Sobriety check

Sobriety, n.
Synonyms:  earnestness, graveness, gravity, intentness, serious-mindedness, seriousness, solemnity, solemnness, staidness

“Sobriety.”  Commonly, the word connotes being clear-headed, not clouded by the influence of alcohol.¹  In a more strict verbal sense, though, the word means more.  The Cambridge English Dictionary proposes that a legal judge might be known for his “sobriety.”  That usage speaks to seriousness of mind and perhaps fair judgment.  And human judgment regarding what is terribly serious is precisely my concern here.

You might have seen police sobriety checkpoints for drivers, and perhaps people outside their cars, not passing the check.  What about a sobriety check of our speech?  Some so frequently speak serious words carelessly that one must question their spiritual sobriety, their judgment about serious matters.  Now, conscious of the notion that, when one points a finger, there are three fingers pointing back at the self, I’ll admit this here:  I am given to extreme verbiage of other sorts, and I check my own word use from time to time, too, increasingly trying to reserve superlatives for the situations that call for them.

Rarely a day goes by that I don’t hear or read a very serious word used lightly, in some quip about a comparatively unimportant matter.  A software blogger might not respect the notion of eternal fear (see right), and that’s not all that unexpected.  On the other hand, professing believers who habitually use the words damn, hell, and God flippantly have some thinking and changing to do.  We who believe in God ought at least to be thoughtful in using these words.  Although we have no right to expect such use from the nonbelievers around us, the standard of behavior for us believers ought to be sober, serious, substantive use of words/concepts directly related to God and eternity.

A 5th-grade teacher once said to me, and I quote it exactly, “D_ _ _ you, Brian, you know, you ever heard that before?”  (I had inadvertently gotten in his pathway.)  I can remember his inflection and how his bearded face looked to this day.  Perhaps he was miffed at something else, or perhaps he was just a shallow person.  Regardless, no one should ever want any person to be damned.  What damnation means existentially, eschatologically, and/or cosmologically is up the the Lord.  All I need to affirm is that I, like God, must never wish damnation for any person.  On the other hand, sin is damnable and will ultimately be damned if not forgiven by God.

Now, the profane use of the word “God.”

As shown above, strictly speaking, profanity is not really about potty-mouth; it’s about God.  The Ten Commandments’ injunction not to take the LORD’s name “in vain” is well-known, but I’ve come to understand that the traditional, surface-level reading of “in vain” is off-base.  Regardless, believers ought not to be drawn in to the common, low use of the word “God” that’s so common in pop culture.  Yes, it’s just a word, and words are just symbols, but I quickly lose respect for the profession of Christians who speak that way.  Careless, irreverent uses of words for the Deity always, always, always jar my consciousness.

This post was much longer, but I’ve deleted good-sized chunks and barely scratched the surface.  No one needs to hear me go on and on about this.  I’ve shared only a few anecdotes and comments.

I expect this essay to be passed over by those who don’t call themselves “Christians.”  That is understandable.  It is sad, though, that these thoughts won’t resonate with many of those who do profess Jesus as Christ.


¹ To a recovering alcoholic, the word might mean “finding peace with yourself, with life and its ups and downs, developing the discipline to remain sober, and abstinence.”  https://blackbearrehab.com/blog/what-is-sobriety/, accessed 6/1/20

Are you a Christian?

Quotation without comment:

“Are you a Christian?”  I used to love it when someone on a plane asked me that question.  “Absolutely,” I’d answer, proud to be on the side of all that’s good and right in the world.  But answering that question has become far more difficult.  Much of what has been done in recent years in the name of Christianity embarrasses me and disfigures the God I love. Some of it even horrifies me.

So now when I’m asked the question today, I hedge a bit.  “It depends on what you mean by “Christian,” I often respond.  If they are asking whether or not I am a faithful adherent of the religion called Christianity, I have to confess that I’m not.  I’m not even trying to be.

– Wayne Jacobsen, “Bait and Switch:  Trading the Vibrant Life of Jesus for a Ritualistic Religion Called Christianity,” May 2009

A piece . . . of heaven?

A little more than two decades ago, I experienced a joyous return to Camp Manatawny.  The roads leading to that special place gave me such anticipation, and nothing disappointed during that week—the first in which I’d served and worked there for quite some time.  I had the privilege of leading faith-strong, congenial groups of teenagers and devoted staff members in hymn sings each afternoon, and I had counselor responsibilities as well.

