Pop Quiz

For those Bible readers out there (or those willing to give it a try), I could use your help. We’re starting “Blue Parakeet” tonight and I’ll be giving a pop quiz to kick things off. I’d love to get some feedback from you on the quiz. It’s fairly simple and straightforward. A command or example is given from the New Testament. Check it out, check out the reference if you like and then simply tell me if you believe it was a “permanent command” to follow for all time or a “temporary command” that was germane only for that time and culture in which it was originally given.

Check these out and when you’re done, please answer the last couple questions:

Greet one another with a holy kiss.(Rm. 16:16)
P T
Abstain from meat that has been sacrificed to idols.(Acts 15:29)
P T
Be immersed in water. (Acts 2:38)
P T
A woman ought to have a veil on her head. (1 Cor 11:10)
P T
Wash each other’s feet.(John 13:14)
P T
Ordain by the laying on of hands. (Acts 13:3)
P T
It is indecent for a woman to speak in an assembly (1 Cor 14:35)
P T
Have fixed hours of prayer.(Acts 3:10)
P T
Abstain from eating blood. (Acts 15:29)
P T
Observe the lords supper aka communion. (1 Cor 11:24)
P T
Remember the poor. (Gal 2:10)
P T
Anoint the sick with oil. (James 5:14,15)
P T
Permit no woman to teach men. (1 Tim 2:12)
P T
Prohibit women from wearing braided hair, gold, or pearls (1 Pe. 3:3 ; 1 Tim. 2:9)
P T
Abstain from fornication. (Acts 15:29)
P T
Do not seek marriage (1 Cor 7:27)
P T
Refrain from public prayer. (Matt.6:5,6)
P T
Speak in tongues. (1 Cor 14:5)
P T
Meet in homes for church. (Col 4:15)
P T
Lift your hands when praying.( 1 Tim 2:8)
P T
Give to those who beg from you.(Matt 5:42)
P T
Show no partiality toward the rich.(James 2:1-7)
P T
Cast lots for leaders. (Acts 1:26)
P T
Owe no man anything. (Rm. 13:8)
P T
If anyone will not work, let them not eat. (2 Thess.3:10)
P T
Worship on Saturday. (Acts 13:14,42,44)
P T
Sell lands and houses when one becomes a Christian. (Acts 4:32-37)
P T
Take collections in church for the poor.(1 Cor.16:1)
P T

Here are the questions:
On what basis did you decide whether a practice was permanent or temporary? On what authority do you feel empowered to make which parts of the Bible you will obey and which parts you will not obey?

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About brianmpei

Stumbling towards what comes next.
This entry was posted in Bible, Christianity, Church, faith, language, McKnight, Meaning, perception, questions, Reflective, religion, theology, tradition, truth. Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Pop Quiz

  1. i think it’s not just a question of permanent or temporary, but also whether the original command was literal or rather anecdotal. Is the principal permanent but the context temporary?

    I also see you safely left out many of the truly controversial ones… 🙂

    • brianmpei says:

      Thank you.

      Now kindly answer the last two questions before my group tonight.

      • 1. On what basis did you decide whether a practice was permanent or temporary?
        -understanding of the context through study (i.e. how the context still does/does not exist today) in order to determine if it is still relevant. In a way, I think it could be argued that all of these specific commands are “temporary” (or at least open to different applications) and the principles behind them permanent.

        2. On what authority do you feel empowered to make which parts of the Bible you will obey and which parts you will not obey?

        -I think God does not only reveal himself through the bible, but also through history and through communities who earnestly desire Godly wisdom. As much as I would like to believe that God wrote one book for everyone for all of time, i just don’t think that makes sense. It was written by believers during a specific time and place. It feels like a big stretch sometimes to jump 2000+ years later to a totally different geographical location and culture and apply the same “rules.” Actually, not only does it seem like a stretch, but it seems rather culturally insensitive (we would never think it was o.k. to take our north american common laws/rules and apply them in the exact same way to a rural village in Sub Saharan Africa, would we?)

