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So you think You’re free ?

So when you think you’re free from the bondage of slavery, in reality you are not! Slavery is not over yet it takes on a new form “in Christ”. Welcome to the world of Jesus Christ, the good Master of slaves. John MacArthur observes that the Gospel is a call to freedom; not a freedom from the oppression of slavery itself, but freedom from slavery to sin particularly. He notes,

There is glorious freedom in being the slaves of Christ, because “if the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). On the other hand, being a true follower of Christ means the end of human autonomy. And that is at it should be, because self-determination turns out to be nothing more than an illusion anyway. The only kind of liberty it offers is “free[dom] in regard to righteousness” (Rom. 6:20) — and that is the very essence of bondage to sin. Its inevitable end is death and destruction. If we want true liberty from sin and all its fruits, it is not autonomy that we need, but a different kind of bondage: complete surrender to the lordship of Christ.

– (John MacArthur, The Gospel According to Jesus: What Does Jesus Mean When He Says “Follow Me”?)

My question is as follows:
Is the Gospel also a call to real freedom from the oppression of slavery? In other words, as I’m often wondering about the real implication of the Gospel message as it points and pertains to the institution of slavery of the past, and how this message of freedom, true liberty, could ultimately apply to the physical, mental and psychological liberation from slavery itself.

Moo’s work online

Doug Moo has posted several of his articles online. Check out his website Doug’s Biblical Studies. Moo has written one of the best commentaries on Romans, and his commentary on James is extremely valuable. His latest work on The Letters to the Colossians and to Philemon will be out in a couple of months (To be exact, 7/29/2008).

Ministerial Students, Calling, and PhD Studies

Sean Michael Lucas has written an insightful post entitled Ministerial Students, Calling, and PhD Studies. If you’re struggling about the idea–whether God has called /is calling you to the pastoral ministry or academia this post was written exactly for you.

A Place Called Heaven

I remember when I was growing up as a young baptist boy I’ve often heard the conversation between Jesus and his disciples taken place in John 14:1-4, (particularly with Simon Peter and Thomas), often interpreted in the context that Jesus was going to the Father in heaven to prepare a place for his disciples. So I’ve longed to go there to that paradisaical place mentioned assuredly in John 14. Oh Yeah! I’ve also dreamed about it and wished some day I will be in that blissful place where angels solely exist to play flutes and harps. So, heaven was depicted as that “dwelling place,” the eschatological paradise, the “prepared place,” which points ultimately to the final destiny of believers in Jesus. (Irenaeus took a similar approach to John 14:2-3). As much as I would love to believe that “my father’s house ” (4:2) was a tangible place called heaven here, however, good exegesis does not allow for such an interpretation from a Johannine theological lens; and therefore has great potentiality of misunderstanding the use of typology in John and distorting the book’s overall christological interest.

By consequence, it must be noted that the author of the Fourth Gospel presents Jesus as the ultimate place God’s presence dwells fully (1:14). Jesus is introduced as the Fulfilment of the Temple where God’s presence is always and the shekinah glory resided in the past (2:18-21). Not only that, Jesus is also the replacement of the Tabernacle as the place where God dwells among his people and manifest his glory to them. This Jesus, according to the author, is now the very “dwelling place” of God in the midst of his disciples and the people of God, in him the fullness of deity dwells bodily.
Again, contextually, John 2:18-22 links Jesus’ body and the temple intimately. This particular typology serves us right in exploring further the relationship between the Temple with Jesus’ death and resurrection. John 14:2-3 points to Jesus’ death and resurrection as two great eschatological events in salvation history. So Jesus’ statement in 13:36 to Peter that he cannot follow where he’s going makes perfect sense. By Jesus’ death, he is going to be in the Father’s presence to prepare a place for his disciples and will return after his exaltation as their mediatorial access to the Father’s presence. Because Jesus is the way to the Father (14:6) and his final revelation (14:7-10). After the resurrection, Jesus will impart the Spirit as his continuous presence with the disciples (14:16-17).

Moreover, as one gives closer attention to John’s Temple Christology, “preparing a resting place” for God was a regular expression for God’s sanctuary in this period, the idea of preparing a place for the disciples in God’s house might connote the places would have in the eschatological temple (Ezek 45:4-5; cf. 40-45-46; 42:13; 44:16)” (Keener, The Gospel of John: A Commentary, 936). The author of the Fourth Gospel employed this readily rhetoric technique to indicate that Jesus is that eschatological temple envisioned by the prophet. So the eschatological temple which Ezekiel saw and anticipated is fully realized in Jesus himself. Therefore, John 14:1-4 is not about heaven or paradise but points to the great reality that Jesus is the Replacement and Fulfillment of the temple and Israel’s hopes, in him God’s presence shines forth in its full disclosure; and He’s the radiance of the father’s glory manifested completely.

Racial and Ethnic Diversity

Craig Keener has written an important piece on racial and ethnic diversity. It is a good read. Take a look at Embracing God’s Passion for Diversity: A Theology of Racial and Ethnic Plurality

Modern Perspectives on the Old and New Testaments

Two articles you should read: Modern New Testament Study is writtten by Simon Gathercole, and Modern Old Testament Study by Peter Williams. Gathercole opens his article with the following statement, “By and large, it is in the area of Gospels studies where the acids of scepticism and hostility to historic Christian theology have been most destructive..” Williams notes, “In recent years there has been an increase in scholarly literature coming to rather negative conclusions about the OT and whether we can use the Bible as a source for history before the Babylonian exile in 586 BC”
Thanks Andy for the links.

Quote du Jour

There’s not a liberal America and a conservative America. There’s the United States of America. There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America. There’s the United States of America

-Barack Hussein Obama

Pray with Augustine: Holy Spirit

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy. Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen

– Saint Augustine of Hippo

New Books

It looks like Dunn’s sequel–Second Volume in the Series Christianity in the Making g will be out pretty soon; Beginning from Jerusalem: Christianity in the Making, Volume 2
is scheduled to be released on 11/10/2008 by Wm B. Eerdmans. The book is about 1392 pages.
Summary –
“The second volume of this notable trilogy, Beginning from Jerusalem covers the early formation of the Christian faith from 30-70 c.e. After outlining the quest for the historical church (parallel to the quest for the historical Jesus) and reviewing the sources, Dunn follows the course of the movement stemming from Jesus ‘beginning from Jerusalem.’

Dunn opens this book with a close analysis of what can be said of the earliest Jerusalem community, the Hellenists, the mission of Peter, and the emergence of Paul. In the second part, Dunn focuses solely on Paul the chronology of his life and mission, his understanding of his call as apostle, and the character of the churches which he founded. The third part traces the final days and literary legacies of the three principal figures of first generation Christianity: Paul, Peter, and James, brother of Jesus. Each section includes detailed interaction with the most important of the vast wealth of secondary literature on these matters.”

Another book coming out pretty soon focuses on Jesus’s identity, Seeking the Identity of Jesus: A Pilgrimage, Gaventa, Beverly; Richard B Hays (eds)

Seeking the Identity of Jesus is a sequel to The Art of Reading Scripture. Both volumes grew out of a collaborative research initiative by the Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton. However, the earlier project touched only briefly on the question of Jesus? identity. This book brings together a study group of sixteen scholars and theologians to focus explicitly on this topic.

You can pre-order these titles through the publisher.