Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Knowledge or Arrogance

Many Christians wish they knew a little bit of Greek or Hebrew. When the Scriptures are read in their original languages a deeper meaning comes through. In May I begin my studies of Greek and let me tell you I am excited. I started doing some work to get ready and I bought a book by William Mounce called "Greek for the Rest of Us". In the book Mounce teaches the very basics of Greek so that someone can then use many of the tools available to bring greater depth to their studies. Some of these tools include lexicons, dictionaries, interliner New Testaments, and commentaries. I have just started the book but in the preface he says some very interesting things.

"There are of course, many dangers in relying on tools rather than actually knowing Greek. My fear is that people will think they actually know Greek even though they only know how to use the tools. Alexander Pope once said, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I saw that it is a little bit of arrogance that is dangerous."

I don't think I will ever be a Greek scholar, but I pray that God will keep me humble as I study.

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves." Philippians 2:3

Thursday, April 14, 2005

I thought the M was for McDonald's OR deciphering the DiVinci Code

. . .And I thought that the M outlined in the body of Christ and the disciple sitting to His right in DiVinci's Last Supper stood for McDonald's. After all, the Last Supper was about service as was the life of Christ. That being said, the only corporation on earth that could even begin to claim numbers served that come close to Jesus would be - McDonald's. Now, please, please, please do not take this to be sacrilegious nor blasphemous. I realize that that is an absolutely ridiculous then to even mention in passing. Yet, as ridiculous as it sounds, it is not much more outlandish than the hypothesis of the DiVinci Code itself.

Which leads me to ask, Did you see NBC's Night Line last week or the History channels story last night covering the DiVinci Code? If you missed them and have not read the book you have no clue as to my introductory paragraph; and you may need to either forgive me and ignore it or you may want to find a way to see them, or at least get the transcripts, as both shows were quite well done.

Of course, the mystery in the book centers around DiVinci's painting of the Last Supper. The figure to the right of Christ appears rather feminine. There is no chalice. Could there be a secret, that the one to the right is actually Mary Magdalene? The outline of her figure and Jesus' reveals the letter M and unfolds the secret for marriage and the revelation that she is the chalice of Christ. That is how the story goes in the DiVinci Code. It is an intriguing and fun read. Apparently however, far too many have taken it as a historical novel rather than a fictional tale. To my surprise Night Line and the History Channel did a much much better job than I could have ever imagined in pointing out the book is a fictional tale and that the Gospel's are historical truth. So, while many of us on my side of the isle accuse much media of having an unfavorable bias toward any and everything Biblical, I must give credit where credit is due: Night Line the other night was in line with the History Channel last night, and more importantly they were both in line with history itself.

A history that clearly proclaims that "The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mk. 10:45

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Thou Shall Not. . .Thou Shall Not Me!

The "posting and or displaying" of the Ten Commandments on federal buildings, such as state capitals or court houses, has become the source of much debate. This debate has become one over the issue of the separation of church and state. For a good article on this see the most recent issue of Lutheran Witness.

While some would deny this, the truth is that the vast majority on both sides of the debate affirm the article of the separation of church and state. I am a conservative Christian pastor and I can think of no one who has ever told me that they would like to see public schools in charge of confirmation - that is instruction in the faith, the state mandating citizens to hold a certain faith or any faith, or the Federal Government putting Luther's seal, for example, on its currency or property.

I know many, I am one, who support the displaying of the Ten Commandments and oppose the "whitewashing" of our monuments, yet no one I know would say that means all citizens must be required to trust in the God who spoke to Moses nor attend worship weekly lest they be prosecuted in order to keep the first and third command.

Which makes me wonder, how much of the debate is really about the separation of church and state and how much of it is about separating ourselves from any standard. True, the debate over the separation of church and state is important, it is worthy, it is even enjoyable and I DO NOT intend to minimize it with this post. I just want to recognize another reality at play here, a sad reality, a dangerous reality, but a reality none the less, there are many who simply believe that there is only ONE command, "Thou Shall Not. . . Thou Shall Not Me!"

Sunday, April 10, 2005

First Grade Sunday School

I had the chance to teach first grade Sunday School today. What a challenge for me. I have spent most of my adult life teaching adolescents, teen-agers, and adults, but it was great to see the enthusiasm of first graders. I was teaching the first week of our annual "First Bible" class. We present Bibles to the first graders and we spend some time with them walking them through how to use them and highlighting some of the big stories (literally, think 15 first graders with yellow highlighters, ooohhh the potential for danger) . The highlight (no pun intended) of the class came when I was showing the students a Hebrew Bible when one of them said, "That looks like Spanish!" Oh the joy of youth! It made my day. I told him I though it looked a bit like Chinese to me and he agreed. We also spent some time learning what the big and little numbers are for and how to find the passages. It was a fantastic morning.

I think it is great to get the Word into the hands of our children. We have to expose them to its life giving message at an early age and lead them through how to use it. I am grateful to Bethany Lutheran Church for this program. If you know of anyone who does not have a Bible, I would encourage you to go out and buy one and show them how to use it. Let me know if you need any help.

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