Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Week 5:

•  Week 5: Worshipping in  Many Communities: Psalms and Lament
August 31 through 11:59 pm Sept 7
(weekly orientation and devotional video this spot)

WeIcome to Week 5!  To start off the week, can you possibly guess what this sign below is or says? Have fun thinking about it and guessing.  The answer is
quite stunning and shockingl It's literally a historic sign!  The answer is given in forum 5c below, but I would  recommend resisting the temptation to peek until you complete 5a and 5b, just so the radicalness of the answer fully hits (:
It's fascinating how different people, cultures and ages/stages  (especially children!) define and experience "worship." All people (including children/adolescents) “bow down” to something. That "something" is in a superior position in their lives (Superheroes, athletes, teams, parents, etc.) 
The word worship (Greek proskuneo) means “to bow down,” which is essentially recognizing the superior position of another.  Placing oneself under the power/authority of another provides a centering or unifying effect.  To "bow down” is also an act indicating willingness to serve the other.  Hence, worship and service provide both coherence and direction for a life of community.  In this respect, the term worship is not reserved only for religious institutions, but may also be used in any setting in which a group places itself under a common mission, leadership, goal, etc. 

This week's guiding sign/community  theme represents the unifying effect of a common center.  The texts under examination point out the centrality of commitment to God (Kings), and the dislocation of that center from temple (place) to Jesus (person).
The Hebrews had a prayer/songbook for collective worship as a "cohort"...and for times when all cohorts gathered together.  The range of human emotion expressed in the psalms is astounding..even shocking!! All of life is brought into worship.
To begin the week's work. watch this multipart  lesson (7 parts, but only a half-hour total! Watch it in order) by Dave Wainscott (and a few friends) on Psalms and Lament.  Watch carefully and take notes, as you will be responding in Forum 1.
Part 1 is below  Listen to the song which is part 1.  Open the lyrics here, and read  along as it plays.  In a way, treat it like other songs  (and Scriptures) we have used in this class: as a text which calls for context and  your Three Worlds skills of interpretation.  Do your best to discern  the main characters , genre, backstory, storyline etc.  (It's easier than Philemon!).  But also be prepared to process how it made you feel.
part 1:

part 2:
part 3:
part 4:
part 5:
part 6

part 7: Finish with this song, which Dave prepared you for in part 6:

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Historical context of FPU: Anabaptist and Mennonite By FPU Faculty Roberts/Camp

.  Historical context of FPU: Anabaptist and Mennonite
By FPU Faculty Roberts/Camp

Fresno Pacific University is rooted in the Anabaptist or Mennonite or Believers Church tradition. The roots of this tradition go back to the Reformation of 16th century. There are several strands of reformation in the 16th century. Luther it seems starts it all, emphasizing the role of Scripture and faith, but still allowing for connection between the church and the state. Thus this strand is sometimes referred to as the Magisterial Reformation, because the church was still under the power of the magistrates but could also use the power of the state for discipline etc. There were some who thought Luther didn’t go far enough, who push for complete separation of church and state, who reject coercion in relationship to matters of faith and argue rather that the church should be a “voluntary,” visible community formed by those who are baptized upon confession of faith, not upon birth. This strand is sometimes referred to as the Radical Reformation, and it is in to this strand that Anabaptists/Mennonites today trace their roots. (There is a third major strand of reformation known as the Counter Reformation. The Catholic Church takes seriously many of the grievances raised by the reformers and addresses them. The Counter Reformation is this reform that takes place within the Catholic church.) The story of the Mennonites from the l6th to the early 20th century is one—living at the margins of society. For almost 500 years this group of Christians called Anabaptists sharply distinguished between what was necessary as state citizens and what was necessary as members of the Kingdom of God (as Christians). They drew these sharp distinctions (Mennonites) for both theological and ethical reasons. During these years, Mennonites had a faith and practice that separated them from the rest of society. (This is still recognizable today in Amish and Old Mennonite communities; i.e., the movie, “Witness”). Several hallmarks of their stance included baptism by confession of faith, separation of church and state, non­resistance and peacemaking, discipleship and missions—living the ethic of Jesus. As a result of their stance many Anabaptists, especially their leaders (i.e., Marpeck, Sattler), were either burned or drowned by both the Catholic and Protestant church. Mennonites then fled to countries where freedom of religion and conscience could be practiced in a very quiet and unassuming manner. They became die Stille im Lande (“the quiet in the land”).

