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Italian Magnum Opus

November 27th, 2011

In A Brief History of Time, Carl Sagan introduces the Cambridge Professor of Mathematics, Stephen Hawking,  by saying something thoughtful:  “We go about our daily lives understanding almost nothing about the world” (ix).  Maybe Sagan was speaking more of himself than for Christians (see Romans 1:19-21).  But, it does appear that he had a valid point.  Our problem with a purely Marlamaterial position of the world is that it is strongly tilted toward a set of presuppositions which exclude outside forces  (namely the Lord God) from the git-go.    That is why, when people sometimes state, “I believe in Science,”  they are actually admitting to a higher power that is observable.  An immediate problem here involves the nature of God being spirit, not chemical or a mere force field (John 4:24).  So, end of discussion, right?

The world from a physical standpoint does have four fundamental forces: (1)  Gravitational  (2)  Electromagnetic  (3) Weak Nuclear, and (4)  Strong Nuclear.  The Bible writer to the Hebrews, in 1:3, 10-12; 10:3 , presents Christian faith as including a  cosmological view of things.  So, those forces for Hawking are contained; while for Christians they are contingent.  Allowing for this data, we may move into the discussion of God in history.

There appear to be some firm components in the mind of the apostle Paul.  One such idea is that God is at work in the world.  But, even before Paul, we may delve into what Jesus himself thought of the world.  What kind of a place is it neighborsanyway?  For, to think as Jesus thought, to feel as he felt, and to see as he saw , we will need to acquire his set of beliefs (or, belief system).  John 5:17 captures this assumption in a  few words. Jesus believed that the Father was at work in the world, and that he was also involved in this magnum opus.  When the gospel is preached and people respond in baptism, they are raised by the power of God out of the watery grave of Christian baptism.  This is the Lord’s  continuation of John 5:17.  This is furthermore a call to believers to participate in the work of God (opera in Italian), by submitting to his plan.  If it begins here, commencing in baptism, it takes the believer far away and yet nearer to the one who calls.  This may be seen in Philippians 1:6, where the work of God in history has high continuity with John 5:17 and Colossians 2:12.

Why then emphasize making new friends or teaching worldview to bambini in Italy?  Of course, it is part of the plan!  Sagan and Hawking have done their homework and have gained the plaudits of men.  But, they have also limited their world with the rejection of any divine working in cosmos or history.  That is because of the Science, right?  Think again.  Sagan may know why stars twinkle (to the human eye), but we know why they shine on (Rom. 1:19-21; Ps. 19:1-6; Mal. 4:2; Dan. 12:3).    The great Italian Magnum Opus does not belong Albertaexclusively  to Columbus, Galileo, or Fermi.  The sub-atomic level may appear random; neutrinos, for example.  But, the speed of light is still a constant (300,00 kilometers per sec.).  Dare to participate in the drama.  Jesus will meet you there (Jn. 5:17; Col. 2:12; Phil. 1:6).  Pronto?

Should Doctrinal Diversity Be Celebrated?

September 20th, 2008

“It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way”

(Proverbs 19:2, NIV)

The apostle Paul said, “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10). Jesus, himself, said, while on earth-“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one…” (John 17:20).

1 Corinthians 1:10 and John 17:20 are just some of the New Testament exhortations to base unity upon the name of Christ and the apostolic word. This admonition, however, has been set aside by a celebration of doctrinal diversity. But, one might ask, what’s wrong with doctrinal diversity? After all, we celebrate diversity within college circles and Olympic venues from London to Beijing. The main problem with doctrinal diversity is that it is not built upon a base of approved biblical knowledge. Paul uses this same critique in Romans 10:2, “I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.” To base one’s religion upon zeal without knowledge has long been wrong (Proverbs 19:2; Hosea 4:1,6; 1 Timothy 6:20).

Doctrinal diversity should definitely not be celebrated nor commended. Celebration should be based upon zeal with knowledge.

-Robert M. Housby

Reasons for Learning Genesis

June 29th, 2008

“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:5, ESV)

Before we provide some major thinking about why one would (and should) desire to learn Genesis, we wish to point out something about Romans 15:4, within the very context of Romans. Let it be said and settled that Romans 15:4 includes the book of Genesis. By consulting the United Bible Societies’ The Greek New Testament (eds. Aland, Black, Martini, Metzger, and Wikgren) Second Edition, Index of Quotations (pp. 897-98) we have counted not less than 22 references to Genesis in Romans.

Why Study Genesis?

