Jul 30 2014

Begin Again: Praying for Gaza

This was originally published for action in Syria in 2013. Well, it is 2014 and Gaza is erupting in violence. It feels like the right thing to do to bring it forward again. This was created in conjunction with the wonderful people of Bothell UMC. Let’s send these prayers around the world! Entering Sacred Space…

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/07/praying-for-gaza/

Jul 30 2014

The Heart Of The Matter: Dictation & Inspiration In The Letters Of Paul

When we think of Paul authoring his New Testament epistles — whether it’s the theological tour de force of Romans or the personal plea of Philemon — we typically envision him in this posture:

Alone with his thoughts and his God, pen in hand, parchments on desk, and, of course, Spirit hovering somewhere over the entire process.

Except that’s not what it looked like.  At all.  Instead, it likely resembled this:

In chains.  Or a dungeon.  Or both.  But even more importantly: with a scribe.  The evidence strongly suggests that Paul dictated his letters and faithful scribes wrote them down and prepared them for delivery.

Most NT scholars use a more elegant term for scribe:  amanuensis.  That sounds so much more official, doesn’t it?  So from here on, amanuensis it is!

For example, Paul’s amanuensis in the letter to the Romans actually identifies himself in 16:22:

 I, Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord.

Can you imagine what it must have been like to listen to those sixteen chapters and capture both the flow and the intensity of Paul’s argument?

In other correspondence, Paul goes to some lengths to identify literally when he takes the pen from his amanuensis to sign his own name.  For example, see Colossians 4:18:  I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.

Similarly, 2 Thessalonians 3:17:  I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand, which is the distinguishing mark in all my letters. This is how I write.

Or even Galatians 6:11, where Paul’s long-assumed vision problems come to the surface of his writing:
See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!

The most interesting place to see the dictation process at work is in the opening chapter of I Corinthians.  Paul is angry and frustrated as the letter begins — the Corinthians have divided into factions, based primarily on the personality of preachers they admire (wow, not much has changed, has it?), and both bitterness and licentiousness are the result.

So in the middle of his rebuke — and I can see him pacing around the room while his amanuensis struggles to keep up — Paul expresses relief in 1:14-15 that his baptismal work in Corinth was minimal:
 
14 I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized in my name.

Then, as he paces and pontificates, he stops short with a memory: by jove, I DID baptize some other folks!  So he pauses mid-sentence and dictates the following:

 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.)

It’s an aside, an oh-by-the-way, a parenthetical statement — which is why English translations use parentheses! — that shows us the beautifully human way that biblical texts were divinely inspired.  Paul, in the throes of his rhetoric confesses to a faulty memory (Oh yeah! Those Stephanas people!  And maybe some others but I don’t remember!), and the faithful amanuensis gets it all down.

Does this window into the process make the bible somehow less inspired?  May it never be.

In my way of thinking, imagining the process elevates the inspiration by making it more human, and therefore more accessible.

Muslims contend that the Koran is straight dictation — all God, no Mohammed as a filter at all.

The Christian conception of the bible is quite different.  We believe the God-breathed message of the Word gets delivered most compellingly through the passions and personalities of  the various authors.  

Because if God can take a curmudgeon like Paul and turn him into a composer of inspired texts, imagine what he can do with you and me.

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/07/dictation-inspiration-in-the-letters-of-paul/

Jul 29 2014

UMR: UM clergy Frank Shaefer’s “Defrocked” released today by Chalice Press

Today is the official release by Chalice Press of UM clergy Frank Schaefer’s book “Defrocked.” Due to the continuing attention around the UMC community on this polarizing subject, UMR is posting an exclusive book excerpt and a UMR editor will separately review Schaefer’s book in the coming weeks.

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/07/um-clergy-frank-shaefers-defrocked-released-today-by-chalice-press/

Jul 29 2014

Nothin' Sweeter Than Georgia Peaches: Goodbye Georgia!

My term of service is complete.  It was the most rewarding two years of my life, but like every chapter, I pray it’s not the best.  I hope life continues to amaze me and that God continues to amaze me with amazing opportunities.  For all…

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/07/goodbye-georgia/

Jul 29 2014

John Meunier: O Captain! My Wesley!

On the list of movies guaranteed to make me cry, Dead Poets Society is firmly entrenched. It is right up there with the “Wanna have a catch” scene in Field of Dreams. The scene below is not the one that makes … Continue reading

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/07/o-captain-my-wesley/

Jul 29 2014

Kairos CoMotion Lectionary Dialogue: Genesis 32:22-31

Year A – Pentecost +8 or Community Practice 8
July 27, 2014
Into the midst of trepidation that all we knew was coming to an end, our past had caught up with us and there was to be no choosing of doors to escape, Jacob has a dream realer than real.
A wrestling ensues. The battle was lost with a broken hip and no way to leverage any foot upon a strong foundation. There was only limping around an altar of past success.
The contest had gone on long enough that evening was becoming morning. In the end there is an end to wrestling. In this end is neither victory nor defeat, but blessing.
We are renamed, reoriented, reanimated. Imagine what it would be like in your world if word finally came to you, “you have striven with G*D and Neighb*r, and have prevailed.”
In prevailing we, too, would want to know a name to rename. Though a name is not revealed here, Charles Wesley later penned a poem, “Wrestling Jacob”, turned into a hymn, “Come, O Thou Traveler Unknown” (386 and 387 in The United Methodist Hymnal of 1989). Here Charles’ conclusion is, “thy nature and thy name is Love.” Though not included in current versions of the hymn, the 14th and concluding stanza runs:
Lame as I am, I take the prey,
hell, earth, and sin with ease overcome;
I leap for joy, pursue my way,
and as a bounding hart fly home,
through all eternity to prove
thy nature, and thy name is Love.

A challenge to us in these days of discouragement of wars and rumors of war and great community splits happening and threatened, is to reveal in our life the nature and name of Love that will not let us go nor escape our grasp, even should the night darken or the morning come.
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You are encouraged to read Thy Nature & Thy Name Is Love: Wesleyan and Process Theologies in Dialogue, Edited by Bryan P. Stone & Thomas Jay Oord.

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/07/genesis-3222-31/

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