The Co-Opting of Christian Rhetoric

The Co-Opting of Christian Rhetoric

The phrase “Christian rhetoric” elicits different concepts in the academic world today. From ancient discourse to modern day religious discussion the idea of Christian rhetoric covers a wide range of topics. Yet, when discussing the heritage of the Christian rhetorical perspective or even how rhetorical criticism of the Bible should be perceived, rhetoricians have perhaps unknowingly developed a unified standard of conceptualizing Christian rhetoric. Notably in the areas of rhetorical history writers such as Origen, Eusebius, and Augustine are most commonly associated with the concept of Christian rhetoric. Building off the tradition established by many of the perceived early Church rhetoricians, the line of applying rhetorical thought to Biblical study, communication, and religious topics has continued up until the present time. The predominant rhetorical approach to the Bible, however, has primarily been based or conceived from an Aristotelian perspective rather than an organic approach to Biblical or Christian rhetoric. This paper will advance the argument that despite a few similarities the Biblical Christian rhetoric is distinct and at some points incompatible with the Aristotelian rhetorical perspective and therefore should be conceptualized as a different construct of rhetoric. Furthermore, the historical co-opting of Christian rhetoric by the dominant Aristotelian perspective should be understood within its own diverse historical context thus resulting in a clarification and distinction in reaction to the conflation of the two rhetorical perspectives. This argument will be advanced by first noting the historical use of Christian rhetoric, followed by a brief comparative analysis of both Christian and Aristotelian perspectives, and finally a consideration of James Kinneavy’s argument of the origins of Christian faith will be offered.

The integration of the Christian rhetorical approach with the Aristotelian perspective was a process that gradually took place over several years ranging from the 2nd to 5th centuries C.E. In the discussion of the history of Christian rhetoric Origen is seen as a pivotal influence in the development of the incorporation of the Christian and Aristotelian perspectives. Origen was not overtly focused on teaching rhetoric; however, he is credited with the advancement of the use of homily in Christian teaching. Origen also gained distinction through his emphasis on allegorical interpretation of passages in the Bible. Origen’s methods of interpretation demonstrated a heavy influence from the Greek rhetorical perspective and he developed a heuristic of interpretation that relied upon concepts of ethos, pathos, and logos. This subtle introduction of the Aristotelian model into popular Biblical interpretation would continue to be built upon by students of Origen and those who followed in years to come. Men like Gregory Thaumaturgus, Eusebius, Gregory of Nazianzus, and John Chrysostom further developed and promoted the use of the Aristotelian perspective of rhetoric in Christian discourse.

The popularization of fusing the Greek rhetorical approach with Christian rhetoric continued well into the 4th century C.E. where Lactantius, arguably the first Christian humanist, evoked the use of Aristotle, Cicero, Plato, and Socrates among his works. Lactantius argued that there was a degree of truth in what the rhetoricians and philosophers had taught, but he asserted that the only way to the full knowledge of truth was through the Christian scriptures. Thus, Aristotle was not discouraged from the Christian discourse rather Lactantius, like other Christian writers of the time, sought to situate Aristotle and secular rhetoric within the broader focus of Christian rhetoric. Most famous of all the Christian writers, teachers, and apologists of the ancient time period was Augustine. Like Lactantius, Augustine spent a large portion of his life before his conversion to Christianity as a teacher of rhetoric in some of the prominent schools of the day. In Augustine’s most popular work, De Doctrina Christiana, he addresses the issues as to whether or not a Christian should study secular rhetoric and philosophy. His conclusion in book 2 of De Doctrina Christiana is that the Christian should be able to use pagan studies to one’s advantage, however, Augustine later notes in his fourth book that the study of secular rhetoric must always be kept in constraints of utilizing it for the greater goal of teaching the scriptures.