1. It is Scripture (Matt. 19:4-6).

2. It gives us a past perspective, increasing our sacred memory.

3. It reminds us that the Lord God is not detached from the world, but active in universal history.

4. It develops a Theology of Blessing (barak , see 5:2; 9:1,26; 12;1-3); which unifies the pre-patriarchal narrative (1-11).

5. It develops the Theme of Seed (see 1:29; 3:15;4:25; 7:3; 9:9,27!; 12:3/Gal. 3:16); this will involve suffering, “bruised heel”.

6. It develops a Theology of Covenant ( 6:18; 9:9-17; 15:18; Ch. 17); contributing significantly toward a unifying center of Genesis.

7. It develops a Theology of Promise (17:7; 28:21; and, another formula: 15:7). Note a three-fold (tripartite) promise in the former formula). 2 Cor. 1:20 is important.

-Robert M. Housby

Categories: Bible, Genesis, New Testament, Romans Tags:

Learning to Count Again

December 2nd, 2007

Sometimes people in the hard sciences such as physics have said daring and even spiritually applicable things. Such is the case in the following observation-quote from the great German physicist, Albert Einstein.

Not everything that counts can be counted,
and not everything that can be counted counts.

We think that Einstein was making a statement here, not only about materially quantifiable data (including star-light), but also about a sociology of valuing people above things. As Christians, we trace our religion back to the patriarch Abraham (Romans 4:16). And, the promise of Genesis 22:17 inevitably comes to mind—“I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven…” (see Hebrews 11:12).

The French mathematician Blaise Pascal also said something about the counting of the stars. In his Pensees, he wrote, On Man’s Disproportion to the Universe…
marvel at the fact that Earth is merely a tiny point compared to the stars which roll through the firmament. But if our gaze stops there…it will grow tired…For
finally, what is man in nature? He is nothing in comparison with the infinite, and everything in comparison with nothingness, a middle term between all and nothing…we are something, and we are not everything.
Listen to Pascal’s breathtaking conclusion—“Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature; but he is a thinking reed…the universe knows nothing of this.”

Yes, man is immensely disproportionate to the stars! But, man can comprehend the stars; the stars will never reciprocally ponder man! May we learn to count again—to learn; to live; to love—the things which truly matter (John 17:3).

– Robert M. Housby

Romans and the “Being Good Without God” Philosophy

January 14th, 2007

“All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”

(Romans 3:23)

The need to study Romans is tremendous. Why? One reason why Romans deserves to be studied and re-studied, is due to the resurgent philosophy of being good without God trend in the world today. Turn on any popular television talk show and you are very likely to hear about self-help, psychology, and theology, which elevates man to the position of being his own god (literally!) or, simply the non-relevance of God; or, the relativistic—that’s just your truth (Phil 2:9-11!); or, the contrived—freedom from religion, instead of freedom of religion (Col. 1:16-18).

This “Being good without God” philosophy is being advocated on many levels. A brief listing of some areas and examples of this include:

1. “Law = repression; decriminalization = freedom” (Ronald Beiner, “Foucault’s Hyper-liberalism,” Critical Review, Summer 1995, pp. 353-54). (See Romans 2:12, etc.).

2. Amorality instead of immorality (i.e. denial that moral absolutes should or do exist). (See Romans 1:28, etc.).

3. Autonomous man (see Jer. 17:9; Mk. 10:18; Rom. 3:9-18; etc.).

4. Ethics as social construct created by language, not God. (see Richard Rorty; Michael Foucault; Jacques Derrida; etc.) (see Romans 1:21, etc.).

5. Global Socialism and Multiculturalism. New standards to accommodate all of the anti-Christian elements of the world (United Nations; UNESCO; UNICEF; etc.) A politically correct world where all ideas, lifestyles, and religions are of equal philosophic value and any one god is not better than any other (see Acts 4:12; Rom. 6:15-23). All men are good (see Matt. 7:11), not evil!

The basic problem here may be seen in John 3:16—“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”. If man may be good without God, why did Jesus die? If man just needs more human governmental agencies, then philanthropy, not the love of God, is what the world needs now. Yes, we need Romans now more than ever!

– Robert M. Housby

Categories: Bible, God, good, New Testament, Romans Tags:

End of the Road— Or Bend in the Road?

