Friday, March 28, 2008

"Emerging Baseball"

Tony Jones is reposting some of his old entries on his blog. The other day, he reposted the story of the publication rejection of a paper he presented at a conference in Wheaton in the winter of 2007.

You can find his original comments here (or here) and the paper here.

This repost, reminded me of the little story I wrote after I had read Tony's paper. I was in a somewhat silly mood but also frustrated with some of the arguments in the paper. I wrote this before I had a blog and so I did nothing with it. So, I guess that I'll post it...even though I'm not famous and nobody will probably ever read it, at least I'll get a chuckle...

"Emerging Baseball"

Life was picking up speed and the world was changing faster than it had in the past but one thing remained for lots of people: baseball. Now baseball was a grand sport, but perhaps not America’s most favored pastime as it had been in its history. There was a time when almost everybody played baseball but these times were changing. Baseball was played more differently then in the past, there was little league, high school leagues, club teams, college teams, even major and minor leagues. Overtime a few new rules were added to keep the game fair, especially at the younger levels. Some disagreed with these rules but others held this was faithful to how the game had always been played. There was increasing diversity. Professional players had even immigrated to the United States, which was different from the past, but they were respected since they could play the game very well.

One day, a group of trainers at a well known baseball training university decided to hold a conference on the game of baseball. Now baseball, as we noted, was not entirely uniform between the various levels of play. In the interest of fairness, the trainers decided to invite experts from outside their own club and even from different levels of play. At the conference, the presenters would discuss how the game of baseball is played. They would discuss the differences: some teams let pitchers bat, others did not; some leagues allowed metal bats others allowed only wooden—things like that. Baseball lovers would gather and hear from these experts.

Now the experts gathered were quite diverse from different fields of expertise as well as different leagues. Some presenters were experts on the history of baseball. They knew the great players and the great games of the past—most could rattle off the stats with the best of fans. Others were experts on pitching, or hitting. Still others specialized in an even smaller field: examining how the greats had pitched and hit. A few were experts on the making of uniforms, balls, and bats. One group of experts maintained the fields—they mowed the grass and kept the fields well groomed. They too were professionals in their area of expertise who loved and played the game. There were even a few who had taken baseball to foreign lands and taught people there to play and love the game. The college was well known for training such folks.

Now the trainers had heard of the way the game of baseball was being played across the pond. It had become no small area of debate in the States. Some from this far away land had written on baseball in the American sports magazines. Fans and experts of all stripes had various opinions about what was written—but all the writers embracing this new way had assured everyone: “We may play a little different, but we still play baseball.” This satisfied some; others it did not. “Baseball is baseball, you cannot play it differently,” they said. Others recognized the history of baseball had involved some changes despite the continuity. In openness, the trainers invited one well known player/manager to come across the pond. “Present for us,” they said. “We are going to write a book on the great history of baseball and how it has been and is being played. Since you play and love the game, we will include your presentation as part of the reflection of the community of baseball.”

The well known player did not really belong to any official league because in his country the game was more of a club sport, less rules, less organization but as he assured “It is a beautiful way to play. Baseball as it was meant to be.” Some liked this idea because it reminded them of their sandlot games as a child; others did not “You can’t have baseball without professionals.” Some felt that with all the high salaried players baseball was too commercialized and this way might restore the tradition of the game. Significant numbers felt that as long as he played baseball those from this new way could be welcomed. Once invited, the player from across the pond was asked to discuss how people in his land listen and learn from the great players of the past.

On the day of the presentation the conference was packed. The audience had as much variety as the presenter: trainers, managers, little league coaches, bat boys, people training to enter professional baseball, and star players. Some from across the pond joined as well. The star player from another land got up and gave his presentation.

He began to describe the differences in how baseball had been played over the years. The way people umpired the game had changed somewhat despite the rule book, he told us. “Strikes were not strikes until the umpire said so,” he proclaimed. This shocked some, but others said they understood his intention even though all knew the definition of a strike. He then went on to describe how people in his country play; he surveyed eight teams. Again, he emphasized that all were different because there was no real league or organization. They did not even play with an official rule book since that would be restrictive. They had no plans to write one. “The game,” he argued, “is much more dynamic, fluid. It is like a great dance.” He continued, “Our fans live in a changing world that is fast paced, in order for us to keep up and draw crowds we are less tied to the rules. Crowds love the event, not the static rules of baseball. They love play not the rules of play.” In the audience, this miffed the purists; others struggled to understand how baseball could be played this way; some liked this idea. Not a few who loved the game struggled to understand how you could love the event of the game without believing in the game itself.

“All games of baseball are local and cultural,” the presenter argued. “There is no great unified static tradition to the game but only local expressions. We must keep the game alive by playing it on local fields according to local customs. The larger community, made up by local expressions, keeps the game from changing into something altogether different.” He was anticipating some of his critics. “The community of baseball that we are all part of will police all of us by allowing its multifaceted voices to rise up when someone is not playing right.” He argued that this kept the umpire from calling pitches in the dirt a strike.

The presenter began to examine one of the great games and even one of the players of the past. He said, “This great game was not won by a team with better fundamentals who best understood the game and played right. This team had stacked the deck with strong players. The team had more money and could buy better talent so the win was a messy power play. It was unfair to marginalize the losing team.” Some thought this sounded fair, “shouldn’t baseball have salary caps?” Nevertheless, the victory had been vital in the history of the game as all well knew. Most knew well the game had had some strong players but they also knew what a struggle the game had been, especially in the late innings. While the rivalry didn’t singularly end at that historic game, looking back most saw the losing team never had the fundamental skills of baseball.

The presenter moved on examining a player from the past who had influenced the unity of baseball at a time when variety of other games where influencing baseball. The historical player had said, “Hold fast to baseball wherever it has been played, always and by all.” “That kind of unity cannot be had because we all play different,” the presenter continued. “All of our games are nothing more than local expressions,” he pioneered. “The fans of our homeland have long since recognized this. They never see the game only games.” More than one perceptive listener realized with all the various games they’d been at they had still seen the game of baseball. Continuing on, the presenter illustrated, “In my home, we play but we do not throw curve balls, fast balls, and splitters—to name a few. We have much more creative names like googly, topspinner and flipper, although, we still have something called a slider.” At this point, he showed cool images on a screen—a few might have thought this was not academic enough but it illustrated what he meant; besides, various sports writers often use tables, charts, graphs and illustrations. The presenter showed how the bats were different, more flat for a better surface hitting area. But then this required a different stance to hit—and there were not four bases but only two points to run to and from. He lauded a new feature that had been added called ‘wickets.’ “Our expression of baseball is different but we all play baseball. We love baseball. We must allow the marginalized voices of baseball to have a voice. All who love baseball will rejoice in our expression of the great game,” he proclaimed.

Then our presenter argued that baseball is not a game until it is played. Outside of the event of players playing there is no real game. Even the players do not play right all the time. Players have bad games where they make errors. Players have injuries where they miss a few games therefore they are not true players. And the off season means that no game of baseball exists at all for this time since baseball is not a game but an event of playing the game. This all stands against the game, a bit of anti-baseball mixed in. These problems and imperfections in the game play caused him to conclude, “My fellow baseball players, there are no baseball players.” At this point more than the purists were squirming in their seats; he was addressing a crowd who loved to play and loved the game. Despite their faults they played their best and they played hard. The game was there as it always had been.

