A doctrine of “continually renewed minds”?

(Old Facebook Post – Revised)

How would Anabaptist churches be different if we taught a doctrine of “continually renewed minds” rather than only one of “nonconformity” (Rom. 12:2)? What if Paul never mentioned clothing/hairstyles/music/etc. in this verse… or chapter… or entire letter, but he did stress humble and loving thinking within church members, springing from worship of the God who has mercifully welcomed all peoples in Christ?

Reader response:

“What if Paul never mentioned” is treading on dangerous ground for anyone that believes the Bible to be God’s word and authority. The fact is Paul did mention these things, not to be legislated, as in legalism but rather because they are affected by the “renewed mind”. There is a fine balance between the two. The Anabaptist churches have gone too far on one side, while I believe the more modern churches have gone too far the other way. It is very interesting to observe what happens to individuals that are brought up in either extreme. Separation from the world in dress is a carry over from the Old Testament Jewish law that stated they were to have fringes of blue on their clothing. There is significant meaning behind the “plain” dress of the Mennonites that doesn’t get taught today. While I do not practice the traditions of our fathers, I do have an appreciation for them.

My reply: I should clarify that I definitely do believe Paul (elsewhere), Jesus, and other NT writers give some direct and indirect instructions about such things, and that a Holy Spirit-renewed mind will be eager to obey God in such matters. I also agree with your generalizations about Anabaptists and “modern churches” and reactionary tendencies. However:

  1. Let us please have enough fear of God to read Scriptures in context and not abuse them to buttress our own scripts!
  2. Focusing on nonconformity without the deep root of Holy Spirit mind renewal will not bear good fruit, leading only to deadly Romans 2 self-righteousness, Romans 14-15 judgmental church members, and an ossification of traditions that prevents the Romans 16 in-gathering of all nations.
  3. I’m not sure it’s good theology to base our separation from the world on attempts to find modern external equivalents to fringes of blue… If that’s the basis for our current practices, then perhaps we understand the gospel as poorly as churches that require no obedience to God’s Word.
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Rapture? Or a new heaven and a new earth?

(Old Facebook Post)

Why do we let one passing reference to “the rapture” (mentioned only in 1 Thess. 4:17, in a manner open to alternate interpretations) determine our vision of where we will spend eternity, while we ignore at least four mentions of a “new earth” (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; and esp. 2 Peter 3:13 and Revelation 21:1) and 1-1/2 whole chapters about a “new Jersualem” (Rev. 21-22a; see also Rev. 3:12; Galatians 4:26)?

My… concern… is that an emphasis on one uncertain interpretation of the idea of a rapture has eclipsed all that Jesus and Paul said about the resurrection–including the judgment of the saints but especially the redemption of our bodies and of all creation.

Follow-up for bonus points: Can anyone show me where the Bible says that when Christians die they go to spend eternity in heaven?

My big point is that the Bible doesn’t say “Set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when you die and go to heaven,” but “Set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:13). I think the difference is very significant, and usually forgotten both in our evangelism language and our attempts to comfort believers. The NT writers had their eyes fixed on the final resurrection; do we?

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Did Enoch and Elijah die?

(Old Facebook Post – Revised)

It’s quiz time: According to the Bible, did Enoch & Elijah die natural deaths?

Hint #1: Read Heb 11:5, 13. (Use NASB or some other “word-for-word” translation, not NIV, etc.)

For the sake of time, I’ll cut to the chase: I think it’s quite likely that Enoch and Elijah did die, and that the popular interpretation we’ve all heard that “they just got took”… is inaccurate. Instead, they may have experienced something more like what Phillip did, when he “got took” to meet the Ethiopian eunuch, but later died. To study more, try visiting:

(Go 1/2 way down, to post at Mon Jan 01, 2007 8:55 pm.)

I didn’t scour these sites for possible heresies, so of course compare all with the Word.

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