Friday, August 30, 2013


NT churches did not debate issues such as consubstantiation, transubstantiation or the symbolic nature of the Lord’s Supper for the very reason that they did not use “elements” and or repeat “institutional words.” Their 3-4 hour Lord Supper was a REAL supper. The above issues find their origin in medieval times. The debate continues to rage and divides the Church.

The earliest churches likely expected the Spirit of Christ to show up whenever they met, especially during the symposium part of the meal. This ministry and worship was thus Spirit charged.

[For more on this topic read “Subversive Meals.” Now available for two-day delivery on Amazon Prime].

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Whatever happened to the Lord’s Supper?

The Lord’s Supper as practiced by the first-century church was based on the LAST Supper, which in turn was a Passover meal. All three were patterned after the Roman banquet, a formal reclining meal attended by invitation only and lasting upwards to four hours. It included a first course or the meal proper (known as a deipnon), and the second course or drinking/dessert course (known as a symposium), which included singing, teaching, prayer, reading of Scriptures and letters, ministry of the gifts of the Spirit, etc. As far as we can tell there was no repetition of those familiar institutional words, “this is my body” or “this is my blood.” That did not come about until the second century.

The Lord’s Supper was a REAL SUPPER, likely held on a weekly basis, and was the locus for fellowship and service. It comprised the totality of the worship experience. 

To learn more about this topic, read “SUBVERSIVE MEALS: An Analysis of the Lord’s Supper during the first century under Roman Domination” (Wipf and Stock). Now in stock at Amazon. Prime members can one click for free two-day delivery. Also available in Kindle.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


The Greeks were dualists, holding that soul and body were distinct from each other. They believed the soul was good and immortal, while the body was evil and mortal. During its duration on earth the soul remained entrapped in the body. At death the soul escaped it fleshly prison and was set free. This was the Greek version of salvation. 

Some Jews of Jesus’ day, as a result of Hellenization, began to adopt this Greek concept of life after death. But their belief was not based on the Hebrew Bible.

Jews for the most part made no distinction between the soul and body. For them, humans were mortal beings. They had no clear cut doctrine of life after death, but linked eternal life with an eschatological resurrection. Hence, Jews emphasized living on earth now and not going to heaven in the future. 

For Jews the kingdom of God was likewise connected to earth. This is how Jesus and the apostles understood the kingdom as well (“The meek shall inherit the earth”). Rather than speaking of going to heaven, they spoke mainly of heaven coming down to earth (Revelation 21-22). 

To explore this idea more fully read my  book “Heaven on Earth” (Now available online and in bookstores everywhere).

Monday, August 26, 2013

Heaven is NOT my Home!

Adam came FROM the earth, to LIVE on the earth, to RULE over the earth, to FILL the earth, to be SUSTAINED by the earth, and to RETURN to the earth. He was not created as an angel to live in heaven. He was not given wings to fly in the sky or live in nests above the earth. He was not given fins to live in the sea beneath the earth. He was given a body fit to traverse and live on the earth.

Well what about heaven? It is God’s dwelling place where departed spirits go upon death. When our body succumbs to death, our spirit returns to God. But God’s ULTIMATE GOAL is the redemption of the whole person, including the body. When Christ returns to set up his kingdom on earth, he will transform our mortal bodies into resurrected bodies fit for the new earth. Jesus said, “The meek shall inherit THE EARTH.”

Therefore, heaven is not our permanent home but a temporary abode. We might liken it to taking a flight to Disneyworld (Orlando), but having to first layover in Little Rock.  While Little Rock is a nice place, it is not the final destination. Likewise, our ultimate destination is not heaven, but the kingdom of God on a renewed earth (Rev. 21—22).

How did we become so confused about this issue? We will discuss this in the next post. For a fuller and more illustrative study of the subject, order my book HEAVEN ON EARTH (available in both paperback and kindle editions). It will change your thinking forever!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Do you know Alan Streett?

It is very humbling for a professor to receive such a nice tribute from a student as the one below. Mark Moore’s comments are as much a testimony to his gracious character as they are to my teaching ability.

About once a decade or so God brings a student across your path with whom you make a major impact, who then builds upon the foundation and eventually goes on to do greater things than the mentor. Mark Moore is such a person. 

Professors live for such opportunities. Mark, I am glad God caused our paths to cross. I am proud of you! Thanks for the kind words.

I’d like to introduce you to Alan Streett.

