First Corinthians 1: Giving Thanks in All Circumstances

Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:4 ESV).

Do you give thanks in all circumstances?

In her accounts of imprisonment during World War II, Corrie Ten Boom tells of holding secret prayer meetings in her dormitory using a bible that she had smuggled into the camp.  In prayer, she asked the women with her to pray for all things, even the fleas that made their lives miserable.  Later, she learned that the guards refused to enter her building on account of those very same fleas. In effect, those fleas protected her prayer group from discovery and allowed the group to be an ongoing source of hope in a camp where many perished. Give thanks in all circumstances!

At the time of the Apostle Paul, Corinth was the third largest city in the Roman empire after Rome and Alexandria.  The Romans had destroyed Greek Corinth in 146 BC, but it was rebuilt as Roman colony by Julius Caesar in 44 BC.  The official language was Latin, but Greek was still employed. Corinth was located strategically on an Isthmus where cargo could easily be transported overland between the Aegean and Ionian seas (Hays 2011, 2-5).

The story of the founding of the church at Corinth is found in Acts 18. The church formed around a group of tent-making friends, Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:2-3; Thiselton 2000, 23). The Corinthian church became largely gentile in composition, in part, because of Paul’s frustration in trying to evangelize the Jews (Acts 18:6).  Paul’s frustration must have been substantial because Acts records God offering him comfort:  And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people (Acts 18:9-10).

The Apostle Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth was written about three years later (53-53 AD) from Ephesus (Bloomberg 1994, 21). The letter focuses on two primary issues:  Christian unity and Paul’s response to a number of questions that were posed to him (Hays 2011, 5).  The problem of dissention among the Corinthians stemmed from their “addiction to the power, prestige, and pride represented in the Hellenistic rhetorical tradition” (Hafermann 1993, 165).  If you substituted Washingtonian for Corinthian in Paul’s letter, it might read much the same!

The English Standard Version Bible lays divides chapter 1 of Corinthians into 4 sections:  Greeting (vv 1-3), Thanksgiving (vv 4-9), Divisions in the Church (vv 10-17), and Christ the Wisdom and Power of God (vv 18-31).

Paul’s greeting is unusual is that he refers to the Corinthians (v 2) as “sanctified in Jesus Christ” (ἡγιασμένοις ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ) and “called to be saints” (κλητοῖς ἁγίοις).  The root word in the Greek in both expression is ἁγίοις which means:  dedicated to God, holy, sacred, i.e. reserved for God and God’s service (BDAG 61).  This is indeed a strange way to refer to a church racked by division (σχίσματα; v 10)!  Being both sanctified and called to be saints, Paul is pointing to salvation as a reality that has arrived now, but is also not yet complete.  Christians are not saved (past tense) but being saving (σῳζομένοις; v 18; progressive tense).  Our boasting cannot be in our wisdom, power, or noble birth, but in Christ alone (vv 26, 31).  Our salvation is both: now and not yet.

So Paul gives thanks for this unruly congregation.  Babes in Christ; created in the image of God; blessed by their maker; saved by the blood of the Lamb; and entrusted into Paul’s care.

Do you give thanks in all circumstances?

REFERENCES

Bloomberg, Craig L. 1994.  The NIV Application Commentary:  1 Corinthians.  Grand Rapids:  Zondervan.

Hafermann, S.J. 1993. “Letters to the Corinthians” pages164-79 of Dictionary of Paul and His Letters.  Compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship.  Edited by Gerald F. Hawthorne, Raph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid.  Downers Grove:  InterVarsity Press.

Hays, Richard B.  2011.  Interpretation:  A Biblical Commentary for Teaching and Preaching—First Corinthians (Orig pub 1997).  Louisville:  Westminster John Knox Press.

Ten Boom, Corrie, John and Elizabeth Sherrill. 2006. The Hiding Place (Orig pub 1971). Chosen Books.

Thiselton, Anthony C.  2000.  The First Epistle to the Corinthians:  A Commentary on the Greek Text.  NIGTC. Grand Rapids:  Eerdmans.

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1 Corintios 1: Dar Gracias en Todo

Pill Spill, Photograph by Stephen W. Hiemstra
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

1 Corintios 1: Dar Gracias en Todo

Por Stephen W. Hiemstra

Siempre doy gracias a Dios por ustedes, pues él,

en Cristo Jesús, les ha dado su gracia (1 Corintios 1:4 NVI).

¿Le da gracias en todas las circunstancias?