“A Little Piece of Heaven.”  Like the phrase “God’s country,” which only Texans are arrogant enough to think applies just to them, the phrase “little piece of heaven” is neither new nor unique.  I picked up on its use there at Manatawny and was inspired to write a song using that as a title.  I still have a soft spot in my heart for that camp and the song, despite some mixed feelings and mixed experiences at the hands of some of the powers-that-be.  I feel some pride in having become a Life Member of the Camp Manatawny Association, but at some point I stopped receiving invitations and communications.

Another Time, Another Place, Another “Piece.”  Fast forward about 4 years. I experienced a remarkable healing/rebirth, having moved to northeastern Kansas.  I was again inspired to write songs—this time, in direct honor of God for His creation and the healing that I was newly experiencing.  In a real sense, during that time, I was experiencing Kansas then as “a little piece of heaven.”

No more.  Now, my experience of Kansas is quite the opposite, with few exceptions.  Whatever pieces of heaven we experience during this life, they seem to be mostly absent in Kansas, this go-round.  

Two years ago

Two years ago was a very eventful day, but it is not marked with any sense of positive reminiscence.  Although many days melt together in one loathsome pot of something-or-other, and there have been many other days of suffering, I can legitimately say that June 5, 2018 was one of the five worst days of my life.

It was a horrible day.  One to lament.  One over which to wail.

God, have mercy.  God, have mercy.

A year and a half

This guy and I were becoming friends.  One day, we were working to prepare a meal at a retreat.  I confided in him.  I told him of my deep pain, my pathway, and my struggle for the last while.  Impatiently, he said, “C’mon, Brian.  It’s been a year and a half.”

He didn’t get it.

Fast forward a couple decades.  Another guy and I have become friends.  In a different phase of life, I told this one of new, deep pains and my struggles.  We shared some of his struggles, too, over a period of more than a year and a half (so far).  He has never said, “C’mon, Brian.  It’s been a year and a half.”

Be like the second friend.

Granddaddy

More than once on this blog, I’ve given written attention to a man admired by many:  my Granddaddy Ritchie.  His character, leadership, and personal influence are still remembered well by many around the country.  He was a persistent advocate for quality and depth in both words and music during congregational assemblies.  Here is a pic of Granddaddy in his prime, leading worship during Harding’s chapel in the 1950s.

image

A year before he died, the extended family had gathered for my grandparents’ 50th anniversary, and I’d been honored with the opportunity to arrange a medley of some the songs Granddaddy performed in recital (and also in the home for his grandchildren on occasion).  Last week, I unearthed the pencil/pen score and parts, produced long before music software was available.  The medley, scored for four of us cousins to play on brass instruments, included excerpts from about a dozen songs, including “None but the Lonely Heart,” “Loch Lomond,” Little Boy Blue,” “The Big Bass Viol,” “Three for Jack,” and  “Ol’ Man River,” a selection for which Granddaddy is remembered.

This day would have been his 111th birthday, and I think I might just dig up a cassette tape of that brass quartet to mark the day.  My prayer-song Lord, I Want To See, was later written in Granddaddy’s memory.

On other April 25ths during the past few years, I’ve also mentioned him, most notably in the postcript to this heavy post #1000 on exegesis of John 9, but also here, in November of 2018, just after he’d been honored by Harding University through an endowed chair.  Although he had directed Harding’s chorus for a time, from what I’ve gathered, he was perhaps even better regarded for leading the Monday evening “PE” (Personal Evangelism) meetings and for leading evangelistic campaigns during college breaks.  In his efforts to lead souls toward Jesus, and to encourage others to do the same, songs and poetry played a role.  My uncle Ed (the second of four children) wrote a fine hymn, later published in the widely used hymnal Praise for the Lord.  Here is a recording of my extended family singing it (stanzas 1 and 4 here; opens in a new tab) in 1992.  The final stanza is a prayer Granddaddy used often:

Lord, lay some soul upon my heart, and love that soul through me,
And help me nobly do my part to win that soul for Thee.

Three readings (the most recent, already obsolete)

This morning before work time, I read three things (in this order):

1.  Part of the MatthewGospel’s text about Jesus in Gethsemane. (This particular reading would have been well chosen for many people today, but I claim no intentionality—only submissiveness.  As directed, I prayed, read the short text, and responded, as part of a biblical studies group.)

2.  Four pages of material on technologies and techniques to “navigate the digital rehearsal.”  This was written and shared about five weeks ago by a conducting professional I don’t know.

