Pagan Christianity: Exploring the Roots of Viola and Barna Exegetical Practices

TC Robinson:

Recent reflections on the state of Christianity has led me to this repost.

Originally posted on New Leaven:

After six posts from Pagan Christianity: Exploring the Roots of Our Practices, I think we need to Explore the Roots of Viola and Barna Exegetical Practices.

1. The Roots. 

NOT LONG AFTER I LEFT the institutional church to begin gathering with Christians in New Testament fashion, I sought to understand how the Christian church ended up in its present state…

I searched scores of bibliographies and card catalogs.  I also contacted a raft of historians and scholars, asking if they knew of such a work.  My quest yielded one consistent answer: No such book had ever been penned.  So in a moment of insanity, I decided to put my hand to the plow…

My hope in publishing this work is as simple as it is somber: that the Lord would use it as a tool to bring His church back to her biblical roots. (p. xiii)

After reading…

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The Challenge of Advent

For those who have challenged themselves once again this season of Advent, I will like to share the following with you:

AdventAs I continue my daily Advent readings, I’ve found myself rather challenged by what I’ve been reading.  Here’s why: Advent has not only given me the opportunity adore Jesus, but it has also challenged me to take stock of my life as a Christ follower–I need to be more Christlike, more Christ-centered.

For me, it’s what I call the challenge of Advent.  And as you continue your Advent journey–whether with your church community, a small group, family, or as an individual, many blessings on you and may your heart be once again refreshed by the beauty that is our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ.

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Gordon Fee’s Three Reasons for Revising His 1 Corinthians Commentary

51upc20TiXL__SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Gordon Fee’s majestic 1 Corinthians commentary has been revised, which was originally published in 1987.

The following is Fee’s Preface to the revised (second) edition:

It has now been over twenty-five years since the first edition of this commentary appeared, Much has happened during this quarter century, besides the author’s (who was also the former editor of the series) growing long of tooth! There are two primary reasons for the present revision:

First, the original commentary was based on the 1978 edition of the NIV, which was probably more poorly done in this letter than anywhere else in the entire canon. I came to discover the reasons for this when in 1990 I was invited to join the Committee for Bible Translation (the committee solely responsible for the translation itself). This committee of fifteen, at that time composed of nine OT scholars and six NT, had been purposely brought together to cover as much of the evangelical community as possible, but at that time also with no women members. The reconstituted committee itself, chaired for the first two decades by (now deceased) Calvin Seminary OT professor John Stek, had its own difficulties adjusting to its several new members, but especially to (an acknowledged) outspoken Pentecostal, who himself had entered into a totally new experience in biblical studies. This turned out to be one of the highlights of my academic career, with lasting friendships and continuing annual meetings to try to sort through a still large collection of proposals for changes that had been sent to the committee at its request. Since I am still a member (but now for reasons of age, an honorary member [a policy rightly adopted by the committee itself to keep “fresh blood” on it]), I therefore had access to the text of 1 Corinthians a full year before the present edition (2011) appeared in print. I have been happy, therefore, to eliminate some twenty footnotes from the first edition where the original translation appeared to be patently incorrect.

Second, the amount of scholarly literature on this letter has increased incrementally, so much so in fact that I make no claims here to have been able to consult all of it for this edition. Indeed, in terms of articles in the scholarly journals alone, the bibliography has in the past twenty-five years multiplied over 300 percent in relationship to all such material in the preceding two centuries! I have tried to be thorough and fair to all, but I herewith also must apologize to the many who will look in vain in the index for something they wrote.

A third, probably less significant, change from the first edition is related to another passion engendered from many years of teaching, writing, and listening to sermons—namely, to eliminate the language of “chapter and verse,” a system of numbers absolutely essential for “finding things” but otherwise totally foreign to the first-century author. Paul wrote words put into sentences, which in the present written culture also require paragraphs. But he did not write “verses,” language that has inherently, but not purposefully, created a misguided use of Scripture that would be foreign to the original authors. So I have tried to relegate the numbers to parentheses, rather than use such language in the text of the commentary itself. This in itself required a third and final reading of the text in an attempt to be faithful to Paul, while still trying to help the reader “find things” regarding the rest of the biblical revelation.