Las Pulgas

En sus cuentas de prisión durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial, Corrie Ten Boom habla de la celebración de reuniones secretas de oración en su dormitorio usando una Biblia que había introducido de contrabando en el campamento. En la oración, le preguntó la mujer con ella para rezar por todas las cosas, incluso las pulgas que hicieron la vida imposible. Más tarde, se enteró de que los guardias se negaron a entrar en su edificio a causa de esas mismas pulgas. En efecto, esas pulgas protegidos a su grupo de oración desde el descubrimiento y permitieron que el grupo sea una fuente continua de esperanza en un campo donde muchos perecieron. Dad gracias en todas las circunstancias!

La Iglesia en Corinto

En el momento del apóstol Pablo, Corinto era la tercera ciudad más grande en el imperio romano después de Roma y Alejandría. Los romanos habían destruido griega de Corinto en el año 146 BC, pero fue reconstruida como colonia romana por Julio César en el año 44 antes de Cristo. El idioma oficial era el latín, sino en griego aún tenía trabajo. Corinto se encuentra estratégicamente ubicado en un istmo donde la carga puede ser fácilmente transportado por tierra entre los mares Egeo y Jónico (Hays 2011, 2-5).

Aquila y Priscila

La historia de la fundación de la iglesia en Corinto se encuentra en Hechos 18. La iglesia se formó alrededor de un grupo de amigos de carpas de decisiones, Aquila y Priscila (Ley 18:2-3; Thiselton 2000, 23). La iglesia de Corinto se convirtió en gran parte gentil en su composición, en parte, a causa de la frustración de Pablo al tratar de evangelizar a los Judios (Hechos 18:6). La frustración de Pablo debe haber sido considerable porque el libro de hechos dice que Dios le ofrecia confort. El Señor dijo a Pablo una noche en una visión: Una noche el Señor le dijo a Pablo en una visión: No tengas miedo; sigue hablando y no te calles, pues estoy contigo. Aunque te ataquen, no voy a dejar que nadie te haga daño, porque tengo mucha gente en esta ciudad (Hechos 18:9-10).

Washington y Corinto

Primera carta del apóstol Pablo a la iglesia en Corinto fue escrito alrededor de tres años más tarde (53-53 AD) de Efeso (Bloomberg 1994, 21). La carta se centra en dos temas principales: la unidad cristiana y de respuesta de Pablo a una serie de preguntas que se planteó a él (Hays 2011, 5). El problema de la disensión entre los Corintios se deriva de su “adicción al poder, el prestigio y el orgullo representado en la tradición retórica helenística” (Hafermann 1993, 165). Si sustituiste Washingtonian de Corinto en la carta de Pablo, podría leer la misma!

La Biblia Versión Inglés Estándar establece divide el capítulo 1 de Corintios en 4 secciones: Tarjeta (vv 1-3), Acción de Gracias (vv 4-9), de las divisiones en la Iglesia (vv 10-17), y Cristo, sabiduría y poder de Dios (vv 18-31).

Santificados en Cristo Jesús

Saludo de Pablo es inusual es que él se refiere a los Corintios (v 2) como “santificados en Cristo Jesús” (ἡγιασμένοις ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ) y “llamados a ser santos” (κλητοῖς ἁγίοις). La raíz de la palabra en el griego, en tanto expresión es ἁγίοις que significa: dedicada a Dios, santo, sagrado, es decir, reservada a Dios y el servicio a Dios (BDAG 61). Este es de hecho una forma extraña para referirse a una iglesia atormentada por división (σχίσματα; v 10)! Siendo ambos santificados y llamados a ser santos, Pablo apunta a la salvación como una realidad que ha llegado ahora, pero es también aún no ha concluido.

Los cristianos no son salvos (tiempo pasado), sino que se estando salvado (σῳζομένοις; v 18; tiempo progresivo). Nuestra jactancia no puede estar en nuestra sabiduría, el poder o la nobleza, pero solamente en Cristo (vv. 26, 31). Nuestra salvación es a la vez: ahora y todavía no llegado.

Los Bebés en Cristo

Así que Pablo da gracias por esta congregación rebelde. Los bebés en Cristo; creados a imagen de Dios; bendecidos por su creador; salvados por la sangre del Cordero; y cuidado pastoral de Pablo.

¿Le da gracias en todas las circunstancias?

Referencias

Bloomberg, Craig L. 1994.  The NIV Application Commentary:  1 Corinthians.  Grand Rapids:  Zondervan.

Hafermann, S.J. 1993. “Letters to the Corinthians” pages164-79 of Dictionary of Paul and His LettersCompendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship.  Edited by Gerald F. Hawthorne, Raph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid.  Downers Grove:  InterVarsity Press.

