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I agree, Bill, that preachers and churches can expose themselves to valid criticism by the ministry decisions they make, including whether or not to expose the exegesis behind their sermons. But Jesus was criticized for lots of things. Should he have been more careful? The question of whether or not to quote Greek or Hebrew in the pulpit can be evaluated two ways: by how it makes the congregation "feel" and by how it helps the congregation "grow". I already knew Greek and Hebrew before I went to Western seminary. Oddly, even the other pastors-in-training often reacted to the knowledge of the original languages as if it were just a status symbol or factor in the ecclesiastical pecking order. Feelings trumped growth, even for these supposedly called and gifted men. Personally, I find that the power of the Word of God is raw and direct in the original languages in a way that only a deft paraphrase can make it shine through a translation. But ultimately, it is the godliness of the preacher that determines whether exegesis in the pulpit is gold, silver and precious stones or wood, hay and stubble. I have seen real spiritual excitement in the eyes of men and women in Bible studies who finally "get it" as a result of someone explaining the exegesis behind an interpretation. Far from becoming passive, they start digging deeper, confidant that they have partners to help them grow past the confusion and doubts and random theologies that plague the church at large. Of course, it was also the exegesis of the German schools of higher criticism that fueled the doubts of all subsequent generations. Faithfulness is the key. Can the congregation themselves evaluate the faithfulness of their preachers? Or must they passively rely on denominational heirarchies? Maybe that's the real question.
Doesn't the "having" refer to tis (who), making the phrase "having faithful children"? It is singular vs the plural tekna. Not that it solves the problem, but it gives a noun on which to hang the adjectival use of pista. Regardless, you are right in highlighting the challenge of finding qualified elders today. Many cultlike churches (pastor-driven and contentious) could solve their problems by removing all unqualified leaders from their positions as pastors and board members. Hmmm. that might leave them without fine orators to deliver elegant, crowd pleasing messages and attract tithers, however. Quelle problem!
A clearer picture of what happened can be obtained by reading the Charisma Magazine interview with the Haggerts. The questionable time period for them was during the process, when true repentance was being handled and evaluated in private. Gayle's hindsight suggests that many church members and the Haggets themselves could have benefitted from a more intentional healing process that dealt with the broken relationships. She doesn't suggest that wandering in every week and shaking hands all around is what she expected as a demonstration of grace and forgiveness. The bottom line is that their church itself and the churches in general have, in fact, come out of the process having demonstrated remarkable grace in this case.
Regarding the vowels used with YHWH; you may have been a bit too brief in this blog. I understand that using the Masoretic pointing for Adonai with the consonants YHWH was intended by the Jewish scholars to simply reflect that they said the word Adonai when they read the text for Yahweh; as you explained, this was to avoid saying "the name" in an inadvertently casual way. This, of course, is what I've heard today when visiting synagogues. Only the early English translators didn't really "get this" at the time and translated it as Jehovah. I'm sure you know this, but your blog was vague. Or maybe you know an even more detailed history that is more complex (and possibly more off-topic). Also, you may have seen the book "Holy to Yahveh" by Terrye Goldblum Seedman, a Jewish Christian. (see reviews on Amazon for a bit more detail) She exemplifies your blog topic perfectly, although she is a very gracious person without the rancor that some less qualified "name fanatics" often present. I was acquainted with her when the book came out in the 90's. Her thesis, with which I personally don't totally agree, asserts (among other things) that the Greek name Jesus is a Gnostic hijacking of God's name. Despite the flaws in her arguments in this book, she has gathered an amazing set of facts and points of view that is very informative. And her commitment to the Holiness and Glory of God would make any Reformed theologian proud. Anyway, mark me down as agreeing with the point of your blog. Phil
Of course, this isn't the first time that this exact point has been brought up in a provocative blog. So we don't have to solve this major theological debate here. However, "reformed" thinking has long had its own way of interpreting the word "alone", hasn't it? As in, "God alone" gets the glory. So your "real" hermeneutics of the passage must be flavored by your core Calvinist use of language; so how can we know what you think about the word "alone" in this passage unless we know how you think of God's glory? Likewise, the analogy of the faith is more critical to interpreting these Beatitudes than this exegetical point. How did the retrospectively writing gospel authors think theologically, since they were putting into Greek the Aramaic that Jesus actually uttered. And haven't even you yourself (heh) said, "God alone knows..." when you knew that probably some other people knew? Or wait, did I just say that "even you alone said..."? I'd better check the Greek. Nevertheless, thanks for showing how important it is to think about these details.
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Dec 19, 2009