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"What has Athens to do with Jerusalem? What has the Academy to do with the Church? What have heretics to do with Christians? Our instruction comes from the porch of Solomon, who had himself taught that the Lord should be sought in simplicity of heart. Away with all attempts to produce a Stoic, Platonic, and dialectic Christianity!" Tertullian (first Latin father) De praescriptione haereticorum 7.9.
Christianity sprouted in the context of Gentile, Greco-Roman culture and has flowered in the West, and certainly the germination has taken place in the East. The struggle from the first sermon to Cornelius, the noble Roman centurion by Peter on through to the present is just what Tertullion’s question represents. What is and should be the relationship of the Biblical world with the Greek world, or more broadly, can the Biblical person appropriate the culture and thought of the non-believer?
Even Jewish thinkers struggle with this. My liberal rabbi friend, Bruce Diamond, thought that Christianity was a kind of intermediate step to a worldwide Judaism that would triumph in the end, along the lines of humanistic, peaceful,...
We have in this text, to paraphrase Dickens: A TALE OF TWO CITIES OR A TALE OF TWO CHURCHES
We must take hold of THE GRANDNESS OF GENTILE SALVATION
The Great Commission, in biblio-theological development, is the predictable Messianic restatement of multitudes of Old Testament commissions and promises and prayers for all the nations to be made disciple-nations—
1. And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed (Gen 12:3).
2. Your descendants shall also be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed (Gen 28:14).
3. That all the ends of the earth may fear Him (Psa 67:7);
4. All nations serve him (Psa 72:11);
5. All nations whom Thou hast made shall come and worship before Thee, O Lord; and they shall glorify Thy name (Psa 86:9);
6. Praise the LORD, all nations; Laud Him, all peoples! (Psa 117:1);
7. Kings of the earth and all peoples; Princes and all judges of the earth. . .Let them praise the name of the LORD (Psa 148:11-13).
8. All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will worship before Thee (Psa 22:7).
9. Then hear Thou from heaven, from Thy dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to Thee, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Thy name, and fear Thee, as do Thy people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Thy name (2Ch 6:33).
10. And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed (Dan 7:14).
IN THE WORDS OF ISAAC WATTS
PITY THE NATIONS O OUR GOD
CONSTRAIN THE EARTH TO COME
SEND THY VICTORIOUS WORD ABROAD
AND BRING THE STRANGER HOME
WE LONG TO SEE THY CHURCHES FULL
THAT ALL THE CHOSEN RACE
MAY WITH ONE VOICE AND HEART AND SOUL
SING THY REDEEMING GRACE. AMEN.
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