Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Preparing for Pentecost 27

posted by xscot mcknight

The apostle Paul was a Jesus Creeder, and so in chp 27 of 40 Days Living the Jesus Creed, I look at the Jesus Creed in the hands of the apostle Peter when he ventured to establish churches in Asia Minor (Western Turkey today).
What kinds of concrete adaptations can we make to give the Jesus Creed new life in our context?
Three points:
First, Peter said the most important command is “to maintain a constant love for one another” (1 Pet 4:8). I like that “above all.” First and foremost; top of the list.
Second, love begins with loving the invisible Jesus. Notice 1 Peter 1:8: “Although you have not seen him, you love him.” We do this by reading the Gospels but we also do it in our daily encounters with those who are following Jesus.
Third, love involves loving the visible humans around us. “Now that you have purified your souls .. love one another deeply from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22). This word “deeply” is a little too psychological of a translation for me; the word means “strenuously” or “stretchingly.” Picture a runner stretching her or his body forward to hit the finish line first — that’s what this word suggests.
Peter knew love was hard work; he failed at it and he was forgiven and he committed himself again to loving Jesus — invisible and visible.



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Ted M. Gossard

posted April 29, 2008 at 3:03 am


Amen.
I’ve noticed that some Christians pit love and truth against each other. If you say something like what Peter is saying here, they begin to expound on the importance of truth.
And yes, truth and love are joined together in Jesus (2 John). It’s just that this kind of talk I here makes “truth” front and center and love seems to take a back seat. It’s all about being right and having the truth.
Something seems off to me in that.



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Nancy

posted April 29, 2008 at 5:42 am


Ted: I’ve run into the same thing. And I too, feel it not the best way. If you don’t have love, all else is just noise.



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Richard

posted April 29, 2008 at 11:31 am


I noticed that there aren’t many comments going on this track so I thought that this might be a good read for those interested. Please excuse me if you do not find this post relavent.
Self-Consciousness and Christ Consiousness-Part 4
Norman P. Grubb
Our problem is that we have become so accustomed in our old life to the self-activity of the self, that we carry it over to the new life, hardly noticing that we do so. As we repeatedly say, the new man is actually Christ in us, we are merely the hidden filaments through which His light shines out, the cup which holds the water; as nearly as possible we don’t count. We are ourselves conscious of this as we look in the face of our Beloved. We realize and recognize HIM as our life. Seeing Him, we just don’t see ourselves. In our inner consciousness He is the life of our lives. But at the same time, we are immersed, of necessity, in worldly activities which demand every form of self-activity, and constantly, equally of necessity, divert us from conscious Christ-reliance. Our problem is how to live, naturally and freely, normal lives which are yet at their roots Christ living in and through us, even when for many of our waking hours our direct attention is centred on mundane affairs; and how to recognize sensitively and quickly when the pressure or sudden impact of things is pulling us off-centre on to self-reliance. It is what the writer to the Hebrews called “the dividing asunder of soul and spirit”.



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Brian

posted April 29, 2008 at 11:55 am


Question for discussion: When love and truth come into conflict in the Bible, which must carry the day? When you want to maintain a relationship, or not offend or hurt someone, but that person is in some way denying the truth about what is right or about God or whatever, does the Bible show that we are to put greater priority on maintaining the relationship at all costs or on maintaining the truth at all costs?



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Kate

posted April 29, 2008 at 11:57 am


I like what you say about 1 Peter here, but honestly, after taking an Intro to the New Testament class at UNC, the first thing I noticed was that you acknowledged the apostle Peter as the author of this book when in fact the majority of New Testament scholars don’t believe that 1 Peter or 2 Peter were written by him. I’m not saying that everyone has to believe that 1 Peter and 2 Peter were written by someone other than Peter, but I now think it’s best to refer to the author of books such as these as simply “the author.” That’s how I refer to the author of the Pastoral Epistles (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus) since most New Testament scholars are in agreement that those books were not written by Paul. I’m sorry if this comes off as overly critical, but I think it will make posts easier to read for those who have studied the New Testament in its historical context.



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Peggy

posted April 29, 2008 at 12:02 pm


Scot, and all…
As I was reading today I was struck by the whole “love covers a multitude of sins” idea — as in, many people don’t get it.
They are confused by those that think “covers” means “ignores” … and they just reject that in favor of “telling the truth” … even though they don’t really understand the “in love” part of that duo.
When you, Scot, talk about love stretching us so that we will allow love to stretch over the wrongs and faults of others (on p. 138), you go on to talk about the activity of “resourceful love” — or perhaps “imaginative” love! :)
The activities that result are: understanding, forgiving, and staying with — so that love can get us beyond the wrongs and move us toward reconciliation and restoration.
Too must “truth telling” is going on that rationalizes, scapegoats and abandons precious Eikons because it is just too much work and seems very inefficient to “fix what is broke” when some seem to think it is better to just sweep it under the rug, stomp on it until it flattens out some, and ignore the smell as it rots. Sigh… :(
Rather, we should allow the Love of God to inspire us to become relational MacGyvers — embracing whatever we have around us and allowing the Holy Spirit to make our stuff do Their work.