As we move into the early 20th century these marginal peoples called Mennonites become increasingly drawn into the national culture in America. This culture placed heavy demands on distinctive communities to conform to American ways. The “melting pot,” with its images of conformity and renunciation of distinctives, struck the Mennonite world. For Mennonites, as for many other ethnic and religious groups, it became increasingly difficult to maintain social and cultural identifiers—i.e., the German language, rural isolation, educational purity, etc. Additionally, it also became difficult to maintain theological distinctives. Some inside (and outside) Mennonite circles were calling for the Mennonite church to move toward evangelical fundamentalism; others claimed a more progressive theology was the right direction. For Mennonites these social and theological pressures were intensified with the building of a militaristic state where patriotism became linked with performance in military service. For much of the 20th century, peacemaking (one of the hallmarks of Mennonite faith and practice. historically) has not been a popular position.

How does one maintain identity when modernity seems to be eating away at core theological and ethical values? In Mennonite circles in the mid-1940’s, there was a perceived need to re-appropriate the strengths of the past to face the world of modernity. Central to this movement were two very important documents, both appearing in 1944 (incidentally the year that FPU was founded): Harold S. Bender’s essay, “The Anabaptist Vision” and Guy F. Hershberger’s—Peace and Nonresistance. Bender’s aim was to position Mennonite identity within the context of American denominationalism. Hershberger’s aim was to articulate a theology and ethic appropriate for Mennonites as they were increasingly engaged in the institutions of the larger American society. Their strategy was to help Mennonites identify themselves, to themselves and to others, as the bearers of a distinctive faith and practice system, rather than buying into the American cultural and religious system. This story is replicated by many immigrant communities—Swedish Baptists, Plymouth Brethren, Moravians, Missouri Synod Lutherans, and others.

2.  The Anabaptist Vision
Bender’s 1944 vision of the Anabaptist-Mennonite faith perspective, rooted in the Bible and the Radical Reformation, was formed around three axes: discipleship (ethical integrity and service to humanity), the church as a covenanting voluntary community that practices mutuality, and accountability (an ethic of love and nonresistance that governed all relationships—personal, civil, and religious). The purpose of the vision was to make visible what this particular group of Christians called Mennonites were called to articulate. Christian faith was not mystical; it was ethical and to be realized in identifiable human communities. Community was an important antidote to the social direction of 20th century individual Christianity. In contrast to systematic theological formulations or pious individualism, this vision offered a portrait of the church as the interpretive community for discerning faithfulness in this modern age. Bender’s conception reflected a conviction that the real threat posed by modernity was ethical rather than doctrinal variance. Ethical faithfulness made possible a discernible religious community. For Mennonites, belief has always been important, but practice has been equally if not more important. Orthodoxy is important, but ortho-praxis is more important. Faith is a way of seeing, a way of believing, but discipleship, living it out is most important.

Bender concluded the essay with a plea for the church to be a distinctive Christian social order. He did not call for radical withdrawal. He did not propose to reverse the slow but steady social drift of Mennonites into American society. The form of Christian community that Bender had in mind was paradoxically a strategy for both separation and integration, for withdrawal and engagement, for consolidation and dispersion. Bender did not wish to reify the traditional boundaries of the past. Instead he offered Mennonites in America a new ideological self-consciousness. He did not reject tradition. Instead he believed that distinct communities could embody a witness (mission). They could show the world that corporate ethical discernment and reconciliation were indeed possible. Thus, Anabaptism, as it came to function in American Mennonite life, carried a dual meaning. It offered distinct community, but also witness. It promoted particularity, but also ecumenicity. It integrated Mennonites into the world, but preserved a rhetoric of difference. It brought respect, but gave new eloquence to the language of dissent.

Thinking further with Kray bill
Kraybill has written his book with this particular Christian tradition and vision in mind. He is asking, “Does this particular tradition have something to say in the 90’s about living the ethic of Jesus?” He invites all of us, Christian and non-Christian to reflect on the moral imperatives we live by. Kraybill’s book is an attempt to interpret what the message of Jesus says in this kind of world. The message of Jesus for the Christian and the church today is not to be co-opted by the social, religious, cultural, and economic forces of the day.

Try some of these to continue the thought process:
1.    Find a sentence or paragraph from Kraybill which you found provocative in a positive way, and explain why. (What did you agree with? What convicted you? Where do you think he raised an important point or issue? What did you enjoy?)
2.    Read a sentence or paragraph from Kraybill which you found provocative in a negative way, and explain why. (What did you disagree with? Does Kraybill at points seem unrealistic? Simplistic? Too extreme?)
3.    What in our world most needs the upside-down kingdom approach suggested by Kraybill?

Monday, August 17, 2015

week 3 storage

The "core message of Jesus"?

The Kingdom (p 16, Kraybill)
KINGDOM:In light of the video above, and the Bible's use of the term,

  • not realm, but reign
  • not place , but person
  • not race, but grace
  • not just "then and there," but 'here and now" (Matt. 4:17, 6:10) 

We noted that (unlike which side of the road is "right" in England!), the 'direction" in which the Kingdom originates is "both ways":  from the future, and from the past.