3.  Charles C. Helmer IV’s article that selected thoughts, principles, and words from Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Christian community, appropriating them to humanity’s current situation.  This article, titled “Bonhoeffer and COVID-19:  ‘Life Together’ in Isolation,” reminded me of Bonhoeffer’s significance in both Christian and 20th-century world history.

Two of the above readings struck me as relatively timeless.  One of them is already obsolete.¹  (Hint:  it’s the one about technology that’s obsolete.)

The ephemeral complexity of our technological landscape boggles the mind, baffles the massive mainstream, and bedraggles the masses.

Our world changes quickly in some of its aspects, but not in others.

– B. Casey, 4/21/20


¹ Today, I also read a few short, work-related documents.  Composed this week, some were either off-base or already obsolete.  I wrote one of the off-base ones myself!

The temple(s)

You may be doing much better than I am during this semi-quarantine.  Taking one aspect:  although I’m normally a pretty good juggler and prioritizer, the mere thought of managing and juggling and dealing actually contributes to my sense of being overwhelmed.  This post may not be all that coherent.


This week, as in the last several, I have been caused to think a great deal about Israel’s temple(s) in Jerusalem.

I learned a few years ago to think newly about the so-called cleansing of the temple, told variously in John 2, Mark 11, Matthew 21, and Luke 19.  There’s something about this temple that Jesus was engaging with, to be sure.

My son and I have watched this 3-minute video more than once.  I am watching it again now as I revise this paragraph, and I’ll return to it in the future.  As emphasized in the video, many have connected temple symbolism to aspects of creation/Eden seen in Genesis 2-3.  It’s important to “see” the Israel’s temple and to be made newly aware of its place in that people’s identity.


The Jews saw the Temple as everlasting. 

(Well, it wasn’t.  Not quite, given the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities.  But you get the point.)

Jesus (and history) showed the Jews—and all the rest of us—that it was not.  -bc


I recall the fact that GMatthew has the curtain being torn in two.¹  This week, I read of the making of that veil/curtain, in 2 Chronicles 3.  Then I read that N.T. Wright had once drawn a comparison between Jesus/Temple to sheriff/gunfighter in an old western, with the Lord saying, “This town is not big enough for the both of us.”  And I thought, yes, that’s right.

The Luke gospel, I have recently learned, seems to focus intently on the temple, if we take the mere number of occurrences of the word ἱερόν | hieron as our cue.  (It’s hard to limit meandering, but I could move as far away as Ezekiel or Paul’s Romans 12 here.)  The John gospel does something different, as related by N.T. Wright:

Did John then think, in writing a new Genesis, that he was writing a new Temple-theology?

The question answers itself:  of course he did.  The temple is one of the major themes throughout the book, with Jesus himself as the focal point:  hence, in the prologue itself, the decisive verse 14, where the Word became flesh . . . and ‘tabernacled’ in our midst.

N.T. Wright

I wonder if this conceptual play, even conflict, between Jesus and the Temple cult is a particular emphasis of John’s Gospel?  If so, it would explain why the story of clearing the market from the Temple was moved earlier in John’s telling of the story — to set the stage for the battle.

Among my personal mini-troubles during the past week have been varying results with internet stream-conferencing and other communications.  I would give my own recent Zoom meetings a B+ in achieving the desired result with little to no difficulty; some other meetings, a C or D; and a certain string of e-mail and phone conversations, an F.  In light of communication difficulties, might we ask Matthew if he had a struggle to communicate the inexpressible?   If the answer to that question is “yes,” maybe that the most dramatic, poetic way Matthew could find (or the way that was found for him!) to say something truly significant was to say the temple curtain was torn in two.¹  The Jerusalem temple, it seems, was not to be eternal. 

“Those in whom the Spirit comes to live are God’s new Temple.  They are, individually and corporately, places where heaven and earth meet.”  ― N.T. Wright, Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense

This post may be an outpouring of incoherent tidbits or a semi-valuable smattering from my backlog ….  I may not be managing or juggling or dealing very well at all, but we can be assured of this:  there is One who is managing and dealing.


¹ Translation note on Matthew 27:51 from the NET Bible, referring to the word translated “curtain”:

The referent of this term, καταπέτασμα (katapetasma), is not entirely clear. It could refer to the curtain separating the holy of holies from the holy place (Josephus, J. W. 5.5.5 [5.219]), or it could refer to one at the entrance of the temple court (Josephus, J. W. 5.5.4 [5.212]).  Many argue that the inner curtain is meant because another term, κάλυμμα (kalumma), is also used for the outer curtain.  Others see a reference to the outer curtain as more likely because of the public nature of this sign.  Either way, the symbolism means that access to God has been opened up. It also pictures a judgment that includes the sacrifices.