He continued, “There is not is in baseball, its future is constantly unfolding, changing. We cannot look and find a moment when baseball is only that it will be.” If one froze a single moment in a local game you could not point and say, “There is baseball,” for the event was lost—so too was baseball—argued the presenter. “Baseball is eschatological.” A few liked this idea, the community must allow baseball to change and unfolding into the future since the fan base was changing all the time—‘we must attract new people, who may not like all the game has been, with them we can engender a new future,’ they thought. Others felt awkward, they knew that all players were not as good as others, or got injured more but they still played baseball as best they could—there was still baseball. Although sitting and listening to the presenter, they could remember the games they played, or the great players of the game; a few even had brought their glove with them. They were quite sure baseball is real. Most were well aware that rules had been added along the way, like the designated hitter rule, which is not accepted by all. For its history, most of the rules had remained pretty static, even if they had been translated to new languages by those who took baseball to new cultures. Some thought “how does this new way listen to the voices of that past? Was that not his topic?” Most at the conference knew the game was real even when it wasn’t being played. “There is no game of baseball—no rules, no game—without the event of playing. All our playing is an experience and without experience baseball does not exist,” the presenter was wrapping up. At least one person wryly noted that if baseball did not exist outside of the event our presenter at that moment had nothing to talk about.

At this point some were concerned that he did not play the real game of baseball. ‘Without the rules that had remained fairly constant through its history wouldn’t baseball become chaotic?’ some listeners queried to themselves. The presenter moved further into his conclusion, “You have heard it said that our game across the pond is chaotic—but I say to you we all play baseball with chaos. We all make choices on where to hit, how to run, when to steal or who to throw out. This is chaos. We all play the game our own way whenever we play.” He continued, “You have heard it said, my country changes baseball to appeal to fans, but I say to you there is no game without fans. Your own game would not exist if fans did not love it. Baseball must be watched or it does not exist.” For good measure he added, “No single community is privy to making the rules of baseball, such repressive interpretations is a violation of the diversity of other localized communities because we all love baseball. Hear the other voices; let them speak and judge as the event unfolds.” He finished by summarizing that although his way of playing was different, at least he played. This meant he, and those who played across the pond, loved baseball and respected it. His activity (like all playing) brought baseball to be and kept it alive. He liked the history of baseball—but it offered no instruction on how to play since it was only made up of local games, at best we have dialogue. There was not a “this is baseball” to look towards, even in the past. Baseball’s event was always future and unfolding.

In the weeks that followed, the presentation was discussed in many of the great sports magazines and papers. Experts, players and columnist weighed in. Some were in an uproar. Others calmly explained where they felt the presenter had gone astray. They sought to critique this new way of playing. “Why did we have to choose between the game and playing the game?” Others who either lived or spent time across the pond championed the diversity we could embrace in the game. They said, “when you critique us you do not understand us, don’t you know we love the game?” A few were even quite sure there really was no game of baseball just events that were played with sticks, balls, and bases. Baseball after all was just a name we had given a series of events. The event was changing, evolving.

Finally, the trainers from the university contacted the presenter. They said, “We are not going to publish your paper.” “Why not?” queried the presenter. “Was I not knowledgeable enough about baseball? Did I not show scholarship?” he asked. “You did but that isn’t why we won’t publish it,” they said. “The larger baseball community feels that your ideas were radical and not helpful to the community of baseball. When you throw balls they are pitches in the dirt—not strikes. This is something altogether different. Quite frankly, the playing you showed the communities of baseball looks and sounds more like cricket.”

The presenter was a bit taken aback. In the weeks following this exchange the presenter began to argue, “How unfair of the communities.” “Who are they to police our actions and game play?” The multifaceted multi-voiced community was considered by some to be too narrow minded against the great experience of baseball across the pond. The presenter began to write in the sports columns for his country. He spoke to his own single community rather than the voices represented in the consensus of baseball traditions that had been gathered. “Their voices are too many and cannot understand how we play. They cannot speak to our play. We are making our first forays into the game—give us time. But now, we are marginalized; how unfair. We must have more conversation and dialogue. More voices.” His own single community rose with one voice “of course this is baseball; right on; way to go” they said. “You hit a home run” they cheered. No one at all could call into question: was baseball really played across the pond? Since those from across the pond said, “We are not the final say, we are developing,” to ask such a question was considered repressive and restrictive to conversation and dialogue. “Do not reign in the unfolding of baseball.” After all, it was believed by those from across the pond that no one in the other diverse communities could really understand how baseball was locally played on their side of the pond. The playing was an event, a local event, who could say an event was not baseball; baseball is an event.

The larger community of baseball, even with its variations of play, was suddenly robbed of a real set of diverse voices by the single voice of new fans who loved this new and “better” way of playing. And so it was heard from across the pond, “This is baseball, the baseball of the unfolding future.”

Thursday, March 27, 2008

"Ninja Jesus"

In my sermon on Sunday I was describing how Jesus uses death to defeat death. I used the analogy of karate and Judo. I said in karate when you block a punch you must have as much force going against the punch as the person has coming at you. Then I said something like this:

We do not just “move beyond” death but death is conquered. If earth is a battlefield between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan—then it does not good for all the players to make a strategic retreat to heaven. Satan who has the power of death (Heb. 2:14) has his greatest weapon destroyed. It is sort of like a judo move. I am told that in judo the goal is not to meet force with force but use the enemies own strength against him. So Christ makes a judo move: he uses death—His own death to bring life. He succumbs to death, exhausts its curse and then brings forth new life—first His own brought by each of the three persons of the Trinity.

That's what I had in my notes. Now I'll be honest. I get really excited preaching about the resurrection. It is such an amazing thing. The death of Christ means nothing without the resurrection (and vice versa). So I was a bit animated and I said 'You've all seen in the movies when the attacker jumps at the opponent and the person take their momentum and uses it to through them' and I acted it out briefly. I think I even through in a little "whooo-ha" Ninja sound.

And then someone, who will remain nameless to protect his identity [I love this brother, he is the guy who gets into the preaching and often gives a hearty amen], blurted out "Ninja Jesus." Well I just lost it. Everybody roared with laughter. Someone told me afterwords that I got as red as my tie. I felt flush, I had to take my jacket off. It was the funniest thing that every happened to me while preaching.

But you know what (a) I'm glad we can all relax enough to laugh at ourselves and (b) a lot of people said the analogy really connected with them.

The other example I used was the Matrix and how in the end of the last movie Neo dies and the Matrix gets recreated--but Neo stays dead. It is a parody of Christianity and it ultimately falls short. The Matrix has a lot of cool echoes of religion, philosophy and Christianity--and yet at one key point it falls short: Neo stays dead. In this respect the work is a failure. Any echoes to reality fall short and disappoint... indeed in this respect it is idolatry, at least if we take the story too seriously. I like a good story and it is fiction so I don't get "rubbed" to hard about it--but we must never ever forget the fatal flaw of the movie that makes it fall infinetely short of the glorious redemption that we have in Jesus.
1 Corinthians 15:17 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.
While Neo appears to save the matrix it is only pseudo-redemption, why the powers of 'this age' still reign in the fictional world of the Matrix--they are not conquered by the powers of the age to come: resurrection life.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sermon Applications 3/23/08

This Sunday's sermon was on the Resurrection of Jesus. Here are the applications. The texts were Matthew 28:1-7 & 1 Cor. 15:35-44.

A. Jesus shows us exactly what eternal existence will look like: it will be new creation. It will be indestructible bodily life.
1 Corinthians 15:54-55 54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. 55 "O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?"