Many Jews of Jesus' day (and actually, the Greeks) thought of the Kingdom of God as largely a  future identity/reality/location.
So when Jesus, in Matthew 4:17 announces that he, as King, is ALREADY bringing in the Kingdom,
this not only subverted expectations, but sounded crazy....and like he was claiming to bring the future into the present.

The Jews talked often about "this age" (earth/now) and "the age to come." (heaven/future).
"Age to come" was used in a way that it was virtually synonymous with "The Kingdom."

Scripture suggests that:

The "age to come"  (the Kingdom) 
has in large part already come (from the future/heaven)

into "this age"

 (in the present/on the earth

by means of the earthy ministry of Jesus: King of the Kingdom.

Thus, Hebrews 6:4-8 offers that disciples ("tamidim") of Jesus have

"already (in this age) tasted the powers of the age to come."

In Jesus, in large part, the age to come has come.
The Future has visited the present,

"The presence of the Kingdom of God was seen as God’s dynamic reign invading the present age without (completely) transforming it into the age to come ” (George Eldon Ladd, p.149,The Presence of the Future.)

Here are some articles that may help:


 Devotions from David Letterman
Coffee shop prank
These were to remind us of how shocking, subversive, surprising Jesus' temple tantrum was.


 class discussion on Matthew 21 (Mark 11)

Three Acted Parables about Nationalism)

especially focusing on the temple tantrum..

Note, the chapter started with "Palm Sunday":

we'll  watch (next moodle)the "Lamb of God" video and discuss how it was actually a nationalistic misunderstanding.  If Jesus showed up personally in your church Sunday, would you wave the American flag at him, and ask him to run for president? 

a)Van Der Laan:

Jesus on his way to Jerusalem
On the Sunday before Passover, Jesus came out of the wilderness on the eastern side of the Mount of Olives (just as the prophecy said the Messiah would come).
People spread cloaks and branches on the road before him. Then the disciples ?began, joyfully, to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen? (Luke 19:37). The crowd began shouting, ?Hosanna,? a slogan of the ultra-nationalistic Zealots, which meant, ?Please save us! Give us freedom! We?re sick of these Romans!?
The Palm Branches
The people also waved palm branches, a symbol that had once been placed on Jewish coins when the Jewish nation was free. Thus the palm branches were not a symbol of peace and love, as Christians usually assume; they were a symbol of Jewish nationalism, an expression of the people?s desire for political freedom   __LINK to full article

b)FPU prof Tim Geddert:

Palm Sunday is a day of pomp and pageantry. Many church sanctuaries are decorated with palm fronds. I’ve even been in a church that literally sent a donkey down the aisle with a Jesus-figure on it. We cheer with the crowds—shout our hosannas—praising God exuberantly as Jesus the king enters the royal city.
But if Matthew, the gospel writer, attended one of our Palm Sunday services, I fear he would respond in dismay, “Don’t you get it?” We call Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem “The Triumphal Entry,” and just like the Jerusalem crowds, we fail to notice that Jesus is holding back tears.
Jesus did not intend for this to be a victory march into Jerusalem, a political rally to muster popular support or a publicity stunt for some worthy project. Jesus was staging a protest—a protest against the empire-building ways of the world.
LINK: full article :Parade Or Protest March

c)From Table Dallas:

Eugene Cho wrote a blog post back in 2009 about the irony of Palm Sunday:
The image of Palm Sunday is one of the greatest ironies.  Jesus Christ – the Lord of Lords, King of Kings, the Morning Star, the Savior of all Humanity, and we can list descriptives after descriptives – rides into a procession of “Hosanna, Hosanna…Hosanna in the Highest” - on a donkey – aka - an ass.
He goes on to say it’s like his friend Shane Claiborne once said, “that a modern equivalent of such an incredulous image is of the most powerful person in our modern world, the United States President, riding into a procession…on a unicycle.”


Article By Dave Wainscott
“Temple Tantrums For All Nations"
Salt Fresno Magazine, Jan 2011:

Some revolutionaries from all nations overlooking the Temple Mount, on our 2004 trip

I have actually heard people say they fear holding a bake sale anywhere on church property…they think a divine lightning bolt might drop.

Some go as far as to question the propriety of youth group fundraisers (even in the lobby), or flinch at setting up a table anywhere in a church building (especially the “sanctuary”) where a visiting speaker or singer sells books or CDs.  “I don’t want to get zapped!”

All trace their well-meaning concerns to the “obvious” Scripture:

"Remember when Jesus cast out the moneychangers and dovesellers?"

It is astounding how rare it is to hear someone comment on the classic "temple tantrum" Scripture without turning it into a mere moralism:

"Better not sell stuff in church!”

Any serious study of the passage concludes that the most obvious reason Jesus was angry was not commercialism, but:


I heard that head-scratching.

The tables the Lord was intent on overturning were those of prejudice.

I heard that “Huh?”

