Church Write-Up about Romans 5-6, Tension, and Witnessing, and Book Write-Up about the IVP Reformation Commentary on Joshua, Judges, and Ruth

Some items from church, followed by a quick Book Write-Up:

A. The Bible study was about Romans 5-6. The pastor will go into more detail about Romans 6 next week. The pastor, a Lutheran, was saying that water baptism is not merely an ordinance of obedience but is a sacrament through which God’s spirit acts on and in the believer.

B. The pastor was talking about the tension between the already and the not yet. He likened it to Christmas Eve: the presents are there under the tree, but they remain closed until Christmas morning.

C. The pastor got into Hegel. He said that the tension between the already and the not yet in Romans does not clash and produce something different. But, after some discussion between the pastor and a student, the conclusion was reached that there is indeed something different that has resulted from a synthesis of two opposites: unfallen creation has clashed with sin, and the result is Christ’s death and resurrection amidst a world of sin and the life in that lived by the believer.

D. In the sermon, the pastor said that many people want to be non-conformists and to go their own way, yet they also desire love and acceptance from others. He rooted that in the sinful human desire to be in charge. I identify with what the pastor said. I love emotional independence from people and what they think, since a lot of people are assholes who try to conform others to their image, yet, of course, I would prefer for people to be glad to see me. There is a tension there, and I walk that fine line.

E. I did not write a Church Write-Up last week because there was no Bible study, and there was nothing in the service on which I wanted to comment. The sermon was about the power of the word of God and believers sharing it with unbelievers. I did not write the post because I was in no mood to talk about if I witness, or why I do not witness. Maybe I do share the word of God, if writing on this blog counts. But I do not share the Christian faith with non-believers in terms of speaking. I am just through trying to convince people to believe something or to love something, when they may have reasons not to believe or love it.

F. Scott Amos, ed. Reformation Commentary on Scripture, Old Testament IV: Joshua, Judges, Ruth. IVP Academic, 2020. See here to purchase the book.

The Reformation Commentary on Scripture: Joshua, Judges, Ruth presents the thoughts of Western Christian thinkers during the fifteenth-seventeenth centuries on the Old Testament books of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth.  The book includes the classic Protestant Reformers, such as Luther and Calvin.  But it also quotes other Reformation and post-Reformation voices, as well, such as Anabaptists, Anglicans, and Puritans.  And it also includes some Catholic voices.

Like other books in the series, along with the series on the church fathers, this book proceeds through the biblical books.  It quotes a passage, summarizes the gist of what the featured thinkers said, then presents their thoughts.  At the end of the book is a timeline and a glossary of Christian thinkers (and also some Jewish thinkers) quoted or mentioned in the book.

The thinkers in this book address questions that many have had about these books, as well as questions that I myself have had. Among those questions:

How could God command Joshua to stone Achan and Achan’s family? Is that not unjust? Plus, Achan confessed his sin, so why did God not forgive him?

Was God upset about having to spare the Gibeonites, who lied to Joshua to escape destruction? Suppose Joshua had consulted God about them: would God have told him to kill them, even though they sought mercy, like Rahab?

What is the deal with all those altars in the Book of Judges, which God appears to honor and to accept? Does God’s recognition of them contradict Deuteronomy’s requirement that God only recognizes one central sanctuary?

Did Jephthah really sacrifice his daughter, and did God require him to do that? If Jephthah did not kill her but simply consecrated her to God as a lifelong virgin, how is that a sacrifice? Why would she and her friends weep over that?

When exactly in biblical history were the events of Judges 17-21?

Why did God tell Judah to go up first against the Benjamites, only to allow the Benjamites to succeed against the Judahites in that battle?

Was Ruth doing something improper when she uncovered Boaz’s feet?

Why was Mr. So-and-so reluctant to marry Ruth? How would marrying her diminish his inheritance to his own children? Does his removal of his shoe relate to the shoe removal in Deuteronomy 25:9, which concerns levirate marriage?

The thinkers often resort to “because God says so” when dealing with issues such as the stoning of Achan’s family and God’s recognition of different altars. Yet, they also give practical reasons that God did what God did. Being a Reformation commentary, there is a lot of emphasis on God’s love, grace, and forgiveness and transformation of sinners. While Martin Luther and other Reformers are usually believed to be hostile to allegorical interpretation, they freely resort to allegory when they treat the Old Testament stories as types or allegories of the Gospel. The book is far from monochromatic, however, but approaches questions in variant ways. Some Reformers, for example, denied, on the basis of Hebrew grammar, that Jephthah even vowed to sacrifice his daughter. Others held that he was wrong to sacrifice her.

The glossary has its share of interesting details. Some I did not understand, or I wanted to learn more. What is a Genesio-Lutheran? And there were differences about how exactly original sin corrupted human beings. Did it impart to human nature a demonic substance? Apparently, there was debate about that.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My review is honest.


About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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