Noted California Presbyterian pastor and author John Ortberg and his church, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, have voted to leave the PC(USA), Presbyterian Church of USA, to aligned themselves with a newly established Presbyterian denomination, ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians, which has attracted 115 other Presbyterian churches since its founding in January 2012. Read more
Doctrinal differences are cited for this realignment. For example, in the Menlo Park Presbyterian Church published rationale, we read,
“The PC(USA) increasingly represents a wide range of beliefs on who Jesus is and on his relationship to our salvation. Surprisingly, there are many PC(USA)-ordained pastors who do not believe, for example, in the deity of Christ or in salvation through faith in Christ. A PC(USA) pastor in Tennessee, said, ‘I believe that Jesus may have been historical but most of the stories about him in the Bible and elsewhere are legends. But he’s cool. He serves as a human ideal and a focal point for devotion (like an ishta veda [a concept from Hinduism]).’ This pastor’s story is one of many such examples.” Full document here
Ash Wednesdays is ”a time for confession of sin as we prepare ourselves for Good Friday and Easter, the days on which God removed sin and into which we live as we participate in Lent” (Lent, which begins 40 days prior to Easter, not counting Sundays, is a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline.).
Like millions of Americans, I too became hooked on the critically acclaimed Breaking Bad series: “To provide for his family’s future after he is diagnosed with lung cancer, a chemistry genius turned high school teacher teams up with an ex-student to cook and sell the world’s purest crystal meth.”
After 62 episodes, here are three lessions I learned from Breaking Bad. Lesson One: Pride goes before destruction (Prov. 16:18). From a diagnosed small time chemistry teacher to an RV operation to the ruthless and self-destructive Heisenberg.
Lesson Two: Greed is idolatry (Col. 3:5). Walter White could have walked away. He had met his goal. But he became greedy, and the god of greed consumed him, so much so that his name Heisenberg became something of an urban legend.
Lesson Three: A life of lies, deceptions, and ruthlessness only ends one way (Prov. 14:12). As I said, Walter White had met his goal. He could have walked away, keeping his family and sanity intacted. But with every lie, deceit, and ruthlessness action, Mr. White (as his former student and partner-in-crime would call him) began to convince himself that what he was doing was indeed noble, even though he was hurting those closest to him. But it was poetic justice in the end.
If you’ve watched the series, I’m sure you may have more or even disagree with me. But these are my three big take aways.
This past Sunday, a colleague of mine preached from John 8. While his sermon was on the entire chapter, the majority of his time was spent on the pericope of the woman caught in the act of adultery (vv. 1-11).
The preacher gave an overview about the uncertainty surrounding the text in question, and finally concluded on the matter with a quote from F.F. Bruce, “They [the manuscripts which have John 7:53-811] constitute, in fact, a fragment of authentic gospel material not originally included in any of the four Gospels.”
Before italicizing the passage in question, the new NIV Bible (2011) has this textual note:
[The earliest manuscripts and many other ancient witnesses do not have John 7:53-8:11. A few manuscripts include these verses, wholly or in part, after John 7:36, John 21:25, Luke 21:38 or Luke 24:53.]
As I sat there and listened to my colleague preached from the text in question, and especially about how Jesus came to the woman’s rescue and acquitted her, the phrase “a fragment of authentic gospel material” began to do a number on me.
Most scholars may consider this passage an insertion into the text of John’s Gospel, because the best extant Greek manuscripts do not have it, and when they do, it appears in a various places–but it sure does have an authentically Jesus thing about it!