Welcome to the 124th Christian Carnival. If you don't know what the Christian Carnival is, see my plug for this week's carnival (and the links therein).
This week's carnival progresses through the scriptures, with each post assigned to a different book of the Bible. In some cases, the choice was obvious. In others it might be more of a stretch, or it may be one out of several possible choices. I didn't want to repeat any so as to use as many books as I could, which means some posts may not be with their most obvious pick. Some posts didn't have any obvious choice, so I tried to find the closest I could. With a few I just chose a book actually mentioned in the post, even if that book wasn't central. So on to our tour through the scriptures....
I often think of Genesis as the account of how things got so messed up even though God created everything good. I tend to notice more the relational dysfunctionalities of all the post-fall personalities than what's good about any of them. Rey at The Bible Archive has a nice corrective to that imbalance. He sees Genesis as a narrative argument that God's promises are absolutely reliable, even when they seem to have failed. In Condition of Man, he looks at the condition of man after the fall up to the flood to see how God's word stands.
Exodus includes God's freeing of his people from slavery in Egypt and initiating the covenant with declarations about himself and his character and some commandments for the people to follow. At the very outset of those commands in ch.20, God introduces himself as a jealous God. He repeats this in ch.34 when he reveals his character in more detail to Moses when Moses sees what the text calls God's backside. My own post, Self-Centered and Other-Centered Jealousy, looks at two different motivations for God's jealousy, seeking a middle ground between John Piper's view that God's jealousy is always motivated by his glory and Joyce Baldwin's view that God's jealousy is always motivated only by love for others.
The Torah ends with Moses' nearly book-long speech to the Israelites on the eve of their entrance to the promised land. Deuteronomy is basically that speech and a restatement of the covenant, with several important modifications due to the new context of living in the land. At the very end of the book, we have a fitting tribute to the life of this great man. "Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, who did all those signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do in Egypt -- to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel." [Deut 34:10-12, TNIV] Rev Bill gives a tribute to another godly man upon his death in On Memorial Day.
The book of Judges narrates the downward slide after the death of Joshua with an ongoing cycle of rebellion against God, enemy nations troubling the scattered and disunited tribes of Israel, eventual repentance, and God's sending of a deliverer to save his people from their enemies. But with each stage in the process, it seems as if the repentance is less genuine and more localized, and the deliverers themselves get increasingly ambiguous in their commitment to God and the purposes of Israel as a whole. The last great judge, Samson, is more of an anti-hero than a hero. Michele at Life Under the Sun continues her ongoing study of the context of the story of Samson and Delilah by looking at the escalating retaliation between Samson and the Philistines in Samson before Delilah: Chapter 15.
Ruth is such an excellent little book, demonstrating in very human terms what the covenant love/loyalty/faithfulness of God looks like (the Hebrew word hesed, which means all those things, is central to the book). Martin LaBar of Sun and Shield raises some questions about Ruth that he considers unanswerable, but there's some fruitful thinking in the process.
The book of Samuel was originally one book. The middle section of the book focuses on David's flight from Saul and the troubles that occurred in the shift from Saul's kingdom to David's, including his military conflicts with the Philistines and other groups that threatened Israel. Psalm 16 may well have been composed by David during this large block of time. We don't know of any particular events that it might be connected to, but it's attributed to David (or at least its title connects it with David; it may just mean that it's a psalm about David). Carl Holmes at Thoughts of a Gyrovague presents Psalm 16 with a short reflection on this psalm with respect to how David kept his sanity while being chased by Saul and by the Philistines, which might well have been exactly the setting of this psalm's composition.
Esther is sometimes known as the only book of the Bible that doesn't mention God in any explicit way. Song of Songs 8:6 may or may not contain a reference to God, but there's no clear or unclear mention of God in Esther. I happen to think it does argue for a strong view of God's sovereignty over the events of history, so I wouldn't call it a secular book as some scholars have, but there's no question that any theological theme of the book has got to be pretty subtle and implicit, because it's uncontroversial that it doesn't mention God explicitly. There are other situations, of course, when people don't mention God. Steve Janke of Angry in the Great White North offers us The war at home. He summarizes his post as follows: "Canada's new prime minister ends his speeches with "God bless Canada!" Needless to say, the forces of militant atheism are upset. With the official support of previous liberal governments, they have been very successful at expunging expressions of faith from public discourse. The tide might be starting to turn." I don't really agree with Steve's characterization of the position that the state should be silent on religion, which he equates with imposing atheism rather than simply being silent on it, but I do think he's right that this is a restriction of what I would want as free speech.
Job is arguably the most philosophical of biblical books. After all, the bulk of it is a philosophical dialogue about the problem of evil. Brian of ChristianThinker.net reviews The Analytic Theist, an anthology of Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga's works, and comments on why more Christian leaders should read Plantinga. This is actually one book I don't have, but I probably have almost all of its contents in their original form, so I haven't been able to bring myself to get it.
