Mosaix Blogs Full http://feed.informer.com/digests/LIX0YUF5O5/feeder Mosaix Blogs Full Respective post owners and feed distributors Wed, 11 Sep 2019 10:51:13 -0500 Feed Informer http://feed.informer.com/ Becoming an Ambassador of Racial Reconciliation https://davidireland.org/blog/2021/07/29/becoming-an-ambassador-of-racial-reconciliation/ David D Ireland, Ph.D. urn:uuid:63b66edc-4852-b6ac-dd9b-4deb4ca40b6f Wed, 28 Jul 2021 21:35:57 -0500 You don’t have to look hard to see how people have been divided along racial, ethnic, cultural, economic, and political lines. All of these have been used to foster disunity... <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">You don’t have to look hard to see how people have been divided along racial, ethnic, cultural, economic, and political lines. All of these have been used to foster disunity and isolate people from one another. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">So, the question is, is it possible to get along with people who are different? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Can bridges be built so that others can be included in your social circle of life?</span></p> <h2><span style="color: #000000;"><b>God’s Word Provides the Answer</b></span></h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">No matter what our race or ethnicity is or what our economic status is, or what our political leanings are, we are all loved equally by God. The heart of God is unity. The good news and promise from God’s words are that when we are fully devoted followers of Christ, unity can be achieved. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Acts 8:26-39 says this:</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and on his way, he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">“How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading:</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">so he did not open his mouth. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">In his humiliation, he was deprived of justice. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Who can speak of his descendants? </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">For his life was taken from the earth.”</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again but went on his way rejoicing.</span></p> <h2><span style="color: #000000;"><b>Have an Awareness of Others</b></span></h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">This story opens a gateway for us so we can have an awareness of the other. There is no way you can include people in your life that are different from you unless you&#8217;re aware, and your awareness has to be on two levels. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">The first level is internal. You&#8217;ve got to be aware of who you are. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">The second level is being aware of who the other is. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">So let&#8217;s go back and really understand the text. The eunuch pulled his chariot right up to Jerusalem. He came all the way from Ethiopia, North Africa, which is roughly 1,500 miles, that’s a LONG journey.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">History teaches us that a man becomes a eunuch (a castrated male) in one of two ways: </span></p> <ol> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">He was captured in war and brutalized.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Some major government ruler emasculates him. This was done so he could then guard the harem, the queen, or oversee some major arm of government in an undivided way. </span></li> </ol> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">It was the second with this particular eunuch because the Scripture tells us he was the treasurer for the queen of the Ethiopians. He was the minister of finance, overseeing all the finance in Ethiopia in a single-minded, single-focused way, devotion. </span></p> <h2><span style="color: #000000;"><b>Why Do I Exist? Do I Belong?</b></span></h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">But there&#8217;s something about this eunuch that made him unique. He was a God-fearing eunuch and he wanted to have a question in his heart answered. He was looking for meaning in life. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">And one of the questions that he was struggling with was, do I matter? Do I have value? As a eunuch, he had no family of his own. And in the first century, people looked for their descendants to carry on their name, to tell stories of their existence when they passed away. They looked for the perpetuation of their legacy, their value. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">And even though this eunuch had success, he lacked significance. So he took the 1,500-mile journey to Jerusalem, that sacred city, that holy city, that city that was referred to as the city of God. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">In fact, Jeremiah in the Book of Jeremiah 31, verse 6 tells us that if anybody wanted to hear from God, they went to Jerusalem. If somebody wanted to have answers to meaningful, deep-probing questions that they struggle with, they went to Jerusalem. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">So this eunuch not only went to the city of Jerusalem but he went to the temple, the place to hear the voice of God. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Historians tell us the temple was placed on a mountain. This was the third construction of the temple, built by Herod for the Jews. Flavius Josephus, the great Jewish historian, recorded that there were 18,000 workers working on this temple that took 46 years to build. There were 17,000 craftsmen. There were a thousand Jewish priests trained to work with carpentry and various precious metals because the sanctuary could not be touched by Gentiles or non-Jews. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">It is here that the eunuch makes his way into the assembly, and sees the signs posted that tell him no Gentiles beyond this point. And on top of that, as recorded in Deuteronomy 23, verse one, no one who is emasculated or has his male organ cut off may enter the assembly of the Lord. The eunuch stops dead in his tracks. He couldn’t go into worship. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">The only thing he could do was watch the worshipers that paraded past him. He was shut out by the wall, the barrier. The sound of the sermon couldn’t reach his ears because of the barrier. There was no way to enter—he was shut out.</span></p> <h2><span style="color: #000000;"><b>When Someone Is Different</b></span></h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">And as the worshipers walked by him, they knew he was different.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">His clothing told them that he was different. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">His skin color told them that he was different. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Everything about him spoke of difference. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">And so he was not included rather he was excluded because of differences. This eunuch provides us with insight and understanding of the people that are in our lives today. They&#8217;re close to us, but yet they&#8217;re far from us. They&#8217;re far from us because somehow we&#8217;ve not seen them. We&#8217;ve not recognized them. We&#8217;ve not realized that we&#8217;ve put up barriers that make them feel excluded from who we are. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">And it&#8217;s based on some of the markers of difference, maybe their race, maybe their ethnicity, maybe their color. And somehow we&#8217;ve ruled them out in our hearts for them to be in our social circle. I wonder how the eunuch must have felt excluded. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">At this point, he summons his driver. He gets back in the chariot and off they go back to Ethiopia. As they&#8217;re on this road the eunuch is reading the Book of Isaiah. It tells us something about this eunuch that tells us that he&#8217;s very educated. </span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">And it tells us he&#8217;s searching.</span><b> </b></span></p> <h2><span style="color: #000000;"><b>What Are You Searching For?</b></span></h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Searching for meaning, searching for a sense of belonging, searching for family. And, he&#8217;s looking into Scripture to see if he can belong to God&#8217;s family. Does God have room for me? Do the people of God, can they make room for me? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">And so, as he&#8217;s reading, God is stirring the heart of one of his servants, Philip, the evangelist. Philip, this messianic believer, Philip, the one who goes about looking for people to talk to about Jesus. And as Philip is minding his own business an angel visits him. And then the Holy Spirit affirms the visitation by telling Philip to join himself next to that chariot. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Philip has to run to catch the chariot. And as he&#8217;s running by the chariot he hears the eunuch reading from the Book of Isaiah, the 53rd chapter. The eunuch is searching for meaning and searching for answers and searching for a sense of belonging and searching for a family to be a part of. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Just like this eunuch, there are people in your life that are searching.</span></p> <h2><span style="color: #000000;"><b>Do You Hold the Key for Others?</b></span></h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">And God wants you to be a reconciler, He wants you to be able to give them access to who you are, to your heart, so that you can be able to answer not only their deep-searching questions, but so you can build a relationship, a bridge across difference into their lives.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">When I say included, it&#8217;s about including the other in your life. Philip then says while he&#8217;s running next to the chariot, do you understand what you&#8217;re reading? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Here’s why that question is so important and why we need to let it sink in.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">They knew the difference that each other had, the difference in skin color, the difference in attire, the difference in language, the difference in the fact that even though Philip was a Christ-follower, the eunuch was searching to become a follower of someone.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">And so when they looked at each other, they could visibly see the markers of difference, but they both had an awareness. I call that intercultural competence, their level of knowledge about what it means to have intercultural interactions was at a high point so they made room for difference.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Philip&#8217;s question was not condemning. It was not accusatory. It was not negative. It didn&#8217;t have bias. It wasn&#8217;t tainted with assumptions that made the eunuch feel bad. Neither did the eunuch look at Philip that way, they looked at each other with respect. And that&#8217;s what needs to take place when you build a lifestyle of bridges. </span></p> <h2><span style="color: #000000;"><b>Even Though We Are Different We Can Get Along</b></span></h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">They are different from each other yet they&#8217;re sitting next to each other so they can both learn from one another. Philip understood the longing within the eunuch’s heart. He longed for belonging. He longed to be a part of a family. The eunuch mattered to Philip.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">If you&#8217;re going to be someone that is cross-cultural and effective, when it comes to developing intercultural competence, the ability to build healthy relationships with others, you must be able to be respectful towards people who are different from you. And they must see that respect. They must feel that respect. There must be an awareness that you convey to them that says I see you. You matter to me, and the eunuch demonstrated this when he said to Philip, please sit next to me. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">At this point, the eunuch asked, how can I understand? And there, Philip begins to speak about Jesus to the eunuch. Scholars affirm that Philip must have scrolled down in the scroll to Isaiah 56 and landed on verse three and read this part to the eunuch: </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">“No foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord should say, the Lord will exclude me from his people. And the eunuch should not say, look, I&#8217;m a dried-up tree. For the Lord says this: ‘For the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths and choose what pleases me, and hold firmly to my covenant, I will give them, in my house and within my walls, a memorial, and a name better than sons and daughters. I will give each of them an everlasting name that will never be cut off.’ “</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">The eunuch must have wondered if he was hearing properly. Does God have a bridge that gives me access to him and access to his people? Can I be on the inside of the wall, not on the outside any longer?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">What do I need to do? </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">And Philip says, you must believe in your heart, the Lord Jesus. And then as a confirmation, you must be baptized. It&#8217;s an outward sign of an inward change. After hearing that the eunuch immediately ordered his driver, stop the chariot. And he says to Philip, here&#8217;s water. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">They both stepped out of the chariot. They walked across the road, walked into the water and there Philip baptized the eunuch in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And he brought them up out of the water. And the Scripture says the eunuch went home rejoicing. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Why? Because he was included. </span></p> <h2><span style="color: #000000;"><b>What Can You Do? </b></span></h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">One of the greatest things you can do is to include people in your life who are different from you.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">This requires having an awareness of who you are and who they are. When I have self-awareness, it means that I know how I&#8217;m walking through the world. What role do my race, my ethnicity, my culture, and even my faith plays in how I&#8217;m being interpreted by others. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Sometimes those markers are compounded and create a negative interpretation from others towards me. Sometimes those markers are compounded and create a positive interpretation. But I have to be aware of who I am. The eunuch was aware. Philip was aware. And when these two men met each other, both having an exemplary level of self-awareness, their personal awareness as to who they are and their markers of difference did not make their rebuff. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">In fact, they welcomed each other. And as a result, the eunuch was transformed and he became one of the first Gentile believers of Jesus from north Africa. And he went on his way.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Are you ready and willing to do what it takes to be a reconciler? To build bridges? To include others?</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe title="YouTube video player" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/dLl-heyX7XU" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> Exegeting the Salt Covenant https://specs12.wordpress.com/2021/07/26/exegeting-the-salt-covenant/ perSpectives 12 urn:uuid:6d722c33-14b1-4b5b-bb6e-902e89044fc0 Mon, 26 Jul 2021 08:54:12 -0500 Jan Paron, PhD &#124; July 26, 2021 Though Scripture cites the word salt 31 times in the Old Testament, it &#8230;<p><a href="https://specs12.wordpress.com/2021/07/26/exegeting-the-salt-covenant/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a></p> <p>Jan Paron, PhD | July 26, 2021</p> <p>Though Scripture cites the word salt 31 times in the Old Testament, it mentions salt covenant three (Lv 2:13; Nm 18:19; 2 Chr 13:5). The ancients considered salt a precious commodity because of its scarcity. (1) In terms of an agreement initiated by God, salt symbolized preservation of covenant with Him against corruption. The Bible links salt with the making of agreements or contracts. This essay exegetes the textual meaning of the salt covenant under the microscope of person, event, symbols, places, and prophecy looking at three occurrences in the Old Testament. It seeks to uncover its meaning and application </p> <figure class="wp-block-gallery columns-1 is-cropped"><ul data-carousel-extra='{"blog_id":12269709,"permalink":"https:\/\/specs12.wordpress.com\/2021\/07\/26\/exegeting-the-salt-covenant\/"}' class="blocks-gallery-grid"><li class="blocks-gallery-item"><figure><a href="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/07/pexels-photo-3693293-1.jpeg"><img data-attachment-id="5724" data-permalink="https://specs12.wordpress.com/2021/07/26/exegeting-the-salt-covenant/pexels-photo-3693293-1/" data-orig-file="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/07/pexels-photo-3693293-1.jpeg" data-orig-size="1880,1253" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;0&quot;}" data-image-title="macro photography of crystal salt" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="&lt;p&gt;Photo by Castorly Stock on &lt;a href=&quot;https://www.pexels.com/photo/macro-photography-of-crystal-salt-3693293/&quot; rel=&quot;nofollow&quot;&gt;Pexels.com&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt; " data-medium-file="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/07/pexels-photo-3693293-1.jpeg?w=300" data-large-file="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/07/pexels-photo-3693293-1.jpeg?w=529" src="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/07/pexels-photo-3693293-1.jpeg" alt="" data-id="5724" class="wp-image-5724" /></a></figure></li></ul></figure> <p class="has-text-align-center">Photo by Castorly Stock on <a href="https://www.pexels.com/photo/macro-photography-of-crystal-salt-3693293/" rel="nofollow">Pexels.com</a></p> <p>The notion of a salt covenant appears in Nm 18:19-32 as one of the three covenant methods for confirmation (cf. blood covenant, Gn 15:7-17; shoe covenant, Ru 4:7-9). This instance of the salt covenant contextually relates to the Aaronic call to the priesthood of the tabernacle (Nm 17). Aaron’s rod had budded, blossomed, and brought forth almonds signaling the Lord’s approval for him and his descendants’ rights to the tabernacle priesthood. In chapter 18, the Lord recounts to Aaron alone, the priesthood service rewards providing him and his descendant Aaronides a continual allotment from the Israelite offerings and sealing the provisions with “an everlasting covenant of salt”(18:19a KJV). Ancient Israelites always added salt to sacrificial offerings to the Lord as a preserving agent. </p> <p>“You shall season every grain offering with salt so that the salt (preservation) of the covenant of your God will not be missing from your grain offering. You shall offer salt with all your offerings (Lv 2:13 AMP). Salt in in Lv 2:13, stands for that which preserves against corruption, an essential ingredient in offerings made to God. It conveys the image of permanence and God’s eternal covenant with Israel. On the other hand, leaven symbolized the spread of sin and honey likewise fermentation of it. The mineral&#8217;s ability not only to ward off decay but also to preserve made it an excellent symbol to represent the perpetual agreement between God and his people.</p> <p>In 2 Chr 13:5, Scripture shows a second instance of the salt covenant: “Ought ye not to know that the Lord God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt?” Similar to Lv 2:13, a covenant of salt conveys a descriptive image of a permanency because salt preserves. Since the Bible links salt to the making of agreements or contracts, it showed itself an ancient symbol of unbreakable friendships and enduring alliances.</p> <p>In like manner, the salt covenant in Nm 18:19 has characteristics of indissolubility indicating permanency and irreversibility. The allotment consisted of the holy gifts to the Lord, which He in turn gave to Aaron and His descendants as a God-commanded portion—His gift to them. Since the Aaronides had no property, they depended on God alone for their portion through His provisions. </p> <p>“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men” (Mt 5:13). Refrigeration as a means of preserving large quantities of food did not begin to grow until the latter part of the 19th century. One of the most common ways of preserving food before this time (including the period of the Old Testament) was to use salt. This property of physical preservation led to this mineral being used in terms to symbolically represent preservation in general. </p> <p>Taken together, a &#8216;covenant of salt&#8217; means an agreement or contract between parties that endures regardless of the circumstances. Such agreements form a solid, unbreakable and everlasting bond.</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Endnotes</span></h3> <p>(1) Bullinger, 1999, p 207.</p> Some Helpful (and Quick) Thoughts on Travel https://bryanloritts.com/blog/some-helpful-and-quick-thoughts-on-travel Blog - Bryan Loritts urn:uuid:3ebdd0d2-db72-66db-e26d-a6871b7dab65 Sat, 24 Jul 2021 21:27:17 -0500 <p class="">I started preaching when I was seventeen, and when I was twenty-two, Dr. Maurice Watson was the first person to put me on a plane to come preach for him. Since that time, almost thirty years ago, I’ve learned some things from my travels, and I thought I’d share them with you:</p><ol data-rte-list="default"><li><p class="">Get the TripIt app. You’re welcome.</p></li><li><p class="">Boredom is not the friend of holiness (ask David). So keep a full schedule.</p></li><li><p class="">When it makes sense, take family with you.</p></li><li><p class="">Be mindful of your spouse’s capacity for your travel.</p></li><li><p class="">Don’t be a diva...or a jerk.</p></li><li><p class="">It’s a calling, not a gig.</p></li><li><p class="">At least once a year give the honorarium check back. You won’t miss it.</p></li><li><p class="">Rent your cars from National. You’re welcome.</p></li><li><p class="">Minister, don’t perform.</p></li><li><p class="">Once you say yes, don’t trade a “lesser” opportunity for a “greater” one. Be a person of integrity.</p></li><li><p class="">Call your spouse from the road often.</p></li><li><p class="">Minimize television. Maximize worship.</p></li><li><p class="">Maximize travel benefits. As much as you can, fly with one airline and enroll in their mileage program.</p></li><li><p class="">Never take the opportunity for granted. Show gratitude to your host publicly.</p></li><li><p class="">Whether to a handful or the masses, preach your heart out.</p></li><li><p class="">Workout.</p></li><li><p class="">Eat right.</p></li><li><p class="">No alone time with the opposite gender.</p></li><li><p class="">Don’t counsel the pastor's members. They’re not your sheep.</p></li><li><p class="">Preach shorter than the host pastor does.&nbsp;</p></li><li><p class="">Keep track of what you preach and where. It will save you embarrassment. Believe me, I know!