Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Whizzing in the Spirit

The following is a hysterical quote from from the radio show "Stand to Reason," with Gregory Koukl. It reflects the strange and occasionally circular way people discuss "new movements of the Spirit":

What if I told you that you should come with me to a church that has a brand new work of the Spirit? You say, what is it? I say, when the Spirit moves us, we stand in a circle and urinate into a big tub. We pee in a pot. We call it "whizzing in the Spirit." You say, Koukl, that's bizarre. I say, there are no verses against it. Find a verse against it. In fact, I've got a proof text: "From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water." There it is! Works for me! After all, you can't put God in a box, can you? God can do whatever He wants, can't He? So who are you to judge Him?
You gotta admit...that's pretty damn funny.

Grace & Peace

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Defending Luke (or, "Quirinius, we still love you!")

I am undoubtedly among the worst of our merry band to enter a discussion on historical issues. So, I will merely offer a few timely observations as we approach the Christmas season. (Anti-Blog, this is mostly for you.)

The Problem:
Luke 2:1-2 states that Quirinius was the Roman governor of Syria when Jesus was born. This statement occasionally puzzles historians because Quirinius was appointed governor of Syria in 6AD, and Luke dates the birth of Jesus to the reign of Herod the Great (1:5), who, according to Josephus (Ant. 17.7.1 191), Strabo, and Tacitus, died in 4 BC. This appears to render Luke's account historically irreconciliable.

Possible Solutions:
That Augustus issued a census decree is both reasonable and plausible. Augustus' propensity to count and tax is well known. According to the Acts of Augustus (see #8 therein), Augustus ordered three censuses (censi?) during his reign (27BC-14AD). Interestingly, an Antioch manuscript exists with an inscription describing a soldier who was 'legate of Syria' twice during this time frame. There are two common interpretations: one is that it refers to Q. Varus, and the other that it refers to Quirinius himself. The New Bible Dictionary (IVP:1996) says this (s.v. "Quirinius"):
The possibility that Quirinius may have been governor of Syria on an earlier occasion... has found confirmation in the eyes of a number of scholars (especially W. M. Ramsay) from the testimony of the Lapis Tiburtinus (CIL, 14. 3613). This inscription, recording the career of a distinguished Roman officer, is unfortunately mutilated, so that the officer’s name is missing, but from the details that survive he could very well be Quirinius. It contains a statement that when he became imperial legate of Syria he entered upon that office ‘for the second time’ (Lat. iterum). The question is: did he become imperial legate of Syria for the second time, or did he simply receive an imperial legateship for the second time, having governed another province in that capacity on the earlier occasion?...The wording is ambiguous. Ramsay held that he was appointed an additional legate of Syria between 10 and 7 bc, for the purpose of conducting the Homanadensian war, while the civil administration of the province was in the hands of other governors, including Sentius Saturninus (8-6 bc), under whom, according to Tertullian (Adv. Marc. 4. 19), the census of Lk. 2:1ff. was held.
Perhaps Luke 2:2, "This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria" is saying that there was second census that Quirinius oversaw. Josephus documents a census taken early in Quirinius' term of office (Antiquities 18.1.1 1). In fact, Luke also mentions a second census himself in Acts 5:37.

E.M. Blaiklock, writing for Zondervan's Biblical Encyclopedia believes that Quirinius was in Syria for an earlier tour of duty, not as governor but in some other leadership capacity (s.v. "Quirinius"). It is notable that term Luke uses for Quirinius' is the general term hegemon, which in Greek can apply to prefects, provincial governors, and even Caesar himself. Even in the Testament it applies to procurators--pilate, festus, felix--and to general 'rulers' (Mt 2.6). The New Intl. Dict. of New Test. Theology gives 'leader, commander, chief' (vol 1.270) as among the possible range of meanings. Of course, this term would have applied to Quirinius at several points in his career. In the proper sense, there might also be several individuals so addressed at the same time. Justin Martyr specifically refers to Quirinius as 'procurator' in Apology 1:34.

