Aren’t Jesus’s Words Enough?

What more does it take to get us to do something? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I was reading something recently on how N.T. Wright said that some people have used the Covid situation to say “This is the time to get the message out for people needing hope.” Now, I am thankful people are getting the message out either way, but he makes the point. Why do you need a crisis to do something? Aren’t the words of Jesus enough? Don’t people already need hope?

It’s easy to lose sight of in the church, but we are already familiar with our marching orders no matter what is going on in the world around us. Whatever the situation, our responsibility is the same. The early church took it so seriously that when a plague struck that left countless people dead, the Christians stayed behind. Julian the apostate later on said that the Christians were better at caring for the poor than the Roman Empire was.

Consider a passage like the Great Commission. Sometimes, people ask the question about what about those who never heard. It’s an important question, but Scripture nowhere addresses it directly. Why? There is no need to. We have our marching orders and we are not given a Plan B of what happens if we do not do this. We are not told we can rest confidently because this is how God will handle those people.

What about when this election has been going on and the anxiety that has been provoked. Our orders are still to be anxious about nothing and to rest in Christ. We are not told a solution to the problems that we face. We are told to just trust in Christ.

We are told to love our neighbors. God never asks us once how we feel about our neighbors. He never even asks us if we like our neighbors and never commands us to like them. Yes. You can love someone even if you don’t particularly like them. He tells us to love and that is that.

We are told many hard commands that we are not given any option to push back on. I understand from those who serve in the military that when your commanding officer tells you to do something, you do it. At your job, if your boss tells you to do something and you don’t do it, you can expect to get in trouble for it. We would do all of these things, and yet when the Lord of the universe tells us to do something, we don’t do it?

Now thankfully, sometimes things happen that can spur us to action, but we are not in action already, we need to search our souls and ask why. We can be sure the problem does not lie on the end of our commanding officer. The problem lies with us. What in us is still resistant to the call of God on our lives?

The Roman Empire was a dark place when Christ came and yet without the aid of modern transportation, media, and facilities, the Christian message turned it around. We who have so much more should be able to do so much more today. We have no excuse.

There won’t be one on that day also. It’s up to us. We will give an account for what we did with what we had and there will definitely be no excuses on that day.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: Greek Resurrection Beliefs and the Success of Early Christianity

What do I think of Dag Endsjo’s book published by Palgrave Macmillan? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I was challenged to read this book which leads to my going to the library as soon as I can and getting a hold on such a book. The author’s name here is not entirely accurate since it has a slash through the o, but I am not sure how to do that on the computer so no disrespect is intended and keep that in mind when you do a search for it at the library or on Amazon. At any rate, what are my thoughts?

Endsjo wants to challenge the idea that the body would have been seen in a negative light by early Christians. He starts with describing the Trojan War in the works of Homer and how it was horrific to have the dead left on the battlefield. For here, Endsjo says that it is because the flesh is identical with the warriors themselves. In the same paragraph, he says the souls go off to Hades. Already, I’m puzzled. If the flesh is the warriors themselves, then what are these soul things? Also, does it really follow that the horror was because the flesh was seen as the warriors themselves? Could it not be because there was no honorable burial for them?

This is something I found confusing in the book. What is his view of how the Greeks viewed a man? It’s hard to say. Sometimes it seems like the soul is dominant. Sometimes it seems like the body is dominant.

Endsjo contends that we normally think of the flesh as something shameful to the Greeks, but he wants to say that is not the case. If the flesh is shameful to anyone, it’s Paul. He rarely has anything if ever good to say about the flesh and even in 1 Cor. 15 argues that the resurrection is spiritual. I think this is one of the great weaknesses of the book. There’s plenty of great material arguing that the body must be physical. One such piece available at the time would have been Gundry’s Soma in Biblical Greek.

We go into a large number of listings of Greek gods and heroes and how many of them were seen as living in immortal flesh. This could have been very appealing, but what is ignored is all the people who die and go to Hades and even still don’t want to return to the land of the living. What of people like Socrates who die and when they do want a sacrifice to be done to the god of healing to show their true healing in leaving the body?

I have often said before that it is easy to make a case when you have the sound of one hand clapping, and I was looking for the other case. To be fair, many on the other side have not sufficiently argued with the examples that Endsjo brings forward, but that does not mean that Endsjo should do the same. Both sides need to be looked at. I look forward to seeing someone like N. T. Wright respond in the future to the work.

I said earlier that the great weakness I think is 1 Cor. 15. Endsjo contends that Paul is speaking of a spiritual resurrection. While that is a common interpretation, that does not equal a true one nor does it equal one that should be assumed. Endsjo has a church that goes to Paul and gets a spiritual resurrection and then suddenly does a 180 and goes material. It’s understandable that some people would think this, but I don’t think Endsjo makes the case.

The stories are interesting and even still the view would be a problem for the Greeks. The Greeks apparently believed that the body of a person could not be recreated. That would have been essential for the Christians. Thus, the Christians would still have a hard case to make.

Endsjo also uses the argument that the Christians were persuading the people that they believed nothing different from the Romans in some aspects. Sure, but he misses why. That’s because Christianity was seen as shameful. The Christians were trying to point out similarities to show inconsistencies to the Romans in how they were treating the Christians. Many times people will look at the text and think that there was one-to-one parallels going on. Since the persecution didn’t stop, we can think it likely that the Romans did not see those parallels.

We can also say that the Greeks might have thought immortality to be desirable, but that in itself would not be enough since some figures got immortality as a punishment, say Prometheus who was forced to have his liver regrow every day for a wild bird to eat. Many Greeks in Paul’s audience would have thought that that was reserved for the gods and their children, but not for them. Jesus was the exception.

I think more work should be done on Endsjo’s book and I’d like to see a Wright take it on. Again, there was the sound of one hand clapping. Hopefully, we’ll have the other hand join in more and see what comes of the discussion.

In Christ,
Nick Peters