Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Arguments and Exhortations

This Sunday is Pentecost Sunday--the day the Church remembers the bestowing of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples empowering them to go out and proclaim the Good News (Gospel) of Jesus' death and resurrection.

Pentecost is usually one of my favorite Sundays of the Church year.  There are no external trappings like Christmas Trees and presents or bunnies and eggs to deal with.  This Church festival has yet to be co-opted by society, and for this I am thankful.  I am also thankful for the opportunity to wear my red stole--it rarely gets used during the year.  I am thankful to preach about the power from on high that fell upon the disciples upon that day.

As part of my sermon preparation, I read the entirety of Acts chapter two.  There are 47 verses in the chapter, and we will only be publicly reading 21.  Chalk such matters up to time restraints and to those who pick out what texts constitute the Revised Common Lectionary.  I could add additional verses, but lengthy Bible passages plus lengthy sermons can equal mumblings and grumblings.  Better to keep things a bit shorter and sweeter.  :-)

Yet, there is so much in the second chapter of Acts which needs proclaiming.  There is so much which needs examining and revisiting as we see the empowerment of the Church and its initial proclamation as articulated by Peter.  Pentecost happened so that Jesus could be proclaimed!!!

It is worth taking some time to read through Peter's proclamation.  It cut many to their hearts, but I was also struck by another verse included by Luke in this text.  Verse 40:

40And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’  (New Revised Standard Version translation)

"Intriguing," I thought to myself.  Arguments?  Exhortations?  Wasn't it enough just to proclaim the mighty acts of God in Jesus?  Apparently not. 

I decided to dig into the Greek to catch any nuances of the words:

The two words which most concerned me were διεμαρτύρατο (diemartyrato, translated as arguments) and παρεκάλει (parekalei, translated as exhorted). 

Diemartyrato has as its root word "witness."  The "die" adds emphasis, so there is often some wiggle room in translating this word.  Strong's Greek concordance translates it "solemnly testify." 

The King James Bible translates it testify and exhort.

The New International Version translates it warned and pleaded.

As I look at this particular statement, there is a sense of some strongly worded testimony by Peter.  There is a sense of urgency; a sense of working to convince the crowd; a sense of working hard to explain the new reality rooted and grounded in Jesus' death and resurrection.  There is not just a presentation of the events that occurred, but there is a need to explain the reasons for those events and their implications for life.

What is the take home point?

The Church cannot simply be nice to everyone and expect people to come to faith.

The Church cannot simply be engaged in doing justice and expect people to believe in Jesus.

The Church cannot simply say, "Jesus is risen," and expect people to come to faith.

The Church cannot simply say, "Follow these rules because God says so," and expect people to believe in Jesus.

There must be a willingness to engage, argue, exhort, explain, and so on and so forth.  There must be a willingness on behalf of the Church to present the Christian worldview from the beginning and show how that worldview addresses life's biggest questions.  There must be a willingness to show how various worldviews fall short in how they address those questions and exhort others to "save themselves from this corrupt generation."

There's nothing really nice about that last statement.  In fact, it can be seen as pretty arrogant.  It can be seen as pretty exclusive.  And if it is spoken without the proclamation of grace and mercy shown by Jesus on the cross; if it is spoken by someone who looks down one's nose at another while speaking it; if it is spoken in arrogance and self-righteousness, then the message will be lost as well.

The challenge, I think, is to engage the world with great love and compassion with absolutely no compromise in the belief that Jesus is the risen Lord who alone can offer salvation--not only for eternity, but for our world today.  Jesus is the risen Lord who can bring about abundant life--a life of joy, peace, and reconciliation now.  

If you think not, I'm ready to argue.  :-)

11 comments:

Unknown said...

Oh Dear Kevin, your zeal for your calling is admirable. Yet perhaps a bit myopic.

Though this comes from a different culture, There is a saying that "If you push(admonish/extol) anything good too far, the good that you are extolling, WILL become evil!

Yes let us present the Whole Christian Church, complete with the moral defectives and deviants Moral and Sexual wearing clerical garb. The systemic abuse of positions of influence. Or is submission to the words of an ordained clergy ALWAYS the will of God? Kevin, I do not know you, so I am not talking about You, But I do know numerous clergy who have of YES Let That be part of our exhortation!

Let us be real about it...


Carl

Kathy Suarez said...

