Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Sad news today... remembering Brother Smethers

It seems like such a long time ago but around 2005 I was ordained through the United Christian Ministries International. I was trying to start at church here in Billings and did some research on different organizations that would ordain me for ministry. The biggest reason was to be accountable to someone in my venture.

Long story short, I decided that I no longer needed the ordination and sort of let it go. I made friends with a guy on Facebook who let me know that the head of UCMI had died in June. I am sort of sad as since his death the website is gone. I did make a few friends there so to see part of my past (in a way) gone. Here is Brother Smethers's obituary. http://hosting-24048.tributes.com/obituary/show/Steven-B.-Smethers-101459106 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Am I the only one that sees this?

1. A man is selling single cigarettes on the street and is confronted by police who in the situation choke him to death.[1]

2. People are upset as to how this tragic situation is handled and create signs and t-shirts saying, "I can't breathe". [2]

3. Police of the NYPD wear t-shirts saying, "I can breathe". One is asked what they meant by it. "If the man had not resisted arrest he would not have been choked and would still be breathing.[3]

4. Two police have just been assassinated in NYC. [4]

5. To add to this stupidity the chief of police stated, "I hope there are marches for these two officers like there was for the others." I am like WHAT? Is he that stupid? I agree there should be something to honor the officers. Of course, now people are asking for an apology for his stupid statement. [5]

Does anyone get this? Is the NYPD (as well as other PD around the US) this stupid? Why not apologize for a sad situation where a life is lost EVEN IF YOU MAY BE RIGHT. I just see this is not the end-- that there is going to be more escalation of violence toward police in general. I know there are good cops out there--but corruption is making harder for police and the public.

Fan the flames NYPD's finest... fan those flames and get more officers killed. Just apologize for the death of anyone even if it is a clean kill. A life is a life, black, white, red, yellow, brown, civilian, or police officer. I am one American that fears the police more than I do any terrorist. Do you think that is crazy? Do you realize you re eight times more likely to die in the hands of a police officer that from a terrorist? [6]

No one has to die if people just stopped to think instead of seek to harm others. This country is so polarized that it is only "either/or", but it is not only "either/or"... all it takes is some common sense and respect for others. How can we change this America?

Monday, December 08, 2014

The problem with OUR experience: Love, God, and Science

I have come to believe this is not the world that God created. OK. While God created it, we have become mad with our sights on ourselves. We lost sight of the true creation and creator. We have fallen into a mental illness that separates us from reality. I call this the insanity of humanity. We want to cover our illness with anything that we see comforts us. This means that even religion that people use to buffer our failings by works as we attempt to appease a god that we perceives hates us for our failings.

We also go so far as to say, “God is not real” as we puff up our pride and arrogance and relish the idea that we are so much like a god we know everything. That is called delusion and it is a mental illness. If someone were to say to you, “I am God” or even, “I am a god” you would assume he or she are insane. I know I would. However many do this every day when they proclaim there is no God. The delusion they experience is the non-realization that they are no God as they are finite beings who have a limited knowledge as to what is scientifically known. Not only is there knowledge limited by what they scientifically do not know, but by his or her ability to understand things like love.

If there is not God, there is no love. Love would only be a chemical reaction in the brain that makes you desire sex. How romantic is that? Yes, I would be reduced to some chemical reaction in my brain and love would not be a reality. The logical reasoning that there is no God reduces love to nothing. Love become no more a reason to do good for others, but only a functional adaptation to procreate. All motives are selfish as they come from our own desires that the chemicals in our brain created.

The bible states, “God is love.”, and every person has an innate desire to be loved. [1] Children die from lack of loving contact. [2] The latter is a scientific and observable fact. The only reason we love others is that we once were loved. While some may say that is a learned process, it still does not explain what love is. Science cannot explain what love is. It can tell you the physical and chemical reactions that may cause a ‘love” response, but it cannot explain what love really is. Love must be experienced to be understood. For example, a frog can be dissected and science can tell you that a frog has a heart, lungs, and other parts. However, is that all a frog is? Tell a boy or girl who are at a pond that a frog is just some biological parts as they chase the frog and experience what a frog is.

There is also more to our life than mere experience. One person’s experience is the same and yet also different from another. Imagine as humans our experience is that the world is round. However, if we were a muon traveling faster than the speed of light we would experience the world as flat. Why then is our own experience greater than another’s is? The video that is posted with this blog post asks that same question. [3] If our own experience can be questionable then to state with certainty “there is no God”, become delusional. To say there is love also become as delusional without there being a way to experience it. I found love when God found me. I sought out love but found there was more pain than love. Love covered pain. Being loved taught me truly to love others. The thing that I found true is that without God, love is just a chemical reaction in the brain that stimulates my sexual desires... Damn, ain't that romantic?

