Category Archives: ethics

Hermeneutics, Consistency, and “Christian Values”

The concept of “Christian values” is playing a prominent role in the public arena today, but my Facebook® feed lately suggests very little agreement among those who call themselves Christian concerning the identification of these values or the definition of them individually. No one should wonder that people outside the church view it with suspicion Continue reading Hermeneutics, Consistency, and “Christian Values”

A Time of Testing

“For it is the time to begin judgment with the household of God;if we are first, what will be the end of those who not believe in the gospel of God?”

1 Peter 4:17

New Testament scholars identify 1 Peter, along minimally with 2 Peter, Titus, Hebrews, and Revelation, as “persecution literature,” literature produced during a period in which Christians faced oppression and persecution simply because of their faith. Typically, such literature admonishes believers, tempted to escape persecution by renouncing their faith, Continue reading A Time of Testing

Dirt to Dust

Do Unto Others

Read in tandem, Genesis 1 and 2 state perhaps the most fundamental polarity of human existence.  Genesis 1 describes God’s creation of humankind in God’s very own “image and likeness.” It is difficult to imagine a more definitive declaration of the dignity and significance of being human. Humans bear God’s image; every human being is like God. Of Continue reading Dirt to Dust

By our Fruits

Luke 16:19-31

Several years ago now, when I had been teaching undergraduates for a few years, I said something (demonstrably true) in class about the text-critical problems with a particular passage of scripture that caused a minor disturbance among students.  It soon reached the ears of the administration.  Nothing came of it in the long run, I am happy to say, except for Continue reading By our Fruits

My Confession of Faith

For Now

In a few weeks, I begin my twentieth-eighth year teaching, my twentieth at BTSR.  The realization has given me occasion to reflect on a number of matters.  How has my thinking changed?  Has my faith deepened? Continue reading My Confession of Faith

“Be Angry and Sin Not”

Eph 4:26 (Ps 4:5 [4])

My parents had a mixed marriage of sorts.  My mother had Quaker and strict Methodist heritage; my father was (still is, he would say) a United States Marine.  Mother taught me that I should avoid conflict, bear insult and injury with quiet grace, and, above all else, maintain control of my temper.  In her view, anger was always and only as dangerous and Continue reading “Be Angry and Sin Not”

Render Unto Caesar

Matt 22:21

The political season began in earnest yesterday.  It seems to me that politics represent “an attractive menace” for Christians. What can be more important than determining the values and policies that govern everyone’s everyday lives? Christians must be interested and involved. On the other hand, of course, lie the temptations to exercise control over others, to mistake temporal concerns for eternal, to compromise the core of Christian identity, and a host of others.  I addressed these concerns in a series of lectures entitled “Baptist Polity, Biblical Theology, and Responsible Citizenship” delivered as the Solon B. Cousins Lectures at Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond March 29-30, 2016.  Below is an excerpt outlining what I believe to be the principle temptations.  The full text of the lectures is available under the “Sermons and Lectures” tab on this website.

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Hamas!

 

And God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh is coming before me because the earth is full of violence (hamas) because of them.  Now I am about to destroy them along with the earth.  (Gen 6:13, my trans.)

 

The Priestly authors of portions of the Genesis narratives of the beginnings of the human race did not clearly elucidate their understanding of humanity’s responsibility for “subduing” the earth, but they did include statements that rule out any notion that this responsibility could include exploitation. In the Genesis 1 creation account, for example, Continue reading Hamas!

Crossword Two Down – A Seven Letter Word for “Nostalgia”

Amnesia

“Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish that we ate in Egypt for free, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic…Now we languish; there is nothing in sight except manna.”  (Num 11:4b-6)

Beginning in Exodus 19 and continuing through all of Leviticus and on to Numbers 10 (all or significant parts of three of the five books of the Torah), the Bible records the Continue reading Crossword Two Down – A Seven Letter Word for “Nostalgia”

The Judge of All the Earth

                                                  God’s bodykins, man, much better:  Use every man after his                                                         desert, and who should ‘scape whipping?     (Hamlet II, 2, 500-501)

In addition to proclaiming God’s message to God’s people, Israel’s prophets traditionally also fulfilled the role of intercessor on behalf of the people with God.  Moses interceded for Israel after the Golden Calf incident, for example (Exod 32:11-13), arguing that, although the people had flagrantly violated their covenant relationship with God almost

Continue reading The Judge of All the Earth