B. We do not just “move beyond” death but death is conquered. If earth is a battlefield between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan—then it does not good for all the players to make a strategic retreat to heaven. Satan who has the power of death (Heb. 2:14) has his greatest weapon destroyed. It is sort of like a judo move. I am told that in judo the goal is not to meet force with force but use the enemies own strength against him. So Christ makes a judo move: he uses death—His own death to bring life. He succumbs to death, exhausts its curse and then brings forth new life—first His own brought by each of the three persons of the Trinity. And then He brings our own life for those who trust in Him.

It is like the movie the Matrix. Remember at the end when the hero Neo is fighting Agent Smith. Agent Smith goes on this tirade of how all is lost and say “Why do you still fight”. New says, “Because I choose too.” And then Neo suddenly chooses to stop fighting. Smith hits the crushing blow—Neo is dead. But then suddenly the world they are fighting—dark and evil—breaks down and it is reborn into light and recreated. Neo defeats death by dying and everything is reborn. The parallels are intentional.

There is one fatal flaw. In the last seen Neo’s body is taken by the computers into a blinding light. And he is gone. The fatal flaw is that the matrix might be recreated in beauty and restored—but Neo never lives again. He goes into the light of glory disembodied—a soul with a dead body. Death appears conqueror but the one who conquered it remains dead---there is no hope. The friends of Neo say ‘well he may return’. BUT THE FATAL FLAW IS: Neo stays dead!

C. Christianity is a hope like no other. The Christian faith has a living hope because we put our hope in Jesus. The Christian faith is certain hope. Death has been defeated by Christ. We know exactly what is coming. We have proof positive. God has furnished proof of a judgment and that we can pass the judgment: he has done this by raising Christ from the dead.

1. The hope of Buddhism is Nirvana. Your being like a drop of water enters the ocean of eternity. It is not personal existence; it is not bodily existence. It is disembodied, but it isn’t even life real. It is the cession of individuality—it is like assimilation by the Borg.

2. I submit to you all other forms of hope are false hopes. There are no guarantees. Or they are substandard. They make a mockery of God’s creation as good. It is fake hope vs. a living hope.

3. We live in a world that brings all kinds of parodies to us. Parodies of hope… cheep imitations. Wishful thinking, silly platitudes. Those who live in this present evil age do everything they can keep us from seeing how almost 2,000 years ago “New Creation” began. There was the resurrection of a man! Yet we recognize the resurrection: it makes a difference. Our faith is not a leap in the dark but a certain hope of a sure future. The same power that raised Jesus from the death is guarding us in our faith for that same coming living hope.

1 Peter 1:3-5 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

There is no hope—no salvation without new life! This new life is displayed in the King who has won it for us in His own resurrection.

Job 19:25-27 25 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. 26 And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, 27 whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!

I found this the other day:
Here is an interesting article that appeared in the Journal of Religion and Film on the Matrix, Buddhism and Gnosticism.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Too familiar...

Here is a quote from Star Trek Enterprise between Captain Jonathan Archer and Science Officer T'Pol:

“ARCHER: You keep saying supposedly. You don't believe Surak did the thing they say he did?
T'POL: He brought logic to Vulcan. But his writings from that period no longer exist. Over the centuries, his followers made copies of his teachings.
ARCHER: Let me guess. With the originals lost, whatever was left was open to interpretation.
T'POL: You find this amusing.
ARCHER: I find it familiar.”

This came up on my Star Trek quote ticker, so I don't know what episode it came from, but I guess that it came from one this three part story arch (here, here and here) in season 4 where they discover the lost teachings of Surak. In it there is a radical Vulcan sect that lives in the desert wasteland (The Forge). They claim to be more faithful to the original teachings of Surak but Vulcan's reject their interpretation. In the end, when the teachings of Surak are discoverd, it is the majority of the Vulcans who have gone astray.

Like Archer I too "find it familiar." It is far too familar in our day and age to assume that since Jessus didn't write any of the gospels they must be unreliable. Another all too common argument is that since we do not have the originals of the gospels (or any other book of the Bible for that matter) what we have is entirely unreliable. This latter question gets addressed in issue we call "textual criticism". If you want to know more about textual criticism: here is an introductory series on the issues 1, 2, 3. In short, no serious scholar of textual criticism today doubts that the texts that we have enable us to get back to the original despite the fact that we do not have an original copy.

The gospels that we have today are completely trustworthy. It is the sheer arrogance of modernism that says "oral culture = untrustworthy". Instead as numerous scholars have shown, while there may have been a period where the eyewitnesses transmitted the stories of Jesus orally, this stories were written down at least by the end of the first century since the 4 gospels are widely attested in the Christian world in the early second century.

For example, Mark Roberts writes,
"...the early followers of Jesus had both the ability and the motivation to pass on oral tradition with accuracy. The combination of context, people, content, community, and process helped them to faithfully recount what Jesus did and said. A study of the Gospels shows that the early Christians did this very thing with considerable success. Thus the first century dating of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, combined with their earlier oral traditions, combined with early Christian faithfulness is passing on these tradutuibsm add up to convincing rationale for trusting the Gospels. What we find in these books accurately represents what Jesus himself actually did and said. We may not have the original Aramaic words of Jesus, except in a few cases, and we may not have the first Aramaaic stories about him, but we have Greek translations that faithfully reproduce Jesus' actual words and deeds."
--Can We Trust the Gospels? p.81

Another book that anyone wanting to study the issues has to come to terms with is Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony by Richard Bauckham.

Friday, March 21, 2008

If I had a nickel...

If I had a nickel for everytime an emerging friendly person quoted NT Wright as if he was the next best thing to sliced bread... I'd be... well I wouldn't be blogging here but from a beach somewhere.

First, let me say this. I first read N.T. Wright in college, not because I had to but because I wanted to. The first book I dove into was "Jesus and the Victory of God." The second was "What Saint Paul Really Said." I try to keep up with what he writes since then, although reading everything is nearly impossible. I disagree with Wright, at times, I think quite a lot. I find a lot in Wright I agree, especially in say "The Resurrection of the Son of God."

One thing I am tired of hearing from some is this almost percieved notion as if Wright rediscovered the kingdom of God. The fact that Wright gets credit for "rediscovering" everything that was seemingly lost at about AD 100 shows an ignorance of church history. Now, in the eyes of some Wright almost seems to have rediscovered the resurrection from those "evil corruptions of gnosticism".

Let me be clear Wright never makes these claims himself, he is too good of a historian, he can't help it if his fan clubs are not. In fact, much of what Wright argues in terms of inaugurated eschatology is trade stock within NT circles. For example, you can find folks in the Reformed circles where pioneering it a century ago. Guys like Geerhardus Vos and Herman Ridderbos. See Pauline Eschatology, Biblical Theology, Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation, The Teaching of Jesus Concerning the Kingdom of God and the Church all by Vos or Paul: An Outline of His Theology, and The Coming Kingdom by Ridderbos. For evangelicals we should also mention G.E. Ladd, especially A New Testament Theology and The Presence of the Future.

Let me get to the point I really want to make. A while back, Doug Pagitt said somethings about heaven being not being a "place" and this cosmology was "Platonic". (see here for the sources and a recap). It falls into the all to common, "If you find something you don't like call it Gnostic" trap (see here and here).

But I really wish I would have put this in writting, if I had people might think I was a prophet. Now it just looks like prophecy ex eventu. Here was my "prophecy":
The minute I saw N.T. Wright's book Surprised by Hope I knew that someone in the emerging church would pull it out and use Wright to defend what Pagitt said regarding heaven and gnostic views.

