In the Shade of Two Trees #9: The Religious Leaders and Their View of God

By Scott Anderson

We have reviewed two ways in which to interpret God’s seven distinct attributes. We can view God through the lens of righteousness, or we can view God through the lens of relationship. We have scriptural evidence of what happens when we view God through either of these lenses. The Religious Leaders of Jesus’ day – the Pharisees – tended to view God through an ethical lens. And Jesus tended to view God through an experiential lens. Here, we will look at the Pharisees’ religious habits.  Continue reading “In the Shade of Two Trees #9: The Religious Leaders and Their View of God”

A Reflection on Romans 13 in light of its use by Attorney General Sessions

By Steve Flowers

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive its approval; for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be subject, not only because of wrath but also because of conscience. For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, busy with this very thing. Pay to all what is due them—taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due. (Romans 13:1-7, NRSV)

Continue reading “A Reflection on Romans 13 in light of its use by Attorney General Sessions”

In the Shade of Two Trees #8: God-the-Sustainer

By Scott Anderson

One way of reading the Genesis narrative is as a story about punishment for disobedience. The direct consequence of Adam and Eve’s disobeying God was death. The first couple sinned and, as punishment, were banned from paradise and afflicted with mortality. God’s favor initially rested on them: they had full access to the garden, its delights, and to God as well as God’s devotion. But when the couple disobeyed, God killed them for it.

Continue reading “In the Shade of Two Trees #8: God-the-Sustainer”

On The Table Podcast: Episode # 3 – The beginning of the good news…

By Steve Flowers and Jordan Flowers

The first episode in a periodic series studying through The Gospel of Mark. In this initial installment, Jordan and Steve discuss why Mark is special to each of them, the important issues in the book’s background, and what the first verse establishes, all of which aid in better understanding the book as a whole.

Continue reading “On The Table Podcast: Episode # 3 – The beginning of the good news…”

In the Shade of Two Trees #7: God-the-Provider

As we learned last time, Adam was given dominion over all the earth. This included dominion over “every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.” Genesis 1:29. God also gave “every green plant for food” to every beast of the earth, every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth.” Genesis 1:30. God makes sure to provide for all living creatures by giving them sources of food. And those sources were abundant; the provisions could sustain all of life on the earth.

Continue reading “In the Shade of Two Trees #7: God-the-Provider”

In the Shade of Two Trees #5: God-the-Lover

By Scott Anderson

The story of Adam and Eve is often told as morality play: boy meets girl; boy gets girl; girl listens to a slippery serpent; girl gets boy to eat an apple; both receive the death penalty for disobeying God. The Genesis narrative supports themes of deception and betrayal, covetousness and shame, disobedience and punishment. Theologians argue that the story tells us about God’s motive for creating humans in the first place. God created humans as upright (physically and morally) creatures who could freely choose to love and obey God. The creatures failed miserably. And God was forced—by the very nature of their “original sin”—to separate God-self from them. God cannot be infected with sin; but the whole world could be. So Adam and Eve, all their descendents, and every living thing on the planet were pronounced worthy of death.

Continue reading “In the Shade of Two Trees #5: God-the-Lover”

On The Table Podcast: Episode # 2 – You do y’all

By Steve Flowers and Jordan Flowers

Jordan and Steve talk about changing churches, including their recent and current experiences looking for a new church and discussing “When is it ok to change?” The discussion touches on topics that are also relevant for examining the relationship with your current church even if you’re not looking to change churches. Continue reading “On The Table Podcast: Episode # 2 – You do y’all”

In the Shade of Two Trees # 3: God-the-Knower

By Scott Anderson

In the Christian tradition, God is described as omniscient, all-knowing. We, of course, do not emulate God’s infinite mind. Although we are “made in the image and likeness” of God, we never describe ourselves as all-knowing. Experience proves otherwise. So, if we are made in God’s image, and we are some kind of intelligent being, what kind of godly intelligence do we have? How is our intelligence like God’s intelligence?

Continue reading “In the Shade of Two Trees # 3: God-the-Knower”

On The Table Podcast: Episode # 1 – Introduction

By Steve Flowers and Jordan Flowers

Initial episode of a new podcast series called On The Table in which a father and son talk about faith issues that cross both of their lives. In this initial installment, Steve and Jordan introduce the podcast by talking about the podcast name, their spiritual background, and topics for future episodes.

