Walter Brueggemann is one of the greatest living biblical scholars. I don’t always agree with him, but he always makes me think.
Check this out at www.walterbrueggemann.com: He wrote 53 books by the typical retirement age of 65 and another 78 books from age 65 to now at 86 on this his birthday!
I read things on a regular basis that trumpet the glories of the Stoic way of life. It got me thinking about three options when it comes to death:
SECULAR folks think death is something we should not think of. We need to get distracted with lesser things. Ernest Becker talked about these things in his Pulitzer winning book, The Denial of Death.
STOICS say we ought to face death bravely as it is so “natural.” Everyone has to experience it. Hunker down and face the music. Stop complaining you weak-willed soul!
SCRIPTURE tells us that death is our final enemy (I Cor. 15:26). Satan uses death to terrorize us (Heb. 2:14,15). Christ says he has abolished death (II Tim. 1:10). We long for eternity (Ecc. 3:11). Death is not the way it was suppose to be. We can face it (contra the SECULARIST), but we don’t face it in our own strength (contra the STOIC).
Bruce’s knowledge of the Bible was prodigious. Those who knew him well believed that he had the whole Bible, in the original languages and in several translations, committed to memory.
When he was asked a question about the Bible, he did not have to look up the text. He would sometimes take off his glasses, close his eyes as if he were scrolling the text in his mind and then comment in such an exact manner that one knew he was referring to the Hebrew or Greek text, which he either translated or paraphrased in his answer.
If he were in an academic context, the reference might be directly to the original language; in speaking to students who were not necessarily theologians, he would normally use a contemporary translation; in church he would use the appropriate translation familiar to the majority of his hearers, whether the Revised Standard Version, the New International Version, the New English Bible, the King James Version or in conservative Brethren circles, the New Translation by John Nelson Darby, again normally quoting exactly from memory.
He also seemed to know all the hymns of the classical and evangelical Christian traditions by heart as well as a large body of secular poetry–English, Scottish, Greek and Latin. (239)
I often interact with Christians who “believe” the Bible, but don’t read it very much.
I know several non-Christians who don’t believe the Bible, but still read it.
“Ah,” you say, the non-Christians read it for the wrong reason. They just want to be literate.
“True,” I concede, but what about the Christians who don’t read the Bible?!
I await your answer…
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Yes, you read that correctly. It is actually what John says in the book of Revelation. I am currently reading the book of Revelation for my devotions.
Here is Rev. 2:24 from the New American Standard Version of the Bible:
“But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them—I place no other burden on you.“
According to Gary Burge in his terrific work on John’s gospel, John likes to allow for double meanings at times.
It seems that the “deep things of Satan” could both be a sort of mockery, and it seems to describe a Gnostic-like (Gnosticism does not kick in this early, more of second century reality) idea of special knowledge for certain, select folks.
Either way, the deep things of Satan are unimpressive in light of the riches of the true gospel!
Talk about hubris! I do agree with a one of their selections. I am sure you can guess which one!
HT: Dan Wallace