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Theological Position Paper Rough Draft

For my final class for my degree we have to write a theological position paper stating in 100-200 words our position on metaphysics, epistemology, axiology, ministry praxis in both education and leadership. We have to have some scholarly resources as well as use Scripture to support our position. This is the rough draft assignment I sent in, it only had to be 50-100 words with support.

Metaphysics
Metaphysics is “the branch of philosophy that inquires into the ultimate nature of reality.” In a Christian worldview the ultimate nature of reality is that God is the ultimate source of all the reality and He alone is responsible for our being. We see this in John 1:1-4 when it says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.” (ESV)
Epistemology
Epistemology is “a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of our knowledge.” This is a very common question to be asked, how do we know what we know? In a Christian worldview Epistemology is knowing about God. Psalm 19:1-2 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork. Day to day pours our speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.” (ESV) It is through His creation that God reveals truth and knowledge.
Axiology
Axiology is also called the “theory of value, the philosophical study of goodness, or value.” This has to do with what shapes our values and more specifically why we tell our children to be good and what it means for them and us to do good. It is all a part of ethics. In this day and age, we have many people asking “why should we be good or do good to others?” a biblical answer would be because we are all created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27).
Ministry Praxis -Education
One definition of praxis is “practical application of a theory.” Ministry Praxis would be the practical application of ministry work, and more specifically here in education. This would be in the form of educating believers how to apply what they believe in their daily life. This can be done through schools, churches, and other means. We see this in Matthew 28:19-20 when Jesus gave the Great Commission to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (ESV) We are commanded not only to make disciples and baptize them, but to teach what Jesus taught.
Ministry Praxis – Leadership
Just as above Ministry Praxis for leadership is equipping leaders for ministry. This is very important for a Christian worldview so that leaders are equipped with biblical knowledge and helping with practical skills to teach others. In Ephesians 4:12 Paul writes about the importance of “equipping the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” (ESV) Equipping of the saints refers to “the purpose of spiritual office and gifts. Christ gave Himself for the benefit of others; now, those in Christ imitate His generosity by using His gifts for the benefit of others.”

Bibliography
Barry, John D., Douglas Mangum, Derek Brown, and Michael Heiser. Faithlife Study Bible. Bellingham, WA., nd
Dew, James K. and Mark W Foreman. How Do We Know? An Introduction to Epistemology. United States: Inter-Varsity Press, US, 2014.
Encyclopedia Britannica. N.p.: Encyclopedia Britannica, 2016.
Elwell, Walter A. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. United States: Baker Publishing Group (MI), 2001.
Merriam-Webster. “Definition of PRAXIS.”. 2015. Accessed July 18, 2016. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/praxis.

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John 12:1-8 – Mary annoints Jesus at Bethany

 

In John 12:1 we read that Jesus arrived in Bethany “six days before the Passover.” This would have been on the Sabbath before His death. There are some that do not believe that Jesus would have made a long trip from Jericho to Bethany, but as we have seen elsewhere, Jesus was not concerned about with keeping the laws such as the Sabbath so it is not an issue that he had done this on the Sabbath. Also is He had left for Bethany early on Friday and arrived early on the Sabbath, He would have not violated the Sabbath law. Either of these answers I have no issue with.

 

A bigger issue many have with this is that of a chronological nature. It deals with the time of this supper and the anointing. Many argue that this banquet is the same that we read about in Matthew 26:6-13 and Mark 14:3-9 in the home of Simon the leper. Close reading of these Scriptures will show that although there are similarities in the passages John’s account as we see in 12:1 is on the Sabbath six days before prior to Passover. In both Matthew and Mark, the anointing occurred on the following Tuesday. Another area that shows these are two separate events is in John 12:3 it is the feet of Jesus that are anointed, where in Matthew and Mark His head is stressed.  (Matthew 26:7; Mark 14:3) This would not be an issue to have two separate events because it was common to have a number of banquets surrounded around the Passover because it was a festival that was important and friends were present form all over. (Deuteronomy 16:16)

 

