Extracurricular Activities – September 14, 2013
These texts share several interesting features. Both are reflected in our earliest NT texts (undisputed letters of Paul), which take us back to the 50s of the first century. Moreover, these texts are drawn upon in passages that are commonly (and rightly) judged by scholars to incorporate earlier confessional statements, which means we’re taken back further still chronologically. In short, all indications are that these two texts were among the very earliest OT passages mined by earliest believers in their efforts to understand and express their experiences and convictions about Jesus and God.
The question Jimmy Dunn asks is actually slightly different than the title of this post: Did the first Christians worship Jesus? This question, the subject of Dunn’s newest book Did the First Christians Worship Jesus?: The New Testament Evidence, surfaces from the claims of Larry Hurtado and Richard Bauckham, both of whom contend that Jesus was worshiped by the Christians early, within just a few years. That question gets modified as the study proceeds. It would take a long review to do full justice to this book, and it would complicate the review to engage with the subtleties of this debate with Hurtado and Bauckham, so I want to focus on Dunn’s major conclusions because he is taking issue with both of these scholars and contending, in essence, that they have overstated the evidence.
This Sunday is the 50th anniversary of the reprehensible bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, where four young girls were killed while attending Sunday School.
The victims are pictured above. Going clockwise (from the top left) are Addie Mae Collins (age 14), Cynthia Wesley (age 14), Carole Robertson (age 14), and Denise McNair (age 11—a friend and schoolmate of 8-year-old Condoleeza Rice, who could hear the bomb down the street from her father’s church).
Timothy George narrates the story of one young woman, Carolyn Maull McKinstry, who was in the church when the bomb ripped through the building:
While we have a lot of talented preachers and missiologists in the hopper, we need to make sure we don't neglect our calling to be spiritual cardiologists—surgeons of the heart... Few situations demand a competent surgeon more than people doubting their salvation. Quality care demands we diagnose the particular kind of doubt ailing our patient. Some doubt they are Christians because they are, in fact, not Christians. Of course, I always try to give the benefit of the doubt, but pastors must recognize this possibility. Spiritually dead people don't need Band-Aids; they need defibrillators. They need the heavy shock of the gospel, accompanied by prayer that the Holy Spirit would haunt them with doubt until they turn from sin, death, and Satan to Christ alone.
I have not traveled often beyond the North American continent, but when I do, the truest joy is not in seeing the sites or getting a glimpse of the culture. The truest joy is in worshipping with fellow believers. Last fall I was able to worship with Christians in Dubai and India and was deeply moved. Yesterday, on this vision trip with 20schemes, I worshipped at two different churches in two different cities in Scotland and they highlighted both the past and the future of what Christians are trying to accomplish here.
Extra-Curricular Activities is a weekly roundup of stories on biblical interpretation, theology, and issues where faith and culture meet. We found each story interesting, thought-provoking, challenging, or useful in some way – but we don't necessarily agree with or endorse every point in every story.
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