informed and formed by what?

We live in a time of mass information, at all of our fingertips, 24/7. There’s no question that we can find a lot of help in answering questions and solving problems. And we can learn quite a bit, as well. One remarkable source, for whatever just criticism it receives, is Wikipedia, which I think on balance is quite good. And of course there’s all the many news sources.

But as followers of Jesus, of God’s church, we need to steep ourselves and be steeped in something more, something better than all of this. Not that these things don’t have their place, as long as we separate the wheat from the chaff, the good from the bad. What we need is a commitment to discipline ourselves in the basics of the Christian faith which we confess. We need to be regularly in God’s word, in scripture. A good goal is to read through the Bible every year, and there are programs and even Bibles to help us do that. I like the idea, adopted by Thomas Cranmer (who at least oversaw and edited, as well as wrote, from scripture and tradition, the Book of Common Prayer) of reading through the Old Testament once, and the New Testament twice a year.

I like to listen to scripture being read, as well as read it myself, the latter which I am mostly doing now. Add to that, we need to read good books from the church, which have respect for the tradition, that is what God has given the church over the centuries, and are intent in breaking new ground within that tradition, which is committed to scripture as God’s word written. We need to keep working at this little by little, one thing at a time, gathering knowledge and the corresponding wisdom which comes with that, over the years. And finding God’s Spirit to help us in down to earth ways where we live, and “where the rubber meets the road,” to meet the challenges and pitfalls of life, as well as simply living in the full will of God in Jesus.

There is no question that we live in a world which can be quite toxic in what we imbibe, not only in the physical environment, but to the point here, in what we are thinking theologically and philosophically, and from that just what “the good life is,” and how we should live. Of course for us in Jesus, this is all about death and resurrection in and through him. We live in Jesus both for him, and for others. We are on mission here from God in and through Jesus.

And so while we will be exposed to much that is not helpful, or is even downright toxic, some of that probably necessary if we’re to face the real world, we need to be those who by God’s grace are passionate to be instilled in the faith of the gospel in and through Jesus. A faith that is large in scope, as big as all of creation and all of life here. So that we can live out and speak of God’s will in Jesus in our own daily lives, within our families and into our everyday world and beyond, being changed more and more into the image of Jesus together, in and for the world.

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2 comments on “informed and formed by what?

  1. I agree with you.
    As “followers of Jesus”…..”What we need is a commitment to discipline ourselves in the basics of the Christian faith which we confess. We need to be regularly in God’s word…..”

    Which one is the Most Important Commandment, according to the words of our Lord God Jesus speaking in complete sentences? (Matthew 22, Mark 12)

    Blessings following the Jesus of the Gospels,

  2. You said, QUOTE:
    “I like to listen to scripture being read, as well as read it myself…..”

    Which “scripture” specifically? Paul’s letters?
    Is this site call “Paul community”?

    If it’s “Jesus Community”, maybe you could try listening to the Gospels of the Apostles Matthew and John, since they were both eye-witnesses of Jesus’ entire ministry for 3 1/2 years. They are the best sources for personal information on Jesus, more than the letters of Paul the Pharisee, who never knew Jesus personally during His earthly ministry.

    Many self-professed “Bible-believing Evangelicals” won’t listen to the words of Jesus, because they are brainwashed through reciting their “mantra” – “all scripture is God-breathed.”

    This “Evangelical Mantra” has been accepted by the collective subconscious mind of “The Evangelical Church” without thought, question, reflection, or even 2 witnesses from the Scripture itself. It’s based on a misinterpretation, out of context, of one verse in one letter written by one man, Paul the Pharisee, who was unfamiliar with the personal ministry and teaching of Jesus.

    But, “Once an idea has been accepted by your subconscious, it remains there and it governs your behavior until it is replaced or changed.” [ as a pastor named Bishop Dale C. Bronner observed in one of his sermons]

    (Definition from the American Heritage Dictionary.) Mantra (noun) (Hinduism.) A sacred formula believed to embody the divinity invoked and to possess magical power, used in prayer and incantation.

    When cult members repeat their mantra, it makes them deaf to the voice of God, unable to hear God. Instead, it puts their focus on their one “special man” above all others – his personality, words and teachings, character, life example, feelings, experience, intentions, mind, will, emotions, etc. Their cult leader is their hero – he is always right, could never be wrong about anything specific, and he must be obeyed in all things and never questioned. He will give himself a special title, write at least one special book, and claim special authority, with no need for a second witness to back him up.
    Here are 3 examples.

    .1) Fuhrer. The title of Adolf Hitler as the leader of the German Nazis, author of “Mein Kamph”. Mantra: “Heil Hitler.”