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Christopher Cottingham

posted April 29, 2008 at 12:33 pm


“stretchingly” – a much better, more concrete translation. Forget about feeling deeply moved – engage in acts of love that stretch you, love strenuously. Cool. Hard. Cool.



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Peggy

posted April 29, 2008 at 1:45 pm


Brian #4,
We were all posting comments at the same time! 8)
I think the “stretching” and “imaginative” part of this whole endeavor is that this cannot ever be an either / or scenario. When someone is out of line with the truth, as we best understand it, but that someone is also your brother or sister — whom you are to love and care for and treat just as you would treat Jesus — then you must continue to find a way to love them because they are not expendable or deletable.
Most often this will require time spent listening to the other to be to understand their context rather that react to some expression of that context that may or may not be fuzzy.
Sometimes we have to agree to disagree on those things that are not “essential” — which requires us to really look at what things we have on that list!
My experience leads me to believe that many of us are way too quick to defend some “truth” than we are to lay down our lives for our covenant partners — even if we think they’re missing some of the truth. And there’s the rub, as I see it.
How far do you want God’s love to stretch to cover your “sins” and lack of knowledge or maturity? I want it to stretch as far as it has to in order to help me grow up to be like Jesus.
Some days that’s farther than others. ;)
In the end, when truth trumps love, then this most important commandment has been broken … and that’s the truth that I’m grateful Scot deals with here.



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Nancy

posted April 29, 2008 at 2:29 pm


I’m not even sure that love and truth can “come into conflict”. Jesus claimed to be the Truth. And most of us agree that God is Love. So, those who ascribe to the Trinitarian point of view would have to come to the conclusion that Truth and Love co-exist then in one “Person” and are not likely at odds with one another. It is in our minds that the conflict comes when we believe it must be either one or the other rather than both/and.
Richard, I always enjoy your posts. You take my mind along paths that lead to fresh waters. Thank you!



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RJS

posted April 29, 2008 at 3:42 pm


Well others have entered the truth vs. love debate ? so I will forgo at this time. However, the authorship issue is also worth a thought or two.
Kate,
Why is it important, or even useful, in a devotional post to start off with caveats on authorship? Many of us know of these authorship debates ? some know the issues quite well. But they muddy the waters of a devotional ? that is not the purpose.



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Ashleigh

posted April 29, 2008 at 4:23 pm


RJS,
I understand your perspective, but I think Kate has a good point. Saying “the author” is a simple way to acknowledge the things we don’t know. Yes, this may be a devotional post, but a devotional reading of Scripture need not be divorced from an academic understanding of the texts. In fact, any devotional reading will be improved by such an understanding.
Perhaps the standard purpose of a devotional isn’t to teach about authorship, but given the Church’s lack of biblical studies proficiency at both ordained and lay levels, it actually might be a really good thing, perhaps, if those of us that did know more integrated it into our “devotional” writings, as well.



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Scot McKnight

posted April 29, 2008 at 4:29 pm


Kate and Ashleigh,
I’ve written a commentary on 1 Peter and on 2 Peter. I have studied the authorship of both very intensively, and my conclusion is that Peter wrote 1 Peter (with Silvanus) and did not write 2 Peter. The intent of a devotional reading of a text transcends a historical reading. The one point I’d disagree with is that there is anything bordering on a consensus, and it is an academic trick to think there is … So, what I’m saying is that a “majority” is not a majority. Whose doing the measuring? Who got to vote?



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Kate

posted April 29, 2008 at 5:51 pm


Scot,
I appreciate your response. In retrospect, my use of the term “majority” in regard to 1 Peter was probably too strong a term. I definitely agree that there is rarely a consensus on who wrote a particular biblical text, and that is related to why I think it can be beneficial to not mention authors in a devotional reading. I respect your scholarship and would be interested to read your commentary on 1 and 2 Peter, and I also understand that information you learned while writing your commentary probably influences any devotional reading you might give for these texts.
The only reason I brought up the concern was because of the struggle it has been for me to overlook references to biblical authors in talks or sermons that seem to contradict things that I’ve learned about the New Testament. That’s definitely not to say I know everything about the New Testament–I certainly haven’t studied it in as great a detail as you and other New Testament scholars have, but the small amount that I have learned has affected me a great deal.
After looking at the New Testament in its historical context, it is easier for me to learn from a devotional reading if it either spoke of the author as just “the author,” or even if it said “some doubt the authorship of Peter in this text, but my studies of the text lead me to believe that he is.” I realize I am probably in the minority to care/be bothered about things like that, and I apologize if my comments have distracted from the original intent of your post and the dialogue you wished to start with it.



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Scot McKnight

posted April 29, 2008 at 6:04 pm


Kate,
It’s actually a good point to raise … what role does historical scholarship play in an ecclesial reading of the text?
I’d be interested in what folks have to say.