        I guess i think that the bible can’t be the be all an end all of God speaking or else we’re all in trouble (there’s a lot left unsaid in there). I think he created the church to discern his voice as a community and he trusts us to use the brains and the intuition he gave us. The commands in the bible provide us with Godly principles that we then need to apply to our culture in our context. Principles like: Take care of one another; love extravagantly; keep your ego in check; be good managers of the resources given to you; be humble; protect the weak; etc.

        *and yes, i do realize how postmodern i sound here.

  2. *principle. (oops spelling error)

  3. J says:

    See, this goes back to some previous discussion we have had together.

    On what basis DO we decide whether a practice is permanent or was temporary?

    On what authority DO we feel empowered to decide which parts of the Bible we will obey and which parts we will not obey?

    Is your “truth”, (that which you feel has been revealed to you as you study, ponder and pray) my “truth”, or indeed “truth” at all. Can we really know the minds of the Biblical authors and the context in which they made their statements, observations, and application? Or do we simply accept the principle of “Inspiration” (God Breathed) Spirit given words to the authors?

    For all of us, a lifetime pursuit, whose personal understanding and application seems to vary our response to life from situation to situation…or not at all.
    Velly Interwesting Indeed!

  4. J says:

    Interesting how God works; seems this carries on from our recent conversation in other areas.

    On what basis DO we decide whether a practice is permanent or temporary?

    On what authority DO we feel empowered to decide which parts of the Bible we will obey and which parts we will not obey?

    Context aside for the moment, we are told that the authors of the bible were “inspired” by the Holy Spirit, that is to say the words themselves, the thoughts whole (and yes in context) were those God wished to impart to us…down through the ages.

    It makes for interesting and I am sure, some lively debate. Which “parts” of the bible are permanent commands and which simply contextual or anecdotal? I believe we need search the whole book, to find the thread… if an idea or thought spans the whole of the bible, then I feel fairly safe in believing this is a “truth”. Like God’s enduring love for us, His creation, even in our stumblings and bumblings.

    In other areas, I have come to accept that others’ “truths” are not always my truths, or what I believe the Bible says. So then, a lifetime pursuit…no?

    • brianmpei says:

      So would your answer to the first question be “number of times repeated in the text”? And what about your answer to the second question?

      • J says:

        Yes to the first, with the “thought or theme” being what is repeated.
        I have to try to “eat the whole Enchilada” to the second, although I am still not sure how to reconcile apparently diametrically opposed ideas sometimes!!!!

  5. Michelle says:

    Greet one another with a holy kiss.(Rm. 16:16)
    T
    Abstain from meat that has been sacrificed to idols.(Acts 15:29)
    T
    Be immersed in water. (Acts 2:38)
    T
    A woman ought to have a veil on her head. (1 Cor 11:10)
    T
    Wash each other’s feet.(John 13:14)
    T
    Ordain by the laying on of hands. (Acts 13:3)
    T (I don’t really understand this one.)
    It is indecent for a woman to speak in an assembly (1 Cor 14:35)
    T
    Have fixed hours of prayer.(Acts 3:10)
    P T (This isn’t Acts 3:10. I can’t read the context.)
    Abstain from eating blood. (Acts 15:29)
    T
    Observe the lords supper aka communion. (1 Cor 11:24)
    P
    Remember the poor. (Gal 2:10)
    P
    Anoint the sick with oil. (James 5:14,15)
    P T (I don’t understand this either.)
    Permit no woman to teach men. (1 Tim 2:12)
    T
    Prohibit women from wearing braided hair, gold, or pearls (1 Pe. 3:3 ; 1 Tim. 2:9)
    T
    Abstain from fornication. (Acts 15:29)
    P (“sexual immorality”)
    Do not seek marriage (1 Cor 7:27)
    T
    Refrain from public prayer. (Matt.6:5,6)
    P (“like the hypocrites…on the street corners…where everyone can see them”)
    Speak in tongues. (1 Cor 14:5)
    P T (?)
    Meet in homes for church. (Col 4:15)
    T
    Lift your hands when praying.( 1 Tim 2:8)
    P T (?)
    Give to those who beg from you.(Matt 5:42)
    P
    Show no partiality toward the rich.(James 2:1-7)
    P
    Cast lots for leaders. (Acts 1:26)
    P
    Owe no man anything. (Rm. 13:8)
    P
    If anyone will not work, let them not eat. (2 Thess.3:10)
    P
    Worship on Saturday. (Acts 13:14,42,44)
    T
    Sell lands and houses when one becomes a Christian. (Acts 4:32-37)
    P (Epic fail on our part.)
    Take collections in church for the poor.(1 Cor.16:1)
    P

