Archive for the 'Sean’s Articles' Category

This year my wife and I decided to celebrate Hanukkah with our family. We enjoyed it immensely and found it to be entirely compatible with biblical Christianity. My son Noah, asked for a couple of nights afterward if we could do Hanukkah that night, but we had to explain to him that it only lasts for eight days. Maybe you would like to celebrate it next year.

Yesterday, at school we were discussing the work of William Carey who wrote a persuasive piece designed to inspire his fellow Baptists to send out and support missionaries in 1792 called An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens. His unrelenting desire to save the lost drove him to study languages incessantly. He was a shoemaker by trade who taught himself Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Dutch, and French. Eventually he moved to India with his family and some others to spread the gospel there. He translated the Bible into Bengali and Sanskrit and distributed it among the people. Below is a quotation that I found challenging. Part of his treatise included a series of tables listing the population of each known country in the world along with religious affiliation. He estimated that out of the 731 million people in the world 420 million were still in “pagan darkness.” Looking at statistics today, there are roughly two billion Christians out of 6.5 billion people. Are Carey’s words any less relevant today than when he penned them more than two centuries ago?

In Church History class I had to read Jerome’s twenty-second letter written to Eustochium (a wealthy Christian living in Rome). Most of the letter contains practical advice on how to remain celibate even while living within society. In this letter, which is very long, he relates an incredible story about his own life.

He had been really struggling to prefer the Scriptures over secular literature. He had a vision in which God condemned him as a follower of Cicero rather than of Christ. This scared Jerome straight and he never read worldly books again. (However, other early Christians, such as Augustine, believed that secular books could be read so long as one exercised discernment.) Here is Jerome’s first-hand account. I wonder what you make of it.

1Thes 5.22 [KJV]
Abstain from all appearance of evil.

It is amazing how one little word can change a meaning so much. I bet a lot of puritanical church rules were generated by a concern to avoid even the “appearance” of evil. Matthew Henry’s commentary (from 1706) says:

We should therefore abstain from evil, and all appearances of evil, from sin, and that which looks like sin, leads to it, and borders upon it. He who is not shy of the appearances of sin, who shuns not the occasions of sin, and who avoids not the temptations and approaches to sin, will not long abstain from the actual commission of sin.

Introductory Remarks

When we first started kingdomready.org we developed a static website which combined ministry related content with web resources primarily focused on evangelism. Our motto was and continue to be “helping people to get ready for the kingdom.” However, once people had sufficiently explored the website (usually after about a week) we noticed that for many there was not a need or desire to continue visiting the site (other than once a week to download the Sunday sermon or watch the web-cast). At this point I asked JohnnyO what we could do to increase traffic and bring more people in. He suggested that what people are looking for is not merely static content but a changing website where people could interact through conversation. We discussed the various ways that this was done (message boards, guest books, blogs, podcasts, etc.) and decided that the mechanism that best suited our needs was to have a blog. The original conception was simple: we wanted to have a section of kingdomready that was alive and changing on a regular basis. It was (and still is) our desire to have a new blog post every other day. Beyond this, we did not really have guidelines in place for what the blog posts should contain.

eschatology = related to the end of the age (i.e. kingdom of God, return of Christ, resurrection, etc.)

I thought the following quote summarized a good way of thinking about ethics in light of the kingdom.

Yet the existence of this strong tradition of intensified Jewish ethics may indicate the preresurrection source of a realized eschatology in Jesus’ own preaching. Why would Jesus make such demands of his followers? Why would they listen to him? Because, as authoritative spokesman of the Kingdom, Jesus created around himself a community of those who would live, prolepticly, according to the “new” Torah written upon their hearts. the Torah according to which Israel would live when the Kingdom came: [Paula Fredriksen, From Jesus to Christ (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000)]

Prayer of Examen

Monday was orientation for me (and JohnO) at Boston University. It was a long day starting at 8:30 am and not ending until 4:30 pm. At the end of the day one of the facilitators led us in the prayer of examen. This prayer was made popular by Ignatius of Loyola (the founder of the Jesuits in the 16th century). The prayer of examen is simply a way of reviewing your day and offering God thanks, confession, or petitions as you feel led. I had first come across this prayer technique when I went to Rob Bell’s impressive website (Rob Bell is the pastor of a large church in Grand Rapids, MI, called Mars Hill). Here is a link to the description that he put together. For the upcoming Royal Family Reunion I’ll be leading a workshop called prayer and meditation during which I will be introducing people to this particular prayer along with some others. In light of that I recently put together the following instructions:

Dr. Ben Witherington III (BW3) is a prominent evangelical scholar who serves as the Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary. He has written over thirty books, has done many radio interviews, and has appeared on quite a few mainstream TV shows as an expert on matters related to the New Testament. Furthermore, Dr. Witherington frequently writes on his blog and is often among the first to respond when challenges to Christianity emerge (i.e. the Talpiot tomb, the DaVinci Code, books by Ehrman, etc.).

Back in 2004 when Victor and I were at the Atlanta Bible College we developed the tract Did Jesus Think He Was God?. Hundreds of this tract have been printed and handed out over the last five years. Recently, Matt Elton, a fellow Christian brother who is on his way to attend Messiah College to study videography in the fall, emailed me to let me know that a friend of his recently published a critique of our tract on Scribd.com. Though I do not respond to every challenge that comes through email, I thought it would be helpful to respond to Matt’s friend. This is because his friend is a “Jesus Only” or “Oneness” believer and we have not interacted much with this viewpoint on KingdomReady.

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