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Scot McKnight

posted April 29, 2008 at 6:08 pm


Kate,
One more methodological point: it is customary to work the logic like this.
1. State the traditional view: Peter wrote 1 Peter.
2. Point out the weaknesses.
3. Conclude Peter didn’t write it.
Now reverse it and see what happens:
1. State the critical view: Peter didn’t write it.
2. Point out the weaknesses.
3. Conclude Peter did write it.
The evidence, in other words, against the traditional authorship, once you enter in an amanuensis — Silvanus — isn’t that strong.
The problem? #3 doesn’t follow from either #2. The evidence for these things is never that strong. It is also not strong for the one who asserts the second option.



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Scott M

posted April 29, 2008 at 8:49 pm


As a rule, I would tend to minimize the role of historical scholarship in ecclesial readings (assuming I understand correctly what you mean by that). As an academic exercise, I can listen/watch someone like, say, Ben Witherington III, discuss the authorship of the gospel of John and 1-3 John with interest. I may even find many of his points plausible and even reasonably convincing.
Yet when I enter into their story and read them with the church, I will ever do so within the story the Church has always told about them. The person speaking to me through those texts is the Apostle John, the evangelist and beloved disciple of Jesus who, though asleep in the body, is yet alive in the Lord. For ultimately, that is what Christianity is — a particular story about a particular God, the nature of reality, and what it means to be a human being, told by participants among those who live as the people of God. I am not so much constructing an intellectual framework or conducting a historical study as I am joining a people, a family, and making their story my own.
And, in truth, on the intellectual side I’ve studied enough about the way our pictures of the ancient world are constructed, usually from bits and fragments, to recognize that there really isn’t historical evidence which is vastly superior to the testimony of the church. In fact, I sometimes wonder about the unconscious bias of the academician constructing a theory which is different than the proclamation of the church — even if I do find the rationale well-constructed. And as far as textual criticism goes, I would challenge anyone to take a small scattering of the things I have said over the past 20 years and conclude from them that they were all said by the same person. The sample size is simply not particularly large and people vary a great deal according to situation and over time.
But at the end of the day, when we read the text as the church, whether corporately or physically alone but in the spirit of the people of God, we enter the story. And if we choose to tell a different story about our text in that context, I’m not sure how we can be entering the same story.



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RJS

posted April 29, 2008 at 9:03 pm


Kate (and Ashleigh),
I picked up on your comment because I didn’t want to simply let it vanish without response. I am not a NT scholar but do tend to take a scholar’s approach most of the time to whatever I am studying, including the Bible. This includes, of course, reading many scholars, not just the evangelical ones. I don’t think that you are in the minority to care or to be bothered about things like this. It is very important that we have a reasoned and defensible faith, not a na?ve faith.
I do think, though, that it is unreasonable to expect the caveats and background to be thrown in constantly, especially in short devotionals.
On to Scot’s question – what role does historical scholarship play in an ecclesial reading of the text?
It depends doesn’t it? I don’t think it is important for the Church’s understanding of this text – the theme of love of God and love of one another doesn’t depend on the authorship of this letter. On the other hand, when you use Peter’s experience from our Gospel accounts in context with this passage as in your last line, authorship is important to the point.



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Richard

posted April 30, 2008 at 4:17 am


RJS. I think Jesus would say that if it’s important to you, it’s important to me.
My comprehension of an intellect such as yours and many other scholars is near nill and perhaps many scholars, and yours including, might have little comprehension of the workings of a mind of, say, of one that received elecrical shock treatments when they were in their youth. Our solice lies in that God knows both hearts and places them in one.
An english teacher in their art must get frustrated in their daily encounter with the murder of the english language when someone is having a conversation with them or when they read incorect grammar but in a world of so many languages, their achievements appear so minute, to me, in excelling in only one of them.
Many of us have fallen in love with the spirit ( should I capitalize Spirit?) of a servant of God named Paul in the Bible in whom Christ was revealed. With a servant named John who wrote (might have said also) ” He who has the son (capitalize?), has Life. He who does not have the Son, does not have Life.
Fact is, and I’m not discredeting you RJS, when I’m anywhere, the harvest is plentiful, and I am much more aware of the Spirit that had me read the bible in the first place than the vessels that suffered with Him.
Our heavenly Father, who’s pleasure it is to give us the kingdom, considers it important what we consider important and will go thru great lenghts to knock out any props that we have been leaning on that block us to maturity in being conformed to His Son. These props migth include, I find… intellect, dimness, loved ones. organizations and yes even the bible if that is one’s God.
Anyway, I find it easy and forgiving to spend little time in confirming authorship of the gems of the bible since we are living epistles and that doesn’t mean that someone else should not driven by their drive for all things work to the good to them that love God and are called to his purpose.
RJS, I’m still working on the order of books of the New Testament. If you find the time, could you please blog them to me or sent them to my e-mail address at my web site so that I could compare them with my findings?



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