Category Archives: Christianity

Michal the Maligned; King David’s First Wife

English: Michal lets David escape from the win...
English: Michal lets David escape from the window. A painting by Gustave Doré, 1865. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not a feminist, but it doesn’t take a feminist to see the mysogeny in some Judeo-Christian circles when King David is so glorified while persons like Michal, David’s first wife, are vilified.  If Michal can be so maligned, then any woman can.  David treated Michal (and his other wives) like his property in more ways than one, and many “believing” men still see David’s actions in a righteous light.

King David, Israel’s most revered king [1], who was chosen by God for that role and for his part in God’s redeeming plan, was a poet and a bit of a prophet, but he did things that God did not approve of and which are utterly un-Christlike/un-Christianlike [2] (read about Judah and others that God used and you’ll see that He didn’t forcefully make them “saints”).  As always, we should recognize and praise the good, but we need to also recognize the bad and not repeat it.  We are also called to recognize and help the oppressed.

Background

What got “me going” on this subject at this time was a biography of David.   In the introduction the author claimed that the only thing David did wrong was have Uriah the Hittite murdered because he wanted the man’s wife (Bathsheba).  Though the author didn’t provide the reference for his claim, it comes from 1 Kings 15:5:  For David had done what was right in the eyes of the Lord and had not failed to keep any of the Lord’s commands all the days of his life—except in the case of Uriah the Hittite.  Since there are other things written in the Old Testament that David did that displeased God, this statement can be taken as a generalized commendation, just as other kings received generalized condemnations; and “in the case of Uriah the Hittite” David committed many deep sins, not just one.  (Note, however, that this particular verse seems to have been added to scripture later since it is not in the oldest versions of the Greek Old Testament).

Continue reading Michal the Maligned; King David’s First Wife

Advertisements

Jesus’ Harsh Sayings: Dogs of Israel?! (Matthew 15:21-27)

atheist-group-undo-jesus-says-kill-him-againI don’t know about you, but I’m tired of Jesus’ harsh sayings being explained away, especially in light of the Christian church falling into disrepute.  We should not be trying to placate everyone, and this is obvious by Jesus’ (and Paul’s) own words (verses are from the New International Version [NIV] unless otherwise stated):

  • Jesus was hated, so His true followers will be hated.  “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.  If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.  As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. . .  If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. . . “ (John 15:18-20).
  • People will be offended by him, and therefore us.  And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me (Matthew 11:6, New King James Version; Luke 7:23).
  • What Paul said about our smell. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life.  And who is equal to such a task? (2 Corinthians 2:16).

Christians are not to attack back when we’re personally offended, but we are to convey God’s word and will.  This is simply going to be offensive to some and we shouldn’t be made to feel guilty over it.   Many “Christians” just seem to roll with the cultural flow, but Jesus’ example was . . . what?  He ended up dying on the cross for the truth.

One example of Jesus’ harsh words that I’ve always found difficult is from Matthew 15:21-27 (see also Mark 7:24-30).  Can you imagine Jesus ignoring you, then calling you a dog and making you feel like you have to beg like a dog?  Here is the passage:

Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.  A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me!  My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”  

Jesus did not answer a word.  So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

“Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith!  Your request is granted.”  And her daughter was healed at that moment.

I’ve heard sermons admonishing us to think of the “dogs” here as “puppies,”  and in Mark’s version of the conversation the woman indeed uses the term “little dogs.”  But, if we wanted to think of the word as “puppy,” there’s the issue of what puppies grow up into: dogs.  Whether a puppy or a dog, the creature is something less than its owner.  In the passage, Jesus is saying that the gentile is asking something of God that only the privileged should have, the implication being that not all humans are equal in God’s eyes.

Matthew 15:21-27
From st-takla.org.

But brushing aside the offense, the desperate mother cleverly and humbly responds.  We don’t know if Jesus’ expression and inflection betrayed a different intent than His literal words, which were said in the presence of Israelites.  In any case, I think the passage’s primary meaning can be understood in the light of Jesus’ other examples of people other than the house of Israel having true faith (and large doses of humility).  Many in Israel thought that, in God’s eyes, outsiders were less than they were, and here Jesus seems to be confirming that belief.  In another harsh passage, Jesus says not to throw your pearls to swine (Matthew 7:6).  Ouch. These passages seem to fly in the face of God’s love and concern for everyone, that Christ died for all, and that all are equal in His sight.

But there are common misconceptions based on these ideas which indeed are found in scripture.  Misunderstandings seem to come from thinking that certain verses refer to universal salvation.  God’s saving grace may be universal, but it requires individual acceptance (it’s a gift that one accepts, or leaves unopened), and God knows that not everyone is going to accept it.  He also knows (and has passed this knowledge on to us) that He has active enemies, not just people who don’t really want to accept Him.  We don’t know who all these enemies are, but God does.

