Saturday, August 21, 2010

350: 2 Timothy

2 Timothy 1-4
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." - 2 Timothy 3:16-17

As the name of the book indicates, this is the second letter from Paul to Timothy.

Paul spends the first chapter, as usual, thanking God for the obedience of Timothy. He also recaps the story of Jesus, saying that Jesus has "defeated death". Does this mean to say that people actually died before Jesus returned? This definitely wouldn't be inconsistent with Old Testament teachings.

In chapter 2 Paul tells Timothy to be strong and obey Jesus over men. He tells Timothy to be like a "soldier" for Jesus. He also tells Timothy to pass the message of Jesus on to reliable people who will also be able to teach the gospel.

Paul finishes chapter 2 by again giving Timothy rules that he seems to have just made up. This time the rules are about fighting. He says people should not have disputes about words or have silly quarrels. He also says that we should avoid "godless chatter" because that chatter will spread like gangrene throughout the church. He gives the example of one church where the leaders preached that Jesus had already returned, and it "destroyed the faith" of many.

Chapter 3 is about what the last days will be like. Paul says that people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, disobedient to their parents, treacherous, conceited, and lovers of pleasure. Wow, that really does describe how things are today. Of course, it also describes how things are all the time. That's like saying, "in the end times, people will eat food and breathe oxygen". It may be true, but it's not at all insightful.

Chapter 3 ends with a much quoted phrase, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness." I wonder what the (sometimes contradictory) genealogies of the bible are useful for. I would also argue that from Paul's perspective all the dietary laws of the Old Testament are completely useless. Finally, and most importantly, what is Paul's definition of Scripture? He obviously had no idea what was going to make the final cut in the biblical canon (arguably not completely established until the Council of Trent over 1000 years after Paul's death).

In chapter 4 Paul first reiterates that Timothy should go and spread the gospel. He then seems to refer to his trial, saying that nobody came to his defense. He ends by saying that the Lord will protect him from every evil attack and bring him safely to the kingdom of heaven. Paul seems rather resigned to his execution. Wouldn't it be better if God/Jesus actually prevented his death, rather than just ensuring a safe trip to heaven? Not to mention that "God will deliver you safely to your death" is a bit of an oxymoron.

This is the second time this week I'm going to pick on a private school. Earlier this week I criticized a church school for firing it's teachers because they weren't the right kind of Christians, now this:
A child has been denied entrance into an [Anglican] school in Bedford because her parents are married lesbians.
First, what does this have to do with teaching a child? Assuming there's no issue with paying tuition, I see no reason this school should care about the parents at all. Second, isn't this the perfect opportunity to teach this child the horrible sinful ways of his/her parents? Without guidance from the church, this child is obviously destined to become a homosexual (all children of homosexuals become homosexual, just like all children of heterosexuals become heterosexual).

It gets worse, the school is advertised as "non-discriminatory":
Though the school's handbook and website say that the school is non-discriminatory as to race, color, religion and national or ethnic origin, it doesn't stipulate that they won't discriminate based on the sexual orientation of a child's parents.

"We are a church affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America, and it is their policy that we don't provide services to individuals or families that do not behave properly. We're going off our canons that say 'The Anglican Church in North America affirms our Lord's teaching that the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is in its nature a union permanent and lifelong of one man and one woman," said Kenneth Monk, head of the school.
So I, as an out atheist, could send my child to this school with no problem. But if you have the "wrong" sexual orientation your child is denied? Then they try to go the "it's because they disagree with our values" route? How is a rabid atheist better than a homosexual (in the eyes of the Anglican Church)? I would argue that an atheist is far worse, because they - by definition -actively disagree with the basic tenants of the church.

I never thought I'd say this, but what would Jesus do? Show me one instance where Jesus ever discriminated against someone in his healing/feeding/etc. Show me where he said "no, I can't heal this person, they're a sinner". I don't think you can find me one example of such discrimination, much less an instance of Jesus having discriminated based on the sins of someone's parents. Anglicans are still Christians, right?

(via NBC)

1 comment:

  1. I should've pointed this out earlier, but I'm several days behind: 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus (collectively referred to as the Pastorals) were most definitely not written by Paul. This is an almost universally accepted conclusion among modern NT scholars. In fact, even in ancient times (e.g., the 3rd-c., when they first circulated) they were regarded as inauthentic.



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