Monday, May 26, 2014

Joseph Charachter Sketch

(I'm teaching Genesis in Bangladesh in a few weeks. here is a summary of my notes on Joseph, he is one of the characters in the book I have not really gotten to cover too much when I taught it the last two times..but this time I concentrated my preparation time on the last section of Genesis and for the first time his story and character really came alive to me)

The Joseph story is a highly complex, interesting, deep and multifaceted story that weaves several different directions to bring to culmination the story ranging from the creation of the cosmos to how Abraham’s family ended up in Egypt. The focus given to Joseph in this book rivals (if not greater) then the amount of text and focus given to Abraham. The story on the surface is somewhat simple, Joseph is sold into slavery by his brothers and ends up rising to a powerful position in Egypt where he then reunites with his brother and family and ends up helping them in a time of famine; the result of this is that Israel and his family move to Egypt and thus concludes the book of Egypt. Beyond this simple chain of events is a much deeper and complex story, that deals with the dreams, the interpretation and fulfillment of dreams, and coinciding with this how divinity interacts and affects this world full of men who do just as much acting and affecting; the story also shows how evil and selfish motives run rampant and the world and yet in the end are “used” by God for good. Dreams, evil, the Lord’s favor, blessing, cult prostitutes and lying adulterous wives, famine and abundance fills the great story of Joseph. 

Joseph as a character in the Bible grows in glory when compared to all the other saints his life parallels and echoes and echoes and repeats, for always in some way Joseph was the first. Joseph is a symbolic man of wisdom, like Solomon and Daniel after him, whose wisdom (from the Spirit of the Lord) far outweighs the wisdom of the nation around him and yet he is used to council and guide the kings of the nations like Solomon and the Queen of Sheba and Daniel and the kings of Babylon; men of wisdom whose wisdom blesses the nations. Joseph and Jesus have parallels that are quite obvious and not just the result of stretched interpretation. Both Joseph and Jesus come to power and rule through hard times, Joseph betrayed by his brothers and put in prison, Jesus betrayed by his disciples and sent to the cross. In both stories the suffering servant becomes the royal ruler. 

Ultimately, Joseph’s story is a story about God. God’s providence and power to do “what he means to do” inspite of and even sometimes through the evil and wicked intentions of man. Joseph is a picture of what it looks like when the spirit who hovered above the waters at the beginning of creation fills a man and uses him to bring wisdom through times of abundance and famine. I believe Joseph is a sort of picture of what it looks like to “be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth and subdue it”. Someone who functions as an image of God whether they are in power over egypt or in prison with the baker and cupbearer. Joseph’s story is a story about God because it begins with a dream from God and then tells the story of how God goes about fulfilling that dream. This is God’s dream for the world- to use the betrayed, forgotten younger sons and prisoners to be a blessing to the nations in times of abundance and times of famine. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014


Here are some good blog articles I enjoyed reading through today, when possible I want to start posting a list of various blogs I enjoyed and would recommend.

1. Critical theology for an age of Global Crisis by Carl Raschke

" is clear we have transitioned from an age of promise to an age of crisis.  And in an age of crisis theological thinking itself must don its own “prophetic” vestments and become a critical theology. 
The notion of a critical theology today is not something totally unprecedented.  During the 1920s and 1930s with the memory of the  catastrophe of the First World War and the lowering specter of economic depression and fascism focusing everyone’s attention, Karl Barth and Emil Brunner proclaimed the tenets of a movement known as “theology of crisis”, later renamed neo-Orthodoxy. 
The theology of crisis challenged with a bold, no-holds-barred , and uncompromising polemic the socially meliorative and culturally accommodative strategies of Protestant liberalism, which had prevailed for many generations. Its message centered for the most part on the futility of incorporating the latest intellectual fashions “into the church” and reminded its readers routinely that Christianity is not the crenellated redoubts of “religion”, but the lonely watchtower of faith, which is the only honest stance we can adopt when we see everywhere the fixed stars of theoretical certainty falling from the sky."

