Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Zeal vs. Knowledge

Today I've been having some scattered thoughts on the Christian life. It seems that there are two areas in my life that change a lot during my walk. The first, I guess I would call 'zeal' and the second would be 'knowledge'. I'm not sure if those are the most effective labels for them, but bear with me here. Every Christian grows over time (hopefully) and these are two distinct areas that I have seen myself grow in. Zeal would be the practice of constantly walking close to God and everyday life with Him, where knowledge would be knowing God, knowing about the things He has done in the past and His promises. Obviously they work hand-in-hand with each other, but I've noticed that a lot of churches don't fully exercise both of them equally.

Some churches I've been to encourage you towards worshiping God and just focus on the emotional side of things. I love Jesus, etc.

Do not get me wrong. I don't think it's a bad thing, although I think it stunts the growth of Christians if that's all they're receiving. They end up feeling a lot of emotions toward God but not necessarily understanding the Scripture very well or being able to defend themselves against attack.

On the other hand, which is where I feel right now in life, sometimes you're filled full of knowledge but you aren't pressed forth to love God with all of your heart.

Christians who stay in this state for a long time know a lot about God and a lot about His scriptures; they know a lot about His promises, and they know how to defend the faith accurately and quickly. But in my experience, being here doesn't make me happy, and it doesn't necessarily mean that I have a close walk with Jesus, which is so important.

I have seen Christians who read their Bible so much that no matter which of those environments they're in, they are both zealous and filled with knowledge. I think I don't read my Bible enough, which means that I'm not keeping in touch with God very much. I don't know whether this is my fault entirely or if it is some responsibility of the church to keep members accountable like that, but I do know that some churches make me feel very interested in reading the Bible and others don't.

I suppose it's important to see the weaknesses in your life and move toward filling them in, but it's hard to decide whether a church is right for you or not, if you've been there for a decade or so. Anyway, these are just some thoughts going through my head today.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Jude 1:1-13, Reflections

Twas a Tuesday night after a long day at school when I came home and logged into AIM. KK was online and asked if I had finished reading Jude. I hadn't, so I ran into the back room of the house (the only place that was quiet enough) and studied far enough to realize that there is quite a bit of depth to Jude. When we brought it back into conversation, it took four hours to finish discussing 12 verses; and we didn't even really go over them too deeply.

[KKairos’ Note: Everything’s been edited for brevity. All in-dialog Scripture quotations are NIV from the Bible Gateway. Also, I guess verse 8 didn't really, really get its own section. Apologies to verse 8.]

Links to the Passages Discussed on BibleGateWay:

Jude, NIV
Jude, 1-13 NIV
Jude, ESV
Jude, 1:13 ESV

*** Xeirxes is Online
Xeirxes: yo
Xeirxes: i got your email
Xeirxes: sorry i wasn't online earlier, but my computer deleted the c:\windows\system\config file
Xeirxes: :-\
KKairos: ACK
KKairos: is your computer working now?
Xeirxes: yeah

…[lots of time during which Xeirxes does his reading and goes in-depth on some things, with a fair amount of conversation that doesn’t need to be included]

Jude 1:1-2: "Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James,
To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ:

Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance."

Xeirxes: okay so
Xeirxes: here we go
KKairos: so
Xeirxes: jude 1:1-13
KKairos: ok
KKairos: 1:1-2 seems a fairly standard epistle greeting
Xeirxes: yeah
although i did find it interesting that he says "to those who are the called"
KKairos: yeah
Xeirxes: interesting for a calvinist at least
Xeirxes: :-D
KKairos: well, that the NIV too?
Xeirxes: yeah
Xeirxes: "to those who have been called"
KKairos: yeah, basically
Xeirxes: NASB = "to those who are the called"
KKairos: NAB = "to those who are called, beloved etc."
Xeirxes: ok
Xeirxes: anyway, standard greeting. let's move on
KKairos: Yeah.

Jude 1:3-4: "Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord."