However, even if Quirinius is not the referred legate, Grammatical Insights into the New Testament (pgs 23-24) implies that Luke 2:2 "prote" can (should?) be translated 'before the census of Quirinius' instead of the usual 'first census of Quirinius.' This potentially solves the problem without requiring two terms of office for Quirinius at all.

Either way, if we admit the weakness of the historical record (Joesphus himself is often confused about dates and numbers), it appears that Luke's case, as articulated in chapter 2, has serious potential to be correct as it was originally written.

This post is the result of a few days of simple research and not a lifetime of careful analysis. Obviously, there is much more than can be said. I'm not even going to attempt to go beyond the simple issue of Quirinius here. That would just take too long. But, I hope this proves that these are still live issues worthy of examination and discussion, and that a more 'traditional' read is not outside the realm of intellectual honesty.

Grace & Peace

Monday, December 05, 2005

Props to the SJV

I'm passing out props to my people in the San Joaquin Valley - according to a yearly study by Men's Fitness Magazine, two (2!) SJV cities rank among America's fittest! My old stomping grounds, "the Fres-yes," tops out as the 14th fittest city in the U.S.ofA. How about that for unexpected?! A lot of people make fun of Fresno, and my family moved to the outlying community of Clovis (30m Northeast) when I was 8, but at least it is among the healthiest places to live. I also give out major props to the people of Sacramento, the 7th fittest city in America.

The complete results of the 2005 study are here.

Now, I'm not trying to say anything in particular to my non-Cali friends, but did any of you notice how many of the fittest cities in America are in California?! (hint: the answer is 7). Yup, that's what I thought...ya'll best step back an' recognize! (*grin*)

Grace & Peace Out!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Waiting for the Revolution

What is it that you're waiting for?

I am waiting for the Revolution to begin. I am waiting for nuclear fission to start: when all the elements are in place, the chemicals are in sufficient quantity, when the energy thresholds have been overcome and the critical mass is present. I am waiting for that uncontrolled chain-reaction that will spread out from the detonation point, igniting somthing far beyond my wildest expectations! I am waiting for the Revolution.

Did you know that Lenin was first arrested in 1895? He spent more than a year in prison, and didn't see the Soviet Revolution until 1917. More than 20 years later. I have been talking about the Revolution since 2000. I remember standing in Dwight, talking with Anti-Blog about the impending Revolution. But it never really materialized. Then 2001-2002 was supposed to be the year. Porterhouse was our critical mass - but it never spread beyond the walls. By 2003, we were moving out. People were leaving, and the spirit of revolution with it.

Somehow we were harvested back, well most of us anyway. The agony of those lost grieves me. But our Colony appears yet more promising - stronger, more mature, wiser - and I believe that the Revolution may yet break out. I am waiting, time is passing, sparks are flying and the heat is simmering. Still I am waiting...for the sparks to catch; for flame to take hold; for the reaction to begin that will sweep outward and I'll gaze in awe, throwing my strength into the fire and my back to the work, barely able to hang on because it won't come from me when it comes. From He who calls these elements together, I don't want to lose any more.

I am ready for the Revolution.

Grace & Peace

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Shameless personal plug

I feel slightly famous and desire to share this with anyone interested. I preached my first official "sermon" this past Sunday at the New Haven Vineyard. As part of my internship there this year, I will preach two sermons to the congregation. I'll probably preach again in the Spring. It was pretty nerve-wracking, even for someone used to being up on stage! In all honesty, I don't remember a lot about the actual event - I think I was worried about getting through without making mistakes, making sure my points were intelligible, and hoping that it all made sense - but I got a lot of positive feedback, for which I am incredibly appreciative.

So...if you want to hear my first attempt in crystal clear, .mp3 audio, the link is here! You can listen to this sermon, and several others, at:

If you want, just save the file to your computer and listen to it whenever you have time. I hope you enjoy!

Grace & Peace
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