2. Is the Gospel a "how to message" by Jackson Wu

I have recently found Jackson Wu's blog and enjoy it because of his focus on China and gospel/politics. In this post he is basically summarizing the point of Scot Mcknight's book "king Jesus Gospel", good thoughts and good post.

3. A back and forth between Tim Challies and Brian Mclaren.

This is an interesting set of posts. Tim Challies called out Brian Mclaren for being a "false teacher" and did so in a clear and non-hateful way. Mclaren responds graciously and explains his position. I agree and disagree with both of these guys on some things, it is just an interesting back and forth to follow to (1) see how accusation and response can be carried out well by two guys attempting to "speak what they believe to be the truth in love". and (2) it put's Mclaren (who has become very popular in the last 10 years) on the spot for some of the things he has written and done and it forces people to see the lines that are drawn in the conversation between the "neo-reformed" and the "emerging/progressive" (their words).

4. Living through a Revolution by Philip Jenkins

Interesting post by Jenkins about how fast the homosexual "revolution" has occured, and then a final bizarro twist of where he says this will go in the next 10 years (transgender rights). It was insightful for me because I have not seen the full history of this discussion played out, for many in my generation it may seem that "homosexual rights" is just commonplace table talk, but realizing how fast this has come upon us in the last 10 years could be good for some people to see and then step back and assess the sweeping change that is happening so rapidly.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Weekly Talk: The Uncertain Future of Protestantism

I found this talk on First Things Website, a website that has recently become a regular favorite of mine, about the future of protestantism. It is a long two hour talk that features opening 10-15 minute introductions by three speakers (peter leithart, fred sanders and carl trueman) and then a 1 1/2 hour conversation between the three of them and the moderator. If you don't have time to watch all of it, I at least recommend watching the opening introduction presentations. Below is a summary from the first things website about the talk: (find the talk and whole summary here)

"Peter Leithart, an ecumenically-oriented apostle of “Reformational catholicism” faced down Fred Sanders of Biola, a spokesman for the “unwashed masses of low-church evangelicals” and Carl Trueman of Westminster Seminary, an unapologetic representative of Calvinistic confessionalism. Those hoping for a hard-hitting debate, or a quick and full resolution of the questions, were bound to be disappointed: the three interlocutors were much too patient, irenic, and thoughtful for that. No, it was a conversation, and like almost all good conversations, inconclusive, an invitation to further conversation."

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Two Smaller Videos by David Bentley Hart

These are two shorter clips, the first one longer than the other, by David Bentley Hart (what a name!). The first clip is him talking about God using three different words: being, consciousness and bliss. It is a short snip of one of his newest books entitled "The experience of God". A book that guardian newspaper called the "one book every atheist must read". The 2nd clip is only 12 minutes and is a short bit of him talking about allegorical readings of scripture and how it ultimately destroys fundamentalist views of God and the Bible.

Hart is a greek orthodox theologian who will possibly be a little bit startling or puzzling for some evangelicals listening to him. But he is well worth the listen even if their are points of disagreement (for the most part I have none with these two clips) is worth watching just to see an amazing display of intellect and knowledge, Christianity fully explored using the mind...I love it! It is jumping into the deep end, even if it seems a bit confusing...hold on (i had to rewind a few spots to listen to them again) the very least you'll increase your vocab a bit, at the most youll be the middle, what better things are you gonna watch on youtube?!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Good blogpost on Apologetics and Movies

I enjoyed reading this blog today at the gospel coalition site entitled "Our Fearful Apologetics" and would recommend it to all especially new students of the Bible. I often hear conversations about "biblical inerrancy" or the truth of the gospel that are conducted in such a shaky, fearful, defensive and argumentative tone. It is does not seem to me to be a faith set firmly on the cornerstone, but instead a faith that might be wobbly if someone has a better argument or different view. Instead of going into some difficult conversations to learn and love we often go into them to win and beat the truth into someone.

It's a short blog, worth the read.