Thursday, July 31, 2008

What I did in West Virginia

I made some progress in reading "Dethroning Jesus" and "Preaching to a Shifting Culture." In chapter two of "Dethroning Jesus", the newly released "Gospel of Judas" is examined. This production dates from the second or third century, not from the time of the Biblical Cannon. Whoever the author was, his goal was to exalt Judas over and above the rest of the twelve disciples. Judas was represented as having more spiritual insight than the rest of them and as handing Jesus over ON JESUS' ORDERS! Jesus tells Judas that the body He inhabits is not his, but someone else's. That someone else, not Jesus, suffered and died on the Cross. Creation is depicted as an act not of God, but of a lesser being. Chapter three deals with the "Gospel of Thomas." Unlike the "Gospel of Judas", this artifact has no narrative structure; it is a collection of sayings. In it, there are no miracles, prophecy is devalued, no coming Kingdom is announced, no one dies for sins. Instead, salvation, according to the author, consists of unlocking the meaning of the statements made, in other words, special knowledge brings salvation to the few. I am half-way through this book.

I am not yet half-way through "Preaching to a Shifting Culture." Chapter three is "The Necessity of Preaching Christ in a World Hostile to Him" by Bryan Chapell. The basic idea in this chapter is that all sermons must be linked to the atonement of Christ. To me, this conflicts with Vic Gordon's assertion in chapter two that the main theme of the preaching of both Jesus and the Apostles is the Kingdom of God. This theme, according to Gordon, illuminates the message of the Old Testament. Chapter four, "The Relevance of Expository Preaching" by Haddon W. Robinson, was a very illuminating read. He took specific passages from the New Testament and demonstrated how we arrive at a meaning unintended by the writer when we fail to interpret the passage from within the text.

I have not returned to reading Wesley on sin.