I have blogged a good deal less this month than the previous few. The transition into fall is always interesting. I have on the one hand been working on another web design project (which, to my annoyance, has stagnated through creative blocks, but hopefully will continue to come along soon), and on the other spending a great deal of time enjoying Halo: Reach. Most of my remaining writing-oriented time has been taken up with Pillar, whether actually writing or editing others' articles.
A few things I've been chewing on recently:
The necessity of the Holy Spirit in Bible study. I was reading Psalm 119 on Sunday (I'm working through it with a younger guy I'm meeting with) and a number of features caught my attention. Foremost, however, was that the author of the psalm repeatedly asks God for understanding and to be taught. This plea for instruction is the most topic with which the psalmist most frequently addresses God, at least so far in the psalm!
So, here in a psalm which is filled with references to the author's delight in and love for God's commands, law, word, and way, are constant pleas for help in understand those very things. Striking, and convicting. I need to rely more thoroughly on God for wisdom as I approach his word. While I know that to be true, it's a good reminder.
The appropriateness of "personal relationship with Jesus" language, especially in the context of evangelism. [This one is still very much in the early phase of thinking about it, and so subject to immense revision.] While Scripture clearly speaks of our interactions with God in relational ways, and even goes so far as to affirm that eternal life consists of knowing Him (John 17:3), I find it interesting that none of the evangelism (or any other discussion, for that matter) in the New Testament comes anywhere close to using this phrase.
While restored fellowship with God is occasionally in view, the primary ways that the New Testament writers speak of the good news is in reference to the Messiah who has come and given himself in payment for our sins. The call the apostles offered was not, "Come have a personal relationship with Jesus," but rather "Repent and believe; call on the name of the Lord and be saved!" Even in the discussions of sanctification, the relational aspects of the restoration are rarely the focus—whereas faith and the Spirit's active work are.
I am not suggesting that we drop this language entirely. I think it is biblical in much the same way that the word "Trinity" is: that is, it depicts something that is true in Scripture in an accurate way, despite being external to Scripture itself. However, I am pondering whether it is the most helpful way of describing conversion and all it entails to nonbelievers, and whether it should remain our primary means of characterizing the Christian walk.
What do you think?
One can learn a lot of things from a book that have nothing to do with the point of the book. This has come at me from two very different angles: one, the massive and incredibly important The Resurrection of the Son of God, by N. T. Wright, and Joyce Meyer's The Confident Woman. The two books could not possibly be more different, on any level. The first is a massive, scholarly treatment of its topic, while the second is a brief, popular treatment of its. Wright is (at least in this area) thoroughly orthodox, while Meyer is heterodox throughout.
What have I learned from each, then? From The Confident Woman, I learned a great deal about communicating the faults of a book and a writer graciously. No doubt I still have much more to learn, but I spent hours wrestling through my review of the book, striving to be gentle, courteous, and kind while being sufficiently firm with her myriad errors. From The Resurrection of the Son of God, I have learned a great deal about exegesis and exposition of Scripture. Wright does a masterful job of situating passages in the context of their author, and authors in the context of their cultures. (I am aware he sometimes argues for positions outside historic Protestant orthodoxy in other books; here he is on so foundational a point that his arguments are profitable to everyone.) In turn I have been able to start doing the same in my own study of Scripture—most notably in my final treatment of alcohol in the series I wrote at Pillar.
From both, I learned perseverance: from Wright's book because it is simply long; from Meyer's book because it is simply bad.
I have of course also continued to learn a great deal simply from being married to my beautiful wife—not least that I still tend toward arrogance and unteachability. God graciously points out our folly and our sin consistently; where I would be without His sanctifying work I can only imagine.
Grace and peace be with anyone reading! If you are reading, do me a favor and leave a comment to say hello. Sometimes it's nice to know that people are actually reading.