Even though there was broad appeal from the 2nd to 5th centuries C.E. in the practice of using Greco-Roman rhetorical perspectives with scripture, not all Christian leaders in this time period approved of this synthesis. Tertullian, an early Church leader (ca. 160-225 C.E.) was perhaps the most popular critic of the integration of the secular rhetorical perspective with Christianity. Driven by his skepticism of Greek philosophy Tertullian famously noted “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem? What concord is there between the Academy and the Church?” Tertullian was not the only one to express doubt about the growing fascination of secular rhetoric among Christians. Jerome (ca. 348-420 C.E.) struggled with the relationship between the Christian scriptures and Greco-Roman rhetoric. While Jerome personally had a deep respect for writers such as Cicero, he ultimately affirmed an approach similar to Tertullian by which he tried to separate himself from the Greco-Roman rhetorical perspective. Though the process was favored by the majority, the eventual assimilation of the Christian and Aristotelian perspectives was certainly not a unanimous decision by the early Church leaders.

The approach of viewing Christian rhetoric through an Aristotelian or Greco-Roman rhetorical lens is still in practice today. Building on over a millennium of rhetorical tradition several scholars of present day follow the same practice of integrating the Greco-Roman and Christian perspectives. Some rhetoricians take a broad approach toward Biblical study and criticism by inadvertently situating Biblical analysis in the vernacular of the Greco-Roman rhetorical perspective. Other writers are more direct in their application of the Aristotelian approach to Christian rhetoric. Scholars like David Cunningham directly apply Aristotle’s artistic and non-artistic proofs to discussions surrounding Christian disposition and the communication of doctrine. These viewpoints not only are grounded upon a long standing historical tradition, but they also provide significant analysis and critique. Nevertheless, the inability to situate concepts of Christian rhetoric in its unique conceptual framework apart from the Greco-Roman construct hinders one from fully understanding the intricacies and distinctiveness of the Christian rhetoric of the New Testament.

There are numerous points of contrast between the values, tenets, and perspectives of the Aristotelian and Christian rhetorics. Numerous works have been produced which provide comparative analysis of both systems of rhetoric. This paper will only offer a few noteworthy distinctions between the two standpoints that will mostly focus on Aristotle’s artistic proofs. To begin it is pertinent to note the definition and values of the concept of rhetoric. Aristotle defines rhetoric as the ability of a rhetor “not to persuade but to see the available means of persuasion in each case.” Persuasion, according to Aristotle, is a process that the human mind is subject to in relation to the analysis, judgment, and conviction of communication or proofs. Therefore, the value of rhetoric under an Aristotelian point of view would be to the optimizing of persuasiveness in any situation that the rhetor might find oneself in. From the onset of defining the focus and values of rhetoric a stark contrast can be noted in the Biblical perspective of rhetoric. The New Testament does not explicitly deal with the topic of rhetoric; however, there are several passages that allude to definitive rhetorical perspective. Perhaps the most famous of passages dealing with a rhetorical perspective in the New Testament is 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. In this passage the distinctiveness of the Christian approach from the Aristotelian system is evident. The Apostle Paul states in verse 4 and 5:
“And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”
From this passage Paul demonstrates that the onus of Christian communication is not in conventional persuasiveness, rather the emphasis is placed upon the conveying of Spirit and power. It is understood that the terms and phrases used from the New Testament are contextually, historically, and theologically situated, yet even without an in-depth analysis the contrast of the definition and value of rhetoric within the Christian and Aristotelian rhetorical perspectives is apparent.

The contrast between the Christian and Aristotelian rhetorical systems is not merely limited to the definition and value of rhetoric. Aristotle’s concepts of artistic proofs serve as a beneficial structure by which one can readily note the distinctions between these two rhetorical systems. Aristotle describes the first artistic proof of ethos as the ability of a speaker to “seem to be a certain kind of person and that his hearers suppose him to be disposed toward them in a certain way…” Ethos is the perceived credibility that a speaker has that is projected by the audience of the communicative act. In Aristotelian rhetoric the ethos of a speaker is vital to the persuasiveness of the speaker’s message. In this rhetorical system the speaker should be sensitive to the projected ethos and work to develop a positive disposition that will facilitate optimal persuasiveness. The New Testament rhetoric does not deal with ethos explicitly and even when it alludes to concepts relating to ethos it presents seemingly dichotomous views. For example, Paul elaborates in 1 Corinthians 9:18-23 that he “became all things to all men…” in order that he might “by all means save some.” This demonstrates that Paul was aware of the effects of audience perception and that he placed value on being sensitive to such projections. However, in other passages in the New Testament the perceived credibility of speakers is de-emphasized. In Acts 2 the account details that when the Apostles stood up and began miraculously speaking in foreign tongues the audience reacted by questioning “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans?” Contextually this inquiry called into question the education, intelligence, and credibility of the speakers. To be a Galilean carried the connotation of being “ignorant, rude, and uncivilized.” Nevertheless, this liability of ethos was not in consideration especially given that the account in Acts 2 is by far the most successful account of a sermon in the New Testament. Though there are similarities between the conceptualization of ethos in Aristotle and the New Testament there are still striking distinctions that demonstrate a fundamental uniqueness to each perspective.

