .

Evangelical Quarterly 1 (2008): 1-13

Piper, John, and N.T. Wright. "The Justification Debate: A Primer." Christianity Today June 2009: 35-37.

Venema, Cornelis P.. Getting the Gospel Right: Assessing the Reformation and New Perspectives on Paul. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2006.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Summer Summer Summer Summer Summer Summer

Woooooooo-ee this summer has been crazy! Emotionally, it has been a bit of an up and down type of living, but its all good. Below is a blogpost that I began to write about 2 weeks ago, but i got so frustrated by the situation that I never finished it...
The mind numbing purposelessness that I am enjoying this summer is starting to get to me. Today I wrestled with my dog for a long time. That was probably the most exciting thing that happened.
I'm thinking about what gives a routine purpose and meaning. Why is it that going out into the community and doing something (even shopping!) is more fulfilling than watching movies all day?
I know that lazy people are called fools in wisdom, but what happens when the hard working person doesn't have anything to do other than read and exist?
All butterflies and sunflowers, right? Hah! Hardly. Since then a lot has happened and a lot of different things have begun to challenge me in ways that I didn't expect.

For one, I think God was pulling me to a place of extreme comfort (and therefore, discomfort) for a reason. I'm a people oriented person who basically interacts only with my parents, or no one for long periods of time. Tomorrow my parents are getting on a plane and flying to Australia to see their first grandchild born, leaving me behind to watch our house. I don't have any idea what I'm going to do for THREE WEEKS. I'm becoming more and more oriented toward social justice and the gospel, but I find myself in a wealthy white suburban neighborhood. Ironic? I'm almost always one of the people that "gets in" with something that i work toward (this is applying to a job- I had an internship lined up), but i have found myself unemployed without any real source of income.

All of this has been fleshed out to show one main thing- when God wants to get your attention, he can completely move around the things in your life that are comforting to you so that he will become numero uno once again. whether it was my relationships, my pride, my ideas, or my future, God moved them all so that I would be broken for him once again. Since i've realized all of this, I've appreciated things about God once again.
  1. His never-ending, always abundant grace. Sitting in a communion service I was struck in my heart about my sinfulness and how much I had turned from God. It was ever so gradual, but deviation from God's way is the wrong way. Thanks for reminding me big guy.
  2. With hard work comes fulfillment. I can't just sit on my hands and wait until the last minute to finish something. I could have healthy relationships with the people in the area, but my mentality of "this isn't my home- Taylor is" gets in the way of community with the church. Looks like I'm the knuckle-head that missed out on all of the life happening around me. Stupid me!
  3. When God is center, my life's orbits are correct. Trying to make Bethany the center or my employment or my future will always leave me feeling let down and cheated. Only Christ can re-calibrate my motives so that I become the man i'm supposed to be. With Christ as the sun, my life's planets are in alignment. (SUCH GOOD PLAY ON WORDS OMGOMGOMG)

So, here's to tough times when we don't have any idea what God has in store for us. While I don't get everything right all the time (most of the time, really) I know i'm a work in progress and that what i'll be for the rest of my earthly life.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Growing in the Garden

This past week I have been doing quite a bit of yardwork. Since I couldn't find a job for the summer, my parents graciously employed me as their personal handyman for the next couple months. It isn't a bad gig at all, just a little humid sometimes. :-)

As I have been doing yardwork, there has been an inordinate amount of time to think over different things in my life.
  • Why is it that I sin?
  • What does it mean to "desperately pray?"
  • In what way should the government of a church be formed and operated?
  • Is there a limit to familial accountability?
  • Do I have a worldly view of success or a spiritual view of success?
  • What was the last joke that I told to God?
  • If I don't completely rely on God in this next year, I'm going to muck up the Student Body President position in a royal way!
All of these questions and misgivings rattle through my head and rarely find a symbolistic exit into the real world, but last week a little plant gave me some clarity.

My mother wants me to plant things in lots of different and new areas throughout our yard, and that means digging lots of holes. I mean LOTS of them people. I'll just say that I've dug so many holes that my foot has a permanent indention of the top of a shovel in it. So here I am digging up dirt for some seagrass, and I stop and look at one of the plants that I am planting.

It has to be one of the ugliest little guys that I have ever laid eyes upon. I mean, it might have been a decent seagrass at one point, but it was looking a lot like Britney Spears when she was at her worst: BAD. The blades of grass were dry and lifeless, with no color and no vitality. It was crispy and curled on its edges, and it probably wasn't even worth saving! I saw this little plant and thought, "Why should I plant this? It probably is going to die soon anyways (if it isn't already dead!)" Despite my own misgivings, I was ordered to dig and plant, so dig and plant I did...

After I planted the little guy, I started thinking about it. I'm that little plant in God's eyes. I have all of the facilities to become a vibrant seagrass, but I still suck at doing things the right way majority of the time. The big difference between my reality and the application that I'm explaining is that God is the gardener, and He doesn't plant me in the ground because someone told him to. God plants me in his ground because He believes in me and loves me. While I might be dead or dying, the water that he brings can re-vitalize me in a way that my little seagrass mind can't even begin to comprehend. I mean, do you think the seagrass thought that putting himself in dirt and splashing some water on himself would bring him life? No, obviously he did not. Only God, the gardener knows that.

