Thoughts 1 Corinthians 12:12-27

[begin rant]

One thing I find really frustrating about life here in the Grand Canyon Village where we live and pastor a church is how many people I meet and interact with who all claim to be Christians (even had one guy tell me he accepted Christ as his his personal Lord and Savior) and yet either will not or do not attend church (there is 1 Catholic church and 3 Protestant ones here to choose from).  The guy I mentioned does not either.  Until he met me just yesterday at my place of work, he did not even know there were any churches meeting in the Park, and he’s lived in the area at least 10 years (there are plenty of ways to find out if one is interested (postings aside).  Is there any excuse for this? It is hard for me to say yes.  I understand people have jobs and have to work and the one has to stand up for a particular day off (especially Sunday) or you’ll work mainly weekends and that all over the schedule.  But even so, the employers here don’t work people 16 hours a day every day.  Even if one works Sunday we have morning and evening services so folks who work Sundays can come to one or the other depending on their schedule.  But this is not often the case, in fact, it is extremely rare.

Why is it hard for people to come to church?  I understand the majority of people will not come unless they have some connection or relationship with some person in the congregation – but I know there are some who go of their own initiative.  I realize the Christian life is not about “going to Church” but about “being the Church – the body of Christ in the world”  Even so, if a person is going to call themselves a Christian it is their personal responsibility to identify with a community of Faith of some sortIf you are Christian, you need to be going to church at least some of the time and probably most of the time.

It seems in the Corinthian church there was a problem of divisions among the Christians such that people were not going to church (if we use modern language).  Paul used a very effective metaphor of a human body to describe the nature of the church and those who compose it.  He says in12:12, “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body.  So it is with Christ” (NIV). Then in verse 27 he says, “Now you [pl] are the body of Christ, and each one of you [sing?] is a part of it.”  The body of Christ is the many the make up the one.  Many people make up one body of Christ.  It is essential that all the parts be there for it to work properly.  If parts are missing, the body won’t function as well as it could with all the parts.

When people who claim to be Christians avoid church or won’t go for one reason or another – they are hurting the body of Christ, plain and simple.

Paul states in verse 18, “But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.”  When a person chooses not to attend church they are denying God’s working in their lives and maybe even calling God a liar!  Ouch, that is pretty harsh.  But I wonder, is it true? When a person becomes a Christian, he or she is placed into the body of Christ by God’s sovereign grace and purpose, for a purpose.  When we choose not to go to church or are failing to go on a regular basis for whatever reason, we are not functioning as God has intended and are in fact hurting the larger body of Christ.

In verse 21 Paul says “The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”  Yet, this is exactly what a lot of Christians do – they say they do not need the church nor desire to be a part of it.  They want to do their own thing their own way.

If this is the case, how can they call themselves a Christian?  To me, it is really bizarre.  But this is the case for many here.  They want to do their own thing their own way. The Canyon is their chapel or something else, but church is often not in the picture.

My rant because the church down the hall had 35 people this morning and we had 6….

[end rant]

Henry Nouwen on Solitude

Solitude is the furnace of transformation.  Without solitude we remain victims of our society and continue to be entangled in the illusions of the false self.  Jesus himself entered into this furnace.  There he was tempted with the three compulsions of the world: to be relevant (“turn stones into loaves”), to be spectacular (“throw yourself down”), and to be powerful (“I will give you all these kingdoms”).  There he affirmed God as the only source of his identity (“You must worship the Lord your God and serve him alone”).  Solitude is the place of the great struggle and the great encounter – the struggle against the compulsion of the false self, and the encounter with the loving God who offers himself as the substance of the new self.

This might sound rather foreboding.  It might evoke images of medieval ascetic pursuits from which Luther and Calvin happily saved us.  But once we have given these fantasies their due and let them wander off, we will see that what we are dealing with here is that holy place where ministry and spirituality embrace each other.  It is the place called solitude.

Henry J.M. Nouwen.  The Way of the Heart: Desert Spirituality and Contemporary Ministry. (Harper Collins, 1981), 25-26.

still more on politics

Here is one theme I think highlights the present Democratic Presidential campaign:


Yup, that’s it – Entitlements. Entitlements are those things you deserve no matter what.

