Beatitudes, part 5: Blessed are the Merciful
The first four Beatitudes identify felt needs as virtues: the poor, the mourning, the meek, and the hungry. The next three identify states of character as virtues.
The first is mercy; the merciful will receive mercy.
Some people think that mercy is not meting out a deserved punishment. Not so. Mercy is more akin to gratitude. “Lord, have mercy,” is better understood as “Lord, continue to be gracious with us.” That’s why the KJV renders “mercy” as “loving-kindness.”
This has to do with the honor-shame society of the Bible and the satisfaction of personal debts. Taking the high road with people who owe you something is a virtue that God loves (see Mt 6:15-15; Mk 11:25; Lk 6:35; Eph 4:32).
Jesus told the story of a wealthy landowner who demanded payment of a huge debt from one of his servants (see Mt 18:23-35). The servant didn’t have it, so the landowner forgave the debt completely. Later, that same servant demanded payment of a far smaller debt from a fellow servant. When the second servant couldn’t comply, the first had him thrown into prison. The landowner then ordered the first service imprisoned. Jesus said that if we do not forgive the debts of others, then God will not forgive the one we have with him.
Forgiving others, having mercy on the undeserving are all rooted in God’s character. The real idea of Christianity is to transform us, no to leave us to enjoy the pleasures of this world. We are adopted as sons of God, and he does so to mold us into the image of his Son. Therefore, having mercy on others as God has had mercy on us is a sign of that transformation.
Scripture Saturday: Importance of Bible Study (Prv 28:9)
I’ve heard that some folks benefit from a regimented blogging schedule, so I thought I’d give it a shot to see if it helps me. And that means I will now introduce two new features. If I blog nothing else in the course of a week, I will blog the two features.
The first is Contradiction Tuesday, where I will detail a perceived contradiction in the Bible. I’ll take requests for this series from skeptics and believers alike — e-mail me. It will begin next Tuesday; I didn’t have time to do one this week.
On a side note, I’m thinking of adding Anti-Testimony Wednesday sometime in the future. I would critique the latest “Why I’m not a Christian” bit from ex-Christian.net, with a private offer to the poster to defend him or herself here. Since they don’t like their unbelief challenged on the site, this would be playing by their rules. After all, the anti-testimony is posted publicly so it’s unrealistic to think that someone won’t pick it up and challenge it somewhere.
The series beginning today is Scripture Saturday. What better way to kick off Scripture Saturday than with a verse on the importance of studying Scripture?
If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination. (Prv 28:9)
Strongly worded. If a person stops studying God’s Law, then that person’s prayer is an abomination. An abomination! That’s the strongest way God can revile something. And here, God is saying that he will revile a person’s prayers if that person refuses to hear God! Read the rest of this entry
What is True Christianity(tm)? (part 1)
It keeps coming up in discussions with atheists that I say certain Christians are wrong about particulars of Christianity. And they are. If I’m right on certain things (which I think I am), then necessarily others who disagree with me are wrong. Not a radical notion.
What do you suppose happens when I call a Christian’s particular doctrine into question? I always get the same response from the atheist. He sarcastically tells me that I believe I’m the only one who has found True Christianity™ and that I believe every other Christian will burn, just like every other Christian he has spoken to, because believers are all that arrogant.
I think that is more evidence of the shallow thinking of the atheist, not to mention their complete ignorance of theology. Atheists, I’m going to make this as plain as I possibly can: There is no such thing as True Christianity™! Read the rest of this entry
Apt Description of God
Chris Reese from Cloud of Witnesses featured a concise and excellent quote that perfectly describes the nature of God, as cited by Dallas Willard:
God is “the eternal, independent, and self-existent Being; the Being whose purposes and actions spring from Himself, without foreign motive or influence; he who is absolute in dominion; the most pure, the most simple, the most spiritual of all essences; infinitely perfect; and eternally self-sufficient, needing nothing that he has made; illimitable in his immensity, inconceivable in his mode of existence, and indescribable in his essence; known fully only by himself, because an infinite mind can only be fully comprehended by itself. In a word, a Being who, from his infinite wisdom, cannot err or be deceived, and from his infinite goodness, can do nothing but what is eternally just, and right, and kind.” [Adam Clarke in Cyclopaedia, vol. 3 (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1894), 903-4, quoted by Dallas Willard in Knowing Christ Today, chapter 4, n. 1.]
Let’s break take a look at just a few of these descriptors. Read the rest of this entry
Questions Theists Can’t Answer, the Atonement
I was recently directed to a Reddit thread where the atheists were proposing questions that theists can’t answer. Surprise, surprise, we can answer them, and in many cases have answered them (just not the satisfaction of the atheist). Of course, personal satisfaction isn’t a prerequisite for truth.
That said, what follows are questions from that thread that center on the Atonement. Read the rest of this entry