Mandy, Marlena, and Tom: Sabbath concepts

This is a sabbath story.  It’s not a story written on the sabbath day (although I’m starting this only five hours from the beginning of a sabbath, in Jewish terms), but one about the sabbath.  And it’s actually three stories, not just one.

For illustration, I’ll use thoughts from (1) a former student/acquaintance, (2) a friend, and (3) a well-respected scholar/thinker/writer.  I take the first two as representative of many others, but I won’t use their real names.¹  The third, in my view, is a typically helpful theologian (a category I don’t often uncover!—see here for more on that).

Mandy
Mandy seemed popular, and she was one of my students.  She had real talent and was an energetic player.  There was something about her that struck me as discontent, even rebellious, and later information bore that out, but that’s beside the point.  At the time, I myself was also in survival mode, or even fight mode, so I wasn’t going to judge her.

In a Christian collegiate institution that legislated Sabbath (read:  Sunday rest) observance, Mandy submitted for a while, but apparently fumed.  I did, too, but I didn’t feel comfortable saying much, and no one kept me out of my office if I felt like going there on a Sunday afternoon.  On the other hand, students were effectively banned from any classroom buildings, including the music building.

Aside:  here, it’s good to be clear that when Christians speak of “sabbath,” 99% of them are talking about Sunday.  That in itself should send one scurrying to the pages of what we call the “New Testament” to see if Sabbath is there.  Paul didn’t really write about Sabbath (other than perhaps a negative reference in Colossians), and that fact should cause us to question any weekly New Covenant application.

Back to Mandy.  One week, Mandy reacted to institutionalized, legislated Sabbath, by means of a letter to the editor of the campus newspaper.  She appealed to the College administration and the whole community to open up the Music Building and let her have “sabbath” recreation by making music.  I saw and supported Liz’s point, but I was more concerned with the overall issue of legislating that which belongs more in the realm of Jewish religion than Christian devotion.

Marlena
Marlena wasn’t a student of mine but quickly became a friend through another friend.  She is as sincere, intelligent, studious, and devout as they come, and she could be both serious-minded and appropriately silly.

On multiple occasions, Marlena articulated a reasonable, genuinely pious view of Sabbath.  She supported it, practiced it in various ways, and in doing so encouraged others to do the same.  I recall feeling an inclination to do as she did, a twinge of guilt that I didn’t, and also a wistful wish that she wouldn’t attempt to transport Sabbath into our time.  Mostly, I felt a longing to be as spiritually devoted as Marlena seemed to be.

Tom
Enter N.T. “Tom” Wright, in a podcast interview.  There, Wright said as much about sabbath in a few short sentences as the sum total of what I’ve ever heard or thought.  Here is a transcript of excerpts:

“The Law was a good gift, for a good but time-limited purpose.”  (Then the Law was “set aside.”)

“The Messiah is Israel in person as well as being the Living God in person.”

“The point of the Sabbaths is that they are the weekly anticipation of the Age to Come, the Coming Age.  That when the Shabbat comes, we are living, in advance, in the Age to Come.”  Jesus says, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand.”  We are now in ‘perpetual Sabbath.’  That’s why in Luke 4 he says, “This scripture is fulfilled.”  It’s the Jubilee.  It’s the Sabbath of Sabbaths.  Because he’s here.

And you don’t put up signs saying ‘This way to London’ in the middle of Whitehall, because you’re there already.”

Then by strong implication if not outright statement, Wright says it’s just as inappropriate to declare that Christians should observe the sabbath,” because we’re there already.  You can find the complete podcast(on the Christian and the Old Testament) here, or through your podcast app.

Note to my Sabbath-loving friends and other readers
These final comments are especially for the ones who feel Sabbath is more than a principle and is actually a thing to be observed under the New Covenant.

First, it is my sincere wish that all of you would realize Sabbath observance per se is something that is done away with.  There is no such thing as a weekly Christian Sabbath, and it’s high time we realized that.  We can enjoy believers’ gatherings and napping and reading on Sundays, sure, and I myself take a steps to make Sundays feel different from other days.  Rest and re-creation are important, and I need to give attention to them.  The when and how are choices, though—not laws.  Understandably and admirably, “Mandy” reacted to a false law.  Equally understandably and admirably, “Marlena” went beyond said law and made “sabbath” a principle for good.  But it isn’t a law at all anymore, and that is key.