KKairos: 3-4. Jude, essentially, feels the need to discuss people who are among the believers but who overextend grace as "a license for immortality" (NIV) and reject Jesus
KKairos: i'm confessing here that pretty much anything i say may have been influenced by footnotes, especially things that aren't crystal clear from the text itself
Xeirxes: yeah
Xeirxes: both the NASB and NIV make it plain thtat the men Jude is speaking of are men who do exactly that
KKairos:: ok
Xeirxes: also, some more interesting grammar, i can't help but wonder if it's significant
Xeirxes: "I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was _once for all _handed down to the saints"
Xeirxes: Jude could've written "the faith that was handed down to the saints"
Xeirxes: but he said "the faith that was once for all handed down"
Xeirxes: what do you think this might mean?
Xeirxes: i don't tend to think that extra grammar is for no reason
Xeirxes: unless someone in my church is trying to describe something
Xeirxes: then they use the biggest words they can possibly find
KKairos: part of me wants to say they may just be being dramatic
Xeirxes: true
KKairos: but even that has a theological point
KKairos: at least, in theory
Xeirxes: so what is the first thing you think when you hear "once for all"
KKairos: predestination, i think; you?
Xeirxes: haha
Xeirxes: i just think
Xeirxes: "it happened once, for all"
Xeirxes: so perhaps we are digging too deep...
KKairos: yeah, maybe.
KKairos: i think maybe we ought to put emphasis (and this is my footnote-influence here) on the fact that they were entrusted with the faith
Xeirxes: that's true
KKairos: and that jude is sort of saying "defend the faith you were entrusted to defend"
Xeirxes: it brings more meaning to the fact that we must contend for the faith, since it was handed to us
KKairos: yes
KKairos: we've been trusted with it
KKairos: okay now we've beaten it into the ground

Jude 1:5-7: "Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire."

KKairos: 5-7. Reminders from salvation history, or I suppose, in this case, 'damnation history,' that those who turn from God do face consequences in the end.
Xeirxes: in this section, i saw him drawing a parallel between three items
Xeirxes: where is that parallel, though?
Xeirxes: my first inclination was that all three of those groups satisfied desires with sin
Xeirxes: but it doesn't really make things any clearer, and i don't think that's necessarily what he's getting at
KKairos: may be on to something there
KKairos: this IS confusing
Xeirxes: yeah
Xeirxes: i'm actually thinking that the one thing that parallels those examples is also found in these men that he speaks out against in v. 4
Xeirxes: i just found something interesting
KKairos: yes?
Xeirxes: you have, in 5-7, in order:

1. israelites
2. fallen angels
3. sodom & gomorrah

Xeirxes: and then in verse 8, the three traits described are:

1. defiling the flesh
2. rejecting authority
3. reviling .... 'glories'... or whatever that greek work means

Xeirxes: i'm thinking, more and more, that "glories" in verse 8 refers to followers of God, be they prophets, such as moses, or maybe angels, who work for God, etc.
KKairos: hmm
KKairos: angels is supported by NRSV notes
Xeirxes: so sodom and gomorrah defiled the flesh, fallen angels rejected authority, israelites reviled doxa.
KKairos: i agree with your pairing
Xeirxes: do you have a good definition of 'reviling' for me?
KKairos: no
KKairos: but
Xeirxes: i honestly don't know exactly what it means :-)
Xeirxes: I think that the people in v. 8 referred to are the men Jude is warning about
Xeirxes: i.e. "Yet in the same way, these men, *also by dreaming* (what does this mean?), defile the flesh, reject authorities, etc."
KKairos: is that the NASB?
Xeirxes: aye
KKairos: i recommend considering its wording but thinking more about other translations, on that point
Xeirxes: yeah

Jude 1:8: "In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings."

[We talked a lot about dreamers with relation to this verse. Any insight on the dreamers, whom we have agreed are the same as the generally not-so-awesome people Jude is discussing, would be great.]

Jude 1:9: "But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, 'The Lord rebuke you!'"

