I still have the book. It was my introduction to Biblical Criticism and The Higher Critical Method in my first doctrinal studies in college. It was written in 1966 by Henry Flanders and Robert Crapps is currently in its fourth printing and - from what I recently discovered - is considered a classic still in high demand. I was shocked to see it offered on Amazon.com for $72.25 – you save $10! The tagline says, “People of the Covenant (POTC) is grounded in the best scholarly methodology, respect for the rich literary values of the Hebrew Bible, and concern for its enduring relevance.” Wow… promos don’t get more impressive than that!
I remember being especially impressed by the scholarly rhetoric of the authors. I poured over the chapters, underlined the main thoughts and memorized the concepts. POTC argued better than most, that contrary to popular belief, the Pentateuch was not written by Moses and the bulk of the Old Testament was not written alone by the famous prophets whose names children have memorized since God made dirt.
I learned that a collection of sources, called JEDP (the Jahweh source, the Elohim Source, the Deuteronomic source, and Priestly source), were used by various editors to assemble the ancient Scriptures over hundreds of years. According to the JEDP hypothesis, the incredible prophecies of the ancients were actually NOT PROPHETIC but added back into the ancient texts AFTER THEIR FULFILLMENT by an editorial group of theologians. How else could the prophets actually predict the future? Miraculous, inspired insight by God? Seriously? Such childish thinking was scoffed at and belittled by our professors who took it upon themselves to enlighten us. It was a Dorothy moment. I sat in stunned awe as my professor pulled back the curtain on the Wizard of Oz. I soaked it up. I was a good student and learned fast and well.
I also remember the summer after finishing my first year of college. I was back home, taking a break from my studies. I was on fire for all things Christian and eager to share my newly enlightened status with the common, uninformed people of the hinterlands. I remember making Kennedy Evangelism calls with other volunteers from my country church. One night Bob Young and I struck out in our efforts to make visits on the people assigned to our team. No one was home or wanted to talk to us. So as we drove from house to house, I took it upon myself to “educate” Bob on my understanding of the Bible and the scholarly work that is necessary to discern its true meaning. To his credit, Bob listened attentively, respectfully asking a question now and then to clarify a point. I was quite proud of my ability to handle the complexity of the material and help a simple-minded-man like Bob understand what I had learned. When I was finished, and I will never forget this moment, Bob just quietly said, “Somehow that just doesn’t seem right to me.”
“Somehow that just doesn’t seem right to me.” It was a simple statement made by a simple man, but that was all it took to convince me he was right and I was wrong, and so were my highly educated and mistaken professors. The truth has weight to it. Most people know it when they hear it. Later I came to understand Bob’s simple but powerful statement was a confirmation of Paul’s insight, “The Spirit of God testifies to our inner spirit that we are children of God.” And also in 1 Corinthians 2:12,13
“We speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.”
I learned an important lesson that evening making evangelism calls with Bob. I learned I don’t need superior wisdom, debating skills or a library full of books to speak about my faith to people more educated and articulate than myself. The truth of God has a weight to it. It doesn’t need defending; it needs only to be shared with simple confidence and personal conviction. Bob was a brakeman who rode the trains of the Erie Lackawanna railroad. I doubt Bob ever attended college. And I’m certain the theologians who taught my doctrinal courses throughout college and in the seminary had forgotten more about the Bible than Bob ever knew. But Bob was used by God at a critical time to teach a future pastor an important lesson about the truth and power of God’s Word.
It is not our job to argue anyone into the faith. I would even say, “It is impossible to argue anyone into the faith!” That is God’s work, done by the Spirit of God who empowers our witness when we share His truth. Paul told the Christians at Corinth;
'When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.”
I like the way Mark Twain summarized his view of the Bible when he said, “It is not those parts of the Bible I don’t understand that bother me most; it’s those parts I understand perfectly well that give me the most trouble.”
By the way, if you would like to purchase “People Of The Covenant” I have a first addition I would sell for a mere $70… you save $12!
“Continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:14-17
- Who introduced and nurtured you in the Christian faith?
- How important is your Christian spirit and attitude when witnessing to others about your beliefs?
- The Bible says, “Speak the truth in love…” Which is more important?
How would you describe yourself?
A. Make all efforts to avoid confrontation.
B. Damn the torpedoes all speed ahead.
C. Eager to become more accepting of those different from me.
Click here to take the survey and take a moment to leave an idea, a thought or suggestion for those who are interested in your opinion.
If you were unable to attend services last week or would like to hear a message based on Matthew’s account of Jesus birth, visit our website at www.stjstl.net and click on a teaching link. A Bible study is also available for you to download.
St. John Church is now live streaming Sunday service at 9:15am and 11:00am.
Join us at http://www.stjstl.net/media/live-stream/
Gracious Lord, by Your Holy Spirit deepen my faith and trust in You. Also increase my compassion for others that I might more and more reflect Your compassion towards those near and far from faith. Keep me from developing a judgmental spirit out of insecurity or superiority. Relieve any fears I have of entering conversations about faith. Help me to remember that when I speak Your truth, Your Holy Spirit empowers my words. As Paul counseled the young man Timothy, keep me from engaging in meaningless and often destructive debates about trivial matters of belief that can be used by Satan to dissuade and discourage people from accepting You in their life. Let my peace and confidence be seen in all I do and say; through Jesus Christ my Lord, Amen.
In need of prayer? E-mail your prayer request to and our staff, our prayer partners, and the people of St. John will pray for you. Or consider joining our Prayer Ministry by either being on a team that meets once a month, or by receiving prayer requests through our email prayer chain.
Last Chance for Baby Item Collections
- Be sure to bring in the items we are collecting this month as we partner with community agencies who help young moms in need.
- Forget to take a tag? Some of the items needed are sleepers, diapers, baby bottles, formula and baby wipes. Just place the item in the donation center in your venue’s lobby.
I Wonder….continues during the week
- Did you text in a question and not have it answered during service?
- During this series, The Six Podcast will be used to answer all of those unanswered questions.
- Listen to The Six Podcast at thesixpodcast.com. The link is also available at the bottom of our homepage. New podcasts are usually available on Wednesdays by mid-morning.
Men’s Getaway Weekend – April 19-20, 2013
- Join St. John Men for a Weekend Getaway at Cedar Creek Conference Center in scenic New Haven, Missouri. Strengthen your connections with other St. John men or make new ones with team building activities and biblical teaching by Ryan Peterson & Dion Garrett. Cast your line on the 7-acre lake, sample craft beer at the Town Hall, practice your swing on their nine-hole golf course or enjoy hiking trails and workout room.
- Cost is $149 per person/double occupancy lodging and three chef-prepared meals.
- Online registration at www.stjstl.net. For more information, contact Andy Wichmann at 636.346.4287 or
- Cedar Creek Conference Center 1401 Olive Road, New Haven, MO 63068
Stephen Hower, Pastor
Challenging the status quo to awaken an appreciation for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Phil. 3:13,14
(and to lower my golf score)
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