</p></li><li><p class="">Be understated in your dress. The people are there to see God, not you.</p></li><li><p class="">Ministry begins with the intern, not the stage. You never know how a kind word of wisdom could change the life of the one assigned to assist you.</p></li><li><p class="">Wash your hands often. You’ll shake a lot of them.</p></li><li><p class="">As soon as you get back, take the trash out. The last few days you’ve been catered to, so you need to remind yourself you are a servant.</p></li></ol> Mental Health Therapists for People of Color https://djchuang.com/mental-health-therapists-for-people-of-color/ djchuang.com urn:uuid:cedbbf63-fc36-104d-c0e8-e4061fc756ba Fri, 23 Jul 2021 16:51:49 -0500 <p>Let's make it easier to find mental health professionals, counselors, and therapists who are culturally competent for people of color and BIPOC. </p> <p>This article <a rel="nofollow" href="https://djchuang.com/mental-health-therapists-for-people-of-color/">Mental Health Therapists for People of Color</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://djchuang.com">@djchuang</a>.</p> Distinctively Christian? An Additional Response to Reverend Kevin DeYoung http://thefrontporch.org/2021/07/distinctively-christian-an-additional-response-to-reverend-kevin-deyoung/ The Front Porch urn:uuid:1465af96-031f-481e-bf38-50b43410fc8c Thu, 22 Jul 2021 09:19:06 -0500 <p>In our previous essay, “Sanctifying the Status Quo: A Response to Reverend Kevin DeYoung,” we examined the methodology that undergirds Kevin DeYoung’s critical review of our book, Reparations: A Christian...</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="http://thefrontporch.org/2021/07/distinctively-christian-an-additional-response-to-reverend-kevin-deyoung/">Distinctively Christian? An Additional Response to Reverend Kevin DeYoung</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="http://thefrontporch.org">The Front Porch</a>.</p> <p>In our previous essay, “<a href="https://thefrontporch.org/2021/07/sanctifying-the-status-quo-a-response-to-reverend-kevin-deyoung/">Sanctifying the Status Quo: A Response to Reverend Kevin DeYoung</a>,” we examined the methodology that undergirds Kevin DeYoung’s <a href="https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevin-deyoung/reparations-a-critical-theological-review/">critical review</a> of our book, <a href="https://www.reparationsproject.com/"><em>Reparations: A Christian Call for Repentance and Repair</em></a>. The mode of theological reasoning that DeYoung deploys, we argued, shapes and at times distorts the very questions he raises. So, it seemed proper for us to seek to expose and critique this methodology prior to addressing the substantive issues.</p> <p>Some critics are now suggesting that we chose this particular approach because we—intimidated by the sheer force of his arguments—had no substantive response to offer. Readers may recall, however, that we predicted this reaction:</p> <blockquote>[O]ur intent is not to answer specific technical questions about reparations per se, but to expose and critique the method with which Reverend DeYoung approaches them. <u>As we do so, we understand that some of our critics may see this as a form of evasion, as an attempt to escape the force of probing examination.</u> But this is false. To the contrary, we engage these questions—and are engaged by them—every day.</p></blockquote> <p>Again, it’s false to assume that our methodological focus was borne of evasion, ignorance, or defeat. Rather, we regularly engage questions like those raised by DeYoung. They merit sustained reflection rather than frivolous reaction. And at this time, we would like to share some of the fruit of that reflection and study.</p> <p>What follows, then, are brief and provisional responses to some of DeYoung’s critical assessments. Importantly, these are offered against the backdrop of our previous essay and with deliberate appeal to resources from within our shared theological tradition. We continue to reflect on these questions and many others, and we invite you to do the same with curiosity and hope.</p> <p><strong>Unstable Moral Grounds </strong></p> <p><strong> </strong>DeYoung argues that our book offers “nebulous,” “amorphous,” and ultimately specious moral grounds for its call for restitution. This is especially notable, he believes, in its handling of “white supremacy” and the way it is related to principles of restitution. For example, when we describe reparations as “restitution for the thefts of White supremacy,” DeYoung interprets this phrasing to mean something vague and ill-defined like “restitution … based on skin color” or “restitution for ‘White supremacy’” or “restitution with the world.” But these renderings, which allegedly illustrate the incoherence of our case, actually misrepresent what we plainly argue in the book. Restitution—the return of ill-gotten goods to its rightful owners—is the biblical response to <em>theft </em>according to the 8th commandment (Chapter 5). And <em>theft</em>, we argue, is in fact the animating energy and demonstrable social effect of the cultural (dis)order called white supremacy (Chapter 2). Across history, this racist theft has found tragic and concrete expression in a variety of forms (Chapter 3)—not only as the theft of black <em>wealth </em>(as is often assumed in reparations conversations) but also the theft of <em>truth</em> (about black persons and history) and the theft of <em>power</em> (personal and political). If so, the key moral question is this: What is a biblical response to theft? One crucial answer from the Bible: Restitution. This is simply what we mean by “restitution for the thefts of White supremacy.” The redress of racist evils—namely, thefts that are relentlessly animated by the white supremacy.</p> <p>Another “unresolved ambiguity” that threatens the cogency of restitution, DeYoung argues, involves the passage of time. We acknowledge that time adds complexity to restitution’s application, and that it can, by God’s providence and mercy, dampen the damaging effects of past evils. But DeYoung goes further than this. He cites an excerpt of John Tillotson’s “Two Sermons of the Nature and Necessity of Restitution” (1707)—which states that the obligation to redress “injuries of a very ancient date” eventually “ceaseth and expires”—and he claims that this excerpt “undermines one of the central arguments of their book.” But does it?</p> <p>Consider this: Tillotson reveals the actual time-horizon he has in mind when, to illustrate his point, he refers to the conquests of the “Saxons, Danes, and Normans” on the British Isles. As <a href="https://blogs.mereorthodoxy.com/jake/notes-deyoungs-review-thompson-kwon/">others have pointed out</a>, these historical injuries occurred fully 600 to 1,100 years prior to Tillotson’s own day. By comparison, “only” 150 years have elapsed since the abolition of slavery in the United States.</p> <p>Furthermore, the bishop’s outlook in this section of his sermon is informed by prudential and pragmatic considerations more so than by strictly moral ones. Yes, he states that the obligation to redress ancient wrongs eventually ceases because the pursuit of the “ancient right” to seek restitution would cause “endless Disturbances,” and prove to be “a great inconvenience” to a well-ordered society. Crucially, however, he goes on to concede that “time in it self doth not alter the Nature of things.” And in a section DeYoung omits from his block quotation, Tillotson qualifies his point with the following: “[C]onsidering a thing simply in itself, an Injury is so far from being lessened or null’d by tract of time … is increased, and the longer it continues, the greater it is.”</p> <p>Evidently, the bishop would have agreed with his contemporary Matthew Henry, who once wrote: “Time does not wear out the guilt of sin; nor can we build hopes of impunity upon the delay of judgments. There is no statute of limitation to be pleaded against God’s demands.” In other words, Tillotson does commend prudence and a “reasonable” handling of (very) ancient injuries, which at times may entail the relinquishing of rights of redress. Yet he is steadfast in his moral appraisal of those injuries—namely, when a theft, even a very old theft, is considered “simply in itself,” restitution is still warranted according to “the Nature of things.”</p> <p>One more example related to the problem of time: At one point, DeYoung acknowledges that “the obligation to make restitution may transfer to ancestors,” though he goes on to limit that transfer (somewhat arbitrarily) to <em>one</em> generation only. Very well. How, then, shall we respond to racial thefts that date back to the days of Jim Crow—thefts committed only<em> one</em> generation ago? Would DeYoung agree that the responsibility to redress them endures to this day? That they have not “expired” with so “brief” a passing of time?</p> <p>A third “unresolved ambiguity” that is concerning to DeYoung involves the parties responsible for making restitution. DeYoung is troubled by “the notion that restitution might be based on skin color.” Reparations loses its moral coherence, he argues, when “Whites like Thompson” are held responsible for past sins for no other reason than that they were committed “by people who look like you.” But our book doesn’t make the argument that White people writ large are responsible for reparations. Our attention is firmly fixed, rather, on the church.</p> <p>We argue that the Christian church—because of its social history (its historical role as perpetrators of, accomplices to, and negligent bystanders before the plunder of Black image-bearers and their communities), its ethical tradition, and its missional mandate—bears a singular responsibility to address this tragic history of theft (Chapter 4). Reparations is an enduring obligation of churches in America, not “by virtue of their corporate identity as Whites” (as DeYoung claims we argue) but by virtue of their corporate identity as followers of Christ. Perhaps this is why DeYoung finds it so puzzling that I (Duke), as an Asian American, see myself as implicated in the multigenerational thefts of white supremacy. What could be the basis for this? Not racial pigmentation but ecclesial, corporate identification.</p> <p>We’re aware that this point of correction may prove unsatisfactory for DeYoung and others. As we observe in our essay, after all, one element that is defining to their view of reparations is the impulse to evaluate and critique it through a narrowly individualistic lens. White people, churches—no difference, no matter. DeYoung is frustrated that we are not “absolved of guilt just because we were not personally the slave traders, the slave owners, or the Jim Crow era oppressors.” He denies the corporate dimensions of restitution almost entirely, repeatedly reducing its scope to the concerns of the individual.</p> <p>In doing so, however, he places himself at odds with our Christian (and Reformed) ethical tradition. Baxter, for example, spoke of restitution for the injuries of “whole nations, countries, or communities.” Hopkins and Calvin viewed the Israelites’ plundering of the Egyptians in Exodus 12 as mass compensation for 430 years of toil. And these and numerous other divines taught in their expositions of the Decalogue that the <em>descendants</em> of thieves—not just those who personally committed past thefts—are bound to make restitution. So are <em>accomplices, </em>they insisted, including even those not personally present at the scene of the crime.</p> <p>Alas, responsibility is never merely individual and personal; it is also, in many cases, corporate—shared. This is true of the Reformed tradition’s view of the biblical practice of restitution. And, as DeYoung knows well, this corporate dimension of ethical practice is a hallmark of our covenantal faith.</p> <p><strong>Absence of Moral Closure </strong></p> <p>Reverend DeYoung also argues that our book’s ethical claims are fatally undermined by an absence of any possibility of forgiveness or moral closure for those owing reparations. According to our account of reparations, he claims, one “can never in this life truly be forgiven of the debts they owe.” And on numerous occasions, he asks: “When and how can that debt be discharged?” DeYoung wants to be <em>done</em>.</p> <p>As stated explicitly in our book, we believe that divine forgiveness is manifestly available to even the most repugnant perpetrators of racist plunder. And we affirm, as DeYoung does, that the remission of sins lies at the heart of the Christian faith. But our theological tradition has more to say about forgiveness and restitution than just that. Notably, one’s stubborn refusal to make restitution is viewed as an emblem of unrepentance (“unjust possession is a continual and prolonged theft” —Hopkins). Thus, Augustine declares decisively: “No repentance, no remission.” Also emerging from this same ethical tradition: If you are overwhelmed by an unpayable debt, you must tirelessly strive to do all you can to satisfy it—even to the point of poverty (Bullinger). And if you still cannot, you may “crave forgiveness and cast yourself on the mercy of” your neighbor (Baxter)—and on the mercy of God.</p> <p>It is important to note that DeYoung is concerned about this alleged denial of forgiveness in part because of what he believes it <em>represents—</em>namely, the unqualified embrace of a secular metanarrative (popularized by the “woke”) that has much to say about complicity and confession and nothing to say about redemption. (More on this below.) He is also concerned about what the neglect of forgiveness <em>does—</em>namely, it deprives the guilty of any possibility of obtaining moral and psychological closure. This is one of DeYoung’s chief and most repeated concerns. His case for closure, however, is flawed in a few ways.</p> <p>First, he tends to overstate the specificity and finality with which restitutionary debts are discharged in scripture. One example: In DeYoung’s reading, Zacchaeus knew definitively “<em>how </em>he had sinned, <em>whom </em>he had sinned against, and <em>how </em>to make it right.” True enough, as far as the <em>how’s</em> are concerned. The <em>whom</em>? It’s far more historically plausible to assume that a tax collector could <em>not </em>have personally known or identified every one of the many travelers he had previously defrauded along the roads of Jericho. This is why one interpretative tradition understands Zacchaeus’ relinquishing of half his possessions to the poor not as a spontaneous act of charity, but as a fulfillment of Mosaic requirements in instances when repentant thieves are <em>completely unable to locate</em> those to whom they owe restitution (Num. 5:8).</p> <p>DeYoung’s need for absolute closure not only at times exceeds the text of scripture, it also exceeds historical Christian thought on restitution. For example, in a sermon entitled, “The Nature and Necessity of Restitution” (1711), William Beveridge poses the question: “What must they do, who are conscious to themselves that they have wronged many, but know not who they were?” He responds with boldness and clarity:</p> <blockquote><p>This is the case of many tradesmen, who by false weights, or measures, or other unjust dealing, defraud and cheat persons that come accidentally into their shops or warehouses, <u>whom they never saw before nor since, and perhaps could not know them again if they should see them; so that it is impossible for them ever to make restitution to the persons themselves, or to the families they have wronged; but they must of necessity live and die in debt to them: and it is very difficult, if not impossible for them, ever to extricate themselves out of that miserable condition which their own covetousness hath brought them into;</u> which should make all men very cautious how they deal in the world, lest for the sake of a little money, they contract that guilt which can never be wiped off. The best advice that I can give such is; first, to leave off such wicked courses, and then to compute as well as they can what they have gotten by such unjust dealings, and to make full restitution of whatsoever they have wronged those of whom they know, and to pay the overplus all to the poor.</p></blockquote> <p>Understand that when DeYoung critiques our view as too “nonspecific” and “impossible to ever fulfill,” his point isn’t merely that it’s too hard or unworthy of the effort. He knows that some of the most worthy endeavors in the Christian life are “not in this life to be accomplished” (Owen). His point, rather, is that a “nonspecific” and “impossible” restitution is ethically invalid. Not so, according to Beveridge. In his view, the impossibility of specifically identifying one’s victims or fully discharging one’s restitutionary debt—<em>even in an entire lifetime</em>—neither undermines the cogency of restitution nor releases one from the obligation to earnestly seek to fulfill it.</p> <p>There is yet another serious flaw to DeYoung’s case for closure that bears mentioning. As noted previously, he approaches the forgiveness of alleged thieves as an abstract principle almost entirely stripped of its original historical and moral context. And that context is, of course, generations of repeated and unrepented instances of diabolical abuse—broken teeth, cracked bones, ravaged bodies, trafficked children, and more. It is only against this moral backdrop that DeYoung’s interest in forgiveness can be properly evaluated. And it is against this backdrop that it becomes clear that DeYoung is expecting (even demanding) a preemptive offer of absolution by an abjectly and generationally abused party before the accused party admits that the sins to be forgiven have been committed in the first place.</p> <p>It remains unclear how long Reverend DeYoung <em>expects </em>it should take to address the unspeakable harms of millions of acts of theft that have been sheltered by millions of Christians and their churches across hundreds of years—an unfathomable and incalculable moral debt. Truly, how long? And how long must our Black brothers and sisters endure these agitated demands for forgiveness? These repeated interjections are reminiscent of the mindset of abusive spouses that we have pastored (and that DeYoung likely has too) over our years of ministry. Upon being confronted with their destructive, cyclical behavior, they prove to be far more furious that they are not <em>already</em> forgiven than they are penitently undone by the untold evils they have committed and the lives they have destroyed.</p> <p>In short, the relentless focus on moral closure for the perpetrator is terribly misplaced. The prioritization of exonerative relief for the guilty and the protection of White people from an “unjustified and unrelenting condemnation” represents an <em>audacious reversal</em> of the reparations conversation—the very aim of which is to seek healing, if not a kind of <em>closure</em>, for <em>Black </em>people in America and in our pews. What ever happened to unrelenting concern not for the swift and final <em>discharge</em> of our debt to African Americans but for the debt <em>itself</em>? Indeed, as we have already observed, the extent to which DeYoung centers the psychological and spiritual condition of White Americans to the utter neglect of Black Americans is not only stunning at times; it is revealing.</p> <p><strong>Incompatible with the Gospel </strong></p> <p>This brings us, finally, to DeYoung’s claim that the moral vision of our book, while sincere, dangerously traffics into the church a secular religion that is fundamentally incompatible with the Christian gospel and the redemptive narrative of scripture. We will comment only briefly here. Ours is a “religious vision,” he insists, that—apart from occasionally cherry picking from the Christian tradition and its scriptures—is “not clearly shaped by the gospel,” does not inherently depend on “Christian categories or the Christian story,” does not require a “Christian accounting of the world,” and is not, in the final analysis, “distinctively Christian.”</p> <p>At this point, we could offer a lengthy rejoinder detailing how our book does in fact rest upon a singularly Christian foundation of faith, hope, and love. But as many of our readers have already witnessed for themselves, it’s all there in the book—<em>the nature of racism as sin and corruption, the emancipatory power of true repentance, the possibility and promise of divine forgiveness, the radical cruciformity and supernatural source of neighbor love, the redemptive story that frames the work of reparations.</em> We won’t at this time tire you with our redundancy.</p> <p>We will, however, invite you to consider this with us: What precisely is this “distinctively Christian” vision that leaves not one moral inch of room for reparations? What articles of faith and what account of the world lead Reverend DeYoung to dismiss the arguments of our book so decisively? We argue in our previous essay that, while this “distinctively Christian” project is perceived to be exclusively scriptural and theological, it is actually more accurately described as a cultural project that merely justifies itself theologically.</p> <p>For this reason, we believe that had we answered all of these aforementioned questions (among others) satisfactorily—even flawlessly—DeYoung still would not change his mind on reparations. How do we know? He told us so in his concluding paragraph:</p> <blockquote><p>Suppose American history is as bad as Kwon and Thompson aver. Suppose our corporate guilt is everything they say it is. Suppose everything they want to see under the banner of reparations would be good for our country and good for our communities. The religious vision is still one that I find more in line with a community organizer’s dream for America than a distinctively Christian one.</p></blockquote> <p>A stunning admission, to be sure. Reverend DeYoung will refuse to loosen his grip on his predetermined assessment that reparations is insufficiently “distinctively Christian,” and will persist in rejecting—wholesale—the call to faithfully seek racial redress <em>even if </em>we were proven correct in our evaluation of America’s “bad” history, namely, that White supremacy is original to America, pervasive across its institutions, and enduring to the present day; <em>even if</em> we were proven correct that the animating energy and social effect of White supremacy on African American life was—and still is—a hellish, multi-dimensional, multi-generational theft, a mass and grotesque violation of the 8th commandment; <em>even if </em>we were proven correct that the church bears corporate responsibility for these thefts, having served as perpetrator, accomplice, and willfully silent bystander before the plunder of African Americans;<em> even if </em>our exegesis of scripture and our appeal to centuries of Christian reflection on the ethics of restitution and restoration we were proven sound; and <em>even if all this </em>proved to be not only true but also<em> good</em> for our nation—morally, spiritually, socially, materially—and our local Black communities, not to mention Christ’s church; <em>still </em>Reverend DeYoung will refuse to loosen his grip on the predetermined assessment that reparations is insufficiently “distinctively Christian.” <em>Still</em> he will persist in rejecting the call to its faithful engagement. He has told us so. We should believe him.