With that said, more important than the above is the positive, as spotlighted by N.T. “Tom” Wright.  We Christians are living in the fulfillment of sabbath rest constantly.  Jewish shabbat anticipated rest, and Jesus brought awareness of that rest in a renewed understanding, and living, of God’s kingdom.

So be it

B. Casey, 2/21/20 – 3/1/20


¹ I’ve actually used the names of daughters of other women with the same names as the actual people.  This little stratagem will help no one identify the people, but it might help me remember them one day when I look back on this!

Words . . . and the Spelling Bee

Actor James Spader and his characters have word gifts.  In the scene below, he was losing it (as TV attorney Alan Shore):

Shore’s affliction was word salad.  What a concept.  It must be very difficult to toss your words around like that if you don’t have an actual mental deficiency.

Linguistic perceptiveness can be a curse, but it can also create joy through heightened understanding.  I’m glad my son has some exceptional language ability.  FB tells me that, four years ago when he was in 1st grade, he was reading aloud to me and came upon the verb “present.”  He mistakenly read it as though it were the noun, i.e, a gift.  Then he corrected himself without any help.  I asked him how he knew which meaning was the right one.  He replied, “You can tell by the surrounding words.”

That’s a gift with words, I’d say . . . and it can help him understand other people, scripture, a homework assignment, the intent of lines in a play, and more.

The Podcast “Way with Words” is a new pleasure.  Jedd heard part of an episode for the first time last weekend.  I figured 10 minutes would be enough for a 10-year-old and was about to turn it off, but he said not to.  He liked it.  He too is stimulated by thoughts of words, their meanings, their connections and ramifications, their humor.

In late January, he placed 2nd among all the fifth-graders at his school in the spelling bee.  He asked for definitions to check himself on a couple occasions.  He made it about 12 rounds before being distracted by someone’s cell phone and missing a double “s” that he would know any day of the week.  But no sour grapes.  He was happy with 2nd place and was a good sport, congratulating the very capable winner.

I’m happy that I get to share linguistic interests with him often, and I was proud when he almost won the school spelling bee a few days ago, and I hope he places in today’s county-wide spelling bee, which begins in one hour!

He chose a special outfit this morning, and I adapted.  Below is today’s solidarity attire, on the way to school this morning.

But my feet are kinda frozen on terra firma

This meandering little piece could alternately be titled “In the Bleak Midwinter” or simply “Midwinter Melancholy.”

Do you remember the ol’ children’s finger-play about the church/steeple/people?  It might have done more harm than good, because it started out wrong with the words “Here is the church,” while indicating a representation of the building.  Most folks still have trouble realizing that people are the church.

I think about church a lot, and not only on Sundays.  What is church?  What has it been—for me, for others?  What could it or should it be?  I daydream,¹ and I become disillusioned, and I gain some energy or hope once in a while.  A week or so ago, on my go-to “simple church” blog, I read about God’s being on the move, and I was at once inspired and repelled.  Inspired, because I like thinking of a God who is as active as in the old times.  Repelled, because I don’t sense the motion right now.   Regardless, I do like the ideals below, from this blog.  Try them on, opposite your concept of “church”:

  • It’s about a Jesus-lifestyle, not an organization to belong to
  • It’s about being God’s people 24/7, not attending meetings or “services”
  • It’s about incarnating God into the world, not attracting people to a clubhouse
  • It’s about gathering in a participatory manner rather than being priest-led
  • It’s about leadership that empowers and releases rather than controls
  • It’s about discipling by relationship rather than by program

– Roger Thoman, Simple Church Journal (edited)

So what do you think of those affirmations?  I would say very similar things, but I eventually become disappointed by ideals:  they only go so far when there’s no motion—or any real hope of motion.

Remember the song “I’m Pressing On”?  It begins like this:

I’m pressing on the upward way.  New heights I’m gaining ev’ry day.

Johnson Oatman Jr. (1856-1926)

Hmm.  I press on most of the time, but I feel like a flatlander, not a height-gaining mountain climber.  Another stanza begins,

I have no desire to stay where doubts arise and fears dismay.
But still I’ll pray ’til heav’n I’ve found, ‘My prayer, my aim is higher ground.’

Like Oatman, I have no desire to stay where I am, and my aim is higher.  Still, actually, I don’t feel like there’s foreseeable “advancement.”  God might well be “on the move,” as suggested in the blog referred to above, but I don’t feel as if I’m part of that right now.  I feel like my feet are frozen.  Will the frostbite keep me from reaching “higher ground,” or will I deal with the numbness and tingling, brave the headwind, and plod on?