A brief study of the passage…in context…will reorient us:

Again, most contemporary Americans assume that Jesus’ anger was due to his being upset about the buying and selling.  But note that Jesus didn't say "Quit buying and selling!” His outburst was, "My house shall be a house of prayer for all nations" (Mark 11:17, emphasis mine).   He was not merely saying what he felt, but directly quoting Isaiah (56:6-8), whose context is clearly not about commercialism, but adamantly about letting foreigners and outcasts have a place in the “house of prayer for all nations”; for all nations, not just the Jewish nation.   Christ was likely upset not that  moneychangers were doing business, but that they were making it their business to do so disruptfully and disrespectfully in the "outer court;”  in  the “Court of the Gentiles” (“Gentiles” means “all other nations but Jews”).   This was

the only place where "foreigners" could have a “pew” to attend the international prayer meeting that was temple worship.   Merchants were making the temple  "a den of thieves" not  (just) by overcharging for doves and money, but by (more insidiously) robbing precious people of  “all nations”  a place to pray, and the God-given right  to "access access" to God.

Money-changing and doveselling were not inherently the problem.  In fact they were required;  t proper currency and “worship materials” were part of the procedure and protocol.  It’s true that the merchants may  have been overcharging and noisy, but it is where and how they are doing so that incites Jesus to righteous anger.

The problem is never tables.  It’s what must be tabled:

marginalization of people of a different tribe or tongue who are only wanting to worship with the rest of us.

In the biblical era, it went without saying that when someone quoted a Scripture, they were assuming and importing the context.  So we often miss that Jesus is quoting a Scripture in his temple encounter, let alone which Scripture and  context.  Everyone back then immediately got the reference: “Oh, I get it, he’s preaching Isaiah, he must really love foreigners!”:

 Foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord…all who hold fast to my covenant-these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” (Isaiah 56:6-8, emphases mine)
Gary Molander, faithful Fresnan and cofounder of Floodgate Productions, has articulated it succinctly:
“The classic interpretation suggests that people were buying and selling stuff in God’s house, and that’s not okay.  So for churches that have a coffee bar, Jesus might toss the latte machine out the window.

I wonder if something else is going on here, and I wonder if the Old Testament passage Jesus quotes informs our understanding?…Here’s the point:

Those who are considered marginalized and not worthy of love, but who love God and are pursuing Him, are not out.  They’re in..

Those who are considered nationally unclean, but who love God and are pursuing Him, are not out.  They’re in.

God’s heart is for Christ’s Church to become a light to the world, not an exclusive club.  And when well-meaning people block that invitation, God gets really, really ticked.”

(Gary Molander,

Still reeling?  Hang on, one more test:

How often have you heard the Scripture  about “speak to the mountain and it will be gone” invoked , with the “obvious” meaning being “the mountain of your circumstances” or “the mountain of obstacles”?  Sounds good, and that will preach.   But again,  a quick glance at the context of that saying  of Jesus reveals nary a mention of metaphorical obstacles.   In fact, we find it (Mark 11:21-22) directly after the “temple tantrum.”  And consider where Jesus and the disciples are: still near the temple,  and still stunned by the  “object lesson” Jesus had just given there  about prejudice.  And know that everyone back then knew what most today don’t:  that one way to talk about the temple was to call it “the mountain” (Isaiah 2:1, for example: “the mountain of the Lord’s temple”) .

Which is why most scholars would agree with Joel Green and John Carroll:

“Indeed, read in its immediate context, Jesus’ subsequent instruction to the disciples, ‘Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain..’ can refer only to the mountain on which the temple is built!... For him, the time of the temple is no more.”  (“The Death of Jesus in Early Christianity,” p. 32, emphasis mine).
In Jesus’ time, the temple system of worship had become far too embedded with prejudice.  So Jesus suggests that his followers actually pray such a system, such a mountain, be gone.

Soon it literally was.

In our day, the temple is us: the church.

And the church-temple  is called to pray a moving, mountain-moving, prayer:

“What keeps us from being a house of prayer for all nations?”

Or as Gary Molander summarizes:

“Who can’t attend your church?” -Dave Wainscott, Salt Fresno Magazine

the money changers  were in the Gentile courts of the temple..Jesus' action opened up the plazaso that Gentiles could pray."  -Kraybill, Upside Down Kingdom, p. 151.