However, when I was found by God and began to understand His Grace, love became real to me. Love is real and without God, it means nothing. I might as well be a dog in heat but instead, love compels me to tell my story of faith, love, mercy, grace, and redemption. For me, love has no meaning without God. An atheist wants to take that away. Love over experiential science? While science is great, people need love over the limitations of science.

 I am not saying the earth is flat, but then again, it is only a matter of perspective... I am not saying God's existence is provable, but then again, that is a matter of relationship and experience through faith. My experience states God is real. 

[1] 1 John 4:16
[2] Szalavitz, Maia. Psychology Today. 6 1, 2010. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/born-love/201003/touching-empathy (accessed 12 8, 2014). 
[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNqNnUJVcVs&feature=youtu.be

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Some tips on using social media

This article does a good job at explaining how to build a good foundation for your social media use. 
Personally, I would rather have a few great people to interact with than thousands of followers for the sake of numbers. Social media is not about how many people follow you, but how much those people help grow as a person. Some people may have thousands of followers and if they never posted again, no one would miss them. That shows the shallowness of numbers. However, some people can have few numbers and add depth of quality to your media stream. 
Different social media forums have different styles and get different results. One needs to tailor their posts to fit the forum and audience. While Twitter is great for ideas, news, and casual exchanges, it is weak as far as real discussion. Other forums allow more depth and intimacy in the way you can communicate your ideas and thoughts. Whether you are a fan of FB, G+, or a blogger (or any other social media), look for ways to draw others deeper into conversation. By drawing others into a deeper conversation, your ideas and thought will be more fully appreciated. In addition, true friendships can start.
For me, I have worked hard at making Facebook my "safe" social media. This means making the hard choices sometimes in blocking or unfriending people. Over the years, I have tried to make Facebook the place where I can express myself and not have a ton of judgment come my way. While some may accuse me of making an echo chamber that is far from true. I do have many people I disagree with. The key is to keep the people who discuss and do not argue or do name-calling. I will be quick to unfriend or block anyone who is a bully.
Google+ is more of a free market for me. G+ is a place that I most probably allow myself to take the most beatings. I tend to post public that allows anyone to interact with my post. I have been poked fun by atheists and other religions However; it keeps me on my toes and ready to have a real discussion when it happens. If someone is way out of hand, I will call "Troll" and block him or her. Again, abuse in not tolerated, but discussions from other points of view are desired. 
Personally, I have given up on sites like Myspace or a few others I have signed up with over the years. I do think there have been some great sites, but sometimes there just is no audience there. Truthfully, after viewing a list of social media sites, there is just no way to keep up with them all so choose wisely as to which ones help promote your ideas the best. 
My examples in how I used Facebook and Google+ may be different from your own. In fact, some people say that the opposite is true as far as my example. Likewise, I do on occasion use Klout.com and LinkIn.com though I do limited posting at the latter. The bottom line is having fun and experiment. Remember, trolls will roll you wherever you go but you have the choice as to whether they bother you or not. All this also takes time, but in the end, you will not waste money by paying someone who guarantees thousands of followers instantly. You will find that in time, your social media sites will be a place to grow as a person by interacting with others in a deeper level. 

Some fleeting thoughts around the question of evil

 Some fleeting thoughts around the question of evil
              First off, this was taken from my side of a conversation on Google+. I tried to edit it to make sense. I hope that it does.I have heard this question many times. 

“There is no way an omniscient and omnipotent god would have to kill people to do away with evil.”