To me this was pretty obvious given N.T. Wright's brilliance and the emerging church's facination with Wright. The thing is I figured it was also reasonable to assume that Wright would be orthodox on the matter and not to put to fine a point on it: Pagitt just wasn't orthodox on the issue.

Well, just the other day, I found one example fulfilling my prediction over at Bob Hyatt's blog, here is the link. He starts this way:

When Doug Pagitt basically labeled standard evangelical thought on the resurrection/afterlife as platonism and gnosticism masquerading as orthodoxy he was

1. Metaphorically burned at the stake

2. Totally right
In honor of Doug (who told me he actually regrets how the interview went down and how defensive he allowed himself to become), but more importantly, of Resurrection Sunday (did you know that's this coming weekend???) I give you a sampling of the truly awful, the pretty darn good, and the awesomeness that is NT Wright.

I was so glad that I had just finished reading N.T. Wright's book. Here's the thing: Wright says what orthodoxy has always said. Let me add a caveat... there have been times where Platonic thought has influenced the church. Nevertheless, the church has always maintained that the final hope of the believer is the resurrected body.

Let me also say, that a lot of pop-culture, you know the culture that has little or no biblical knowledge, does abuse the 'going to heaven when we die' and neglects the bodily resurrection. But this hardly represents "standard evangelical thought." Why? Well in a nut shell there is little thought in it. I mean they most "evangelicals" who are "born again" don't even know there are 10 commandments and what they are (aren't the 'more like suggestions') or that the Bible doesn't say "God helps those who help themselves"... so it's like pulling the kindergarten out and asking them an algebra question then saying "see public education doesn't work".

The real problem is you can't make Wright and Pagitt agree. Here was my response in the meta:

Pagitt didn’t just say there is a lot of Platonic thought influencing how we think about heaven. Pagitt seemed to go further saying that any thinking that heaven is a "place" is platonic. N.T. Wright's book certainly corrects a lot of misunderstandings but he is quite clear that Jesus dwells bodily in heaven (pp. 109ff).

Pagitt certainly didn't give his whole view, but he denied that it is a "place" or that we can talk about "where" with respect to heaven.I don’t see Wright denying that heaven is a place, just helping us understand how this place relates to earth. He says heaven and earth not another part of our space-time continuum (so its not a "place" within this space-time continuum) but it is "about two different kinds of what we call space..." (p.115). He talks about heaven as heaven as the control room for earth (p.111) although you can be in heaven and everywhere present on earth. He uses C.S. Lewis as an example of how worlds can interlock.

Wright says "What we are encouraged is that God's space and ours--heaven and earth, in other words--are though very different, not far away for one another....God's space and ours interlock and intersect in a whole variety of ways even while they retain, for the moment at least, their separate and distinct identity and roles..." (p.116). It seems to me that for Wright it still is a “place” and Jesus is bodily present in heaven even though from that “control room” he rules over all the earth.

Christian theology has always asked and answered: where is Jesus? He has ascended bodily into heaven. Pagitt appears to take the "where" off the table, when asked "where do they go". Right away he pulled out the Plantonic/Gnostic card.

N.T. Wright seems to do something entirely different from Pagitt and that is to think through heaven based upon the resurrection and ascension. Wright denies heaven as a “spiritual reality” which would indeed be Gnostic. Wright rejects the notion that all we have in creation is earth. He affirms that in the intermediate state believers are in heaven (pp.171-172). Wright argues heaven is a created realm just not in this space-time continuum. Even the ultimate hope of the recreated heaven and earth is a place, there will be "where's" and "locations" in it, but what is superior about it is that there will be no more "separate and distinct identities" for the two (heaven and earth), but as Wright shows heaven itself will descend.

Even though Pagitt and Wright both point to Gnosticism/Platonism, they seem to be at odds with each other.

At the risk of being 'uncivil' I will be more forceful here: they are at odds with each other. I could also point to Pagitt's notion of 'reintegration' (here I quote a bunch for Pagitt's Listening to the Beliefs of the Emerging Church) vs. Wright clear concept of judgment that leads to vindication of the believer and damnation of the unbeliever. Not exactly the same game. I already used Wright's work to comment on Pagitt (see here and here).

If all Pagitt and Wright were both saying was the final hope of believers is not heaven or disembodied existence. Or if we were critiquing heaven is "spiritual" and "non-bodily" we'd be right to say they agree. But Jesus is in this place called heaven and He is there bodily (albeit believers who are dead are there as part of the intermediate state and not yet resurrected)--Wright affirms this in the book. Pagitt denied we could even talk about heaven as a place or a where or say "where do they go".

And just in case you don't think orthodox Reformed folk believe the resurrection is the final hope. Check Calvin out:
Moreover, to pry curiously into their intermediate state is neither lawful nor expedient (see Calv. Psychopannychia). Many greatly torment themselves with discussing what place they occupy, and whether or not they already enjoy celestial glory. It is foolish and rash to inquire into hidden things, farther than God permits us to know. Scripture, after telling that Christ is present with them, and receives them into paradise (John 12:32)… Still, since Scripture uniformly enjoins us to look with expectation to the advent of Christ, and delays the crown of glory till that period, let us be contented with the limits divinely prescribed to us…

Equally monstrous is the error of those who imagine that the soul, instead of resuming the body with which it is now clothed, will obtain a new and different body. Nothing can be more futile than the reason given by the Manichees—viz. that it were incongruous for impure flesh to rise again: as if there were no impurity in the soul; and yet this does not exclude it from the hope of heavenly life. It is just as if they were to say, that what is infected by the taint of sin cannot be divinely purified; for I now say nothing to the delirious dream that flesh is naturally impure as having been created by the devil. I only maintain, that nothing in us at present, which is unworthy of heaven, is any obstacle to the resurrection….

I am ashamed to waste so many words on so clear a matter; but my readers will kindly submit to the annoyance, in order that perverse and presumptuous minds may not be able to avail themselves of any flaw to deceive the simple. The volatile spirits with whom I now dispute adduce the fiction of their own brain, that in the resurrection there will be a creation of new bodies. Their only reason for thinking so is, that it seems to them incredible that a dead body, long wasted by corruption, should return to its former state. Therefore, mere unbelief is the parent of their opinion. The Spirit of God, on the contrary, uniformly exhorts us in Scripture to hope for the resurrection of our flesh. For this reason Baptism is, according to Paul, a seal of our future resurrection; and in like manner the holy Supper invites us confidently to expect it, when with our mouths we receive the symbols of spiritual grace.
This leaves me with one final caution. Wright is correct to point to the 'gnostic' notions that people have of heaven as our eternal existence where we are disembodied. Wright, being an episcopal, runs with a crowd that has a lot more, shall we say, diversity. Of course, American evangelicalism has its diversity...but coming out of the 'fundamentals' of fundamentalism, it has always maintained the resurrection as bodily. Sadily, pop-evangelicalism has little of the evangel in it anymore.

While we should critique this false doctrine (as Wright and Bob Hyatt do), there is a heritage that has come down through the early church, middle ages (Wright points to some of this in his book pp.156-158), through the Reformation [even across the Calvinist/Arminian divide], through through historic fundamentalism (one of the five fundamentals was literal bodily resurrection [*]) and evangelicalism. Ironically, Wright gets passed of as "new" when he is really being historic and orthodox (see the TIME article).