 Through the prophet Isaiah, God spoke of the Temple as ?a house of prayer for all the nations? (Isa. 56:7). The Temple represented his presence among his people, and he wanted all believers to have access to him.
Even during the Old Testament era, God spoke specifically about allowing non-Jewish people to his Temple: ?And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord ? these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer? (Isa. 56:7).
Unfortunately, the Temple authorities of Jesus? day forgot God?s desire for all people to worship freely at the Temple. Moneychangers had settled into the Gentile court, along with those who sold sacrificial animals and other religious merchandise. Their activities probably disrupted the Gentiles trying to worship there.
When Jesus entered the Temple area, he cleared the court of these moneychangers and vendors. Today, we often attribute his anger to the fact that they turned the temple area into a business enterprise. But Jesus was probably angry for another reason as well.
As he drove out the vendors, Jesus quoted the passage from Isaiah, ?Is it not written: ?My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations???
The vendors had been inconsiderate of Gentile believers. Their willingness to disrupt Gentile worship and prayers reflected a callous attitude of indifference toward the spiritual needs of Gentiles.
Through his anger and actions, Jesus reminded everyone nearby that God cared for Jew and Gentile alike. He showed his followers that God?s Temple was to be a holy place of prayer and worship for all believers. - Van Der Laan



INTERCALATION is a "sandwiching" technique. where a story/theme is told/repeated at the beginning and ened of a section, suggesting that if a different story appears in between, it too is related thematically.  We looked at  this outline of Mark 11:


We discussed how the cursing of the fig tree was Jesus' commentary of nationalism/racism/prejudice, because fig trees are often a symbol of national Israel.  That the fig  tree cursing story is "cut in  two" by the inserting/"intercalating" of the temple cleansing, suggested that Jesus action in the temple was also commentary on prejuidice...which become more obvious when we realize the moneychangers and dovesellers are set up in the "court of the Gentiles," which kept the temple from being a "house of prayer FOR ALL NATIONS (GENTILES).

This theme becomes even more clear when we note that Jesus  statement was a quote from Isaiah 56:68, and the context there (of course) is against prejudice in the temple.

double paste: Often, two Scriptures/texts are combined into a new one. Ex. : Jesus says “My house shall be a house of prayer for all nations, but you have made it a den of thieves.” The first clause (before the comma) is from Isaiah 56:6-8, and the second is from Jeremiah 7:11  

hemistiche/ellipsis: when the last section of a well-known phrase is omitted foremphasis: Matthew says "My house shall be a house of prayer......," intentionally
leaving out
the "...for all nations" clause.



Temple Warning Inscription:


The Jewish Temple in Jerusalem was surrounded by a fence (balustrade) with a sign (soreq)  that was about 5 ft. [1.5 m.] high.  On this fence were mounted inscriptions in Latin and Greek forbidding Gentiles from entering the temple area proper.
One complete inscription was found in Jerusalem and is now on display on the second floor of the “Archaeological Museum” in Istanbul.
The Greek text has been translated:  “Foreigners must not enter inside the balustrade or into the forecourt around the sanctuary.  Whoever is caught will have himself to blame for his ensuing death.”  Compare the accusation against Paul found in Acts 21:28 and Paul’s comments in Ephesians 2:14—“the dividing wall.”
Translation from Elwell, Walter A., and Yarbrough, Robert W., eds.  Readings from the First–Century World: Primary Sources for New Testament Study.  Encountering Biblical Studies, general editor and New Testament editor Walter A. Elwell.  Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1998, p. 83. Click Here
Temple Warning Inscription
=So Jesus is intertexting and double pasting two Scriptures  and making a new one.
But he leaves out the most important part "FOR ALL NATIONS"...which means he is hemistiching and making that phrase even more significant by it's absence,

"If anyone says to this mountain, 'Go throw yourself into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done.'  (Mark 11:23). If you want to be charismatic about it, you can pretend this refers to the mountain of your circumstances--but that is taking the passage out of context.  Jesus was not referring to the mountain of circumstances.  When he referred to 'this mountain,' I believe (based in part on Zech  4:6-9) that he was looking at the Temple Mount, and indicating that "the mountain on which the temple sits is going to be removed, referring to its destruction by the Romans..

Much of what Jesus said was intended to clue people in to the fact that the religous system of the day would be overthrown, but we miss much if it because we Americanize it, making it say what we want it to say,  We turn the parables into fables or moral stories instead of living prophecies  that pertain as much to us as to the audience that first heard them."
-Steve Gray, "When The KIngdom Comes," p..31

“Indeed, read in its immediate context, Jesus’ subsequent instruction to the disciples, ‘Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain..’ can refer only to the mountain on which the temple is built!... For him, the time of the temple is no more.” 

"The word about the mountain being cast into the sea.....spoken in Jerusalem, would naturallly refer to the Temple mount.  The saying is not simply a miscellaneous comment on how prayer and faith can do such things as curse fig trees.  It is a very specific word of judgement: the Temple mountain is, figuratively speaking, to be taken up and cast into the sea."
 -N,T. Wright,  "Jesus and the Victory of God," p.422 

see also:

So Jesus is intertexting and double pasting two Scriptures  and making a new one.
But he leaves out the most important part "FOR ALL NATIONS"...which means he is hemistiching and making that phrase even more significant by it's absence,



--St vladimir from my Fresno class ate an orange like an apple:

Apples and Oranges and Culture

"EPIC Culture: Are You Immigrant or Native?:

See my article  pp.. 38-39 here  (or as a PDF pp. 36-37 here)

  • the "modern"  and "Gutenberg" world   (RRWI=Rational, Representative. Word-Based, Individual)
  • -the "postmodern' and "Google"  world (EPIC=Experiential, Participatory, Image-Driven)

 Leonard Sweet not only created the EPIC acronym, but wrote the nook, "The Gospel According to Starbucks," in which he suggests that the church can learn a lot about our current EPIC (Experiential, Participatory, Image-Driven, Connectivity) culture.