Hays, Richard B.  2011.  Interpretation:  A Biblical Commentary for Teaching and Preaching—First Corinthians (Orig pub 1997).  Louisville:  Westminster John Knox Press.

Ten Boom, Corrie, John and Elizabeth Sherrill. 2006. The Hiding Place (Orig pub 1971). Chosen Books.

Thiselton, Anthony C.  2000.  The First Epistle to the Corinthians:  A Commentary on the Greek Text.  NIGTC.  Grand Rapids:  Eerdmans.

 

Vea También:

2 Corintios 1: Sellado, Garantizados, y Reconfortado 

La Espiritualidad Cristiana 

Otras Métodos de Conectar:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2vfisNa

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Myrtle Beach Ministry: 3,000 Opportunities at Stake…by Stefan and Ellie Sultanov

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Myrtle Beach Ministry

By Stefan and Ellie Sultanov

Our guest bloggers today, Stefan and Ellie Sultanov, are a ministry team from Bulgaria and fellow classmates of mine at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC.  Their post focuses on a unique ministry that they initiated among international students working in Myrtle Beach, SC.

Myrtle Beach Ministry

In recent years the immigration law and reform in the U.S. have been a hot issue. Politicians have taken sides and so have voters. But what about us as Christians? It is enough to just side with our preferred political party when it comes to foreigners?  There are also no doubt legal implications. But what about the spiritual implications?  In this brief post I will address one with eternal significance.

Ministry Backstory

Our story began in 2008 when Ellie and I began a 5-year ministry to international students while working at Myrtle Beach, SC on a work-and-travel program. According to local news statistics, there are some 3,000 international students that flood Myrtle Beach each summer. Most of them come from Eastern Europe which, of course, includes a large number of Bulgarians. During our summer outreach each year, we came in contact with Bulgarian, Russian, Moldovan, Ukrainian, Belorussian, and Turkish students.

Our strategy was quite simple. Over the summer we developed relationships with students by inviting them for meals at our home, watching movies together, fixing their bicycles, and taking them shopping.  Because they only used bicycles for transportation, we drove them on short trips to visit other places and even took some to church with us. And we talked and talked.

We had countless opportunities to share the Good News with them. Remember, these young people came from former communist countries. Most of them had never heard about God or held a Bible in their hands. Most of them had no sense of spirituality.  At best, they might share some vague understanding of eastern religions or their personal philosophy of life.

Still, at Myrtle Beach some took significant steps forward in their spiritual journey. Some decided to follow Jesus Christ right by the beach.  Others began the thought process and later took the final step with someone else in their lives.

Partners

Over the years we looked for other people and churches who might share in this ministry.  This seemed like a perfect opportunity for international evangelism that does not require travel or the need to send missionaries overseas. Still, we were unable to identify any ministry partners. Then, about three years back, we talked with a pastor of a local church that is strategically located in the middle of Myrtle Beach.  He was excited about the opportunity. We offered to outline the whole project and to train a ministry team.  However, our timing is not always God’s timing.

A few months ago, missions people from that same church contacted us to learn more about this ministry. We got together for breakfast and emotions ran wild!  This group was as passionate about missions among the visiting students as we are.  Soon, a mission group from that church plans an organizational meeting where we will be able to present our ministry experience.

*****Please pray that God will give us utterance–the ability to share passionately, fully inspired by the Holy Spirit–at this meeting.*****

We are excited that this ministry will come back with more resources than we were ever able to offer. God knows how many students would be impacted by a more systematic, more sustained, outreach effort.

Biography

Stefan’s passion is building deep and long-lasting friendships, teaching and discipleship.

Currently, Stefan is a full-time student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (www.gordonconwell.edu)–Charlotte, North Carolina. He completed a Master of Divinity degree (Magna cum Laude) and is now finishing a Master of Arts in Christian Counseling degree. Stefan also holds a Master of Arts in French Language and Literature and prior to becoming a seminary student he has worked as a private language tutor and worship leader. He is a founding member of Holy Trinity Bulgarian Free Church in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria.

Stefan

Stefan was born and raised in communist Bulgaria where he had a first-hand experience of living under an atheist dictatorship. Shortly after the fall of the regime, when he was only 14, he responded to an altar call and gave his life to Christ. Stefan’s early ministry experience includes working with worship teams, children’s work, orphanage visitations and open air evangelism. While serving the Lord in different capacities, he started sensing a special call from God to pursue a seminary education.

Ellie

Ellie has a special heart for evangelism, discipleship, counseling, and the persecuted underground church around the world.

