Friday, August 27, 2010

356: 1 Peter

1 Peter 1-5
"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed." - 1 Peter 4:12-13

This is another pretty standard (read boring) biblical letter. Chapter 1 starts with praise for God/Jesus. Peter also says that suffering and grief serve only to prove your faith genuine. Who are you proving your faith to? Doesn't God already know how faithful you are (or if you would fail a test of faith for that matter).

Chapter 2 compares Jesus to a "living stone". I don't suppose this is terribly surprising, his dad is constantly called a "rock". Peter then, like Paul, tells us that we must obey earthly authority, because our leaders have been appointed by God. In fact, he says that our leaders have been sent to "punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right". I wonder what God's rationale was with Hitler.

Peter next tells slaves to be obedient, even if they have a master that beats them for doing good things. Taking a beating is "commendable" to God. I guess getting beaten by your master is just another "test of faith" anyway.

Chapter 3 repeats the idea that women should be obedient to their husbands. Peter claims that if husbands see how obedient their wives are, they will be convinced of the power of God.The bible does mention that husbands should respect their wives, but only as the "weaker" partner.

The rest of chapter 3 and all of chapter 4 is about suffering. Peter says that, as a Christian, you should expect to suffer. And that's a good thing because it will bring you closer to Jesus. This sentiment is echoed in the words of Mother Teresa, "The suffering of the poor is something very beautiful and the world is being very much helped by the nobility of this example of misery and suffering". Needless to say, if all Christians followed this doctrine they'd be rather disinclined to actually help people.

Chapter 4 also mentions that "the end of all things is near". Why does every writer of New Testament gospel seem wholly convinced that the end of the world will happen in their generation? A better question: Why do people still think the biblical apocalypse is on it's way?

Chapter 5 talks about the young being submissive to the old. Peter also tells the old to be shepherds and teachers of the gospel.

Billy Graham wouldn't want us to join a cult:
[Question] Some people came to our door recently and offered to explain the Bible to us, which we let them do since we’d never thought much about God. But how do I know if they are a cult? I don’t want to get sucked into a cult, but they’re friendly and have interesting ideas.
I guess it depends on what you think the word "cult" means. The word cult can be defined as "formal religious veneration". Of course, that would apply to Christianity too, and Billy Graham can't have that:
Cults often claim that the Bible isn’t sufficient, and they add other books to it (usually written by their founder). Cults also claim that they, and they alone, know the way of salvation, and you must be a member of their group to be saved.
It's convenient that this definition seems to fit perfectly with Mormonism (they add books to the bible written by their founder). I didn't realize that it was so common with cults to add books to the bible. Billy lets slip a little that cults "claim that they, and they alone, know the way of salvation". Does Christianity not claim to know the only way to salvation?
The most serious disagreement between Christianity and cults, however, concerns Jesus Christ. The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus was God’s unique son — fully human and fully divine — sent from heaven to save us from our sins by his death on the cross. As the Bible says, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Cults, however, deny this.
I was under the impression that Mormons did believe Jesus was divine. I guess by Billy Graham's definition, you could be a fanatical everyone-commit-suicide group, but as long as you agree that Jesus is fully human and fully divine (whatever that means) you probably don't have any serious disagreement with Christianity. He may as well just say what he means, "if you're not a Christian group, you're a cult".

1 comment:

  1. Another day, another pseudonymous epistle. From here on out, all the books were certainly not written by the people they are traditionally ascribed to.

    Simon Peter was an Aramaic-speaking, uneducated fisherman; the author of 1 Peter wrote in literary Greek. He also references empire-wide persecution of Xians, something which is not known to have occurred before the last decade of the 1st c. And, like in Acts, he has Peter sounding like Paul. There's also quite a bit of church order material here, which would be at home in the 2nd-c. Pastorals and may have been added later.



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