             There is some bad theology you there and you address it well, however, there is good theology that gives good answers to your points. The sad thing is most people tend toward the bad theology and miss the big picture that the Bible is showing. Most of the issues you bring out are humans being religious instead of seeking a relationship with God. Instead, they desired to serve God by keeping Laws that were designed to separate believers in the One True God from pagan and idolatrous beliefs.
The story of the bible is often the retelling of the same story of the unfaithfulness of humanity and the faithfulness of the One True God. Often, if the scripture is read for what it states instead of what someone says it say, it tells a very fascinating story of God allowing man to choose to be god-like in the quest of good and evil while faithfully stating that the only true way of knowing is to know the One True God. Again, sadly, many misread and misapply passages and in the end misunderstand what the Bible is showing us.
I do not believe I will change an atheist /agnostic’s mind in any way and do appreciate someone who can have an actual discussion about God without invoking fairies and elves. I do get what they are saying as to things in the bible that may not match up with history, as we understand it. Believe me, when the bible is understood only as morality is becomes arbitrary. Morality is arbitrary as it depends on the cultural ideas. The bible however is not based on morality, but ethics. The difference is like this, “Do not lie.” That is a moral issue. So normally, you or I will not tell a lie. However, you or I have Jews (or other humans) in our house and someone knocks on the door asking if you have Jews. I would lie and say no as that is a higher law of loving others (Jews or others), and holds to the holding others higher than myself. I did learn this from the Bible.
Historians may not look at a “religious book” for sources, but a good historian will look to understand culture. While the Roman gods may have been fiction, they help historians understand how the Roman Empire worked. So, one cannot have a complete disconnect with history and mythology. If you understand the purpose and reasons, some stories are told as they were. I do not have to believe in actual events to learn the truth the story contains. However, historically, there is a story of a Noah before the biblical record. The retelling of this story is a story pointing to the One True God.
The story of Noah is a perfect example of what I am stating. What if there is a story that shows the One True God in a bad way. However, what if you know that same God in a relational way? You found in your relationship that the idea that the One True God was not out to harm people but to do away with evil. While one Noah story had the One True God as evil, the Hebrew version shares a story of grace and mercy given to a chosen family while evil is wiped from the earth. I might mention that arguments seem circular for some unbelievers. On one hand, an all-powerful God who can stop evil and does not is not all-powerful or loving. One the other a God that wipes out evil and kills people does not love and is therefore evil. This is a catch-22 argument that seems not to recognize it is one way or the other.
In addition, while some archeological digs do not back up the biblical text many do. However, whether the text was written before or after the event does not mean it was not accurate. I might add that there are many historians that do believe the bible as historical accurate (I know that is contrary to whomever you are listening to, but it is true). Whether the walls of Jericho fell before the Hebrews came or after, does not negate the walls of Jericho fell.
The idea in the bible is always, this god is this way; our God is that way and superior (a side note here is that I found atheists use this same argument about truth… I just refer to Truth as a Person named Jesus.)  I may also mention that anyone historically who would mention Jesus, Tacitus, or anyone Jewish writer for example, especially in a negative way, as living, seems very contrary to the idea that Jesus never existed. 
You have to ask yourself. Does the question of good versus evil even mean anything without a Supreme Being who is good or loving? Better yet, as the question of good and evil is a false dichotomy as we find out with the biblical text, and a better question is whether it is of wisdom or folly? Without a God, these questions are meaningless, unless one believes himself to be God. However, then we must as of ourselves, if we are gods, are we all knowing and all-powerful?
While we are powerful in many ways, while using our own limited power, can we restrain from using all our power? If we hold a small animal, we have the power to crush it, but do we still restrain from doing so? Cannot an all-powerful God have the knowing power not to crush something weaker?
In addition, if there is being a creature, and a state of being that is outside of creation, then do you really think a creature can fully understand a Being that is beyond and outside creation? However, what if God in some way limited Himself in a way that was relational… such as allowing Himself to partake in human suffering to show us He understands and desires us to come out of our collective insanity. Being all-powerful means knowing how to restrain as well as being all knowing means understanding that not all will understand that knowing in and of itself must be limited. It is like the saying, “It is not what is said that makes a conversation, but what is understood.”

Now being that humans are a limited finite being how would we know what an omniscient and omnipotent God knows as to what is best? In addition, a person may be limited in a type of theology. I am an open theist of sorts, so see God as allowing humanity to make free will choices and while knowing all the possibilities, will work with the choice humanity makes. Meaning, evil is what man does and God works out the best solution for us... even if it seems cruel. The real question really is; is God through with a New Creation? Maybe we are in process and not finished yet and we cannot understand until we see the finished product. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The collective insanity of humanity

The other day I found this article: Study: Belief in an angry God associated with a variety of mental illnesses It sort of confirmed some of my experience dealing with certain people as well as my own experiences. It also confirmed some ideas I have began to see in the Bible. 

I do not believe that someone becomes mentally ill by believing in an angry God, but rather it exasperates the person's condition. I see that while you may suffer from OCD, the idea that God may not accept you as "clean" and is angry may contribute to the need to have things clean and orderly. 

I have seen on a personal level people who "hatefully" abuse others in the name of love. They seem to think that attacking others is a way to bring them into a right relationship with God. However, if you believe God may just bring the hammer (or strike you with lightening) for your sins, they missed the whole point of the Cross and Resurrection. I began to understand that God was angry with sin in humanity but has never gone back on His proclamation that His creation, humanity, is nothing other than good. 

