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By the Hand of Mormon

I have had very little to do with Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons till this year. I recently help set up a website for a local evangelist who engages with them. http://www.cults-investigated.com I went to my local library and found this book “By the Hand of Mormon” by Terry L Givens (Oxford University Press, 2002). So I got it out. There is so much about Mormonism that I did not know. Before learning new things, I find it useful to spell out what I already know. Regarding Mormonism, all I knew was It was very American Young American Male Mormons go on two year missions, often abroad There was a large march to Salt Lake City, to escape persecution The founder claims to have been visited by an Angel They have a religious book unique to them called The Book of Mormon So below is what I have learned. The founder was called Joseph Smith. Born 1805 and dies 1844. The Book of Mormon was published in 1830. He did not have an educated background. He lived in an era when folk spirituality was a big part of Christianity and prophecy and visions were very popular. As a young boy, there was a lot of interest in finding gold or treasure. Joseph smith used ‘seer stones’ in helping to look for treasure but was unsuccessful. At the age of 14...

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How do I share the gospel?

I have read quite a bit of theology recently and it has benefited me in a lot of ways, but I feel a but confused in other ways. One of the key issues I am a little confused about is ‘what is the gospel?’ and ‘How do I share it?’ Previously I would have said something along the lines of the 4 steps God loves me I have sinned Jesus died for me I must decide Problems with this. This was not how the earliest gospel was preached. There was a huge amount about Jesus being the Messiah. End of Matthew  Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” End of Luke  Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am...

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Notes from the Conclusion to Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul

Paul quotes most from Isaiah, The Psalms, Deuteronomy and Genesis. Isaiah is an obvious choice with its large focus on eschatological hope, and also the inclusion of the gentiles. The Psalms would be a good choice as the songbook of the Jews and the early Christians. Deuteronomy’s emphasis on blessings and curses  fits neatly into early Christian belief. Genesis quotations are mostly to do with Abraham.   Unlike Philo who uses a metaphorical method in interpreting scripture, Paul does not have a simple system. One interesting way Paul uses scripture is the way he changes the tense, e.g. For the Lord will not forsake his people (Psalm 94:14) God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew (Rom 11:2) I shall not be put to shame (Isaiah 50:7) For I am not ashamed of the gospel (Rom 1:16) The way the tenses change implies that the decisive event has occurred. Paul is not always bothered about the context of the original usage but is interested in the immediate application to this very important new situation....

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Overview of Romans

Romans 1 The gospel reveals the covenant justice of God. God has come to put the world to rights. The good news is about God’s Son, and power is released when Jesus, the Crucified One, Israel’s Messiah, raised from the dead is proclaimed Lord of the World. Deuteronomy 27-30 and Daniel 9 speak about God’s anger and punishment as being part of his covenant justice, God’s hostility to idolatry. God is coming to judge the world – Psalm 96, 98. Romans 2 The Jew is the answer to the problem of sin in the world. However, Israel’s vocation went wrong. All humans have sinned … What is God going to do about it? He granted promises to Israel … How is God going to be faithful to those promises? Genesis 15 is in Paul’s mind. Rom 5 Reconciliation through the work of Jesus. Peace, reconciliation, the love of God. Renewal of humanity – Genesis 1. When humans are redeemed creation is set free from its slavery. Glory – rule over creation –  the divine presence returning Rom 6,7,8 Holy spirit reveals glory in human lives. Romans 6,7,8 parallel the Exodus. 6 Slaves going through the water/ baptism 7 Mount Sinai / the Law 8 God dwells in the Tabernacle, leads as a pillar of cloud / Spirit Led to promised land / Renewal of creation Jesus shaped, spirit driven?...

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Mark in 1 Go

Yesterday I listened to (on my Bible Audio app) the Gospel of Mark in pretty much one sitting. Here are some notes on what struck me. There is the intensity of it. The intro about the Good News then the quotation mixing Malachi and Isaiah. Then soon we have the time is fulfilled. Miracles some teaching etc. It is very much a story of Israel. There are connections with the Law (questions about the Sabbath, resurrection), the Psalms (22 at the Crucifixion), and the Prophets (quotation at the start and theme of the coming of the Kingdom of God). Many famous characters are referenced to. John the Baptist’s description makes one think of Elijah. Then Jesus says he was Elijah, and Elijah comes on the mountain at the transfiguration. Moses is also there and in other places when the law is mentioned. The stilling of the waters also makes one think of Moses. Thoughts of Elisha and Elijah come when the raising of the dead girl. There is also plenty of reference to David. In the incident about plucking grain on the Sabbath, Jesus is hailed as Son of David. There is reference to the coming Kingdom of our Ancestor David. There is also the question concerning Psalm 110. Abraham is mentioned once along with Isaac and Jacob in relation to the resurrection story. The feeding of the multitude (twice)...

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