In what ways do you see Starbucks as living out an EPIC ethic?


Now note Van DerLaan's slideshow on Greek vs. Hebrew culture  here and   here.  
Audio here

 Finally, remember our conversations about bounded sets and centered sets.
Could these three grids collate?

RRWI/Gutenberg                                    EPIC/Google
Greek                                                    Hebrew
Bounded Set                                           Centered Set

Sweet suggests that we are living in the century  (21)that is most like  Jesus' century (1st) than any before.

Tell a few stories about your "One Great Person" worksheets and videos.
Two of my greats are Wayne from Delano and Dack from "Dallas" !

 Take home lesson: don't betray a friend for (literally) a million dollars!
(story here
Last week's topic is "Greatness, Leadership, Power."
The symbol for last week suggests that a biblical model/worldview often looks like the CEO/top-down model turned downside up..

Jesus came to serve.
             The last shall be first.
                         That's who is great in the Kingdom  economy:
                                    The one who serves
                                               The one who has splagchizomai..

Jesus said in it yet another chiasm:
But those who exalt            themselves will be               humbled, 
and those who humble     themselves will be                exalted
(Matt 23:12)

n we apply some "Three Worlds" theory to Matthew 18 and the topic of "Who is great?":

Related outtakes: 

Page 22 of Syllabus,Matthew 18 Outline:

Question #1: Who is Greatest?

2-17 Responses (each are counter proposals)
2-10 Response #1: Children
2-4 Counter Proposal: Accept children
5-9 Threat: If cause scandal
10 Show of force: Angels protect

12-14 Response #2: Sheep
12-14 Counter Proposal: Search for the 1 of 100 who is lost

15-17 Response #3Brother who sins (counter proposal)
15a Hypothetical situation: If sin
15-17 Answer: Attempt to get brother to be reconciled
17b If fail: Put him out and start over

18-20 Statement: What you bind or loose

21-22 Question #2How far do we go in forgiveness?

23-35 Response #1Parable of the forgiving king/unforgiving servant


"Historical World" of this passage: A 

What did you learn about a millstone from tonight's video clip?:


How did we conenct Sqeaky Shoes to Matt 18?
I have gotten lots of mileage out of this video below (or here on facebook) I show it in classes on Matthew 18.. Oscar-worthy performances by Keltic Ken and Vincent J. Vera...and they even let me appear in a cameo (as myself-sort of)..Director?camera genius: Alex Ramirez.. Enjoy:
Related outtakes: 


              Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus,
      and Timothy our brother,

        To  Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker
   also to Apphia our sister and
               Archippus our fellow soldier
                                            —and to the church 
                                    that meets in your home:
Grace and peace 
to you (plural) 
                                                  from God our Father
                                               and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers,
          5 because I hear about your  

                                   love               and                          faith
     towards                 Lord Jesus     and               all the saints

I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective 
                in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ.
Your love has given me great       joy
                                         and        encouragement,
 because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.

 although in Christ I could be bold, and order you to do what you ought to do,
                                                                         yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love.
 It is as none other than Paul—                   an old man (elder)
  and now also                                             a prisoner of Christ Jesus—  
10 that I appeal to you for my son--
 who became my son while I was in chains.

11 Formerly he was                           useless                                  to you,
 but now he has become                   useful                            both to you and to me.

12 I am sending                         him
                    —who is my very heart
                                                    —back to you.  
13 I would have liked to keep him with me
 so that 
                                           he                  could take 
                                           your                   place 
                 in helping          me 
while I am in chains for the gospel.  
14 But I did not want to do anything without your consent, 
so that any favor you do would not seem                forced 
                                            but would be             voluntary.  
15 Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while
 was that you might have him back forever—
        16 no longer as a slave,
                  but more than a slave, 
                               as a dear brother. 
He is that to                                  me, 
             but even more so to         you, 

both                         in the flesh
 and                         in the Lord.

17 So..

 if                                            you consider me a partner, 
                               welcome  him
          as you would welcome me.
 18 If he has done you any wrong or owes          you                      anything,
                                           charge it to                me.
19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand:
                      I will pay it back!
                         (not to mention that you owe me your very self)
 20 I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit or usefulness from you in the Lord;
                                   refresh my heart in Christ.