Aristotle affirmed that persuasion was possible when hearers were “led to feel emotion by the speech.” Furthermore, Aristotle argued that “the emotions are those things through which, by undergoing change, people come to differ in their judgments…” While Aristotle does not believe that pathos (emotional appeals) were the sole vehicle for persuasion he does emphasize their importance in the effect of positioning the audience to be amenable to persuasive messages. When examining the New Testament’s portrayal of ethos the incompatibility of the two rhetorical systems is notable. The New Testament only uses the word pathos 3 times and each time it is used in a negative context. The word is used in Romans 1:26, Colossians 3:5, and 1 Thessalonians 4:5. The concept of pathos is associated with “degrading passions,” “impurity, passion,” and “lustful passion.” Needless to say the concept of pathos in the New Testament is not communicated in positive or affirmative terms. When analyzing the speeches and sermons of the New Testament it is possible to discern emotional appeals in the messages, however, the New Testament does not explicitly appeal to pathos as an appropriate means of persuasion.

From the previous points of the value of rhetoric, ethos, and pathos it is evident that the New Testament Christian rhetoric demonstrates characteristics that are completely different, if not incompatible, with the Aristotelian approach to rhetoric. The distinctions and incompatibilities between the two systems are also present in areas of logos, style, invention, and other concepts. Present day scholars note the differences between the two approaches and argue that the New Testament rhetorical approach is a product of a mixture of Jewish rhetorical heritage coupled with Greco-Roman tenets. However, the New Testament rhetorical perspective has several unique aspects that set it apart from both of its predecessors.

An argument by James Kinneavy that draws a link from the Greek uses of the word pistis to the origins of the New Testament concept of faith has received attention by scholars of Christian rhetoric. In his argument Kinneavy asserts that the New Testament Greek word that is used for faith (pistis) actually has roots in concepts of Greek persuasion. Kinneavy demonstrates the numerous times that faith is associated with persuasion in the New Testament and he notes the connection of the roots of faith (pistis) and persuasion (peitho) as used in the New Testament. The argument progresses to affirm that the Christian rhetoric of the New Testament possesses a distinct view of faith than what is prescribed in the Old Testament. Kinneavy finds that the use of pistis to describe faith as persuasion is only used once in the Septuagint while it is used 16 times in the New Testament. Kinneavy’s argument seems valid particularly in view of the use of faith or preaching in persuasive contexts that are extensively described in the book of Acts (Acts 13:43, 16:28, 18:4, 19:8, 26:28, 28:23) Even if it Kinneavy’s argument is granted that there are Greek rhetorical origins to the expression of New Testament faith this conclusion must be tempered in view of other New Testament perspectives. For example, when describing the communication of the Christian message or gospel to non-believers, the New Testament prevailing uses the words kerygma (to proclaim), kerrusso (to herald, to announce), euagellizo (to announce, declare, or show) and these words lack the concept of the process of persuasion that Kinneavy argues is inherent in the word pistis. Instead of using the verb to persuade (peitho) which is commonly found in the book of Acts, the New Testament instead describes the communication from the speaker as an announcement and not an inherently persuasive attempt by the speaker. The discrepancy in the descriptive terms of how the message is communicated seems to limit the extent of perceived influence of the Greek rhetorical origins upon the construct of New Testament rhetoric.

In light of the limitations of Kinneavy’s argument it appears that the rhetorical approach of the New Testament can be a confusing contextually nuanced system. While there are certainly influences from both the Jewish and Greco-Aristotelian constructs of rhetoric, the New Testament paves it own path in utilizing influences from preceding rhetorical approaches and creating new and unique applications of rhetorical perspectives. The struggle of establishing a fully consistent rhetorical viewpoint from the New Testament texts is understandable given the consideration of the tensions discussed so far. Yet, the dichotomous spread of rhetorical approaches in the New Testament is an inseparable part of the identity of the Christian rhetoric in the New Testament and should not swept aside or co-opted by a purportedly more consistent rhetorical approach.