KKairos: so verse 9 is a personal favorite of mine
KKairos: it seems to be all about just how extreme God's love is, and just how gracious we ought to be--that not even the devil is insulted by Michael the archangel
Xeirxes: that's true
Xeirxes: very good insight
Xeirxes: you know though
Xeirxes: what is Jude speaking of exactly here?
Xeirxes: i'm trying to remember the exact situation
Xeirxes: it's OT right?
KKairos: according to NRSV notes it's reference to nonbiblical Jewish tradition
KKairos: basically the story in the footnote is about Michael setting out to bury moses
KKairos: when Satan comes along and accuses Moses of being a murderer and not worthy of burial
KKairos: and then comes Michael's response quoted in Jude, which sends the devil away
Xeirxes: hmm
Xeirxes: that's interesting
Xeirxes: now the question here that i have is
Xeirxes: why did Jude say this
Xeirxes: in this context
KKairos: I think it's a setup for verses to follow
KKairos: e.g. Michael does this which is awesome, but these guys do the opposite to anything they don't get
Xeirxes: i see
Xeirxes: Michael, who understands better than any human the wickedness and deceitfulness of Satan, will not pronounce any judgement or slander upon him
KKairos: that seems to call us to an uncomfortably high standard :)

[Insert Lots of talk about the word “doxa,” which will appear in a later red herrings post.]

Jude 1:10: "Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals—these are the very things that destroy them."

KKairos: so's 10 we're on now then?
Xeirxes: yep
KKairos: 10. Not sure exactly what it means, except what it says.
Xeirxes: so in NASB it says "But these men revile the things which they do not understand; like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed."
KKairos: oh wow
Xeirxes: So the question I see most quickly is
Xeirxes: what do they "know by nature"?
KKairos: NRSV: "But these people slander whatever they do not understand, and they are destroyed by those things that, like irrational animals, they know by instinct."
Xeirxes: I'm thinking that the things of instinct are simply the things of the flesh
Xeirxes: how to satisfy your desires sinfully
KKairos: That could do it, because it says "know by instinct"
KKairos: i have a slight suspicion that might not be the WHOLE picture; could we maybe put that forward as something we or at least I am wondering about?

Jude 1:11: "Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam's error; they have been destroyed in Korah's rebellion."

Xeirxes: so in the next verse it mentions Cain, Balaam, and Korah
Xeirxes: let's think about those three dudes and what it might mean to verse 10
Xeirxes: Cain was the first murderer of course
Xeirxes: so here we go
Xeirxes: as far as we know
Xeirxes: Cain killed Abel... we'll see the linkage hopefully after we look at the other two bad dudes
KKairos: well, according to footnotes Balaam was a prophet for profit
KKairos: and Korah rebelled against MOses
Xeirxes: prophet for profit
Xeirxes: 1. say deep things
2. ???
3. prophet!

[Lots of talk about Balaam and things we don’t understand about his story.]

Xeirxes: Korah looks like he was upset with the way Moses had head over the congregation
Xeirxes: i'm trying to see if these three men tie into the defiling, rejecting and reviling
Xeirxes: but i don't want to force the perception if it doesn't fit
KKairos: i'm not seeing quite as direct a connection there
KKairos: this is partly the tired but we might just put that out there and see if anyone has insights
Xeirxes: hey
Xeirxes: hey hey hey
Xeirxes: all three men were greedy
KKairos: cain greedy for what?
KKairos: God's approval?
Xeirxes: indeed
Xeirxes: he saw that Abel had it
Xeirxes: and he didn't
KKairos: but instead of working for it
KKairos: he just got mad and killed Abel
KKairos: ...but that might be more jealousy than greed. and korah could be said to have jealousy
KKairos: but then balaam's more greed
KKairos: i dunno, thoughts?
Xeirxes: I feel that jealousy and greed are fairly similar
KKairos: so we put forth a greed-jealousy hypothesis on this one?
Xeirxes: I dunno, that's just an observation of it
KKairos: well it's probably the best connection we have at this point

Jude 1:12-13: "These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever."

