The Greatest Commandment: “And on Your Gates” (Part 7): Returning to the Question of Christians and Political Responsibility

Continue reading “The Greatest Commandment: “And on Your Gates” (Part 7): Returning to the Question of Christians and Political Responsibility”

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Two New Years

Blessed to see God set his calendar in Exodus 12:2 (part of “Bo” or “Go,” this week’s Torah portion) as I was reading it on January 1, I started musing about the significance of knowing God’s calendar.

departing train signs
Fig. 1: image courtesy of artur84 at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net.

Now, I have to confess, dear readers, that while I’ve been away these some… oh, 107 days (gulp! rough semester!), I’ve lost my infatuation with knowledge. In fact, I may have become a little anti-knowledge, which is why I’m intrigued about the connection between knowing God’s calendar and the exodus from Egypt.

Here’s the thing I never noticed before (sing it if you know the tune): “You can’t get one without the [beat] other.” That is, the children of Israel couldn’t get delivered without the calendar to tell them when to observe the Passover. If they  were the firstborn and they missed it, they were dead. People are destroyed for lack of knowledge.  And us? What does that mean for us? Can we get delivered from this final greater exodus to come if we don’t know the calendar? Continue reading “Two New Years”

Removed Links to Mikvah and Niddah: A Woman’s Guide to Family Purity (videos)

Links… and a window to my humiliation at attempting a Powerpoint + Audacity -> Windows Movie Maker = Youtube video. But I tried, and have far more respect for those who can do it well.

This is the original small group Bible study I led on Leviticus 15 and menstrual impurity. In part 1, you’ll see some NT scriptures related to purity and holiness. Part 2 gets to my favorite part: the picture that goes along with my analogy of niddah as a bubble.

Mikvah & Nidah Part 1  and Part 2—- Inactive! I will post a password if I reload these.)

(I disabled all comments on Youtube because I’m so embarrassed about how it looks & sounds, but I am willing to discuss the content of the videos over here on the blog.)

Take care, friends.
-Heather

What Does Your Bible Say about the Law: “Ceremonial, Civil, and Moral” or “Commandments, Judgments, and Testimonies”?

passover head table 5773 small 1   2013

Four Questions

1) Did you ever wonder where the term ceremonial came from?

2) And what did Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas mean when he called some laws ceremonial?

3) How did Aquinas decide which laws were ceremonial and which laws were civil or moral?

4) And finally, can we know how God describes his own law?

Four Replies Continue reading “What Does Your Bible Say about the Law: “Ceremonial, Civil, and Moral” or “Commandments, Judgments, and Testimonies”?”

Jesus on Putting Away (Divorce Part 4)

Here is part 4 of the divorce series where we finally get to look at the words of Jesus. I’ve explained and attempted to support the assumptions I’m bringing to this passage elsewhere in the series: the preface, part 1, part 2 and part 3. In sum, this is what those posts attempt to demonstrate:

  1. Deuteronomy 24:1 contains God’s instructions for getting a divorce, and if God has a way, his way is good, and holy, and just, which means divorce–done God’s way–can be good, holy, and just.
  2. A biblically legal divorce by definition allows for remarriage without committing adultery. Remarriage is not defiling except under the circumstance described in Deuteronomy 24:2-4.
  3. “Putting away” is not a synonym for “divorce” in Jewish culture. To be divorced means to be torah-legally free to remarry. To be “put away” means to be married to a spouse who has sent his wife away or a spouse who has departed from the house. The remaining spouse is described as an agunah, a person bound or chained to the marriage though the spouse is gone.

So, in short, that’s the framework that helps me make sense of the Matthew 19 passage, but I encourage you to look at the earlier posts to consider why I’m asserting those things and then search it out on your own to see if these things be true.