The Psalms make up the longest book of the Bible, and there's so much in there that many of these posts could have been assigned to it. But Psalm 139 best fit the next post. "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." [Psalm 139:13-16, TNIV] A British professor of philosophy, Luc Bovens, has written an article that links the use of the "rhythm method" with embryonic death. Funky Dung fisks that article in Investigating NFP: The Great Embryo Killer?, posted at Ales Rarus.
The book of Proverbs contains collections of wisdom for living a righteous and godly life. One of its most common metaphors for this good life is the straight path. In fact, Proverbs has more instances of the word 'straight' than any other biblical book (at least in the ESV; I didn't want to check more dynamic translations, because those often translate metaphors by removing them entirely). Tom Gilson of Thinking Christian uses this same metaphor for right thinking, which should count as a part of the godly life that the proverbial expression refers to. In Thinking Straight About . . ., Tom reflects on about thinking straight about philosophy, thinking straight about using research, and thinking straight about thinking "straight."
The Song of Songs is either one long love poem or a diverse collection of love poetry. Interpreters have differed over exactly how to relate it to marriage in more recent times in a very different cultural setting, but it clearly has to have some relevance to marriage. The next post isn't exactly love poetry, but it's about the marriage relationship. Jack Yoest presents The Complete Married Man's Guide To Spousal Responses posted at Jack Yoest.
The prophet Isaiah writes to a later audience of exiles in Babylon, "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God." [Isaiah 41:10a, TNIV] But wait! Aren't we supposed to fear God? Brendt at Musings from Two-Sheds Gomer deals with the seeming contradiction between these common biblical themes in lies that will kill you: only one flavor of fear.
Most of Jeremiah consists of harsh judgments on the people of Judah leading up to the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of God's people in another land. At the end of a long lament about the fate of God's people, the prophet gives a more positive description of what would have averted the coming judgment: "This is what the LORD says: Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," declares the LORD." [Jeremiah 9:23-24, NIV] Paul Taylor of Disciple's Journal includes an allusion to this Jeremiah prophecy among his 21 different contrasting ways that someone might be less mature or more mature, which he classifies in terms of being a mere believer as opposed to being a disciple of Christ, in Second thoughts on 'making disciples': What difference does it make?
The last nine chapters of Ezekiel focus on what God will do in a new covenant. Ch.36 gives the fundamental basis of this new covenant. "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." [Ezekiel 36:26, HCSB] Barbara Sanders of Tidbits And Treasures deals with this in The HEART of things, as part a much larger biblical reflection on the heart in general. She says, "The heart is the central part of our being, both spiritual and the human life. It is the seat of our conscience."
Joel's prophecy describes the coming judgment of God in terms of hordes of locusts. NerdDad presents Nerd Family: Christian terms defined posted at Nerd Family. Much of the list he links to is pretty funny. What's it got to do with Joel? Well, John the Baptist ate locusts, and that's one of the two that NerdDad highlights. Besides, most of these have as much to do with what they're supposed to be about as this carnival entry does with Joel. My favorites are the ones on the Emergent Church and the Nicene Creed.
Nahum is an unusual prophet. His very short book consists mostly of warnings of judgment against Assyria, though in part that serves as an encouragement to the people of Judah who are at the time threatened by Assyria's great empire. The next post isn't about Nahum, but it does mention it, and Christian Carnival posts so rarely talk about Nahum that I had to put this post under his book. David Ker presents The Bible wasn't written to you posted at Lingamish. That sounds pretty controversial, doesn't it? Read the post. He's basically right (though see my comment for the one thing disagree with).
It's unclear because we don't know the dates of some of the prophets, but Malachi may well have been the last old covenant prophet whose words we have (not counting John the Baptist, of course). His delivered the word of the Lord against priests who were not only not teaching the Torah but violating it with reckless abandon. One of the things they were doing was promoting a culture of divorce. His response is quite severe. "'I hate divorce,' says the Lord God of Israel, 'and the one who is guilty of violence,' says the Lord who rules over all. 'Pay attention to your conscience, and do not be unfaithful.'" [Malachi 2:16, NET] Samantha Pierce at Uncle Sam's Cabin looks at one unfortunate consequence of divorce in The Scourge of Divorce.
Toward the end of the sermon on the mount, Matthew gives us the following words of Jesus: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" This leads us to consider what playing the trombone has to do with the Christian walk. Huh? At Attention Span, all will be explained, as rev-ed claims that both can be faked in the post, Fakin' It.
