Paul, Called to Be an Apostle – Ephesians 1

Ephesians 1: 1-14 Acts 9: 1-19 , August 10, 1986 Sermon no. 92, Jefferis Kent Peterson According to Plan Today, we are beginning a study of the grand and glorious letter of Paul to the Ephesians.  It is a  letter that is different from the other epistles of Paul.  Not written to deal with problems or disputes in a specific congregation, as is the case with most of his other letters, this letter is a theological treatise, and it has a theme that is broad in scope and wide in purpose.  The letter has to do with God’s eternal plan of salvation for the whole world.  And it brings the news that God has done something new for the benefit of heaven and earth in Jesus, the Anointed One.  In Jesus the Anointed, he has given the world peace.  This letter’s purpose is to announce this peace, which God has  planned  from the beginning of the world.  And to the wonder of it all, Paul proclaims the unbelievable good news that God is establishing this peace with us in spite of our resistance to his will! Paul begins to reveal this theme of God’s peace with the very first verse, when … Read more…

Replacing Scalia, the Politics of Justice and The Role of the Supreme Court

To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions would be very dangerous doctrine indeed and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy… The Constitution has erected no such tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with corruption of time and party, its members would become despots. – Thomas Jefferson Letter To William Charles Jarvis. Monticello, September 28, 1820.

When words no longer mean what they mean, the Constitution becomes a Rorschach splotch, where justices can read anything into it they want to see and read out of it anything they want to see changed. My point here, though, is not to argue for an originalist interpretation, which I clearly support, but to point out how the Court’s role has veered from that intended by the Founders.

Dante’s Inferno, Pedophilia, and the Catholic Church

Dante’s Inferno is a picture of hell with 9 levels, each with greater punishments for sins committed on the earth. Dante was not afraid to place in hell Cardinals, Bishops, and Popes. Dante’s point was that corruption in the Roman Catholic Church by its leaders was just as worthy of punishment, if not more so, as sinful deeds done by pagans and government leaders. His political activity was not admired by all, but his writing exposed the abuse of power by Popes and church leaders. We hear today that Pope Francis is engaged in a similar battle, facing much entrenched opposition to his attempts to cleanse the church of its sins. This week I met an artist, Butch Casanova, who invited me to his home. There I saw a work of art that reminded me of Dante’s Divine Comedy. He was disgusted by the corruption exposed in the pedophilia scandals that rocked the Roman Church. And putting brush to canvas, he created a great allegory of the cover up by  Bernard Cardinal Law of Boston. He tried to have this work displayed through the Boston media, but at that time, no one would touch it because Bernard Law was feared and so powerful. He has … Read more…

The Quartet: A Review

What if the Constitution Had Not Compromised on Slavery?

The Quartet: Orchestrating The Second American Revolution, 1783-1789, by Joseph J. Ellis. 

Slavery would have lasted much longer…. 

God, Time, and Foreknowledge – How Can God Know the Future?

Einstein’s Theory of Relativity measures time by the speed of light, but the experience of time changes relative to gravity and to the speed of light. In other words, time is not a constant .  For someone traveling at the speed of light, one day is thousands of years on earth. So for God, creating in One Day is not a problem. It is only a problem for the limited human who tries to measure God’s day from his miniature, finite frame of reference, and then insists that God has to do Creation in a way that he understands and which conforms to his human experience of time. Time is Finite, a Created and Limited Dimension God is infinite not finite. He has no beginning and no end. He is before Time and after it. Our Time is finite. Our Time began with the “Big Bang” and the creation of material light.  Anything that is finite must be a created thing. It has a beginning and an end, and it has limits. Science is the study of the created order, and as such, gives us insight into the glory of God clearly seen in the things that have been made. … Read more…

Love -Interrupted

First sermon I've preached in years, and never had people clap and cheer for a sermon before 🙂 https://youtu.be/et8AQfRE_uc June 7, 2015 God’s Desire for Love and Fellowship – Interrupted So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, Where are you? And he said, I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself. (Genesis 3:6–10, ESV) God’s Problem is in us! Sin Causes Shame and … Read more…

The Hobby Lobby Decision and What it Means for the Church

The Supreme Court upheld religious liberty and freedom of conscience in its 5-4 decision on Monday, and in doing so, avoided the same mistake the Court made when it upheld the rights of slave owners in the Dred Scott decision and ensured the Civil War. The Dred Scott case not only restored the rights of slave owners to recapture runaway slaves in the Northern States, but made those who did not believe in slavery complicit in their capture and return. In other words, it forced those who hated slavery to comply with slavery by handing slaves back to their masters. This legal decision to deny freedom of conscience only served to strength Abolitionist sentiment and helped precipitate the Civil War. Noting that then, as today, we have a sharply divided country on the issue of just “who” is entitled to the protection of life and liberty, that narrowly divided Supreme Court is reflective of that divide. The belief that abortion is indeed murder is a conviction that will not disappear with the stroke of the judge’s pen, as has been amply demonstrated by over 40 years of conflict and social disaffection. However, this decision is a lesson for the Church … Read more…

The Tithe is by The Law, but Generosity is By Faith.

What I am about to say will frighten a lot of pastors who teach tithing to their congregations. Tithing is an old word meaning “giving one tenth.”  The Law of Moses required that all Covenant people give ten percent of their income (their herds, grain, oil, etc.) to God (Lev. 27:32) in order to feed and house the priests and the Levites (teachers of the Law – Num. 18.21). Jesus spoke about tithing, saying in Matthew 23:23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” Considering that Jesus agreed with the tithe, many interpret the tithe as a Law carried over into the New Covenant, binding on all believers. But after the Gospels, tithing is only mentioned once in the rest of the New Testament in Hebrews (7:4), and that is in regard to the New Covenant in Christ  being anticipated in the Law of Moses.  In fact, Paul says plainly in Romans 10:4 “Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.” Jesus … Read more…

Turning the other cheek? What it meant in its historical context

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” – Matthew 5:38-45 Most of Jesus’ counsel about not resisting evil had to to do with not resisting Roman authority. A Roman solider could legally require you to carry his pack 1 stadia; Jesus said then to … Read more…

Sympathy for the Devil: Understanding Radical Islam and the Failure of Neo-Con Foreign Policy

Differences in Eastern and Western Views of War If anyone would like a helpful primer on the motivations Middle Eastern society,  I cannot recommend highly enough a book given to me by a friend who worked at the NSA.  The book is called Balkan Ghosts, by Robert Kaplan, and while it is a travelog, it gives an invaluable history of the clash of East and West over the centuries, including insight into the different perceptions of war.  In the West, due to its Christian heritage,  a theory of just war was developed.  Among those principles in just war theory was a respect for the protection of non-combatants (civilians) and the establishment of justifiable reasons for war, such as protecting the nation from aggression by foreign powers.  Since the late Middle Ages, the West has recognized slaughter of non-combatants as unjust, and nations which ignored those principles were identified as rogue nations (Nazi Germany, e.g.). But the Eastern view of warfare has always been entirely different, in part because the respect for the individual is not native to their value system. While this summary does not do justice to the book, it may begin to expose the vast cultural differences that exist … Read more…

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