Thursday, April 27, 2006

Does God acknowledge the use of violence? This has been a very hard question to deal with among many Christians. The bible talks of a peaceful God who wants all the people to live peacefully. On the same note, it talks about a jealous God who would like to see all his children live accordingly to his ways.

I believe that God loves and he punishes those he loves. I don’t think that God acknowledges the use of violence in all the situations but in situations that he needs to reveal himself for the sake of his people. The Old Testament talks of different times in the bible when God granted his people victory in wars. The nation of Israel always emerges winners in every war they engaged in because of God’s power. The same God that did that at the time is the same God that is in action even now. He does not necessarily acknowledge the use of wars in every area of life but he will go ahead and use violence if need be for the sake of his people. That is my personal opinion though and I would be happy if someone else came up with a different opinion regarding this matter.

The Danger of Ignoring One's Cultural Bias

From this reading, I learn that it is important for Christians to avoid being biased when interpreting the bible. The bible needs to be interpreted not with an aim of satisfying one culture over another but with an aim of great understanding. It is obvious today that people tend to manipulate the bible so that it can fit their own desires and beliefs in life. This is a very important topic in this age especially in the rise of racial discrimination and other forms of malicious hatred.

Back in Africa, I used to see people interpret the bible in ways that could fit Africa’s culture. It is the same thing in other parts of the world as well. This kind of biasness provides room for hatred and misunderstanding among various religious groups. The bible tells us that Jesus came into the world to save each of us. It doesn’t matter what religions we belong to or what culture we come from. Jesus loves us all the way we are here and that is why he died for all of us.

There is a need for everyone to appreciate what other cultures have to offer when it comes to the interpretation of the bible. It is not wise to ignore one’s culture though in interpreting the bible. It is good to love your culture but not let it lead you not to like other cultures.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Paul's life

Whenever I think about Paul, I tell myself that God can transform someone to a very different person. Paul was a very bad person before he God changed him. He persecuted the church of Christ and killed those who believe in Jesus.

According to this reading, Paul was Jewish by birth (Rom. 11:1; 2). In this reading we learn that it was an ideal of Judaism that Paul strove to live by. One thing that I get surprised as far as Paul is concerned is how he became very powerful in the word of God. Before then he was very powerful in destroying the church of God and committing any kind of vice. It occurs to me that one has to obey God and just listen to what God is telling he/she the way Paul did. Paul after being converted did not go back to his old habits. Another thing that I liked about Paul is that he uses his own examples to explain to people how good it is to be in the word of God. He does not justify himself and pretend as if he never did anything bad. He regrets when he remembers what he did and thanks God for saving him.

We need to do that as Christians who claim to have the love of God. Once renewed, its important for us to focus on God and put all our thoughts to him.

The Social World of Jesus

It has been interesting to read about the social world of Jesus. I have always asked myself if Jesus had any social activities in his life or if he was just concerned with religious issues?

This reading evaluates different beliefs and practices among different kinds of people even when Jesus was in the world. According to this reading such beliefs are the bare bone of religious faith.

Jesus was born into Roman Galilee. We learn through this reading that Jesus lived according to the rules and standards of Galileans despite the fact that he was the son of God.

It is interesting that despite the fact that Jesus was the son of God, he interacted with anyone from any background. He shared meals with tax collectors and sinners. Unlike many people, he did not relate to people the way the society expects you to do. He did not just choose to talk to those who were holy and pleased God. I have been very challenged by this reading. In today’s world, people relate to others in terms of where they work, what social class they come from, politics and many others. I hope that everybody could emulate Jesus’ example and learn how to interact with others. It is by doing so that Christians will be able to “fish” sinners and bring them to the light like Jesus did.

The Social World of Jesus

It has been interesting to read about the social world of Jesus. I have always asked myself if Jesus had any social activities in his life or if he was just concerned with religious issues?

This reading evaluates different beliefs and practices among different kinds of people even when Jesus was in the world. According to this reading such beliefs are the bare bone of religious faith.

Jesus was born into Roman Galilee. We learn through this reading that Jesus lived according to the rules and standards of Galileans despite the fact that he was the son of God.

It is interesting that despite the fact that Jesus was the son of God, he interacted with anyone from any background. He shared meals with tax collectors and sinners. Unlike many people, he did not relate to people the way the society expects you to do. He did not just choose to talk to those who were holy and pleased God. I have been very challenged by this reading. In today’s world, people relate to others in terms of where they work, what social class they come from, politics and many others. I hope that everybody could emulate Jesus’ example and learn how to interact with others. It is by doing so that Christians will be able to “fish” sinners and bring them to the light like Jesus did.

