Who rewrites the Bible? Probably we all do!

Openoureyeslord welcomes Guest writer, Sam Kautzmann, here with his wife Katie

“We can’t interpret the Bible according to our own personal taste! Or twist it to conform with today’s culture! Or invent our own meaning!” Most of us evangelicals would say Amen. And we all could list Those People Out There who rewrite the Bible to fit their own ideas of truth.

And then we go on to commit the very same mistake. Bible rewriting is a universal disease, not a quarantined outbreak.

Let’s use a well-known verse as our test subject:

“Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:15–17

So, we need to be child-like. What does Jesus mean? Should we be Trusting? Happy? Intelligent?

Below are quotes from Google’s top four results of the search, “Bible how to receive like a child”:

(1) the key characteristic of children is humility; (2) they want to learn everything they can about God; (3) they are completely vulnerable and dependent; (4) children are straightforward! And of course people will add, they are trusting! Oh, and they have a sense of wonder! Look a cute story! Have you seen my baby pictures?

If you ask an adult class, you’re liable to have similar results: they may be ‘spiritualized’ humble! Hopeful! Trusting! Innocent! Needy! ‘Not my kids!’ may be shouted (more…)

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Lady Apostle Lands in Jail!

If I asked you “Who were the martyrs of the early church?” you would, quite properly, begin with Stephen in Acts 7; James in Acts 12; and then go on to Peter and Paul.

“Brave, godly men were early martyrs” = a right answer

But not a complete answer.

Why not? Because we all, simply by being human, look at history through our own set of lenses. Because of such “cognitive bias,” the data that confirm our expectations stand out in bold print, and the data that don’t fit into our grid fade into the background. To answer our question, may I suggest that:

“Brave, godly men and women were the early martyrs of the church” = a better answer

Christian women were singled out for persecution in a way that their Jewish and Gentile contemporaries were not.

lady-martyr

Let us first honor those Jewish women who were victims of (more…)

Elisabeth Elliot – to what extent was she defined by her sex?

Elisabeth Elliot was a spokesperson for a definite view of gender. Her book Let Me Be a Woman (1976) was a traditionalist – some would say “complementarian” – blueprint for women in the home: assertive women are missing out on God’s plan and divine joy, and they should not seek to be equal to men, beyond the fact that we are all sinners in need of God’s grace. “Why subject women to purely masculine criteria? Women can and ought to be judged by the criteria of femininity, for it is in their femininity that they participate in the human race.” I’m summarizing of course, and leaving a lot out, but that is much of her point.

On the other hand: Elisabeth Elliot also demonstrated by her actions, words, writings, that a woman in Christ can be every much the mighty warrior that a man in Christ can be; that the Holy Spirit has been poured out on both “sons and daughters”, leading us to rethink what is men’s and women’s work; that a woman can take a degree in Greek and work cross-linguistically (in Spanish, Quechua – she co-authored a Bible translation – and Waorani), and cross-culturally both without a husband (she was married to Jim Elliott after they had both gone to Ecuador as single missionaries), with a husband, as a widow and single mother; that a woman can in our collective memory outshine three husbands – even the martyred first one – in her faithful and determined labor.

On the back cover of her book for men, The Mark of a Man, it reads: “The world cries for men who are strong: strong in conviction, strong to lead, to stand, to suffer…glad to shoulder the burden of manliness.”

No argument here, that we need strong, godly men. But Elisabeth Elliot showed that you could swap out “men” for “women” in that blurb, and in the New Covenant it makes perfect sense for the sisters as well. Not feminism; not pc; just the gospel.

Many Christian women have been blessed by her teachings about the woman’s role, but I hope we can also – principally – remember her as a model to all women and men to take God’s call seriously. This is how I will remember her and try to honor her memory.

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Elisabeth Elliot – 1926-2015

The Proverbs 31 Woman: Have we made her something she was never meant to be?

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.” (Prov. 31:10 KJV) J1746

Is it ever safe – or sane? – for a man to meddle in a passage beloved by Christian women? Am I grabbing hold of a live wire? For I hear a lot of sisters referring to Proverbs 31:10-31 as the pattern they want to follow. Google “Proverbs 31 woman” and there will be a landslide of hits, book ads, even “Proverbs 31 Ministries.” People seem completely intimidated by “Miss/Mrs./Ms. Perfect” in Proverbs 31, for example: “She was someone who had it all together. She actually enjoyed cooking and cleaning. She raised flawless children who never had outbursts. She never had issues with her friends. She stayed balanced with her finances. And she never had hormonal responses with her husband.” [1] Others reported that it took them a long time to get up the nerve even to open and read Proverbs 31! (more…)

What Would a Mother Do? [Studies in Thessalonians]

mom2013(please feel free to use this for a sermon on Mother’s Day, adding in stories of mothers you know)

Let’s take a stroll past the Mother’s Day card rack:

For Mother
For Mother, Sentimental
For Mother, Loving
For Mother, Humorous (that category is potentially hazardous)
For Mother, Respectful (these seem to be very carefully worded)
For Mother with a recorded message on digital chip.