</p> <p>Indeed, his is a <em>cultural </em>vision rather than (as he perceives it to be) an exclusively theological one. H Asian Americans with Bipolar Disorder https://djchuang.com/asian-americans-with-bipolar-disorder/ djchuang.com urn:uuid:e3555073-62ef-38c9-5c7d-dcdfa0cf3ea2 Tue, 20 Jul 2021 19:39:32 -0500 <p>Asian-Americans are 3 times less likely than their white counterparts to seek treatment for their mental health concerns. </p> <p>This article <a rel="nofollow" href="https://djchuang.com/asian-americans-with-bipolar-disorder/">Asian Americans with Bipolar Disorder</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://djchuang.com">@djchuang</a>.</p> Sanctifying the Status Quo: A Response to Reverend Kevin DeYoung http://thefrontporch.org/2021/07/sanctifying-the-status-quo-a-response-to-reverend-kevin-deyoung/ The Front Porch urn:uuid:5cc5f557-4ba4-b841-3ae9-3adb1615d977 Mon, 19 Jul 2021 11:37:01 -0500 <p>“I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro&#8217;s great stumbling...</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="http://thefrontporch.org/2021/07/sanctifying-the-status-quo-a-response-to-reverend-kevin-deyoung/">Sanctifying the Status Quo: A Response to Reverend Kevin DeYoung</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="http://thefrontporch.org">The Front Porch</a>.</p> <blockquote><p>“I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro&#8217;s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen&#8217;s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate … In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: ‘Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern.’ And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, un-Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular.”</p> <p>— Martin Luther King Jr., 1963</p></blockquote> <p><strong>“I Have Been Gravely Disappointed”</strong></p> <p>On April 19th, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sat alone in a cell of the Birmingham Jail. He was more exhausted, discouraged, and afraid than he had ever been. The Birmingham Campaign, a campaign conceived to revive the beleaguered Civil Rights Movement, was faltering in the face of Bull Connor’s high-handed willingness to jail children and assault peaceful protestors with fire hoses and dogs. In the face of this faltering, King found himself in the center of a hurricane of recrimination. Local white authorities actively conspired against him. Local African American leaders expressed open resentment for him. Northern liberals in the Kennedy administration refused to support him. And, as ever, local Klansmen menaced him. In light of these things, the walls of his jail cell—dangerous though they were—provided him a brief, if complicated, respite.</p> <p>As he sat on the bed of his cell, listening to the cries of other prisoners and the laughter of guards, he made an unusual decision. He decided to write a response to his critics. This is something that King rarely, if ever, did. More unusual, however, was the particular subset of critics on whom King decided to focus. Ignoring the concerns of Southern white supremacists, local African American leaders, and Northern political elites, King turned his attention to those whom he considered to be the greatest threat to his work for justice: White clergymen. For years King, in spite of strong opposition from black nationalists, had made it a priority to build collaborative relationships across both racial and ecclesial lines. This, he believed, was not only politically expedient but also theologically just. After all, his goal was not only black liberation; it was also “Beloved Community.”</p> <p>And yet as he sat in that cell on that April afternoon, he decided that he—at risk both to himself and his movement—had a moral obligation to directly confront those who believed themselves to be his allies. His reason for this was that they—through their consistent centering of white theological voices, thoughtless minimization of black suffering, and unceasing prioritization of white comfort—not only obstructed the work of justice that they claimed to value, but also diminished the faith that they vowed to uphold. And so, as an expression of both personal weariness and brotherly faithfulness, King wrote the <em>Letter From a Birmingham Jail</em>.</p> <p>We begin with this history because we believe that it would be difficult to find a clearer contemporary illustration of the tragic tendencies to which King responded than <a href="https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevin-deyoung/reparations-a-critical-theological-review/">the recent review of our book, <em>Reparations: A Christian Call for Repentance and Repair</em></a>, written by the Reverend Kevin DeYoung. And while we confess that we ourselves have not known King’s suffering, do not have his insight, and do not in any way consider ourselves worthy of his mantle, we must also confess that in reading DeYoung’s review, we did share something of his disappointment. And it is out of this disappointment—the disappointment evoked by brotherly love—that we seek to respond.</p> <p><strong>The Essence of our Disagreement</strong></p> <p>To begin, we offer our sincere appreciation to Reverend DeYoung both for reading our book and for taking the time to offer public reflections on it. Some of our differences of conviction (“profound disagreements,” as he described them) are neither insignificant nor fleeting. Still, at a time when many blithely dismiss any serious discussion of reparations, DeYoung took the time to consider our arguments and respond to them. We do not take this for granted, and we wish publicly to honor him for it.</p> <p>Not only this, we also wish to affirm straightforwardly that DeYoung raises important questions about reparations. And we happily acknowledge that we have not fully resolved some of these questions—either in print or in private. He is right, for example, to ask for clarity about who exactly is culpable for reparations and on what grounds. He is also right to press for greater clarity about the nature of reparative obligation and about when that obligation is met. And he is right to wonder about the impact of time—the passing of generations—on the shape of reparative action. Indeed, we are ourselves in daily and ongoing conversation with practitioners around the world seeking to clarify these very matters. This is because, as we repeatedly affirm in the book, we think these questions are best answered not <em>a priori</em> and in the abstract, but through collaborative conversations in local communities. Even so, it is important for both our readers and his readers to understand that we openly share some of DeYoung’s questions and work daily toward their resolution.</p> <p>These questions, however—important as they are—do not yet capture the essence of our disagreement. In our view, our disagreement lies not in the questions themselves, but in the starkly differing ways in which we respectively relate to them. Namely, while DeYoung appears to view the “unresolved ambiguities” around reparations as the grounds for dismissing reparations altogether, we believe these same ambiguities to be an exciting occasion for the ongoing creative work of theological reflection. Here we ask the reader to pause and to ask why this is. <em>Why is it that when faced with the very same conceptual ambiguities DeYoung chooses to close the door on reparations while we seek to open it further?</em> This is a critical question. Indeed, it is in our judgment the critical question. And it is so because it suggests that the essence of our disagreement with DeYoung is not about the technical questions raised by reparations—again, questions that we share—but about how we <em>approach</em> those questions, about our respective dispositions toward them. In other words, the essence of our disagreement is not formally substantive, as Reverend DeYoung seems to believe it to be, but fundamentally <em>methodological</em>. And it is, in this respect, much more serious.</p> <p>Because of this, in what follows, our intent is not to answer specific technical questions about reparations <em>per se</em>, but to expose and critique the method with which Reverend DeYoung approaches them. As we do so, we understand that some of our critics may see this as a form of evasion, as an attempt to escape the force of probing examination. But this is false. To the contrary, we engage these questions—and are engaged by them—every day. The actual reason for our approach is this: We believe that the methodology Reverend DeYoung employs actually keeps him from taking these questions seriously as an occasion for true theological reflection. In fact, it guarantees that he cannot do so. And we believe that until this methodology—a methodology broadly employed in current evangelical conversations on race—is seen, understood, and renounced, the true answers to these important questions will never be found. Indeed, they will never be sought.</p> <p>Put most simply, our view is this: <em>While Reverend DeYoung’s subtitle indicates that he believes his review to be an expression of a theological project, we believe his review actually to be expressive of a cultural project that seeks perennially to justify itself on theological grounds.</em> And that cultural project is, in one inelegant and highly disturbing phrase, <em>white supremacy</em>.</p> <p>Here’s what we don’t mean. We don’t mean—in any way—that Reverend DeYoung, in his private views, personal relationships, or public ministry believes or behaves out of the conviction that “white” people are inherently superior or that “non-white” people are correlatively inferior. Indeed, in the review itself DeYoung explicitly declares his convictions to the contrary. We believe him to be a good and faithful man who resists such heresy and who powerfully proclaims the universal glory of the <em>Imago Dei</em> with integrity and truth.</p> <p>But here is what we do mean. Though we believe that he neither sees it nor intends it, Reverend DeYoung, in his review, methodologically centers whiteness at every turn. Like King’s opponents in 1963, he consistently privileges white theological voices, minimizes white supremacy’s tragic impact on the lives of “non-white” persons, and prioritizes the comfort of white people. And in this respect, while he does not argue for white supremacy, he nevertheless <em>performs</em> its most basic impulses. In so doing, he not only tacitly commends some of the most egregious blindspots and tendencies in our theological tradition, he also inadvertently lends his learned and powerful voice to the tragic work of sanctifying the cultural status quo. Viewed in this light, DeYoung’s review does much more than simply reject our book. It actually perpetuates the very social conditions that our book was written to address.</p> <p>Because we are not insensate to the potentially inflammatory impact of our words here—especially in our particular cultural moment—we wish to be as explicit as possible. Do we believe that Reverend DeYoung, in his personal beliefs and public ministry, is in any way sympathetic to the convictions of white supremacy? <em>We do not.</em> Do we believe that Reverend DeYoung is both heir to and practitioner of a mode of theological reasoning that, in both past and present, has been a crucial factor in sheltering and sustaining the cultural project of white supremacy? <em>We do</em>.</p> <p>In fairness, we do not believe that Reverend DeYoung is in any respect unique in this regard. To the contrary, we believe it to be endemic to much of the American church, especially in its evangelical and Reformed manifestations. Indeed, this is why we suspect his review felt familiar to many readers and found natural resonance with them. This is why, having been trained in the same ecclesial tradition, we anticipated what many of his concerns would be before we even read the review. And this is why we are taking the time to write this response. <em>For we believe that if the evangelical church is ever to play a constructive role in the critical work of healing our nation from the manifest and enduring ravages of white supremacy—a work we believe to be central to any integral missionary vocation in America—we will have to fully and finally reject the pernicious ways that the cultural impulses of white supremacy continue to exert methodological control over the theological life of the church</em>. And we believe that Reverend DeYoung—because of his integrity, his gifts, and his influence—ought to commit himself to that work.</p> <p>Because of this, in what follows we explore three examples of these methodological impulses in his review. We do so in hopes that he, and all who follow him, will both see them and renounce them.</p> <p><strong>1. Centering White Theology</strong></p> <p>Like the culture of white supremacy itself, the theological work that shelters it begins with the centering of white theological voices and the marginalizing of others. Indeed, a careful study of the American Reformed tradition, especially in its evangelical manifestations, shows this to be a core methodological impulse. While some may be tempted by the rejoinder that this impulse is driven by necessity, suggesting that there simply are no non-white Reformed theologians, this is, as a matter of historical fact, false. To the contrary, some of the most important theological actors in the American Reformed tradition—Francis Grimke, Henry Highland Garnet, and the brothers James and Thomas Ames among them—are African American. And not only this, there exists a host of Reformed and evangelical-adjacent African American theologians throughout American history whose ideas and practices are deeply important sources for sanctifying the American theological imagination. And yet with predictable regularity, in much of what now passes for theological work in American evangelicalism, these voices are not heard. Indeed, one suspects that in many circles they are not even known. The fruit of this is that one of the most easily discernible distinctives of American evangelical theology is its de facto centering of white theological voices.</p> <p>This inclination is one of the foundational features of Reverend DeYoung’s review. And, in keeping with the historic practices of his inherited tradition, this inclination expresses itself in two ways.</p> <p><strong><em>Excluding Black Voices</em></strong></p> <p>The first of these is the complete exclusion of any African American theological voices from his review. Indeed, apart from two ill-advised attempts to evoke Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King Jr. (ill-advised, because he enlists them in the service of a theological and cultural project that they explicitly and repeatedly disavow), there is no engagement with African American voices of any kind. Consider this for a moment: In reflecting on a topic whose primarily theological articulations have come from African Americans, and commenting upon a book whose primary sources are overwhelmingly African American intellectuals, Reverend DeYoung somehow manages to dismiss reparations without making a single substantive reference to an African American voice. This alone should give DeYoung’s readers serious pause.</p> <p><strong><em>Narrowing ‘the Gospel’</em></strong></p> <p>Predictably, this exclusion leads to the second and more pernicious way that he centers white voices; namely, his habitual identification of the narrow theological priorities of American Reformed evangelicalism (an overwhelmingly white community) with “the gospel.” This is a complex concern that bears elaboration, and so we ask for the reader’s patience.</p> <p>In order to understand this concern, one must see <em>the inescapably contextual nature of theology</em>. While God’s word is eternal and unchanging, the theological work of reflecting on and applying that word is a deeply and inescapably cultural act. Because of this, the distinctive theological concerns, emphases, and systematic formulations of a given moment—while they reflect something true—ought not to imagine themselves to be the normative concerns, emphases, and formulations for all Christian communities across time and context. One thinks, for example, of the fact that a controversy that dominated the church’s theological imagination for several hundred years—the Donatist controversy—is barely even understood, let alone engaged, in our current moment. Indeed, as even casual study of theological history makes plain, the truth is that the theological concerns, emphases, and systematizations of Christian communities vary widely, importantly, and continually. The implication of this is that when any theologian speaks, they must recognize that, while they may speak faithfully and truly in their particular time and context, they do not speak on behalf of the whole of the church or with anything like a comprehensive account of “the gospel.” We speak as limited creatures, always from the relatively narrow frame of our own contextual theological traditions.</p> <p>This insight leads us to recognize the prejudicial role that some of the distinctive theological emphases of Reverend DeYoung’s own tradition—American Reformed evangelicalism—play in his discussion of reparations. In particular, we wish to draw attention to three tendencies in this tradition—tendencies on prominent display in his review—that play an inordinate role in that tradition’s singular capacity to shelter white supremacy.</p> <p style="padding-left: 40px;"><em>The Spiritualizing Tendency</em></p> <p>The first of these is what may be called a <em>spiritualizing tendency</em>—the cultural inclination to imagine that one can talk meaningfully about theology apart from any substantive reflection on politics, economics, or culture; acting as if theology is somehow independent of or sealed off from these more mundane realities. To be fair, we acknowledge that—insofar as disciplinary distinctions are fruitful—theology can and should be seen as its own discipline with its own methodologies, convictions, and goals. But we also acknowledge the plain fact that in American Reformed evangelical tradition this spiritualizing tendency is deployed in a way that allows Christians not only to artfully (if selectively) ignore matters of politics, economics, and culture when doing theology, but also to believe themselves to be somehow more methodologically pure in doing so. And, historically speaking, the undeniable social effect of this spiritualizing tendency has been to allow Christians to talk rhapsodically about the spiritual glories of the gospel even as they leave transparently unjust social conditions unaddressed.</p> <p style="padding-left: 40px;"><em>The Forensic Tendency</em></p> <p>The second of these tendencies—a correlate of the first—is what may be called the <em>forensic tendency</em>. This refers to the tendency to reduce all matters of “the gospel” (again, selectively) not simply to the broadly spiritual but to the exclusively forensic concerns related to justification and substitutionary atonement. This tendency has both conceptual and pastoral horizons. Conceptually, this tendency leads its practitioners to hermeneutically and systematically prioritize matters related to forensic justification as the essence of Christian faith and practice. Pastorally, it leads to a disproportionately singular focus on perceived threats to justification and a relative inattention to (or ignorance of) other real offenses to the Christian faith.</p> <p style="padding-left: 40px;"><em>The Individualizing Tendency</em></p> <p>The last of these tendencies can be referred to as the <em>individualizing tendency</em>. This describes the cultural habit of reducing all theological concerns to their individual and private dimensions, and all ethical concerns to principles of personal responsibility—leaving little to no room for corporate or public considerations that are also manifestly present in scripture. Unsurprisingly, this tendency is intimately related to the others. Both the spiritualizing and forensic tendencies turn one’s gaze inward, away from social conditions (no matter how antichrist they may be) and exclusively toward the benefits of personal salvation. This individualizing tendency is readily seen across the evangelical tradition, which at times appears to uncritically prize and parrot the tenets of American individualism as inalienable Christian values. Tragically, churches embedded in the Reformed tradition—which historically has emphasized the essentially <em>covenantal</em> (and thus, corporate) character of Christian faith and practice—often fare no better. Indeed, this contradiction appears to be troubling evidence of the cultural captivity of these communities, as radical individualism regularly trumps covenantal community.</p> <p>Though American Reformed and evangelical Christians seem not to know it, the fusion of these three tendencies—while expressive of real biblical truths and reflective of deep themes in theological history—is nonetheless <em>culturally distinctive</em>. Specifically, it is distinctive of the kind of theology produced by white (and often Southern) American theologians from the 18th to 20th centuries. It is not, for example, representative of the theological emphases of the Patristic era in either the East or the West. It is not representative of either the Desert Tradition or of the monastic movement that grew from it to become the center of Western theological production for nearly 1,000 years. It is not representative of the founding theologians of the Protestant Reformation, who—in spite of their singularly powerful focus on forensic justification—also managed to write on politics and to do so as a theological act. It is not representative of the historic evangelical movement of the United Kingdom, which succeeded in integrating a strong appeal for personal salvation with a strong appeal for social action. It is not representative of the theology that emerged—and continues to emerge—in non-western Christian communities (the most populous on earth), including those established by immigrant churches in this country. And it is not, in any way, representative of the prophetic tradition of the Black church in America. This is not to say that these traditions did not talk about the spiritual dimensions of the Christian faith, personal responsibility, or forensic justification. They surely did. It is to say, however, that <em>the form of methodological narrowing that we describe above is distinctive of the theology produced in a ver Cultural Landscape Mapping in Ministry https://specs12.wordpress.com/2021/07/17/cultural-landscape-mapping-in-ministry/ perSpectives 12 urn:uuid:458a4a1c-4de9-a2a7-e9f6-7bfbaa657c74 Sat, 17 Jul 2021 12:05:15 -0500 Jan Paron, PhD &#124; July 17, 2021 Cultural Iceberg Model When an iceberg floats on water, ten percent rises above &#8230;<p><a href="https://specs12.wordpress.com/2021/07/17/cultural-landscape-mapping-in-ministry/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a></p> <p>Jan Paron, PhD | July 17, 2021</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Cultural Iceberg Model</span></strong></h3> <p>When an iceberg floats on water, ten percent rises above the surface visible to the naked eye while the remaining ninety percent hides submerged below sea level. Without sonar equipment, the seafarer cannot realize the iceberg’s girth or understand its nature. Culture resembles an iceberg in appearance, dimension, and attributes. Edward Hall in his seminal work&nbsp;<em>Beyond Culture&nbsp;</em>(1976)<a href="//3399CBFF-9D4E-416F-B71A-C4BCB3F3E714#_ftn1"><sup>[1]</sup></a>&nbsp;likened a society’s culture to an iceberg with some aspects visible above the water and larger hidden beneath the surface. He called the external aspects of the cultural iceberg as surface culture and the internal as hidden culture (Figure 1.1). Based on the premises of Hall’s surface and hidden cultures, a cultural landscape map of a given population guides the ministry practitioner across the&nbsp;wide-ranging effects of the two composite cultures.