Towards a Catholic Christianity: Inadequate Proposals

In two previous posts, we noted an emphasis in Christ’s high-priestly prayer upon the theme of Christian unity (Part 1), as well as several factors that have prevented such unity from being fully realized (Part 2). Disagreements have led to divisions, which in turn have led to the formation of different denominations or sects. Not surprisingly, Christians have not agreed how to solve this dilemma. As a result, there have been different approaches to Jesus’ “unity prayer” in John 17. Continue reading

Adam and Eve in the Hands of an Angry God: A Fresh Look at Genesis 3:8

The first human sin is immediately followed by God’s juridicial inquest. When Yahweh-Elohim begins his inquest in 3:8, the humans respond immediately with fear and attempt to hide among the trees of the Garden. The divine inquest is clearly theophanic, though recent interpreters question the traditional rendering of the text that portrays Yahweh on a peaceful routine stroll through the Garden “in the cool of the day.” The wording in the Hebrew suggests the possibility of a different reading – one more awe-inspiring and dreadful. Continue reading

Toward a Catholic Christianity: The Major Obstacles

In the previous post (Part 1), we noted an emphasis in Christ’s high-priestly prayer (John 17) on the theme of Christian unity. Jesus desired that his disciples be united in creed, united in cause, and united in charity towards one another. Such unity should be important to us, inasmuch as it adorns the gospel and fulfills our Savior’s prayer. But the unity for which Christ prayed has not yet been realized. What’s the problem? Continue reading

Grasping for Godhood: The First Human Sin

God gave the man and woman access to all the trees of the Garden for food (Gen 2:9, 16) but forbade access to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Gen 2:17). The Serpent has cast God’s prohibition in a negative light. God is hiding the truth from the humans and doesn’t have their best interests in view (Gen 3:4-5). In response to the Serpent’s slanderous insinuation of God’s malevolent intentions toward the humans and his deceitful claim about the benefits of disobedience, the woman now focuses her attention on the tree. Continue reading

Toward a Catholic Christianity: Its Essence and Importance

When we hear the word, “catholic,” we usually think of the Roman Catholic Church. Because some of us believe the Church of Rome has terribly strayed from the gospel of Christ, we tend to view the term “catholic” in a negative light. In reality, though, the term “catholic” can be a good word. It simply means, “universal.” When it’s applied to the church, the term highlights the relationship that all true local churches bear to one another. Although the Bible distinguishes individual local churches, it also speaks of these churches collectively as “the church of Jesus Christ.” Continue reading

Passover or Cover-over? How Jesus Shields Us from God’s Wrath

A careful reading of Luke 22:14-20 reveals that the Lord’s Supper is closely associated with an OT Jewish feast called “Passover.” This fact underscores an important truth: Christianity is not at odds with the religion of the Old Testament. Rather, it’s the fulfillment of OT religion. That’s why Jesus appends the Lord’s Supper to the Passover. Not surprisingly, the apostle Paul actually refers to Jesus as “our Passover lamb” (1 Cor. 5:7). The implication is that if we want to understand and appreciate what Jesus did for us on the cross and what the Lord’s Supper symbolizes, we need to understand and appreciate the OT Passover. Continue reading

Rural Shepherd or Royal Sovereign? Another Look at Psalm 23

Psalm 23 may be the most well-known and well-loved passages of Holy Scripture. It certainly ranks high on the “playlist” of most Christians. Especially notable is its use of the “shepherd” metaphor to convey God’s provision and protection of his people: “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Unfortunately, many interpret this metaphor in purely pastoral motifs. They see Yahweh in terms of a rural shepherd but miss the strong royal overtones of David’s imagery. In doing so, they deprive themselves of some of the richness of the psalm’s encouragement. Continue reading

Father of Lies: The Serpent Casts Doubt on God’s Word

As we saw in our former post, the woman successfully parried the Serpent’s first attack by wielding the “Sword of the Spirit,” namely, God’s Word. But the Serpent’s initial exchange was designed only to set up the humans for his main attack. In the Serpent’s second communication with the woman (Gen 3:4-5), he advances an attack against the veracity of God’s word and the goodness of God’s character. Continue reading

Is God’s Love Like a Hurricane?

The first line of John Mark McMillan’s song “How He Loves” compares God’s love to “a hurricane” and the believer as “bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.” But hurricanes are overpowering forces that bring destruction, suffering, and, in some cases, death. Not surprisingly, the apparent dissonance of the metaphor and the glorious truth it’s meant to portray has left some people wondering whether a hurricane is an appropriate metaphor for God’s love. I believe it is. Continue reading