From the Dean

News items, published articles, and reading recommendations from Dean Timothy George




Page 3 of 158

No More Graves

By Kristen Padilla

April 18, 2016

"Behold, the dwelling place is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." Revelation 21:3-4

There’s an ancient tombstone in Rome that reads, “Stranger, hang on a minute. Stop here; take a look down to your left. That’s where my bones are buried. I was a good man. I was a kind man, and I was a lover of the poor. Please traveler, I beg you, don’t mess with my tomb. Traveler, on your way now. Goodbye.”

For Gaius Atilius, the end of his story ended with his grave, and for a traveler to mess with his grave would somehow interrupt his eternal rest. But God reveals to us in Revelation that for the one in Jesus Christ, the end of our story isn’t the grave but an eternal dwelling place with God. We don’t look to an ending where our bones will lay under piles of dirt; rather, we look forward to the day when we will dwell with God in resurrected bodies with no more tears or pain. As my son Philip says, “There will be no more band-aids in heaven.” And this eternal reality is not dependent upon how good we are. For even Gaius Atilius’ best attempt at goodness still ended with him in the grave. Rather, this eternal reality is given to us because of God’s great love for us in Jesus’ death and resurrection. So even in these moments and days of tears, sadness, and pain, remember that it is temporary. Our stories won’t end in the grave because Jesus is not in the grave.

Devotional originally published for Beeson community's weekly Happenings e-mail.
Posted by Kristen Padilla at Monday, April 18, 2016
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Reading the Psalms with the Reformers

By Timothy George
April 18, 2016

In the fourth century, St. Athanasius wrote a letter to a certain Marcellinus, who was likely a deacon in the church in Alexandria. During a long illness, Marcellinus had turned to the study of the Bible and was especially drawn to the Book of Psalms, striving “to comprehend the meaning contained in each psalm.” Athanasius commends this desire, claiming that the Psalms are an entire Bible in miniature—“the perfect image for the soul’s course of life.” The Psalms, he says, offer therapy and correction for every human emotion. St. Augustine was no less eloquent when he described the benefits he had received from the Psalms. “How my love for Thee, O God, was kindled by those psalms! How I burn to recite them, were it possible, throughout the world.” The nineteenth-century Anglican bishop, J. J. Stewart Perowne, who knew this tradition well, wrote about the importance of the Psalter in the life and liturgy of the church through the ages:

We cannot pray the psalms without realizing in a very special manner the communion of the saints, the oneness of the Church militant and the Church triumphant. We cannot pray the psalms without having our hearts opened, our affections enlarged, our thoughts drawn heavenward. He who can pray them best is nearest to God, knows most of the spirit of Christ, is ripest for heaven.
The Reformation of the sixteenth century can be understood in various ways, but it was in essence a biblical revolution, at the heart of which were the Psalms. After he received his doctorate in 1512, Luther’s first lectures on the Bible were on the Latin text of the Psalter. At the time, Luther did not know Hebrew but soon taught himself to read this biblical tongue with the help of Johannes Reuchlin’s On the Rudiments of Hebrew. The Hebrew Bible had found its way into print decades before Erasmus published the first Greek New Testament in 1516. Luther’s translation of the Tanakh from Hebrew into High German would not be completed until 1534, but a decade earlier he had already brought out Der Psalter Deutsch, his first published edition of the complete psalter.

Luther once said that the Psalms “are not words to read, but to live.” Every Christian should take the Psalms to heart, memorize them and ponder their meaning. “In short, if you would see the holy Christian church pictured in living color and form, as in a small portrait, pick up the Psalter.”

As important as Luther is, though, for understanding the biblical renaissance of the sixteenth century, it is good to remember what the Vatican librarian Monsignor Charles Burns once said: “Not everything on the Reformation is in a shoebox labeled ‘Luther, M.’” This is evident when one picks up the recently published Reformation Commentary on Scripture volume on Psalms 1-72. (Psalms 73-150is forthcoming.) In this impressive volume from InterVarsity Press, Herman J. Selderhuis, a distinguished Reformation scholar from The Netherlands, has brought together a well-chosen catena of exegetical comments on the first part of the Psalter. Read the rest at First Things.
Posted by Kristen Padilla at Monday, April 18, 2016
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The Dean Recommends: Death, the Prosperity Gospel and Me

By Kate Bowler

February 13, 2016

On a Thursday morning a few months ago, I got a call from my doctor’s assistant telling me that I have Stage 4 cancer. The stomach cramps I was suffering from were not caused by a faulty gallbladder, but by a massive tumor.

I am 35. I did the things you might expect of someone whose world has suddenly become very small. I sank to my knees and cried. I called my husband at our home nearby. I waited until he arrived so we could wrap our arms around each other and say the things that must be said. I have loved you forever. I am so grateful for our life together. Please take care of our son. Then he walked me from my office to the hospital to start what was left of my new life.

But one of my first thoughts was also Oh, God, this is ironic. I recently wrote a book called “Blessed.”

I am a historian of the American prosperity gospel. Put simply, the prosperity gospel is the belief that God grants health and wealth to those with the right kind of faith. I spent 10 years interviewing televangelists with spiritual formulas for how to earn God’s miracle money. I held hands with people in wheelchairs being prayed for by celebrities known for their miracle touch. I sat in people’s living rooms and heard about how they never would have dreamed of owning this home without the encouragement they heard on Sundays. Read the rest at New York Times.

Posted by Kristen Padilla at Friday, April 15, 2016
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