Summary: Apostles, Pt. 2

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Christianity is many things to many people. Some identify Christianity with the liberation theology and the social gospel of the 60s and 70s, when liberal priests and theologians fuse political activism with church doctrine, especially in the areas of social justice, poverty and human rights. These advocates were not beyond arming the oppressed to overthrow dictators, fight injustice and even topple governments.

Some associate Christianity with “positive thinking” of the 70s and 80s, the self-help model pioneered by Norman Vincent Peale and Robert Schuller. Sin is a dirty word to them. Basically, Schuller defines sin as “a lack of self-esteem,” “a lack of faith,” “deep lack of trust,” or “anything that robs us of our “divine dignity.” (Schuller, Self-Esteem: The New Reformation, p. 14)

The 80s on were a fertile ground for prosperity gospel, otherwise known as the “Health and Wealth” or “Name It and Claim It” gospel, as preached by Jimmy Baker and Jimmy Swaggart in the 80s and Joel Osteen, the standard bearer in the 21st century. In a TIME poll, 17% of Christians surveyed said they considered themselves part of such a movement, and a full 61% believed that God wants people to be prosperous. 31% agreed that if you give your money to God, God will bless you with more money.

One of the most intriguing literary devices in Hebrew thought is to use parallelism. In English works, especially in poetry, it is pretty common to see the A, A1 rhyme or pattern in the next line. In Hebrew structure, however, it is common to see the structure of A, B, C followed by a reverse C1, B1, A1 structure. John 1:43-51 was written in the C1, B1, A1 structure to parallel to the previous story of Andrew. Andrew’s story begins with “Rabbi” (John 1:38) while Philip’s end with “Rabbi” (John 1:49). In the middle of two stories, Andrew and Philip say “Come and see” (John 1:39, 46). Andrew exclaimed at the end of the first story, “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41) and Philip stated early in the second story, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law” (John 1:45).

Who is Jesus? What draws people to Him? Did He come to start a religion? Well, He was not the guru, rabbi, teacher or even religious founder the disciples initially had in mind.

Christianity is About the Revelation of God

43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. (John 1:43-51)

The earliest telling of “The Blind Men and the Elephant” was to describe what religion was like to six different people. One of the six blind men touched the elephant’s side and described the elephant as a wall. Another stroked its tusk and said the elephant was like a spear. The third squeezed its trunk and swore it was a snake. The fourth pressed its legs and countered that the animal was like a tree. The fifth, who touched its ear, argued that it was like a fan. The last grabbed the tail and was very sure it was like a rope.

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