As was noted beforehand the early Church fathers rejected a discourse confined to a New Testament rhetorical approach. Rather, the early Church rhetoricians sought to generate a system that assimilated the Aristotelian and Greco-Roman rhetorical views with their beliefs in Christianity. The ultimate consequence of this fusion was the co-opting or assimilation of the Christian rhetorical perspective into the Aristotelian system. The Christian rhetoric was never the dominant frame of discourse even in the 1st century societies. While its effects are far reaching, the system as a whole was unable to preserve itself as a sustainable discourse without the need of modification and co-opting. The study and use of Christian rhetoric as it is situated in the New Testament context is in the minority of academic perceptions regarding Christian rhetoric. By using Aristotelian and Greco-Roman ideals and constructs many rhetorical and literary critics of Christian rhetoric participate in the age old co-opting of Christian rhetoric into the Aristotelian system. An approach that places fidelity toward the New Testament rhetoric as a preeminent goal in the description and analysis of its criticism is warranted in today’s diverse scholarship. Few critics in the present situate their analysis with such a counter-normative critical perspective, but the result is a critique that set parameters as defined by New Testament rhetoric and not from a co-opted perspective of the Aristotelian system.

Christian rhetoric stands as a diverse field that even after nearly two thousand years is worthy of further investigation. The relationship between the two systems of Christian and Aristotelian rhetoric is continually under investigation. Both perspectives have had tremendous impact on the outcome of historical and rhetorical events. Nevertheless, discerning scholars should be wary so not to rush quickly in framing or using the concepts of Christian rhetoric so as to co-opt them into the separate and distinct approach of Aristotelian rhetoric.


Resources
"Acts - Chapter 2 - Barnes' Notes on the New Testament on StudyLight.org." Bible Study Tools and Resources - StudyLight.org Has the Largest Collection of Bible Study Resources on the Internet!! Web. 07 Dec. 2010. .
Aristotle, and George Alexander Kennedy. On Rhetoric: a Theory of Civic Discourse. New York: Oxford UP, 2007. Print.
Cunningham, David S. Faithful Persuasion: in Aid of a Rhetoric of Christian Theology. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame, 1991. Print.
Jennings, Theodore W., and Hendrikus Boers. Text and Logos: the Humanistic Interpretation of the New Testament. Atlanta, GA: Scholars, 1990. Print.
Kennedy, George Alexander. Classical Rhetoric & Its Christian & Secular Tradition from Ancient to Modern times. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1999. Print.
Kennedy, George Alexander. Greek Rhetoric under Christian Emperors. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1983. Print.
Lactantius, Lucius Caecilius Firmianus. The Divine Institutes: Books I-VII ; Transl. Washington: Cath. Univ. of America, 1964. Print.
Marshall, Alfred, and Erwin Nestle. The Interlinear NASB-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1993. Print.
Wilder, Amos N. Early Christian Rhetoric; the Language of the Gospel. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1971. Print.
  • preacherdavetx
    Wow... you put out some serious bulletin articles man. Nice work.
    by preacherdavetx at 12/08/10 10:03AM
  • brigster
    that's a lot of rh words
    by brigster at 02/21/11 1:17PM
  • dwatkins
    tl;dr

    :)
    by dwatkins at 03/09/11 10:01AM
  • dwatkins
    Hopefully - I don't really know. I may be down on Friday, April 8. We'll see... :)
    by dwatkins at 03/10/11 10:33AM

Plane Illuminations

While riding on an airplane late one night heading to Orlando we look out the fog rimmed window, what do we perceive? We see vast amounts of space in a single gaze. Yet in this scope of our perception what do we behold? Light, the faint glow of the distant horizon, the sprawling metropolis with city lamps aglow, or the single glimmer of a bright lamppost on a farmstead, is set before our meager glimpse. We see light. Our curious eyes are drawn to it, we behold its brightness, luminescence, and beauty as it stands in solidarity amidst the darkness. The fact is that the darkness does not register. We do not behold the darkness; rather the only thing that is even perceivable is the light. The darkness is vast and expansive, but it operates only as the darkened canvas from which the lights burst forth their radiance. Contention, distinctiveness, and difference are inherent in this work of art. Yet despite the underlying conflict of this heterogeneous spread, we stand amazed, perhaps even breathless, at the grandeur of the entire view. This masterpiece is none other than the plan and eternal purpose of the Master.

