Saturday, August 14, 2010

343: Another Letter

Ephesians 1-3
"Surely you have heard about the administration of God's grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly." - Ephesians 3:2-3

As the title alludes, this is yet another letter by Paul. You'd think they would have just stopped including these letters. It doesn't seem like Paul has anything new to add.

It seems that, for once, the people Paul is writing a letter to are actually obeying his commands. Paul uses this as a opportunity to go on and on about how God loves them and gives them wisdom. He's obviously never heard of "preaching to the choir".

The only thing of real interest in here is Paul saying that the Ephesians were all predestined to find Jesus. This, along with the teaching that some are blinded from the truth of Jesus, seems to completely undermine any modern definition of "free will". Of course, modern Christianity's definition of free will is probably a product of the bible being contradictory, the bible does say that we should "choose" to follow God, thus implying that we have the free will to choose. But how can people choose the right thing when people are "blinded" from the gospels, or just flat out prevented from doing the right thing (in the case of Pharaoh)?

Chapter 2 starts with Paul again reiterating Jesus's sacrifice. He ends this by saying, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith ... not by works, so that no one can boast". Not by works? I hear this passage in response to the reasonable assumption (in my opinion) that an all loving God would favor people who have done good works over murderers. Even if the person who did good works didn't follow Jesus, and the murderer did.

This "not by works" concept may seem unreasonable to me, but what does Jesus have to say?:
As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.'"

"Teacher," he declared, "all these I have kept since I was a boy."

Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." [emphasis mine] - Mark 10:17-31
For not being saved by works, Jesus sure has a lot of earthly things you need to do before you can get into heaven. This "just follow Jesus and you'll be saved" concept seems completely made up by Paul. It certainly wasn't Jesus's idea.

Chapter 2 ends with Paul again saying that all the believers in Jesus are a part of the "body of Christ".

In chapter 3, Paul just reiterates that he's been sent by God to preach to the gentiles. He tells the Ephesians not to be discouraged by his "sufferings". The chapter ends with Paul praying for God to give the Ephesians the knowledge of how much Jesus loves them.

Fort Wayne, an Indiana city, has actually taken a stand on removing a Christian education program from their public schools. Well, sort of:
As a matter of constitutional law, there's no reason for Fort Wayne Community Schools to end its long religious-education partnership with the Associated Churches of Fort Wayne and Allen County, so long as the classes are privately funded and conducted off school property, students are not coerced and parents give their informed consent.
For those of you unfamiliar with the story. The Associated Churches of Fort Wayne bought trailers, and put the trailers on public high school campuses. This was somehow, legally speaking, "not on school property". Even though the trailers were sitting atop school property. And the lawsuit was actually about a student who was forced to go to these Christian bible classes against her and her parents' will.

A few days ago, the Fort Wayne school board voted unanimously to end these programs. Unfortunately, the bible classes were replaced with "character building" classes. And they're still sponsored by the exact same organization (the Associated Churches of Fort Wayne). You can't tell me that they're not just going to crack open their bibles to figure out what "good character" is.

1 comment:

  1. Ephesians is the first of the Deutero-Pauline epistles, which are believed by NT scholars to have been written in the last 1st-c. after Paul's death by one of his followers. But actually, some early copies of the letter don't mention the Epheseans at all, and Tertullian said that Marcion had a copy of this addressed to the Laodiceans, which was probably an earlier version (in fact, the earliest known version). It is a pastiche of Pauline expressions from his letters (and Colossians), cobbled together in an un-Pauline way.



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