April 4, 2002

Yesterday afternoon, I wrote a

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Yesterday afternoon, I wrote a sermon on Philippians 1:12-18a. The challenge there is figuring out the identity of the people who are proclaiming Christ out of ill-will toward Paul. They aren’t heretics. As Galatians 1 makes clear, Paul doesn’t rejoice when heretics preach a different gospel. Most likely, they are Christians who are preaching the true gospel but who are doing it out of rivalry. They envied Paul’s popularity, and they’re hoping to get a following now that Paul is in prison.

N. T. Wright, in his lectures on Philippians offers another suggestion, however. Paul isn’t speaking about Christian preachers. He’s speaking about pagans (as in Acts 19) who are jealous for their religion. They know that if people believe what Paul is preaching, they’re going to stop worshipping the old gods — and some people will even be out of business. So they’re going around “proclaiming Christ” — talking about Christ, describing Paul’s message — in the hope that they can discredit him: “Do you know what that guy Paul is preaching? He’s saying that there’s another king, Jesus. Isn’t that treason? He’s saying that some Jew who died on a Roman cross is the Lord of the world and that he’s conquered our gods and that he’s the only way to be reconciled to the true God. People shouldn’t be allowed to talk like that. It’s bad for business, bad for morale, bad for civic unity. I hope they tie him up a little tighter.” It’s an attractive proposal. Wright admits, however, that though his arguments did convince the other people in his Bible study, they didn’t convince his wife. And in the end, I suspect that this is the less likely of the two options.

After finishing the sermon and having supper, I went with Theo Lodder, the pastor of Taber Canadian Reformed Church, and John van Popta, the pastor of Coaldale Canadian Reformed Church, along with their families, to the University of Lethbridge for a concert by their Jazz Ensemble. They played a mixture of straightforward big band music and some “outside” pieces, one of which, “The Legend of Christophe Dorian,” was written by their bassist — a creative piece, which (I think) occasionally shifted into 5/4 time.

It was an enjoyable evening. We went out afterward for a bite to eat, and then I went over to the home of some friends whose cat I’m feeding while they’re on vacation. To my surprise (not to mention: pleasure), I discovered that they’d left me a six pack of Guinness.

Posted by John Barach @ 1:59 pm | Discuss (0)

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