According to Democrats the following entitlements belong to us:

the right to vote

the right to fair pay (here is an example)

the right to lower gas prices

the right to universal health care

the right to other people’s money (especially the evil rich) iow: special tax credits

the right to have the government pay your heating bill so you can afford cell phone and cable

on and on the list goes

It’s all really amazing! Note: none of these “rights” are noted in the Constitution. None. When will the silliness end?

RBL additions of interest

These are notable if not for the content then for who the authors and the reviewers are.

Markus Bockmuehl and Donald A. Hagner, eds. The Written Gospel. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Reviewed by David C. Sim

Mark D. Futato.  Interpreting the Psalms: An Exegetical HandbookGrand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2007. Reviewed by Howard N. Wallace

John Goldingay and David Payne.  Isaiah 40-55: A Critical and Exegetical Commentary.  London: T&T Clark, 2006.  Reviewed by Chris Franke. 

Birger A. Pearson.  Ancient Gnosticism: Traditions and LiteratureMinneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2007. Reviewed by James F. McGrath

Calvin J. Roetzel.  2 CorinthiansNashville: Abingdon, 2007.  Reviewed by Frank J. Matera

How to Read a Book: Analytical Reading. pt 3 – Determining an Author’s Message

I have been sharing parts of Adler and Van Doren’s How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading (Simon and Schuster, 1972).

How to Read a Book: Analytical Reading. pt 1. Classifying a book.

How to Read a Book: Analytical Reading. pt 2. Coming to Terms with an Author.

This post will continue to share points of what Adler and Van Doren call Analytical Reading. Analytical Reading is the third level of reading which the authors discuss in helping their readers understand the task of reading a book which involves more than simply decoding words but also understanding what is being read. Use of quotation marks or use of block quotes (more than two full lines of a quote) mean I quote the authors directly and then I summarize their explanations of the rules. Brackets and bolds are mine. Italics are original unless otherwise indicated.

The first part of finding out what a book says invovles the process of coming to terms with an author by interpreting his key words.  The second part of finding out what a book says involves determining an author’s message or leading propositions by dealing with his most important sentences. How do we do this? For review here is the rule regarding terms:

Rule 5. Find the important words and through them, come to terms with the author (98).

Rules 6 & 7 related to determining an author’s message are expressed as follows:

Rule 6: Mark the most important sentences in a book and discover the propositions they contain (120).

Rule 7: Locate or construct the basic arguments in the book by finding them in the connections of sentences (note: not paragraphs) (120).

In relation to Rule 6 it is important to understand the difference between sentences and propositions.  Adler and Van Doren note:

Sentences and paragraphs are grammatical units.  They are units of language.  Propositions and arguments are logical units, or units of thought and knowledge…. Propositions are the answers to questions (117).

Backing up a bit, the author’s write: “A proposition in a book is also a declaration….He asserts this or that to be fact.  A proposition of this sort is a declaration of knowledge, not intentions” (114).  At the same time, propositions are nothing but expressions of personal opinion unless they are supported by reasons” (115).  We need to know why we should be persuaded to accept them.   Propositions and arguments are a set or series of statements related to the grounds or reasons for what is to be concludedSentences on the other hand merely help to express further aspects of the proposition or argument.

Of course, this does not mean the conclusion is true since one or all the premises that support the argument may be false.  Even so, we’re trying to figure out what is being said.

How to we find the important sentences and how do we find the propositions contained therein?  Adler and Van Doren write:

From the author’s point of view, the important sentences are the ones that express the judgments on which his [or her] whole argument rests ….the heart of his [or her] communication lies in the major affirmations and denials he [or she] is making, and the reasons he [or she] gives for so doing (121).

In other words the important sentences are the ones the stand out or jump off the page and say “Hey, I am important!”  Another clue to determining important sentences is found in the words that compose them.  Here is where marking important words comes in since often, important sentences contain important words

One other clue is that the words in the sentence will connect to the main argument of the book.  Also, don’t focus on the sentences that interest you but the ones that puzzle you.  The ones that are puzzling are often key to the author’s arguments.

Once the important sentence is found one must determine the propositions contained therein.  This is just another way of saying you need to know what a sentence means.  What is being said?  Here is where context will be important as context is always King in interpretation.  The sentences before and after will be key.  Also, you will know and understand the proposition when you can state it in your own words.  You need to be able to somehow in some way relate to the general truth of the statement being made – if not, you don’t know what is being said.

