Thursday, September 6, 2012

What NT writers were NOT consumed with

This is a creative and engaging bit of writing by Jim Hamilton, author of God's Glory in Salvation Through Judgment. In light of the increasingly vitriolic political scene that many countries are experiencing, this reminder of what the inspired authors of the New Testament were not consumed with should bring some clarity to all Christians concerning what matters most.

The Center of the Theology of the New Testament Letters

The writers of these twenty-one letters are radically united in the proclamation of bizarre ideas. To see this, let us engage in a bit of contrastive analysis, contemplating what these authors did not do and what their letters did not advocate.

Rome was not their kingdom, and they were not trying to make it home. They sought the city that is to come. Not one of these authors gave his life to address the systematic injustice of the Roman Empire by means of political reform. Not one of these authors went the way of Josephus and sought to cozy up to the emperor, though Paul seems to have had opportunities to seek such "influence" with high-ranking officials. Not one of these authors did or said anything about trying to stop Rome from fighting its wars. Not one of them championed the idea that the government should take money from the rich and redistribute it equally to the poor, nor did they leave the ministry to advocate a government of greater fiscal responsibility, lowered taxes, and increased national security. Not one of these authors taught that the way to change the world is by initiating a universal, government-funded education program. Not one of these authors was out to make as much money as he possibly could. Not one of these authors embraced one of the popular philosophies of the day, nor did they seek to synthesize the message of Jesus with the spirit of their age. None of them advocate higher moral standards in society at large (outside the church), nor did they lobby for universal health care or a revised definition of marriage that would legitimate same-sex unions. None of them seemed to have cared whether anyone reading their letters would be perceived by the broader culture as hip, savvy, chic, or cool. They had a different program.

These authors believed that the decisive event in the story of the world had taken place, God loved the world by sending his Son, condemned sin in the flesh of Jesus, pored out all his wrath on Jesus at the cross, and accomplished salvation through that ultimate display of justice. God raised Jesus from the dead, and Jesus commissioned his followers to make disciples by proclaiming the good news.

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