*SIGH* What a good application! I thought that to myself as I jovially dug some more holes. Soon afterwards, my mom came outside and saw the state of the little seagrass. "Jordan, this little guy is done for, so lets dig him up and throw him away, okay?"


I had subconsciously connected my own spiritual growth with the growth of that little seagrass! I stubbornly refused to dig it up, much to the frustration of my very exasperated mom, but now it is growing. I'm hoping to see much more application from the garden throughout the summer.

Until next time sports fan, I humbly submit this video for your viewing pleasure... Tony Hawk posted this video on Twitter a couple days ago. Ha!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Is it possible to not sin?

Last summer I decided that I was going to read straight through the Bible for my quiet time. Once I had read through the entire thing, I would start at the beginning once again and do a study of each chapter. It's been an interesting and challenging goal so far! I just finished up with the book of Proverbs this morning, which means that I am totally halfway done with the Bible! Crazy!

As I read through the book of Proverbs, I often felt like I was drinking from a firehose. There is so much wisdom seeded throughout that book! I feel like I could read a single verse everyday and I'd still be constantly learning something new. Many of the proverbs that are in the book deal with ways to avoid living in a sinful and foolish manner. Applicable to everyone, no?

Well last night at the young adults Bible study that my parent host, we talked about sin. My dad proposed the question, "is it possible to not sin?" As I'm sure you could guess, everyone's reaction to that was a resounding no(!), but lets stop and think about that.

Of course we all are already sinful from the moment we are created. We come into the world with a sinful nature with makes us separate from God. But despite my sin nature, from this moment on could I no longer sin? Hypothetically the answer is yes. If I became the closer to God than any other human ever has, somehow became extremely disciplined, and avoided all temptation I could not sin. In 1 John Paul expects for the christians to be aiming toward "no sin", not "less sin".

As we discussed this one of the fellows that was at the Bible study said something that I think is true and completely sound. he said, "the true mark of a christian is their reaction to sin." Think about that for a minute. I think that is true!

Whenever a christian hears the gospel for the first time, they become aware of the weightiness of their sin. What will they do with that knowledge? Some repent and become awestruck by the grace of God while others shrug their shoulders and keep living in a sinful manner. What happens when a christian falls back into sin? They repent of the sinful actions that they have committed and work proactively to change how they will react to that temptation in the future. Now this isn't something that is completely based upon the christian: God still has the biggest hand in this reaction to sin.

Where would a believer run to if they wanted help from sin? They would run to Christ. When a believer want to act proactively in dealing with a temptation next time, they begin leaning upon Christ more for support. Christians go out and evangelize because of the grace they were given. They were given grace because of how they reacted to their own sin. I never had looked at christianity from this angle, but I think it stands up underneath our faith.

What do you guys think?

Monday, June 1, 2009


Do you think that we should remove the ideas of denominational backgrounds and just have one "christian church?"
-We should follow what the Bible says, not what this former church father has said about the Bible.
-We focus on the wrong issues in the church. If we focused on the correct issues, then we wouldn't need denominations.
-Groups of people that think the same way should band together.
-Ever since the reformation, churches have been splitting into smaller and smaller sections. Its time that churches should start meeting at a middle ground once again so that we can help the oppressed and the poor in the world. What the church needs is organization.
-Legalism kills the unity that the church is striving for. Oftentimes people don't think that legalism is a problem.
-In history, unity has been attempted by the church, but it hasn't been implemented well. This lack of organizational focus caused those movements to fall, and fall hard.
What about having different worship services, but the same sermon is preached? Wouldn't the church body be separated into those different church services?


Dr. Blogabopolis has entered the building...

Sometimes, when I read what other people are writing, I feel like a proud friend. In movies, the protagonist will be all chummy chummy with someone back from their "college years", only to hear about the success of that person later on in life. There is a sort of swelling of pride in the face of the protagonist. They are happy that their comrade could succeed in life. 

Thats how I feel when I read blogs. 

Blogs have become a very important place within the life of a 20 something year old college student. Blogs keep our friends and families informed about our lives as we live, keep our lives from becoming entrenched entirely in the stresses of life, and most importantly, they allow a place for external process with like minded people. It is that final purpose that makes a blog so invaluable in our time.

We live in a society that is focused upon empirical data and swift clean answers. We don't often get the opportunity to chew on something and think it over. We are required to assimilate and regurgitate. This obviously is a more than lackluster form of education, and it is because of this implied system that blogs are quickly becoming crucial in the life of a developing thinker. 

On a blog, a blogger is able to present their half formed ideas or their "broadly stroked" dreams. In the blogging world, whenever a post is submitted to the blogging community the author is saying, "please read what I am thinking and push back". In reality, it is a shame that discussion like this has been transferred to the security of digital interaction with ideas as opposed to face to face interaction, yet this interaction is a necessary thing for our growth. 