Currently, Ellie is completing a Dual degree – Master of Arts in Biblical Studies and a Master of Arts in Christian Counseling at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary-Charlotte, North Carolina.

Ellie grew up in Bulgaria while the country was still under communism. After the fall of the regime Ellie began attending church with her parents which marked the beginning of her family’s journey with God. Shortly after, Ellie’s parents became some of the first full-time missionaries with Campus Crusade for Christ International in Bulgaria (http://bit.ly/1oTfxOr) – a ministry they have been working with for nearly twenty years now. Ellie’s point of conversion came at a winter children’s camp organized by Child Evangelism Fellowship where she gave her life to Christ at the age of 9. Ellie traveled with her father extensively throughout the country to show the Jesus Film, evangelize and preach (www.JesusFilm.org). Ellie witnessed for Christ to people around her and her spiritual identity became deeply ingrained.

Read Stefan and Ellie’s full stories at www.tabletalkinternational.org.

For other ministry in Eastern Europe, see: A New Life in an Old Land by Thomas Smith

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Detweiler: Taming the Electronic Beast

Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Craig Detweiler. 2013.  iGods:  How Technology Shapes Our Spiritual and Social Lives.  Grand Rapids:   Brazos Press.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Technology has defined my career.  During my career as an economist, I went from adding row and column sums with a manual calculator to programming with computer punch cards to programming personal computers for Windows and super computers in half a dozen languages. Being an early adopter of a variety of technologies allowed me to be the first to make sense of massive amounts of data.  Now, social media is redefining how work gets done and how people think about themselves, the world, and even God.  So when I noticed that Craig Detweiler had taken time to write a book, iGods, that tried to make sense of these changes, I was intrigued and ordered a copy.

Detweiler observes:  Jesus was more than a carpenter; he was a techie (23). The Greek word, τέκτων (Mark 6:3 BNT), usually translated as carpenter probably better describes a builder. Think about it. Palestine has a lot of deserts and rocks; it has very few trees—the primary input in carpentry.  Detweiler observes that Jesus does not talk about carpentry; most of his stories are not even about agriculture.  His stories are about winepresses, millstones, olive presses, tombstones, cisterns, and so on—the technologies of his era (24).  He talked about the things that he knew best.  Detweiler prefers the translation, artisan.

Like father like son.  God created the heavens and the earth bringing order to chaos (Genesis 1).  Bringing order to chaos is exactly what technology does.  Creation is marked by both order and by beauty.  Do you suppose creation is “state of the art”? (25)  If we are created in the image of ‘high tech” God, then does our fascination with technology reflect God’s presence among us? [1]

Are you intrigued yet?

Detweiler focuses on the persons, the technologies, and companies responsible for the social media revolution writing in 8 chapters, proceeded by an introduction and followed by a conclusion.  The 8 chapters are:

  1. Defining technology,
  2. Apple,
  3. A brief history of the internet,
  4. Amazon,
  5. Google,
  6. A brief history of social networking,
  7. Facebook,
  8. You Tube, Twitter, Instagram (v).

These new technologies are intrinsically more complex than even the personal computers that we are all familiar with.  Changing the battery in an iPhone, for example, requires special tools and a detailed list (8 or more steps) of instructions which, ironically, can be found more easily on YTube.com than in any manual. This complexity relegates us to the role of consumers rather than masters of the basic technologies of our age (25).  It is WALL-E (a garbage-compacting robot), not the morbidly obese Captain McCea of the spaceship Axiom, who is the hero of our age [2].

Detweiler is the author of numerous books and director of numerous films (http://bit.ly/1d7lWx8). He has his doctoral degree from Fuller Theological Seminary (www.fuller.edu) and currently is a professor of communications and director of the Center for Entertainment, Media, and Culture at Pepperdine University (http://bit.ly/1ebWAOn) which is located in Malibu, CA.  Because Hollywood has been at the cutting edge of both changing technology and social trends, just the Malibu address suggests that he might have some interesting insights.

Detweiler’s iGods is accessible, thoroughly researched, and fascinating to read.  He concludes that social media provide tools that redefines many of the assumptions of how we live, think, and work that are neither intrinsically good or bad.  In terms of the scientific method, Detweiler has moved discussion from focusing on felt needs to defining the scope of the social media problem [3].  In the midst of chaotic social and technological change, the task of problem definition is typically the hardest. Detweiler has done us a great service.  This is a book that smart people will notice.

[1] For years I have described scientific discovers as nothing more than God’s little Easter Eggs hidden in places where he knew his kids would find them.