One example of this in biblical studies would be in understanding James’ assertion “faith without works is dead.”  If you can’t relate to this statement or explain it in your own words, you may have no idea what it means.  Sadly, not many people understand what this means as it is to be understood.

Adler and Van Doren assert:

If you cannot get away at all from the author’s words, it shows that only words have passed from him [or her] to you, not thought or knowledge (126)…. Unless you can show some acquaintance with actual or possible facts to which the proposition refers or is relevant somehow, you are playing with words, not dealing with thought and knowledge (127).

We read books to interact with other people’s thoughts and to gain knowledge and understanding of a variety of things for a variety of reasons.  For example, we read the Bible to know God and be known by him.  But if we do not know what is being said in he Bible about God then we won’t be able to grow in our understanding of him.

Lastly, how do we determine the arguments being made by an author?  The following is a reformulation of Rule 7 stated above:

Rule 7: Find, if you can, the paragraphs in a book that state its important arguments; But if the arguments are not thus expressed, your task is to construct them, by taking a sentence from this paragraph, and one from that, until you have gathered together the sequence of sentences that state the propositions that compose the argument.

Some authors make this easy and some don’t.  St Thomas Aquinas make it easy as he puts forth his propositions at the beginning of each section and then expounds on the proposition.  However, not everyone does this so often we have to keep our eyes and pencils on the lookout for seemingly important sentences that would help determine an author’s argument.  The authors assert: “If a book contains arguments, you must know what they are, and be able to put them into a nutshell.  Any good argument can be put into a nutshell” (131).  Here Adler and Van Doren offer three steps to formulating the author’s argument:

In the first place, remember every argument must involve a number of statements…. In the second place, discriminate between the kind of argument that points to one or more  particular facts as evidence for some generalization and the kind that offers a series of general statements to prove some further generalization….  In the third place, observe what things the author says he must assume, what he says can be proved or otherwise evidenced, and what need not be proved becasue it is self-evident (132).

They go on to say:

Every line of argument, in other words, must start somewhere.  Basically there are two ways or places in which it can start: with assumptions agreed on between writer and reader, or with what are called self-evident propositions, which neither the writer nor the reader can deny (133).

Need a case of a self-evident proposition?  How about the first line of the Preamble of the Declaration of Independence? We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

There is an eighth rule in which the rules of analytical reading about terms, propositions, and arguments, can come to a head.  This eighth rule also governs the last step in the interpretation of a books contents by tying in the first stage of analytical reading (outlining the structure) and the second stage (interpreting its contents). It can be expressed as follows:

Rule 8: Find out what the author’s solutions are (135).

Find out what the solutions are?  This was covered in Rule 4 but these last three steps lead up to following through on that rule.  Rule 4 read as follows: Find out what the author’s problems were. The author of a book starts with a question or a set of questions. The book ostensibly contains the answer or answers.  Now that you have come to terms, determined the propositions, and figured out the arguments, its time to find the solutions!  Whoo-hoo!

Adler and Van Doren write: “When you have applied this rule (Rule 8), and the three that preceede it in interpretive reading, you can feel reasonably sure that you have managed to understand the book” (135). From this point on you are going to have a chance to argue with the author and express yourself.  More on that to come in the next post when we discuss how to criticize a book fairly!

That’s all for now folks!   Happy reading!

ps.  I hope these are helpful to someone as they take a lot of work to boil down to the basics and put together.  

more politics

Obama is for “change we can believe in” right?  Well, here is one of the first changes he will make.  He’s changed the historic Presidential Seal from “E Pluribus Unum,” which translates to “Out of many, one,” to “Vero Possumus” reports translate the Latin words as “Truly, we are able” — a rough translation of the Obama campaign slogan, “Yes we can.”

Check here for more:

The deletion of “E Pluribus Unum,” long considered the de-facto motto of the United States, is not accidental for multiculturalists (read: liberals), who have long denigrated the concept that immigrants must strip away their old culture in favor of the “oneness” of American civilization.

There are other changes to the seal as well:

Other Obama changes to the seal include the removal of the shield over the eagle’s breast, representing the president’s oath to defend the Constitution. The shield has been replaced with the letter “O” — presumably for Obama — and the image of a rising sun.