I have a working theory on how we as humans live in what I call the collective insanity of humanity (catchy huh?). Meaning that there is a reality that is "in Christ" and a false reality we choose to live in by choosing our fallen state instead. The origin of this thought comes from re-reading the "curse" of Adam and Eve as not a punishment, but rather of consequence. God gave Adam and Eve a chance to come clean yet they choose to live in shame instead. 

I also began to realize how this is true as I began to study a family member's illness who possibly has schizophrenia. She lives in a false reality that is "true" to her. She hears the voice that no one else does, thus in her mind it is real. However it is a false reality as there are no real voices to be heard. These observations have set me on some interesting twists in my own theology and how I see many of the stories in the OT as well as the NT. However, it has also opened me up to loving those who suffer mental illness in a deeper way. 

It does seem that often an angry person who believes in an angry, wrathful, God, becomes like the God he or she believes in. It also seems that there is a major impairment in reading comprehension and compassion to the point that the person cannot accept that God could possibly love others if they are not exactly as they believe their God requires. It also seems that he or she has a need to point out worse "sinners" as a means to show that they are not as bad as that in hopes they have a chance at judgment day. Over all, it is a sad condition and my prayers go out for those who suffer in this way.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

When you “can’t even”…

When you “can’t even”…

I found this picture on G+ today and really related to it. There are those days when it feels like “I can’t even” and I need to learn how to “even” or “literally even”. Those are the hardest days to rest in Jesus. The irony is these are the type of days one needs to step back and see what God is doing. One must also realize that just maybe, you are not supposed to “even”.

Often we try to make our faith bigger, stronger, faster, or something God may not desire it to be. Sometimes a “I can’t even” just may be a way to humble us so that we ask God who can. It is not easy to deal with frustration, believe me I know that as a parent. However, if we look at those “I can’t even” days as a moment to pause and listen, or just rest a moment there maybe that “God Factor” that is hidden within our own frustration and weakness. 

Friday, October 03, 2014

Blogging: What a pain! Therefore, I give myself a challenge

Blogging: What a pain! Therefore, I give myself a challenge

I started this blog way back in 2004, which means I have blogged for 14 years. Well, my last entry was in June 2014 though it was to sell a couple of tee shirt, which, by the way did not sell. Over the last ten years, it has been an amazing journey of self-discovery as well as finding some great friend as well as finding some very mean people. If you have been a consistent reader over the years, you probably have seen me gain much better writing skills as well as work out some heavy topics. You have read about the birth of my son and daughter. You have read about my immersion into the Emerging Movement. You read about my struggles with those who commented only to condemn me to hell, prayed for me after reading about my stoke, as well as felt my frustration after my assault where the three men who assaulted me were not brought to justice, and how I have chosen to forgive instead of go after them.

It has been an eventful 14 years.

One reason I decided to blog was that I enjoyed writing. When I decided to go back to school, I found that it took care of my writing desire, as I had to write paper after paper. So, many of the last posts have been school papers. I hope these papers have been good reading. I have even self-published one paper as a short book via Amazon.com.[1] I believe it to be the ugliest cover a book could ever have! LOL! The book covers the history of the word “Logos” giving the behind the scenes overview as to why John chose to use that word. OK, enough of the self-promotional plug, though if anyone is interested in buy the tee-shirts let me know and I will get the campaign up and running again—you just need to get around 20 friends to also buy one.

Well, this brings me to the “why” of this post. I guess it is a self-challenge of sorts. I am challenging myself to write one blog post a weak. This will not count my other blogs such as the infamous ODMafia site that is also being revamped by my good Canadian friend TruthSlayer. So, if you have a blog, or just want to write leave a comment that you also want to pick up this challenge. I hope this rekindles that love for writing for you as well as for me.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Monday, May 19, 2014

2 Corinthians 5: 17-21

Here is yet another paper.

2 Corinthians 5: 17-21

Different eyes different views

            Some people approach the Bible as a book that dropped from the sky direct from God. Others read it as mythology or other piece of literature. How someone reads the Bible will set the stage for what he or she will receive from it. Such means as Exegesis or careful systematic study to find the original meaning can help aid in understanding the original intent of the writer. [1] By properly using the tools needed to interpret the Bible, the Bible can say what it was intended to say and not be some esoteric religious book that only the enlightened can understand.