Then in an effort to sell more cards, we run across a section: “for someone who is like a mother to me.” It’s a great idea: there are literal mothers, then there is a whole world of aunts, grandmothers, cousins, in-laws, dear friends, mentors, an army of women. (more…)

Studies in Thessalonians series

These posts are based on my commentary on 1-2 Thessalonians, available from Zondervan Publishing.

1 Corinthians and Thessalonians: My New Commentaries now available!

The review of my commentary in the international Review of Biblical Literature: http://www.bookreviews.org/pdf/8733_9615.pdf

What books have I used to write a commentary on 1-2 Thessalonians? [Studies in 1 Thessalonians]

What Would a Mother Do? [Studies in Thessalonians]

1 Thess 4:17 – “meet the Lord in the air” in the original Greek

The “Day of the Lord” in Paul’s Letters: what does it say about Jesus?

The Critical Text and the Textus Receptus in 2 Thessalonians [Studies in Thessalonians]

What comes before the Day of the Lord: the final “apostasy” or the “departure” of the church? [Studies in Thessalonians]

Were Thessalonians “meddling in divine matters”? 2 Thess 3:11 [Studies in Thessalonians]

How to write a commentary when your library is 2000 miles away

Published in: on May 2, 2013 at 2:35 pm  Comments (11)  
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1 Corinthians commentary, available from Logos!

Announcement! The English version of my 1 Corinthians commentary is now available from Logos.com; it is fully integrated with the Logos system. Only $19.95. Or you can download a pdf version for free from this blog! (https://openoureyeslord.com/2012/05/21/free-commentary-on-1-corinthians-2/)

What does agape mean?
What are the spiritual gifts?
Should women wear veils to church? Or remain absolutely silent?
What about divorce?
Do we exist as spirits forever?
Paul was a missionary – how did he know where to go?

These issues and many more!

https://www.logos.com/product/24079/first-corinthians-an-exegetical-pastoral-commentary

Published in: on February 28, 2013 at 1:51 pm  Comments (3)  
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Advice for a teenaged young man

mf6HAyEA few weeks ago, a young Christian friend of mine turned 13. His mom asked some of us to write out words of counsel for him. Here are things I wish someone had told me at age 13, given in no particular order and no with aim to be comprehensive:

  • At this stage, your brain is keyed to memorize things easily. It’s the best time of your life when you should memorize portions of the Bible. Believe me, it gets harder with every passing year.
  • You are also at an age when you can study the Bible for yourself. I read the Bible through for the first time when I was 14, and was pleased to see how much of it I could understand.
  • Always tell the truth, to people and to God, even about trivial matters. Always. Lying is for cowards and is one of the most corrosive practices in your relationship with God.
  • Choose your friends wisely. Don’t run with the cool people, run with the good ones.
  • Whatever bad habits you develop now will follow you the rest of your life (I’m thinking particularly of foul language, but the rule applies across the board). Even if you gain victory of them later on, they will never disappear completely, so I advise you to avoid them in the first place.
  • Treat women with kindness and respect, beginning with your mother and sisters.
  • Don’t just complain about problems, be a person who seeks positive solutions.
  • Extend your education, both formal and informal, as far as you possibly can. Read excellent books.
  • Seek out people of good Christian character and base your lifestyle on what you see in them.
  • Don’t be one of those Christians who just receives blessings; always keep an eye open to help other people in need.
  • When you are in a group, look around to see who is lonely; make them feel befriended.
  • Finally: You are at the stage when you can fully develop your own relationship with God, and not just relate to him through the church or through your parents. Go to him directly and build a good strong bond.

Happy 13th birthday! Gary

1 Corinthians and Thessalonians: My New Commentaries now available!

zecnt-cover.jpg

The English version of my Thessalonian commentary is available from Amazon! http://www.amazon.com/Thessalonians-Zondervan-Exegetical-Commentary-Testament/dp/0310243963/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1343856671&sr=8-1&keywords=shogren

It is also available as a book on Logos.

And the English version of my 1 Corinthians is available on Logos software – http://www.logos.com/product/24079/first-corinthians-an-exegetical-pastoral-commentary

Spanish versions to come in the future!

Blessings! Gary

Published in: on August 2, 2012 at 12:22 pm  Comments (2)  
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I’m a Dad – what does God want me to do?

What exactly is a father supposed to do? Ask a dozen people and you’ll get two dozen answers. USA Today just ran an editorial yesterday, which stated that “The most important thing is to make sure of their education – from kindergarten through college.” I thought, “Very well, yes, that’s crucial. It’s a positive, measurable goal.”

As a Christian, I believe that God wants me to walk a certain path that the rest of the world doesn’t follow, and that includes how I should live as a father (or a husband, or teacher, or citizen, etc.). Now, we raised four children, who are now adults, and we thought that we were done. However, to my surprise, we are now raising a four-year-old boy who came to us from an abusive background. So I’m not just interested in this theme in theory, I need to know what to do this afternoon when our foster child comes home!

Here are two methods of figuring out what God wants you to do as a father:

Method #1 is what we’ll name the Key Passage Method. There are roughly 1600 references to the word “father” in the Bible, (more…)