January 16, 2021

Internet Monk Podcast #137

podcast_logo.gifThis week: Garbage and Baggage We Put With The Gospel. (This is a redo of 136)

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Ferguson on Baptism
Jars of Clay
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PBS Video portal

Intro music by Daniel Whittington. Exit Music by Randy Stonehill.

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  1. Hi Michael. I was mostly struck as I listened to the way your lens or way of perceiving what it means to be a Christian colors the ‘plain’ sense of the text. I’m familiar with Matthew 23, of course, but this time listening I noticed that, like the first time I read it, the parts that stood out to me and their ‘plain’ sense you almost entirely skipped over or deemphasized. For instance, Matthew 23:1-3 sets up and influences how you read the entire teaching, but other than reading it, I didn’t hear you focus on it at all. Of course, in its ‘plain’ meaning it seems to run counter to the point you were trying to make, so I’m not surprised. And the things Jesus points out don’t have as much to do with telling people not to do stuff the Pharisees have outlined, but with the attitude and heart and whole person. He doesn’t, for instance, tell them to cut the tassels off their prayer shawls or throw away their phylacteries (it’s reasonable to assume Jesus had both), but not to be ostentatious about and do it for the notice and praise of others. That is consistent with the Sermon on the Mount. At the core of the way I read the text, I think I simply have a problem with the idea that a prophet to Israel (which is a role Jesus clearly filled), the Messiah of Israel (another role he filled), and ultimately the full revelation of the God of Israel to the people of God is prophetically and publicly speaking in a sense that should be interpreted as an individual first and for individual application as a given individual sees fit.

    With that said, I certainly agree with the whole weirdness of screening out Harry Potter or the host of other things you see called ‘Christian’ today. And you also see a lot of weirdness at a lot of different points in Christian history, usually with at least some of the leaders of the Church, the people of God, speaking against them. Nor is Christianity about following any set of ‘rules’, Christianity is about following Jesus of Nazareth, being incorporated through him into the people of God, and with the cooperation of your will being transformed into oneness with God through the healing of his power and grace. We are saved together.

    ‘As the early Christians would say, “One Christian, no Christian.” We are saved together as a body, while the only thing we can do alone is go to hell.’ (I forget the attribution and may have paraphrased it, but it’s something that stuck in my mind.)

  2. Just for the record:

    I wasn’t doing an exegesis paper on Matthew 23. I was illustrating an application point using several selected verses, something I do a lot. I also don’t claim to be the custodian of the “plain meaning,” but accept that I bring my life situation to scripture, especially when doing application.

    I’ve learned that if you do much “Bible study” on the net, you are just inviting impossible levels of argumentation. I shared with you how Matt 23 hits me today thinking about why one of my friends isn’t a Christian today. That’s all I was selling.

  3. Love the podcast music – thanks for listing the artists.

    As for Garbage and Baggage: I could not agree more with your assessment. What is frustrating in discussing this with fellow Christians is that although we agree at the philosophical level on the matter (no one would argue that we should add to the gospel), it gets interesting when we start talking specifics.

    Nothing brings out the “yeah buts” regarding the requirements for being a Christian like the frequency / necessity of bible study, church attendance, a “prayer life”, tithing, or any number of other useful, uplifting, arguably important, but ultimately irrelevant-to-salvation activities.

    There is a fine line between encouraging things that can help us in our daily lives and insinuating that those things are on par with belief and confession.

    And of course, there is always the nuclear-option argument that if you have not developed a life that includes (insert rule or practice here) then perhaps you should examine your salvation.

    Spare me.

  4. I’ve read another blog entry on this blog about the Jesus Camp movie and how it was a fair depiction. I very much agree that it is but I think the episodes from Everybody Loves Raymond series entitled ‘Just a Formality’ and ‘Meeting the Parents’ is a more widely held view of evangelicals than the Jesus Camp movie. I think the Hank Mcdougal Character fits the discription of a Pharisee very well.

    I just had this thought after listening to the Podcast. I think that character represents a more sutle view that people have in the back of their minds when they think of evangelicals and is kind of what you are aiming at in the podcast or is a result of what you are aiming at. I’m not sure.

    Lost in the wilderness

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