    .2) The self-appointed Prophet Muhammad, author of The Koran. Mantra: …..”and Muhammad is his prophet.”

    .3) Paul the Pharisee, the self-appointed Apostle to the Gentiles, whose 13 letters comprise one third of what, today, we call the “New Testament.” (The first, original “New Testament” was composed by the second century heretic Marcion, and he coined the term “New Testament.” His new “book” contained nothing except 10 of Paul’s letters and an abbreviated Gospel of Luke. There were no other “New Testament” books, and the Hebrew Scriptures were the “Old Testament” which was irrelevant, according to the heretic Marcion.) Mantra: “All Scripture is God-breathed….”

    I got my Masters Degree at Dallas Theological Seminary. I was attracted to the school because they put Paul’s mantra of “All Scripture is God-breathed” above everything else, and I wanted to heed Paul’s command and “Preach the Word” like Paul….

    This mantra is a misinterpretation out of context of 2 Timothy 3:16. It ignores the previous verse, 2 Timothy 3:15, which clearly indicates that Paul was NOT referring to his own letters when he wrote the words “All Scripture.”

    Paul was probably making reference to some of the Hebrew Scriptures, quite likely including the Law and the Prophets. We cannot be completely certain exactly which “Scriptures” Paul meant in “All Scripture”, and what Paul meant by “God-breathed.” Why can’t we be certain?

    Because we must establish a matter by the testimony of two or three witnesses, especially something as important as “What is the Word of God.” No one else in the pages of the Bible besides Paul ever said anything like “All Scripture is God-breathed”. And Paul only said it here, one time, in the middle of a personal letter.

    The Apostle Peter made reference to “Prophecy of Scripture,” not “All Scripture,” and no it’s not the same thing at all. Jesus never said anything like that. And no one, not even Paul, ever said that all Scripture was equal.

    I remember the general approach to the Bible at Dallas being that “every word in the 66 Books is the Word of God”….. and we should interpret it based on “the intended meaning of the author in the historical grammatical context.”

    That is the basic idea of the heavy-duty seminary language we were being trained in. It sounds so right, so intelligent, so professional, so “godly”….. but it is fundamentally flawed.

    When we look at Paul’s teachings and testimony about himself, (in his letters that make up 1/3 of the New Testament,) we should NOT immediately ask ourselves; “what did Paul say, what did Paul mean, and how does this apply to my life?” The fundamental question is NOT “what was in the mind of Paul?”

    Before any of that, the FIRST question to ask is; “does Paul agree with Jesus, who came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets?”

    Paul contradicted himself, and his teachings and testimony about himself don’t harmonize with the teachings of Jesus (or with Luke’s record of his life.) Let’s not waste our time with endless debates about “what Paul really meant” with his wacky teachings about “baptizing the dead” or “there is neither male nor female.” Paul was wrong. Jesus reminds us from The Law “at the beginning, the Creator made them male and female.” [Matthew 19:4, Genesis 1:27]

    As to the question of “whether the Bible is ALL truly Gods WORDS”…

    The underlying unspoken assumption is that “The Bible” (66 Books) was given to us by God as “one book” and it’s all “equal” in level of authority, priority, and importance. This comes from unconsciously believing Paul’s mantra, the “Evangelical Mantra”, that “All Scripture is God-breathed”, and falsely assuming Paul was referring to every word in the 66 Books of the Bible. Yet even here, not even Paul, not even once, ever said that “All Scripture is EQUAL” in authority, priority, and importance.

    No one in the pages of the Bible ever said or wrote that “all Scripture,” or “the Bible,” is “all truly God’s words”. Jesus never said anything like that, and Jesus did not see it that way. Jesus did not see even the Hebrew Scriptures, what we call the “Old Testament”, as a whole unit or book that was all equal or “all truly God’s words.” Jesus spoke of The Law, or The Law and the Prophets, holding these 2 sections of the Old Testament above the third, least important sections the “Writings.” And Jesus held the Psalms, the first book of the “Writings” section, above the other books in the “Writings” section in importance, since some parts of some Psalms are prophetic.

    Obviously, the New Testament Scriptures were not written when Jesus was walking the earth. But if we want to get closest to The Source, Jesus himself, it makes sense that we should look first to the eyewitness testimony of two of His appointed Apostles who walked with Him faithfully for over 3 years, Matthew & John. (Also to other eyewitness testimony, recorded by Mark and Luke.) This is more accurate, important, and authoritative than personal letters written by Paul the Pharisee, who never knew Jesus personally, had no part in His ministry, and had no eyewitness testimony.

    We should follow the Jesus of the Gospel writers. We should not follow the “jesus” of Paul the Pharisee or Muhammad or any other man, who had their own ideas of who “jesus” was and what He did.

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