Tag Archives: scripture

The Ladder of Divine Ascent: Renunciation of Life and Detachment

From The Ladder of Divine Ascent by St. John Climacus:

"We should love the Lord as do our friends. Many a time I have seen people bring grief to God, without being bothered about it, and I have seen these very same people resort to every device, plan, pressure, plea from themselves and friends, and every gift, simply to restore an old relationship upset by some monir grievance."

"[L]et no one tell me…that because of his addiction to pleasure he must be excused for remaining stuck in his sin. The more the putrefaction, the greater the need for treatment, if the uncleanness is to be done away with, for the healthy do not make their way to the doctor’s surgery."

"If you truly love God and long to reach the kingdom that is to come, if you are truly pained by your failings and are mindful of punishment and of the eternal judgment, if you are truly afraid to die, then it will not be possible to have an attachment, or anxiety, or concern for money, for possessions, for family relationships, for wordly glory, for love and brotherhood, indeed for anything of earth. All worry about one’s condition, even for one’s body, will be pushed aside as hateful. Stripped of all thought of these, caring nothing about them, one will return freely to Christ. One will look to heav and to the help coming from there, as in the scriptural sayings: ‘I will cling close to you" (Psalm 62:9) and ‘I have not grown tired of following you nor have I longed for the day or the rest that man gives’ (Jeremiah 17:16)."

Must Christians Support Israel?

[Cross-posted at RedBlueChristian]

I’ve heard many Christians imply or explicitly state that Christians ought to be supportive of Israel in ways that exceed our support of other nations. This is predicated on the notion that Israel is still a nation of God’s chosen people. I’m curious what their theological basis for believing this is.

The argument, as I understand it, is that God never backs out on a promise, let alone a covenant. Thus, the state of Israel, as the remnant of that once mighty nation, is favored by God. As such, Israel deserves the unwavering support of Christians, who are bound to protect that which is made holy by God. For me, this argument fails in two ways.

For the first, let’s assume that the Mosaic covenant (Exodus 19-24) is still in effect. In that case, I do not believe that the political entity known as Israel is identifiable as the other party contractually bonded with God. Through the work of Jesus Christ, Jews and Gentiles are united in one Mystical Body of Christ (c.f. Ephesians 2:13-18), and that body, the Church, is the new Israel. God did not stop favoring Israel. He did, however, redefine who are Israelites. In other words, in this view the Mosaic covenant was transferred to the Church and the modern political entity of Israel is not in a unique covenant with YHVH. Therefore, it deserves no extraordinary protection or unquestioning support from Christians.

For the second means of failure, we need not assume that the old covenants were transferred to the Church. Rather, the old Mosaic covenant (2 Corinthians 3:14; Hebrews 8:6,13) was terminated and replaced with the new Messianic covenant (Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Hebrews 8:8,13; 9:15; 12:24). The people of Israel were bound by the covenant to adhere to the Law. Since Israel had not adhered to the Law, God was not obliged to fulfill His end of the bargain, yet He continued to do so. During the times the Israelites did respect the Law, God made them a great nation. However, when they did not, He allowed invasions, exiles, and other calamities to befall them. Ultimately, the life, death, redemptive suffering, and resurrection of the Messiah were the final fulfillment of the Law and the old covenant. Jesus established a new covenant with a new Israel, chosen not by racial descent but by grace through faith, bound not by Law but love. In this view, even if the political Israel is identifiable with the nation of the old covenant, that covenant has been fulfilled and no longer binds either party. The Church is the new Israel and therefore the political nation of Israel deserves no extraordinary protection or unquestioning support from Christians.

In light of these two interpretations of God’s covenantial relationships with Israel and the Church, I wonder how Evangelicals and Fundamentalists defend the belief that Israel is still representative of God’s holy people. I’m no scripture scholar, so do not take my questions and assertions as surety on my part. I look forward to discussing this issue with those having opposing views. Given the current strife in the Holy Land, Christians’ role in the affairs of Israel has become a matter of some importance.

Update 03/24/06: Jerry Falwell has provided a perfect example of the kind of Evangelical reasoning I’m talking about.

There are three key reasons why Christians must support Israel.


* For Humanitarian Reasons.

* For Political Reasons.  The State of Israel has the only true democratic system of government in the entire Middle East and has been America’s most faithful supporter in the region.

* For Religious Reasons.  The founding of Israel as a nation in 1948 was ordained of God to provide a homeland for the Jewish people and to prepare for the future return of Jesus Christ.  The Abrahamic Covenant demands it.