            Since the Bible was written in at least three different languages, (Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek), and then translated into English, it is good to have more than one translation to compare thoughts or ideas as to the meaning of the text. [2] By limiting the choice to only one translation, Fee and Stuart point out, that as a reader, you are committed to only one exegetical choice of the translator. [3] This limiting of choice would not allow nuances or thoughts another translation may bring out. Fee and Stuart say this is even true even if it is a very good translation. [4] For this paper the choice of the New King James Bible, (NKJ), New International Version, (NIV) and an occasional dip into The Living Bible, (TLB) as far as Bible References. Each Bible has written or slanted a bit exegetically. The NKJ and NIV were translated by a group of scholars, or specialists in the languages, to give us the best scholarly reading. [5] Personally, the NKJ has a more poetic ring to it and will be the most referenced version in this paper. The TLB is a one-person perspective meaning that one person may have created his or her own translation from the original language or from another translation and wrote in a more paraphrased fashion. [6] According to Fee and Stuart, each translation used in this paper would fall under the categories of:
Formal Equivalence: NKJV
Functional Equivalence: NIV
Free: LB

            Even commentaries and other resources are written under differing exegetical backgrounds. A group of different authors may write some commentaries while others may have only one person’s ideas. While this paper will use a variety of one-person commentaries or even some that many writers, the result will be what is a personal belief as to be the best view of the passage of scripture presented here.

Hermeneutics: making sense of the here and now
            The cry of today is “relevance”. Many believe the Bible must be made relevant now for the people of this day and age. There is even a popular Christian magazine and website called Relevant that have pressed to show that the ancient book called the Bible is still applicable in the present. There is no problem with this unless someone makes a biblical text say something that was never intended or meant. All believers need to read the Bible and let it speak to us on a personal level. However again, if God is speaking, it assuredly in the context of the original intent of the writer of whatever book he, or she is studying. Each book of the Bible has a purpose behind it. For example, Old Testament books such as Job or Proverbs are considered Wisdom Literature and thus the focus in those books is to convey wisdom to the reader so that he or she can understand foolishness from wisdom. Some of these books go deeper while others may not but the focus and purpose is to bring the reader into a deeper understanding of God’s wisdom.

Other books such as the Gospel have specific groups of people to whom they are written. The book of Matthew would be considered written to a Jewish audience while Luke would be a Greek oriented audience. While Matthew focuses on prophetic fulfillment, Luke would be about getting the facts straight in a more linear fashion that would appear logical to the Greek mind. While there is some difference in the books, overall both tell the same story though told from different vantage points.  

While there are differences in the Gospels, other books of the NT are letters meant for correction and others for encouragement, and all lead toward teaching the readers how to go deeper in his or her faith in Christ Jesus. Jesus summed up the core of hermeneutics as well as exegesis in John 5:39. "You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” [7] Without the understanding, that the Bible is about the Person of Christ Jesus, it is hard to understand the motivation or meaning of any Book in the Bible. As Fee and Stuart succinctly state of one of the most important things to remember is, “A text cannot mean what it never meant. “ [8]

We all wear glasses
One example that Mickelsen and Mickelsen, (MM), mentions any student of the Bible should beware of is, we can read the Bible through lenses that which, in some ways may be helpful, these lenses may also taint the purity of the Bible. MM give at least five such examples that will be briefly touched on here.
1.      We can be bound up in the “scientific method”.[9]
2.      We can be more committed to our religious beliefs than what the Bible actual teaches.[10]
3.      Our fear of paradox may influence our thinking. [11]
4.      We may practice “selective literalism”. [12]
5.      We may settle for easy answers to complex problems, even at the expense of the truth. [13]

As proposed by MM, we must not take up a “fortress mentality” to defend what our idea of what is “Christianity”. [14] As with point one, the Bible is not a science book that is meant to prove or disprove any modern scientific theory, though it does surprisingly well. Point two often comes out of trusting a denomination or person over interacting with the text itself. Point three most often is not allowing God’s written word to be complex by allowing tensions that seem in opposition. Point four is often practices today as many take the Bible literally, but miss at times it is also metaphoric, allegoric, and can be in some cases meant to be read as hyperbole. To take passages we agree with and ignore others we do not is not a good way to read any book let alone a book meant to help us grow in our knowledge and faith in our relationship with Christ Jesus.
But, what does it mean?
While sitting with a group of friends we began to joke about making a new phone application called, “The Eight Ball Bible”. The idea is much like the “magic eight ball” where you ask it a question, shake it and a triangular cube will float up and give you an answer. Early in my faith, I would desperately seek what God wanted for me by praying, opening the Bible up, and reading the verse given. While I personally experienced one time this was a way God spoke to me on a very personal level, it is not the best approach to the Bible, let alone seeking the Will of God.