In the Gospel of Mark, chapter 7, Jesus launches into a tirade against some Pharisees and experts in the Torah for their picking and choosing which literal out-of-context verses of the Torah they wanted to follow and which general principles behind the whole Torah they wanted to ignore. Diane Roberts at Crossroads: Where Faith and Inquiry Meet detects a similar attitude in certain circles of contemporary Christianity. In Grow Up!, she wonders why there is so much deception today in the evangelical church today and suggests that perhaps the '60's children hold the key. Key quote: "We tend to play cafeteria with the Bible - taking what we like and leaving behind what we don't like."
One distinctive of Luke is that he gives us far more of Jesus' parables than the other gospels. In fact, some of the most famous parables are found only in his gospel, including the parable of the Good Samaritan. We see some of the key elements of that parable in the next post. Leslie Carbone laments the impoverished ethics at work in the abandonment and death of David Sharp atop Mount Everest in her post titled Effectively Dead.
The Gospel of John takes up its entire ninth chapter on one miracle of Jesus and its aftermath. In Born Blind, John at Light Along the Journey looks at ways that we're like the man who was born blind but healed by Jesus in this chapter.
At the end of his lengthy ministry in Ephesus, Luke gives us a some of Paul's final words with the leaders of the church in thst city in chapter 20 of Acts. Taking off from Paul's words in that chapter, A Penitent Blogger gives us Hating goodbyes, a reflection on things we dread and the grace we need.
I Corinthians contains a revealing statement from the apostle Paul. "For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by God’s grace I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not ineffective. However, I worked more than any of them, yet not I, but God’s grace that was with me." [I Cor 15:10, HCSB] Lisa at Deo Volente presents the world's view of "social acceptability" vs. God's view of living fully for Christ in I LIKE being "socially maladjusted".
Ephesians is a fairly succinct statement of many broad-ranging implications of the good news of Jesus Christ. Interestingly, the list of spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus that begins the main body of the letter starts with predestination: "For he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we may be holy and unblemished in his sight in love. He did this by predestining us to adoption as his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the pleasure of his will - to the praise of the glory of his grace that he has freely bestowed on us in his dearly loved Son." [Eph 1:4-6, NET] Ariel Gazelle at The Wildebeest's Wardrobe says "At the time when I studied the Calvinistic Doctrine of Predestination, I hated it. Now looking back over the years, I see how it has helped me to grow spiritually in many ways." Read how in Some ways in which I benefitted from studying the Doctrine of Predestination.
Philippians 2 gives us the model of Christ Jesus as a servant. Jollyblogger didn't submit this post, but I thought it was one of the best posts in the Godblogosphere within the last week, so I had to include Women in Church and the Power Paradigm, in which he critiques an argument against complementarian views on gender roles by appealing to this passage.
Paul makes a strange statement in passing in his letter to the Colossians. "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church" [Colossians 1:28, ESV]. Karen Marie Knapp at From the Anchor Hold gives us A little pondering on Offering Up, on how pain and suffering can be handled in the Christian life.
Several exhortations close out I Timothy, including this one on the dangers of seeking wealth: "But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs." [I Timothy 6:9-10, ESV] Of course, that's just one element of the larger picture Mark Olson of Pseudo-Poylmath gives us in Filthy Lucre, which he describes as "God and money ... walking the thin green line".
II Timothy spends a good deal of time dealing with false teaching. "For a time will be when they will not endure sound doctrine, but they will heap up teachers to themselves according to their own lusts, tickling the ear. And they will turn away their ears from the truth and will be turned to myths. But you watch in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fully carry out your ministry." [II Tim 4:3-5, ESV] Laura at Pursuing Holiness says "All you need to reduce sin, increase repentance, and live out a better Christian witness for your non-Christian friends and neighbors is encompassed in Five Easy Steps to a More Holy Life. Or is it?" What does that have to do with the verse I just quoted? Read the post. I won't spoil it any further.
Hebrews tells us, "And so he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the eternal inheritance he has promised, since he died to set them free from the violations committed under the first covenant." [Heb 9:15, NET] One of the questions in Quiz: Jesus Christ at Rebecca Writes deals with Jesus' mediatorial role.
The Revelation of Jesus Christ contains a stunning portrait of the kind of persecution the church endures and will endure until the end. In Would I Be Convicted?, Sue from Sisters' Weblog answers the question, "If you were on trial for being a christian would there be enough evidence to convict you?"
So that's it for the Christian Carnival for this week. I'd tell you where next week is, but Dory hasn't made any hosts public after this week.
Since there are still several books of the Bible to be filled in, I'll be accepting late entries for a little bit if anyone wants to be added in. You probably won't get as many readers, since many people go through the carnival once it's up and don't return, but it's worth something. It must fit the normal Christian Carnival criteria, of course, and it must have been written from last Wednesday to yesterday, so you can't just put something together now and be included, but let me know if you want in, and I'll see if I can find one of the remaining books to assign you to. Use the link at the top of the page to email me directly, rather than using the Christian Carnival email, which will then go also to the next host.