Consider in Light of God’s Word-

Matt. 5:14-16- Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

1 Peter 2:9,12 - But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
-Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.

Grace be with you,

Caleb
  • ccmom
    Yes, exactly! I hope you are doing well. It looks like you are doing wonderful work for the Lord.
    by ccmom at 07/02/09 4:13PM
  • heidiw
    Hahaha! Thanks for the input! And does "Dios bendiga" possibly mean "God bless?"
    by heidiw at 07/06/09 10:31PM
  • freymarlow
    I like your blog, I will preach on the 20th of August. Have a scripture-filled week!
    by freymarlow at 07/07/09 1:42PM
  • freymarlow
    Thanks for your comment, I like what you say and how you say it.
    by freymarlow at 07/08/09 11:11AM
  • dwatkins
    Dominos are better:

    1) because they take up less room laid out on the table
    2) because they're much more fun to shuffle
    3) because, when all else fails, you can chunk them at your opponents*

    *do not do this when your opponents are also your great-grandparents
    by dwatkins at 07/08/09 5:19PM
  • dwatkins
    And I bet you would regain all respect for Alton Brown if one day he closed his show with, "Um...I think I have a...food...in the oven. I gotta go."
    by dwatkins at 07/08/09 5:19PM
  • holly_ann
    That was lovely, Caleb. See you in a few weeks!
    by holly_ann at 07/11/09 5:29PM
  • dwboyd
    Nice.
    by dwboyd at 07/28/09 11:06AM
  • brigster
    Hey heard you had a good time in PR. If you liked PR, you'll like Perth Amboy, NJ. Come for a visit sometime
    by brigster at 07/31/09 2:34PM
  • chooselove
    you look like a Mennonite in your avatar.
    by chooselove at 04/21/10 10:33AM

Reflections: '08 a year of change

It was almost ironic to hear our new presidents motto when he was on the campaign trail: change.

2008 was a year of change. This past year I have gone through more major changes than any year before. As I stop and ponder the changes that I have faced this year, I am humbled by God's providence and His faithfulness. From college, to work, from FL to TX, leaving old friends, making new ones, changes in my famly, my grandmother passing away, and finally getting out on my own- this year has been frought with joys and trials.

Yet, the constants in my life have helped me through it all. God, my family, the Church, and my friends, have helped me realize that no matter what change may come, I will be able to endure to the end.

I don't know about you, but when I stop and think about the changes over the past year, I feel old. I feel like life is passing by so quickly, and a deep urging need to make the most of every opportunity swells within me. Life is so short and such a blessing!

Speaking of change, I recently went through some of my old friend links here on pleo. It's interesting to observe how pleo has changed for me and many of my friends. In highschool pleo was a life-line. With very few christians around it was my link to my closest friends, but now most have abandoned the ole pleo. Instead of using it to stay close with my dearest friends, pleo has become more of a social network update: checking up every once and a while for the current buzz. Even then most of my closest friends on pleo during highschool have sinced stopped using their blogs. It's interesting how life changes.

Friends I was once inseperable with, I barely have the opportunity to speak to anymore. Some of my closest comrades I haven't seen or heard from in years. If this were the case in highschool I would have been completely devestated. Yet, everything is ok. Perhaps God gives us the blessing of certain people and relationships for the moments we need them the most, and then grants that blessing of that friendship to others elsewhere. I am content, knowing that no matter where my brothers, sisters, and friends are, God knows those who are His and is faithful to the end. - Some things never change, praise God!

Lordwilling 2009 will undoubtedly be another exciting year full of even more changes. May the Lord grant me patience and wisdom to endure faithfully through.

I hope you have had a wonderful 2008 and pray that the Lord will bountifully bless you in the coming year. May we realize the gravity of every opportunity and use them to His glory!