When burying the dead, the Jews would typically anoint the body, wrap it in the grave clothes, and then anoint the body in the grave clothes a second time. The first anointing that is recorded by John was done by Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea in John 19:38-40, but it was recorded in the synoptic Gospels the women who witnessed the burial went home and prepared spices and returned to the tomb Sunday to finish the anointing that the men began. (Matthew 27:61; 28:1; Mark 15:47-16:3; Luke 23:55-24:1) So in both type and fulfillment John records only the first anointing and the synoptic Gospels only record the second. Jesus was the fulfillment of the type of Passover Lamb. What is interesting is that the four days according to Jewish reckoning between the first and second anointing coincide with the four days between the initial selection and the final approval of the lamb for slaughter. (Exodus 12:3-6) Judas Iscariot contacted the Sanhedrin following the second anointment and made the arrangements to betray Jesus. (Matthew 26:14-16; Mark 14:10-11)

 

It was common to give a banquet for a means of honoring a guest in the Near East. Both of the anointing’s may have occurred at the same place since it is believed that Simon the leper was the father of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. In John’s gospel we find Martha portrayed as serving, Mary is found at Jesus’ feet where she is usually portrayed and Lazarus probably hosting the meal sat at the table with Jesus.

 

At some point during the dinner Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with “a pound of expensive ointment (perfume) made from pure nard.” (John 12:3) Looking at the description in John we see the word murou (ointment) is a generic term that would be a liquid perfume and nardou (nard) which would have derived from the Sanskirt term nalada which refers to a particular very fragrant plant grown in India. This plant may have been grown in or around Syria but the word pistikes which means faithful, reliable or genuine would suggest that this as the real thing most likely imported from India. This was an ointment that was used for both bodies and wine.  The pound of ointment would have cost about 300 denarii, which is the equivalent of six months’ pay. This may have meant that this ointment would have been in Mary’s family for some time and used only sparingly for special occasions.  John uses the adjective polutimou which means very costly.

 

If you can imagine growing up and smelling your favorite food your grandma made or the way her house smelled or a particular perfume a loved one wore, you can imagine when John wrote about this sixty years later he probably still had that smell of the fragrance of that very expensive perfume. He remembers the scent that filled the room and he wrote in John 12:3, “the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”  In the second anointing of Jesus it was the disciples who questioned why so much money was spent when the money could have been given to the poor, but here it is only Judas Iscariot who voiced his concern with this. John also points out that Judas was not concerned for the poor because he was a thief (kleptes) and was only concerned for himself. The second part of verse 6 gives a hint of Judas’ activities, the verb used is ebastazen which means to carry, beat or lift in the sense of taking away from. This is kind of in our context of embezzlement because Judas was not only in charge of the finances but he was stealing from the disciples as well.

 

Jesus defends Mary’s actions when He said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you will always have with you, but you do not always have me.” It seems that Mary may have taken Jesus’ talk about His death serious in which she may have first learned of at His feet in Luke 10:39-42. Jesus emphasized to His disciples to care for and help the poor. Here He is explaining to them that He alone is the center of their faith and their focus should be on Him. This would be especially the case when they are spending the last moments with Jesus as a man prior to His exalted form after His resurrection.

 

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Christians and Government:Applying Biblical Principles to the Current Situation

Here are my notes for my Romans class on how we as Christians should view government based on our beliefs.

 

Christians and Government

Applying Biblical Principles to the Current Situation

 

Paul’s description of the Christian’s relationship to Government

  1. Romans 13 and the surrounding context.
    1. A definite shift from chapter 11 and 12
    2. Theological foundation of the Christian life, the apostle Paul now builds upon that foundation providing principles for daily living.
    3. He now applies the theological truths to practical applications.
      1. 12:1-15:13 – Paul emphasizes the necessity of submitting to governing authorities.
      2. Romans 13:1-7
    4. A brief overview of Romans 12:1-15:13: The Christian life is a life of…..
      1. Sacrifice (12:1-2)
      2. Humility (12:3)
      3. Service (12:4-8)
      4. Love (12:9-21; 13:8-14)
      5. Submission (13:1-7)
      6. Acceptance and Encouragement (14:1-15:13)
    5. The imperative to submit to governing authorities (13:1-7)
      1. Everyone must submit himself to governing authorities, Why?
        1. God has established every governing authority (13:1b) God is sovereign over all.
        2. Paul even states that anyone who rebels against the governing authority, rebels against what God has instituted and the result is judgement (13:2)
  • Governments have been established to maintain law and order in societies. This e who do right have no need to fear ((13:3-4a)
  1. On the other hand, it is the government’s God’s given responsibility to punish wrongdoing (13:4b)
  2. The apostle envelopes his initial imperative (13:1) with a double incentive, concluding that “It is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.” (13:5)

