Issue #26

Liturgy, Leviticus, More Than We Can Endure, and more...

Issue #26
Photo by Skull Kat / Unsplash

The Importance and Danger of Ritual and Liturgy→

What is liturgy? Very simply, liturgy is the form of public worship that a body of Christ uses. Every church uses some form of liturgy, whether they know it or not. “Low” churches tend to be more modern, with a worship band, a preacher, and sometimes communion. This is a simple liturgy. “High” churches are more traditional, with an order of service that includes many more pieces, including communal prayer, public reading of scripture, and communion every week. These liturgies are more complex.

There’s no prescription for the order of service in the New Testament, so we cannot say that one is necessarily better than another. The church has adapted its modes of worship to fit with different cultures while remaining historically faithful to the faith once delivered for all.

Myself, I’m a hybrid. While my communal gatherings are on the lower end of the liturgical spectrum, I appreciate more complex liturgy in my daily life. My daily time with God uses a liturgical book that walks through scripture readings, led prayers, open prayers, songs, and more.

What are the dangers and advantages of complex liturgy? As a caution, this is what I have found in my life, and may or may not apply to you.

...Keep Reading→

Listen and Learn 🎧

Song of Songs: Semi-Erotic Love Poetry - Wisdom E5 | BibleProject with Tim Mackie and John Collins 🎧 →

Until I listened to this episode of the BibleProject podcast, I never considered “Wisdom Literature” as a way to understand the Song of Songs. Yet the arguments that Dr. Mackie makes to understand the Song of Songs in that genre are compelling.

Tim talks quite a bit about the parallels between Proverbs 1-8 and the Song of Songs. Proverbs 1-8 uses a woman to talk about wisdom, and Mackie's (and others’) argument is that the Song of Songs is doing something similar. For example:

Lady Wisdom in Proverbs

Proverbs 4:5-9
“Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding!
Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
Do not forsake her, and she will guard you;
Love her, and she will watch over you.
The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom;
And with all your acquiring, get understanding.
Prize her, and she will exalt you;
She will honor you if you embrace her.
She will place on your head a garland of grace;
She will present you with a crown of beauty.”

The Beloved in Song of Songs

Song 2:3-4, 6
“Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest,
So is my beloved among the young men.
In his shade I took great delight and sat down,
And his fruit was sweet to my taste.
He has brought me to his banquet hall,
And his banner over me is love….
Let his left hand be under my head
And his right hand embrace me.”

I enjoyed this deep dive into an under-appreciated and misunderstood book.

For More:

Explore the Scriptures 📖

Female Bravery and God’s Mission | Jen Wilken 📽 →

Jen Wilken walks us through a biblical theology of female bravery in scripture. In a culture that usually discussed male lineage, the women included in the lineage of Jesus are surprising.

In Genesis 3, the curse brings hostility between the woman and the serpent. Wilken takes as a starting point and walks us through scripture to see how female bravery has been essential to God’s purposes in the world.

For More:


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Consider Another Perspective 🤔

Let’s Get the Girl | Hannah Anderson 📃 →

“Complementarian” is nearly a cuss word to one half of Christendom, while “Egalitarian” is the same to the other half. But let’s leave the debate on women in eldership/pastorate roles aside.

No matter what your view is on women in teaching roles is, we all should agree that the contributions of women are vital for the church's mission of making disciples and sharing the good news of the Kingdom of God with the world.

Given the relationship between education and work, what does the current state of women’s discipleship reveal about the work we expect women to do in the church? Is it possible that we are not discipling women beyond inspirational sound bites and a consumerist faith because we don’t believe they are called to more? Is it possible that we have neglected their theological education because we don’t see them as essential to the larger mission?

The danger for complementarians is that by not allowing women into the pulpit, the easiest alternative is to dismiss women from ministry altogether or to only place them into women’s ministries as a place of “retreat” rather than advancing the great commission.

Refocusing the domestic church on the Great Commission does not negate conversations about gender roles, but it does reframe women’s ministry by reminding us of the ultimate goal. If we believe that women are called to partner with men to fulfill the Great Commission, we will disciple them to this end. But if our goal is anything less, women’s ministry reflects this.
When the goal of a church is safety and retreat, women’s discipleship will emphasize comfort, introspection, and self-fulfillment.
Refocusing the domestic church on the Great Commission does not negate conversations about gender roles, but it does reframe women’s ministry by reminding us of the ultimate goal. If we believe that women are called to partner with men to fulfill the Great Commission, we will disciple them to this end. But if our goal is anything less, women’s ministry reflects this.

...

When the goal of a church is safety and retreat, women’s discipleship will emphasize comfort, introspection, and self-fulfillment.

Anderson doesn’t give us a detailed solution, but this is something that all Christian leaders, no matter their view of gender roles and the church, need to think deeply about.

What is our philosophy of ministry, and what place do women have in it?

For More:

Read and Reflect 📖

3 Important Truths Job’s Friends Neglected | Christopher Ash 📃 →

The trouble with [Job’s] comforters is that so much of what they say sounds right. It would be a useful exercise to read their speeches with a pencil in hand, and to put a tick in the margin against every statement they make with which we agree. There would be many ticks, and generally high marks for doctrinal orthodoxy, so much so that it is easy to think the friends are doctrinally sound teachers whose fault is simply that they are pastorally insensitive.
But more careful consideration suggests that their fault lies deeper than pastoral insensitivity. It is the content, not just the tone, of their teaching that is false. Their problem is not so much what they say as what they leave unsaid.