Continue reading “Jesus on Putting Away (Divorce Part 4)”

The Bible in 3-D

When I moved to Thornhill, Ontario, I remember seeing throngs of Orthodox Jewish families walking to synagogue as I was driving down Bathurst St. It was an ordinary day, overcast, unremarkable except that it was one of the strangest experiences of my life: as I looked at them, I saw scriptures in 3 dimensions! I saw Numbers 15:38 (tzitzit) swinging in the breeze. I saw the unmarred beards of Lev. 19:27. I was driving through a world where Exodus 20:8-11, the Sabbath, was not a tiny 2-dimensional square of text in an ancient book, but a 3-dimensional world. That 3-dimensional world became visible to me because those people were choosing to obey those 2-dimensional scriptures.

That’s the experience I think of when people talk to me about the law of God.

The law of God is not a curse (the curse of sin and death has been removed for us through Christ [Rom. 8:2]), not a burden (1 John 5:3),  and not too hard to do (Deut. 30:11-16).  Every God-breathed law implies a choice for someone somewhere at some time. In those moments when our lives intersect with one of God’s commands, we can choose to obey it or choose not to obey it. We can get the greatest possible spiritual potential from it, or we can disregard it. We can fulfill it or destroy it. We can bring the Word of God to life or close the book and make it of none effect.

We’re asked to do the word (Jam. 1:22). We hear it, believe it, and live it. May our understanding increase and may we see the opportunities God gives us follow Christ, to walk as Jesus walked in this world, to walk in all the ways the Lord our God commands us.

Non Sequitur from Galatians

I am probably the queen of logical fallacies, so this is not a criticism as much as it is a point of information pertaining to Tim Weidlich’s blog post called “I Hate the Law… Should I?” In it, he cites this popular passage from Galatians:

 For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace. But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us. For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love. (Gal. 5:4-6, emphasis mine)

The idea there is that the law doesn’t save us. I think we all agree on that. But then people tend to say that because the law doesn’t save us, we shouldn’t obey it. That’s where the non sequitur comes in.

Galatians, to put that quote in context, goes something like this: Paul explains how the question of keeping the law and being circumcised to be saved came up. Paul says we are saved by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. Paul has choice words regarding the people who confused the assembly in Galatia in the first place. End of book.

When an argument contains a non sequitur, it means the conclusion does not follow from the premises. It speaks neither to the truth of the premises nor the truth of the conclusion. It simply means there’s a disconnect, so the argument doesn’t work.

So here’s the fallacy that springs from the book:

Premise: We are saved by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ.

Premise: We are not saved by keeping the law.

Conclusion: We should not keep the law.

So now you’re probably thinking, “Right. That’s what I’ve heard my whole life. What’s wrong with it.” Well, let’s try that same line of reasoning with another thing that does not save us: driving a car.

Premise: We are saved by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ.

Premise: We are not saved by driving a car.

Conclusion: We should not drive a car.

Um, doesn’t that seem a little fishy? You might say, “Heather, whether we drive a car or not has nothing to do with salvation. This argument doesn’t make sense.” And you know what I would say? Exactly.

Let’s try it again just because it’s kind of fun.

Premise: We are saved by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ.

Premise: We are not saved by plucking daisy petals.

Conclusions: We should not pluck daisy petals.

That works just as well–as a non sequitur–as the first example. Do you see how whether we pluck daisy petals or not has nothing to do with how we are saved? Good. Because that’s the same error of those who say that because we are not saved by the law, we should not keep the law. Whether we keep the law or not has nothing to do with how we are saved. Whether we’re circumcised or not has nothing to do with how we are saved. Really, since Christ is the only thing that saves us, nothing else has anything to do with how we are saved!

Paul says it’s bad news for those who rely on the law to save them. It’s the same bad news for those who rely on circumcision to save them. It would be the same bad news for those who rely on driving cars or plucking daisy petals to save them.

Now, I haven’t proven the premise is true (that we are saved only by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ), and I haven’t proven the conclusion is true (that we should not keep the law). All I’ve done is suggest you can’t get to one from the other. Arguing that we shouldn’t keep the law because it does not save us is a logical fallacy. The law was never a means of salvation for any Jew or gentile.

What we should do or how we should respond to the faithfulness of Christ is another question, but Paul’s point is that the fundamental thing that reconciles us to God is the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. Accept no substitutes.

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