 21 Confident of your obedience, 
              I write to you,
                          knowing that you will do even more than I ask.
22 And one thing more: 
             Prepare a guest room for me, 
                            because I hope to be restored to you  (plural) 
                                                   in answer to your  (plural) prayers.

23 Epaphras,
 my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, 
sends you greetings. 
 24 And so do Mark,
                  and Luke, 
                                      my fellow workers.
25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your  (plural) spirit.

t When looking at "alternative" readings of Philemon, it is amazing how few even deal with the reality that the most obvious way to read  vv 15-16-- "a dearly loved brother, both in the flesh and in the Lord" --as
both a literal and spiritual brother.

Tim Gombis is so right:

My main contention in these posts is that commentators must take Paul’s reference to Philemon and Onesimus as adelphoi en sarki with greater seriousness.  It is highly unlikely that Paul regards the two as sharing in a common humanity.  It is far more likely that they are actual brothers.  This may demand a re-consideration of the scenario that eventuates in Paul’s letter, even though any modification to the consensus view need not be as dramatic as the view advanced by Callahan.  link

Even N.T. Wright, who specializes in Philemon; even making it the key to his new magnum opus on Paul,
acknowledges the "literal brother" interpretation, but does not even consider it or discuss it (in 1700 pages) other than to say:

"one writer [Callahan] has even suggested that Philemon and Onesimus were not master and slave, but actual brothers who have fallen out, but, this too, has not found support."  (p. 8)

Just because Callahan may have gone too far, must we throw interpretations out with bathwater?
Is Wright (surely!) aware that they could be master/slave and literal brothers, as Gombid develops (here) and suggests "this is the most natural reading."   Wright's work is indeed brilliant and seminal, but perhaps Moo has a point about him being too sure of his the degree that, though he is the nicest guy, he can seem dismissive:

I won’t list other instances, but Paul and the Faithfulness of Godcontains too many of these kinds of rhetorically effective but exaggerated or overly generalized claims. A related problem is Wright’s tendency to set himself against the world—and then wonder why the world is so blind as to fail to see what he sees. A key thread, for instance, is Wright’s insistence that the basic story Paul’s working with has to do with God’s fulfillment of his covenant promises to Abraham—a vital focus that “almost all exegetes miss” and that has been “screened out from the official traditions of the church from at least the time of the great creeds” (494). This problem is sometimes compounded by a caricature of the tradition with which he disagrees   Moo, full review

Don't get me wrong, I'm still getting the T-shirt...just saying (:

Another post from Gombis:

Several years ago I was teaching Bible study methods to undergrads and we were doing an exercise with the text of Paul’s letter to Philemon.  A student raised his hand and noted that according to the text it appeared that Onesimus was the brother of Philemon.
This sounded outrageous and obviously wrong, so I asked how he could possibly have arrived at that notion.  He directed my attention to vv. 15-16.  We were looking at the NASB:
For perhaps he was for this reason separated from you for a while, that you would have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.
I hadn’t studied this letter all that closely previously, so I assumed that Paul’s indication that they were brothers “both in the flesh and in the Lord” must mean something else.  Other translations make this very assumption:
Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever—no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord (NIV).
Maybe this is the reason that Onesimus was separated from you for a while so that you might have him back forever— 16 no longer as a slave but more than a slave—that is, as a dearly loved brother. He is especially a dearly loved brother to me. How much more can he become a brother to you, personally and spiritually in the Lord (CEB)!
I told him that I’d need to look at that a bit more closely and get back to him at a later point (one of those unfortunate classroom moments when you don’t have a ready answer–ugh!).
As I dipped into commentaries over the subsequent weeks and months, I was increasingly disappointed by how commentators treated Paul’s expression.  The NIV’s and CEB’s renderings represent how nearly every major commentary I’ve looked at handles Paul’s

I have had similar experiences in college classes.  Often in  a class of fifteen, where most are reading the text for the first time, I ask "How many of you assumed Onesimus was a slave?"  Often, no hands go up.
I need to ask : "How many of you assumed Onesimus was a Philemon's literal brother?"

Interesting that a far more popular (in the sense of "speaking to laypeople" and not in the academic journal world) writer than Wright, assumes the literal brother view, without even acknowledging the "traditional" view (emphases mine):
  Philemon is a marvelous example of the strongest force in the universe to affect control over someone -- grace. It takes up one of the most difficult problems we ever encounter, that of resolving quarrels between family members. We can ignore something a stranger does to hurt us, but it is very hard to forgive a member of our own family or someone close to us.
The key to this little letter is in the 16th verse. Paul says to Philemon that he is sending back Onesimus: longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. (Philemon 1:16 RSV)

