God is no respecter of persons…

Here are some thoughts on James 2 from brother Dave who wrote the following on his blog: (posted Sunday May 29th, 3:10pm)

While I’m on the subject of Bethel Hill, brother Chris led us in another excellent discussion of the book of James during our Sunday School class this morning. Today we were in chapter 2, a passage where James is very clear that God is no respecter of persons, which is a subject that is near and dear to my own heart as I was raised as an ethnic minority in Hawaii. Chris made it very clear that for us to show partiality of any kind would be a sin against the character of God. I don’t speak up all that often in Sunday School, but this morning I felt led to make two observations.

1) My first point was a theological one. The way we treat other people reveals what we believe about God. That is to say, favoritism has no place in the Christian life because it is contrary to the nature and character of God. Funny, I said to the class, how we Christians can study the so-called “attributes” of God — His omnipresence, His omniscience, His omnipotence, His immutability, His eternality, etc. — and yet fail to say anything about God’s impartiality.

2) I made my second point with something of the sensation of a man about to jump off a cliff with a cannonball tied to his leg. But it was a point I felt I had to make, especially in view of all the American flags flying everywhere on the church campus this morning, it being Memorial Day weekend. Our God is a color blind God, I said. I added: Our God is a dollar blind God. Our God is a status blind God. And then I said this: Our God is a nation blind God. To say or to imply that America is somehow a “holy nation” is, in my humble estimation, blasphemous.

The household of God (to which I belong by God’s grace) is the only holy nation on earth. It includes in its membership all Christians of all ages, all nationalities, all levels of social strata, all levels of intelligence. The lesson is clear. From the moment of my conversion to Christ, and from the moment of your conversion to Christ, we have been in fellowship with every other Christian in the world, be they American or Ethiopian or Chinese or Iraqi or Iranian. The Bible tells us “we are all one in Christ Jesus” — and that includes our guest speaker this morning who came to us from southern India.

It is here, on the national level, that we are called upon to demonstrate to a lost world the reality of our fellowship. We are bound together by a unity that goes far beyond mere geography or nationality let alone hobby or personal interest or political affiliation or denomination. Only when we learn to see ourselves as this kind of a holy nation, only when we learn to treasure that kind of fellowship, only when we experience this kind of trans-national love, will we fulfill our vocation as saints.

Beware of the sin of nationalism, my friends. A Christian is a citizen of a heavenly commonwealth because he or she belongs to the holy nation of the people of God. This, and this alone, is the only Christian nation. Other nations may contain Christians, and they may be influenced to one degree or another by Christian principles, but there will never be a Christian nation except the people redeemed by the blood of Christ.

Of course, to be sure, our esteemed and beloved brother is *not* saying you can’t be proud to be an American or rejoice in our freedoms and so on… he is, however, without a doubt, warning us of nationalism.  Thanks for the prophetic words brother Dave.

The Meaning of the Pentateuch

Stephen Dempster, Professor of Religious Studies at Crandall University in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, gives a good review of John Sailhammer’s magum opus The Meaning of the Petateuch: Revelation, Composition and Interpretation (IVP 2010) on the Themelios blog.

Here is an excerpt:

There is a gold mine of information in this book, which is the result of the author’s many years of painstaking and fruitful study of this part of the Bible. In some ways this book is a compendium for much of the author’s distinctive themes and terminology: text versus event, literary strategy versus literary strata, Pentateuch versus Mosaic Law, Abraham versus Moses, poetic commentary versus narrative progression, Pentateuch 2.0 versus Pentateuch 1.0, big idea versus smaller details. Whatever one thinks of this book, it needs to be part of the conversation of Pentateuchal studies in the future, particularly among evangelicals. Personally, I have found it refreshing to read a volume on the Pentateuch concerned with the final form of the text’s surface structure rather than the layers of literary strata beneath it.

Agree or disagree with Dempster or Sailhammer, I have my copy, do you have yours?  I do need to get Dempster’s book though….