[2] Pixar Film 2008.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WALL-E.

[3] The steps often employed in the scientific method are:  felt need, problem definition, observation, analysis, decision, and responsibility bearing.   Stephen W. Hiemstra. June 2009. “Can Bad Culture Kill a Firm?” pages 51-54 of Risk Management.  Society of Actuaries.  Accessed: 18 February 2014. Online:  http://bit.ly/1cmnQ00.

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Romans: Faith Seeking Understanding

Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope (Romans 15:13 ESV).

How can one be blessed by something that is not fully understood?

As a teenager, I was passionate about my youth group.  When the youth director left the church, the group collapsed my senior year into a three-person study group—the pastor, my best friend, and I.  That entire year we got together on Wednesday for pizza, Bonhoeffer, and Romans. In college, when I became bitter at life, it was my understanding of God through Romans that brought me back.  Now, looking back at the experience from the other side of seminary, I wonder: how I could have been so blessed by a book that still defies my understanding?

This is not a new question.  Faith is not irrational; it is the beginning of rational discourse. Faith seeking understanding (fides quaerens intellectum)—is a motto attributed to Anselm (1033–1109; Archbishop of Canterbury) taken from his book, Proslogion, where he explored the existence and attributes of God [1].  The idea of faith preceding understanding is enshrined in scientific method, for example, because the method necessarily begins with a hypothesis (problem definition) [2].  Even the words in this sentence are unintelligible without assumptions as to their meaning.

My excursion into epistemology (the study of knowledge) is not out of place in a study of Romans.  Theologian James D.G. Dunn sees apologetics as one of Paul’s three objectives in Romans.  For example, Paul writes: For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Romans 1:16 ESV). The other two objectives are a missionary objective [3] and a pastoral objective.  Dunn’s pastoral concern [4] is for unity between Jewish and Gentile Christians who made up the churches in Rome.  Paul is a disciplined writer who typically lays out objectives in his introduction and summarizes them at the end—in this case, Romans 15:7-13 [5].

Paul’s emphasis in Romans on the relationship among Jews and Gentiles sets up a kind of brother’s theme, as is often noted in the book of Genesis [6]. However, in Romans Paul uses tension between Jews and Gentiles as a stand in for a kind of false nurture/nature dichotomy [7].  The argument goes that with law we are nurtured from our natural state of sin—the traditional source of Jewish pride.  However, what might seem like an either—or argument is used by Paul as a neither—nor argument.  But for Paul, neither our natural abilities (Romans 1:18-32) nor the tutorage of law (Romans 7:5) are sufficient to earn us the grace of God.  Neither brother (Jew or Gentile) can claim the righteousness of God.

Here is where the example of Abraham becomes instrumental.  Abraham was not righteous in himself or by his actions.  Paul writes:  Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness (Romans 4:3 ESV).  Just like the prodigal son did not deserve his father’s forgiveness, neither do we deserve God’s forgiveness (Luke 15:11-23).  So just like Abraham:  since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; (Romans 5:1 ESV).

How can we be blessed by something that we do not understand?  We are sons and daughters of God through Jesus Christ.

[1] http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/anselm/

[2] The steps often employed in the method are:  felt need, problem definition, observation, analysis, decision, and responsibility bearing.  Stephen W. Hiemstra. June 2009. “Can Bad Culture Kill a Firm?” pages 51-54 of Risk Management.  Society of Actuaries.  Accessed:  18 February 2014. Online:  http://bit.ly/1cmnQ00.

[3] Apostle—Romans 1:1; support for a missionary journey to Spain; Romans 15:24.

[4] Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God (Romans 15:7 ESV). James D.G. Dunn.  1993.  “Letter to the Romans” pages 838-50 of Dictionary of Paul and His Letters.  Edited by Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid.  Downers Grove:  InverVarsity Press.  Pages 839-40.

[6] Richard B. Hays.  1989.  Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul.  New Haven:  Yale University Press, 70-71.

[7] Genesis has lots of brothers, including—Cain/Abel, Isaac/Ishmael, Jacob/Esau, and Joseph/brothers—which drive the theme of.

[8] My thanks to Professor Rollin Grams of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary,Charlotte, NC for suggesting this argument in  ET/NT 543 New Testament and Christian Ethics, May 20-24, 2013.

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Romanos: La Fe Buscando Comprensión

Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Por Stephen W. Hiemstra

Que el Dios de la esperanza los llene de toda alegría y paz a ustedes que creen en él, para que rebosen de esperanza por el poder del Espíritu Santo (Romanos 15:13 NVI).