Ok, I know this was a rather serious post, but I've been in a rather somber and reflecting mood of late. Don't worry everything is dandy!

Next Post: What's the Best Root Beer? **Taste Test Results**

May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always,

~Westbrook


How can a young man keep his way pure?
By living according to your word.
I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.

  • freymarlow
    Pretty good post, Caleb. If you feel old now, wait till you get to be my age, I turn 49 in August. Oh to be your age again...lol
    by freymarlow at 01/09/09 9:35PM
  • preacherdavetx
    I don't know about you, but when I stop and think about the changes over the past year, I feel old. I feel like life is passing by so quickly"... you ain't seen nothing yet brother. Wait till you have kids!

    Great thoughts and insights. God Bless in 2009!
    by preacherdavetx at 01/09/09 9:42PM
  • holly_ann
    Well, I'm glad we're getting back in touch more! Happy 2009!
    by holly_ann at 01/09/09 11:10PM
  • telly
    It has been awhile since we have seen you, have you seen Caelan?
    by telly at 01/10/09 9:18AM
  • tsi
    my advice is to just go with the accent, or be very conscience of how you're talking if you don't want to have the accent. I ALWAYS pick up accents. You should hear me talk around my title I hispanic kids. That's the only time I felt really bad about my habit, I was hoping it didn't sound condesending.
    by tsi at 01/10/09 8:18PM
  • tsi
    oh, and yeah. I did get to hang with some of your family. We even visited with your grandpa last weekend, which I really enjoyed!
    by tsi at 01/10/09 8:23PM
  • dwboyd
    Good post.
    by dwboyd at 01/11/09 2:34PM
  • jjorangeswirl
    i know, i am really excited thinking about utah
    by jjorangeswirl at 01/14/09 1:15AM
  • vande
    You have a very good perspective on things. I've always known that about you but you're able to verbalize your thoughts quite well. Perhaps you have had more change over the past year than any of us. I'm so glad that you are feeling so confident about the future. God bless you in 2009 too.
    by vande at 01/17/09 7:19AM
  • bravedave
    Wasn't too hard to run ya down on here. Keep up the good work there--
    by bravedave at 01/22/09 8:40AM
  • laurar209
    Check out Southwest -- they're having some good flight sales over N and J's wedding weekend.
    by laurar209 at 01/27/09 9:09AM
  • brigster
    here's an old friend checking pleo to see what the buzz is. Thanks for the thoughts. God bless
    by brigster at 02/12/09 2:50PM
  • tunaschick
    Yes that is Nathan Meier's blog
    by tunaschick at 04/24/09 7:48PM
  • mre
    hey it was good to see you at lectures
    by mre at 06/19/09 11:13AM

Ah Golfers...gotta love em

A tribute to Golfers, since I did hit my lowest round on 9 this past weekend!

And for those of you who are not golfers (I will forgive you for a moment) you will nonetheless find this story funny as well.

This is hillarious. Read it. It's definitely worth it!

http://sports.espn.go.com/espnmag/story?section=magazine&id=3759605&lpos=spotlight&lid=tab1pos1

lol, I love it.

Oh and btw it snowed in Houston!!! It was crazy, after church this evening I was attacked by a onslaught of snowballs. Then we went sledding on one of two "hills" in Pasadena. Actaully it was more like a large dirt pile, but it got the job done. It was a blast!!

None of these Houstonians have sleds, so we used the top of a toy box that some of the boys of the congregation loaned us. It was really funny, but it worked well. We all threw plenty of snow and were really wet and cold afterward, but it was well worth it. I even got to hit Jerry Fite with a snowball! Hoorah!

And the really odd thing was it was about 70 degrees yesterday, and today it snowed...odd, very odd. And if the locals are right it will be back up in the mid 60s by the end of the week. Strange, but hey it's good for the golf game!

Hope you have a Jim Dandy Day!

From snowy Houston
Chao

~Westbrook

I will praise You with uprightness of heart,
When I learn Your righteous judgments.
I will keep Your statutes;
Oh, do not forsake me utterly!
  • techietortuga
    Yea. Tomorrow it's suppouse to be in the mid 50's by the afternoon.
    by techietortuga at 12/11/08 12:03AM
  • beckylboyer
    I can't believe it snowed there. Very strange!
    by beckylboyer at 12/11/08 8:24AM
  • deusvitae
    What is important is recognizing that words like "metonymy" and "literal" are literary functions. They describe how words are used, not necessarily how things exist in reality. It's easy to confuse the two, and it happens quite often.

