Well, my class got ahead of me in keeping their journal on Paul’s Letters from Prison. I will get back to Philippians, but right now we are studying Ephesians, so I will post a few briefer notes on that Epistle before returning to Philippians.
Here is what Ephesians teaches about predestination:
- God has determined that the people who put their hope in Christ will be adopted as his children and will become Christlike.
- Before he created the world God chose Israel as the people who would live by the promises of God that would ultimately be fulfilled in Christ.
- The people of Israel were the first to hope in Christ. They didn’t know his name would be Jesus, in fact through most of Israel’s history they didn’t even know his title would be Christ or Messiah. (The title ‘Messiah’ comes fairly late in Israel’s history and in the literature of the Bible.) But the story of the Bible is forward looking, beginning with God’s call of Abraham through whom all the peoples of the earth are to be blessed
- God’s choice of the nation Israel as his “chosen people” seemed like an exclusive thing, like a closed circle. In fact Israel’s various rituals, sacrifices, and purity laws were almost guaranteed to exclude the other nations. But Ephesians is about a surprise: “You Gentiles were included when you heard of Christ and believed in him.” The circle is now open, the wall of separation is broken down, and it was God’s secret plan all along.
Election refers to God’s act of choosing people to belong to him. In Ephesians chapter 1, Paul teaches that election is dynamic, open, and growing. Everyday people from unexpected places are coming into the light and life that Christ offers to us.
The Western Fellowship of Professors and Scholars meets Oct 19-20 in Manhattan, Kansas. I will be posting the rest of the schedule, but here are the themes for the breakfast panel discussion.
1. New Interest in Modern Pentecostalism’s Kansas Origins, Dr. Robert D. Linder
Professor Linder is Kansas State University Distinguished Professor
(Ph.D., University of Iowa, 1963): History of Modern Christianity from the Reformation to the Present; History of Religion and Politics in Europe, Australia and the United States.
Greatest quote: “History, religion, politics, baseball! These are the important things of life. What else is there?” — Professor Bob Linder
2. Renaissance Adorations and the Black Magus: Interpreting an Iconographic Transformation, Tamica L. Lige
Until the middle of the fifteenth century the iconography of the Adoration of the Magi remained fairly consistent, with three white kings shown arriving to pay homage to the Christ Child. Around 1450, however, a shift in representation occurred, and one of the magi was now portrayed in the guise of a black African. Scholars have put forward various reasons for the appearance of the Black Magus. One view suggests that the Magi are thought to represent the three known continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa and that the “blackness” of the Magus symbolizes his native land. A second links the Black Magus to sin and heresy due to medieval associations of blackness with death, the underworld, and witchcraft. Another examines the Queen of Sheba as an archetypal figure to the Magi and suggests that written descriptions of her blackness inspire the adaptation of a Black Magus in Adoration scenes. This paper builds on these theories, but argues that representations of the Black Magus also need to be analyzed within the contexts specific to individual works of art. To further this end, this study examines several European examples of the Adoration of the Magi through various lenses to discern meanings specific to each. In order to interpret the meaning of the Black Magus in these works, I will explore the relationship between the Queen of Sheba and the Magi, the effects of reformist ideas in Northern Europe at the time, and the role a patron’s interests play in the iconography of works they commission.
Tamica Lige, of Manhattan KS, is an Italian Renaissance art historian. Her work thus far has explored art patronage by elite families, iconography, and methodology. Ms. Lige’s interests generally surround religious works commissioned by lay patrons and range from architecture to painting.
The Underground Railroad in Kansas: Cooperation of God’s People, Karre L. Schaefer
We will explore the little-known Underground Railroad in Kansas. Recently, scholars have found that contrary to original belief, African-Americans ran most of the Underground Railroads in the Eastern United States. However, as usual, Kansas is unusual.
Because of the lack of African-Americans in Kansas, the Underground Railroad was run by white Americans. Mostly, these consisted of various Protestant denominations who joined together to help African-American runaway slaves escape to Canada and Mexico.
Congregationalist members, such as the Beecher Bible and Rifle Church, while believing that the United States was an authority in place by God, chose to run the UGRR contrary to that authority. Working with the Quakers in Harveyville and other churches, an alternate route was created to throw the slave-hunters off track as they traveled up and down the well-known route. These men and women who ran this railroad believed they did so by authority of God Almighty. This was no small thing – harboring a fugitive slave in Kansas meant immediate death. This Railroad is a case where God’s people put their lives on the line so that others could be free. I will leave us considering whether we would do the same thing.
Karre Schaefer is a graduate student in the Political Science Department at Kansas State University. After receiving her BA in history, she set out to explore why people did what they did, and found herself concentrating in Political Thought. Ms. Schaefer combines political thought, religious thought, Biblical principle as well as enlightenment to seek answers to why social movements occur and their long-term effects.
Paul has such faith in Christ that he is sure he will “dwell in the house of the Lord forever,” and that he has no reason to fear death. Death is gain because he will see the one who gives his life meaning face to face.
But until then Paul finds meaning in life here and now. He finds meaning in his work and in his relationships. Paul’s work is spreading the Gospel, planting churches, and providing continuing pastoral care and leadership for the churches. He is confident God still has work for him to do, and he will continue to find meaning and joy in his work.
Most of us are not apostles, but if we are Christians two things are true: One we all have a part in sharing God’s love with those who cross our paths, especially those for whom we have a responsibility. Second, any honest work can be a holy calling, a vocation through which we may benefit others and glorify God.
Paul’s work involved people whom he came to love deeply. He found meaning in those life-long relationships with fellow believers in cities all around the Mediterranean world.
He also found a sense of satisfaction in what God had accomplished through him. Paul often speaks of boasting and pride in a paradoxical sense. He knows pride is a sin that is associated with arrogance and jealousy. But he also understands that one can boast in the Lord, and so he is proud of what the Lord has accomplished through him.