The Apocalyptic Genre

I learned in the Bible Literature class that the term “apocalypse” means revelation. Apocalyptic literature is derived from the word. It means writings that have to do with revelation. In the bible we have book such as Daniel and Jeremiah which basically talk about revelation.

This reading talks of different kinds of apocalyptic literature. Personally, I have learned a lot from this reading. I understand the importance of having in mind that God used former prophets to reveal to them how the world was going to be. It is healthy for Christians to be aware of what God intends to do in order to keep with his commandments.

One thing that I don’t really understand as far as prophecy is concerned is how Jesus would fit in today’s world when he comes. It is evident from reading the bible that so much has changed politically, socially and economically. I believe in the prophecy but at the same time I wonder how the prophecy is going to be fulfilled. For instance, Israel as a nation has changed since Jesus was on earth. The prophecies keep talking about Jesus coming to save the children of Israel. Is Jesus going to keep in mind the geographical setting of the world when he comes back?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Reassesing the historical and sociological impact of the Babylonian Exile

Many scholars have different views when it comes to assessing the significance of the Babylonian Exile. In this reading, Torrey points out that the exile has been put there to play a major role in explaining the history of the Old Testament. I am not so sure of what to comment about this. I believe in the bible and I assume that the exile took place as described in the bible. However, I don’t dispute the fact that we need to look into what these scholars are saying.

I tend to think that God used the Babylonian Exile to punish the children of Israel in love. By that I mean that God loved the Israelites and he wanted them to go according to his directions. The children of Israel were pretty rebellious. They kept doing things against the will of God. So to me this was one way of showing them that God was in charge of everything and he knew better than them. There are certain times that the Israelites would be good and worship God. Other times they changed and worshiped other gods. So having them suffer was one way of forcing them to submit to God fully.

"Enemies" and the Politics of Prayer in the Book of Psalms

I have always found it difficult to understand the book of Psalms when it talks about God striking the “enemies”. I tend to agree with some of the suggestions that have been given in this reading. However, I have my own opinion about this. I think when David refers to the “enemies”; he is talking about two people. One is the real people. For instance, David had a number of enemies. Saul wanted to kill him but God protected David. Second, I think David implies that everyone who is against the word of God is being used by the devil and God shall destroy the devil and set his people free. So according to me, I think the “enemies” basically refers to anything or anybody that is against the word of God.


God used David to fight great warriors of war like Goliath. David killed a lion and saved a lamb’s life. In today’s world, there are many forms of Goliath. This includes poverty, civil wars, unemployment and many others. The bible encourages us that if we let God fight for us then we shall have the peace of mind. It doesn’t matter how big the problem is this but it matters in how much you trust upon God. The devil is the believer’s number one enemy. Therefore, we as the believers need to put our focus on the Lord and let him direct us in fighting the enemy.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Justice: Perspectives from the Prophetic Tradition

If there is one thing that the world if crying for today is to have justice in the entire world. There continues to be so much fighting’s around the world as people continue to demand for justice to be exercised. In this reading we learn that prophets were used by God to make sure that justice was exercised by the rulers and Kings of God’s people. We learn that one of the major crises in Israel was to do with land. That is where there was too much injustice. In today’s world, there has been too much injustice to people. People have been arrested and jailed for the charges they did not commit. Others have been murdered for no reason. There are other big people who have been involved in bad crimes but managed to free themselves because they have money or they are famous. I do believe that justice needs to be there for anyone regardless of their position in the society. This reading also talks about justice, repentance and judgment. It is clear that God is not happy with us when we don’t exercise justice in our lives. To avoid God’s punishment, we must then try to take advantage of others and treat people the way we expect them to treat us.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Prostitution(Women in the Hebrew Bible)

