Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Word for Wednesday, March 24

Ah, Paul! That apostle could write a sentence unequalled pretty much anywhere. Readers should perhaps be glad that most people don't write such sentences. My quest for New Testament counsel on believers being armed has led me to 2 Corinthians chapter 6, verse 7 -- but, as I refuse to quote any passage smaller than a complete sentence, I'll need to cite the first ten verses of that chapter:
And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain -- for He says, "At the acceptable time I listened to you; and on the day of salvation I helped you;" behold, now is the acceptable time, behold, now is the day of salvation -- giving no cause for offense in anything, in order that the ministry be not discredited, but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true; as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.
Yes, those 164 words form one sentence. It would not be recognized in a composition class as an exemplary sentence, but that, after all, is not its purpose.

Weapons are mentioned (" ... weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left ..."), but in context I don't think literal "weapons," in the gun-knife-or-sword sense, are what the apostle is talking about. The long and much-mixed list from the quoted passage is a list, I think, of many and varied opportunities in which the believer may serve God. Toward the end of the list are some opposed pairs, such as "sorrowful yet always rejoicing." The idea, as I read it, is that no matter what happens, the believer can respond in a way that glorifies his or her creator and redeemer. So, I think I'll classify this passage as not speaking directly to the question of whether a Christian may, or should, be armed.

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Anonymous said...

I agree with you. This one wouldn't stand on its own in your quest.

I did, however, just come across a link to a book (that's also being recorded as a podcast) titled Christianity and War by Dr. Laurence Vance. Thought you might be interested:

Jim Wetzel said...

I've read a fair amount of Mr. Vance's work, and have enjoyed it -- to whatever extent "enjoying" is compatible with sorrow and anger over the condition of the church in my country. I'll check out the link -- thanks!