Category Archives: Gospel of Matthew

20140104

Concerning Matthew 23

Recently, I was dragged into a debate concerning homosexuality and tolerance. Well, I wouldn’t say I was dragged in to it, so much as I responded to a comment, was responded to, and pretty much had to keep going with the conversation. I’m not going to hash out the details. Especially since the debate was incredibly circular with some people arguing a certain perspective, and others arguing another perspective that did not even necessarily oppose the first one. Essentially, there were two issues being argued, even though people thought there was just the one.

Anyway, again, without getting into the details of the argument, I thought that Don Carson’s mediation today concerning Matthew 23 was really helpful to illustrate how Jesus responded to a world bent on doing evil. Jesus both condemned and wept over it. However way/to whomever you might want to apply this passage, I think it’s a really great perspective to have.

How many evangelical leaders spend most of their energy on peripheral, incidental matters, and far too little on the massive issues of justice, mercy, and faithfulness – in our homes, our churches, the workplace, in all our relationships, in the nation? How many are more concerned to be though wise and holy than to be wise and holy? How many therefore end up damning their hearers by their own bad examples and by their drifting away from the Gospel and its entailments? Our only hope is in this Jesus who, though he denounces this appalling guilt with such fierceness, weeps over the city (Matt. 23:37-39; Luke 19:41-44).

(D.A. Carson, For the Love of God Vol. 1, p. 23).

Conscious Vs. Immersion Catechism

Chris Evangelista
Dr. Ephraim Radner
WYT1105HF
24 November 2011

Paper 2: Conscious vs. Immersion Catechism

Part 1
Roughly the first two thirds of the Heidelberg Catechism can be seen as elements representing the turn to “conscious training”. These questions cover the topics of sin, salvation, the Trinity, and the Sacraments, and are presented in a logical way that stands in stark contrast with the “narrative” form of the catechism of the past. Only the last third of the catechism – the questions dealing with the Ten Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer – might be considered as questions that can be taught by “osmosis”, and for a good reason: except for introductory questions (such as Question 92, which actually lists out the Ten Commandments), these questions largely consider Christian conduct and prayer, which can be seen and imitated by catechumens.

The very format that Heidelberg Catechism is written in, questions followed by answers, lends itself to being communicated primarily through class, memorization, or cognitive means. Reading the catechism, one might imagine catechumens grilling a catechist with these questions. Certainly, the catechism seems to follow a certain logic in which a question draws on preceding questions and their answers. This systematic approach highlights the shift to conscious training as it seeks much more to engage the hearers in reasoned discussions about the doctrines of the faith. Continue reading

Exploring the Kerygma, Part 2

Chris Evangelista
Catherine Sider Hamilton
WYB1501HF
2 November 2011

Exploring the Kerygma: Part 2

Section 1
Four elements of the core kerygma can be clearly seen through a cursory reading of Matthew 27:45-60. Most obviously, Jesus’ death is at the forefront as it is the account of his crucifixion. In addition, there is a statement establishing that Jesus is the Messiah as the centurion utters in amazement: “Truly this was the Son of God!” (27:54, ESV). Also, it is also explicitly stated that several witnesses were “looking from a distance, [witnesses] who had followed Jesus from Galilee” (27:55, ESV). Finally, Jesus’ burial was narrated at the end of the pericope. Of these four elements, Jesus’ death and burial really stand as the main emphases, as this pericope is, after all, an account in which Jesus’ death is central. However, it does seem that the author did take care to mention that certain people were watching from a distance, emphasizing the fact that there are witnesses to this event.

While these four elements can easily be seen, a fifth one may also be discerned through careful reading and reasoning. This element is that these events are accomplished in God’s power. This is evident in the curtain being torn in two, the earth shaking and rocks splitting, and some of the saints coming back to life (27:51-53). Though these events are not explained in the passage, such astonishing events occurring at the moment of Jesus’ death can only suggest that God was supernaturally at work throughout the event.

On the one hand, several elements would seem to be missing from the passage at first reading. Foremost of this is the explanation that all of this had happened for the forgiveness of sin. Any thought of the resurrection is also missing, though to be sure, this will be covered later on in the narrative. Finally, also seemingly absent is any reference to these events fulfilling Old Testament scripture.

On the other hand, we may also see several elements being added in this account. Most curiously, there is the declaration of Jesus as the “Son of God”, which although is one of the elements of the core kerygma, who makes the declaration comes as a surprise. It is a Roman centurion and not one of the disciples, witnesses, or even a Jew who recognizes Jesus as such at the moment of his death. Another added element is in verse 50 where it says that Jesus “yielded up his spirit” at the moment of his death. This seems to suggest that Jesus was in control even of his own death, which shows his willingness to sacrifice himself to death. Finally, as mentioned above, the supernatural events occurring in verses 51-53 are not part of the core kerygma, though it may be seen as an extension of other elements from the core. Continue reading