Therefore, neither “human” or “person” are synonyms for “child of God.”  People can become children of God through faith, and individual Israelites were not necessarily God’s children.  Once Israel rejected Jesus as Christ, all who did (and do) accept Him as such were (and are) adopted into God’s family.  The Canaanite mother seems to be an example of this forthcoming church age.

While many Israelites did take Jesus’ messages to heart and come to faith, the nation as a whole did not.  What were the problems?  Following man-made traditions like many in Israel were doing was actually leading people away from God, and as alluded to above, many also had the attitude that being born an Israelite (a child of Abraham) automatically saved you (see John chapter 8, for example).

Again and again, Jesus dispelled these notions.  In Matthew 15 here,  a gentile Canaanite woman has saving faith.  She believed that what Jesus was doing was real (of God) and sought Him out, while the religious leaders amongst God’s “own people” did not.  Other examples are the centurion who knew that Jesus could heal even from a distance (Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10); the (parable of the) good Samaritan who helped a man left to die when Israelite holy men would not (Luke 10:30-37); the Samaritan woman who became His witness to other Samaritans (John 4:1-30); and, the thankful Samaritan leper who was healed along with nine other Israelite lepers, who did not glorify God like the Samaritan did (Luke 17:11-19).

Jesus also brought up other related examples from the past, like Jonah the Israelite not wanting to give God’s warning to the Ninevites, God having the prophet Elijah stay with a non-Israelite lady during a severe, long term drought, and God healing a Syrian–but not any Israelites–of leprosy during Elisha’s time (Luke 4:24-27).  Of course, He also reminded the Israelites here and there about God’s prophets they had killed in times past. These examples, of course, angered many.  Those unwilling to accept His messages sought His life, just as they sought the past prophets’ lives he reminded them of.

We can see, perhaps shockingly, that the Canaanite woman was not really offended; apparently, she understood something that was more important than the apparent offense.  Her faith led to the healing of her daughter and a compliment from the Son of God.   In another example that many of His own disciples found offensive, Jesus taught that He was the bread of life, and that His blood was for salvation.  He said that a person needed to eat his flesh and blood.  Of course, he was speaking in spiritual terms of the coming Last Supper and future sacrament of communion.  He wasn’t all-of-a-sudden advocating cannibalism.   But many disciples failed to trust His words, were offended, and left Him (John 6:47- 71).  But those who believed in Him stayed even though they didn’t fully understand His words at the time.  Faith is trust, and blessed are those not offended by Christ.

Who Will Enter God’s Kingdom?

bad trees don't produce good fruit
Bad fruit — it can look good on the outside while it’s rotting on the inside. With God’s help in discernment, we should be able to recognize bad fruit. “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit” (Jesus, in Matthew 7:18).

I was reading Matthew today and came across the below group of verses.  It made me think about my own salvation and if I’m on the right track.  I have these times where I wonder if God expects more of me, if I’m letting Him down, and if He’s really paying attention to me anymore.  I think all believers go through times with thoughts like that.  I do believe I’m saved, as Paul wrote: “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:16).   But I also think Paul wrote his passages about persevering  for a reason, that people can indeed fall away from the faith (become apostate).  One example from Hebrews (12:1-3):

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

The following passages from the end of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, consisting of three paragraphs and concepts, is a good reminder to consider:  where we’re at in our faith; if our faith is matched by our actions; and, if our righteous-looking actions are hiding unrighteous motives.  It is that last bit that is the scariest.  Those persons who do NOT enter God’s Kingdom, even though they seemed like they were powerfully working for God, seem to be surprised.  Perhaps it is yet just another deception they are trying to pull off, or, they are so deluded they can’t even tell the difference.

Continue reading Who Will Enter God’s Kingdom?

Prof. Wm Lane Craig on Obergfell v. Hodges

family-iconPhilosophy professor William Lane Craig maintains a web site, Reasonable Faith, where he has apologetics articles and answers people’s questions.  He answered someone’s question about the recent gay marriage supreme court ruling, and I’ve reproduced much of it here.  See Craig’s site for the full response.


I’m going to use your question, R.C., [as] an excuse for addressing the Supreme Court’s tragic and misguided decision to re-define marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges.

We need to understand clearly that that is exactly what the Supreme Court has done. By ruling that same-sex unions can count as marriage the Court has implicitly redefined what marriage is. Marriage is no longer taken to be essentially heterosexual, as traditionally conceived, but has been implicitly redefined so that men can be married to men and women to women.

