Tag Archives: inspiration

Steve Jobs, iPod Touch, Wedding Clothes and St. Paul

Full Text of Sermon

Text: Matt 22:1-13, Philippians 4:4-13

In the human economy there can only be one Steve Jobs. If everyone took Steve Jobs’ advice the world would be a pretty miserable place pretty quickly. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t inspiring. It also points to the problem with how we look at the world and the human economy. The entire creation is God’s. He claims every last inch of it. The parts that we find sexy and glorious and the parts less so, even crosses. He is renewing all of this now groaning creation. If you find something excellent or pure or noble think on these things…practice these things…is St. Paul’s admonition. And in God’s economy, one of abundance and not scarcity, we practice right in our backyard…with our neighbor. God finds that excellent. In God’s economy there is room for many Steve Jobs.

In a more personal note or reflection, this sermon uses a significantly different outline. It is really a story interrupted format. Where I would usually use stories as illustrations within a larger frame work, in this case the story is the format with a couple of places of commentary. This happened to us this week – a reflection on Steve Jobs – here is a way to interpret that shared story in the light of God’s Word. This may sound bad, but if the preacher isn’t effected, nobody else will be. The preacher’s first audience is him or herself. Steve Jobs effected me at multiple levels. I think that might come through. It is a shorter sermon than normal – just under 1100 words instead of usually around 1400. If you didn’t get a chance this Sunday, I’d invite you to listen. But we’d also love to see you in person.

And End and What a beginning…

Texts: 1 Kings 22:29-45 and 2 Kings 1:2-17

The history books have this snarky line – “Now the rest of the acts of [King’s Name], and his might that he showed, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel/Judah.” At the death of each king that line appears. (If anyone is a Lord of the Rings fan you hear the echo in the Return of the King when Gandalf overdubs the guy jumping off the cliff -“And so was the reign of elsinore, Steward of Gondor”.) The biblical Chronicler, set against his time and place is unique. In no other documents would you get a King being made to look like the fool. If you want Pravda – go read the other Chronicles – aren’t all of the exploits recorded? But here, we have recorded the Word. And you can hear some of the playfulness of the Holy Spirit. Are not all those great exploits written elsewhere? Go read them if you want. Of course today and probably not long after each king died those exploits were lost, but the Word remains. These things are recorded for your instruction – said with snark.
And Ahab killed in battle and his end pictured as the remains of his life blood washed out of the more valuable Chariot and given to the dogs gives way to his son who falls through the floor of his palace. But within that is part of the story of Elijah. Elijah was just a blunt guy. After falling through the floor, Ahab son sends people to Baalzebub – a Philistine God – at Ekron to discern if he will live. Elijah meets them on the road and asks – “It is because there is no God in Israel?” The answer is of course no – it is because we don’t like that God of Israel’s answers. For Ahab’s son the answer is you’re a goner. But for us isn’t it the same. We can send messengers to this Baal or that Baal – our work or our sports team or our house – won’t you keep me safe? To which we always get a positive reply…until we don’t.
Ahab’s son doesn’t like the message and sends a captain and 50 soldiers to take care of Elijah the messenger. Some fire gets in the way. It also gets in the way of the second cohort. That third captain though is a little brighter. This one can see who is the bigger dog in this fight. Instead of “taking care of Elijah” he and his men become Elijah’s bodyguard. And Elijah delivers the same message in person. As long as we think we are the kings or that the Baals will save us that is the message. The message of the biblical chronicler is exposing the lie, stripping down the kings. And that is the message of the law. It strips us down until we are able to say – where should I go, you have the words of eternal life – until we can enter the Kingdom not as kings but as children.

Biblical Inerrency

John Bayer asks in the comments –
“…Also, Raymond Brown is criticized by tradionalists for denying Biblical inerrancy. Is this criticism unfounded? What is the Lutheran view and particularly what is Parson Brown’s position on Biblical inerrancy…”

To the first question, the criticism is not unfounded. Raymond Brown absolutely would deny a tradionalist statement of inerrancy. When I wrote that Raymond Brown was a critical scholar, you’ve used the technical/theological term for what that was pointing at. Raymond Brown puts reason over scripture to the point that if there are percieved “errors” the problem is with Scripture and not with the interpreter. Raymond Brown is not beyond using the text as we have it to “peer behind and reconstruct” the “original text” in his understanding. This form of Higher Criticism is why I could not recommend Raymond Brown for a layman. (Sorry, that sounds snobby.) It is also why I thought it fair to point out that I was reading him. Many people would not find him kosher. That said, I have found Raymond Brown to be helpful and insightful, especially if you know his starting point. He is a writer that one can argue with, sometimes loudly.

To the second point, a hearty and loud yes! to scriptural inerrency is my personal confession. I’m going to sketch out that case really quickly here, and maybe elaborate a little over the next few days.

A. Inerrency of scripture is the universal testimony of scripture (2 Timothy 3:15-16 and 2 Peter 1:20-21 as the clearest examples, Luke 24:44, John 2:22, Acts 1:16, and several other supporting passages)

a.1. Yes this is a circular argument, but all interpretation/understanding of our world begins somewhere. To make a mathematical analogy, all geometry rests on axioms taken as truth. Arguing with Euclid over parallel lines never touching is lunacy, because that is an axiom of Euclidian Geometry. The interpretation cycle of the church begins with Jesus Christ as the revelation of the Father. Christ testifies that the scriptures are all about him. They are Christocentric and every word they contain was or will be fulfulled in Christ (Luke 24:44). Scripture is the bedrock and norm or everything including itself. Scripture interprets Scripture, or Sola Scriptura.

B Inerrency of scripture is a statement of faith. Just like the universal church, the Una Sancta, is a statement of faith. Ultimately you cannot “prove” revelation. Like the message of the Gospel, revelation is accepted or rejected. The Nicene Creed states in the 2nd article that “on the third day He rose again accoring to the Scriptures” putting forward the Scriptures as the valid and true testimony of Christ. It also holds in the 3rd article the “Holy Spirit… who spoke by the prophets” which affirms the old testament Scriptures. The creeds, the rule of faith and the summation of the scriptural witness which we confess, hold the scriptural testimony to be true.

C. Our recent Synod’s writings on inerrency give a fully rounded view. This link takes you to the Commision on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) document on “The Inspiration of Scripture. Pages 10-11 address inerrancy. The money paragraph in my mind is the quotation in II.A.2 (p 11):

Inspiration was not mechanical dictation but rather an operation of the Holy Spirit
that allowed a function to each author’s individuality in writing the Scriptures.
Therefore the predication of inerrancy to the Bible does not imply that when the
New Testament reproduces and applies Old Testament statements this must
always occur by means of verbatim quotations, or that there must be verbal
correspondence between parallel accounts of the same event wherever they are
found either in the Old or the New Testament.
Each writer inerrantly imparted God’s truth as the Holy Spirit moved him to do so
in his own way, from his own perspective, and for his own purposes. Far from
impugning the veracity of the Scriptures this multidimensional application of
whatsoever was spoken aforetime and this multidimensional view of events
reported serves to impart more fully the truth which God reveals for the
edification of His people. The Biblical conception of inspiration does not see
these differences as errors, but as inspired variety which we should recognize
with thanksgiving and study prayerfully imploring the Spirit’s help so that we may
receive all the instruction He wishes to imparts.

This is getting a little long, so I’ll stop there. If anything is really unclear, let me know, or if anyone wants to take me to task.