"A bit myopic"? Oh my. Why not just read Acts 2? On the day of Pentecost, Peter stands up among the disciples and delivers the first sermon of the Church. Wait. Peter? I thought, according to Pastor Kevin and Martin Luther, that Peter was disgraced and removed as Head of the Church because he could not see the future and understand Jesus' mission at the time. "Get thee behind me, Satan!" But wait. Here is Peter, acting as Head of the Apostles, Head of the Church and the Vicar of Christ. The Primacy of Peter!

After Peter's exhortation, the members of the new Church devote themselves to the "teaching of the apostles" -- note: not to the Scriptures, but the apostles' TEACHING. One holy catholic and APOSTOLIC church.

So, Carl, who do you listen to? I suspect, if you are a Lutheran, you listen to your Bible and to yourself. And this is the beginning of relativism. It was not Nietzsche, Pastor Kevin, who gave us relativism, it was Luther. When a pastor in Luther's tradition speaks, he is also listening to himself, the people he chooses to listen to, and of course, to his Bible -- his own personal interpretation of his Bible. Each pastor teaching his flock is his own mini-pope, operating in his own will to power.

Unknown said...

What is it about the state of TEJAS? I know boys will be boys, and yeah its all fun and games, with murder cycles, guns, chains Leather, (and Stetsons?) until someone gets hurt. OMG 170 arrested... And some "Christian" Motorcycle GANGS, So but these people were mostly White and Hispanic as I recall. I wonder if any of them did heroin?

Maybe it is time for another "Spanish Inquisition"


Carl

Kathy Suarez said...

I've never been to Texas -- except to the airports, changing planes traveling cross-country. But I know I hate guns. Almost every day someone in Miami is shot and killed -- usually Black, sometimes children. If Black Lives Matter let's get rid of the guns! I hate this macho gun-slinger baloney, with the excuse of hunting and killing animals. Would Jesus take a gun and kill animals?

Unknown said...

Kathy, I think that Pastor Kevin is from Tejas, and he rides a motorcycle and is into his guns, and of course his Stetson Hat. I wonder what it is, about the Republic of Tejas that lends itself to occasional episodes of Gun violence, REMEMBER THE ALAMO, and THE BRANCH DAVIDIANS? The bold cult that dared take a stand against the Federal ATF's attempts to limit the second amendment rights of all Americans, as I recall Janet Reno Was USAG at The Time.... and there was a raid by ATF agents on the Branch Davidian's Compound, and remember it looked like the fourth of July and a fire burned for hours... and Mnearly all of the people in the Compound were burned to death!REMEMBER?

Pastor Kevin seems to need his guns. maybe for The armadillos, scorpions, wild Boars, and cockroaches the size of dogs, or maybe just to protect his family from the outside influence of you know, "Liberal" pseudo intellectual non conformists, and pre reformation Dogma!

BTW, I heard in the news that all these Motorcycle "CLUBS" including a "CHRISTIAN" biker gang were there at The TWIN PEAKS.. Boy I wonder if There were any drugs being dealt? Or is it just unemployed Black people in Ferguson MO who use Heroin?

Mercy, mercy, mercy, I just hope that Pastor Kevin and his congregation were not caught up in The violence and arrests. I suspect that Pastor Kevin was most likely too busy Dancing with the Holy TRINITY to have been distracted by such a gathering to be caught up in corporal matters.


And BTW, May The Flames of The Holy Spirit descend on the lot od us on this Pentecost Sunday!

Carl

Unknown said...

REMEMBER, "NOBODY EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION" or its arguments and exhortations.. Were they inspired by the Second Chapter of ACTS?

Kathy, I think that Pastor Kevin is from Tejas, and he rides a motorcycle and is into his guns, and of course his Stetson Hat. I wonder what it is, about the Republic of Tejas that lends itself to occasional episodes of Gun violence, REMEMBER THE ALAMO, and THE BRANCH DAVIDIANS? The bold cult that dared take a stand against the Federal ATF's attempts to limit the second amendment rights of all Americans, as I recall Janet Reno Was USAG at The Time.... and there was a raid by ATF agents on the Branch Davidian's Compound, and remember it looked like the fourth of July and a fire burned for hours... and Mnearly all of the people in the Compound were burned to death!REMEMBER?

Pastor Kevin seems to need his guns. maybe for The armadillos, scorpions, wild Boars, and cockroaches the size of dogs, or maybe just to protect his family from the outside influence of you know, "Liberal" pseudo intellectual non conformists, and pre reformation Dogma!

BTW, I heard in the news that all these Motorcycle "CLUBS" including a "CHRISTIAN" biker gang were there at The TWIN PEAKS.. Boy I wonder if There were any drugs being dealt? Or is it just unemployed Black people in Ferguson MO who use Heroin?