¿Cómo puede uno ser bendecidos por algo que no se entiende?

Cuando era adolescente, yo era un apasionado de mi grupo de jóvenes. Cuando el director de jóvenes salió de la iglesia, el grupo se derrumbó mi último año en un estudio de tres personas del grupo—el pastor, mi mejor amigo, y yo. Ese año entero nos reunimos el miércoles por la pizza, Bonhoeffer, y Romanos. En la universidad, cuando me convertí en amarga la vida, fue mi entendimiento de Dios a través de los Romanos que me trajeron de vuelta. Ahora, mirando hacia atrás en la experiencia desde el otro lado del seminario, me pregunto cómo pude haber sido tan bendecida por un libro que aún desafía mi entendimiento?

Esto no es una nueva pregunta. La fe no es irracional, sino que es el comienzo de un discurso racional. La fe buscando entendimiento (fides quaerens intellectum)—el lema se atribuye a Anselmo (1033-1109; Arzobispo de Canterbury) en su libro, Proslogion, donde exploró la existencia y atributos de Dios [1]. La idea de la fe, antes de la comprensión sigue siendo consagrado en el método científico, por ejemplo, debido a que el método comienza necesariamente con una hipótesis (definición del problema) [2]. Incluso las palabras de esta frase es ininteligible sin algún acuerdo previo (un supuesto) en cuanto a su significado.

Mi incursión en la epistemología (el estudio del conocimiento) no está fuera de lugar en un estudio de Romanos. Teólogo James D. G. Dunn ve la apologética como uno de los tres objetivos de Pablo en Romanos. Por ejemplo, Pablo escribe: A la verdad, no me avergüenzo del evangelio, pues es poder de Dios para la salvación de todos los que creen: de los judíos primeramente, pero también de los gentiles (Romanos 1:16). Los otros dos objetivos son un objetivo misionero [3] y un objetivo pastoral. Dunn destaca una preocupación pastoral por la unidad entre los cristianos judíos y gentiles que constituían las iglesias en Roma [4]. Paul es un escritor disciplinado que por lo general establece objetivos en su introducción y los resume al final—en Romanos 15:7-13.

El énfasis de Pablo en Romanos sobre la relación entre los Judios y gentiles establece un tipo de tema del hermano, como a menudo se señala en el libro del Génesis [5]. Sin embargo, en Romanos, Pablo usa la tensión entre los Judios y gentiles como un stand en una especie de falsa dicotomía nurture/naturaleza [6]. El argumento es que con la ley que nos nutrimos de nuestro estado natural de pecado—la fuente tradicional de orgullo judío. Sin embargo, lo que podría parecer como una o la otra argumento es usado por Pablo como un ni-ni argumento. Pero para Pablo, ni nuestras habilidades naturales (Romanos 1:18-32), ni la tutoría de la ley (Romanos 7:5) son suficientes para ganar la gracia de Dios. Ninguno de los hermanos (Judio o Gentil) pueden reclamar la justicia de Dios.

Aquí es donde el ejemplo de Abraham se convierte en instrumental. Abraham no era justo en sí mismo o por sus acciones. Pablo escribe: Le creyó Abraham a Dios, y esto se le tomó en cuenta como justicia (Romanos 4:3). Al igual que el hijo pródigo no se merecía el perdón de su padre, ni qué nos merecemos el perdón de Dios (Lucas 15:11-23). Así que al igual que Abraham: En consecuencia, ya que hemos sido justificados mediante la fe, tenemos paz con Dios por medio de nuestro Señor Jesucristo (Romanos 5:1).

¿Cómo podemos ser bendecidos por algo que no entendemos? Somos hijos e hijas de Dios por medio de Jesucristo.

[1] http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/anselm/

[2] Los pasos a menudo empleados en el procedimiento son: necesidad sentida, la definición del problema, la observación, el análisis, la decisión, y teniendo la responsabilidad. Stephen W. Hiemstra. June 2009. “Can Bad Culture Kill a Firm?” pages 51-54 of Risk Management.  Society of Actuaries.  Accessed:  18 February 2014. Online:  http://bit.ly/1cmnQ00.

[3] Apóstol – Romanos 1:1; el apoyo a un viaje misionero a España; Romanos 15:24.

[4] Por tanto, acéptense mutuamente, así como Cristo los aceptó a ustedes para gloria de Dios (Romanos 15:7). James D.G. Dunn.  1993.  “Letter to the Romans” pages 838-50 of Dictionary of Paul and His Letters.  Edited by Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid.  Downers Grove:  InverVarsity Press.  Pages 839-40.