The background of this story is very interesting. This letter was written when the Apostle Paul was a prisoner in the city of Rome for the first time. It was sent to Philemon, a friend Paul had won to Christ, who lived in Colossae. Evidently Philemon had a young brother whose name was Onesimus.
Some way or another, we do not know how, Onesimus got into trouble -- maybe he was a gambling man -- and became the slave of his own brother, Philemon. In those days, if a man got into trouble, he could get somebody to redeem him by selling himself to that person as a slave. Perhaps Onesimus got into debt, and went to his brother, Philemon, and said, "Philemon, would you mind going to bat here for me? I'm in trouble and I need some money."
Philemon would say, "Well, Onesimus, what can you give me for security?"
Onesimus would say, "I haven't got a thing but myself, but I'll become your slave if you'll pay off this debt." Now that may or may not have been how it occurred, but the picture we get from this little letter is that Philemon is the brother of Onesimus, and his slave as well.  -Ray Stedman, link

So glad Tim Gombis (fantastic writer)  posted this series on Philemon.  Most folks have never even heard the interpretation that Philemon and Onesimus are literal bothers, even though   "this is the most natural reading"  (Gonbis):



What do you remember about Ignatius?


Gaithers on Crack

After asking (not answering yet) our four quick questions (fill in the answers immediately with your very first gut instinct):

  • 1)"In England, they drive on the ___________ side of the road"
  • 2)"Boy, you can sure tell that_______________ is at work in the secular world nowadays!  All you have to do is look around!"
  • 3)"Israel is on the continent of __________."
  • 4)How many of you are in a cross-cultural marriage? ____
We'll answer all these tonight at some point.
We'll suggest Jesus (in his historical world) was



"All divine revelation
 is culturally mediated."
-Leonard Sweet, "Aqua Church 2.0," p.. 67...context
"Culture/matrix is with you...even when you go to church"

"Gaithers on Crack":

What is culture?
What isn’t culture?
Paul Hiebert explains that culture is the “learned patterns of behavior, ideas and products characteristic of a [group of people]."

Culture is "a way of thinking, feeling and acting by one or more people."

How many of you raised your hands for being in a cross-cultural marriage (Hopefully, all married people...I didn't say 'cross-racial')

How many of you raised your hands for being in a cross-cultural marriage? (Hopefully, all married people...I didn't say 'cross-racial')


BUT before we go any further:

Those four questions from the top of the page/evening?

 Click here  (or review the "Gaithers on Crack" video above) to see my suggested "right answers." to the first two
questions , and the  first 24 seconds of the video below for answer to the 3rd:

Did you get it right?

Discuss how your answers to the  4 questions get you thinking about cross-cultural sensitivity and ethnocentrism..



 We'll just introduce this, and pick it up next time..
 see John 5:19, 30, Philippians 2:5-11....also Acts 10:38

So the laswill be first,
and the first will be last:

How counter-cultural is that?

map credit kingPin68
More versions here.


-Connect anything we are talking about to "set theory"  (bounded and centered sets from last week's post..
How do you define culture?

So many possible definitions:

  • Dallas Elder:" Culture is the heritage and identity of a people group which is manifested in their shared language, customs, behavioral patterns, values, beliefs and ideas; and which distinctively define the people group. "
  • Paul Hiebert:  “learned patterns of behavior, ideas and products characteristic of a [group of people]."
  • Simone Weil:  "What is culture?  The formation of attention."
  • Other definitions here
  • Interesting  the  definition of culture within a hospital
How about:

   "a way of thinking, feeling, valuing and acting by one or more people."

We'll work at defining that as we go along tonight.

Cam you "feel it...when you go to work; when you go to your church"?
Is it "all around you...the world that has been pulled over your eyes?":


Week 4                                                                                                                                                                 

Topic:     Living in Many Communities: Prophecy and Wisdom

Preparation Reading:

Hauer & Young ch 6: “Covenant Advocates: The Prophets of Ancient Israel (The Latter Prophets)” (entire)

Amos (entire)

Hauer & Young ch 8: “The Way of Wisdom: Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes (The Writings II)” (entire)

Proverbs 10 – 15

Ecclesiastes 1-6

Job 1-5, 38-42

Hauer & Young ch 14 “Galatians: ‘The Gospel which was Preached by Me’” (pp. 296-297 only)

Galatians (entire)

Finish Radical Loving Care: Part Two (all chapters)

Preparation Assignments:

1) Radical Loving Care Study Questions:

Part One: ch 1, “Opening Challenge,” pg. 193

Part One, ch 4, “Sacred Encounters, Sacred Work,” p. 194

Part One, ch 9, “The Not-So-Surprising Outcomes of the Healing Hospital,” p. 195

Part Two, ch 4, “The Sacred Encounter in Practice,” p. 197)***

2) Hauer & Young ch 6 Questions for Discussion and Reflection (p. 145): answer #1a-c
***NOTE: Instead of the questions for Radical Loving Care, you can do a 1-3 page summary or review or response.
Convince me you've read the whole book