The Bible has amazing unity as stated above; the unifying factor is, of course, Jesus. This unifying factor aids us greatly. However context is also greatly needed to gain the true value of a Biblical passage. As MM point out, the whole book should be understood as the overall context for a passage. [15] The next point would be reading what comes before or after a passage. One personal observation however, is that the headings and verses in a Bible are not part of the text but aids in helping see the collective thought of a passage. This is helpful, however at times a passage thought may not end in chapter two but end in chapter three. For example many read Romans chapter one and miss the one – two punch of the point Paul is making that concludes in chapter two. Likewise, for our passage in 2 Corinthians it seemed necessary to widen the passage for better grasp of the thought Paul was attempting to present. While the core verses will be 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 we will actually start in verse 16 and continue into 2 Corinthians 6:1-2. While the case will have to be built, I believe the conclusion of the passage of scripture does not end in chapter 5 but chapter 6.

Context: Who, what, where, when, and why
 It is good to have been discipled by someone who understood simple but helpful questions such as “who, what, where, when, and why”. These questions are a very good way to open up meaning of a passage. Here are the questions:
1.      Who is speaking and who is listening?
2.      What is the historical context?
3.      Where is this taking place?
4.      When did this happen? For example: Was what is being stated before or after the Cross and Resurrection?
5.      Why is the person stating these things?

The final questions to ask are “How does this apply to me and what am I willing to do about what I learned?” Asking questions of God and the text is a way of interacting with God and His written word that gives meaning to the text. These questions also help to read the passage for what it states, not what we were taught it states or want it to mean. It is too easy to read a passage, miss that one point, and thus miss an important idea that is presented. Sometimes a passage may mean one thing, and at times, a passage may have layered meanings so it is a good idea to take a careful and critical look and see what the passage is saying. As stated above, such things like doctrinal glasses, political views, and other ideas, can taint the purity of the passage to what we are comfortable. The Bible may comfort, but more, if a person is a true student, it will confound and cause someone to begin to question everything on a deeper level. Of course, the Guide to the Bible is the Holy Spirit, and even someone without the access to commentaries and other aids can still learn what a passage means. However, there are times when the Holy Spirit will use a commentary or other aid to help us understand a passage better.

One last thing that is sometimes overlooked by even some of the best books on the Bible is how we should approach the Bible is humility. Humility opens the door of understanding as God pours out His Grace to us. "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.''[16] It is a temptation to gain knowledge, and then be puffed up with pride. Pride closes the door to learning. Unfortunately, sometimes arrogance blinds us to see what God has for us and we mistake pride for certainty.  Proverbs 11:2 states, “When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom.” [17] This should be a warning that a person will be humbled either by choice or by shame. As the passage is considered the prayer is not for a good grade or a way to show off knowledge of a passage, but rather that Christ be shown more clearly to all.

Historically the city of Corinth was destroyed and rebuilt to be a strategically position for trade. [18] Being a place of commerce meant many people would pass through and a church there would be well positioned to present the Gospel. [19] However, Corinth also had an “unsavory reputation” of excess and sexual license. [20] For example, we find in 1 Corinthians a man who is bragging that he is sleeping with his father’s wife. [21] Sadly, this man may also have been using the Grace of God as a license to do such a thing! So, we see with Paul’s first letter there is passionate chastising and correction. The second letter to the Corinthians has Paul having received good news from Titus that the church in Corinth has “come to their senses”.[22] The letter is one of encouragement as well as teaching how to restore someone who was cast out of the church community. Overall, after reading 1 Corinthians, there seems to be a weight lifted when reading 2 Corinthians as Paul’s words do not sting as a whip or have the despairing urgency of the first letter.

Down to the letter
After having dealt with “fleshly” issues in the church, Paul uses 2 Corinthians to defend and protect his Apostleship. Paul speaks of how as an Apostle, he has abandoned himself for the sake of Christ. [23] Stegman points out the idea that Paul once regarded Jesus as a mere man who lived and died. However, in light of the revelation of the Resurrection, Paul has now see Jesus through a lens that is “scratched and distorted by selfishness and falsehood”. [24]

In 2 Corinthians 5 Paul continues his defense of his calling as an Apostle. However, around verse 11 Paul begins to use more inclusive language. The transition hits in verse 14 where Paul states, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.” [25] Paul initially speaks of “us” meaning Apostles, then moves to “us” that may still refer to the Apostles, but a bit more open, to the all-inclusive, “all”. Paul speaks in universal term as far as the “one died for all, therefore all died.” [26] Here is the shift where the readers must decide what Paul states next has authority or not. Do we regard Paul or anyone else in a mere human level? Do they continue to view Jesus in the same way one would regard other humans or is there something more? Is the ministry only for the Apostles or is it a ministry that “all” take a part in doing? If Jesus has become so much more than a mere man, then what is next for the church?