N.T. Wright's book Surprised by Hope is a really good book as is his The Resurrection of the Son of God. I'd recommend them both but neither of them don't really break any new ground theologically. They say what historic Christianity has always held. While some Christians have "spiritualized" the eternal hope...lets not play the 'Gnostic' card too quick (or let it lead to a smug arrogance). There always has been the historic belief in a bodily resurrection and I dare say it is the "majority" position... not that we define doctrine by a vote. Nevertheless, Christians have always been clear that denying the 'literal' bodily resurrection of Christ (past) and the bodily resurection of believers (future) puts one outside the bounds of orthodox Christianity. While it may surprise TIME magazine and many "Christians" (so-called), Wright is not saying anything that true Christians have not adamentaly maintain through the ages. In fact, they have maintained that denial of such puts one outside the realm of acceptable Christian belief.

[*] Yes I know some elements of classic dispensationalism had a tendancy to spiritualize the hope of church existing in heaven separate from Israel on the new earth.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

1 Peter 2:4-10--Being a living stone by the Living Stone.

Here are some lecture notes on 1 Peter 2:4-10.

1 Peter is concerned with Christian suffering and Christian living. Peter wants us to understand what God has done for us, how we are to live in response and what these realities say about our response to Christian suffering. With in this book 1 Peter 2:4-10 contains a compact and rich description of the believer and his identity as a child of God.

The Christian finds his full-identity in Christ.

I. The Christian finds his full-identity in Christ since they have come to Christ the chosen living stone. (2:4)

A. Argument in context unfolded.

1. Chapter 1.

a. 1:3-9
Peter brings us into doxology before God the Father because of God's great mercy on our behalf. God has caused the believer to be born again through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because Christ is alive our hope is a "living hope". Life is imparted to the believer through the resurrection life of Jesus Christ. The purpose of our being born again is to bring us into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and will not fade away. The various trials of this life serve to strengthen our faith and purify it just as gold is purified over a fire allowing the dross to rise to the surface.

b. 1:10-12
The OT prophets predicted the sufferings and glories of Christ and thus their ministry served the church for we have come to know these events have happened.

c. 1:13-21
(1) The believer is commanded to be holy as God is holy. Peter takes Lev. 11:44,45 [19:2; 20:7] and applies it to the church.

(2) During our time on earth now, we are to live before God in fear knowing the redemption that we have. This redemption comes in the work of Christ and by his work we are enabled to believe. Because of him we now have faith and hope in God.

d. 1:22-25
Our souls have been purified positionally because we have been born again. It is the word of God that has worked in us to implant the seed of our redemption. This seed is imperishable, just like our inheritance. Thus while the glory of humanity is transitory and fading; God's Word stands for ever and is the means by which our inheritance is ministered to us.

2. 2:1-3
The believer is to put aside the sinful lifestyle. All believer are to crave God's Word like a child craves milk. In this way, we grow in our salvation. This argument is dependant upon Peter's thought that human glory is perishable and passing but the Word of God stand for ever. So as we are ushered into a kingdom that stands for every so too we are presently ministered to by a part of that kingdom that stands forever, namely the Word of God which the Holy Spirit uses.

B. Having tasted the kindness of the LORD, the believer comes to him as a living stone.

1. We have tasted the kindness of the LORD.
1 Peter 2:3 if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.
1 Peter 2:3 εἰ ἐγεύσασθε ὅτι χρηστὸς ὁ κύριος.

a. The believer, having been born again grows in their salvation through craving the Word of God. The 'kindness of the LORD' refers to God's grace that has been experienced through the work of Christ. Remember, it is this work that of the LORD Jesus that enables us to come to God the Father.

b. Lord a reference to Christ. It is the LORD Jesus Christ in view. This becomes clear in 2:4ff.

2. Jesus Christ is a living stone.

1 Peter 2:4 And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God,
1 Peter 2:4 πρὸς ὃν προσερχόμενοι λίθον ζῶντα ὑπὸ ἀνθρώπων μὲν ἀποδεδοκιμασμένον παρὰ δὲ θεῷ ἐκλεκτὸν ἔντιμον,

a. A living stone.
(1) "living" may have view the resurrection life of Jesus. A lot of scholars think "living" just points out that Peter is using a metaphor—that it is not a inanimate stone but a 'living one'. This is probably accurate and we should not read too much into "living" here however, just note that we have a 'living hope' (1:3) based upon the resurrection of Jesus. In other words, how is it that God lays down this choice stone in Zion? Through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Particularly, in Jesus' resurrection God begins his 'end time' activity of rebuilding the temple of God in his people. A great book on this is G.K. Beale's The Temple and the Church's Mission.

(2) Peter here anticipates the OT quotations that he will use in vv 6-8. This OT stone is Jesus Christ alive from the dead.

(3) As the living stone, Jesus is also the life-given stone. The main verb in this sentence comes in verse 5 "being built". It is as one comes to the stone Christ that one becomes a stone in God's house. These stones are living, part of God's imperishable inheritance having received a glory that will not pass away or fade.

(4) Christ has been set as the cornerstone by his resurrection. It is his life-given capacity as the resurrected one that brings new life and new birth to the people of God. We:
1 Peter 1:21 τοὺς δι ̓ αὐτοῦ πιστοὺς εἰς θεὸν τὸν ἐγείραντα αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν καὶ δόξαν αὐτῷ δόντα, ὥστε τὴν πίστιν ὑμῶν καὶ ἐλπίδα εἶναι εἰς θεόν.
1 Peter 1:21 who through Him [Christ] are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

The result of the resurrection and glory of Christ is to bring us to faith and hope in God.

(5) The believer has come to Christ as our stone. It denotes the response of faith. It is "obedience to the truth" (v.23). The response of the believer is distinguished from the response of men.

b. He was rejected by men.
(1) This refers to the response of people who are not believers. Peter speaks here of the general response of humanity. It is a perfect participle 'ajpodedokimasmevnon', indicating a past response with continuing results.

(2) From the time point of Christ's resurrection he was rejected:
Acts 2:23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.
Acts 3:13 "The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him.
Acts 3:14 "But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you,
Acts 3:15 but put to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses.

(3) In these contexts, as well as our own, the gospel contrast is set up: the work of men versus the work of God.

(4) The one who was rejected by man was raised up by God the Father into resurrection life and exaltation. Thus, God could not abandon to Christ to the grave because Christ was precious and chosen.

(5) The judgment of sinful man is that Christ is worthless and of no value.

c. He is chosen by God

(1) Jesus Christ is chosen and precious before God.

(2) This echoes 1:20
1 Peter 1:20 For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you
1 Peter 1:20 προεγνωσμένου μὲν πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου φανερωθέντος δὲ ἐπ ̓ ἐσχάτου τῶν χρόνων δι ̓ ὑμᾶς
NIV translates 'foreknown' as 'chosen'. That is certainly the idea. It was the foreordained plan of God to send Christ to suffer, die, and experience resurrection life & exaltation. This is part of the plan of God before the very foundation of the world.

(3) Precious denotes the value Christ has in the eyes of God the Father. There is a filial love between the Father and the Son. But more than filial love is in view. In view, is God the builder who will establish his people and he will do this by using the stone that people reject. God does not see as we see.

(4) The judgment of God is that Christ is precious and chosen.

d. The contrast between man's view of Christ and God's view of Christ is absolute! There is no middle ground. One either becomes obedient to the truth and thus submits to Christ believing he is God's chosen one, the Messiah and exalted LORD or we stumble over him in rejection.

e. The focus here is the believers coming to Christ and we are told who Christ is. As we come to Christ we are knitted and united to the benefits of Christ.