    That's why any idea of a "literal indwelling" does not make a lot of sense, since literal is limited to the way words are used. "Concrete indwelling" is probably a better description, but then again, what is "concrete" about the Spirit?

    As to cause/effect, that involves a significant level of interpretation. It's presuming a priori that the cause is not present based upon some philosophical tenets, which is always scary in terms of Biblical exegesis (Colossians 2:9).

    We should be wary of mandating that since physical persons are one way, spiritual persons must be the same way. We don't know the physiology of spiritual beings. That's not revealed to us. It is not against God's nature of communication to recognize that there are the "secret things" that belong to God alone (Deuteronomy 29:29). Some things are revealed, other things are not; we do not do well to presume upon Scripture with our own philosophical presuppositions.
    by deusvitae at 12/11/08 10:34AM
  • deusvitae
    And I rest in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. Again, Paul employs Temple imagery and uses it in reference to believers. The whole concept involved-- body as Temple of the Holy Spirit "who is in you," therefore, body must be kept holy, requires that the presence be substantive. Without the substantive presence, the whole concept is hollow.

    As to your question about the "work of the Spirit apart from the Word of God," I again go back to the fact that the Word is Christ. The Word is not the Spirit, and the revelation represents the communication of the Word, being Christ, to various people throughout history.

    So, to me, the question is based on faulty presuppositions. The Spirit does nothing apart from the Father and the Word. But the role of the Spirit-- His function in the Godhead-- is not limited to or even primarily defined by His revelatory work. Romans 8 speaks of His intercession in prayer. Galatians 5 presupposes the active work of the Spirit with the believer relative to the manifestation of the fruit. 1 Corinthians 2 would presuppose that the Spirit guides in understanding of the Word, and 1 Peter 1:2 goes so far as to speak of sanctification as "in the Spirit". Thus, while the Spirit does have the responsibility of communicating to mankind the revelation of the Word (Christ), His role is much more involved with humans than just the revelation.
    by deusvitae at 12/11/08 10:40AM
  • preacherdavetx
    Are you in a barbershop quartet. There's a fellow here in Texas City who's a barbershop quartet guy. He has a lot of tapes/cd's etc. I'm sure he'd love to visit with you if you are ever interested.
    by preacherdavetx at 12/11/08 1:11PM
  • melissakae
    we used to use trash can lids to slide down hills when it got icy. :-)
    by melissakae at 12/11/08 3:45PM
  • unclebiskabobka
    Thanks, man! I got that one at Shangri-La Gardens. Glad you like it!
    by unclebiskabobka at 12/11/08 11:03PM
  • techietortuga
    That would be wonderful. I think she would be up to it. She is some what open minded when it comes to things. She has come to services wtih me several times and really enjoyed. She also agreed with a lot of things that were being said. I think I remember Jerry preaching a lesson on this topic sometime recently. I'll have to see if I can find the cd of it and have Paul burn me a copy.


    BTW....did you ever find your phone?
    by techietortuga at 12/11/08 11:39PM
  • mr_and_mrs_berry
    We just watched a great golf movie "The Greatest Game Ever Played" about Francis Ouimet (I think that is the spelling). Once in NYS there was a freezing 4th of July. It was in the 1800s and after a volcano somewhere that really covered the earth with a bunch of ash in the atmosphere and caused havoc with the temperatures all over.
    by mr_and_mrs_berry at 12/12/08 6:56AM
  • freymarlow
    The only thing I think a golf course is good for is to ride a horse or several through it. I am not into golf And I forgive you who are....lol
    by freymarlow at 12/12/08 2:55PM
  • heidiw
    Hmmm... funny. All that crazy weather sounds a little like WI. Crazy. I hope that you are well!!
    by heidiw at 12/13/08 11:35PM
  • laurar209
    you've gotta check out the group/song on meghan's blog -- SO cool!
    by laurar209 at 12/24/08 8:29AM
  • jjorangeswirl
    You know the group at Seffner, they're always the first to advocate "christmas specials" on CD's.
    by jjorangeswirl at 12/25/08 9:36AM
  • dwboyd
    Whats up cuz?
    by dwboyd at 01/06/09 12:13PM
  • thepoeticmadman
    Nope, Nathrizim.
    by thepoeticmadman at 01/08/09 9:27PM

What Was Poured Out

This is not exhaustive by any means, but written to stir up thought and to generate a better understanding of our God, The Holy Spirit.

