Luther Quote: Dancing Camels

“To me it is often a source of great pleasure and wonderment to see that the entire female body was created for the purpose of nurturing children.  How prettily even little girls carry babies [in their arms!]  As for the mothers themselves, how deftly they move whenever the whimpering baby either has to be quieted or is to be placed into its cradle!  Get a man to do the same things, and you will say that a camel is dancing, so clumsily will he do the simplest tasks around a baby!”      Luther’s Works V 1, p. 202

Crossing Barriers, Facing the Issues – John 4

9 The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans.  

 She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”

10 Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”

11 “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water?

Crossing Barriers.  You are probably familiar with the point that the text makes.  There was a long standing hostility between Jews and Samaritans.  This was based on religious differences, and on racial differences.

We know how fierce hatreds can exist between two nations who live side by side – such as between Irish and English or between Swede and Norwegian.  This sort of conflict existed between these two nations.

Most Jews would travel around Samaria, and never pass through the middle.  It was safer and more familiar.

I have friends who hate cities and never travel through the middle.  They take the freeway around the city.  How boring is that.  Every McDonalds and every Home Depot looks alike from the freeway.  But people and neighborhoods within cities are always changing and always interesting.

Jesus passed through Samaria – which was easier than going around it.  What is the straightest line between two points?  Is it a large circle, or a straight line?

Jesus spoke with a woman there.  Now men did not speak with women and Jewish men did not talk to Samaritan women.  It was not done.  Jesus did it.  But this was also easier.  Jesus could have climbed down a rope into the well, took some water and climbed out, but wasn’t it easier to ask this stranger for water?  Yes, I think so.

Jesus made lots happen because he did not let fears and frontiers scare him away.

Facing Issues.  Now let me list you what things Jesus spoke with the Woman about in these few verses:

  1. Jacob and his well
  2. Living water
  3. The woman’s multiple husbands
  4. Jewish vs. Samaritan worship (aka Religion)
  5. True Worship
  6. The Holy Spirit in conversion.
  7. Who is the messiah?

By my count they covered seven difficult issues.  For example if it were an Islamic Woman we might discuss Isaac and Ishmael.  Living water is a very spiritual concept.  Speaking of someone’s failed marriages or relationships is not calculated to make friends.  Religious differences are to be avoided in public.  Have you heard of the worship wars between hymns and choruses? What of those between Jerusalem and Samaria?  The Holy Spirit, now there is an easy subject for conversation, as is the Messiah.

Jesus did not avoid these. He did not paper them over.  He spoke simply and wisely about these.  Is it hard?  I think it is hard to live a life of ignorance. And it is hard to live a life where we ignore the issues that people talk about.  If you are a thinking person, and if you have been listening in church, bible study and in your own reading, you have thought about many of these things.

Is it so hard to speak of them?  No, it is hard to shut up all the time.  At least for me it is!

John 4 and Evangelism

For the rest, come to Church this Sunday.

John 4:38

I send you to reap what you have not worked for.  Others have done the hard work and you have
reaped the benefits of their labor.


      What I am about to say is not, therefore my opinion.  It is  what Jesus said to the 12. The 12 turned out to be pretty good evangelists – if  they failed none of us would be here today!

Jesus said that evangelism is NOT hard work.

(Therefore, if you get exhausted from sharing the gospel, you are doing it wrong.)

Evangelism is not hard work, FOR US.

(If it is hard, it is because we are doing work that belongs to the Lord.)

Been Busy

Do you remember the idea of bio-rhythms?  Yes, it was at the same time as the first appearance of Mood Rings and Earth Shoes.  It suggested that several bodily cycles work at the same time and sometimes they all converge at high or low spots.  Pastors have ministry-rhythm.  Mine has hit the point where all are at “very busy”.  Hence, the blog awaits a better part of the cycle.

Genesis 1 – and a few more questions I forgot

How do we understand how B. B. Warfield, the Princetonian father of Inerrancy as we now understand the concept was favorable towards the idea of biological evolution?  If not favorable, he was not opposed to it.