II. The Christian finds his full-identity in Christ since they have been as living stones built into God's spiritual house to serve. (2:5)
1 Peter 2:5 you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:5 καὶ αὐτοὶ ὡς λίθοι ζῶντες οἰκοδομεῖσθε οἶκος πνευματικὸς εἰς ἱεράτευμα ἅγιον ἀνενέγκαι πνευματικὰς θυσίας εὐπροσδέκτους [τῷ] θεῷ διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.

A. We become living stones.
1 Peter 2:5 καὶ αὐτοὶ ὡς λίθοι ζῶντες οἰκοδομεῖσθε οἶκος πνευματικὸς εἰς ἱεράτευμα ἅγιον ἀνενέγκαι πνευματικὰς θυσίας εὐπροσδέκτους [τῷ] θεῷ διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.

1. The result of our coming to Jesus Christ is that we are united to Christ. Just as much as he is a living stone, we too become living stones. At our conversion we receive resurrection life, our hearts are raised from their deadness in sin (Eph. 2:5-7; 2 Cor. 3:18). We receive and imperishable inheritance and are being transformed into glory and imperishability. This is brought to completion at the return of Christ and the timepoint of our resurrection. It is only the work of Christ and His Spirit that transforms us into these stones. But it is all part of the plan and handy-work of God the master builder.

1 Peter 1:1 Πέτρος ἀπόστολος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐκλεκτοῖς παρεπιδήμοις διασπορᾶς Πόντου, Γαλατίας, Καππαδοκίας, Ἀσίας καὶ Βιθυνίας,
1 Peter 1:2 κατὰ πρόγνωσιν θεοῦ πατρὸς ἐν ἁγιασμῷ πνεύματος εἰς ὑπακοὴν καὶ ῥαντισμὸν αἵματος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη πληθυνθείη.
1 Peter 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen
1 Peter 1:2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

a. Note as stones we too have been chosen and foreknown just like Jesus Christ.

b. The sanctifying work of the Spirit bring purification and new birth.

c. In 1:1-2 we see the work of the Trinity in view, not outside of the scope of thought in 2:5 and the surrounding context.

2. There is a slight debate over 'οἰκοδομεῖσθε'. Is it imperative or indicative? The whole focus contextually seems to be on the indicative. Peter is addressing who we are. Of course, in the larger context the indicative brings imperatives. 'οἰκοδομεῖσθε' is also passive.

3. God's work of redemption takes us as stones cut out of a rock quarry and we are fashioned by God for a task and purpose. We are redeemed and purified in order to be built by God.

B. We are built into a spiritual house and priesthood.
1 Peter 2:5 καὶ αὐτοὶ ὡς λίθοι ζῶντες οἰκοδομεῖσθε οἶκος πνευματικὸς εἰς ἱεράτευμα ἅγιον ἀνενέγκαι πνευματικὰς θυσίας εὐπροσδέκτους [τῷ] θεῷ διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.

1. We are stones being built into the temple of God. Spiritual house refers to the temple. 'House' is the common OT term for God's temple. Spiritual contrasts with the physical temple in Jerusalem that may have still been in existence at the time point of Peter's writing. As a "spiritual house", we the people of God are God's dwelling place. Here the corporate aspect is in view, while on other NT texts the individual personal body as temple is in view. We are community that belongs to Christ and God.

2. We too are a priesthood. We are created to serve God. Priests would go before God and mediate for the people on God's behalf. All Christians are a priesthood. Of course, we are dependant upon our high priest, Jesus Christ and his atoning work—see the argument of Hebrews for the special priesthood of Christ.

3. Peter is foreshadowing his OT quote to Exodus 19:6 that will come in 2:9.

C. We serve God in this house/priesthood.
1 Peter 2:5 καὶ αὐτοὶ ὡς λίθοι ζῶντες οἰκοδομεῖσθε οἶκος πνευματικὸς εἰς ἱεράτευμα ἅγιον ἀνενέγκαι πνευματικὰς θυσίας εὐπροσδέκτους [τῷ] θεῷ διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.

1. Just as priests serve by bringing sacrifices, so we too bring sacrifices of spiritual worship. To 'offer up' echoes the OT idea of the priest bringing sacrifices to the altar of God.

2. We bring them before God '[τῷ] θεῷ'. These offerings we bring are 'acceptable εὐπροσδέκτους' before/to God. In other words, the transformation and purification we receive by the shed blood of Christ enables us to come before God and worship.

3. We bring them through Christ 'διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ'. This may mean that the sacrifices are acceptable through Christ or that we bring them to worship through Jesus Christ. The sacrifices in view are not expiatory but as worship.
Romans 12:1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

4. Spiritual in this passage should be linked with the Holy Spirit. We are not to read Platonic or Gnostic thought into 'spiritual' in contrast to the natural world, which was often seen as evil. Spirit in the NT is an eschatological category.

5. Conclusion: We are a temple, a priesthood and even a sacrifice. The OT shadows are fulfilled in Christ because of the work of Christ… God's people are also incorporated into this reality of fulfillment because we are incorporated into Christ.

a. This is going to set up Peter's view of Christian suffering.

b. IF Christ was rejected so too the believer will be rejected just as the archetypal living stone was rejected.

c. The OT reaches its fulfillment in Christ.

III. The Christian finds his full-identity in Christ since Christ is precious to them not offensive. (2:6-8)
1 Peter 2:6 διότι περιέχει ἐν γραφῇ, Ἰδοὺ τίθημι ἐν Σιὼν λίθον ἀκρογωνιαῖον ἐκλεκτὸν ἔντιμον καὶ πιστεύων ἐπ ̓ αὐτῷ οὐ μὴ καταισχυνθῇ .
1 Peter 2:7 ὑμῖν οὖν ἡ τιμὴ τοῖς πιστεύουσιν, ἀπιστοῦσιν δὲ λίθος ὃν ἀπεδοκίμασαν οἱ οἰκοδομοῦντες , οὗτος ἐγενήθη εἰς κεφαλὴν γωνίας
1 Peter 2:8 καὶ λίθος προσκόμματος καὶ πέτρα σκανδάλου· οἳ προσκόπτουσιν τῷ λόγῳ ἀπειθοῦντες εἰς ὃ καὶ ἐτέθησαν.
1 Peter 2:6 For this is contained in Scripture: "Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed."
1 Peter 2:7 This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, "The stone which the builders rejected, This became the very corner stone,"
1 Peter 2:8 and, "A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense"; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.

A. Peter proves his argument thus far explicitly from the OT.

1. "διότι περιέχει ἐν γραφῇ" Peter's point's point is that his argument and reasoning comes from the OT Scriptures.

2. This is important because we see at least two things:

a. First, we see 1 Peter 1:10-12 worked out:
1 Peter 1:10 As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries,
1 Peter 1:11 seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.
1 Peter 1:12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.

b. We see Peter's OT hermeneutic. Among other things it is eschatological, redemptive-history, and finds fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Thus, also it applies directly to the church and her identity in Christ.

B. Jesus Christ is the cornerstone.
1. Peter quotes Isaiah 28:16
Isaiah 28:16 Therefore thus says the Lord God, "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed.
Isaiah 28:5 In that day the Lord of hosts will become a beautiful crown And a glorious diadem to the remnant of His people;
Isaiah 28:6 A spirit of justice for him who sits in judgment, A strength to those who repel the onslaught at the gate.
Isaiah 28:16 Therefore thus says the Lord God, "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed.
Isaiah 28:17 "I will make justice the measuring line And righteousness the level; Then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies And the waters will overflow the secret place.
Isaiah 28:18 "Your covenant with death will be canceled, And your pact with Sheol will not stand; When the overwhelming scourge passes through, Then you become its trampling place.