The phrase “in Christ” even today seems a bit of a mystery as commentaries go. One commentary states it is a direct contrast to “in law”. [27] Talbert puts forth the idea that ‘in Christ” means “by means of Christ”. [28] However, Stagg suggests it is related more to the idea of new creation”. [29] N.T. Wright states it this way, “If anyone is in the Messiah—New Creation!” [30] I tend to agree with Frank Stagg, and N.T. Wright that New Creation is bigger than we think.

According to Stagg, the word “ktisis” in Greek may describe, “creative results”, however, more commonly, it describes creative origins. [31] Stagg goes on to explain this is not the “indulgence of sin or the juggling of account books”, but rather a creative work, or in fact, the newness of life. [32] It is a new creation. Being new, the old is now passed away, is referring to the Resurrection, but not just that, it is all humanities Resurrection! It is a new beginning. The chalkboard was not only erased, it has been replaced with the internet! This is something so different we have yet to realize what God has done. Stagg goes on to say Jesus represented life as resurrection and Jesus claiming to be the embodiment of each. [33] As Revelation 20:5 refers to the “first resurrection” which may refer to our birth and death, so Paul speaks of being “saved in his life”, referring to the risen life of Jesus. [34] While Baptist theology is clearly present, the LB states this very well in its paraphrase of Colossians 2:12: “For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to a new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.” Always impressing, Stagg goes on to state, “Man needs more than an improvement; he must have a new origin, and that new origin must be from God.” [35] This new life is not “coercive, but essential and indispensable”.[36] To be bold, it is to say it is an act of divine grace. Dead is dead, and gone, but now is the new!
Reconcile the tension of belief
There is an illusion of a rabbit or duck. The issues is that whatever way you look at it, it is either a rabbit or duck. For some it is clearly a duck. For others it is a rabbit. However, for some of us it is both! Somehow, we want to reconcile this picture in our minds yet however hard we try there are two choices. Through Jesus Christ, God has reconciled life and death. Jesus died and yet lived and now has passed that ministry to each of us by forgiveness and somehow made all things right. The ministry of reconciliation should not be confused with the ministry of death as so many practices. For earlier in the letter, Paul speaks of two ministries. One ministry is of death and one of life. [37] One ministry had the glory of death; the other has the glory of new life.

A living new testament

            As believers, we walk through our life as a living new testament to the new creation. We have become “ambassadors for Christ”. [38] An ambassador is someone who represents a country or rather in the time of Jesus, a king. Jesus is not some earthly king with a kingdom, but rather a King whose Kingdom is one of complete emersion. This is not as if someone taking a vacation in a foreign country that immerses his or her self in the culture and language, for they could still return to their former country. This Kingdom demands that we forsake and even forget our old kingdom. In fact, it is liken to great King overtakes another king and the lesser king now must subject himself to the greater. In a sense, this was a message to Israel that The King with a greater Kingdom has come, and now, the kingdom of Israel must bow down and accept the newly created Kingdom that has more worth than even the chosen kingdom of humankind.

            According to Henry’s Concise Commentary, “The renewed man acts upon new principles, by new rules, with new ends, and in new company. [39] The believer is created anew; his heart is not merely set right, but a new heart is given him.” It is literally the death of the old and the birth of the new. Humankind is reduced to the metaphor of the mustard seed that must die in order to be reborn “greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.'' [40] As believers, we sacrifice this life for the greater life—eternal life, in Christ.

            While many see reconciliation and justification as judicial, the idea of an accountant who reconciles the books seems a better view. While a judge can bring reconciliation between people by finding a means that appease the two opposing parties, an accountant merely seeks to make the books reconcile the transactions that have already taken place. This means that a debt must be forgiven as it will never be repaid, as the one indebted has no means to repay it. An accountant must make the books reconcile. The numbers must match the amount that is spent. Once the account is reconciled, it is justified. The idea is that all is accounted for and the bottom [41]line— the owner of the account knows were all the money is. We, as believers profess this about God as we proclaim our reconciliation with God. Not only that, we who believe profess that “all things have become new”, and anyone can be reconciled with God. [42]

Not yet to the finish line
            Sin is a dragon made up of sin, pride, and fleshly desire. As we discovered, the flesh we now have has been forgiven and conquered. First, death overtook us, but now life is here to take us over through Jesus Christ. Somehow, Jesus became sin, though still without being sinful. The Beacon Bible commentary, (BBC), states that verse 21 usage of “in Him” corresponds to “we are made righteous”. [43] The idea that the BBC presents is that “Both parties embraced that which is not deservedly theirs. [44]Yes, we do not deserve life any more than Jesus deserved death, however, though Jesus was innocent of sin, “he entered a sphere utterly alien to him that we might enter a sphere from which we alienated ourselves.” [45] BBC continues this thought by pointing out that through Christ, God made visible what happens to fallen humanity when humans are against God. [46] This is an incredible revelation, as it is an inversion of the example of Adam and Eve and opens the door to better understanding salvation.