</p> <p class="has-text-align-center"><strong>Figure 1.1</strong></p> <p class="has-text-align-center"><strong>Hall&#8217;s Cultural Landscape Model</strong></p> <div class="wp-block-image"><figure class="aligncenter size-large"><a href="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/07/3094fe4a-d32d-4733-8dfd-048ff21cf946_4_5005_c.jpeg"><img data-attachment-id="5675" data-permalink="https://specs12.wordpress.com/3094fe4a-d32d-4733-8dfd-048ff21cf946_4_5005_c/" data-orig-file="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/07/3094fe4a-d32d-4733-8dfd-048ff21cf946_4_5005_c.jpeg" data-orig-size="696,251" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;0&quot;}" data-image-title="3094fe4a-d32d-4733-8dfd-048ff21cf946_4_5005_c" data-image-description="" data-medium-file="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/07/3094fe4a-d32d-4733-8dfd-048ff21cf946_4_5005_c.jpeg?w=300" data-large-file="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/07/3094fe4a-d32d-4733-8dfd-048ff21cf946_4_5005_c.jpeg?w=529" src="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/07/3094fe4a-d32d-4733-8dfd-048ff21cf946_4_5005_c.jpeg?w=696" alt="" class="wp-image-5675" srcset="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/07/3094fe4a-d32d-4733-8dfd-048ff21cf946_4_5005_c.jpeg 696w, https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/07/3094fe4a-d32d-4733-8dfd-048ff21cf946_4_5005_c.jpeg?w=150 150w, https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/07/3094fe4a-d32d-4733-8dfd-048ff21cf946_4_5005_c.jpeg?w=300 300w" sizes="(max-width: 696px) 100vw, 696px" /></a></figure></div> <h3><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">External: Surface Culture</span></strong></h3> <p>The external or surface part of culture lies at the iceberg tip. When first engaging with a particular culture, one experiences only the surface ten percent of a given culture. These characteristics demonstrate the surface level behaviors a culture exhibits—the&nbsp;see, hear, and touch behaviors and rules group membership teach and reinforce in their culture. A given culture may change expectations for behavior over time, i.e., generation to generation. Further, a person may culture surf adapting to the culture at hand.)</p> <p>One acquires cultural behaviors and rules through explicit<a href="//3399CBFF-9D4E-416F-B71A-C4BCB3F3E714#_ftn2"><sup>[2]</sup></a>&nbsp;learning. Members of a given people group consciously learn rules and customs within the culture through experiences from others within the group. Surface-level behaviors consist of habitual patterns that manifest in a group’s daily culture (Kraft, 2008). Regardless of the societal culture, a person gains knowledge of surface culture consciously and purposely.&nbsp;</p> <p>People often misjudge a culture, whether an individual or collective, by making assumptions the visible ten percent defines the totality of a culture. However, the sum of a culture’s parts equals a more developed framework. To grasp a culture in totality, one also must investigate its hidden dimensions. Culture does not remain static nonetheless since individuals and people groups change, thereby culture continually fluxes. When cultures and societies interact, each mutually influences the other. Cultures leave their distinct flavor in a population, changing its overall dynamics. Thus, while a person gains a more holistic understanding by learning cultural surface and hidden dimensions, one constantly must interpret it through the lens of change.</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-left"><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Internal: Hidden Culture (Also Called Deep)</span></strong></h3> <p>The internal culture (hidden or deep culture) lies below the surface of a society comprising ninety percent of culture. It undergirds external behaviors. These encompass norms for&nbsp;rituals, language, roles, ideologies, philosophies, values, tastes, attitudes, desires, assumptions, and myths. The most hidden dimension of culture comprises one’s worldview. Kraft (2008) defines&nbsp;<em>worldview</em>&nbsp;as “the totality of the culturally structured images and assumptions in terms of which a people both perceive and respond to reality.”<a href="//3399CBFF-9D4E-416F-B71A-C4BCB3F3E714#_ftn3"><sup>[3]</sup></a>&nbsp;Most important, worldview structures culture’s deepest level with presuppositions and mental images upon which people base their lives.&nbsp;Since cultural worldview remains hidden, one cannot observe it. Hidden dimensions of culture occur through implicit learning. Worldview forms&nbsp;unwritten, usually invisible norms for behavior that guide appropriate or inappropriate behaviors expected for that culture.</p> <p>Schein (2008) defined the mechanics of culture as the “shared basic assumptions learned by a group as it solved its problems of external adaptations and internal integration…to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think and feel in relation to those problems.&#8221;<a href="//3399CBFF-9D4E-416F-B71A-C4BCB3F3E714#_ftn4"><sup>[4]</sup></a>&nbsp;While cultures explicitly teach rules for engaging life, an individual’s personal hidden dimensions of culture determines how one integrates external adaptations with internal integration. The aggregate emotional components of hidden dimensions drive how one responds to a culture’s dos and don’ts. Internal culture found below the surface runs unconsciously on subjective knowledge.</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Cultural Landscape Mapping</span></strong></h3> <p>Cultural landscape mapping provides a neutral analysis of an intended population’s ethos (worldview, values, and external practices) by gathering cultural data for supporting discipleship across cultures. The map helps a ministry leader respond to culture based on the biblical disciple model adapted to human needs applying principles of grace-filled leadership.</p> <p>The process of cultural landscape mapping displays cultural patterns from both surface and hidden cultures of an individual as well as the collective body. It gives a working portrait of what motivates surface (external) and hidden (internal) of behaviors, feelings, judgments, and mental constructs from cultural learning and interactions with various group memberships. The leader must understand one’s own and team culture in comparison to the aggregate and individual cultures of ministry participants.&nbsp;</p> <p>As you approach cultural landscape mapping, keep in mind a few key thoughts from anthropological, missiological, and theological perspectives. Each carries a distinct focus, yet all converge to provide a comprehensive body of knowledge when approaching cultural landscape mapping. Anthropologists study culture from seen and unseen cultural patterns and experiences apparent in human culture; missiologists view culture from its interaction between God’s mission and humankind’s nature; and theologians look at culture through biblical lenses emphasizing ethics. Ministry heads combine all three perspectives as practitioners in grace-filled leadership with the goal of discipling across cultures.&nbsp;</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Three Levels of Cultural Landscape Mapping</span></strong></h3> <p>The cultural landscape map includes three levels of culture: level one culture (external&nbsp;practices), level two culture (unspoken rules), and level three culture (unconscious rules). The levels increase in complexity from external practices, to unspoken rules, and ending with unconscious rules associated with worldview. Although every level stands independent of the other, in turn, each also affects it (See Figure 1.2). One’s experiences and encounters with culture shape worldview in the level three culture of unconscious rules, which in turn, influences level two unspoken rules that comprise values and then drives level one culture visible in external practices.<a href="//3399CBFF-9D4E-416F-B71A-C4BCB3F3E714#_ftn5"><sup>[5]</sup></a>&nbsp;(Figure 1.3)&nbsp;</p> <p class="has-text-align-center"><strong>Figure 1.2</strong></p> <p class="has-text-align-center"><strong>Cultural Landscape Mapping Level Influences</strong></p> <div class="wp-block-image"><figure class="aligncenter size-large is-resized"><a href="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/07/9b9b54a4-a789-4617-beef-92f0ff0077ac_1_201_a.jpeg"><img loading="lazy" data-attachment-id="5679" data-permalink="https://specs12.wordpress.com/2021/07/17/cultural-landscape-mapping-in-ministry/9b9b54a4-a789-4617-beef-92f0ff0077ac_1_201_a/" data-orig-file="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/07/9b9b54a4-a789-4617-beef-92f0ff0077ac_1_201_a.jpeg" data-orig-size="611,396" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;1&quot;}" data-image-title="9B9B54A4-A789-4617-BEEF-92F0FF0077AC_1_201_a" data-image-description="" data-medium-file="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/07/9b9b54a4-a789-4617-beef-92f0ff0077ac_1_201_a.jpeg?w=300" data-large-file="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/07/9b9b54a4-a789-4617-beef-92f0ff0077ac_1_201_a.jpeg?w=529" src="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/07/9b9b54a4-a789-4617-beef-92f0ff0077ac_1_201_a.jpeg?w=611" alt="" class="wp-image-5679" width="481" height="312" srcset="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/07/9b9b54a4-a789-4617-beef-92f0ff0077ac_1_201_a.jpeg?w=481 481w, https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/07/9b9b54a4-a789-4617-beef-92f0ff0077ac_1_201_a.jpeg?w=150 150w, https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/07/9b9b54a4-a789-4617-beef-92f0ff0077ac_1_201_a.jpeg?w=300 300w, https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/07/9b9b54a4-a789-4617-beef-92f0ff0077ac_1_201_a.jpeg 611w" sizes="(max-width: 481px) 100vw, 481px" /></a></figure></div> <p class="has-text-align-center"><strong>(Based on Morris Opler, 1945)</strong></p> <h3><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Level One Culture (External Practices: </span></strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color"><strong>See, Hear, and Touch Behaviors</strong>)</span></h3> <p>This level orders a specific society through visible external practices of historical patterns, values, societal arrangements, manners, ideas, and ways of living. Members of a given culture know the rules that guide their external culture. Surface culture may include language, food, music, art, power distance, dance, dress/clothing, greetings, esthetics, etc.</p> <p>Level one culture has a relatively low emotional load. Therefore, if the source culturally miscommunicates a message or action with the receiver, one can correct it without extensive damage. For example, ministry leaders at the Lighthouse Church of All Nations, a multicultural church in the Chicago metro area, consistently greet newcomers with the love of Christ. Showing love through words (Praise the Lord!), gestures (handshake/hug), and other actions govern leadership behaviors that encompass the external or surface church culture at the church. If a leader gives a hearty welcome to a visitor unaccustomed to it, the gesture may make the person uncomfortable. With quick adjustments on the leader’s part with a different greeting, more than likely, one can turn around the cultural differences. Again, the emotional load carries low baggage.</p> <p>To create a cultural landscape map of the level one external practices requires careful observation and research of an aggregate people group to determine their cultural patterns. Do remember that people may code switch to adapt to various subcultures. For example, a person might converse with an informal vernacular among friends, but change to one more formal when interacting with colleagues in a work culture. So, what the observer sees in a given people’s encounter with a particular environment changes with another. Further, bear in mind visible external practices and invisible worldview assumptions connect. One’s underlying worldview often manifests itself in external practices. Thus, patterns in visible actions provide clues as to the way people think. Communication, in particular, helps one understand how people perceive life. Hiebert related the interrelationship between language and worldview “opens the door into the way people think because words are one of the primary ways in which people communicate their inner thoughts.”<a href="//3399CBFF-9D4E-416F-B71A-C4BCB3F3E714#_ftn6"><sup>[6]</sup></a>&nbsp;In other words, external practices demonstrate cultural signs of the deepest held beliefs about life contained in worldview.&nbsp;</p> <ul><li><strong>Language (Oral and written).</strong>&nbsp;The cultural influence on linguistics includes what you can hear or read such as dialect, speech patterns, jargon, tone of voice, pitch, silence, rate of speech, accent, pronunciation, punctuation, vocabulary, grammar, style, facial expressions, academic vocabulary, vocational vocabulary, religious vocabulary, family vocabulary, speech impediments, generational differences, text, E-mail, social media, cell, face-to-face, memory loss, phrases, first language, second language, prayer language (or no prayer), etc. To note, the United States does not have an official language, while 28 states named English as their designated languages including Hawaii identifying English and Hawaiian as its official.<a href="//3399CBFF-9D4E-416F-B71A-C4BCB3F3E714#_ftn7"><sup>[7]</sup></a></li><li><strong>Food.&nbsp;</strong>By observing the comprehensive aspects of food, one learns about culture reflected in different facets of life. Though taken for granted as a daily necessity, consider food’s multiple dimensions. Examples: time spent eating, dine in or out, eat with others or alone, dining times, food tastes, food preparation, diet, food to express emotions or celebrations, food determined by wealth, prestige foods, ethnic foods, clean/unclean rules, organizational food (church, family, business, etc.), healthy vs. unhealthy, hot vs. cold foods (Asian and Mediterranean), food cures for disease, prepared food vs. fresh food, availability of food, etc.&nbsp;</li><li><strong>Dress.</strong>&nbsp;External culture also encompasses dress, a personal expression of self or group identity or utilitarian fashion. Examples: style, generational differences, organizational affiliation, national culture, covered/covered, class, blend in/stand out, tattoos, formal/informal, color for men/color for women, color in general, work; etc.&nbsp;</li><li><strong>Music.</strong>&nbsp;What role does music play in culture? Humankind incorporates music into the fabric of life from mile markers to worship to entertainment. Examples: Taste, selections, church/secular, music as part of storytelling, extent played, leisure-time pursuit, way of life, lifestyle, worship, music as language; weddings and funerals; graduation; war; sports; dinner etc.</li><li><strong>Visual Arts.</strong>&nbsp;(Drama, fine art, and dance)&nbsp;Visual arts influence society throughout the ages such as chronicling history, illustrating social change, providing political commentaries, and communicating creative expression.&nbsp;Examples: color palette; podcasts, YouTube; storytelling through drama, mystery, or comedy; political cartoons; drawings in the bathroom, doodles on a napkin; religious art forms; praise dance; sermon illustrations; theater; house decorations; magazines, digital art; poetry, proverbs, etc.</li><li><strong>Literature.&nbsp;</strong>Literature serves different purposes in various cultures. Examples: types of literature read (Bible vs. Science), tracks/pamphlets, propaganda, literary level, oral storytelling vs. written narrative, folklore, reading in multiple languages, literary genres, literary vs non-literary text, social media, business languages, role of literature, and symbols associated with text, etc.&nbsp;</li><li><strong>Games.</strong>&nbsp;Entire scholarly journal exists exploring games and culture, most notably the social, economic and political aspects of their mutual interaction. Examples: interactive media, military games, cards, video games, sports, or toys (across generations)</li><li><strong>Celebrations or Rites.</strong>&nbsp;Cultural celebrations reflect rituals that contain specific meaning and sustain culture. Examples: birthday parties, Bar or Bat Mitzvah, Christmas, weddings, death rituals, cleansing, fasting, goal targets (Weight Watchers), family reunion, marks on a wall marking a child’s growth, etc.</li></ul> <h3><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Level Two Culture (Unspoken Rules: Values)</span></strong></h3> <p>The second level of culture comprises unspoken rules directly below the visible level of culture’s surface. This level has a higher emotional load than the previous focusing on values. While first level features the see, hear, and touch external practices, the second level encompasses values. Pludeddemann described values as “cultural ideals link abstract philosophy to concrete practices.”<a href="//3399CBFF-9D4E-416F-B71A-C4BCB3F3E714#_ftn8"><sup>[8]</sup></a>&nbsp;He furthers explained that values are subconscious assumptions about how people address power, time, personal space, individualism, and status.<a href="//3399CBFF-9D4E-416F-B71A-C4BCB3F3E714#_ftn9"><sup>[9]</sup></a>&nbsp;Values also include conversational patterns, rules of conduct, nonverbal communication, patterns of handling emotions, eye contact, concept of beauty, courtship practices, and notions of leadership. Misunderstandings in addressing culture at this level carry a high weight because it has a high emotional load. Thus, it can cause mix-ups and tensions.&nbsp;</p> <p>Actions include:</p> <ul><li><strong>Power Distance: Small Power vs. Large Power Distance.</strong>&nbsp;Hofstede defined power distance as “the extent to which the less powerful members of institutes and organizations within a country expect and accept power is distributed unequally.”<a href="//3399CBFF-9D4E-416F-B71A-C4BCB3F3E714#_ftn10"><sup>[10]</sup></a>&nbsp;People from cultures which function in small power distance relate to one another as equals regardless of position, have decision-making responsibilities, contribute and critique decision making of those in power, participate in consultative or democratic power relations, like rewards, and value a flat organizational culture.<a href="//3399CBFF-9D4E-416F-B71A-C4BCB3F3E714#_ftn11"><sup>[11]</sup></a>&nbsp;Those from cultures with a dominant large power distance show centralized authority, paternalistic management style, institutionalized inequalities, highly structured vertical organization, power and authority, and status and rank (Hofstede, 2005; 2013). Examples: (Large Power Distance) people who function well in a traditionally organized academic setting, prisons structure, factory settings as opposed to (Small Power Distance) technology industry, open classroom, collaborative communities, etc.&nbsp;</li><li><strong>Personal space (Proxemics)</strong>&nbsp;Personal space involves a group’s rule on use of space and its effects on behavior, communication, and social interaction.<a href="//3399CBFF-9D4E-416F-B71A-C4BCB3F3E714#_ftn12"><sup>[12]</sup></a>&nbsp;It includes subcategories of haptics (touch), kinesics (body movement), vocalics (paralanguage), and chronemics (structure of time). Hall emphasized the interrelationship between space and communication in culture.<a href="//3399CBFF-9D4E-416F-B71A-C4BCB3F3E714#_ftn13"><sup>[13]</sup></a>&nbsp;Examples:<strong>&nbsp;</strong>Preference of distance between people; working space; office size; living; social order; public spac; personal space; confinement; space location; geographical locale; space in moral, formal, and informal situations; sacred space; post modern view as fragmented, chaotic and disorder; modernity as ordered and structured; unity betw 3 Secrets to a Powerful Prayer Life https://davidireland.org/blog/2021/07/14/3-secrets-to-a-powerful-prayer-life/ David D Ireland, Ph.D. urn:uuid:c6ad7420-c146-9c15-ba81-2554613cafd8 Tue, 13 Jul 2021 21:10:00 -0500 Did you know that the Bible is actually a prayer playbook? It&#8217;s like a diary of characters in Scripture that taught us and tells us their secrets. The only difference... <h2><span style="color: #000000;"><strong>Did you know that the Bible is actually a prayer playbook?</strong></span></h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">It&#8217;s like a diary of characters in Scripture that taught us and tells us their secrets. The only difference is that this diary isn’t hidden in a secret place under lock and key. This diary is God’s Word, the Bible, and it’s available and free to anyone who wants to read it and access the “secrets” of prayer. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">In 1 Samuel 23, we get a glimpse into David’s prayer playbook. Starting with verse 4 here’s what we read:</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">&#8220;When David was told, &#8216;Look, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah and are looting the threshing floors,&#8217; he inquired of the Lord, saying, &#8216;Shall I go and attack these Philistines?&#8217; The Lord answered him, &#8216;Go, attack the Philistines and save Keilah.&#8217; But David&#8217;s men said to him, &#8216;Here in Judah, we&#8217;re afraid. How much more, then, if we go to Keilah against the Philistine forces?&#8217; Once again, David inquired of the Lord and the Lord answered him, &#8216;Go down to Keilah, for I&#8217;m going to give the Philistines into your hand.&#8217; So David and his men went to Keilah, fought the Philistines, and carried off their livestock. He inflicted heavy losses on the Philistines and saved the people of Keilah.&#8221; Verse 6 says, &#8220;Now, Abiathar, son of Ahimelek, had brought the ephod down with him when he fled to David at Keilah.</span></i></span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">It&#8217;s important for us to understand some of the cultural requirements of the text. It was a king&#8217;s job to protect the people, but Saul could care less about the Israelites living at Keilah, in the area of Judah. </span><b>He could care less.</b></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Why? He was so envious of David. Driven by jealousy, all he could think about was killing David. Saul then went to Nob, a place where there were some 85 priests who lived there along with their families. When Saul found out that one of the priests had helped out David, Saul was so enraged that he then had all the priests killed. Only one priest escaped named Abiathar. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">As Abiathar escaped he took the linen ephod with him. It&#8217;s a garment, an outer garment, that the priest would wear. Then on top of the ephod will be a breastplate, and the breastplate would have the 12 stones representing the 12 tribes of Israel. In essence, when a priest would go into prayer, they don&#8217;t go in by themselves; they go in bringing the needs of the people to prayer before God. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">After Abiathar escaped, he ran to the cave of Adullam where David was because Saul was trying to kill him. When David found out what&#8217;s going on at Keilah and the Philistines there, he had somehow empathy for them and he goes into prayer.