[5] Genesis has lots of brothers, including—Cain/Abel, Isaac/Ishmael, Jacob/Esau, and Joseph/brothers—which drive the theme of.

[6] My thanks to Professor Rollin Grams of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary,Charlotte, NC for suggesting this argument in  ET/NT 543 New Testament and Christian Ethics, May 20-24, 2013.

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Music Therapy by Jessica Hiemstra

Jessica Hiemstra
Jessica Hiemstra

Music Therapy by Jessica Hiemstra

Our guest blogger today, Jessica Hiemstra, writes about a topic dear to my heart.  As a chaplain intern at Providence Hospital (www.provhosp.org), I found music extremely helpful in ministering to non-verbal patients.  Young children, advanced Alzheimer’s patients, and people under stress respond to music in ways that can at times be dramatic. Jessica is a music student (see details below) and discusses music therapy in ministering to a student with autism.

Music Therapy

Two years ago I got an email out of the blue forwarded from my band director. It mentioned a woman seeking someone with musical skill to work with her son who has autism. At that point I was heavily involved with music and I love working with people so I decided to contact her and began working with her son. What a blessing this has turned out to be.

Centering

Her son, Michael [1], had difficulty communicating especially with someone he did not know, yet once I started to sing a song he knew (at his pace) he would sing along. The goal of each session was to get Michael to interact as much as possible through singing. At first he would sing the main word in the phrase of the song, but as time progressed, he was singing every word of every song with me.

Varying Routine

During the second summer I was determined to bring in new songs and chants. At that point, I was only singing songs in major keys (such as Mary Had a Little Lamb and Jingle Bells). Later, I decided to introduce songs in a different mode similar to minor (This Train is Bound for Glory and the Ants Go Marching). We then added chants with hand motions. At first I would just sing them to him so he could hear how they sounded and only a few days later he was already singing them with me and doing the hand motions.

Benefits

As the second summer progressed, Michael’s behavior changed both in and out of the music session. Initially, it took the first five minutes for him to stop running around the house and to be seated, ready for music. By the end he was inviting me into the room saying “music!” as he recognized that when I came over it was time for singing. He would also say “all done!” when we finished singing a song, and by the last session of the second summer, he gave me a hug. The transformation from being just his music therapist to being someone he trusted enough to give a hug. This was far beyond any other reward I could ever be given.

Biography

Jessica Hiemstra is currently a student at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University (www.peabody.jhu.edu) working towards her Bachelor of Music degree in clarinet performance and music education. She loves sharing Christ through her teaching as well as with those around her on campus. Also, she is a leader in the River, the Peabody Christian Fellowship, and is active in sharing the Gospel on campus outside of organized fellowship. She hopes to teach both in the schools and privately in the future, while still remaining active in the church and in advancing the Gospel.

1/ Michael is a pseudonym.

 

Also see:  Looking Back 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2vfisNa

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Thurman: Re-imagining Pain at the Cross

Howard Thurman's Disinherited
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Thurman: Re-imagining Pain at the Cross

Howard Thurman.  1996. Jesus and the Disinherited (Orig Pub 1949).  Boston:  Beacon Press.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a pastor who carried at least two books with him wherever he went.  One comes as no surprise:  a Bible.  The other was Howard Thurman’s Jesus and the Disinherited (xii).  When I heard this, I was curious to read Thurman.

Who is Howard Thurman?

Howard Thurman (1899–1981) was one of the three most influential African American preachers of the 20th Century.  He was also an author, philosopher, theologian, educator, civil rights leader, and Dean of Chapel at Howard University and Boston University for more than two decades[1].

Thurman is a powerful, yet humble writer.  In his preface, he wonders out loud:  Why is it that Christianity seems impotent to deal radically, and therefore effectively, with the issues of discrimination and injustice on the basis of race, religion, and national origin?  (8)  He goes on to write:  the striking similarity between the social position of Jesus in Palestine and that of the vast majority of American Negroes is obvious to anyone who tarries long over the facts (ix).

Social Position

Using social position to interpret the person and teaching of Jesus marks Thurman as an antecedent of liberation theology.  The basic idea is that starting from a position of affluence and privilege when Jesus was poor and marginalized makes it hard to interpret Jesus’ words and teaching correctly.  It is easier to interpret Jesus when your own social position (poor and marginalized) is roughly the same.  If you substitute the neutral word “context” for “social position” in this sentence, then virtually every hermaneutics instructor today would agree.

