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970Today's Belfast blog: the author of Hebrews

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  • Jon Kennedy
    Jan 11, 2014
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      JONAL ENTRY 1377 | SATURDAY, JANUARY 11 2014

      Today's Scripture: . . . remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; consider the outcome of their lives, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings; for it is well that the heart be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited their adherents. . . . Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
      From St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews chapter 13,
      from today's Orthodox lectionary readings.
      See the homiletical thought below.

      Today's diary

      I still haven't had a chance to return to writing about the missionary writer or "little distractions" because of the major distraction of feeling this weekend is the peak point for getting the word out about next Friday's launch meeting of the C.S. Lewis Society of Northern Ireland. I've had to relearn old techniques in using email and various programs and some new ones, which is always a time sink. So here I am late again and no continuation on Thursday's seeming, at the time, inspired thoughts about writing.

      As today's Scripture passage is from Hebrews, however, at least one thought touching on the topic of the missionary writer has come to mind. There has been debate for centuries over whether the author of Hebrews was actually St. Paul, because the writing in it differs somewhat with his epistles. The Orthodox say it is lowercase tradition that the book is "Pauline" (that's the word theologians use to say something is "from Paul," as things originating from St. John, author of the Gospel of John and three epistles, are "Johanine"). And to say something is lowercase tradition means that that has always been held but is not dogma, in which case it would be called Tradition with an uppercase "T."

      I've always considered Hebrews to be "Pauline," because even though the writing differs from his style in the epistles, the theology is similarly complex and unlike that of any other New Testament writer. My proposal is that Hebrews was a book that Paul wrote as a "writing project" instead of as a quick dispatch to answer questions and settle some arguments in the churches that he helped establish. In some of the epistles, he may have been writing or dictating his words to a scribe while an envoy was waiting to depart with an intention of delivering it to a remote church on his way from wherever Paul was wrting (a house prison or jail cell in Rome, for example) to somewhere else, like Jerusalem, Damascus, or Ephesus. But when he was writing to "the Hebrews," the Jews in the diaspora of the first-century Roman Empire, Paul took his time, drafted and redrafted his texts, outlined his case, and thought of it as being written for at least several generations of "Hebrews" and of early-church Christians, if not as writing for "all time," which is what the book of Hebrews has turned out to be.

      Today's Inspiration

      Two items today

      1. An OBGYN stopped doing abortions after seeing her own child on the ultrasound screen
      "It was not until I was pregnant myself that I began to really examine my feelings about the moral aspects of abortion. It had taken over a year for me to become pregnant with my daughter. The first time I saw the tiny little flicker of her heartbeat on an ultrasound screen I fell completely in love with her. I finally had to come to terms with the fact that the only thing that made my daughter any different than all those tiny babies I had terminated was the fact that I wanted her. It was as if the scales fell from my eyes and I was at last able to see what I had not allowed myself to see in all those years of doing terminations." Read the entire article here.



      Today's quotes and fun facts

      The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.

      — Fyodor Dostoevsky

      Homiletical thought: The new testament is full of both liberal and conservative philosophical ideas; it is the fountainhead of all modern political science and philosophy. "Do not judge" is a hallmark of liberalism just as "beware of false teachings" is a hallmark of conservatism. "Judge not" is just a little bit more restrained, at least in its enthusiasm, than "anything goes," for if we truly judged nothing, everything would go, would be allowed. But when the New Testament writers warn believers against being misled by false teachings, obviously they are putting up caution signs and fences, letting us know that some things must be judged, prohibited, and preached against. We must always be liberal in doing good and never impugning anyone else's motives, but we must always be conservative, holding on to what is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21) in our comprehension and preservation of Truth.
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      Please pray for my mission to Northern Ireland. You can read my background overview of this undertaking here. My residence/postal address is 227 Crumlin Road, Belfast, Northern Ireland BT14 7DY, UK. Mobile: 44 7455 980890.

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      Jon R. Kennedy, C. S. Lewis Writer in Residence