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Archive for March, 2010

A Lenten Sermon
Providence Presbyterian Church
February 10, 2002
Text: John 18:28-40

by Pastor Jeffrey J. Meyers

With a little help this morning, I think you will be able see from the way this story is written, from the details that John has selected, what the Holy Spirit wants us to think about.

We are too used to reading the Gospels stories of Jesus arrest, trial,  condemnation, and death from a devotional perspective and so miss a lot of what’s going on.   We actually have a difficult time trying to figure out the meaning of the details of the story.  Of course, we will defend the historicity of the details of the story against unbelieving academics and liberal churchman.  But why these details? Why any details at all?

John, of course, has already wonderfully summarized things in chapter 1 and 3.  “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world” and “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.”  But what does God’s provision of a lamb for the sins of the world have to do with this long story of what happens to Jesus the night before he dies?  What does God loving the world have to do with the machinations and conspiracies of Judas, the High Priests, Pilate, and the Jewish crowds?  A great deal, truly, but we will have to learn to read them a bit differently.

You see, here in the narrative of Jesus’ arrest and trial and condemnation we have a somewhat surprising perspective—it does not contradict or compete with the other apostolic explanations of Jesus’ death, rather, it complements and enriches them. Remember, the meaning of death of Jesus is far richer than we are often used to acknowledging. (more…)

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Free Jordan Books and Essays

The Biblical Horizons website offers a number of James B. Jordan’s books and essays as free PDF downloads. The latest addition is his “Rebellion, Tyranny, and Dominion in the Book of Genesis.” You can find this essay and others here.

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What follows is a debate that took place on my Facebook page last October (2009). It really shouldn’t be allowed to slip down the wormhole of past FB posts. It’s worth reviewing. Perhaps my RC sparring partner, Bryan Cross, will want to add something to this.

It began with me posting a quotation from Martin Luther on enforced priestly celibacy:

. . . the pope has as little power to give this command as he has to forbid eating, drinking, the natural processes. . . No one, therefore, is duty bound to keep this commandment, and the pope is responsible for all the sins that are committed against this ordinance, for all the souls lost thereby, and for all the consciences thereby confused and tortured (Plass, What Luther Says, p. 888).

That was the catalyst for the following debate. (The reader should know that my FB rules forbid posting links to Roman Catholic propaganda sites in comments. That will explain a few lacunae in the flow of the argument.)

1. Kevin Branson: The Church has deemed it best that her ministers be single, and celibate, as Paul deemed it best. At present, the Church therefore requires a vow of celibacy from priests. Someday, that could change, and in certain situations exceptions are made even now, but ordinarily, them’s the rules. Nobody puts a gun to a priest’s head and forces them to take a vow of celibacy, nor did anyone force Luther to do so. It was his own choice, as it was his own choice to break his vow of celibacy.

2. Shawn Honey: Celibacy was chosen by Paul and he recommended it to others; it was not bound upon him from the outside, nor did he bind others to it. Peter chose to marry as did other Apostles and, presumably, countless elders (“husband of one wife…”). I think the point pertains to whether a church has the right to bind the consciences of its ministers in a way that Scripture seems to speak against.

3. Craig Lawrence Brann: True as Mr. Branson’s points are, it remains that the Apostle Paul had good reason for suggesting that men facing an apocolypse not be wed and likewise that women not become pregnant—this counsel was not at all timeless or abstract and it really is one of the roman church’s silliest Order’s to make apology for. Wasn’t it the same Apostle who called forbidding marriage a, ‘doctrine of demons.’ Hardly a class of teaching that ought only be obtained by the clergy!

4. Jeff Meyers: Good points, Sean. Remember, too, that the 1 Tim 3 passage (“husband of one wife”) is about the qualifications for “bishop” (episkopos).

5. Jeff Meyers: Craig, right on. Enforced celibacy for pastors is demonic, as Paul says.
(more…)

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