</span></p> <h2><span style="color: #000000;"><strong>Prayer Play One: Pray Strategically</strong></span></h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">The starting point of prayer is always a genuine concern for the needs of people in your sphere of influence. Now, no doubt, David had his own worries. Saul is trying to kill him. He&#8217;s hunting him down like a wild animal and he has an army with him. So though David was being hunted, he had this concern, this sense of compassion; the Philistines, they are raiding all of the food pantries of those living at Keilah and they&#8217;re fighting against these Israelite brothers, and Keilah was &#8230; the word Keilah means fortress. That means that they&#8217;re surrounded by mountains and they&#8217;re walled in, so to speak.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">So David&#8217;s &#8230; David&#8217;s so concerned about them. They&#8217;re being starved; no food left. They&#8217;re being fought against by the Philistines. David goes into prayer. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Most of us would say,  &#8220;Wait, I’ve got my own problems. Why am I going to pray about you? I need prayer. I need help.&#8221; But David strategically inquired of God. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Sometimes we&#8217;re so preoccupied with ourselves we don&#8217;t even realize that God has a plan for us. The interesting thing about God, and I must admit that I don&#8217;t like it, but it&#8217;s fact anyway, God, He tells you the things that He wants to do for you. He told David, &#8220;David, I&#8217;m going to make you king,&#8221; and that&#8217;s great. You would think “next stop, the throne.&#8221; No. Scholars say for about 10 years, Saul chased David up hills, down hills, in caves, out of caves. For some 10 years, Saul tried to kill David. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">So my question then to God would be, &#8220;God, you spoke through Samuel, the prophet. You gave a very clear prophetic word that David would be king. Why all this trouble? Why give him all these problems? Why have him run for his life for 10 years?&#8221; </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">They had the Bible as the answer. Troubles help us. You would never have a prayer life if you didn&#8217;t have trouble. You would never grow up if you didn&#8217;t have trouble. Come on, we can applaud the Lord. We all want a college degree, but we don&#8217;t want to pay tuition. I mean, you understand. We just want everything by osmosis. The same thing, we all want to have God&#8217;s blessings, but we don&#8217;t want to have a life of prayer. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">But it&#8217;s through the troubles and the fights that we find ourselves getting stronger.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Oftentimes, we&#8217;re not like David. David was very specific and he prayed strategically and we ought to do the same. When God said to him, &#8220;Go and fight the Philistines. Go and save Keilah,&#8221; he announced it to his 400 men. &#8220;Guys, we&#8217;re going to go and fight the Philistines and save Keilah.&#8221; The men said, &#8220;Oh no, we&#8217;re not going anywhere,&#8221; and they gave three plausible reasons. First, &#8220;We&#8217;re afraid right here in Judah. In other words, Saul&#8217;s trying to kill us. Right where we are, we&#8217;re afraid. Why are we going to go three miles away in this fortress area?&#8221; Second, &#8220;Keilah is a fortress. We&#8217;re not going to go in there because the moment we go in, all Saul has to do is block the entrance and we can&#8217;t come back out. We&#8217;re dead.” Third, “those Philistines, they&#8217;re crazy. We only have 400 men and why are we going to go and fight against Keilah that has nothing to do with us?”</span></p> <h2><span style="color: #000000;"><strong>Prayer Play Two: Listen Carefully</strong></span></h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">So they gave those three plausible reasons. David, he didn&#8217;t dismiss them. What he did was he went back to God in prayer. May I suggest now, as I pull this second principle from David&#8217;s Prayer Playbook, what I learned when I go into prayer is this: Listen carefully. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">David went in prayer to God: &#8216;Should I go after these Philistines and teach them a lesson?&#8217; God said, &#8216;Go, attack the Philistines and save Keilah.&#8217; But David&#8217;s men said, &#8216;We live in fear of our lives right here in Judah. How can you think of going to Keilah in the thick of the Philistines?’ So David went back to God in prayer. God said, &#8216;Get going. Head for Keilah. I&#8217;m placing the Philistines in your hands.&#8217; &#8220;</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Now watch this. God never chastised or was angry with David because he inquired about the same thing a second time. Inquiring to God about the same thing multiple times is not an indicator of doubt necessarily. It&#8217;s an indication that you just want clarity, and God is very patient. He&#8217;s very kind. He&#8217;s very gentle. He&#8217;s very sensitive. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">So when David cried out to God, he gave space for God to respond. Never let selfishness or pride cause you to monopolize spiritual conversations with God. Don&#8217;t think that the amount and number of words you are using are going to somehow get God to respond faster.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Pause. Be quiet for a moment. Listen. Consider even going on a prayer walk, taking the Lord with you. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Prayer is a dialogue, not a monologue. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">God wants you to talk with Him and He also wants to talk to you. </span></p> <h2><span style="color: #000000;"><strong>Prayer Play Three: Rescue People</strong></span></h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Now we come to the point where, when David returns to his men and he tells them, &#8220;Guys, I went back to prayer and God told me the same thing He told me before. He said, &#8216;Go and fight the Philistines. Go and rescue Keilah.&#8217; &#8221; The men say, &#8220;Okay, cool, let&#8217;s do it.&#8221; They went and they pummeled the Philistines, and not only rescued Keilah but took the Philistine stuff. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">What would have happened had David not prayed on the front end? Thankfully, he prayed. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">So I ask the question, what would happen if you committed to praying every day? If you don’t, what promises of God would you have left on the table unfulfilled? What blessings would you have left in the camp of the enemy and that you have not retained? 1 Samuel 23:5 says, &#8220;David and his men went there,&#8221; that is, to Keilah, &#8220;and fiercely attacked the Philistines. They killed many of them, and then led away their cattle, and rescued the people of Keilah.&#8221;</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">Create a prayer plan and think about what goals you have in terms of prayer goals and prayer requests or objectives. Who needs to get delivered that&#8217;s bound? What marriages need to get rescued and healed that is faltering? What relationship needs to be just set free? What child or children or grandchildren that the enemy has just hoodwinked and fooled and they&#8217;re so wrapped in darkness, they don&#8217;t even know who they are, lost their mind, lost their mental faculties? Who needs to get delivered?</span></p> <h2><span style="color: #000000;"><strong>Get Out of Your Own Way</strong></span></h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">David&#8217;s victory motivated others to conquer fear. David&#8217;s victory, motivated others to not be controlled by reason or logic. Sometimes our biggest enemy is reason and logic. We reason ourselves away. We&#8217;re intelligent people. Some of you have three, four master&#8217;s degrees. Some of you have not just one PhD. You have a couple of them. I&#8217;m scared of you. But the problem is you have no power. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">You&#8217;re smart analytically, foolish spiritually, and that is my biggest enemy. My educational accomplishments get in the way, often. The first thing that happened to me spiritually when I finished my Ph.D., that was back in 2002, God said to me, &#8220;David, give Me the degree.&#8221; What He&#8217;s saying in essence, &#8220;I still want you to depend on Me. Don&#8217;t let your intellect be the source of everything you do. You need to wait on Me. You need to understand,&#8221; and I&#8217;m saying the same thing for you. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">I&#8217;m not against education or degrees. I love education. But I realize that oftentimes when we reason through things with our natural intellect, it oftentimes makes us feel so independent of God.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">To recap, three lessons we can learn from David&#8217;s Prayer Playbook: pray strategically, listen carefully and rescue the people. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400; color: #000000;">If you can do these three things, you&#8217;re on your way to experiencing tremendous victory in God in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead of us.</span></p> <p><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">NOTE: We have put together two books that will help you jump-start your prayer life. They are </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">40-Day Journey: The Power of Prayer</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> and </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Spiritual Warfare</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">. You can download them both by </span><span style="color: #003300;"><a style="color: #003300;" href="https://portal.christchurchusa.org/page/915"><span style="font-weight: 400;">CLICKING HERE</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></span></span></p> <p>WATCH THE ENTIRE MESSAGE</p> <p><iframe title="YouTube video player" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/i2I3HrjOKfE" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> My Checklist to Preaching https://bryanloritts.com/blog/my-checklist-to-preaching Blog - Bryan Loritts urn:uuid:40f996d0-935b-5724-f930-58b6c5fa788b Mon, 05 Jul 2021 16:22:40 -0500 <p class="">One of my greatest joys in life has been mentoring young preachers. Over the years I’ve been asked about my approach to preaching, and what I specifically think about whenever I put a message together? Specifically, there are seven questions I ask of every message I preach, and I thought I would share those seven questions with you.&nbsp;</p><p class=""><br><strong><em>Did I privilege the text?</em></strong><br>For some preachers the Bible is the diving board, while the pool becomes whatever waters they want to spend the next half-hour or so swimming in. I’m sure you’ve heard preachers like this, where the text is the launching point to the message, not the message. Effective, transformative preaching necessitates allowing the Bible to not only be the diving board, but the pool. After all, God’s promise is that his Word would not return void (Isaiah 55:11). This is why I am a big believer in expository preaching, which can be defined as allowing the text to set the agenda for the message. I know I’m privileging the text when I’m pointing people to the historical, grammatical and cultural context. The text is setting the agenda for the message when rich theological themes, and words are being examined and excavated. My cultural insights and catchy illustrations can and have returned void, but God’s Word will not.</p><p class=""><strong><em><br>Was the message simple, not shallow?</em></strong><br>The job of the preacher is not to overwhelm the people with word studies, where for a half-hour or so they simply say their version of, “It means. It means. It means,” and then sit down. Dr. Charles Ryrie once quipped that the mark of brilliance is the ability to make the complex simple. Jesus was simple but not shallow. He took deep concepts like the kingdom of heaven and the end times, and used stunning visual illustrations to keep his message simple. To help me with simplicity, I do two things. First, I write my sermons out word for word, not so I can memorize them, but so that I can internalize and gain much needed clarity. As H.B. Charles says, “Preachers, write yourself clear.” Secondly, I work to frame my points applicationally. My explanations answer the question, “What does it mean?” My applications answer the question, “What does it mean to me?” This goes a long way towards simplicity.</p><p class=""><br><strong><em>Did I articulate the universal felt need?<br></em></strong>Paul tells Timothy that all Scripture is profitable (II Timothy 3:16), which means it is useful. A major part of the usefulness of Scripture is that it deals with deep needs common to humanity. I believe every text deals with a felt need. When Paul tells the Corinthians that he is to be regarded as a servant of Christ (I Corinthians 4:1), he is dealing with the felt need of identity. Just about every passage in Solomon’s memoirs (Ecclesiastes) deals with the felt need of purpose. Job addresses the felt need of suffering and evil. Even more so, Paul models this when on Mars Hill he points to the altar dedicated to the unknown God, and preaches a sermon where he shows our felt need of worship (Acts 17).&nbsp;</p><p class="">There are several reasons why this is a key question to address. One is that not long into your sermon, every listener is asking themselves the question, “Why should I listen?” The sooner you can get to the universal felt need of the text, the more likely you are to compel them to listen to you. Secondly, just like Paul used the felt need of worship to appeal to non-believers, so identifying the felt need of humanity is a compelling way to engage and include non-Christians in your message.</p><p class=""><strong><em><br>Did I overwhelm them with law?<br></em></strong>John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist church, had his basic framework for preaching. He always sought to begin with the love of God, overwhelm the people with the law of God, rendering them hopeless, and then conclude with the grace of God. If people leave my sermon feeling as if they can achieve the things I expounded in their own strength, I have not accurately preached the text. Husbands should not leave a message on Ephesians 5:22-33, feeling as if they can do those things on their own. A wife should not feel as if she can muster up the strength to submit to her husband on her own. And singles should feel it’s impossible to live a celibate lifestyle by simply applying more will power. Like a great movie, a great sermon should have some sad scenes, where people want to cry, devastated by their own inadequacies and sins.</p><p class=""><br><strong><em>Did I revive them with grace?<br></em></strong>But, like any great movie, there should be moments where people rejoice, feeling revived. This is what grace is in the sermon- stirring great relief and hope. This “scene” of grace should come after law. Helplessness should lead to hopefulness. Good Friday must point to Resurrection Sunday. This is the meta-narrative of Scripture, and should be the arc of the sermon. Why?</p><p class=""><strong><em>Did they see Jesus?<br></em></strong>Just like I believe the Bible points to Jesus, so I believe every text makes its way to Jesus. In some passages it’s simple and easy. In other passages one might have to do a little work, and apply some theologically accurate connective tissue, but all roads point to Jesus, just like Spurgeon said all roads in England can at some point get you to London. The great Brooklyn and worldwide preacher, Gardner Taylor, had a sign engraved on his pulpit for him and any preacher to notice. The sign simply said, “We would see Jesus.” I have not preached unless I’ve shown them Jesus.</p><p class="">The story of David and Goliath is not ultimately about conquering the giants in your life. Yeh, we may use that as a way secondary application (like waaaaaaay), but ultimately, it points to Israel’s need for a deliverer, and how that deliverer (David) came from an unlikely place. Jesus is of the house of David and conquered the giant of Satan and death on the cross. Our people need to see Jesus, and not just ourselves.&nbsp;</p><p class=""><br><strong><em>Did I inspire them?<br></em></strong>This is my final question, and please don’t take this to mean, “Did I make them feel good?” Here I’m thinking, did I move them to action? No, I can’t get them to change, but did I preach in such a way that they <em>want</em> to change? To settle for informing people without also inspiring people is lazy preaching. What helps me to inspire are things like preaching with passion, having conviction and giving compelling illustrations and stories to help them visualize the point.&nbsp;</p> Can we Live? The Cost of Respectability Politics https://thewitnessbcc.com/can-we-live-the-cost-of-respectability-politics/ The Witness urn:uuid:8a72c7dd-3ab3-eaf8-51de-ed80ca487446 Thu, 01 Jul 2021 10:00:00 -0500 Comedian and actress Mo&#8217;Nique recently posted an Instagram saying she was in an airport in ATL&#160; when she saw sistas [&#8230;] Jonah and Schein’s Three Levels of Culture https://specs12.wordpress.com/2021/06/27/jonah-and-scheins-three-levels-of-culture/ perSpectives 12 urn:uuid:09f527a5-9395-5653-ecb2-c5d59747a3b9 Sun, 27 Jun 2021 19:08:35 -0500 Jan Paron, PhD&#124;June 27, 2021 The book of Jonah opens with the messenger formula “The word of the Lord came &#8230;<p><a href="https://specs12.wordpress.com/2021/06/27/jonah-and-scheins-three-levels-of-culture/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a></p> <p>Jan Paron, PhD|June 27, 2021</p> <p>The book of Jonah opens with the messenger formula “The word of the Lord came to Jonah&#8221; to cry out against Nineveh (Jon 1:1).<a href="//014FC717-161B-41C1-AD2C-E1C14DBDCAA8#_ftn1"><sup>[1]</sup></a>&nbsp;Though the passage does not name Jonah as a prophet, the formula verifies God&#8217;s appointment for him to prophesy to Nineveh (1:2). Second Kings does refer to Jonah as a prophet to King Jeroboam II (2 Kings 14:25). Despite the word of the Lord, Jonah fled to Tarshish (Jon 1:3) seeking to escape his call. Later, Jonah submitted to God’s call, and He returned him to Nineveh to carry out the mission (3:3). Jonah prophesied to them, “forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” (3:4 New American Standard Version).<a href="//014FC717-161B-41C1-AD2C-E1C14DBDCAA8#_ftn2"><sup>[2]</sup></a>&nbsp;The Ninevites repented, and thus God spared the city (vv. 6-9). God’s mercy extended to Nineveh angered Jonah, and he asked to die (vv.1, 3). Jonah could not accept God’s action with the pagan nation; however, God justified His decision because of concern for the Ninevites&nbsp;(vv. 10-11).<a href="//014FC717-161B-41C1-AD2C-E1C14DBDCAA8#_ftn3"><sup>[3]</sup></a></p> <p><img loading="lazy" data-attachment-id="5582" data-permalink="https://specs12.wordpress.com/2021/06/27/jonah-and-scheins-three-levels-of-culture/img_3732/" data-orig-file="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/img_3732.jpg" data-orig-size="1242,685" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;1&quot;}" data-image-title="IMG_3732" data-image-description="" data-medium-file="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/img_3732.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/img_3732.jpg?w=529" class="alignnone size-full wp-image-5582" src="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/img_3732.jpg" alt="IMG_3732" width="1242" height="685" srcset="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/img_3732.jpg 1242w, https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/img_3732.jpg?w=150&amp;h=83 150w, https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/img_3732.jpg?w=300&amp;h=165 300w, https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/img_3732.jpg?w=768&amp;h=424 768w, https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/img_3732.jpg?w=1024&amp;h=565 1024w" sizes="(max-width: 1242px) 100vw, 1242px"></p> <p>Perhaps, Jonah reacted negatively towards Nineveh repenting because he did not want to see its pagan inhabitants turn from their sin,&nbsp;a city that would eventually destroy the Northern Kingdom. Since the author structured the book as a biographical sketch of Jonah,<a href="//014FC717-161B-41C1-AD2C-E1C14DBDCAA8#_ftn4"><sup>[4]</sup></a>&nbsp;it allows for a cultural analysis of the prophet’s artifacts, values, and assumptions to provide insight into the whys behind his external behaviors. In particular, his actions gave rise to several queries to answer. How did Jonah’s contextually embedded factors<a href="//014FC717-161B-41C1-AD2C-E1C14DBDCAA8#_ftn5"><sup>[5]</sup></a>&nbsp;affect his attitude towards Nineveh and readiness to accept their repentance? Further, how did Jonah’s roots grounded in a Hebraic social identity play a role in his outlook? This essay seeks to prove how Jonah’s worldview assumptions set within Israel’s broader cultural nationalism influence his attitude toward Nineveh and drive his resistance to change. In doing so, it uncovers Jonah’s internal values, beliefs, and underlying assumptions behind three of his external artifacts: disobedience, selfishness, and self-exile.</p> <p>Accordingly, this writing examines Jonah through Schein’s organizational culture theory to explain how Jonah&#8217;s cultural context affected his worldview about Nineveh and attitude toward change. The Schein model analyzes three categorical levels of culture: artifacts, espoused beliefs and values, and basic underlying assumptions.<a href="//014FC717-161B-41C1-AD2C-E1C14DBDCAA8#_ftn6"><sup>[6]</sup></a>&nbsp;While the Schein three-tier model uncovers culture insofar as group dynamics to support strategies for organizational change, even called the onion model for that purpose,<a href="//014FC717-161B-41C1-AD2C-E1C14DBDCAA8#_ftn7"><sup>[7]</sup></a>&nbsp;the framework adapts well to exposing layers of an individual’s culture within a larger people group’s context. Thus, it blueprints Jonah’s surface and hidden cultures that undergird his architectural framework. In turn, the blueprint provides an anthropological lens through which to view his macro and micro cultural layers allowing for a peeled-back glimpse into the inner workings of Jonah’s conflict and change that drove his responses to the prophecy for Nineveh (Jon 1:3).&nbsp;Thus, its macro culture represents Jonah’s intrinsically formed, nationalist views inherent to and embedded in pre-exilic Israel during the eighth century BC—Yahweh’s disobedient and impetuous wife breaking the covenant marriage vow to her desires and will.&nbsp;At the same time, the micro reflects his beliefs, values, norms, thought patterns, and myths that interact with yet remain separate from the macro.<a href="//014FC717-161B-41C1-AD2C-E1C14DBDCAA8#_ftn8"><sup>[8]</sup></a></p> <p>In considering Jonah’s culture in the context of Israel, the date of which the Nineveh setting takes place holds significance as culture changes over time. Since Israel’s pre-exilic period has a wide date range, its social location and identity contribute to its worldview formation. The tensions and conflict surrounding Israel, including foreign interactions, may even create multiple.<a href="//014FC717-161B-41C1-AD2C-E1C14DBDCAA8#_ftn9"><sup>[9]</sup></a>&nbsp;To understand Jonah’s motives, one must peel away the outer layers to expose the inner assumptions. It requires analyzing Jonah in the context of Israel with the proper social location. Thus, dating the narrative takes on significance. Having said this, the book of Second Kings gives a clue as to the time frame that provides at least a window within which to date Jonah insofar as his prophecy to Jeroboam II during the eighth century BC,&nbsp;before the Northern Kingdom fell to the Assyrian Empire. Stuart lists other factors that support eighth century BC dating, such as Aramaisms in language, motifs from Jeremiah, verbs from Joel, and Nineveh as a possible alternate capital of the Assyrian Empire during the first half of the century.