Prostitution had always been depicted by many as the oldest profession. I don’t know how much truth is in that assumption but my guess is that it is exaggerated. A prostitute is described in this reading as a woman who offers sexual favors for money. Personally I think the world is very unfair when it comes to dealing with the issues of prostitution. In most cases, whenever we hear of prostitution, it is only women that are mentioned and not men. The truth is that these women do commit adultery with men.
I think the world should change its perception on how it views women. Men should respect women just as they would like to be respected by women. My point in this case is that prostitution should be viewed from men and women point of view. Men need to be condemned too for prostitution. Very rich men can buy any kind of women they want with their large amount of money. At the end, it’s women that are blamed for accepting the money.
Women prostitutes can change. They need to be allowed time to figure out themselves. In the book of Joshua, Rahab, woman who was a prostitute was used to save the people that God sent to spy the land. Rahab hid the men and gained favor before God. God needs us not to hate women just because they are prostitutes. We need to make them feel accepted and important in the society.
One mistake I see in the bible is that it pretty much makes women carry the burdens of men. For instance, it was a law for women to be stoned whenever they committed adultery but men would get away with it. Jesus saved the life of a woman in the bible who was about to be stoned for allegedly committing adultery. We are not told where the man who was involved with her was. I suspect he was among the ones who wanted to stone her.
We need to stop that now. Both men and women should be treated equally when it comes to such matters.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Receiving the Land as a gift

The reading dwells with how God used Joshua to fulfil the promise that he had given to the Israel that he would give them land. Four stages are covered in this book; Joshua relationship with God(chapters 1-5), the people learning how to obey God according to Joshua's teaching(chapters 6-8), descriptions of Israel's main military and their power(chapters 9-12) and finally concentrating on the people who obtained land in circumstances that were not clear.

From the first 5 chapters I understand that it was God was using Joshua to fight for Israel. God promises Joshua that he will shall be with him and that he wont lose in any wars(joshua 1:5). However he requires that Joshua observe his commandments and remain steadfast in all that he does. I think God's blessings are accompanied by conditions even in today's world. As chrisitans we dont have to sit down and wait for God to do everything for us but we have to walk in his ways for his blessings to come through.

Chapters 6-8 , God brings down the city of Jericho. Only Rahab and her family survived while the rest died. That is one way in which God shows the Israelites that he is with them and he will grant them victory as promised. Joshua could not have been able to bring down the city of Jericho were it not for God's supreme help. In these chapters, God still demands that Joshua does what he is commanded and remains truthful and faithful to God. It is important to note in these readings that God is not unfair. For instance if Joshua had not been obedient, the Israelites would not have gotten the land that God promised to them. It reminds me that we have our part to do and God has his part to do.

The rest of the reading talks about Joshua leading the Israelites into fights and finally conquering the land they had been fighting for. As I read these chapters one subject still confuses me a great deal. I can't stop wondering if the wars that are happening in the middle east have anything to do with what is in the bible. I have heard several christians say that Israel is a holy nation and God promised that he shall grant them victory forever. Does that mean that Israel deserves that land that they keep fighting for with Palestine? Does that mean that Palestines are already losers and they should just leave? But if they decide to leave the land where shall they go? I keep wondering why innocent women and children are dying due to this wars?

I think this is a crucial subject that needs to be examined not only from one opionated view but from both sides. I hope that God will enable me to be able to understand this situation better from the bible verses.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Covenant as a Subversive Paradigm

God prepares Moses to lead his people out of Egypt in this reading by making a covenant. The reading in this area talks mainly of how God establishes covenant and maintains faithfulness in that covenant. I have to admit that I still dont understand how God can make covenant to his people in today's world as he did in the days of Hosea and Moses! One thing that I am finding it hard to understand is the fact that in today's world we are using prophets like Moses and Hosea to undertand God's covenant in today's world. I tend to think that the covenant that God made to his people in the ancient days were meant to apply to situations in those days and God did not intend for us to use them as examples in our own situations.

God talks of making a new covenant with the house of house of Israel and Judah. He says "Behold,the days are coming says that Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah"(Jeremiah 31:31). I fail to understand what God means by "a new covenant". Is that the covenant that God has put in place for today's modern church and how is it different from the old covenant? Is this covenant only meant to be for christians and not for people who dont seek to know God?

I found it interesting that the bible compares the love of God with brotherly love(John 4:20-21) In today's world so many people dont show love towards other people as God expects but still maintain that they have God's covenant in them. There is open racism in some churches today, protestants fight with catholics in some parts of the world yet christians continue to worship and tell people that they need to love one another. I am afraid that in today's world, God has be taken for granted. Human beings have kind of made God become like their pet that they can do asthey perceive acccording to the wishes of their hearts. It is clear from the reading that the mission of the believing community is to articulate,and practice the transformation that is sure to come. The only problem that I see here is the fact that the world doesn't know whom to trust anymore. In the ancient days God would talk to his prophets directly but in today's world God talks to his servants through the holy spirit. Everybody interprets the bible the way it fits in their situations. Thus it is difficulty to claim that God's covenant is effective in today's world.