The end is the beginning
            Reconciliation and righteousness mean nothing without salvation. One can have his debt forgiven and the books are set to right, however, if the debtor does not recognize the debt as forgiven, he or she still remain in the state of being a debtor. Likewise, even if someone understands the debt is forgiven yet continues to claim he or she need to pay all back, do not receive the forgiveness of the said debt. In addition, if someone is told that all is set right and there is nothing he or she can do to add to the work already done. It is as if he or she does not understand what it means to be set right. It is as if many believers are on an overturned boat that is set right again, yet keep trying to help turn it over again as it was preferable to rest on the keel instead of the cushioned seats.

            Salvation is a gift. It is like a car that appears on a driveway with a note attached to the keys saying, “Today, this car is yours!” However, if the receiver of said gift does not take the keys and drive, the gift is wasted on the driveway and is all for nothing. Here is the closing. Not were the NIV, KJV or LB may state the chapter ends but where Paul concludes this passage. Paul pleads for all to not receive the gift of grace in vain—as equal co-workers. Not as some “Apostle” worthy of being listened to, but as “workers together”. [47] Paul concludes his thought as any evangelist would, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” [48]Salvation cannot be earned, but only received. The debt was paid and sin was dealt a deathblow. Now it is our choice as to what we do or not do with Jesus Christ—and our choice of response is our salvation.


Frank G. Carver, B.D., Th.M., Ph.D. Beacon Bible Commentary. Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 1970.

Henry, Matthew. 1706. 2 Corinthians. Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible
     (Complete). http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry
     complete/genesis/ (accessed April 22 2014).
Mickelsen, A. Berkeley Mickelsen & Alvera M. Understanding Scritpure How to Read and Study the Bible. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers' Inc., 1992.
Stagg, Frank. New Testament Theology. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1962.
Stegman, Thomas. Second Corinthians. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Academic, 2009. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost (accessed April 17, 2014).
Stuart, Gordon D. Fee and Douglas. How to Read the Bible for All its Worth. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003.

Talbert, Charles H. 2002. Reading Corinthians : A Literary and Theological Commentary. Macon, Ga: Smyth & Helwys Pub, 2002. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost (accessed April 18, 2014).
Walton, Steve. Zondervan Handbook to the Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009.
Wright, N. T. Paul. Minneapolis: First Fort Press, 2005.
Walton, Steve. Zondervan Handbook to the Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009.

[1] Stuart, Gordon D. Fee and Douglas. How to Read the Bible for All its Worth. 23

[2] Ibid 33

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid (Fee and Stuart give great examples on p. 34)

[5] Mickelsen, A. Berkeley Mickelsen & Alvera M. Understanding Scripture How to Read and Study the Bible. 42

[6] Ibid 43
[7] NKJ
[8] Stuart 2003, 30
[9] Mickelsen, A. Berkeley Mickelsen & Alvera M. Understanding Scripture How to Read and Study the Bible, 9

[10] Ibid

[11] Ibid. 11

[12] Ibid

[13] Ibid

[14] Ibid, 13
[15] Ibid 63
[16] James 4:6b, NKJ

[17] NKJ

[18] Walton, Steve. Zondervan Handbook to the Bible. 694

[19] Ibid

[20] Ibid

[21] 1 Corinthians 5:1

[22] Walton, Steve, 706

[23] For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. (4:5 NKJ).

[24] Stegman, Thomas. Second Corinthians. 138

[25] NIV

[26] Ibid

[27] Frank G. Carver, B.D., Th.M., Ph.D. Beacon Bible Commentary. 554

[28] Talbert, Charles H. 2002. Reading Corinthians: A Literary and Theological Commentary. 200

[29] Stagg, Frank. New Testament Theology, 114

[30] N.T. Wright. Paul. 34

[31] Stagg, Frank. 114

[32] Ibid
[33] Ibid, 115

[34] Ibid (Romans 5:10)

[35] Ibid 115

[36] Ibid 116
[37] 2 Corinthians 2

[38] 2 Corinthians 5:20

[39] Henry, Matthew. 1706. Genesis. Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible
     (Complete). http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry
     complete/genesis/ (accessed March 18, 2011).

[40] Matthew 13:32 NKJ

[42] Vs. 17

[43] Frank G. Carver, B.D., Th.M., Ph.D. 556

[44] Ibid
[45] Ibid

[46] Ibid

[47] 2 Corinthians 6:1

[48] NKJ