    Here are the questions:
    On what basis did you decide whether a practice was permanent or temporary? On what authority do you feel empowered to make which parts of the Bible you will obey and which parts you will not obey?

    This was HARD. Basically, I tried to see if the practice was addressing a specific issue of the culture in which it was being given. If the same principle would hold true regardless of the time/place/culture I consider it a permanent command.

    I choose the authority of God Within -the quiet voice that tells me when I am off course or nudges me to do something. That, and common sense. The Bible is full of wisdom but not an authority that transcends time and place on all issues. If we look at the principle behind the command (as Shelley mentioned) we may find that to be permanent. For example: women should not braid their hair, wear gold or pearls… well, a woman who looked like that would really stand out in their culture… here, perhaps not so much. I suppose what is being taught here is that women shouldn’t try to adorn themselves for attention; which would be a permanent command. But taken literally, well we lose the meaning.

  6. Rein Vented says:

    My opinion is that they are all permanent commands, although some may fit the catagory of practice with those whom “the end of the age” had come.
    I really want to explain, but haven’t the time. Sorry man.
    All the best with tonight.
    I have a few books for you to read that will either knock your socks off, or cause an ulcer.
    I’ll send you an e.mail later…

    • brianmpei says:

      I look forward to your booklist!

      But tell me how you reach your conclusion!

      • Nancy Metzger says:

        It is necessary to read and understand the proceeding and following verses to each of the practices. To understand we need to know more of the culture of that day. I am not a scholar but some things just make common sense when you know more of the history of the time period. However, when a command is God given..I feel we all know it. It just feel right.

  7. Nathan says:

    With all of those passages you’ve selected, the associated command must be fully understood in it’s context. Before we can make any judgement we must dig deep into exactly what’s being said and why. Some of those statements are so deeply imbedded into a very specific context that needs to be understood otherwise things go either sideways or becoming completely pointless.

    Context is hideously important and must always be considered. Looking through history and various movements who have gravitated towards stark literalism, the lack of dealing with the contextual issues has lead to trouble. To a lesser extent, even if we’re not gravitating towards literalism, ignoring the contextual arguments always gets us in trouble.

    As I’ve been told a number of times, “You can’t understand what it means now unless you understand what it meant back then.”

    I believe for the most part, that like Shelly says, the underlying idea is permanent , but for many of them the context is contemporary. The idea will look quite different when transporting from the ancient context to our own, but (if we can adequately find it), the idea is the same.

    That said, some of those statements are related to specific problems that we no longer have. They are contextual problems, which in our culture, don’t exist. Without citing evidence for saying why, I’d readily point out 1 Cor 14:35 and 1 Tim 2:12. (While McKnight does an OK job on this issue, I’ve seen other scholars do a much better job at highlighting the context.)

    • brianmpei says:

      Thanks Nathan. I think McKnight is really using women as a case study in his book and therefore not an exhaustive treatment. I’ve read, however, that some are certain that that was his “not so hidden agenda” when he wrote Blue Parakeet – ie. get us to let women preach and teach. sigh.

      Context is king, eh? I’ll steal your oft quoted line for the group as well!

      • brianmpei says:

        Oh, but what about the two questions. By what authority are you empowered to make those decisions?