 

 

Jesus’ statements regarding one’s responsibility to government:

  1. During Jesus; public ministry, some disciples of the Pharisees along with some of the Herodian’s approached Jesus with the intent of trapping Him. They asked “is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or God?” Jesus replied to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” (21b) Jesus seems to be alluding to a certain responsibility that people had to Rome.
  2. Jesus along with His 11 disciples were in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus had been agonizing in prayer. Judas arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the chief priests and elders to arrest Jesus. As they were seizing Jesus, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the High Priest cutting off his ear. Jesus rebuked him commanding, “Put your sword back in its place.” He then asked those who had come for Him, “Am I leading a rebellion? That you have come to me with swords and clubs to capture me?” The implication of this instance is maintaining an attitude of non-retaliation. (Matthew 26:52-56)
  3. The Gospel depicts Jesus as having lived His life in submission to authority

 

 

The Early Church and Governing Authorities:

  1. When Peter and the other apostles were brought before the Sanhedrin after their miraculous escape from jail because of their preaching and teaching of Jesus the Messiah. The High Priest reminded them that he had given them strict orders not to teach in His name. Peter responded, “we must obey God rather than human beings!” (Acts 5:29) The Sanhedrin among other things was the civil authority in Jerusalem.
  2. This incident provides an example of how the first generation Christians related to local governing authorities. Peter’s statement in Acts 5:29 infers that when there is a question between obeying God and obeying man, obedience to God must take precedence. These Christians were model citizens as the Christian life is one of honesty, purity, integrity and holiness.
  3. When faced with a decision of obeying civil authorities or God, they chose to obey God.

 

 

Applying these Biblical Principles Today

  1. Jesus acknowledged and exemplified subservience to governing authority (Rome) during His earthly life.
  2. The first generation Christians exemplified the principle of obedience to God when a conflict arises between a human command and God’s commands.
  3. Paul teaches in no uncertain terms that God has established governing authorities for the overall good of society.

 

These Principles lead to several applications:

  1. Recognize that God has established governing authorities in order to maintain law and order in society.
  2. We are obligated to obey the laws of the land, example taxes, traffic regulations, civil laws, etc.
  3. We must take our responsibilities as citizens seriously by being involved to whatever extent we deem feasible in the governing process, example voting, community action, peacefully and respectfully voicing our biblically based opinion, etc.
  4. When human laws/demands contradict God’s law/command/words, we must recognize that our higher obligation is to God’s commands.
  5. When the need for civil disobedience arises, we must keep in mind that the Scriptures do not legitimize violent reactions. Example, Peter and the apostles in Acts 5. They acted on the principle of obedience to God that the higher obligation and simply continued proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah, they did not violently protest but were willing to suffer the consequences.

 

Additional Scripture:

  1. Paul implores Titus, “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.” (Titus 3:1)
  2. The apostle Peter writes, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.” (1 Peter 2:13-17)
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The Gospel of John part 2

In the opening prologue John recorded it to lay the theological foundation of his Gospel in which he presents Jesus as the Logos (Word) who was sent from God. In 1:18-19 we see He was sent as the light and life for man.

Looking at the prologue we read its poetic structure. It begins with “In the beginning was the Word.” We see that His essence was the Word and this is in relation to God, to creation and to humanity. In the beginning speaks of His eternity and pre-existence. The Word was with God speaks of His equality and His personality. The Word was God speaks of His essence and His deity. In the beginning means continuing to be, anytime you find a beginning the Word already existed.

In verse 14 we read that the Word that existed in the beginning became flesh. Why was this necessary? Because in verse 18 we read no one has seen God at any time and there was a need for God to reveal Himself.