I met Alan fifteen years ago as a young aspiring preacher. I was a classic caricature of one who was full of zeal without knowledge. Alan was close to the age of my father and was full of knowledge with zeal. Upon meeting him I immediately sensed that this was someone I wanted to know better.
Our relationship began as a student-teacher relationship. My degree plan didn’t quite call for all the classes that he taught, so I simply ignored my degree plan. In my mind I had a new major–I was now majoring in Alan Streett.

The reason for this degree plan suicide was simple, Alan was a Bible teacher. You came to class and he opened the Bible and exegeted the text. I, along with everyone else, learned how misinformed we were by proof-texting and folk-theology. Words had context, verses had context, paragraphs had context, chapters had context, books had context, everything had context–and if you didn’t know the context then you probably didn’t know what you were talking about.

It wasn’t so much that Alan taught me what the verses meant; he taught me how to think. He constantly encouraged me to study and research without fear of the outcome. To this day I hear him saying to me, “Mark, you have a curious mind. Don’t be afraid to pursue truth wherever it may lead you.”

It’s been a long time since I was a “formal” student of Dr. Streett, but to this day he remains the single greatest influence in my everyday thinking. Our relationship has now become more of a dear friendship between a father and a son. Typically we spend an afternoon together every month, drinking coffee and talking about life, research, dreams, and Jesus–always Jesus.

For the past ten years I’ve had a front row seat to Alan’s research on the kingdom of God and the nature of the Lord’s Supper in the first century under Roman domination. I’ve so wanted others to benefit from his research and keen insight into the New Testament. That is why I am so thankful that this year has seen the publication of two books by Alan Streett.

The first book is Heaven on Earth: Experiencing the Kingdom of God in the Here and Now. It is an easy to read book written for a popular audience, but at the same time contains cutting edge scholarship on empire studies, voluntary associations, and other current New Testament topics. It reads with the simplicity of a typical popular Christian life bestseller, but contains biblical insight on par with key texts only accessible to academics.

In fact, one reviewer says, Heaven on Earth is “the best contemporary theological book I’ve read this millennium.”

The second book published by Streett this year is Subversive Meals: An Analysis of the Lord’s Supper under Roman Domination during the First Century. Unlike Heaven on Earth, this is a scholarly text written for an academic audience. However, one of Alan’s true gifts is his ability to explain difficult topics in a clear and easy to understand manner. Therefore, you should not let the scholarly nature of this book scare you away.

Subversive Meals is one of those rare books that actually change the conversation–you cannot read it and come away thinking about the Lord’s Supper the same as you did before reading it. In fact, every scholarly work written on the Lord’s Supper from this point forward will have to engage with this work in order to demonstrate academic integrity to the subject matter.

It would be easy to say, “Yeah, but you’ve already said he was like a father to you. What else would we expect you to say about this book?!” I know, it’s one thing when your mom is the only one who says you’re a great singer–you then wind up looking stupid on American Idol. But it’s another thing when you stand in front of the judges and they give you a standing ovation and you go on to win because all of America agrees.

Don’t just take my word for it. Subversive Meals has been applauded by Warren Carter, Dennis E. Smith, Richard H. Horsley, and Joel B. Green. These are the crème de la crème of New Testament studies, Roman Empire studies, and first century meal studies. Scholars of this magnitude have read plenty enough to know when something is a significant contribution–they all agree, Subversive Meals is.

For years I’ve wanted everyone to know my friend Alan Streett. Now they can, and soon they all will.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Kingdom-focused worship and evangelism

Like embassies, our churches should be places where desperate citizens of this world can seek refuge and asylum.

In explaining the advantage of speaking God’s word in the language of the people and not in tongues, Paul writes that if “an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you” (1 Corinthians 14:24-25). 

Here Paul speaks of the power of the spoken word to produce conversion. Notice, the progression: First, “an unbeliever” or one “uninformed” about kingdom things “comes in,” i.e. attends the symposium-style worship. 

Second, a Spirit-empowered utterance is given, which pricks his heart (“he is convinced and convicted by all he hears”). 

Third, his heart is laid open like a book (‘the secrets of his heart are revealed”).
Finally, he prostrates himself (“falling down on his face”) and worships God, declaring, “God is truly among you.”

What could be more dramatic and exciting than this? Is this how unbelievers who visit our churches on any given Sunday respond? Why not? Paul seems to expect things like this to happen in his kingdom-focused churches. When was the last time you saw a sinner on his face, crying out for forgiveness, raising holy hands to the Lord, having experienced a manifestation of God?

{For more on Kingdom-focused worship and evangelism read “Heaven on Earth.” Available in pb/Kindle].