<a href="//014FC717-161B-41C1-AD2C-E1C14DBDCAA8#_ftn10"><sup>[10]</sup></a>&nbsp;Matthews believes it occurred from 850–605 BC with the book’s composition during the post-exilic period, after 500.<a href="//014FC717-161B-41C1-AD2C-E1C14DBDCAA8#_ftn11"><sup>[11]</sup></a>&nbsp;Richter projects the first half of the eighth century (800-745BC) when the Jeroboam-Uzziah alliance gave rise to wealth and influence, and Tiglath-pileser III ruled Assyria.<a href="//014FC717-161B-41C1-AD2C-E1C14DBDCAA8#_ftn12"><sup>[12]</sup></a>&nbsp;For the sake of this essay, it will focus on pre-exilic Israel within approximately the 850-605 BC period, even though it encompasses a broad period.</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Disobedient Anti-Prophet</span></strong></h3> <p>Jonah’s disobedient approach to his prophetic commission to cry out against Nineveh surfaced immediately in the narrative’s onset (Jon 1:2-3), demonstrating one of Jonah’s first of the three critical external artifacts (disobedience, selfishness, and self-exile). Further, it previews actions to come fueled by the prophet’s beliefs, values, and assumptions related to the Ninevites.<a href="//014FC717-161B-41C1-AD2C-E1C14DBDCAA8#_ftn13"><sup>[13]</sup></a>&nbsp;While the text does not describe Jonah as a prophet, Yahweh’s commission to Nineveh suggests it. Second Kings 14:25 confirms Jonah’s call as a prophet concerning his prophecy to King Jeroboam II. Jonah stands among the Twelve in the Old Testament, though not a standard prophet.<a href="//014FC717-161B-41C1-AD2C-E1C14DBDCAA8#_ftn14"><sup>[14]</sup></a></p> <p>Prophets acted as spokespersons for God’s divine message to the people in Ancient Israel, though not exclusive to Israelites. They received and announced God’s divine will, intentions, purposes, or future from a prophetic utterance.<a href="//014FC717-161B-41C1-AD2C-E1C14DBDCAA8#_ftn15"><sup>[15]</sup></a>Despite the responsibilities of the office, Jonah chose not to follow the Lord’s three commands: (1) ‘Arise,’ (2) ‘Go at once to Nineveh,’ and&nbsp;&nbsp;(3) ‘cry out against it’ (Jon 1:3). Instead, he acted contrarily with three, self-determined directions: he (1) ‘got up to flee to Tarshish’ (1:2), (2) ‘went down to Joppa,’ and (3 ‘found a ship that was going to Tarshish’ (v. 3). Although the narrative sets the scene for what follows, it does not establish why Jonah did not carry out the Lord’s message. However, the text immediately portrays him as disobedient to the word of the Lord in his prophetic office.</p> <p>Schellenberg fittingly describes Jonah as an anti-prophet<a href="//014FC717-161B-41C1-AD2C-E1C14DBDCAA8#_ftn16"><sup>[16]</sup></a>&nbsp;pointing out his atypical stance as a prophet and its complexities in that role. Jonah almost shows a combination between open disobedience and subtle disengagement with Yahweh. When the Lord sent so great a wind it threatened to break up the ship and made the sailors each cry out to their god, Jonah went below and fell sound asleep (vv. 4-5). He did not call on God (v. 6); rather, he asked the shipmen to throw him overboard (v. 15). Once again, he showed avoidance of his call. His anti-prophet behavior runs through the story in different variations.</p> <p>The question remains as to what beliefs and values behind his disobedience caused a reaction so adverse to Nineveh that he would risk separation and subsequent punishment from God? The Lord commanded Jonah to go to Nineveh and cry out against it because of its wickedness (Jon 1:2). Matthews describes the Lord’s call as so strong that a prophet ultimately must address it, including preaching judgment as the Lord commanded Jonah. The prophet could try to flee from God and his commission but could not escape it. He could hide but not run.<a href="//014FC717-161B-41C1-AD2C-E1C14DBDCAA8#_ftn17"><sup>[17]</sup></a>&nbsp;Jonah realized He had to fulfill the command to the Assyrian city of Nineveh (1:13–17).</p> <p>Given the prophet’s strong call to duty, why did Jonah not fulfill the Lord’s command immediately? It was not until a large fish swallowed him up that he realized his duty would not go away (2:1-9).&nbsp;Further, how did Jonah rationalize running from it? Tarshish (modern-day Spain) In his mind, the city may have represented the farthest point to flee, the ultimate hiding place.&nbsp;Physical distance resulting from his sin of disobedience suggests alienation from the presence of the Lord. The ideology from humanity’s sinful nature historically results in separation from God. Metaphorically speaking, it brought Jonah east of Eden like Adam and Eve (Gn 3:23–24) and Cain (4:16),<a href="//014FC717-161B-41C1-AD2C-E1C14DBDCAA8#_ftn18"><sup>[18]</sup></a>&nbsp;instead hurled to the sea and then into the belly of a large fish appointed by the Lord (Jon 1:15-17). At this juncture, the text did not indicate why Jonah so aggressively avoided Nineveh but does show the effects of decisions that run contrary to God.&nbsp;</p> <p>Quite possibly, it may have had to do with the northern kingdom&#8217;s liminality upon entering a period of prosperity. In other words, Jonah looked out for Israel. In his eyes, he may have wanted to see continued prosperity. Isaiah (Is 7:17—8:28) and Hosea (Hos 9:3; 10:6; 11:5) both prophesied the Assyrian invasion of Israel. God told Jehu his sons would rule Israel for four generations, meaning until Jeroboam II (2 Kgs 10:30).&nbsp;During the era of Israel’s kings, Jeroboam ruled the northern kingdom while Uzziah reigned over Judah.<a href="//014FC717-161B-41C1-AD2C-E1C14DBDCAA8#_ftn19"><sup>[19]</sup></a>&nbsp;King Jeroboam II had restored Israel’s boundaries to those under David by reconquering the Transjordan in 760 BC (14:23-29, Am 6:14). His reign from 786-746 BC reflected peace and expansion for Israel.<a href="//014FC717-161B-41C1-AD2C-E1C14DBDCAA8#_ftn20"><sup>[20]</sup></a>&nbsp;Further, the annexation of Gilead, Lo-debar, and Karnaim enabled Israel to gain control over the major trade route connecting the Tigris-Euphrates to Egypt through the King’s Highway. Sole control over the trade route gave rise to Israel’s newfound wealth. Israel and Judah regarded Nineveh as its greatest enemy. Estelle added that Israel’s collective conscience could not view Assyria with neutrality because of recent memories associated with it.<a href="//014FC717-161B-41C1-AD2C-E1C14DBDCAA8#_ftn21"><sup>[21]</sup></a>&nbsp;Did Jonah think he could stop the Assyrian invasion if he allowed God to destroy Nineveh?<strong></strong></p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Selfish Prophet</span></strong></h3> <p>In addition to being a prophet, albeit disobedient, 2 Kgs 14:25 describes Jonah as a servant of the Lord, the God of Israel. Servants serve, yet scripture shows another artifact of Jonah as selfish. Named as a servant of the Lord, he stood in the company of Old Testament patriarchs, prophets, kings, and the faithful of Israel.<a href="//014FC717-161B-41C1-AD2C-E1C14DBDCAA8#_ftn22"><sup>[22]</sup></a>&nbsp;The Old Testament first mentions servant of the Lord in Gn 26:24b, referring to Abraham in the possessive form, “my servant.” They serve God, not the world (Gn 24:2). Nevertheless, God gave His servants a choice to obey his commands, decrees, and instructions (49:15). Paron emphasizes that a servant of the Lord carried out God’s requests “based on faith in God’s covenantal promises for Israel, generation to generation.”<a href="//014FC717-161B-41C1-AD2C-E1C14DBDCAA8#_ftn23"><sup>[23]</sup></a>&nbsp;While scripture calls Jonah a servant in Second Kings, he elected not to follow the Lord’s command in the case of Nineveh. So, why did it refer to him as a servant of the Lord, the God of Israel (2 Kgs 14:25)? Jonah showed himself as selfish rather than selfless, running in opposition to God&#8217;s command. If Jonah had fled from his hometown Gath Hepher (14:25) to Tarshish, he would have traveled 3,000 miles to the westernmost point away from Nineveh to distance himself from God. In addition to a disobedient nature in his office of prophet, the text reveals him as selfish.<a href="//014FC717-161B-41C1-AD2C-E1C14DBDCAA8#_ftn24"><sup>[24]</sup></a></p> <p>Nineveh’s wickedness&nbsp;may lend an understanding of Jonah&#8217;s beliefs leading to his disdain for Nineveh and subsequent decisions (Jon 1:2). Even though the book did not elaborate on wickedness, Jonah may have understood it without explanation. Nahum remarked about Nineveh’s endless cruelty after Jonah: “Who has ever escaped your endless cruelty” (Na 3:19 New Revised Standard Version). The passage suggests Israel knew of Nineveh’s oppressive severity. Unconsciously, Jonah may have had an ingrained belief that the Ninevites did not deserve a second chance from God.&nbsp;</p> <p>Grant-Henderson brings up the point related to Israel’s post-exilic view of outsiders as nations exclusive to God’s mercy. She posits a strong statement relative apropos to Jonah: “If a foreigner can repent so quickly and receive the compassion of God, then surely the Israelite nation that is God’s chosen one will be able to receive the same care no matter how far they strayed.”<a href="//014FC717-161B-41C1-AD2C-E1C14DBDCAA8#_ftn25"><sup>[25]</sup></a>&nbsp;She tied this assertion to Israel’s self-centered view that the God of Israel only bestows grace to His people, from a collectivist perspective only to insiders, not outsiders. Judah may have viewed God granting mercy to a foreign nation as injustice when Israel itself experienced pain and hardship. An Exodus 32 redux?&nbsp;&nbsp;Though thenorthern kingdom&nbsp;prospered during the reign of Jeroboam II, the political engine distributed kingdom wealth disproportionately to the connected. Most people lived in poverty, not luxury.<a href="//014FC717-161B-41C1-AD2C-E1C14DBDCAA8#_ftn26"><sup>[26]</sup></a>&nbsp;Judah did not fare as well as its northern neighbor. Therefore, the self-centered Israelite mindset that permeated their values propagated the underlying assumptions of forgetting God as sovereign. Even though Jonah referenced God as “gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in mercy” (Jon 4:2b), he may well have directed it only towards Israel, as the “Lord my God” (2:6), literally meaning the Lord God who belongs to Israel.</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Self-Exiled Prophet&nbsp;</span></strong></h3> <p>Nineveh’s willingness to repent presents an ironic contrast to Israel and Judah’s reluctance to do so the same.<a href="//014FC717-161B-41C1-AD2C-E1C14DBDCAA8#_ftn27"><sup>[27]</sup></a>Upon Jonah’s recommissioning to Nineveh (3:1), he walked to the city from where the fish spit him out. Then,&nbsp;he cried out and said, “Forty more days, and Nineveh will be overthrown” (v. 4). From the least to the greatest, the Ninevites believed the word of the Lord. The king issued an edict that everyone must turn from their evil ways (v. 8). Jeremiah virtually preached this same message to Israel (Jer 25:5).</p> <p>Their repentance angered Jonah; thus, he placed himself in exile outside the city. Jonah figuratively went east of Eden away from the presence of God in self-imposed isolation out of anger when left to go east of Nineveh. “So now, Lord, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life” (Jon 4:3). Once again, Jonah physically placed himself out of the Lord’s presence, demonstrating the antithesis of a prophet’s expected behavior,&nbsp;and experienced another punishment as God appointed a scorching east wind against him and heat of the sun beat down on him (4:8).&nbsp;</p> <p>While Nineveh hoped that God would change His mind and not destroy them, Jonah feared a gracious and merciful God&nbsp;(v. 2). He knew God’s character.<a href="//014FC717-161B-41C1-AD2C-E1C14DBDCAA8#_ftn28"><sup>[28]</sup></a>&nbsp;The same mercy God showed Jonah throughout the story, He also would demonstrate to Nineveh. Just as Israel repeatedly operated in the mindset of covenant breakers with Yahweh, Jonah approached God much the same way when he placed himself in exile and pouted. The allusion to Israel’s exile bookends the story, beginning in his flight west to Tarshish and ending east outside Nineveh. Did Jonah, who rudely argued with God over sparing Nineveh forget God rescued him from the belly of the fish even though he did not repent of his disobedience? (v.9). As a type for Israel, Jonah likewise foreshadows the mercy God gave His chosen upon restoration from exilic Israel and again to eschatological Israel (Rom 9-11).</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Conclusion: Change and Conflict in Nineveh</span></strong></h3> <p>Poole and Van de Ven view organizational change as occurring in cycles driven by four forces of change related to goal implementation in an entity.<a href="//014FC717-161B-41C1-AD2C-E1C14DBDCAA8#_ftn29"><sup>[29]</sup></a>&nbsp;The forces include life cycle, dialectical, teleological, and evolutionary. Each force, in turn, affects the implementation of the organizational mission. Of the four forces, teleological change comes to mind in the case of Jonah because God implemented part of His predetermined plan for redemption in Nineveh. He needed the city as part of Assyria to later invade the Northern Kingdom</p> <p>Teleological change involves intentional and purposeful goal implementation to drive change, dependent upon constituents working together for its fruition. However, like any change, it can provoke conflict. Indeed, Jonah having had to prophesy to Nineveh gave rise to conflict for him. The tension stemmed from the collective Hebrew community, which in turn influenced his social identity. Their broader social sphere included the political, economic, cultural, and religious mores of Israel’s society, of which Jonah had a membership.<a href="//014FC717-161B-41C1-AD2C-E1C14DBDCAA8#_ftn30"><sup>[30]</sup></a>&nbsp;Therefore, he functioned as a prophet guided by espoused beliefs and ethical rules from his ethnic roots that formed boundaries for his behavior. God’s desire for Nineveh to repent triggered Jonah’s resistant behaviors that manifested in disobedience and selfishness to Yahweh and isolation from His presence.&nbsp;</p> <p>God’s nature does not change, remaining immutable: “For I, the Lord, do not change (Mal 3:6a; e.g., Num 23:19; Isa 46: 9-11; Jas 1:13).<a href="//014FC717-161B-41C1-AD2C-E1C14DBDCAA8#_ftn31"><sup>[31]</sup></a>&nbsp;Rather, how He deals with people does. He bestowed mercy upon Nineveh and later destroyed them because of their continued wickedness. However, God also demands change from His people. He challenged Jonah’s existing social standards. As the Creator of humankind and a sovereign God, He alone determines mercy. In this case, it pertain The Freedom of Identity https://bryanloritts.com/blog/the-freedom-of-identity Blog - Bryan Loritts urn:uuid:f513744b-9bd8-82a6-b74a-5d2fc0ed9709 Thu, 24 Jun 2021 09:11:46 -0500 <p class="">1 Corinthians 4:1-5</p><p class="">We’ve been in a series called, <em>This Verse Changed My Life</em>, and I want to take you to a verse in the Bible that when you and I really live into this reality, will completely revolutionize our lives and set us free from people-pleasing and the tyranny of judgment. It’s a verse tucked away in I Corinthians 4. Let’s go there.</p><p class=""><em>“This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and&nbsp;stewards of the mysteries of God.&nbsp;Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.&nbsp;But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself.&nbsp;For I am not aware of anything against myself,&nbsp;but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.&nbsp;Therefore&nbsp;do not pronounce judgment before the time,&nbsp;before the Lord comes,&nbsp;who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart.&nbsp;Then each one will receive his commendation from God.” </em> -1 Corinthians 4:1-5</p><p class="">You and I understand what identity theft is: it’s when someone poses as you, and is able to open lines of credit, and make all kinds of purchases, while you get the bill. It’s a very real thing that has happened to good friends of mine, and so because of that, a few years ago, my wife and I decided to make sure our identities were secure by purchasing something called LifeLock. Whenever LifeLock suspects suspicious activity they will send Korie and I notifications. Now the essence of these notifications can be reduced to three words, “Is this you?” In short, they want to know if this is really who I am; if this is our true identity?</p><p class="">The question of identity is a core question of life. “Who Am I,” is the soundtrack to our souls, a question we can never escape. In fact, Dietrich Bonhoeffer—the great 20th century German theologian—wrestled with the question of identity deeply. Just a few days before he was executed by the Nazis for standing in opposition to them, Bonhoeffer wrote this poem: </p><p class="">“<em>Who Am I? This or the other? Am I one person today, and tomorrow another? Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others, and before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling? Or is something within me still like a beaten army, fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved? Who am I? They mock me these lonely questions of mine. Whoever I am, thou knowest, O God, I am thine.” <br></em>-Dietrich Bonhoeffer, <em>Who Am I?</em></p><p class="">Oh friend, if we were to be really honest we would join the ranks of Bonhoeffer and confess that the question of identity stalks us daily. The recently retired athlete asks this question—Who am I? The parents who have spent years guiding their children, and are now staring down the empty nest, asks this question. The one who just lost their job asks the question. The successful businessperson who started the company, sold it for millions and has nothing but time on their hands now, asks this question. The recent college graduate filled with more dreams than success or money asks this question. The question of identity, of who am I, is the background elevator music of our minds. Answer the question of identity correctly and you will know freedom and contentment. But answer the question of identity incorrectly and you will know bondage and discontent. Yes, the question of identity is <em>the</em> question of life.</p><p data-rte-preserve-empty="true" class=""></p><p class="">The Only True Answer to Identity—I Corinthians 4:1-2<br>So what is the answer to identity? This is why Paul writes our passage. I Corinthians 4:1-5 is all about identity. The reason Paul is writing on this subject is that according to I Corinthians 1:10, he has gotten word from Chloe’s house that there are divisions in the church. One group says they are of Paul, another of Apollos, another of Peter and still another of Christ. Instead of one unified church, we have a church that is fractured and divided, with people placing their identities in men. By the way, division tends to happen when we settle for the lesser identities of this world. When people choose to put their identity in success, they will look down on the less successful. When people put their identities in their ethnicity, they will naturally experience division from another ethnicity. And when people choose to put their identity in a political agenda, they will find themselves at odds with people of a different agenda. Of course this is not to say we shouldn’t be successful, celebrate how God made us or have our political convictions, we should do these things. But doing and having them as an identity are two different things.</p><p class="">Now what’s interesting here is this: on the one hand, there was a group of people at Corinth who said they were of Paul, which is easy to understand, because when we talk about sheer influence, Paul is one of the top five leaders in world history. Easy. And Paul could have played into this, and built his brand around his success and celebrity. But this would have lead to an overinflated ego, and a nauseating pride. On the other hand, there were groups of people at the church of Corinth who not only refused to follow Paul, but actually ridiculed him for his unimpressive speaking. Paul could have let this perceived weakness of him define him, allowing it to become his identity. You and I know of plenty of people who have built their identities in being a victim. See the tension? Building our identity around our successes or weaknesses will never do.</p><p class="">Instead, Paul gives us a third option for building our identity. Look at verses 1-2. </p><p class=""><em>“This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. </em><strong><em>2 </em></strong><em>Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.”</em></p><p class="">The Greek word for <em>servants</em> means an under-rower and was a reference to the large Roman ships where below deck there would be scores of rowers who moved at the command of the pilot. The word <em>steward</em> simply means the manager of the house. This was not the owner of the house, but the one who ran the house on behalf of the owner. What both these words have in common is a person who doesn’t exist for their own pleasure, but whose identity is inextricably tied to the one in authority over them. Likewise, Paul is saying that his identity is not in his successes or weaknesses, but in the one who is in authority over him: Christ. <span>When my identity is in Christ I am free to put gospel distance between my successes and weaknesses. Those things don’t define me. Jesus does</span>!</p><p class="">You and I have heard these stories. Yeh we have. A person got locked up decades ago for some violent crime, and it seemed as if all hope was lost. And then they discover that since being locked up they’ve developed this thing called DNA testing, which is all about identity. So they run the DNA test and find out that person didn’t do the crime and having figured out their identity there’s freedom. Oh friends, this is exactly Paul’s point. When we live into our true identity in Christ there’s freedom! Freedom from performance. Freedom from the opinions of others. Freedom from the snide remarks that come my way. Freedom from my own opinions of me. Once you live into the DNA you share with Christ you are free.</p><p data-rte-preserve-empty="true" class=""></p><p class="">Breaking Free—God is Our Judge. I Corinthians 4:4b-5<br>Yeh, but what exactly does this look like, and how do I practically live into this freedom on a daily basis? Paul answers all these questions. Now notice with me there’s a little word that keeps popping up- <em>judge</em>. It’s an important word that we have to understand to make sense of this text. The word judge doesn’t so much mean verdict, as it does the process that leads to the verdict. It’s the idea of one who is being evaluated and scrutinized. This is further illumined as Paul uses more legal language in verse three when he talks about the “human court.” If you’ve ever been a defendant in court, you understand that for the time leading up to the trial, and during the trial, you are under a tremendous amount of scrutiny and evaluation. Everything is being looked at, and opinions are being formed. Now notice, Paul says that’s what it’s like to some degree for his whole life. Study his ministry. Always under scrutiny. The Judaizers told the Galatians that they couldn’t trust Paul because he wasn’t a real apostle. The religious leaders attacked him and tried to kill him. Crowds in Lystra and other places got upset with him. He stood before King Agrippa in a human court to plead his case. Everywhere he turned he was facing constant evaluation and scrutiny. Paul was the Lebron James of his day.