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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

On Christian Service




καὶ ὃς ἐὰν θέλῃ ἐν ὑμῖν εἶναι πρῶτος ἔστω ὑμῶν δοῦλος.
Matthew 20:27         


It's hard to deny that out of all the well-known preachers on the airwaves today John MacArthur is one of the best, albeit of a bad lot. His sermons are usually well thought-out and his unabashed apologetics on shows like Larry King are nearly always exciting to hear. Most of the problems I do have with him are related to how he manages his ministry's commercial interests...ah, but this is not the time to get into that.

Recently I watched another of his highly capable sermons and it got me thinking. In the sermon, MacArthur examines some of the unfortunate ramifications stemming from the majority of English Bible's having translated the Greek word δουλος [doulos] as “servant”, rather than “slave”:



In thinking about this mistranslation in most English New Testaments, I realized that the very concept of Christian service is now suspect. It is only because of the semantic differences between "servant" and "slave" that the whole transforming of service to God into service to unbelievers thing happened. The term "Christian slavery" would've evolved in an entirely different way. We'd be much more careful about who we slaved for; and rightly so (Romans 6:16). Being Christ's slave is one thing, enslaving yourself to the wicked of the world is a whole other prospect altogether.

Hah! Another blow to the Ghoul of Calcutta, eh?



Tuesday, December 20, 2011

התורה יהוה -- The Journey of Jehovah



Just this morning I came across a fascinating series of videos on Youtube called A History of Hebrew, by Jeff A. Benner.
Since 1996, [Jeff Benner has] researched the Ancient Hebrew alphabet, language and culture of the Tenach (Old Testament) to uncover the original and sometimes startling, Hebraic meanings of the Hebrew text that lay hidden behind thousands of years of translations, interpretations and misunderstandings. [He has] authored several books related to the Ancient Hebrew language including the Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible and A Mechanical Translation of the Book of Genesis.
In November 1999, Jeff and his wife began The Ancient Hebrew Research Center "for the purpose of promoting and teaching the Ancient Biblical Hebrew langauge, alphabet and culture to bring about proper interpretation of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and the B'rit HaHhadashah (New Testament)."

And it certainly does that! Although Benner isn't a Greek scholar, his wonderful reading of the Tanach through the lens of Ancient Hebrew symbolism brings out metaphors which seamlessly conform to those in the Greek New Testament. Here's an example of this from Part 14 of
A History of Hebrew:
The Hebrew word תורה [Torah] is usually translated as "law", but is more literally translated as "journey".

The Hebrew word מצוה [Mitzvah] is usually translated as "command", but is more literally translated as "the direction to take on the journey".

The Hebrew word צדיק [Tzedyk] is usually translated as "righteous", but is more literally translated as "traveling on the path".

The Hebrew word רשע [Rasha] is usually translated as "wicked", but is more literally translated as "lost from the path".
I immediately thought of the Lord announcing that He was "not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Mat 15:24) to tell them all to follow Him because He is the only way to the Father—the only path on the Journey of Jehovah!



Saturday, December 17, 2011

Update on the Deconstructing Doctrines Series

It never occurred to me until today to just post each installment in the DD series on the Pages tabs above, thereby leaving the blog free for smaller, more regular posts. After each page goes up, I'll announce it here on the main blog.

I've just put Installment 1 up, so if you've got any questions or comments about it, just put them on the installment itself or on this post.

God bless!
μαρτυς

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Decalogue of Deconstructed Doctrines



μάτην δὲ σέβονταί με, διδάσκοντες διδασκαλίας ἐντάλματα ἀνθρώπων.
Matthew 15:9


With this introductory post I begin a detailed deconstruction of the erroneous ideas and hazy concepts cluttering the communal Christian mind today. I’ve wanted to deal with these things ever since I arrived here in America and can put it off no longer. Judging from the services I've attended, and the sermons I've heard on Christian radio here in Alaska, there seems to be a wide gulf fixed between my Christian beliefs and that of every other Believer in the U.S. In many key areas, our doctrines appear completely different and contradictory, and I feel a tremendous need to address, in writing, this large impediment to fellowship.

My plan is to deconstruct ten doctrinal statements, some composite and some actual, that contain what I consider to be critical theological errors, which would be, or are being, espoused by most American Christians today. I am convinced that the unenlightening church services I’ve attended in Fairbanks (and elsewhere) are a direct result of the faulty, unscriptural notions produced by these poorly founded doctrines.

Thinking about how lengthy this series will be if done right, it seems unlikely that I’ll post each of the ten statements in succession; there are bound to be other things I want to blog about in between them. It’s also conceivable that I might want to revisit the same statement in several posts. Hopefully any long gaps between installments won't obscure the theological continuity of the whole series. Yes, each post should be able to stand on its own, because one of my strongest criticisms of the other doctrines out there is how unsystematic and incoherent they are—it’d be nice if my own were seen to be systematic and coherent.

So, my next post will kick off the series in earnest and it’s a classic! Here’s a quick sampler:


1.          God loves everyone.

No greater disservice has been done to English-speaking Christendom than the translating of the New Testament Greek verb ἀγαπάω [agapao], and it’s noun form ἀγάπη [agape], into the single, unqualified word “love”. The damage done to the foundation of Christian understanding with regards to the commandments of our Lord, and His character and purpose, by that one tiny under-translation is simply incalculable. Entire denominations have been established on the basis of it. Countless heresies have been concocted from it. Millions of people are wallowing in error because of it. How is it possible that so many theologians, preachers and otherwise sensible churchmen have come to accept that, when the God of the universe says He “loves” us, He’s talking about a feeling; some kind of squishy, feminized, milquetoast super-like?