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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
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Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Double Crucifixion. Part X - A literal Start
If you haven't done so already, you may want to read the posts which preceded this one (for some context):
     I, II,III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII and IX.


Picking up where we left off, the next category is a bit more involved, so much so that I had to cut this post into two parts, this is the first:

He or she had tasted the heavenly gift (whatever that is)

Ambiguity thy name is "tasted" and thy nickname is "heavenly gift".

Which is my way of saying that until we know exactly what is meant by "tasted" and "heavenly gift" we are not going to be able to draw a very precise conclusion; and even if we were certain of the exact meaning, we are still left to wonder: does the tasting here refer to the hypothetical person tasting someone else's heavenly gift, or does it mean tasting his own heavenly gift?

My point is not to defend or make a case for any one interpretation, btw, so I am going to present a few interpretations without trying to make one sound better than the others.

Let's start with the idea that the word taste is used literally here, rather than figuratively. The word, elsewhere in scripture is most often used to describe actual eating (Matthew 27:34, Luke 14:24, John 2:9, Acts 10:10, 20:11, 23:14, Colossians 2:21), so this lends some initial credibility to the notion.

If the tasting is literal, he may be referring to the Lord's table. In that case, Christ Himself as offered symbolically in the ordinance, would be the "Heavenly Gift": tasting the heavenly would be a reference to the Lords table.

If that interpretation is correct, then we cannot say conclusively that this describes a believer, since one need not be a believer to (physically at least) partake in the Lord's table.

Another interpretation that uses "tasting" in the literal sense could be the loaves and the fishes, but as the physical act of tasting these elements in no way requires one to be genuinely a Christian, it likewise would be inconclusive for our purposes.

Yet what if the tasting is figurative? The figurative use in the NT is less common, and almost exclusively used in the idiom "tasting death" (Matthew 16:28, Mark 9:1, Luke 9:27, John 8:52, Hebrews 2:9), yet there is one example (c.f. 1 Peter 2:3) where it describes "tasting" that the Lord is gracious.

The problem with a figurative interpretation here is scope.

Should I burn my hand someone might call that getting a "taste" of hell. That doesn't mean that I actually experienced "the real deal" of hell vicariously through this burn - nor does it suggest that I actually partook in some small measure of hell itself. All it means is that I experienced something that we would expect someone in hell to experience.

Again, I watch a sad scene in a movie. One of the supporting characters is dying or dies, and all the other characters are weeping and crying - and though it is all make believe, yet I am grieving with them - partaking in a grief that I know isn't even real, yet I am "tasting" it vicariously, by virtue of my exposure to it.

Again, and perhaps more practically, the atheist boss who atheist employee is converted, and who sees the radical transformation Christ makes in the life of the employee, who not only confesses to having been a petty theft in the past, but immediately engages in restitution, and thereafter works thrice as hard as previously, and does not slacken, but ever increases to perform as the months go on. The atheist boss has "tasted" the life of Christ in the believer - and benefited from it - without himself being a direct partaker.

Again, a church loses their pastor, and I am called to pastor during the interim. It is a temporary solution, yet for months I "taste" what being this congregations pastor is like. Taste here means I partake of a thing in part, but not in whole.

Also, and perhaps finally, I could say that I am tasting the benefits of marriage right now, being married - in which case "taste" means fully experiencing a thing.

What I am saying is that there is a large figurative range in a word like "taste", and if we are going to address this category properly, we ought to make sure that we don't just cut out our own narrow sliver and claim it means "this" as though there were no other figurative contender to examine.

Whew!

The next post considers the implications of a figurative understanding of "tasting".

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posted by Daniel @ 12:01 AM  
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