</p><p class="">And to some degree that happens to all of us daily. People are evaluating and forming their own opinions of us based on where we live, go to school, send our kids to school, what we drive, how we vacation, what we say, who we vote for, the whole nine. Everyday we get up it seems as if we are walking into human court after human court. And trying to live up to people’s evaluations is a miserable existence.</p><p class="">But Paul goes onto say that it is not just others who judge, it’s ourselves who judge (3b). </p><p class=""><em>“In fact, I do not even judge myself.” </em>-1 Corinthians 4:3b</p><p class="">We all have an inner lawyer who is constantly evaluating us. Charles Spurgeon was known to sulk on Sunday afternoons if he thought the sermon didn’t go well, to the point of melancholy, his inner lawyer working overtime. Who in here can relate? We leave a meeting or a time of hanging out and many of us brood over, did we say the right thing? Was I too harsh? Why didn’t I speak up? Did I talk too much? Did they like me? Or, maybe it’s your inner lawyer, who like the author Brennan Manning, describes as one who is constantly calling you an imposter and calling into question your faith. Doubt washes over you all the time. There’s a voice always saying you’re not good enough and you never will be. We all need to fire our inner lawyer. Paul did.</p><p class="">So how do we break free of this constant evaluation from others, and ourselves? Paul tells us. He actually says there’s a third source of judgment, and it’s God (5).</p><p class=""><em>“Therefore&nbsp;do not pronounce judgment before the time,&nbsp;before the Lord comes,&nbsp;who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart.&nbsp;Then each one will receive his commendation from God.” </em>-1 Corinthians 4:5</p><p class="">God is the only real judge, because he is the only one who knows everything about us. While we make judgements on appearances, the Lord knows the heart. God is the one who knows me, and he is the one I will ultimately have to answer to. And when we understand that future reality, it should change how we live in the present!</p><p class="">In just a few weeks Korie and I will drop our second son off at college in California. From the time he was born, we envisioned this day, so we have been putting money aside. The future reality of him going to school, impacted our present daily lives. Friends, don’t you see. Because I know there is a future reality when I will stand before my one and only judge, that should impact how I live today.</p><p data-rte-preserve-empty="true" class=""></p><p class="">Breaking Free- People Are Small, God Is Big- I Corinthians 4:3a<br>Okay, so when my identity is in Christ there’s freedom. What does this look like? Well, I understand God is my only true judge and when I live that way it will free me from the judgments of others. But there’s more. Look at verse 3. </p><p class=""><em>“But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself.”</em> -1 Corinthians 4:3</p><p class="">The Greek word for “small” is the superlative of micros. It means tiny, tiny, tiny! See what he’s saying? When I live in the light of God being the only true judge, people become small and God becomes big. It’s not that other people’s judgments are invisible, it’s just that they’re beyond microscopic.</p><p class="">This was something Paul lived. So Paul plants the churches in Galatia, seeing many Gentiles come to Christ. After he leaves, Jewish religious leaders known as the Judaizers come in and they start telling these new Gentiles that Paul can’t be trusted; that he’s not a genuine apostle. Just real nasty stuff. Paul gets word and writes the letter to the Galatians and notice what he says from jump street: <em>“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ,” </em>(Galatians 1:10). See it? Paul says if you spend your time people pleasing, your identity is not in Christ. But for the person whose identity is in Christ, people are small and God is big. This doesn’t mean people are insignificant, but it does mean that they’re not who I’m living for.</p><p class="">When Jaden was a little boy every time he made a shot he’d look up in the stands at me and smile. After the game he’d come up to me and ask me, “Hey dad, how did I do?” He never asked anyone else that in the stands. He didn’t ask his teammates that. And I never saw him ask his coaches that. It’s as if he knew, that if dad said I did good, that’s enough for me. That’s what Paul is saying. Play your life for the one person in the stands, and his name is God. Let him be big, and everyone else small. Do you know that freedom today? Or are you still in bondage to the tyranny of people and their judgments?</p><p data-rte-preserve-empty="true" class=""></p><p class="">Breaking Free—Performance Free-Living- I Corinthians 2:1-5<br>Now listen to me. When a person’s identity is not in Christ, but is found in the lesser identities of this world (work, money, success, etc), what happens? Well, then they are a slave to what others or themselves think, people have a disproportionate role in their lives, bigger than God, and they are on the treadmill of performance, always feeling like they have to prove themselves. Madonna felt this way. Listen to what she says in an article in Vogue: </p><p class=""><em>“My drive in life comes from a fear of being mediocre. That is always pushing me. I push past one spell of it and discover myself as a special human being but then I feel I am still mediocre and uninteresting unless I do something else. Because even though I have become somebody, I still have to prove that I am somebody. My struggle has never ended and I guess it never will”</em> -Madonna, Vogue Magazine. </p><p class="">And this is a millionaire celebrity adored the world over saying this! When your identity is in the lesser identities of this world, you will be a slave to performance.</p><p class="">But when our identity is in Jesus, the ultimate identity, now we are free. Remember, Paul is writing the Corinthians because many of them don’t like his speaking, they don’t feel as if he is performing up to par for them. They say Paul is not eloquent. Look at how Paul answers them, </p><p class=""><em>“And when I, I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”</em> -I Corinthians 2:1-5. </p><p class="">See the freedom here? Paul’s identity was so secured in Christ, he was freed from any notion that he had to live up to their expectations. (By the way, I wonder how many churches in world history fired their pastors because they didn’t have impressive speech?)</p><p class="">Gospel Conclusion<br>Paul didn’t have to labor in the human court of approval, because Jesus had already stepped into that court. Some two thousand years ago, Jesus stepped into the kangaroo court of this life. People had scrutinized him and cast their verdict. They demanded that he be crucified. On the cross, Jesus took humanity’s bad verdict, so that God, the only true judge could render the final good verdict on each of us. And you know what that final verdict is? RIGHTEOUS! So we don’t have to perform for his verdict, instead we labor from his verdict. We are free!</p> background check on a church’s reputation https://djchuang.com/background-check-on-a-churchs-reputation/ djchuang.com urn:uuid:091b8a9e-5889-d186-a27b-d0ff6df45b4f Tue, 22 Jun 2021 13:09:38 -0500 <p>I think it&#8217;s fair to say that good Christian ministries have their critics, and a few even run into legal action in the mix, which I&#8217;ll leave nameless. I wouldn&#8217;t want to get a &#8220;cease and desist&#8221; on my blog,&#46;&#46;&#46;</p> <p>This article <a rel="nofollow" href="https://djchuang.com/background-check-on-a-churchs-reputation/">background check on a church&#8217;s reputation</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="https://djchuang.com">@djchuang</a>.</p> How to Title a Passage: Learning to See Biblical Text (James 1:2-4) https://specs12.wordpress.com/2021/06/22/how-to-title-a-passage-learning-to-see-biblical-text-james-12-4/ perSpectives 12 urn:uuid:36cb9212-f3d8-a1d4-4c26-2b84ee2bd1a3 Tue, 22 Jun 2021 10:00:02 -0500 Jan Paron, PhD&#124;June 22, 2021 2My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;&#160;3Knowing this, that the &#8230;<p><a href="https://specs12.wordpress.com/2021/06/22/how-to-title-a-passage-learning-to-see-biblical-text-james-12-4/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a></p> <p>Jan Paron, PhD|June 22, 2021</p> <blockquote class="wp-block-quote"><p><sup>2</sup>My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;&nbsp;<sup>3</sup>Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. <sup>4</sup>But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.</p><cite>Jas 1:2-4</cite></blockquote> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Process</span></h3> <ul><li>Carefully read and observe the passage.</li><li>Next, jot down your thoughts about what the title requires.</li><li>Then, narrow down your thoughts to the most critical.</li><li>Finally, narrow the most critical to one thought that applies to your passage title.</li></ul> <div class="wp-block-cover aligncenter has-background-dim is-style-default" style="min-height:239px;"><img data-attachment-id="5513" data-permalink="https://specs12.wordpress.com/2021/06/22/how-to-title-a-passage-learning-to-see-biblical-text-james-12-4/james-title/" data-orig-file="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/james-title.jpg" data-orig-size="980,512" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;0&quot;}" data-image-title="james-Title" data-image-description="" data-medium-file="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/james-title.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/james-title.jpg?w=529" class="wp-block-cover__image-background wp-image-5513" alt="" src="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/james-title.jpg" style="object-position:76% 26%;" data-object-fit="cover" data-object-position="76% 26%" /><div class="wp-block-cover__inner-container"> <p class="has-white-color has-text-color has-large-font-size"></p> </div></div> <p></p> <h3 class="has-text-align-left"><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">(1) What did the text mean to the biblical audience? </span></h3> <p><span class="has-inline-color has-black-color">This title asks the reader to determine what the passage meant to the biblical audience according to culture, language, circumstances, period, or covenant. </span></p> <p><span class="has-inline-color has-black-color"><strong>Possible titles: </strong>(1) Command to respond to trials of faith with joy or (2) Command to let patience have her perfect work</span></p> <h3 class="has-text-align-left"><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">(2) What theological principal does the text hold? </span></h3> <p>For this title, determine what the author intended the passage to mean. </p> <p><strong>Possible title:</strong> (1) God tries faith in Christ to perfect it with patience and completeness</p> <h3><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">(3) What does the text say about general-to-specific?</span></h3> <p>With this title, you focus on a passage that features text from general to specific. Thus, an author will introduce an idea, and then explain it with specific details. </p> <p><strong>Possible title:</strong> Patience in trials of faith produces Christian maturity</p> <h3><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">(4) What does the text say about its purpose statement?</span></h3> <p>You can title a passage that includes a purpose statement. Generally, a purpose statement follows a conditional clause (begins with if, when, whenever, since, because, and in order to). The words that, in order that, or so that introduce a purpose statement. </p> <p><strong>Possible title:</strong> That you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing</p> <h3><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">(5) What means does the text tell about accomplishing something?</span></h3> <p>In this manner of titling, you write the means brought about by the purpose, result, or action. </p> <p><strong>Possible title: </strong>God accomplishes His purposes through our trials</p> <h3><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">(6) What does the text reveal about the actions of people or God in the passage?</span></h3> <p>When titling for actions focus on the actions of people or God in the passage. Keep the actions of people separate from God. </p> <p><strong>Possible titles:</strong> God maturing His children in Him and growing them into His likeness or Believers must practice spiritual toughness in troubled times</p> <p>Adapted from Duvall, J. S. and J. D. Hays, J. D. <em>Grasping God’s Word</em>. Grand Rapids: MI, 2005. </p> Jesus and When Minorities Should Leave https://bryanloritts.com/blog/jesus-and-when-minorities-should-leave Blog - Bryan Loritts urn:uuid:861730db-c1c5-a382-bdf3-8ef8b8a12467 Mon, 21 Jun 2021 08:53:28 -0500 <p class="">If I were pressed on a short list of questions I regularly get from people of color serving on staff in majority white spaces, it’s the question of when is it time for them to leave?&nbsp;<br></p><p class="">I surprise them when I say that Jesus actually spoke to this. In fact, his answer was so compelling (as if any of his answers weren’t), it’s recorded in all of the gospels except John.&nbsp;</p><p class=""><br>Jesus said we should never put new wine in old wineskins.&nbsp;</p><p class=""><br>Jesus isn’t speaking about age; he’s actually after something else. When one puts wine in new wineskins, over time the wineskin would expand to house the new wine and the gasses it was emitting. The reason you never put new wine in old wineskins is there’s no room to expand. No elasticity. And when there is no elasticity, the new wine would just burst the old wineskins creating a huge mess.&nbsp;</p><p data-rte-preserve-empty="true" class=""></p><p class="">The principle Jesus is establishing is crucial: A fresh vision housed in an environment that refuses to grow and expand will cause a huge mess.</p><p class=""><br>For so many existing homogenous churches, their leadership is articulating a fresh vision of being multiethnic. I rejoice over this. We all should. And, I know many of these churches whose culture is exhibiting a willingness to grow, churches like the one I’m currently serving.&nbsp;</p><p data-rte-preserve-empty="true" class=""></p><p class="">But a new vision, with new looking leadership is not enough. There must be elasticity in the culture of the church or organization. Of course we get these things don’t happen overnight, so we need to have patience, not passivity. Being a new wineskin church will require courage as new initiatives are introduced, programs established and changes take place. It will require constant teaching, many emails and conversations with the constituents who in their own way will push back or question the culture shift. And in some cases it will necessitate saying, “God bless you, but this is the direction we are headed in, and while we’d love to have you with us, we understand if you can’t continue on the journey.” If you don’t say these things to some from one crowd, you will end up saying them to many of the new crowd you’re trying to reach.</p><p class=""><br>So, when should minorities leave majority spaces? At whatever point the elasticity has maxed out, the growth has stopped and the change has ceased is when one should look for the exits.&nbsp;</p><p class=""><br></p> Freedom and the Black Church on Juneteenth https://thewitnessbcc.com/freedom-and-the-black-church-on-juneteenth/ The Witness urn:uuid:d2f7134b-8358-be3c-e223-9e106663d48a Sat, 19 Jun 2021 12:00:00 -0500 The Black church is at the center of emancipatory events like Juneteenth. In her book On Juneteenth, Pulitzer Prize winner [&#8230;] Why Black and White People Should Commemorate Juneteenth Differently https://thewitnessbcc.com/why-black-and-white-people-should-commemorate-juneteenth-differently/ The Witness urn:uuid:acbdd0cd-a4e2-f700-ec78-8e2a6348518b Sat, 19 Jun 2021 10:00:00 -0500 In junior high and high school whenever the teacher would assign a group project, typically only a couple of people [&#8230;] Naomi Osaka: When Enough is Enough https://thewitnessbcc.com/naomi-osaka-when-enough-is-enough/ The Witness urn:uuid:7178079f-9b20-e0b9-ca20-59170ca84193 Thu, 17 Jun 2021 06:00:00 -0500 &#8220;The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don&#8217;t have any.&#8221; Alice Walker By now, [&#8230;] PTM: White Evangelical Racism with Dr. Anthea Butler https://thewitnessbcc.com/ptm-white-evangelical-racism-with-dr-anthea-butler/ The Witness urn:uuid:e6e44fab-1e70-7233-e14f-4d471b78c968 Tue, 15 Jun 2021 12:00:00 -0500 Buckle up! We have the incredible Dr. Anthea Butler with us today to talk about her new book White Evangelical [&#8230;] Contextual Study: Exegetical Method https://specs12.wordpress.com/2021/06/15/contextual-study-exegetical-method/ perSpectives 12 urn:uuid:99646405-aad0-d755-9a79-0b8505597486 Tue, 15 Jun 2021 08:05:33 -0500 Hermeneutics deals with the field of biblical study. One of hermeneutics’ fundamental principles includes the context principle. Context connects thoughts &#8230;<p><a href="https://specs12.wordpress.com/2021/06/15/contextual-study-exegetical-method/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a></p> <p>Hermeneutics deals with the field of biblical study. One of hermeneutics’ fundamental principles includes the context principle. Context connects thoughts running through a portion or whole of Scripture to reveal the original intent of God’s truth. One interprets a word or verse keeping in mind the surrounding content, historical, and cultural contexts of the passage, book, testament, and Bible. The God-inspired text speaks for itself in context, rather than the reader injecting ideas into it.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" data-attachment-id="5180" data-permalink="https://specs12.wordpress.com/2021/06/15/contextual-study-exegetical-method/exegesis-chart/" data-orig-file="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/03/exegesis-chart.png" data-orig-size="641,215" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;0&quot;}" data-image-title="Exegesis Chart" data-image-description="" data-medium-file="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/03/exegesis-chart.png?w=300" data-large-file="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/03/exegesis-chart.png?w=529" class="alignnone size-full wp-image-5180 aligncenter" src="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/03/exegesis-chart.png" alt="Exegesis Chart" width="641" height="215" srcset="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/03/exegesis-chart.png 641w, https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/03/exegesis-chart.png?w=150&amp;h=50 150w, https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/03/exegesis-chart.png?w=300&amp;h=101 300w" sizes="(max-width: 641px) 100vw, 641px"></p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Contextual Principle: Exegetical Method&nbsp;</span></strong></h3> <h3><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Step 1 (Read and Reread)</span></strong></h3> <p>Read and reread the passage both silently and aloud. Take time to hear it. Remember, the Bible’s early audience utilized the text as spoken word. Take caution when listening, however, not to inject contemporary meaning into the ancient text. The current social location and cultural identity differ from the original audience.</p> <p>Do not rush the process. Pray for understanding and meditate on the Word. Allow the Holy Spirit to illuminate its meaning. Remember, a quality study takes time.&nbsp;</p> <h3><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Step 2 (Ask Questions)</span></strong></h3> <p>A context study should make the reader ask questions and extend thinking about the text. While reading, write down open-ended questions about the verse and words. Begin by formulating who, what, when, where, why, how, and for what reason questions with an open-ended nature. An open-ended question suggests more than a yes or no response; rather, it requires digging for the answer. Look at Jas 1:2. The author in this verse remarks, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;” (KJV). James conjugated the word ‘count’ as a command. What events transpired that necessitated James to command the readers to ‘count it all joy’? How do we understand ‘divers temptations’ in the context of the early church? What might Jesus say to His followers today through this passage?</p> <h3><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Step 3 (Research Behind the Text)</span></strong></h3> <p>Find out what occurs behind the text for its situational contexts. When studying the passage behind the text, investigate the passage and the book. Learn about the overall book, passage, and surrounding verses to the passage/s of study. Find out such information as the book’s author, audience, dating, purpose, themes. To understand the background of the scattered, the reader must trace the historical events from the book of Acts that led to scattering the church. What religious, political, economic, social, and ethnic factors created a tension that resulted in their scattering? Where did the diaspora settle? How did living in a different locale away from the synagogue, family, and community affect their spiritual walk?</p> <p>James, the brother of Jesus and head of the Jerusalem church, wrote the book in the form of a letter. He addressed it to “the twelve tribes scattered among the nations” (Jas 1:1). The expression ‘twelve tribes’ applied to Jewish Christians. After Stephen’s death, believers from the early Jerusalem church scattered as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Syrian Antioch due to persecution (see Acts 8:1; 11:19). As the leader of the Jerusalem church, James wrote as their pastor to instruct and encourage his dispersed people in the face of their difficulties as aliens in a foreign land. The nature of displacement accounts for James’s references to trials and oppression, his intimate knowledge of the readers, and the authoritative nature of the letter in providing moral direction.&nbsp;</p> <h3><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Step 4 (Investigate Within the Text)</span></strong></h3> <p>Go within the text and determine its literary features. Look for context clues to help define a word. Begin by reflecting upon how the passage connects to other verses in the chapter, book, and testaments. Notice the surrounding words in the sentence and paragraph and how they affect word meaning.&nbsp;</p> <p>Parts of speech additionally shine a light on meaning. Does the word appear as a noun, adjective, verb, adverb, conjunction, etc? Consider ‘divers temptations’ in Jas 1:1. The plural adjective divers modifies and describes the plural noun temptations. When defining temptations, describe it by including the meaning of divers. Also, look for the verbs in a passage, especially commands. Unique to James, the author ordered 59 imperatives out of 108 verses and followed the commands with a purpose statement. Imperative verbs in James 1:2-4 include count (v. 2) and let (v. 4).