2. Choicestone/cornerstone. –some argue that it is the capstone/keystone as in an arch but this does not seem to be in view. Rather, it is a cornerstone. The cornerstone was essentially to the foundation of any building in the ancient world. It was not part of the underground foundation (if there was any). Rather it was that keystone put on the corner. It had at least two functions (1) it held much of the weight of the build and (2) it was the guide stone for laying all the other stones. It thus had to be a perfect stone, fit for its spot.

3. Note the same language of 'elect and precious' is used in Isaiah 28:16 as we saw in 2:5.
1 Peter 2:6 διότι περιέχει ἐν γραφῇ, Ἰδοὺ τίθημι ἐν Σιὼν λίθον ἀκρογωνιαῖον ἐκλεκτὸν ἔντιμον καὶ πιστεύων ἐπ ̓ αὐτῷ οὐ μὴ καταισχυνθῇ .

4. God has placed this stone in Zion.

a. God the Father has established Jesus Christ. He has been placed in Zion. God's sovereign work is in view. He is the builder establishing His house. His first work was to establish Christ.

b. 'In Zion' probably refers to the heavenly Zion that we see in Hebrews. It refers not to the earthly mountain.

5. The person who has faith will not be shamed/disappointed.

a. This speaks of the true believer. We come before Christ the living stone. We come to him and are established never to be cast off. We depend upon him and we are built into his house. We are transformed into a living stone.

b. Because we depend upon Christ and his work, we never have to worry about being torn down. We will not be cast off. We will not fin ourselves regretting our faith in Jesus Christ.

c. In view, with shame is judicial categories not existential personal emotive categories.

C. Christ is of precious value to us but those who reject will fall.
1 Peter 2:7 ὑμῖν οὖν ἡ τιμὴ τοῖς πιστεύουσιν, ἀπιστοῦσιν δὲ λίθος ὃν ἀπεδοκίμασαν οἱ οἰκοδομοῦντες , οὗτος ἐγενήθη εἰς κεφαλὴν γωνίας
1 Peter 2:7 This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, "The stone which the builders rejected, This became the very corner stone,"

1. The word for 'precious value - ἡ τιμὴ' is a near synonym of the word 'ἔντιμον' used to describe God's value of Christ.

a. The believer is those aligning themselves to God in humble obedience. We, through the work of the Spirit, find the same opinion of Christ that God himself has established in Christ. We align our opinion and evaluation of Christ with that of God's own declaration.

b. The stone (Christ) has value for us who believe. This is not speaking merely of subjective opinion. For Christ is precious and valuable regardless of what men think. We do not make Christ precious because we hold him in high regard. In faith we recognize this honor.

2. This honor and recognition of Christ as the precious stone brings honor to us. 'ὑμῖν οὖν ἡ τιμὴ τοῖς πιστεύουσιν'. The idea is that we to share in this honor just as we share in Christ as 'living stones'.

a. How do we share/participate in this honor? We share in this honor as those who will not be put to shame. We will be vindicated and raised up in glory because we are in Jesus Christ. We will receive honor and exaltation but only as derivative from Christ and resulting from the transforming power of the Spirit.

b. It is part of God's great mercy to us. We will not be cast off. We will not stumble in judgment. Honor stands in contrast to shame at the end of 2:6.

3. The very cornerstone is the one rejected by men.
1 Peter 2:7 This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, "The stone which the builders rejected, This became the very corner stone,"
1 Peter 2:7 ὑμῖν οὖν ἡ τιμὴ τοῖς πιστεύουσιν, ἀπιστοῦσιν δὲ λίθος ὃν ἀπεδοκίμασαν οἱ οἰκοδομοῦντες , οὗτος ἐγενήθη εἰς κεφαλὴν γωνίας
a. This is a quote from Psalm 118:22
Psalm 118:22 The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone.
Psalm 118:21 I shall give thanks to You, for You have answered me, And You have become my salvation.
Psalm 118:23 This is the Lord's doing; It is marvelous in our eyes.

b. In view is the rejection of Christ by men.

c. This quotation comes from the teaching of Jesus concerning Himself. (Mark 12:10//Matt 21:42//Luke 20:17)
Mark 12:9 " What will the owner of the vineyard do ? He will come and destroy the vine-growers , and will give the vineyard to others .
Mark 12:10 "Have you not even read this Scripture : ' The stone which the builders rejected , This became the chief corner stone;
Mark 12:11 This came about from the Lord , And it is marvelous in our eyes '?"

d. We are to see here the consequences of rejecting the gospel. In contrast to the benefits of accepting the gospel. Either we become stones, or we stumble.

4. The unbelieving will stumble as those being judged.
1 Peter 2:8 καὶ λίθος προσκόμματος καὶ πέτρα σκανδάλου· οἳ προσκόπτουσιν τῷ λόγῳ ἀπειθοῦντες εἰς ὃ καὶ ἐτέθησαν.
1 Peter 2:8 and, "A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense"; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.

a. Peter quotes Isaiah 8:14
Isaiah 8:14 "Then He shall become a sanctuary; But to both the houses of Israel, a stone to strike and a rock to stumble over, And a snare and a trap for the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
Isaiah 8:13 "It is the Lord of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, And He shall be your dread.
Isaiah 8:15 "Many will stumble over them, Then they will fall and be broken; They will even be snared and caught."

b. There is in the OT quote a subtle defense of the deity of Christ. In Isaiah, YHWH is in view, in Peter, this title is applied to Christ. Thus, we are to see the full-deity of Jesus Christ. While important, this is not the main argument that Peter is making.

(1) Peter's hermeneutic is Christotelic. He sees the redemptive plan of God culminating in the person and work of Christ. It is the eschatological plan realized.

(2) Peter's argument also centers on the Word of God, which has been closely connected to the Spirit and the preaching of the gospel.

c. We are to see that unbelievers stumble over Christ. This stumbling is their lack of belief. This stumbling is not merely a personally as a crises of faith but this is the stumbling of judgment.

(1) Note that the unbeliever stumbles specifically because they fail to obey God's word. 'οἳ προσκόπτουσιν τῷ λόγῳ ἀπειθοῦντες' –The 'word' here probably as in 1:25 refers to the gospel.

(2) Note that that the rock is a skandalon. Here we may think of 1 Cor. 1:18ff.

(3) There doom is not outside of the plan of God. 'εἰς ὃ καὶ ἐτέθησαν' –just as God set a stumbling stone in Zion is was also set that men would stumble over that stone. God knew and even planned that by establishing Christ, men in their own sinfulness would reject and thereby stumble over Christ.

IV. The Christian finds his full-identity in Christ since they are now made to be God's people. (2:9-10)

A. We are God's holy people.
1 Peter 2:9 Ὑμεῖς δὲ γένος ἐκλεκτόν , βασίλειον ἱεράτευμα , ἔθνος ἅγιον , λαὸς εἰς περιποίησιν , ὅπως τὰς ἀρετὰς ἐξαγγείλητε τοῦ ἐκ σκότους ὑμᾶς καλέσαντος εἰς τὸ θαυμαστὸν αὐτοῦ φῶς·
1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

1. The contrast is set between the one who stumbled and the believer who is chosen. The "but you" sets out the contrast between the believer and the unbeliever. Peter returns his attention to the believer.

