Strangers And Aliens (18a): As It Was In The Days Of Noah

Sometimes Peter gives an exhortation followed by a reminder of the gospel and redemptive history. Sometimes, however, as in this case, he grounds his exhortation in the objective accomplishment of redemption for us by Christ. We live our Christian life in a sometimes hostile environment in light of Christ’s suffering for us. Peter begins v. 1 with a grammatical construction (genitive absolute) that establishes the circumstances of our existence and Christian experience. The Messiah suffered in the flesh (σαρκὶ). This reality, of course, was quite contrary to the popular expectation and contrary even to the expectations of the scribes and pharisees. Continue reading →

Strangers And Aliens (18b): As It Was In The Days Of Noah

When I first began working through 1 Peter (in the summer of 1985) the world in which and to which Peter was writing seemed foreign. Today, however, it seems much more familiar. In part that is due to thirty years of reflection. In part, however, it is because the world in which we now live is much more like that in which Peter wrote and preached. In AD 65 the Greco-Roman world was almost entirely pagan. Virtually no one knew anything about Christianity and Christians, to the extent they were known, were largely misunderstood. Remarkably, the last century has seen a remarkable decline in the social status of Christians in the west. Two world wars, the dominance of Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment philosophies and theologies have radically changed the culture in which Christians exist. Our theology has not changed. We still confess the Apostles’ Creed but the setting in which we confess that holy ecumenical faith has changed dramatically. Even fifty years ago, even though they no longer believed it, theological liberals could still tell you what historic orthodox Christianity once believed. Most people in the West could tell you something about Christianity. Today, in a world where only about 10% of Americans actually attend church regularly and where only 5% attend church twice on Sunday and where, in man-on-the-street interviews, apparently rational people are unable to answer even the most basic civics questions (let alone historical questions about Jesus, the resurrection etc). it seems that a profound ignorance of Christianity has settled over the West. We have not moved but the culture has moved beneath our feet. Without packing up a single box, we have become strangers and aliens. Continue reading →