The Court’s majority opinion, written by Anthony Kennedy, shows a clear consciousness of what the Court is doing. Referring to the traditional view, Kennedy writes, “Marriage, in their view, is by its nature a gender-differentiated union of man and woman. This view long has been held—and continues to be held—in good faith by reasonable and sincere people here and throughout the world” (my emphasis). It is this view which Court’s majority declares is now obsolete.

Continue reading Prof. Wm Lane Craig on Obergfell v. Hodges

Words Christians Use Explained: “B” Terms

An Angel Met Balaam with a Sword (illustration...
An Angel Met Balaam with a Sword (illustration from the 1897 Bible Pictures and What They Teach Us by Charles Foster) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

This is the second in a series of “Words Christians Use,” or simply, the first section of a Christian dictionary/desktop encyclopedia.  Short phrases may occasionally be included, and some words or phrases have a Christian base but are used more often by the general public.  (Click  for >  “A” terms.)

(c) Vicki Priest________________________________________________________________

Babylon.  This word probably isn’t used as much as it should be.  Not for the historic city it was, but for the its symbolic Biblical meaning.  “Babylon” (or mystic Babylon) refers to the world system, containing religious and political aspects, that are corrupt, self-centered, and against God.  It is the global anti-God if you will.  Since the Bible tells us that Satan is the ruler of this world (a lot of folks seem to forget that; see John 12:31), mystic Babylon seems to be a simple way of referring to the physical manifestation of the Satanic world system.  Not all Christians interpret the symbolic use of Babylon so broadly, but view it as a term used for any corrupt commercial center that is or will be judged.  In any case, many who call themselves Christians today don’t recognize the anti-God nature and effects of modern global corporatism and such and appear to support “mystic Babylon”; this could explain the term’s relative non-use.

Bacon (and Biblical laws).  Just kidding.  Christians don’t use the term “bacon” more than anyone else, BUT, bacon can be the focal point of an important lesson.   Christians are often accused of “picking and choosing” which Biblical laws they follow.  Aside from certain sects and annoying individuals, the accusation itself is false or deceptive.  It is based on ignorance of the difference between a Jew and a Christian.  Christians don’t follow the Jewish laws–the laws of ISRAEL–because Christ’s work set believers free from them and from the Jewish nation.  Folks, it’s not a matter of “picking and choosing”; Christians are not Jews and so don’t need to follow the laws of Israel.  God told the Israelites not to eat pork, and He had good reason.  But Christians are free to eat pork.  There are some prohibitions that were maintained under the new covenant, however, that are reiterated as sin against God in the New Testament (like any sex outside of marriage [and marriage is maintained as heterosexual] and deceiving people).

Serious pot-o-bacon
Is there ever enough bacon? (Photo found on internet and is somewhere at http://www.foodown.com)

Continue reading Words Christians Use Explained: “B” Terms

Thanks, WordPress, for reminding me of the Noahic Covenant

Imposed and inappropriate symbol at WordPress
Imposed and inappropriate symbol at WordPress

 

So I’m working at my WordPress site today (June 26), and when I view the stats page this colorful banner confronts me.  Huh.  Looks kind of tacky.  I don’t go around imposing my Christian symbolism on sites that are public and have users from all different backgrounds, beliefs, creeds, and whatnot, but hey, I guess WordPress can do what it wants.

Anyway, thanks for putting up a reminder of God’s covenant with humankind, given through Noah, after God destroyed the Earth and most that was in it by water.  God had judged the Earth’s inhabitants to be too far along in their selfish and evil desires.  But instead of destroying humankind altogether, He chose Noah and his family to start the human race all over again.  It’s a good thing they could all have kids.  While we’re all descendants of Adam and Eve, we’re also all descendants of Noah and his wife, too.

Continue reading Thanks, WordPress, for reminding me of the Noahic Covenant

Words Christians Use Explained: “A” Terms

James Arminius (1560-1609), Pastor, Professor,...
James Arminius (1560-1609), Pastor, Professor, and Theologian.  One of a pair with a portrait of his widow, Lijsbet Reaal, by David Bailly (1620) (Photo credit: Wikipedia).

You guessed it.  This is the first in a series of “Words Christians Use,” or simply, the first section of a Christian dictionary/desktop encyclopedia.  Short phrases may occasionally be included due to an associated controversy.  It seemed appropriate to begin with “A,” so let’s just dive in.

(c) Vicki Priest

Acts, Book of.  The Book of “Acts” doesn’t refer to a play.  “Acts” is the word used instead of “activities” or “doings” that we might more ordinarily use today, in reference to what the earliest Christians did.  That section of the New Testament covers the time from immediately after Christ’s death, probably in AD/CE 30, to  AD/CE 60 or 61.