When I read my friend's blogs, I see that they are learning and shaping the ways that they are thinking. Look at this, or this one, or even this guy's blog. They all are putting their ideas out for everyone to see and they are benefiting from it. 

I would challenge all of you who might read this to get someone else to start blogging. The more people that are willing to offer their viewpoints up for discussion, the stronger our own topics will become. I promote that the ethereal blogging community that we have found ourselves in should gain some substance and definition. I'm asking for us to not just go to our own blogs to talk about what we think and feel and want and believe, but also to talk about it with others.

Once we do this, enrichment will follow.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Aww yeh, some mutha bleepin' lessons dawg

Soo its summertime. 

Summer is the time when everyone lets loose a little bit, busts out the ol' grille, soaks up some sun, and enjoys the weather.

Summer is also known for the summer job pull. 1,000's of young individuals look for jobs to make a little scrilla to take their honey out with. When this system is clickin' everyone is happy as a fat kid in a hershey's factory.

that is, when everything is clicking.

The global economy caught a swift kick to the lower extremities about 6 months ago and it is still down for the count. Unemployment has reached an all time high, the stock market is as finicky as Billy Joel at a bar, and entire industries are being slaughtered to try and make international ends meet.

So! Now that the stage has been set, lets take a look at my predicament. My Mom urged me to search out an internship at a church (since that is what I'm going to be doing for the rest of my life). I cautiously agreed, seeing as how I was interested in makin' some G's this summer. Internships aren't the most glamorously paying of jobs, mind you. Eventually I found an internship at the church my parents attend in Alabama. Its a good little church with great worship and good membership, and it is really close to my house. I was pumped.

Time continued to drain out of the school year and I was looking forward to figuring out more about my internship. I e-mailed questions and called the ministers: no answer. "Hmm," I thought to myself, "Maybe it is just a really busy time!" Try again: no response. Again: Nuthin. It had been a couple weeks since I had heard from the church, and I was starting to get a little worried about my plans of "changing the world one internship at a time". 

When I finally got a call (finals week) the minister's said that they were deciding to go in another direction instead of an internship. They said that I could volunteer at the church all that I wanted to! What they were really trying to say was that they were dropping the bottom out of my summer plans in the 11th hour like a bunch of champions of inspiration. 

And now we're here. I'm currently sitting on my bed not really doing much of anything, which is what I have been doing for the past week. Jobs are scarce and jobs that pay well are even scarcer. I've gone to many different places looking for work, but the response has almost consistently been, "We're not hiring, but we'd certainly take your application!" Yea, I'm sure you would. In this market they probably are using the 1,000's of applications that are coming in to heat their workspaces. 

No job. No fat bank. Not much of anything is going on.

It is interesting though, that God still works in these times. 

First, I was bluntly taught that church leadership often has no idea what the (insert any crass word) its doing. For all the pomp and circumstance of a sunday morning service, the 166 other hours in a week seem to be filled up with a lot of "Ums", "Uhhs", and "???s". The church- on the micro and macro levels- is still growing and maturing. Just because you become a "senior minister" doesn't mean that you have it all together or that you have all the answers. Sometimes (and probably not often enough) things in the church get a little raw. It would be easy for me to be pissed out of my mind about how irresponsible the leaders of the church were! 

The alternative to going primeval on their hineys is to forgive and grow. The minister at the Mercy House talked about showing "Maximum Forgiveness" to all that we come in contact with. What a simple statement, yet how profound! If we don't forgive, then we aren't Christians. Why wouldn't I want to see the church learn from its mistakes and be better for it? That would be because I truly didn't have the love of Christ living inside of me. You can't see people for who they are, but rather for who they can be. 

God has also taught me to enjoy peace. I was scurrying about so much this past semester with all of my responsibilities that I didn't get much time to stop. When I go back to Taylor, school and Student Body President stuff are going to consume me. Possibly God wanted me to stop and smell the roses a little bit? 

This summer I'm going to be stretched in ways that I don't see coming. God, the guy who made me, knows what is best for me. Am I willing to follow his plan and see where that takes me?

We'll see.

PS- I'm writing this with my laptop in my lap and my computer battery is HOT. Is it reasonable to wonder if the heat is cooking myself to being sterile? AM I GOING TO BE ABLE TO HAVE KIDS IF I KEEP BLOGGING IN THIS POSITION!? 

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Summer 2009: Act One

WOW. That is all i can say for the past 5 months of my life. I've traveled to Africa, become the Student Body President for Taylor University, finished my 2nd year as a PA in my dorm, and Bethany and I have started seriously discussing what the rest of our lives look like together. Needless to say, life has been FULL. 

And now i'm in Alabama for the summer. I had an internship lined up with a local church, but that fell through, so i'm now on the prowl for jobs and sources of income. I don't really have any significant plans, any big goals, or any huge aspirations. 

All i want to do is be here in the present as much as possible. The end of this past school year about killed me, and i would love a summer to recover from that. I'll be updating this quite a bit to inform everyone that cares about what is happening, what I'm thinking, and what is changing in my life. 


Summer 2009, you and I are going to have a good relationship, i can tell.