      • Nathan says:

        “Oh, but what about the two questions. By what authority are you empowered to make those decisions?”

        I don’t know that ‘authority’ is the right word to answer that question. What authority does anyone have really? Education? Research from other educated individuals? Title? Experience? Honestly, I think the only ‘real’ authority / authorizer is the Holy Spirit. If it’s of him, it will stand and bear good fruit. He’ll bless it and empower it. If it’s not, carnal power may take it far, but it likely won’t bear good fruit. At least not the kind God is looking for.

        The ‘decisions’ are made with the best wisdom and scholarship available all in tandem with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I think the best that any of us can do is use the gifts (wisdom, intelligence, living relationship with the Spirit) that God gave us to discern.

  8. All are temporary except ordination, communion, the poor, fornication, anointing the sick (ie pray for the sick, principle is healing), women teaching men (says usurping authority – this is the caveat), speaking in tongues (some would debate; those who can speak in tongues, please do as much as possible in private!), no partiality to the rich, and not being in debt. Please note: those that are “temporary” may have permanent spiritual applications.

    Criteria –
    (1) whether a practice has been superseded by another (example: casting lots was done before the Spirit was outpoured. Once that happened, the Spirit told people who to set apart for ministry.)
    (2) the principle behind it. In the case of the women teaching men one (a rather unpopular stance, I admit…) the principle is that if there are men who refuse to take leadership positions then it is fine to have a woman teacher. Ability is not in question but attitude is. If, however, the woman finagles and manipulates – or intimidates – her way into taking the leadership position away from a man who is willing to lead (aka usurping) – what does that say about her ability to submit to authority?
    (3) the purpose/reason for the practice, why it was included in scripture. Selling one’s possessions for example – during this time, there was no such thing as Old Age Security. People lost jobs because of persecution. There was no economic support at all, new Christians sometimes couldn’t live. Some – because of their new beliefs – felt that paying guild dues was wrong because the money was laid at the feet of idols. It was part of living in a pagan society and they were making a point; no one in the church judged them for this. So those who owned property sold it and let the apostles distribute according to need. THEY DID THIS OF THEIR OWN FREE WILL. Otherwise, old people and those so persecuted who barely were able to make ends meet before – would be destitute.
    (4) whether the item in question was an example in a story, or a direct command.
    (5) whether the situation still exists in the world today (the poor you always will have with you. However, there are other ways to help the poor than taking a collection in church.)

    Authority for obedience / non-obedience – hm. Rather inflammatory!
    The Word interprets the Word. No one scripture is of any private interpretation. It could be argued that ALL of those commands are permanent in one way or another.

    Yet … we don’t follow the dietary laws of Moses because the need for them has passed and Peter himself was told that it was okay to eat whatever God had cleansed (ie all foods). Of course He was speaking primarily about associating with Gentiles, another thing that went by the wayside … as did the need for blood sacrifices.

    And greeting each other with a holy kiss. Ever wonder why Paul said “holy”? Because it was a pagan society! It was the ultimate in a pagan society: Rome!! It was common to see Romans greeting each other with a lascivious kiss in public! The principle was that if you must kiss another in public, make sure that nobody can say that it was for the purposes of temple prostitution or some other equally un-christian behavior.

    Washing feet – there were those who did do foot-washing as little as a few decades ago! the purpose of washing feet was to do the guest a service that made them feel welcome and honoured. (It would embarrass people in today’s culture… here, let me wash those toe-jammy feet…) The service it provided would be like offering them something to eat in today’s culture. Something that would be left for a servant (employee) to do normally. Like the boss who photocopies stuff for a meeting him/herself even though it’s “beneath” him/her and there are “people” who do that. The principle (as always) is love expressed through service.

    I would guess that no matter what the injunction, it would have a modern-day interpretation as to what to do (or not do) in today’s culture – unless there was a clear precedent for dispensing with it altogether.

    Bottom line is – as God leads every day … live in the Spirit.

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