Adam.  Adam is widely known as the first human made by God, but there’s more to understand about “Adam” than that.  First, God said He made man in His own image (Genesis 1:26-27), but “man” is the term for “human,” since man includes both “male and female” (see verse 27).  Second, it is very basic and very important to Christianity to understand that Adam was the cause of the Fall of Man, and not Eve.  God had instructed Adam to not do something (eat of the Tree of Life), and he disobeyed God by following Eve’s lead after being deceived by Satan.  Eve had been mistaken and Adam could have corrected her, but instead, he purposely defied God.  Because of Adam’s action, the entirety of humankind fell from God’s grace.  Third, Jesus Christ is referred to as the new Adam in the New Testament.  Jesus came to take away the sins of all those humans who would accept him and his obedient work in God.   Jesus’ complete obedience was, and is, the [only] corrective to Adam’s (and thus humanity’s) disobedience.

Continue reading Words Christians Use Explained: “A” Terms

The Disadvantaged and the Pharisees of Our Day

This piece was an experiment.  I wrote it for a Christian periodical that normally prints articles that are non-fiction, for individual and group contemplation.  The subject is pharisees of our day (a sub-subject related to humility), and I thought a more creative piece like this could cover more, or lead to more understanding, anyway, with the limited amount of words allowed; however, it was not accepted and so I decided to post it here.  Perhaps I’ll add references/recommended reading later, but suffice it to say now that everything in the piece is based on personal experience, information from nonprofits, published articles, and governmental reports.  (The low amount provided for Disability is based on the deduction they normally make for support from other household members or other sources; the starting base amount is around $700.)  ______________________________________

Angel contemplatingBecca fed dollar bills into the laundry’s money changer. While expertly flattening out creases and bent corners, she noticed the “In God We Trust” slogan. “Who is it referring to?” she mumbled. She believed in God—in Jesus—but the savior she knew . . . well, it didn’t seem like her country knew Him. “Clank, clank, clank!” She scooped up the quarters and headed to the washers.

“Trusting God. That means seeking to know Him and please Him, right?” she asked herself. As she loaded the clothes, she searched her mind for examples of the U.S. demonstrating that kind of faith and commitment. Nothing came to mind. “Well, helping the poor and elderly through Medicaid and Medicare was something,” Becca thought.

Continue reading The Disadvantaged and the Pharisees of Our Day

“You don’t deserve a job” is like “You don’t deserve to live.” Christian based, really?

To the Cross with trans base mod - Copy
Art and design by Vicki Priest. “In truth, no human alive can fathom how much, how sweetly and how how tenderly, our Maker loves us,” Julian of Norwich.

I’ve come across this idea a couple of times from a well-regarded Christian university website:  Don’t think that you deserve a job.  The first time I saw this, I was dismayed, and after coming across it again, I had to think about it more (remember to count to ten before responding when angry!) and organize my thoughts. The statement didn’t advise that you shouldn’t think you deserve a certain job, just that you don’t deserve a job.

Most People Need to be Employed in Order to Survive in Our World

In our urban day and age, most persons rely on a job (or multiple jobs) to live.  Very few of us (and probably none that are able to read this) are hunter-gatherers anymore, and sadly, very few of us are even farmers.  Most all of us have jobs because those with the means control the land and wealth, and today, a very few people control a vast amount of wealth.  There used to be movies made about the rich, the banks, the industrious turned industrial, taking over family farms (and the like) by any means necessary.  These weren’t just movies, of course, but were made to show an unfairness and a harm in our “free” society. As our society became more and more industrial and urban, fewer and fewer people were left the dignity of working out their own livelihood.

Continue reading “You don’t deserve a job” is like “You don’t deserve to live.” Christian based, really?

New Testament Views of Women: 1Timothy 2:11-15 (Part 2)

Happy In Church

This is the second part of New Testament Views of Women: 1 Timothy 2:11-15. Due to the length of this study, I decided to divide it up. Please see Part 1 here [forthcoming] as they relate to each other.

1 Timothy 2:13-15

For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.  But women [or she] will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

There is so much seemingly wrong with this passage in relation to basic Christian doctrine and belief that it seems hard to take it seriously. If the epistle is authentic—which not all early church leaders believed was the case–Paul surely wrote it for a specific local situation and/or a particular false teaching. Verses 13 and 14 read: “For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.” There are at least two implications here, so let’s go through them in detail.

Eve was Deceived: Why?

Continue reading New Testament Views of Women: 1Timothy 2:11-15 (Part 2)