Gordon D. Fee
Ash Wednesday (February 22) 2012

Like many others, I too have been long awaiting this revision of a second to none commentary.  It certainly will make for a wonderful Christmas gift.

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Why Do These Pentecostals Keep Growing?

49598In his Christianity Today article titled Why Do These Pentecostals Keep Growing, Ed Stetzer, a noted Christian researcher and missiologist, is not focusing on aberrant Pentecostal groups but what he terms “orthodox evangelical Pentecostals.”  Neither is he interested in debating Pentecostalism.  Rather, his focus is a sociological one, seeking to explore why these orthodox evangelical Pentecostals keep growing while other mainline denominations are in decline.

I’ve read Stetzer’s findings with keen interest, and I believe it all comes down to this:

Pentecostals believe in their approach. Their Christian walk has benefited, and they think everyone should have access. While others are figuring out what to do now to achieve growth, Pentecostals are focusing on who they are and are achieving growth.”

Then, he adds the following about declining denominations, “Most are mainline, a few are evangelical, but most simply are not as excited about what they believe—and don’t think it needs to be propagated as much—as the Pentecostals” (some non-Pentecostals are bound to object to this analysis–perhaps it’s the shortcoming of the approach used by Stetzer to anaylze the growth phenomenon).

Or perhaps there’s a greater explanation.  Stetzer mentions it in the second paragraph of the article: “Pentecostals will say they are growing because the Spirit is moving in a powerful way.”  Then Stetzer adds, “I get that, and actually would affirm that as part of the reason, but from a sociological perspective, other things are happening and worth exploring.”

Stetzer, it’s not part of the reason.  It is THE reason.  While I commend Stetzer’s sociological approach, I believe such an approach is really downplaying the powerful work of the Holy Spirit here.

But it’s worth noting that Stetzer mentions the growth of the Methodists during the Second Great Awakening, the Baptists in the 50s, and the Vineyard Church movement in the 1980s, which I believe is evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit.

Now I submit the following: we need to pause for a moment and appreciate this historical tidbit to help us better understand what is going on here.  Or we can choose to become distracted by a preoccupation with how different Pentecostals are than us non-Pentecostals.

And miss the move of the sovereign Spirit–wherever he chooses (John 3:8).

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Adoring Jesus: Advent Readings 2014

advent-black-and-whiteFor most of my Christian life, I missed out on the celebration and beauty of Advent (see my story here).  You see, like many Christians, specifically from the free church movement, Advent readings was not a part of my church calendar.  Now with other Western Christians I too long for Advent: looking back to the first coming of Christ, and at the same time, looking forward to his second coming.  Between the interval of Christ first coming and his second coming, heeding the words of the Apostle Peter, we lead holy and godly lives (2 Peter 3:11-13).

Therefore, with the above in mind, I encourage you to join me on this Advent journey, beginning this Sunday, November 30, around the themes of waiting, preparation, light in the darkness, and the coming of the promised Messiah:

First Week of Advent

1.       Sunday Romans 13:11-14

2.       Monday  1 Corinthians 1:3-9

3.       Tuesday Mark 13:33-37

4.       Wednesday John 1:1-5

5.       Thursday John 1:6-9

6.       Friday Jeremiah 33:14-16

7.       Saturday Isaiah 6

Second Week of Advent

8.       Sunday Romans 15:4-13

9.       Monday Psalms 43:3-6

10.    Tuesday Psalms 27:1-4

11.    Wednesday Psalms 119:105-106

12.    Thursday John 12:35-36

13.    Friday Ephesians 5:6-14

14.    Saturday 1 Peter 2:5-9

 Third Week of Advent

15.    Sunday Isaiah 60:1-3

16.    Monday 2 Corinthians 4:3-6

17.    Tuesday 1 John 1:4-7

18.    Wednesday John 3:16-21

19.    Thursday Isaiah 40:1-11

20.    Friday John 9:1-7

21.    Saturday Luke 3:1-6

 Fourth Week of Advent

22.    Sunday Isaiah 11:1-10

23.    Monday Zephaniah 3:14-17

24.    Tuesday Matthew 1:18-25

25.    Wednesday Luke 2:8-20

26.    Thursday Matthew 4:14-16

27.    Friday Isaiah 2:1-5

28.    Saturday Luke 2:25-33

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