Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Do You Have a Good Marriage?

Andreas Kostenberger has an excellent article on his Biblical Foundations blog answering this question, but also, cheekily telling us it's the wrong question!

In reading what the right question is, I've come to the conclusion that we do have a good marriage, and thank God for this, and for my lovely wife, Joan to whom I have been married for almost 33 years.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

And the Darkness has not overcome it

This story, from Charles Colson's interesting Breakpoint Commmentaries shows the power of Christ today, when Christians follow in his footsteps.

On October 2, Charles Carl Roberts entered a one-room Amish schoolhouse and took ten girls hostage. An hour later, Roberts killed five of his hostages and then killed himself.

From the start, these school killings stood out from other such attacks: The killer, first of all, was an adult, not a student; and then there was the irony of the Amish, a pacifist community that resists what it regards as the contagions of modernity, falling victim to a very modern kind of violence.

Most remarkable is what happened in the schoolhouse itself. Thirteen-year-old Marian Fisher, one of the Amish girls held captive, displayed Christ-like love: She offered to lay her life down for her friends, reportedly telling her would-be killer, “Shoot me and leave the other ones loose!”

And even in the painful aftermath of the shootings, the Amish continued their witness to the love of Christ, reaching out to Roberts’s family, attending Roberts’s funeral, comforting his wife and children, and providing for them through a fund established for Roberts’s victims and their families. One victim’s family even invited the Roberts to their daughter’s funeral. In the most dramatic way, they forgave Roberts.

As I watched the news, it was clear that the media had trouble understanding the kindness and forgiveness extended to Roberts and his family. It wasn’t the first time that Christian grace and charity confused people.

Early Christians, unlike their pagan neighbors, cared for the sick during the periodic epidemics that afflicted the late Roman Empire. The sight of Christians staying while everyone else fled confounded their critics and confused their neighbors.

Many but not all: In its first centuries, Christianity grew at 40 percent per decade. By the time of Constantine, at least 10 percent of the empire was Christian—a remarkable statistic when you recall that to be a Christian at that time was to live with a target painted on your back.

What fueled this explosive growth was the way the early Christians loved one another, were concerned for the weak and marginalized, and were willing to die, if necessary, for their faith. These living epistles were the ultimate witness to the truth of the Gospel and its transformative power.

What was true of Rome is still true today. People can dispute our words, but they have no answer to a demonstration of forgiveness, reconciliation, and charity. Before the shootings, the Amish seemed quaint. Now, they’re extraordinary.

Ironically, they inspire us yet another way. In classrooms across America, students are force-fed Darwinism. They are taught that we are the products of random processes and natural selection—that is, the survival of the fittest. But in the Amish classroom, that thesis is demolished by self-sacrificing love, the one thing Darwin could never explain.

So the Amish have given us a powerful demonstration of the truth of the Biblical worldview and, indeed, of the Light of the world.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Faith, Hope and Love

Hope is a great theme of the bible, but may be easily misunderstood by us, because we use the English word differently from the way the words it translates are used in the bible.

In English, hope implies uncertainty, but in the bible
to hope is to look forward expectantly for God’s future activity. Biblical hope is more than a simple wish; it entails certainty based on God’s demonstration of faithfulness to people in the history of salvation as recorded in the Scriptures and as experienced by the church. Ultimately the Christian’s future hope lies in the promise of Christ’s return and the anticipation of resurrection from the dead.

Hope is a door (Hos 2:15), “an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Heb 6:19 NIV) and a helmet (1 Thess 5:8).

Hope is an essential characteristic of the Christian life and a central feature of Paul’s theology. Every statement Paul makes about Christian hope is also a statement about what God has given the believer in Christ. In his letters, especially the letter to the Romans, Paul explores the ground of Christian hope, what it means to live in hope and the Christian hope for the future.

The New Testament concept of hope is rooted in the OT; Christian hope includes trust in God, patient waiting and confidence in God’s future. But the situation of the Christian who hopes is decisively different from that of the OT. Christian hope rests on God’s act of salvation in Christ. Christ’s resurrection marks the beginning of the messianic age, the presence of the Spirit is evidence that the end has begun and Christian hope waits for the complete manifestation of the kingdom of God at the Second Coming.

Ferguson, S. B., & Packer, J. (2000, c1988). New dictionary of theology (electronic ed.) (321). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press
Grenz, S., Guretzki, D., & Nordling, C. F. (1999). Pocket dictionary of theological terms (61). Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.
Ryken, L., Wilhoit, J., Longman, T., Duriez, C., Penney, D., & Reid, D. G. (2000, c1998). Dictionary of biblical imagery (electronic ed.) (399). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Hawthorne, G. F., Martin, R. P., & Reid, D. G. (1997, c1993). Dictionary of Paul and his letters (electronic ed.). Logos Library Systems (415). Downers Grove: InterVarsity.