Oh, for like-minded souls—whether we deal more in the personal sphere or the “church” one.  Or maybe just a couple good friends who will accompany me across the snowy tundra, sharing struggles and wonderings and possibilities. . . .

B. Casey, 1/11/20 – 1/29-20


¹ See this page as an evidence of some rather intense daydreaming.

Judging (general)

This post is a kind of interlude within a mini-series on “judging” topics—topics that have been a little dangerous.  I don’t want to give the wrong emphasis to readers; neither do I want to paint myself into a corner in anyone’s eyes.  Let’s take couple steps back.

Last fall, I wrote a few posts on gleanings from the book of Judges (link opens in a new tab).  That book, within the library we call the “Bible,” continues to draw me in.  Sure, the stories are riveting, but it’s not that, really; it’s the events described.  What happened is revealing:  how God’s people’s navigated those events, and how God dealt with them over a period of decades.  I think the time of the Judges can be wrongly dismissed as a few cool stories—without apprehending the theological significance of what was going on at the time.  PictureMy current series on “judging” doesn’t have anything directly to do with the book of Judges, but there’s obviously a verbal connection.

What are “judging” and “judgment” after all?  The English word ‘”judge,” when used as a verb, tends to be pejorative, but the corresponding words in other languages might not have the same import.  For instance, I suspect the ancient Hebrew word would have had different nuances and implications.

As to this current series on “judging”:  I have intended it to deal more in (1) spiritually or logically assessing than (2) legally judging or (3) ultimately condemning.  Secondarily, I mean to challenge the notion that judging is necessarily to be avoided.  In fact, one well-known personality inventory (non-judgmentally!) validates judging as a neutral trait.  The diagram here comes close to representing my own personality, as assessed a couple dozen years Image result for judgingago.  I’m largely introverted, intuitive, and feeling.  At that time, I came out near the middle of the fourth spectrum that encompasses “judging” and “perceiving,” but my judging tendencies, as defined by Meyers-Briggs, meant that I made many decisions in my outer life based on plans, order, and organization.  I liked to “bring life under control as much as possible.”  These days, I’m more flexible and would probably be stronger in “perceiving,” at least in some respects.  None of this relates too much to what I’ve been saying about judging; it only serves to illustrate that we need to know what we’re talking about when we use a word like “judge.”  Context can help.

On the way to work this morning, I judged that a driver was less competent and courteous than I.  I judged that based on evidence of how that person treated a stop sign.  Yesterday, I judged myself to have enough fortitude to do something that needed to be done.  This was perhaps a spiritual prompting to go out of my way to be kind to someone who had not been kind to me.  That is a judgment I made, as well.  Had I not taken the step I took (which was well received, I’m happy to report), I would have judged myself weak.  I judge myself too harshly at times, and too graciously at other times.  Judging oneself involves many pitfalls, and as a result, we need accountability within small, organic groups of Christians.

Repeated experiences with individuals may lead us to note inconsistencies, or even hypocrisy, in their character.  Less ominously, we may simply assess traits and tendencies and opt out of close association with this or that person.  These are all “judgments” that need not be considered malevolent.  They may not in fact contain any ill will at all.  It may be necessary to judge at times—in order to keep oneself sane or pure.  Judging is not all bad.  We just need to judge rightly … and not direct all the judgment outward!  (See end of previous post.)

The next post, I think, will take a while to construct, and it will conclude the series.  It will briefly evaluate (assess, judge) one view that’s spotlighted in the book Three Views on Israel and the Church (book title).  The format of this book is geared for critique, which is another type of judgment.  My particular critique of one of the views is important to me in several aspects:

  1. It deeply touches my overarching focus on God’s Kingdom vs. the governments of humans.
  2. Generally, I want to challenge myself in scholarly thought process.  I want to be able to think through something with a clear head and without prejudice, inasmuch as this is even possible.
  3. A dispensationalist preacher recently showed patience with me but has judged a few related things quite differently from the way I’ve judged them.  I want to investigate before heading back to finish the conversation.

I’m not sure which of the above will take the lead in my heart or mind.  I do look forward to being challenged by the views, the scholarly responses, my intellectual process as I read all the above, and the process of communicating all that on this blog.  It may take a bit of time to get it all together, and other posts may come in the meantime, so please stay tuned.

And if you haven’t signed up to received posts by e-mail, please considering doing that.

B. Casey, 1/2/20 – 1/17/20