Mercy, mercy, mercy, I just hope that Pastor Kevin and his congregation were not caught up in The violence and arrests. I suspect that Pastor Kevin was most likely too busy Dancing with the Holy TRINITY to have been distracted by such a gathering to be caught up in corporal matters.


And BTW, May The Flames of The Holy Spirit descend on the lot od us on this Pentecost Sunday!

Carl

Dennis Bender said...

Some hear, see, and believe. Others mock and blaspheme. John chapter 10

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10

Unknown said...

Oh I hear and see and believe too!
Blasphemy my brother?
Really?

Unknown said...

Dear Dennis.
I was Sincere in my request That the Holy Spirit descend on and abide in us!
It was NOT Blasphemy. (FYI)
Clearly SIR, You were Not referencing me in your post.

L'chaim!


Carl

Dennis Bender said...

The above dialog is about as far from the topic of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as the east is from the west. The characterization of pastors as "mini popes" is a very false one for those that are true Lutheran servants of the Cross. Are there false teachers among Lutherans? Certainly, but that is not the topic or the issue of Pastor Kevin's blog as I read it.

The passion with which Kathy and Carl press for social justice and commentary can only be seen, by myself, as a requirement of how people functioning by the Power of the Spirit must live as they see it. That is only a guess because I in my Lutheran Biblical Isolation cannot see any other connection between Acts 2 and the diatribe that was laid on the backs of Lutheran pastors or Lutheran believers in Texas and in the Lutheran Church.

I was referencing those who are being called to task in 2 Kings 19:22 (ESV), "Whom have you mocked and reviled? Against whom have you raised your voice and lifted your eyes to the heights? Against the Holy One of Israel! By your messengers (messages) you have mocked the Lord... But I know your sitting down and your going out and coming in, and your raging against me."

I also reference those who falsely disparage the true servants of the Cross as Jesus Himself said in Luke 10:16 (ESV), "The one who hears you hears me, the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me. And in Galatians 6:7 (ESV), "Be not deceived: God is not mocked."

My vision does not extend into the hearts of men. That is for God alone.

Shalom Habriem!














































































































































































Unknown said...

Oh dear, Brother Bender,
I must confess that your verbiage confounds me. I have attempted to slice and dice and diagram the sentence in your post that mentioned my name. I am sorry Dennis, I don't understand your point.

I certainly know better than to attempt, pretend or Presume to speak for,or direct the SPIRIT of the Most High G*D. I would not PRESUME to tell you or anyone what or how The Holy Spirit is, will, would, shall or should direct any one person church or nation to act.

Since when is noting peculiar proclivities of individuals residing in the State of Texas disparaging the Holy Spirit. Is the proclivity to owning guns, riding Harley Davidson Motorcycles, refusing to acknowledge the effect of Carbon Emissions on Global Climate Change and wearing Stetson hats and a certain Texas swagger commanded by G*D? If so why don't Lutherans in other parts of the country know of these commands? Does G*D want us to put a TEXACO flag right there in the Sanctuary next to the Christian Flag?

Linking my posts with those of our esteemed DEFORMATIONIST Roman Catholic sister simply demonstrates your own misunderstanding and misrepresentation of my arguments.


NEVER, I repeat, NEVER, have I questioned or criticized Pastor Kevin's love of or Service to God The Father, Jesus Christ his Only begotten SON, or THE HOLY SPIRIT. My questions and comments have generally been regarding What I with my own jaded experiences in and around the Body of Christ here in this terrestrial realm. In the cities and towns, in the neighborhoods and among The people I meet in my daily life. I am not confined to the musty crusty halls of a theological Seminary or an institute of Higher learning debating Aquinas, Kant, Hagel, Neiche, or Nitschke, for that matter (quite philosopher in his own right..) Devising creeds and theorem to prove why I, and people like me are saved, while those who differ with our understanding are condemned to the nether regions for all eternity.

Who am I to dare to enter into such vigorous and spirited debate with a Lutheran Clergyman? Well Dennis, I know personally and on an intimate level more Clergy, Lutheran, Episcopal, Roman Catholic and more, than is perhaps healthy for any one person to know. And the wondrous thing is that despite my experiences of and with this cast of humanity I still love and worship the TRINITY.

My questions, opinions and observations are sincere in an attempt to broaden the Dialog and include in it those who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness, but aren't necessarily ordained Lutheran Theologian, those who might have broader sensibilities and real world experiences.

If That is Blaspheming the Holy Spirit, I sincerely do apologize for ruffling your feathers and will refrain from any further comments on this blog.


L'chaim and GOOD DAY!


Carl