The second phrase of verse 1 says, “The Word was with God.” This phrasing testifies to the distinction between God the Father and Jesus while emphasizing the close intimate relationship between the Father and Son. Jesus had inherent glory, in verse 14 it says “we beheld His glory.” This glory Jesus (the Word)has is the same glory God the Father has. What kind of glory is found in verse 18, “the only begotten God,” we saw His glory because He was (is) God.

The third phrase is one that Jehovah Witnesses get wrong. In their text they write, “The Word was a God,” which would show that the Word, Jesus, is only a lesser God that God the Father (Jehovah). The problem is the Greek text does not put the definitive article in front of God. The problem is they want to put a in front of God here but it is not in other verses if the text such as verses 6, 12, 13, 18 when the text refers to God the Father. The fact is the Word (Jesus) shares the same quality, character, and essence of God. John here shows the distinction between God the Father  and God the Son while still emphasizing their unity in all other regard.

The Word was God, so what would you expect if you saw God? Verse 14 says, “His glory which is full of grace and truth.” If Jesus is full of grace and truth He matches the attribute of the God of Moses because He has all the attributes of deity. In verse 18 it says, ” He hath declared.” Jesus is the exegesis of the Father, He has declared Him.

There are 4 chapter ones on the deity of Christ. John 1, Romans 1, Colossians 1, and Hebrews 1. All of these first chapters speak on the deity of Christ. You can see Christ in action as the Creator.

John 1:4 says “In Him was life,” the Word is the source of life, both physical and spiritual. John uses the word life 36 times in his Gospel. In John, Jesus’ ability to grant life to those who walked in darkness or death is a key issue. Jesus has this ability because He was there in the beginning. Jesus is the agent of creation, in relation to humanity Jesus is the life of creation, the origin and He is the light of revelation (salvation).

In Him was life and His life was the light of men (4). The light continues to shine in spite of what happens in the person of Christ and His death. The light continues to shine and the darkness could not stamp it out. The light shines in the darkness, this is a prominent theme in the Gospel of John. Darkness has no chance of victory over the light, light is not simply the absence of darkness, but spiritually it is the enemy of darkness.

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The Gospel of John Part 1

Whenever I speak with a new believer or a person who is interested in the Christian faith I usually point them to the Gospel of John. The reason is because there is so much biblical theology within it and it is the “holy of holies” of the four Gospels.  This does not mean that the other Gospels are not important because they are also very important but John’s Gospel is simple in its language and very profound in its meaning.

First off the Gospel is unique in that it has a prologue as well as an epilogue. The prologue (John 1:1-18) is highly theological and introduces all the major themes in the book. The Gospel also has three major sections, 1. Christ’s revelation to Israel (John 1:19-12:50) which has seven signs within the book. It also has a private section (John 1:19-2:11) in relation to John the Baptist, the Disciples, and the first miracle (wedding feast in Cana).  2. Revelation to His Disciples (John 13:1-17:26) which includes the upper room discourse, prayer of the High Priest Jesus before He dies and revelation to the disciples. This is also the core teaching of the book. There are more “red letters” or Jesus speaking in this section of the book than any other. In chapters 13-15 Jesus gives instruction and in chapter 17 Jesus gives intercession. One of the chapters I love to read over and over is chapter 17. It is a wonderful prayer and it includes Jesus praying about us. 3. The redemption for the world (John 18:1-20:31), which we read of His death, resurrection. In John 20:31 we read the purpose statement of John, “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” This is why this Gospel is known as the Gospel of belief. However the word belief or faith is not found in this Gospel as a noun, belief in John is not a concept (belief, faith) it is an action (believe, believing).

The purpose of the Gospel of John is that John recorded a select number of signs and sayings of Jesus in order to persuade his audience that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, who could give them eternal life if they would believe in Him. In this Gospel the signs always go with the sayings, and the structure of John goes back and forth from private to public. It starts out private (1:19-2:11), than public (2:12-12:50), than private (13:1-17:26), than public (18:1-19:42), than back to private (20:1-31) kind of like an accordion style. In the public sections there are three festivals that occur within them, the Passover, the Feast of Tabernacles, and the Feast of Dedication (Hanuka).