Can we avoid “concordism” as Walton suggests? (i.e. the effort to align the scriptures with contemporary science.)  At some point we have to connect scripture to history, when and how?

Is the “fine turned for life” argument really gaining traction in the sciences?  (Discussed by Collins in “Language of God”, Keller in “Reason for God” and Giberson in “Language of Science and Faith”  see )

Genesis 1 – some questions

Since Genesis 1 has been around for a very long time, we are satisfied to ask questions, rather than seek hard answers.

For BioLogos (biological evolution is true, and the Bible is too).  How do we deal with “creation from nothing”, with the Biblical picture of the “fall” if life came into being through a long process with millions of years of death.  How historic are Adam and Eve? If they are not historic persons at the start of humanity, how is sin transmitted from Adam (Romans 5)?  Does Jesus suggest that Adam was real?  Does the NT say that the creation was relatively quickly arriving from nothing?

For John Walton (The Lost World of Genesis 1), I have many of the same questions.  If Genesis 1 is not material origins, where do we get that God created all things?  Did he take pre-existing stuff and give it a purpose?  Who would have made that stuff?  Is there really no “science” in the OT?  You state that the water cycle is not known but then there is Ecclesiastes 1:7.  Can we confine “death” to human death in Romans 5?  What of the pre-hominids?

For the “literal 24/7″ reading, I suggest reading the books by Walton and Collins, as they have many interesting things to say.  Don’t read with force fields up and phasers loaded, but to listen to their arguments.  Since this debate has gone on for a very long time, we don’t have to solve it in 7/24 hour days.

For the general public, read in “Under God” by Garry Wills on what motivated William Jennings Bryan to oppose the teaching of evolution in the first place.

There, now I have annoyed everyone.

Tell me the old, old story

I was recently at a conference of the Urban Ministry Institute ( which is engaged in inner city church planting and leadership training.  What is surprising is that they are very strong on what they call “Sacred Roots” or the “Great Tradition.”  By this they mean that essence of the faith that is “shared by all, everywhere” within the church.  This is summarized by the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed.

The other part of this, what makes it well suited to urban ministry is the commitment to the big story of what God is doing in the world.  It can be summarized in a variety of ways (note that the Apostles Creed, particularly on Christ is something of a story, “…born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate…”.

The big story is that God the creator of all things has sought from all time to redeem and rescue a people from all nations by the advent, life, death, resurrection and ascension of the Lord, who with the father has sent the Spirit to guide his people through the scriptures.  This is God’s victory in Christ over the ancient dragon.  One day we will enter fully the City of God, but now we are building the reign of God through our worship, witness and service to Christ.

This is grist for the mill at several levels.  One idea, however, is that this idea shares a few things with the old Schofield Bible narrative – it is a story, not a mere list of doctrinal points, it is clear and compelling, it celebrates Christ as the central actor, it puts the Christian life in a context of something bigger than the individual or a congregation, it gives a summary of the scriptures, and it is accessible to people who do not have academic degrees.

This is also similar to my Reformed and Baptist friends who insist that every sermon ought to be tied to Jesus or to “redemptive history.”

New Thinking on Genesis 1

So I have been reading John Walton’s book “The Lost Word of Genesis 1.”  His essential claim is that Genesis 1, properly understood as it was intended to be understood is not about the material origin of the universe, but about its proper function.  (That is a very short summary – the book is more detailed and well written.)  Following that I have been reading “The Language of Science and Faith” by Karl W. Giberson  and Francis S. Collins.  Francis Collins is well known as the director of the project to map the human genome (DNA).    These two men are part of a group called BioLogos who wish to support both Biblical truth and biological evolution (the process, not the various world views that are often attached.)

To say the least this makes for interesting reading.  I am for now keeping the proverb: Be quick to hear and slow to speak.

Among evangelicals the views range from Young Earth, Old Earth, Intelligent Design (non-committal on the Bible itself), Progressive Creation, Theistic Evolution.  There are shapes and variations all between.