Mar 302014

People Led Into Captivity

A verse from this last Sunday’s sermon caught my attention:

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.
2 Corinthians 2:14 NIV

When I think of Christ’s triumphal processions, I don’t imagine myself, as a Christian believer, in among the captives; in chains and defeated. No, I want to be among the victors, one of those being cheered and praised. The apostle Paul, though, says Christians are the captives. Maybe he means our past lives? Maybe once we are saved we get to move to the front of the line?

Sorry. Notice the word ‘leads’ is present tense. Not ‘he led us’ but ‘he leads us.’ Now throw the word ‘always’ in the mix and we see this is not talking about some past condition but rather that he is speaking of his own position at the time as well as our current status.

Should this discourage us? Doesn’t the gospel promise us health and wealth? No, it doesn’t. The only people who believe that the Bible promises a carefree life have not read their Bibles or at least have chosen to ignore large portions of it.

As a side note, the verse continues with a discussion of our aroma. Our aroma as captives. It would be interesting to see what some commentators make of this portion of the passage. It brings back memories of driving into my wife’s hometown of Lewiston, Idaho and smelling the paper mill. I would make derogatory comments about what it smelled like but my father-in-law would retort that it “smells like a paycheck.” And so, our ‘aroma’ as Christ’s captives smells like death to the dead but to those who are alive in Christ it is the smell of life itself.

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Sep 102013

Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
Google Books

When David Platt mentioned Bonhoeffer’s “Cost of Discipleship” in his book, “Radical“, I knew I had to reread it. It has been 25 years since I last read the book but I still remember the impression it made — a real faith forged in the reality of the pseudo-Christian culture of Nazi Germany. I thought about searching my library for that old copy but saw there was a new translation available and couldn’t pass it up.

We may not be fighting the same culture wars as Bonhoeffer but the battles are similar. Not only must we struggle against a secular culture that hates the message of Christ but we also must struggle against a Christian culture that confuses the Gospel with right-wing politics and God’s blessing with affluence.

Do we see ourselves as enemies of the anti-Christian culture around us or as servants willing to sacrifice ourselves for our neighbors? Are we identified by the moral and political stands we take or do people marvel at our love for our neighbors, all our neighbors? Discipleship means following Christ. Following Christ means ….

[Update: 11/14/2013] Having now finished the book I can say that I was not disappointed. Reading Bonhoeffer is like eating meat when you have become used to eating mush. It is so complex and so good for you but at the same time so difficult to chew. I have placed the book on my todo list to read again next year.

Book Posts

  • Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • Book Info

    Discipleship: Bonhoeffer Works, Vol. 4
    by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
    Publisher: Fortress Press
    Published: 06/01/2003
    ISBN-10: 0800683242
    Started: 09/10/2013
    Finished: 11/13/2013
    Source: Amazon
    Format: ebook

    Publisher Synopsis

    “Cheap grace is the mortal enemy of our church. Our struggle today is for costly grace.” And with that sharp warning to his own church, which was engaged in bitter conflict with the official nazified state church, Dietrich Bonhoeffer began his book Discipleship (formerly entitled The Cost of Discipleship). Originally published in 1937, it soon became a classic exposition of what it means to follow Christ in a modern world beset by a dangerous and criminal government. At its center stands an interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount: what Jesus demanded of his followers-and how the life of discipleship is to be continued in all ages of the post- resurrection church. “Every call of Jesus is a call to death,” Bonhoeffer wrote. His own life ended in martyrdom on April 9, 1945. Freshly translated from the German critical edition, Discipleship provides a more accurate rendering of the text and extensive aids and commentary to clarify the meaning, context, and reception of this work and its attempt to resist the Nazi ideology then infecting German Christian churches.

    Author Info
    Dietrich Bonhoeffer was born in Breslau in 1906. The son of a famous German psychiatrist, he studied in Berlin and New York City. He left the safety of America to return to Germany and continue his public repudiation of the Nazis, which led to his arrest in 1943. Linked to the group of conspirators whose attempted assassination of Hitler failed, he was hanged in April 1945.

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    Sep 082013

    David Platt.

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian struggling to follow Christ in the midst of Nazi rule, penned one of the great Christian books of the twentieth century. In it he wrote that the first call every Christian experiences is “the call to abandon the attachments of this world.” The theme of the book is summarized in one potent sentence: “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” Bonhoeffer aptly entitled his book The Cost of Discipleship.

    — Page: 16

    It has been 25 years since I read Bonhoeffer’s book. I remember the impact “The Cost of Discipleship” had on me when I was in college. I just ordered the new translation of this seminal work from Amazon so I can re-read it.

    Supposedly both of these books deal with discipleship but what a difference. If memory serves, Bonhoeffer appeals to scripture to make a case for Jesus’ call for us to take up our cross and follow him. Platt, on the other hand, uses personal stories with just a sprinkling of scripture to shame and cajole us into doing more for the poor and unsaved. His use of guilt & emotional manipulation to motivate brings back memories of Pentecostal Sunday evening alter calls.

    Mar 202013

    Pilgrim Theology.
    Michael S. Horton.
    Google Books

    When I saw that NetGalley had a review copy of Pilgrim Theology: Core Doctrines for Christian Disciples by Michael Horton available I decided I had to jump at the chance to read it. I have not read too much Theology for a number of years and this looked like it would be an interesting book to read since it was not designed as a college text but for regular folk.

    After reading the first 100 pages (of 500+) I am impressed. It is well written but I wonder if it might still be a quite a challenge for the regular Bible Study group to plow through this. I hope they do but I would not want to hold my breath. Then again, I would attend that group.

    Book Posts

    Book Info

    Pilgrim Theology: Core Doctrines for Christian Disciples
    by Michael S. Horton
    Publisher: Zondervan
    Published: 02/05/2013
    ISBN-10: 0310330645
    ISBN-13: 978-0310330646
    Started: 03/08/2013
    Finished: 07/23/2013
    Source: NetGalley
    Format: e-book

    Publisher Synopsis

    The 2011 award-winning publication The Christian Faith garnered wide praise as a thorough, well-informed treatment of the philosophical foundations of Christian theology, the classical elements of systematic theology, and exegesis of relevant biblical texts. Pilgrim Theology distills the distinctive benefits of this approach into a more accessible introduction designed for classroom and group study. In this book, Michael Horton guides readers through a preliminary exploration of Christian theology in ‘a Reformed key.’ Horton reviews the biblical passages that give rise to a particular doctrine in addition to surveying past and present interpretations. Also included are sidebars showing the key distinctions readers need to grasp on a particular subject, helpful charts and tables illuminating exegetical and historical topics, and questions at the end of each chapter for individual, classroom, and small group reflection. Pilgrim Theology will help undergraduate students of theology and educated laypersons gain an understanding of the Christian tradition’s biblical and historical foundations.

    Author Info
    Michael S. Horton (PhD, University of Coventry and Wycliffe Hall, Oxford) is the J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary California. He is the president of White Horse Media, for which he co-hosts the White Horse Inn, a nationally syndicated, weekly radio talk show exploring issues of Reformation theology in American Christianity. The editor-in-chief of Modern Reformation magazine, Horton is the author of more than 20 publications. His book The Christian Faith was awarded the 2012 Christianity Today Book Award for Theology and Ethics.

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