In this Gospel there are seven miraculous signs:

  1. Turning water into wine chapter 2
  2. Healing the nobleman’s son chapter 4
  3. Healing the infirm man  chapter 5
  4. Feeding the 5,000 chapter 6
  5. Walking on water chapter 6
  6. Giving sight to the blind man chapter 9
  7. Raising of Lazarus chapter 11

There are also seven Messianic claims, and the signs always authenticate the sayings.

  1. I Am the Bread of Life chapter 6, this goes along with the feeding of the 5,000.
  2. I Am the Light of the world chapter 8, and in chapter 9 we see Jesus giving sight to the blind man.
  3. I Am the Door of the sheep chapter 10
  4. I Am the Good Shepherd chapter 10
  5. I Am the Resurrection and the Life chapter 11, three times the Gospels show Jesus bringing people back to life.
  6. I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life chapter 14, the dominate theme is life.
  7. I Am the True Vine chapter 15

Jesus offers spiritual life in His name. Christianity at its core is a Book (the Bible), a Person (Jesus), and an experience in order to have biblical Christianity you must have all three.

In the prologue of John he recorded it to lay the theological foundation for his Gospel in which he presented Jesus as the Logos who was sent from God as the Light and Life for man.  (John 1:1-18)

 

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John 14:28: Responding to Jehovah Witnesses

One of the verses that Jehovah Witnesses try to say shows that Jesus is not God is John 14:28. John 14:28 says, “You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” So if Jesus is God why did He say the Father is greater than I?

Here in this verse Jesus is saying that His position is different fro God the Father, not His nature. In Hebrews 2:9 the writer says that Jesus was made a little lower than the angels. The author is explaining Psalm 8:5 here. In Galatians 4:4, we see that as a man Christ was under the law and so was for His time on earth a little lower than God the Father in position only not nature. During His time as a man He never lost His deity as God.

Jesus is in no way saying that He is inferior to the Father, because earlier in the gospel of John He repeatedly claims equality with Him. In John 17:5 during His prayer before His death Jesus says, “Father glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” Jesus is asking God to raise Him to the same position He had before entering into the world.

Another way to look at this verse is to take my son and I. We are both of the same nature, Man, but our position in the family is different. I have greater authority than he does but yet our natures are still the same. So Jesus’ nature is the same, but He in His Incarnation was sent by the Father.

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What do Jehovah Witnesses believe?

Many Jehovah Witnesses say they are Christians but they do not believe in some of the core doctrines of Christianity. Here I will write a few of their beliefs and you can decide for yourselves if they are Christian.

First the founder of the Jehovah Witnesses is Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916), and later Joseph Rutherford (1869-1942). They began in 1879 in Pennsylvania, and have their headquarters to this day in Brooklyn, New York.

They are restricted to only read Watchtower publications and can only read from the New World Translation which is interpreted by them.

What do they believe about God? They believe one-person is God, they call him Jehovah. They do not believe in the Trinity, and they believe that Jesus is the first created thing by Jehovah.

They do not believe Jesus is God, and before he lived on earth he was Michael the archangel. They believe that Jehovah made the universe through him, and that he lived on earth as a perfect man. They believe that Jesus was crucified on a stake (not a cross), he was resurrected as a spirit, and his body was destroyed. They also believe that Jesus returned already invisibly in spirit in 194, and that he will not return in the second coming. They do somehow believe that one day Jesus and angels will destroy all non-Jehovah Witnesses.

What do they believe about the Holy Spirit? They believe that He is not God and that He is impersonal. They believe He is an active force from Jehovah and invisible.

They have a works based salvation which includes earning salvation by going door to door. Also to attain salvation you must be baptized a Jehovah Witness. They also believe that salvation in heaven is limited to the 144,00, and sadly for them that number has already been reached.  So what then happens to them when they die? Well the 144,000 live as spirits in heaven the rest who are the righteous or the great crowd live on earth, and must perfectly obey God for 1000 years or they will be annihilated.

 

This is just a brief overview of some of their beliefs to help you know what the people knocking at your door believe. We must stand strong and read the Word of God daily and not be afraid to talk to them and share the real gospel of Jesus Christ to them.

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