KKairos: so, verse 12
Xeirxes: ...heh
Xeirxes: wow
Xeirxes: what in the world
KKairos: before we begin "love-feasts" is the greatest description ever
Xeirxes: yeah i agree whole-heartedly
KKairos: when i first read that i thought maybe it was a description of a win
KKairos: err
Xeirxes: love-feasts
KKairos: a SIN
KKairos: not a WIN
Xeirxes: HEH
Xeirxes: i'm not even sure how to start with this
KKairos: [NRSV] suggests we check 1 Cor 11:20 - 21n for "love feasts"
Xeirxes: ok
Xeirxes: I'm still very confused
KKairos: i'm pretty sure they're [love feasts are] good
KKairos: and that the guys Jude's talking about are tied to the problem mentioned in Corinthians
Xeirxes: perhaps
KKairos: because the guys Jude's talking about might be the guys getting drunk while the others are going hungry
Xeirxes: yeah
Xeirxes: okay okay okay
Xeirxes: here we go
Xeirxes: clouds without water: clouds were good because they meant rain, but if they did not bring rain, it's a disappointment
Xeirxes: autumn trees are trees ready for harvest, but without fruit they are worthless
KKairos: again that's footnote influence, but i'm in agreement with for the second part, yes yes and yes, BUT there is also a wanderer aspect to the phrasing, i think
Xeirxes: holy cow
Xeirxes: this imagery is really, really sharp in my mind
Xeirxes: I like his writing style
Xeirxes: So you're saying
Xeirxes: "Carried along by winds" is the wanderer aspect
KKairos: yeah


Xeirxes: i'm just curious where your thoughts are on 12
KKairos: hrm.
KKairos: corinthians tie-in on the love-feasts (love feasts are good things ruined by selfish people, who in this case are the men Jude keeps talking about), and I like your thoughts on the imagery
KKairos: and in that imagery (as well as in 13) I'd add the wandering aspect
Xeirxes: what exactly is the wandering aspect, though?
Xeirxes: like, i understand that there's an aspect of it
Xeirxes: But what does it mean concretely?
KKairos: that these people wander in a bad way, sorry that's not too concrete either
Xeirxes: Another verse that comes to mind is that one about people who are tossed about by every wind of doctrine
Xeirxes: Is that what the wandering aspect is now?
KKairos: i have no idea
KKairos: i've got an idea
KKairos: howabout we just throw the wandering thing out there, and also put it out there that we're not quite sure what it means
Xeirxes: yeah, let's do that
KKairos: i dunno, verse 13 doesn't add much we haven't already discussed
Xeirxes: so anyway, let's kind of recap on 12 when we come back to Jude again, because I don't feel that we totally got all that we would have if we were fresh on it
KKairos: yeah
KKairos: we can include 13 though
Xeirxes: yes
KKairos: we can just say it expands our poorly defined wandering theme from 12
Xeirxes: "The A&D Commentary on Jude!" "Now with poorly defined wandering themes!"
Xeirxes: that concludes tonight's commentary

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Who Are the Keyboard Theologians?

I guess this is our introduction. Here's how stuff happened today:
Xeirxes: it might be cool to actually make a blog just kind of recording our conversations

KKairos: heh
KKairos: hmm
Xeirxes: like, you know
Xeirxes: anything interesting we talk about
KKairos: heh
Xeirxes: we could make it into a blog post
KKairos: heh
Xeirxes: what do you think?

And here's the stuff that built up to what happened today:

I (KKairos / D.J. Lower) have known Xeirxes / A. Scott for quite a few years now. We actually met in the context of an internet community, DigitalMZX which revolves around the first-sharewared, now-opensourced GCS MegaZeux at a point in which our respective Christian walks still had lots of maturing to do. Well, they still have lots of maturing to do, but they did a little more maturing in the couple of years since our first encounters on DigitalMZX, and we've found dialoguing about MegaZeux, faith, Christian life, music and just about everything else under the sun quite a rewarding enterprise. This is the venue where we'll be sharing some of our thoughts with the world--individually, in our own posts, and together in posts about our conversations. Expect musings about faith, Christian life, theology, news relating to those things and, of course, some other awesome topics, too.