Continue reading “On The Table Podcast: Episode # 1 – Introduction”

In the Shade of Two Trees # 2: God-the-Creator

By Scott Anderson

The first verse of Genesis identifies God as a creator, the creator of the heavens and the earth, of sky and sea, of animals and humans. The story quickly turns from the viewpoint of God to the viewpoint of God’s first human creation: Adam. God gives responsibility to Adam, God’s crowning creation, to “be fruitful and multiply” and to “fill the earth and subdue it.”   Genesis 1:28. After placing Adam above all created things, God evaluates God’s creation and judges it “very good.” Genesis 1:31.

Continue reading “In the Shade of Two Trees # 2: God-the-Creator”

In the Shade of Two Trees # 1: Genesis and the Two Trees

by Scott Anderson

A weekly reflection on a seminal scriptural question: What does it mean to be created in God’s image? Because there are two ways of thinking about this image-bearing capacity, it is understandable that we might get confused about our relationship with God and to God’s creation. The series argues that the key to solving our image problem begins with a reconsideration of Adam and Eve’s choice between the two trees at the center of the Garden of Eden.

Continue reading “In the Shade of Two Trees # 1: Genesis and the Two Trees”

Stories From A Village Podcast – Episode #7: PRIDE and Why it matters

Ivy sits down with Stone Village pastor John and one of the church’s worship leaders Quinn to talk about Pride. We cover it all: Why it’s sometimes difficult to “come out” as Christian to your fellow LGBTQ folk, why Pride matters to us as a Christian community, and the aspects of Pride we grapple with (hello, corporate sponsorship). We hope you enjoy the conversation and stay tuned for more episodes!

Continue reading “Stories From A Village Podcast – Episode #7: PRIDE and Why it matters”

The Jesus Criterion #17 – The Jesus Criterion: final thoughts

By Steve Flowers

The focus of The Jesus Criterion has been to argue the two most important touching points to understanding the Bible as a whole. The most important one is having a robust understanding of the inspired nature of the Bible. And the nature of the Bible’s inspiration is that it is a holy mess centered in Jesus as the greatest living revelation of God. The second most important touching point to understanding the Bible directly follows from that view of inspiration. It is the biblical witness to consistently use the words and actions of Jesus as the standard of measure through whom we interpret the entire Bible. Using the Spirit’s guidance, church doctrine and personal spiritual living should all be discerned through this lens.

I want to end this series with a couple of final thoughts.

Continue reading “The Jesus Criterion #17 – The Jesus Criterion: final thoughts”

The Jesus Criterion #15 – Jesus style, part 1

By Steve Flowers

I love Google Maps. One of the small features I appreciate is the “Re-center” option that appears after I have wandered all over the map looking ahead and around where I am going, becoming completely sidetracked as to where I am in relation to the best route I need to take. Any time I lose track of where I actually am on the map, I can hit “Re-center” and immediately be brought back on the map to where I currently am located. This is why we need to study how Jesus interpreted scripture. For thousands of years Christianity has wandered all over the theological map chasing rabbits that have taken us away from the journey God wants for us. But time and again Jesus re-centers the purpose and use of scripture.

Continue reading “The Jesus Criterion #15 – Jesus style, part 1”

The Jesus Criterion #14 – Jesus as our interpretive criterion

By Steve Flowers

One of my seminary professors taught me to think of God’s revelation down through history as three concentric circles that represent the various means in which God has revealed God’s self. The most inner circle is the personal revelation of God as Jesus. This is God Incarnate, that is to say God made flesh. The middle circle represents God’s revelation through all other stories, events, and persons as recorded in the Bible. The outer most circle would represent any other events in which one believes God disclosed God’s self throughout history that were not recorded in the Bible.

Continue reading “The Jesus Criterion #14 – Jesus as our interpretive criterion”

The Jesus Criterion #13 – The four horsemen of interpretation

By Steve Flowers

Christians can study any number of the same biblical passages and come up with numerous differing thoughts as to how to interpret each passage. But, generally speaking, there are only four methodological styles by which Christians interpret a scripture passage. This diagram illustrates those four basic styles of biblical interpretation. Continue reading “The Jesus Criterion #13 – The four horsemen of interpretation”

The Jesus Criterion #12 – Studying the Bible 101

By Steve Flowers

In high school I had good grades and did well academically. In college I, well, let’s just say the academics, not so good. The difference? It was not my study habits. They were essentially the same… and therein laid the problem. At a high school level I was able to overcome poor study habits and still make good grades. College was more difficult and required a higher degree of study but I continued to give it the ol’ high-school try. Two years after graduating college and working in the real world, I went to seminary full-time. I had matured (a bit) and was expecting seminary to be more difficult than college. So I improved my study habits and, in turn, my grades improved as well. Similarly, good biblical interpretation begins with your study habits.

Continue reading “The Jesus Criterion #12 – Studying the Bible 101”