  • I’m all for humanitarian aid, but I think it should be offered to all civilians hurt by this conflict, regardless of nationality.
  • Since the State of Israel has received unwavering support from the United States, I’m not surprised that it’s America’s most faithful supporter in the region. Anyhow, why should "faithful support" from them guarantee future unquestioning support from us?
  • The founding of Israel in ’48 was ordained by God?!? Says who? Proof, please.

Reflections on a Homosexual Bible Study (Part IV)

Read Part I of "Reflections on a Homosexual Bible Study"
Read Part II of "Reflections on a Homosexual Bible Study"
Read Part III of "Reflections on a Homosexual Bible Study"

So, we addressed the first part of Sodom’s sin. How about the second part?

…[They] went and served other gods and adored them, gods whom they did not know and whom he had not let fall to their lot… (Deuteronomy 29:25)

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Reflections on a Homosexual Bible Study (Part III)

Read Part I of "Reflections on a Homosexual Bible Study"

Read Part II of "Reflections on a Homosexual Bible Study"

Finally, verses from the Old Testament were featured. First we studied the story of Lot and the men of Sodom in Genesis.

The two angels reached Sodom in the evening, as Lot was sitting at the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he got up to greet them; and bowing down with his face to the ground, he said, "Please, gentlemen, come aside into your servant’s house for the night, and bathe your feet; you can get up early to continue your journey." But they replied, "No, we shall pass the night in the town square." He urged them so strongly, however, that they turned aside to his place and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking cakes without leaven, and they dined. Before they went to bed, all the townsmen of Sodom, both young and old–all the people to the last man–closed in on the house. They called to Lot and said to him, "Where are the men who came to your house tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have intimacies with them." Lot went out to meet them at the entrance. When he had shut the door behind him, he said, "I beg you, my brothers, not to do this wicked thing. I have two daughters who have never had intercourse with men. Let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you please. But don’t do anything to these men, for you know they have come under the shelter of my roof." They replied, "Stand back! This fellow," they sneered, "came here as an immigrant, and now he dares to give orders! We’ll treat you worse than them!" With that, they pressed hard against Lot, moving in closer to break down the door. But his guests put out their hands, pulled Lot inside with them, and closed the door; at the same time they struck the men at the entrance of the house, one and all, with such a blinding light that they were utterly unable to reach the doorway. Then the angels said to Lot: "Who else belongs to you here? Your sons (sons-in-law) and your daughters and all who belong to you in the city–take them away from it! We are about to destroy this place, for the outcry reaching the LORD against those in the city is so great that he has sent us to destroy it." So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had contracted marriage with his daughters. "Get up and leave this place," he told them; "the LORD is about to destroy the city." But his sons-in-law thought he was joking. As dawn was breaking, the angels urged Lot on, saying, "On your way! Take with you your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city." When he hesitated, the men, by the LORD’S mercy, seized his hand and the hands of his wife and his two daughters and led them to safety outside the city. As soon as they had been brought outside, he was told: "Flee for your life! Don’t look back or stop anywhere on the Plain. Get off to the hills at once, or you will be swept away." "Oh, no, my lord!" replied Lot. "You have already thought enough of your servant to do me the great kindness of intervening to save my life. But I cannot flee to the hills to keep the disaster from overtaking me, and so I shall die. Look, this town ahead is near enough to escape to. It’s only a small place. Let me flee there–it’s a small place, isn’t it?–that my life may be saved." "Well, then," he replied, "I will also grant you the favor you now ask. I will not overthrow the town you speak of. Hurry, escape there! I cannot do anything until you arrive there." That is why the town is called Zoar. The sun was just rising over the earth as Lot arrived in Zoar; at the same time the LORD rained down sulphurous fire upon Sodom and Gomorrah (from the LORD out of heaven). He overthrew those cities and the whole Plain, together with the inhabitants of the cities and the produce of the soil. But Lot’s wife looked back, and she was turned into a pillar of salt. Early the next morning Abraham went to the place where he had stood in the LORD’S presence. As he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and the whole region of the Plain, he saw dense smoke over the land rising like fumes from a furnace. Thus it came to pass: when God destroyed the Cities of the Plain, he was mindful of Abraham by sending Lot away from the upheaval by which God overthrew the cities where Lot had been living. (Genesis 19:1-29)

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Reflections on a Homosexual Bible Study (Part II)

Read Part I of "Reflections on a Homosexual Bible Study".

In the next four chapter sessions, same-sex conduct was defended. Almost every well-known section of the Bible that dealt with it was analyzed to divert attention from its homosexual aspects toward something else. Only after attempting to strip down inferred homosexual aspects of each Bible passage was the most obvious disapproving Bible passage of same-sex conduct introduced from Leviticus.

"You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; such a thing is an abomination." (Leviticus 18:22)

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