I had written about two pages in response to “Crimson Catholic” but decided I just didn’t have the time this weekend to continue it. I have to fly up to Mill Valley Sunday afternoon after preaching the morning service at PRBC, tomorrow is my wedding anniversary (talk about a patient woman!), and next week I talk with Bethany House about a really exciting project (tease, tease), so I just don’t have the time to pursue the amazing stuff you find being expressed in the context of the Envoy of CA boards for now. Onward and upward as someone is known to say.
I will be doing a series on “Practical Christian Epistemology” over the next number of weeks at PRBC in the Sunday morning and evening services. I don’t know that I will use that title, but I will be working through 1 Corinthians 1-2 exegetically. Now, Crimson Catholic may choke when I say this, but the only sound Christian philosophy is that which is grounded in the inspired text. And, though he will utterly blow a circuit here, I believe exegesis is, in fact, the “queen of the theological arts,” the most important of the fields of study, and that it is foundational to all else, including systematic theology, Christian philosophy, apologetics and the like. And there are few passages as rich with insight into what it means to think as a Christian than these first sections of Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians.
Just two quick notes about the passage (I’m sure there will be more coming): first, note the metaphorical use of kenwqh/| at 1:17, “so that the cross of Christ would not be made empty, void, of no effect.” Obviously, the literal meaning cannot fit here, and those of you who have read through my treatment of Phil. 2:5-11 know this is one of the other places where Paul uses keno,w in this sense of “of no effect” (in Phil. 2:7 it is best translated “of no reputation”). And consider what Paul says in light of certain theologies in this passage. Not only is the “preach/baptize” contrast important (how many today have a highly imbalanced view there?), but goodness, how long could we go on reflecting on how preaching the gospel in “cleverness of speech” (sofi,a| lo,gou) could possibly result in making the cross “void”? Talk about a concept with massive ramifications for the church in America today!
Second, and quickly, note the presence of a certain phrase here: “but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called (auvtoi/j de. toi/j klhtoi/j), both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1 Cor. 1:23-24). Ever pondered the fact that Paul so very plainly insists that Christ is the wisdom and power of God to a very particular and identifiable group? And who is it? That dreaded word that it seems some very powerful “preachers” today would like to banish from the pulpits of large churches, “the called,” i.e., the elect. And though most modern translations fear it, “the called” is the best way of rendering it, for Paul is not being vague here, not referring to some general call. Why is Christ wisdom to some, but foolishness to others? The effective call of God! That is why this chapter will end with, “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.” “Who became to us.” To who? The elect! Not those who were wiser, or smarter, or more spiritually sensitive! To God’s elect! That is why unconditional election is so important! Make it conditional and whatever that condition is becomes a ground of boasting and the glory of God in salvation is divided with the creature! It truly grieves my heart when I see “preachers” manhandle this great truth, screaming at the top of their lungs, “Everybody is elect, if they just choose to be!” or the like.
Well, this is indeed a rich passage, and I look forward to walking through it with the people of God at PRBC.