January 7th, 2007

When we feel we have nothing left to give
And we are sure that the song had ended—
When our day seems over and the shadows fall
And the darkness of night has descended,
Where can we go to find the strength
To valiantly keep on trying,
Where can we find the hand that will dry
The tears that the heart is crying—

There’s but one place to go and that is to God
And, dropping all pretense and pride,
We can pour out our problems without restraint
And gain strength with Him at our side—
And together we stand at life’s crossroads
And view what we think is the end,
But God has a much bigger vision
And He tells us it’s only a bend—

For the road goes on and is smoother,
And the pause in the song is a rest,
And the part that’s unsung and unfinished
Is the sweetest and richest and best—
So rest and relax and grow stronger,
Let go and let God share your load,
Your work is not finished or ended,
You’ve just come to a bend in the road

– Helen Steiner Rice

This poetry contains the Christian doctrine of perseverance and hope even in the face of perceived adversity. God is the difference between humanistic optimism, and optimism based upon Romans 8:22-28. Let God determine the ends and the bends.

– Robert M. Housby

2006, Romans 8:28, and Your Life

January 29th, 2006

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for
those who are called according to his purpose”

(Romans 8:28)

I read recently, “Living on earth is expensive, but it does include a free trip around the sun every year.” There can be no doubt about it, we are in motion, as we speak. The only question is—will your travels through this pilgrim place be meaningful? When the apostle Paul described the Christian life in Romans 8, he included a wonderful statement about “his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Notice some observations about this biblical text:

1. Christian conviction stems from absolute Christian knowledge “And we know…” (8:28).

2. Personal meaning is possible only through His Divine purpose“according to his purpose” (8:28).

3. Such a meaningful existence, as this, can even influence life’s lowest moments of human weakness and suffering (8:18,23,26; 31,37-39).

4. But, this insight of terrific purpose is qualified“for those who love God…and are called” (8:28).

Chrysostom reminds us that the “all” of 8:28 means “all” in the context of serving God, not mere arbitrary history. Will you serve in 2006? Won’t you put meaning in motion today!

-Robert M. Housby

Categories: Bible, man, New Testament, Romans Tags:

Serene the Snow

December 18th, 2005

(Prologue to 2006)

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”

(Romans 12:21)

A major movie box-office this year is, “The Chronicles of Narnia”, by C. S. Lewis. The story tells of four British children, displaced by the war: Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. In the movie, the children engage in a conflict of good and evil. The white witch sends a winter into the land of Narnia. The snow may appear serene, but in its beauty there is great deception.

It is written in Romans 12:21: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” This simple statement expresses what Christians are to do with their lives. It is always germane to being a Christian to “fight the good fight of the faith”(1 Tim. 6:12). The churches of Christ must be commended for their posture against evil. It will not always gain the plaudits of our peers, or be politically-correct, but righteousness must always be right and can never be wrong. Good must take the fight to Evil.

1. Reject any plan of salvation which is a different gospel (Gal. 1:6-9).

2. Take the fight to evil (Eph. 6:10-20).

3. Don’t stop now! Realize that good is always right (Gal. 6:9; 1 Cor, 15:58).

PLAN NOW TO SERVE THE LORD IN THE NEW YEAR WITH ALL
YOUR MIGHT, AS NEVER BEFORE
(Ecclesiatstes 9:10; Matt. 22:37-38).

-Robert M. Housby

Categories: Bible, evil, Romans Tags:

Blessed by the Gospel

November 7th, 2004

“We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known;
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing:
Sing praises to His name, He forgets not his own!”

(We Gather Together, Valerius’s Collection, 1626)

 

The term “gospel” is defined in modern English as, “good news.” The gospel derives itself historically from the ancient prophecy of Isaiah 52:7: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation…” The apostle Paul quotes this Isaiah passage in Romans 10:15.

We frequently use the term gospel and its meaning of good news to express what God has rendered to mankind through the preaching of Jesus Christ (Romans 16:25). In this brief expose, we shall consider how Luke’s Gospel shows the gospel to be a resource of blessing:

1. Luke begins and ends with a theme of “blessing” (1:28,42,45,48,68; 2:28, 34; 24:50,51). Although Luke begins his gospel with a historical format, we can see a theological theme of blessing merge and continue through the gospel.
2. Luke shows how “blessing” is a mutual activity (6:20,21,22; 7:23; 9:16;
10:23; 11:27,28; 12:37,38; 23:29).
3. The ending of Luke clarifies that the gospel is especially meant to
“bless”
(24:50-53; Genesis 12:3).

He blesses and blesses. Have we understood these things?

–Robert M. Housby

Categories: Bible, gospel, New Testament, Romans Tags: