Is Jesus Christ Lord and Savior?

In answering this question a Christian can simply rearrange the words and turn it into a statement, a truth-claim:

Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior.

But let’s ponder this further.

Let’s break it down into two separate claims. First: Jesus Christ is Savior. Any Christian would have no trouble affirming the truth of this statement. This is an intrinsic and necessary part of the Gospel—the Good News!

Let’s make the second claim: Jesus Christ is Lord. Once again, a Christian would find no difficulty affirming its truth.

Now let’s make it more personal: Jesus Christ is Lord of my life. I cannot speak for you, of course, but I can tell you that I have difficulty affirming this. Honestly—and shamefully—I must confess that far too often Craig is lord of his own life. And, truthfully, I don’t do a very good job in that role. Yet I stubbornly persist.

How easy it is to take up—to merely give mental assent to—the message of the Cross. But how difficult it is to take up your own cross.

Cross on a hill

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Confusing Eschatology

The vlog below is very well presented. The speaker has a good grasp of Jewish eschatological expectations as well as Christian eschatology. His presentation likely finds allies in ‘former’ Christians, those acquainted with and/or adhering to orthodox Jewish beliefs, and those generally opposed to Christianity.

His basic premise is that the split nature of Christian eschatology, specifically the ‘already’ (inaugurated eschatology) and the ‘not yet’ (future eschatology)—which is at odds with Jewish expectations—was a Christian invention in the wake of Jesus’ death. In accordance with this view, he thinks the New Testament writers fabricated Jesus’ resurrection as a means by which to alleviate the supposed cognitive dissonance resulting from His Crucifixion. Furthermore, he claims that the 2000 year gap between Jesus’ first century appearance in flesh and the Second Coming makes such a split view of eschatology even more untenable.

There are many ways to counter his views; however, given that he does not affirm the NT writings as (in any way?) authentic, the argument would be unable to properly proceed. Yet, there are a number of Old Testament passages one could point to, the first of which I think should be Isaiah 53. Surely, if this is describing the Messiah, and yet Jewish expectations include a Messianic reign, then the Resurrection must implicitly be part of the plan. Motyer lays out Isaiah’s implied resurrection in 53:10–12 succinctly:

Isaiah does not use the word ‘resurrection’ but these verses display the Servant ‘alive after suffering’ (Acts 1:3). Not, however, alive in the Old Testament sense that the dead possess in the half-life of Sheol  [ED: cf. Luke 16:19–31] . . . The dead (9) is alive (10), the condemned (8) is righteous (11), the helpless (7) is the Victor (12).1

The way the vlogger chooses to discount the split aspect of Christian eschatology, though, is problematic. In tune with his confirmation bias, he posits a false analogy. He uses failed ‘prophecy’ in the form of Second Coming predictions—even though such predictions violate the Scriptures Christian orthodoxy accepts—to ‘prove’ how Christians use Cognitive Dissonance Theory (CDT) to resolve such failed prophecy.

He uses the Millerites and Seventh Day Adventism as his example, in which the failed date-setting is salvaged via a ‘spiritualized’ fulfillment, while the Second Coming remains yet future. He then implicitly equates this to the Resurrection and its attendant eschatology, suggesting that first century Christians supposedly used similar CDT in order to relieve their dissonance following Jesus’ Crucifixion.

My point in posting this is to show merely one way a person can try to cast doubt on the truths contained in Scripture. It’s all about one’s presuppositions.

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1 J. Alec Motyer, Isaiah: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale Old Testament Commentary [TOTC], (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2009 [1999]), p 381 (I Capitalized “Victor”).

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Related:

Creating Straw Men from Cognitive Dissonance

God Came to Abide with Us

God came to abide with humanity and at the hands of humanity die,
so forever in His made-without-hands abode could humanity too reside.

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Posts of Christmas past:

Coming Soon Near You!

Today an Eternal Present was Unveiled in the City of David

December

So, why December? I’ve wondered this for a while now.

I’m referring to George Winston’s piano solo album December,1 which is a seasonal favorite in some circles. I tend to play it every year at this time.

But why did Winston choose this title? It seems odd when reading Winston’s notes on the sleeve, including this sentence (bold added): There is a wealth of traditional and contemporary music to draw from in doing an album for the winter season.2 But winter officially begins on either December 20th, 21st or 22nd and lasts for three months after that. Of course, December is typically considered ‘Christmas season’. Or ‘the holiday season’, meaning Christmas (or even Hanukkah and Kwanzaa) and New Year’s Eve/Day.

The selections on December are mostly Christmas-themed. Only one includes a reference to the New Year,3 and none are about winter. Curious.

It probably has to do with this disclaimer on the album:

The traditional pieces were chosen for their appropriateness as instrumental music for this project. They were not meant to convey any personal religious belief.4

OK, fair enough, I might say. A person should have their right to individual religious liberty, of course. But then why did he choose some specifically and overtly Christian-themed pieces—as opposed to other religious traditions—for his record? Christian-themed selections include: “Jesus, Jesus Rest Your Head”; “Joy” (based on Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” by way of Hess’ transcription for piano and a guitar arrangement by David Qualey); “The Holly and the Ivy”; “Carol of the Bells” and “Some Children See Him”.

Of the four albums Winston lists as inspiring his project, one is thematically outside historical orthodox Christianity: John Fahey’s The New Possibility.5 Yet, two are solidly Christian: Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas6 and Alfred S. Burt’s This is Christmas.7 I’m unfamiliar with the last, so cannot comment: Joseph Byrd, A Christmas Yet to Come (Takoma Records).

In his description of “Some Children See Him” (music by Alfred S. Burt, lyrics Wilha Hutson), Winston makes this claim: The piece was originally a song with lyrics by Wilha Hutson expressing the unconditional love present in children. This is a bit at odds with what appears to be historically correct: History of Hymns: ‘Some Children See Him’. More important, instead of merely conveying “the unconditional love present in children”, the lyrics communicate how children of different backgrounds see the baby and King Jesus through the lens of their own individual cultures:

Some children see Him lily white,
The baby Jesus born this night,
Some children see Him lily white,
With tresses soft and fair.

Some children see Him bronzed and brown,
The Lord of heav’n to earth come down;
Some children see Him bronzed and brown,
With dark and heavy hair.

Some children see him almond-eyed,
This Savior whom we kneel beside,
Some children see Him almond-eyed,
With skin of yellow hue.

Some children see Him dark as they,
Sweet Mary’s son to whom we pray,
Some children see Him dark as they,
And, ah! they love Him, too!

The children in each diff’rent place
Will see the baby Jesus’ face
Like theirs, but bright with heav’nly grace,
And filled with holy light.

O lay aside each earthly thing,
And with thy heart as offering,
Come worship now the infant King.
’tis love that’s born tonight!

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1 George Winston, December, Windham Hill Records, WH-1025, a division of Windham Hill Productions, Inc. (Stanford, CA) 1982. As an aside, this recording suffers from some of the worst apparent ‘digititis’ I’ve ever heard. By that I mean it was apparently recorded with (early) digital somewhere in the chain, resulting in a harshness that’s hard on the ears. Mine, at least. This is evident on the original LP release and the 20th Anniversary Edition CD reissue (Windham Hill/Dancing Cat, BMG, 2001). Such a pity, as the music is quite pleasing—at least to me.

2 Winston, December.

3 Winston, December, “Minstrels”. This is part of an original 3-piece suite “Night”. In the accompanying author note, Winston states it is based on a St. Basil Hymn, which is a traditional Greek New Year’s carol.

4 Winston, December.

5 Takoma Records, C-1020, 1968. The record consists of Christian-themed works adapted for guitar (it also includes “Auld Lang Syne”). However, the liner notes reference Paul Tillich, who, according to Fahey, rejects the “Christmas Story” as found in the beginning of Matthew and Luke. In other words, he rejects the Virginal Birth and does not accept the Holy Scriptures on the same level as Christian orthodoxy.

6 Original Sound Track Recording, Fantasy Records, F 8431, 1965. Though not on the soundtrack, who can forget Linus’ citing Luke 2:8–14 as he explains the real meaning of Christmas? The soundtrack does include, however, a children’s choir singing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”: Hark the herald angels sing / glory to the newborn King. This is by far my personal favorite for the Christmas season.

7 See info further below.

Time to Live

time

How long? How short. So live each day the daily way, trusting in God above (Matt 6:11, 6:34).

Forgive, forget; release your debts (Matt 6:12), living in step with the Helper (Gal 5:22–26).

The Clock of Life
(Robert H. Smith)

The clock of life is wound but once,
And no man has the power
To tell just when the hands will stop
At late or early hour.

To lose one’s wealth is sad indeed,
To lose one’s health is more,
To lose one’s soul is such a loss
That no man can restore.

The present only is our own,
So live, love, toil with a will,
Place no faith in “Tomorrow”
For the clock may then be still.

What Have I With You?

I get a kick out of idioms! Idiomatic expressions spice up speech and literature. They can add levity to mundane subjects or technical works.

Here are a few idioms to make you hunger for more:

Food for thought
A piece of cake
Pie in the sky
Egg on my face
Bread and butter
Out to lunch

Dolphy_Out_To_Lunch

Yet idiomatic expressions can be a challenge to translate from one language to another—especially if it’s a language no longer in use, such as Koine (New Testament) Greek. And such a challenge presents itself in John 2:4.

Technically Speaking

Chapter two of John’s Gospel opens with the wedding in Cana (John 2:1–2). Upon learning the hosts had run out of wine for their guests, Mary informed Jesus (2:3). In (transliterated) Greek He responded (2:4), Ti emoi kai soi? This translates most literally as, What to me and to you?

This idiomatic expression in John 2:4 recently featured in a segment of Daily Dose of Greek. See the corresponding YouTube video here:

Note the very different English translations of this idiom. Few are literal (formally equivalent), most are functionally equivalent (dynamic).

Though Dr. Plummer—following others—asserts this originates as a Semitic (Hebrew) idiom,1 this idiom is found in Classical (pre-Koine) Greek.2 In H. W. Smyth’s Greek Grammar, the Classicist adds the verb ‘to be’ (estin) and renders this expression functionally as, What have I to do with thee? Taking Smyth’s added (implied) Greek verb, we might render this more literally as, What is [it] to me and you?

Following are Smyth’s complete thoughts on this matter (§ 1479), with transliteration added in brackets:

Here belong the phrases (1) τί (ἐστιν) ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί [ti (estin) emoi kai soi]; what have I to do with thee?; cp. τί τῷ νόμῳ καὶ τῇ βασάνῳ [ti tō̗ nomō̗ kai tē̗ basanō̗]; what have the law and torture in common? D. 29.36. (2) τί ταῦτ᾽ ἐμοί [ti taut’ emoi]; what have I to do with this? D. 54.17. (3) τί ἐμοὶ πλέον [ti emoi pleon]; what gain have I? X. C. 5.5.34.

It seems to me that the comparison (“cp.”) in (1) is instructive. Note the parallelism. It begins with the same interrogative pronoun ti and includes a kai (“and”) between the dative “law” and “torture”. Moreover, (2) is quite helpful: ti taut’ emoi is most literally What this to me? If we add the presumably implied ‘to be’ we would get What is this to me? Assuming my rationale is correct, we might think that the idiomatic expression is something like What (is) me and you? or What (is) me to you? This, then, would be understood as conveying something akin to What do I share with you? or What do I have in common with you?

Interestingly, in a few Biblical passages unclean spirits used this same idiom in response to Jesus. The NET Bible, for example, renders Mark 5:7 as follows: Leave me alone, Jesus, Son of the Most High God! I implore you by God–do not torment me!” The NET is certainly using dynamic equivalence, but I might challenge the rendering here. Elsewhere, I’ve translated this: What am I to You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore you by God: Don’t torment me!”

The NET Bible notes for Mark 5:7 explain: Hostility between Jesus and the demons is certainly to be understood in this context, hence the translation: “Leave me alone….” Yet I’m not so sure the unclean spirits were openly hostile to Jesus here. They knew who He is and they understood the power He had over them; so, I’d think they would be a bit more cautious in their interactions with Him.

Conclusion

The title of this article should be understood as a possible dynamic rendering of this idiomatic phrase (‘What Have I With You?’), as well as a question as to whether this is a valid translation of this idiom (Is it ‘What have I with you’?)

So how should we translate this idiom in John 2:4?

Beats me!

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1 Follow the note in the online NET Bible translation here (footnote 8).

2 See Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), pp 150–151; Rodney J. Decker, Mark 1–8: A Handbook on the Greek Text, BHGNT (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2014): “This is not a Hebraism, though Hebrew does have a similar idiom (. . . see also BDAG, 275, s.v. έγώ. col. 2 . . . )” [p 27].

Not Burning Up—Being Purified

Feeling out of sorts? Stressed? Stretched to the limit?

You may be under fire. The Refiner’s fire. Not to be burned up, but to be purified.

The Silversmith
(Author unknown)

The woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn’t mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver.

As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities.

The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot then she thought again about the verse that says: “He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver” (Malachi 3:3). She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined.

The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.

The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, “How do you know when the silver is fully refined?”

He smiled at her and answered, “Oh, that’s easy –when I see my image in it.”

If today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has His eye on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you.

Ensalada Verboso

word salad

Sometimes words have a lot to say. And you should say them. A lot. People need to know. And when they know, they know. Ya know what I’m sayin’?

Words have meaning. In context. Sometimes words change meaning. Sometimes people change the meaning of words. In midstream, even. To know what they’re sayin’ you have to have the right dictionary. Or you just know they mean the opposite of what they’re sayin’.

But sometimes there are no words.

 

Do You Yet Believe?

Are the shepherds pulling the wool over the eyes of the sheep?

Is this a test of the extent to which one might remain faithful to the prevailing orthodoxy—a test of religious zealotry?

Delta

It seems neutrality can be rather easily obtained, if one generates enough green. Money, that is.

In the words of Qoheleth (Ecclesiastes 5:10–12, ISV):

10 Whoever loves money will never have enough money.
Whoever loves luxury will not be content with abundance.
This also is pointless.
11 When possessions increase,
so does the number of consumers;
therefore what good are they to their owners,
except to look at them?
12 Sweet is the sleep of a working man,
whether he eats a little or a lot,
but the excess wealth of the rich
will not allow him to rest.

Indeed, there is a season for everything.

——–

Related:

Ted Turner’s Math Problem

“Climate Change” as Religion

Climocentrism: The New Geocentrism

God’s Creation

We see such a tiny fraction of God’s vast creation. Yes, on a clear night we can see the shining stars. But we hardly ‘see’ the stars at all. They appear as tiny lights twinkling in the darkened sky. Yet with the assistance of a powerful telescope we can see some celestial bodies in our solar system. But what is beyond the stars—those we catch glimpses of, even with powerful telescopes?

Compared to the unfathomable immensity of this galaxy, we are quite small. As creatures, we are a tiny fraction of the totality of God’s creation.

I drove out of town today, mindful of God’s creation—what I could see of it. I took in and marveled at the rolling hills as I drove by them. Too often I think only of getting to my destination, forgetting to enjoy the journey itself. But this time I delighted in the scenery.

And I saw this:

Cross on a hill

God came to earth so that we could come to God. The Creator became a creature1 so that we could be with God, the Uncreated.

How amazing is that?

[Related: Christmas Came Early!]

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1 Without compromising His Deity one iota.

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