&nbsp;</p> <h3><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Step 5 (Continuing Within the Text: Expository Dictionary and Cross Referencing)</span></strong></h3> <p>Look up the word in a Bible expository dictionary, either online or hard copy. Do not use a contemporary dictionary. Find what the word means according to authorial intent in the passage. First, determine the gloss meaning, a basic definition of one to three words in length. Note, the gloss must match the context of the verse. Then, find the full definition. Read it in more than one expository dictionary (BLB.org, BibleHub.com, and Vine’s Online). Again, make sure the full definition matches the intent and context of the sentence containing the word. Do not assume the same definition applies to two identical words in a sentence or paragraph. The context of a word changes its meaning.</p> <p>Cross-referencing also develops meaning. Locate the cross-reference verses to unwrap a word. Do not just cite it; explain how it describes the word and adds to its meaning. Select the cross-references with like meaning.</p> <div class="wp-block-group"><div class="wp-block-group__inner-container"> <h3><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Step 6 (Organize Behind and Within the Text Information and Write a Summary Definition)</span></strong></h3> </div></div> <p>Combine within and behind-the-text information and then write a final, four-sentence definition. Thoroughly check the findings to eliminate word fallacies. Look at the draft information below. While lengthy, it unwraps the word temptations showing both behind and within the text meanings. It culminates with a summary definition taking all the research into account.</p> <h3><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Step 7 (Application)</span></strong></h3> <p>Respond to questions about how the word or verse applies to the body of believers today. What is your takeaway from the study? Based on the study, how does God work in the lives of His people? Answer in three to four sentences.</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Contextual Study: Jas 1:2 (Temptation)</span></strong></h3> <h3><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Behind the Text</span></strong></h3> <p>What temptations did the scattered experience? The word ‘divers’ (Jas 1:2) describes temptations. As part of a triple alliteration (<em>peripesēte</em>, <em>poikilos</em>, <em>peirasmos</em>), the author perhaps sought to emphasize divers temptations to the listeners and highlight every kind of testing when read orally. The &#8216;when&#8217; (sometimes after) before divers temptations gives a clue that a person does not invite the temptations. In other words, when divers temptations occur, one does this particular action.</p> <h3><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Within the Text&nbsp;</span></strong></h3> <p>Upon first review, <em>Blue Letter Bible</em> notes a gloss meaning for temptation as “trial of man&#8217;s fidelity.” <em>Vine’s Dictionary</em> breaks out temptations further noting, “trials divinely permitted or sent&#8221; (Luke 22:28; Acts 20:19; Jas 1:2 ; 1 Pet 1:6 ; 4:12; StudyLight). The <em>Key Word Dictionary</em> adds “a state of trial in which God brings His people through adversity and affliction in order to encourage and prove their faith and confidence in Him” (p. 2215; cf. 1 Cor 10:13; 1 Pet 1:6-7; 2 Pet 2:9).</p> <p>Jas 1:2-4 and 1:12-15 parallel each other. While 1:2 shows how temptations (trials or testing) perfect one in their current life, verses 12-15 show temptations bring an eschatological reward of the crown of life.&nbsp;</p> <p>Since God uses temptations, it serves as a holy trial. God has control over trials in His sovereignty. A holy temptation leads to God perfecting the believer in growth for godliness. However, the believer must depend on God to endure the temptation (1 Cor 10:13).</p> <h3><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Cross References </span></strong></h3> <p><strong>Acts 5:41.</strong> In Acts 5:41, worthy means deserving as if to do a favor for them (Strongs). They rejoiced because God considered them worthy to go through a trial for His name “And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name” (Acts 5:41).</p> <p><strong>Gen 22.</strong> Genesis 22 tells the reader that God tested Abraham to give his only son as an offering. “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. 2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.”</p> <p><strong>1 Pet 1:6.</strong> In 1 Peter 1:6, it says) “you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” The phrase “You may have had to” translates as “it may have become necessary” for you to suffer trials. The verse discloses that God has a design and purpose behind a trial. </p> <p><strong>Rom 8:28.</strong> God has sovereignty over temptations. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good” (Rom 8:28). As James stated temptation in the plural form, a person may encounter one or multiple trials. The community James addresses had experienced hurt and poverty at an extreme level.</p> <h3><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Summary Definition</span></strong></h3> <p>Write a four-sentence definition that summarizes temptation’s definition using information from the investigation.</p> <ol><li>Temptation entails a trial of man’s fidelity, a divinely inspired trial of adversity and affliction that God divinely sends or allows to prove one’s faith and confidence in Him.”</li><li>Considered a holy trial over which God has sovereignty (Rom 8:28), it perfects the believer through strengthening by enduring afflictions in Christ (Jas 1:1; 1 Cor 10:13).</li><li>Rather than viewing the temptation (trial) as punishment, one rejoices from being counted as worthy to suffer for His name (Acts 5:41).</li><li>God will not tempt the believer to sin during temptation (1:13); instead, He tests to build up and perfect (1 Per 1:6; Heb 1:13), ultimately providing an eschatological reward of the crown of life to those who endure temptation (Jas 1:12).&nbsp;</li></ol> <h3><span style="color:#c40a0a;"><strong>&nbsp;</strong></span></h3> <p class="has-text-align-center">&nbsp;</p> <p class="has-text-align-center">All Nations Leadership Institute, All Right Reserved, 2021</p> <p>Jan Paron, PhD</p> <p>June 15, 2021</p> <p>For information about All Nations Leadership Institute classes see <a href="http://www.allnationsleadershipinstitute.com" rel="nofollow">http://www.allnationsleadershipinstitute.com</a></p> Black Mental Health Matters https://thewitnessbcc.com/black-mental-health-matters/ The Witness urn:uuid:e8bb4da5-4bf9-21f2-5a1b-9521c2710fab Thu, 10 Jun 2021 06:00:00 -0500 In November 2020, the American Psychological Association reported that depression and anxiety were at an all-time high last year because [&#8230;] Cultural Reading of Dinah: Gn 34:1-31 https://specs12.wordpress.com/2021/06/09/cultural-reading-of-dinah-gn-341-31/ perSpectives 12 urn:uuid:f71a4733-64ac-99d7-2a4f-38f693b257d3 Wed, 09 Jun 2021 03:13:34 -0500 Set in Shalem, a city of Shechem in Canaan, the Gn 34:1-31 pericope describes in third person the defilement of &#8230;<p><a href="https://specs12.wordpress.com/2021/06/09/cultural-reading-of-dinah-gn-341-31/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a></p> <p>Set in Shalem, a city of Shechem in Canaan, the Gn 34:1-31 pericope describes in third person the defilement of Jacob’s daughter Dinah and subsequent events. A Hivite named Shechem, defiled Dinah when she visited area women (34:2). Upon Shechem’s request to marry her, his father Hamor approached Jacob with a proposition of land, wives, and trade (vv. 3-4, 6, 9-10). However, Jacob’s sons requested all the city’s men first undergo circumcision (vv. 14-15), which Hamor and his son found favorable (v. 18). The sons did so deceitfully, though, since Shechem defiled Dinah (v. 13). Ultimately, two of Jacob’s sons slew all the city males weakened from circumcision, took Dinah, spoiled the town, and seized the city’s wealth along with the murdered men’s wives and children (vv. 25-29). As the passage unfolds, it weaves in themes of gender, unspoken voice, and honor to the story events and actors.</p> <p><span id="more-5384"></span></p> <p style="text-align:center;"><img loading="lazy" data-attachment-id="5391" data-permalink="https://specs12.wordpress.com/2021/06/09/cultural-reading-of-dinah-gn-341-31/baabedbc-ec7c-4f09-acb3-1b2ab6f1063e-e1599791704353/" data-orig-file="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/baabedbc-ec7c-4f09-acb3-1b2ab6f1063e-e1599791704353.jpeg" data-orig-size="3449,2832" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;1&quot;}" data-image-title="baabedbc-ec7c-4f09-acb3-1b2ab6f1063e-e1599791704353" data-image-description="" data-medium-file="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/baabedbc-ec7c-4f09-acb3-1b2ab6f1063e-e1599791704353.jpeg?w=300" data-large-file="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/baabedbc-ec7c-4f09-acb3-1b2ab6f1063e-e1599791704353.jpeg?w=529" class="alignnone wp-image-5391" src="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/baabedbc-ec7c-4f09-acb3-1b2ab6f1063e-e1599791704353.jpeg" alt="baabedbc-ec7c-4f09-acb3-1b2ab6f1063e-e1599791704353" width="548" height="450" srcset="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/baabedbc-ec7c-4f09-acb3-1b2ab6f1063e-e1599791704353.jpeg?w=548&amp;h=450 548w, https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/baabedbc-ec7c-4f09-acb3-1b2ab6f1063e-e1599791704353.jpeg?w=1096&amp;h=900 1096w, https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/baabedbc-ec7c-4f09-acb3-1b2ab6f1063e-e1599791704353.jpeg?w=150&amp;h=123 150w, https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/baabedbc-ec7c-4f09-acb3-1b2ab6f1063e-e1599791704353.jpeg?w=300&amp;h=246 300w, https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/baabedbc-ec7c-4f09-acb3-1b2ab6f1063e-e1599791704353.jpeg?w=768&amp;h=631 768w, https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/baabedbc-ec7c-4f09-acb3-1b2ab6f1063e-e1599791704353.jpeg?w=1024&amp;h=841 1024w" sizes="(max-width: 548px) 100vw, 548px" /></p> <p style="text-align:center;">(From the Red Tent)</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Gender Distinctions</span></h3> <p>As if to underscore gender distinctions, the passage opens describing Dinah as the “daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob&#8221; (v.1 King James Version), as opposed to the defiler Shechem “the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country” (v. 2). This comparison contrasts kinship naming systems. Being birthed to the unfavored wife Leah, possibly influenced the narrative’s author to describe Dinah’s descent in matrilineage fashion (Gn 29:25-26), as opposed to Shechem in a patrilineage. In yet another instance of differentiating genders, Jacob reacted to the news of Dinah’s defilement silently, holding his peace until his sons arrived (34:5). However, when Jacob heard of a beast devouring Joseph, it led him to mourn several days (37:34). Further, Jacob did not respond to Hamor’s bride price; instead, Dinah’s brothers took the lead in deciding her future (34:13). This action again highlighted gender inequalities.</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Unspoken Voices</span></h3> <p>In addition to gender differences, the pericope omits the female voice. The passage overlooks any mention of Dinah in the decision-making process upon her dishonoring. She remains in its background as an inactive participant, albeit the receiver of Shechem&#8217;s sexual actions. Likewise, it also leaves out her mother, Leah. Without the inclusion of female viewpoints, especially Dinah, how can the reader perceive Shechem’s conduct in verse two? Rape or consensual sex? Consequently, the reader must look to textual evidence when Shechem “saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her&#8221; (v. 2). All verbs conjugate with a&nbsp;<em>waw&nbsp;</em>construction in Hebrew (e.g., “and defiled,” transliterated as&nbsp;<em>way‘annehā</em>). Although not apparent fully in English, the word ‘and’ in this verse separates each action, possibly serving multiple functions. Genesis uses the ‘verb-plus-and’ to highlight event sequences throughout the creation story. That might hold true in this account, too. However, the construction also may indicate cause and effect between each event. Further, the waw structure might accentuate the domination and power of Shechem’s moral code toward women (v. 2). Moreover, when listening to verse two in Hebrew read slowly, the force of his actions stands out to the listener. It leads the reader to ponder what ‘defile’ means. Bible versions vary in defining it. The New American Standard Version translates it as “rape,” the English Revised Version uses “humbled her” (afflicted), the New Revised Standard states “lay with her by force,” while the Aramaic Bible Version says “disgraced her” (v. 2). Based on the translations, it appears defile’s meaning could reflect all translations. Yet, if Moses wrote Genesis as traditionally believed, although an inspired author, his gender and Ancient Near East orientations may influence how he conveys the narrative from his cultural and social locations.</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Honor and Shame</span><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color"></span></h3> <p>Despite Dinah playing no overt role in the narrative, it reveals the defilement led her brothers to perceive family disgrace because Shechem did a “thing ought not to be done” (v. 7d KJV). The defilement in their eyes dealt with their sister as a harlot (v. 31). Ultimately, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers through Leah, took matters into their own hands with blood atonement. They slaughtered the Hivite men at their weakest after circumcision, spoiled the city, and took all its wealth, women, and children (vv. 25-29). Did they remedy Dinah’s honor or have a broader intent for justification? Quite possibly, they disapproved of marriage with the outsider Hivite and his extended offer of intermarriage, leading the Hivites and Hebrews to “become one people” (v.16b). By killing the defiler Shechem, it prevented any Canaanite heirs from entering the Abrahamic lineage through Dinah. By extension, murdering all the Hivite men ethnically and religiously cleansed the region for any future social intercourse between the tribes. Their redress may have had economic implications in sharing their wealth and land with the Hivites apart from their ancestral family. Hamor referred to the financial benefits from marriage to include their cattle, substance, and beasts (v. 23).</p> <p>This narrative demonstrates how gender, voice, and honor influenced Jacobian family decisions. As a by-product of establishing family honor, the sons may have shamed Jacob in his relationship with neighboring Canaanites and Perizzites. The KJV notes Jacob as saying their actions made him stink among the land inhabitants, or as the NASB states, making him repulsive (v. 30). They also shamed the God of Israel by abusing circumcision. God’s intent did not include them bartering for tribal inclusion; instead, He used it as a sign for an everlasting covenant with Abraham and His descendants, confirming it with Jacob (17:13; 28:13-15). Finally, the brothers’ purpose of bringing honor to their family, in turn, shamed the Hivite wives and children of the slain men. What worth did they have after capture? The story never mentions what happened to them after the brothers seized them.</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Close</span></h3> <p>If Shechem raped Dinah, did it justify Simeon and Levi raping, so to speak, the Hivites and their city? While God did not make known His voice in the narrative, nor Jacob or his sons seek it; His silence cannot equate to approval. How can the reader perceive God not revealing Himself amid humanity’s poor decisions? While the text gives no indication of time between chapters 34 and 35, conceivably, God may have used the tragedy in this narrative as a launch to move Jacob to Bethel, renaming him Israel and reaffirming His covenant with Abraham and Isaac (35:10-12). Despite the affairs at Shechem, God blessed Jacob (35:9). Nonetheless, how can believers in Christ avoid the same moral iniquities when reacting in the absence of God&#8217;s voice? In what ways can the faith community extend restorative practices to the powerless?</p> <p>Jan Paron, PhD</p> <p>June 9, 2021</p> Redemption at the Gate: Ruth 4:1-12 https://specs12.wordpress.com/2021/06/03/redemption-at-the-gate-ruth-41-12/ perSpectives 12 urn:uuid:087b0b33-528b-2939-7da0-0f7d77949529 Thu, 03 Jun 2021 17:21:59 -0500 The book of Ruth, a historical work of the narrative genre, occurred during the era of Judges (Ru 1:1). It &#8230;<p><a href="https://specs12.wordpress.com/2021/06/03/redemption-at-the-gate-ruth-41-12/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a></p> <p>The book of Ruth, a historical work of the narrative genre, occurred during the era of Judges (Ru 1:1). It opened in Moab, where Naomi sojourned from Bethlehem due to famine. She and her two Moabite daughters-in-law survived the death of their husbands while there (1:5). Upon hearing the Lord visited His people and gave them bread, Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem (vv. 6-7). While the one daughter-in-law Orpah left for her mother’s house to find rest and a husband upon Naomi’s advice, Ruth cleaved to her mother-in-law and made Elohim her God (Gn 1:1, Ru 1:16-17). Naomi arrived in Bethlehem with Ruth but felt the Lord dealt bitterly with her, bringing her home empty without a husband and sons (1:20-21). However, subsequent events demonstrated the Lord’s redemption, making Naomi full again through Boaz.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" data-attachment-id="5380" data-permalink="https://specs12.wordpress.com/2021/06/03/redemption-at-the-gate-ruth-41-12/untitled_artwork/" data-orig-file="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/untitled_artwork.png" data-orig-size="320,320" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;0&quot;}" data-image-title="Untitled_Artwork" data-image-description="" data-medium-file="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/untitled_artwork.png?w=300" data-large-file="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/untitled_artwork.png?w=320" class="alignnone size-full wp-image-5380 aligncenter" src="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/untitled_artwork.png" alt="Untitled_Artwork" width="320" height="320" srcset="https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/untitled_artwork.png 320w, https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/untitled_artwork.png?w=150&amp;h=150 150w, https://specs12.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/untitled_artwork.png?w=300&amp;h=300 300w" sizes="(max-width: 320px) 100vw, 320px" /></p> <p style="text-align:center;">Jan Paron, 2021</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Background</span></strong></h3> <p>In what one might call the story&#8217;s peak, Ru 4:1-12 opened with Boaz at the city gate, seeking Naomi&#8217;s nearer relative to rescue her from the shame of loss. The discourse announced Boaz&#8217;s entrance with the word then, signaling a transition from the previous chapter: &#8220;for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day&#8221; (3:18b KJV). The discourse focused on Boaz, the central character, regarding what he said (4:1-5, 9) and did (vv. 1-2, 4-5, 9-10) to redeem Naomi and Ruth&#8217;s future. Here, Boaz would seek the elders as witnesses to the kinsman-redeemer covenanted for Naomi&#8217;s inheritance.</p> <p>In ancient Israel and Judah, the city gate played a critical function in settling community affairs. Its process reflected a vertical social order governed by a patriarchal societal norm. Thus, males played the dominant role, frequently determining a woman’s fate. Occasionally, a bloody outcome resulted in surrounding events such as in Gn 34:20-25, the first mention of a gate matter involving female honor and shame. While Boaz’s business concerned a more peaceful outcome for Naomi and Ruth, they could not control the decision from their social location. The women had much at stake, impoverished from the loss of their husbands and without an heir.</p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Redemption</span></strong></h3> <p></p> <p>For Boaz to take on the role of kinsman redeemer (3:13), it required community witness. Characteristic to a collectivist culture, he settled the matter among the people. Boaz initiated the act at the gate (v.1) and assembled ten elders and the nearer kinsman. Since the nearer would not accept the land with the provision to marry Ruth the Moabite as well, he signified his intentions by removing his shoe similar to levirate marriage tradition (Deut 25:5-10). Instead, Boaz took up the role. His redemption of Naomi and Ruth concluded with “all the people that were in the gate” (v.11) serving as witnesses. The text highlighted Boaz naming all the people and elders present as witnesses (v. 10), and they, in turn, repeating “We are witnesses” (v.11a).</p> <p>The focal point occurred when Boaz announced he bought all that belonged to Elimelech, Chilion, and Mahlon from Naomi (4:9), redeeming the land. Further, he acquired Ruth the Moabitess as his wife (v.10b). Boaz’s climactic statement reminds the reader of God’s providential hand resolving Naomi and Ruth’s need for redemption, as well as echoes the types therein that shadow salvation for humankind. As if to draw attention to the redemptive act, the discourse repeated the word redeem eight times in Ru 4:4-6.</p> <p>Just as Boaz restored Naomi and Ruth in covenant at the gate, Jesus’ death on the cross brought a greater redemption to fallen humanity outside the gate (Heb 13:12) in the new covenant. The gate decision resulted in a royal heir descending from the lineage of Boaz starting from Pharez (Mt 1:1-25, cf. 1 Chron 2:4-13, Ru 4:11-12). The lineage also demonstrated a transformative progression from Rahab as redeemed and her life transformed to Ruth also transformed as a virtuous woman elevated in status (3:12).</p> <p></p> <h3 class="has-text-align-center"><strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">Conclusion: God’s Grace and Mercy</span></strong></h3> <p>The story supports Judges in which &#8220;everyone did what was right in his own eyes&#8221; because Israel had no king (Judg 17:6; 18:1; 19:1). The Deuteronomic Code lay central to God&#8217;s covenant with Israel, the governing law upon living in the land of promise. Naomi&#8217;s husband, Elimelech, sojourned to Moab either temporarily or permanently. Further, his two sons married Moabite women. Deuteronomy 7:1-3 prohibited Israel from mingling with or marrying Canaanites. God&#8217;s consequences for breaking covenant historically resulted in judgment. It signaled a lack of faith in Yahweh providing for His people in the land of milk and honey by dwelling in a country that oppressed Israel.</p> <p>Nevertheless, God lifted the famine from Bethlehem, which drew Naomi back to the Promised Land. There, He showed grace and mercy to Naomi and her Gentile daughter-in-law, restoring what Naomi lost and giving her provisions and an heir. Naomi found her redeemer at the gate (4:14-15). The people at the gate saw a seed the Lord would give to build the house of Israel (vv. 11-12). Through redemption at the gate came the lineage that would birth King David (vv. 22) and in time fulfill the begetting of the Redeemer for all creation.</p> <p>Jan Paron, PhD</p> <p>6-3-21</p> Non-Toxic Masculinity: A Fresh Start https://thewitnessbcc.com/non-toxic-masculinity-a-fresh-start/ The Witness urn:uuid:a1e48d6b-f6d0-d1a8-c5f2-e4c85fe7e085 Thu, 03 Jun 2021 06:00:00 -0500 “Meditate and learn to be alone without being lonely&#8230;Learn to be quiet enough to hear the sound of the genuine [&#8230;]