The NIV translation of Ephesians 2:8-9 is
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast.
This passage (among a host of other similar ones) raises two fundamental questions, what is faith, and does salvation depend upon its proper expression? An corollary question is what is the proper expression of this faith?
The Greek word for faith in this passage also can mean trust, so the questions can be reframed as “in what or whom do you place this trust and how it expressed?
For example, I have faith in (or trust) my bank. I express this trust by allowing them to manage my checking and savings accounts. I trust my bank because I have faith in its ability to guard my funds.
I look forward to hearing from you
Many Christians believe that because of Jesus’s death on the cross they are forgiven of their sins. Nothing could be further from the truth and this constitutes the subject of this month’s As It is Written column.
It is true that the Christian model of forgiveness was a radical departure from the prevailing Judaic model(s) of forgiveness. Because of Jesus’s death and resurrection, the early Church held that God no longer required a sinner to be punished or otherwise suffer for his/her sins. It was enough that the sinner turn away from sinful behavior and acknowledge and confess the sin.
Read the whole thing.
Orwell’s Animal Farm: It’s original title
When I teach the Genesis creation stories, I always begin with the proposition that we ought to read these two narratives as symbolic, not literal. To be more specific, I draw a simile between the Genesis stories and George Orwell’s Animal Farm by claiming that to read the creation stories as historically true events is like reading Animal Farm as a factually accurate picture of what happens when animals take over a farm.
In the video below, N.T. Wright also expresses this same sentiment. When reading the Genesis creation stories as literary, largely symbolic works, a deeper, richer vision of God and His holy word emerges. It’s about 5 minutes long and worth your time if you’re serious about understanding this alternative to plumbing the depths of the Bible as God’s revealed word.
One of the advantages to reading the Genesis creation stories as N.T. Wright would recommend, (and as I believe they were originally intended to be understood) is that the truths of God’s revelation encounters no contradiction with scientific findings and therefore requires no reconciliation with scientific observations. The findings of science (how the universe works) and the revelations of Genesis (the purpose of the universe) seek to answer different questions. As allegories, the reader is invited to ponder the metaphysical truths being conveyed — the transcendence of God, the consequences of free will, and the human’s role as vice regent of God’s creation.
As for evangelical outreach, imagine not having to justify to a critical thinking non-believer that whether the universe was created in 7 days or 13.6 billion years is irrelevant to the truths God wishes to reveal.
Courtesy of the http://www.lonelyplanet.com/blog/
My two latest column titled, “Lost in Translation I and Lost in Translation II” are now available. For previous articles you can look here.
As you read these, think about what you’ve learned about the seventh day of creation as the Sabbath day. You may be surprised to learn that there is a profoundly deeper meaning to the Sabbath that points the way for human flourishing.