Perhaps he is not intending to defend the consitution?  Perhaps its all slick talk until he take oath for office and the tables will be turned?

What is this “change we can believe in“?

Take it to the Lord in prayer?

I heard this hymn the other day “What a friend we have in Jesus” and got to thinking about a key repeated phrase that comes up throughout: take it to the Lord in prayer.  Isn’t it true though, how much we forfeit how much we endure and put up with in life all because we either don’t or won’t take these things to the Lord in prayer?  Why do you think this is?  What is it that keep us from relating to the Lord in prayer?  Here is the Hymn:

What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.

2 Timothy 2:15 – my notes

Here are my efforts at working this verse.

σπούδασον σεαυτὸν δόκιμον παραστῆσαι τῷ θεῷ ἐργάτην ἀνεπαίσχυντον, ὀρθοτομοῦντα τὸν λόγον τῆς ἀληθείας.

My Translation:

Make every effort to present yourself as one approved to God, a worker who is not ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.


With all diligence present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who need not be ashamed [who] accurately handles the word of truth.

I like “diligence” too because it connects Paul with Peter who stresses “making every effort” and “be diligent” in living the Christian life (cf. 2Peter 1)

parse and explain your translation for σπούδασον (why you chose the word you did).

aorist active imperative from σπουδαζω – BDAG 939.3: to be especially conscientious to discharging an obligation, be zealous/eager, take pains, make every effort, be conscientious. Guthrie sees a notion of persistent zeal (New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the GNT, Zondervan 1998). Perhaps one could say here “have persistent diligence” or “have persistent zeal” – but “make every effort” says the same thing.

Something interesting about the aorist imperative is “the force generally is to command an action as a whole, without focusing on duration, repetition, etc.” The aorist imperative has different functions. Here it has the tone of a command. Wallace calls it “a summary command.” (Wallace, GGBB, 485). It seems Paul may be giving a command that applies to all of life not just certain instances. σπουδαζω here is also the main verb.

parse and explain your translation for παραστῆσαι (why you chose the word you did).

aorist active infinitive from παριστημι/παριστανω – for this I am going to go with BDAG 778.1.d which notes one use of παραστημι in relation to the language of sacrifice, offer, bring, present, which is also used in Romans 12:1 and would be consistent with Pauline usage. If this verse is in juxtaposition with the verses before and after it, it can take much work and sacrifice not to get sucked into the ways of the world (ie., face rejection, loose friends, etc). I can relate to this being a new Pastor in a context where it can be quite easy to be given over to an ungodly lifestyle.

It is possible this is a complementary infinitive (used with helping verbs to complete a thought) for this to be the case παραστημι/παριστανω has to nearly always occur with the infinitive. One could say here “be diligent to present yourselves…” “Make every effort to present yourselves…” (see also Wallace, GGBB, 598-99).

parse and explain your translation for ὀρθοτομοῦντα (why you chose the word you did).

present active participle from ὀρθοτομε͗ω – BDAG 722 to guide [something] along a straight path, in this case, the word of truth (the Scriptures); One could put accurately handling the word of truth.

Possibly an adverbial participle of manner meaning how the finite verb is carried out – here meaning in our diligence and work we rightly divide the word of truth. Or it is an adverbial participle of result – the result of the main verb – here the result of our diligence is rightly dividing the word of truth.


My whole point for putting this up is in looking at σπουδαζω I realized “study” did not fit the context or usage of the word and that it is not talking about the need to study our Bibles but rather living a godly life. Of course we are to read and study our Bibles but this isn’t the verse to argue that point (though telling this to a KJVO person would be futile).

Thanks to those who participated in working on the verse.

2 Timothy 2:15

Help me out here and translate the following verse:

σπούδασον σεαυτὸν δόκιμον παραστῆσαι τῷ θεῷ ἐργάτην ἀνεπαίσχυντον, ὀρθοτομοῦντα τὸν λόγον τῆς ἀληθείας.

parse and explain your translation for σπούδασον (why you chose the word you did).

parse and explain your translation for παραστῆσαι (why you chose the word you did).

parse and explain your translation for ὀρθοτομοῦντα (why you chose the word you did).

Also, no consulting the English until you complete the translation.  Make the reading as smooth as possible.