I’ve been enjoying this series on Job from Christopher Ash (I’ve linked to several in the past). The question of Job’s friends is a difficult one. It’s easy to accept everything they say or to reject everything they say, but the scriptures rarely work in that kind of black and white, and Job certainly does not.

1. No Satan2. Judgment Is Now3. No Cross

Job is a book that invites careful study and a great deal of nuance, but this excerpt from Ash’s book (linked below) is a helpful start to finding that nuance in Job’s friends.

For More:


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Every Moment Holy App | The Rabbit Room 📱 →

I linked to the Every Moment Holy Volume 1 book 📚 in a previous issue, but the Rabbit Room Press team is back with an app version of the book. It’s free to download and includes several liturgies for free. You can pay up to $20 to unlock all the liturgies in the first volume, the same for the second volume, or less money to get smaller collections of liturgies based on a theme.

One neat feature is that you can tap the share button on any liturgy and it will give you an expiring link to the liturgy to share with others around you so that you can all do the liturgy together.

‎Every Moment Holy
‎Every Moment Holy presents new liturgies for the ordinary events of daily life, taken from the best-selling books, Every Moment Holy Vol. 1 and Every Moment Holy Vol. 2: Death, Grief, and Hope. Liturgies within the app are grouped in small sets according to purpose. These prayers are ways of remind…

Christianity Is True ✝️

Defending Christian Doctrine, Part 1 | Paul Copan, Paul M. Gould, and David Baggett 📃 →

In this article, philosophers Paul Copan, Paul Gould, and David Baggett each briefly discuss the importance of a core Christian doctrine and defend it. I will briefly quote from each of their sections.

Paul Copan discusses the Doctrine of the Trinity:

The doctrine of the Trinity is coherent and not self-contradictory, contrary to what Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the early Bostonian Unitarians have claimed. We have three divine persons in one indivisible being or substance—not three separate beings. Consider the mythological example of Cerberus as a helpful analogy: three centers of awareness within one canine being. There is unbreakable unity as well as distinction within that unity. By contrast, common analogies like the three states of water, the three parts of an egg, the three parts of a clover, and so on, prove to be false and problematic.

He goes on to discuss the fruit that belief in this doctrine bears in the life of the Christian.

Paul Gould discusses the Doctrine of Creation:

Three important features of the Christian doctrine of creation are as follows. First, God creates ex nihilo, or “out of nothing.” To state this in terms of Aristotle’s four causes, while God is the efficient, formal, and final cause of creation, there is no material cause. God doesn’t create the universe out of some pre-existing divine stuff or some pre-existing material stuff. God speaks the universe into being out of nothing. Second, God’s creation of the universe is good. We read seven times in Genesis chapter one the phrase “it is good” or “it is very good.” Finally, creation is free. God didn’t have to create. He has no needs. He is free to create and he is free not to create. Why then did God create? One venerable answer is that the goodness and love of the Triune God “bubbles over” into creation; in creating, God is spreading his joy and delight.

David Baggett discusses God’s Omnibenevolence and Aseity:

To say “God is love but God is also holy” casts, however unwittingly, God’s love and holiness, to some measure, as standing in tension with one another. What God’s perfection and impeccability instead suggests is that God’s love and holiness, or God’s love and justice, are perfectly congruent and coherent, without the slightest bit of tension or dissonance between them. Likewise God’s love and sovereignty, God’s love and wrath, God’s love and every other attribute that he has. Love functions primordially and foundationally, coloring and conditioning every other of God’s attributes. Simplicity theorists are surely right at least in the minimal suggestion that God’s various attributes never stand at odds or in variance with one another, and love is who and what God is most essentially of all. God’s Trinitarian nature, which Paul Copan earlier discussed, is a big reason why this is so.

For More:

Best with a Cup of Tea ☕️

Why God May Place More on Us Than We Can Endure | Brian Chilton 📃 →

Brian Chilton provides this commentary on 2 Corinthians 1:3-11. Many Christians believe that God won’t place on us more burdens than we can endure. Chilton disagrees and provides three reasons from the text of why God may, in fact, place more on us than we can bear.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation. If we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings that we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that as you share in the sufferings, so you will also share in the comfort.
We don’t want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, of our affliction that took place in Asia. We were completely overwhelmed—beyond our strength—so that we even despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death, so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a terrible death, and he will deliver us. We have put our hope in him that he will deliver us again while you join in helping us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gift that came to us through the prayers of many.
— 2 Corinthians 1:3-11 (CSB)

First, affliction provides the ability to comfort:

Since God is the epitome of the Good, he holds good reasons for permitting afflictions, even those that overwhelm us. Later, the faithful child of God will realize that they were only able to minister to those in need because of, not despite, the afflictions they were allowed to endure. The late Dr. Randy Kilby used to say at Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute, “You have to get under the spout where the glory comes out.” By that, he noted that the child of God can only spiritually give what they have been given. Thus, the comfort they receive from God can be used to minister to others in need.

Second, affliction portrays God’s strength.

God may allow a person to experience overwhelming problems so that God’s strength is shown through that person. Paul held out hope that as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so also the blessings of God will overflow.

Third, affliction promotes divine trust.

Verse 9 is critical in understanding the passage. Paul denotes that “we felt that we had received the sentence of death, so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead” (1:9). If a person relied only on one’s strength, where is the need for faith in God? For example, with great practice, a person can become a pool shark. They can run the table on their adversaries. The person trusts in one’s skill set to help the person succeed in the game. However, overwhelming affliction creates a dire need to trust One higher.

For More:

Keep Your Mind on Things Above

I will be praying for you this week.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.
— 2 Corinthians 1:3 (CSB)

By the Grace of God Alone,
Joel Fischer


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