Thurman argues that taking Jesus out of context, particularly social context, allows interpreters to insert their own social context and read Jesus’ words in ways not intended.  In effect, he is arguing that Christianity’s impotence in dealing with discrimination and injustices has at its core a misunderstanding of the Biblical accounts themselves.

Still, “social position” does not substitute easily for “context” as an upper-middle class hermaneutic.  In my work at Providence Hospital in northeast Washington DC, I was shocked to learn that how common the scars of violence were among African American patients.  While it is rare among white Americans to know someone who has been shot or murdered, it is common among African Americans—such trauma is part of their daily lives.  How can someone correctly read an account in the Bible subtly referring to indignities committed when those same indignities are outside one’s personal experience?  “Social position” does not substitute easily for “context” as an upper-middle class hermaneutic.

Thurman describes Jesus’ social position as a poor Jew from a minority group—a Galilean (16-18).  Worse, Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth was within a couple miles of Sepphoris—a Roman garrison burned to the ground just before Jesus’ birth in response to a Galilean rebellion.  Thurman speculates that, as a young carpenter, Jesus probably helped rebuild Sepphoris and was no doubt painfully aware of his own social position (18).  For example, do you think someone from Centreville, Virginia might be totally ignorant of the Battle of Manassas, Virginia (5 miles away) twenty years after the Civil War?  Thurman has clearly tarried over the facts here.

Sepphoris

Evidence that Jesus was personally affected by his context shows up in his use of the word, hypocrite (e.g. ὑποκριτά; Luke 6:42 BNT).  In the Greek before Jesus, hypocrite meant primarily ‘play-actor, role-player’ (BDAG 7615).  In the Old Testament, by contrast, hypocrite appears only twice in the Book of Job in the Septuagint (Greek translation) and the Hebrew word used denotes profane (וְֽחַנְפֵי Job 36:13 WTT; also Job 34:30), not two-faced as in a role-player.  Why would Jesus be aware of this Greek word?  Sepphoris had a Greek amphitheatre.  Jesus no doubt knew first-hand what an actor was and he re-defined the word in his own usage.  Thurman (72-73) makes the point that Christians on the margin of society need to be especially vigilant in avoiding hypocrisy.

Clearly, even in Nazareth Jesus was not isolated from the tensions of his day—and he was not a Roman or even a privileged Jew.  Writing as an African-American man in the 1940s, Thurman observes:  If a Roman soldier pushed Jesus into a ditch, he could not appeal to Caesar; he would be just another Jew in a ditch (33).  Do you think that Thurman wrote from personal experience?  The answer is clearly yes (78-79).

Outline of Thurman’s Disinherited

Thurman’s Jesus and the Disinherited is a short book with only 5 chapters and an epilogue.  The chapter titles speak to his concerns:

  1. Jesus–An Interpretation.
  2. Fear.
  3. Deception.
  4. Hate.
  5. Love.

He writes a brief preface.  The forward is written by Vincent Harding.  Thurman’s audience is not primarily white Americans, although he recognizes that they are probably listening.  No, he writes a cautionary note to African American Christians about how to remain faithful in a context of persecution.

Reading Thurman changed the way that I read scripture.  In quiet moments, I use a mind experiment to highlight the importance of context.  Imagine Jesus sitting on a stool in the middle of a room with four walls.  Each wall has a different landscape picture—say, a beach scene, a workroom, a kitchen, a barnyard.  Now, imagine walking around Jesus with a video camera so that you picture him against each of these landscapes.  How does the change in context color your perception of Jesus?  Having finished this exercise, repeat this experiment with different social groups; different social situations. If context is fluid and carelessly employed, we get whatever view of Jesus that is most congenial to our own social position.

Summary

Thurman’s Jesus and the Disinherited is an important, but hard, book to read—especially if you do not agree with everything that is said.  His critique is particularly convicting for me knowing that he taught at Howard University—only a few miles from where I grew up and within walking distance of the hospital where I interned as chaplain.  Thurman observed and experienced racism, but he also rejected hatred, fear, and bitterness.  Out of great pain, Thurman speaks with an authentic, Christian voice.  We should too.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Thurman.

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Prayer Day 16: A Christian Guide to Spirituality by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Available on Amazon.com
Available on Amazon.com

Loving Father. You clothe the birds that neither spin or reap (Matt 6:26). You send the rain and the sunshine on the just and the unjust without discrimination (Matt 5:45). You make the day and the night to bless us with activities and with sleep (Gen 1:5). We cast our obsessions and addictions at your feet. In the power of your Holy Spirit, heal our relationships and soften our hearts that we might grow more like you with each passing day. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

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