2. The believer is part of God's chosen people.
1 Peter 2:9 Ὑμεῖς δὲ γένος ἐκλεκτόν , βασίλειον ἱεράτευμα , ἔθνος ἅγιον , λαὸς εἰς περιποίησιν , ὅπως τὰς ἀρετὰς ἐξαγγείλητε τοῦ ἐκ σκότους ὑμᾶς καλέσαντος εἰς τὸ θαυμαστὸν αὐτοῦ φῶς·

a. 'Chosen race' is a reference to Israel in the OT.
Isaiah 43:20 "The beasts of the field will glorify Me, The jackals and the ostriches, Because I have given waters in the wilderness And rivers in the desert, To give drink to My chosen people.
Deuteronomy 7:6 "For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
Deuteronomy 10:15 "Yet on your fathers did the Lord set His affection to love them, and He chose their descendants after them, even you above all peoples, as it is this day.

b. With 'kingdom of priests' & 'holy nation', Peter quotes from Exodus 19:6.
Exodus 19:6 and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel."
Isaiah 61:6 But you will be called the priests of the Lord; You will be spoken of as ministers of our God. You will eat the wealth of nations, And in their riches you will boast.
Isaiah 62:12 And they will call them, "The holy people, The redeemed of the Lord"; And you will be called, "Sought out, a city not forsaken."

c. This OT verse is eschatologically applied to the church, the renewed people of God, to whom the Gentiles now belong. The coming redemption from Isaiah has come in Christ.

3. The believer is also God's chosen possession/inheritance. This too comes from a rich OT background.
Deuteronomy 7:6 "For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
Deuteronomy 14:2 "For you are a holy people to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
Exodus 19:5 'Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine;

4. The believer now brings praise to God because of the redemptive work God has accomplished. Peter gets at the purpose of our redemption. We are to bring praise and honor to God. We proclaim the wonders of what he has done.
1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
Isaiah 43:20 "The beasts of the field will glorify Me, The jackals and the ostriches, Because I have given waters in the wilderness And rivers in the desert, To give drink to My chosen people.
Isaiah 43:21 "The people whom I formed for Myself Will declare My praise.

The references to 'light' may also come from Isaiah:
Isaiah 9:2 The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them.
Isaiah 50:10 Who is among you that fears the Lord, That obeys the voice of His servant, That walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.
Isaiah 60:1 "Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
Isaiah 60:2 "For behold, darkness will cover the earth And deep darkness the peoples; But the Lord will rise upon you And His glory will appear upon you.
Isaiah 60:3 "Nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising.
-The glory of the LORD in view, understood in light of Christ, is most likely the eschatological glory that is witnessed in the resurrection of Christ.

B. We who were once not a people are now a people.
1 Peter 2:10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
1 Peter 2:10 οἵ ποτε οὐ λαὸς νῦν δὲ λαὸς θεοῦ, οἱ οὐκ ἠλεημένοι νῦν δὲ ἐλεηθέντες.

1. Here Peter references Hosea.
Hosea 1:9 And the Lord said, "Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not My people and I am not your God."
Hosea 1:10 Yet the number of the sons of Israel Will be like the sand of the sea, Which cannot be measured or numbered; And in the place Where it is said to them, "You are not My people," It will be said to them, "You are the sons of the living God."
Hosea 2:23 "I will sow her for Myself in the land. I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, And I will say to those who were not My people, 'You are My people!' And they will say, 'You are my God!' "

2. These passages in the OT context refer to the restoration of Israel so that the people of God are made numerous. It refers to God restoring Israel despite her unfaithfulness. It is a picture of God keeping his covenant promises. In the NT fulfillment Peter sees this coming true as Gentiles. He reads Hosea in close conjunction with Isaiah which draws attention to the Gentiles coming to praise God and worship on Mount Zion.

3. This connects in R-H back to Leviticus and God's calling of His people.

4. In the truest sense of the terminology, Christians are the people of God. The greatness of it is that we have experienced the grace and blessing of God. In the OT context, these promises were for Jews and those who became circumcised embracing Israel's covenant. Peter, and the NT, see the OT promises fulfilled in the Church as Jews and Gentiles believe in Jesus Christ!

C. Conclusion: Peter does not just tell us the OT is important for understanding the gospel (1:10-12), he shows us. He defines who and what we are in Christ Jesus entirely from an OT citation of Scripture. We see Peter's firm belief that Christ and the church are the fulfillment of the OT.

1. This is contra the dispensationalist which has a tendency to over-dichotomize Israel and the church.

2. This rich OT citation informs who we are as the people of God. The church is the climax of God's redemptive plan just as much as the death and resurrection of Christ is the climax… this is precisely because the death and resurrection of Christ brings the church into its eschatological existence.

3. The OT fleshes out who we are because points to Christ and we are in Christ!

4. We are the people who have been built by God! Peter has again focused our attention on the greatness of our salvation.

5. The application is to understand who we are in Jesus Christ.

V. Applications:

A. Christians understand themselves in relationship to Jesus Christ. We understand who we are based on his work for us and based on our relationship/union to him.

B. The OT applies to us. We should read the OT just as much as we read the NT. It provides the foundation and framework for understanding the NT. All of Scripture centers on Christ. We see Peter point to the OT and showing us that it is fulfilled in the person and work of Christ on our behalf.

C. We are the temple of God. We are being built into God's temple. It is the saints of God that make up the temple. This is who we are now in anticipation of our full redemption:
Revelation 21:2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.
Revelation 21:3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,
Revelation 21:4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away."

1. We need to read Peter in light of the 'already/not yet' aspects of redemption and eschatology.

2. This already includes our present experience of redemption and being the temple/house. It is brought to consummation in the future. But this promise is held out for those who hold fast to the faith for as God works in bringing faith so he works in keeping us.

3. In trials and struggles it is thus very important to know and understand who we are in Christ. We are the very people of God—we belong to God.

D. Come to Christ in faith, if you have not.
Turn to Christ, come to him in faith. You will not be put to shame. Do not become one who stumbles over Christ. Do not be one who will be brought down in judgment.

E. Continue in the faith. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.
This is the response during Christian struggling and trials. It is not a pull-yourself-up by your boot straps mentality. God often brings trials into our life to refine our faith (1:6-7). But rejoice in who you are understand your position in Christ—allow the Spirit to continue to apply grace to your heart and turn to God's Word.

F. When we understand who we are as Christians, we begin to understand the importance and priority of holy living before God. We are God's own people. Our passage draws attention to just how much we are God's own people. We are established by Christ. We are shaped and fashioned by Christ. It is his position as living stones that brings us to be conformed to his image as living stones.

G. Proclaim Christ. He has redeemed us to be priests and minister the knowledge of God. We are to serve God and part of this service is proclaiming to others that we have been called out of darkness and into light.
1 Peter 3:14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled,
1 Peter 3:15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;
1 Peter 3:16 and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.
In a very real sense our testimony in word and deed will become a stumbling stone. Just as the believer is not shamed for trusting in Christ, so the unbeliever will be shamed when they slander us for our good conduct. They stumbled over us just as much as they stumble over Christ.

H. The strength for standing in Christian suffering comes from knowing who we are in Christ. It also calls us to respond as Christ responded to suffering (2:21-24).
"The Voyages..." Forays into Biblical studies, Biblical exegesis, theology, exposition, life, and occasionally some Star Trek...