In Colossians 1:27 Paul states "...the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."
Also, in 1 John 4:15, John writes "Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him..." In these passages it appears that deity is within us. Yet, we understand that the actual person of Christ or the Father is not literally inside of us. We know that Jesus and the Father are in heaven (Acts 2:33; 7:55). It is also apparent that a person is not able to be divided and still maintain identity as a singular being.

These previous passages use metonymy, which is "a figure by which one name or noun is used instead of another." Thus, when Christ is referred to as being in you, Paul is meaning that the knowledge of the resurrection is within us (our hope of glory), not the person of Christ. Also in 1 Jn. 4:15 “God abides in him” does not refer to the actual person of deity within us, rather God’s authoritative Word and Will in our minds and lives.

Even though the concept of metonymy can be clearly understood with the person of God or Christ, sometimes there is unnecessary confusion regarding the person of the Holy Spirit. The scriptures clearly reveal that the Holy Spirit is a being that is identified as a person: He is described as deity(Acts 5:1-4), He speaks (1 Tim.4:1), He can be grieved (Eph.4:30), and He can be lied to (Acts 5:1-4). There are several other passages that show aspects of the person of the Holy Spirit, however, we can be absolutely certain that He is a distinct person and He shares in the nature of deity with God and Christ. Since the Holy Spirit shares the same attributes of a person of deity this would mean that He is a singular being who would not be able to be divided and still maintain personage.

Thus the same concept of metonymy that is applied to Christ(Col. 1:27) and God (1 Jn. 4:15) should also be applied to the Holy Spirit. For example, in Acts 2:17, Peter quotes the prophet Joel showing that on the day of Pentecost, God began to pour out His Spirit (the Holy Spirit). With our knowledge of metonymy we can correctly understand this passage to mean the power of the Holy Spirit was being poured out, or ushered forth, to all flesh. This does not mean that the person of the Holy Spirit was being poured out, rather His power. This came through the power of the miraculous gifts, the gift of salvation to man and eventually through the complete revelation of God's word, not some mystical indwelling. This is particularly evident in light of Acts 2:17-21 which demonstrates the effect of the pouring out, namely prophecy.

Also in Titus 3:5-6 we find that God “saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ.” The same thought applies to Titus as it did in Acts 2. Paul is not alluding to a pouring out of the person of the Holy Spirit within each individual Christian, but he is referring to the effects or works of the Holy Spirit. Paul illustrates this in the context by referencing the renewing of the Holy Spirit in regards to salvation, not a indwelling of the person of the Holy Spirit. The "renewing of the Holy Spirit" is an adjustment and recalibrating of our thoughts and actions to the Will of God generated by the Spirit through the Word. This Word works in us today! (1 Thess. 2:14).

It was not the Person that was poured out, it was the Holy Spirit’s work.

Hope you are having a great week! God bless!

Chao

~Westbrook

You have commanded us
To keep Your precepts diligently.
Oh, that my ways were directed
To keep Your statutes!
Then I would not be ashamed,
When I look into all Your commandments.
  • preacherdavetx
    Nice work!
    by preacherdavetx at 12/09/08 6:20PM
  • deusvitae
    If the work of the Spirit were so limited, then perhaps we could confine it to the Word.

    First of all, it should be noted that the Word has more to do with the Son; after all, He is the Word of God (John 1:1). The Spirit provides the revelation of that Word to mankind in written form, but it is always a reflection of that Word.

    I understand what you say about "metonymy," although I don't know if that's really the word to describe it. Metonymy involves describing a part in terms of the whole, and this does not seem to be that, per se.

    Anyway, 1 Corinthians 6:20 does posit the body as a Temple in which the Holy Spirit "dwells." If there is no real concept of the presence, regardless of how that happens in reality, the image and the commandment are hollow.
    by deusvitae at 12/09/08 9:57PM