Theological Footnotes 13 - Double Feature


Theological Footnotes

I am a pastor-theologian and author creating resources to help you grow as a disciple of Jesus. My goal is to make Christian theology comprehensible so that it will build up the church. I write and publish books through Peniel Press.

Hello Reader,

Thank you for checking out this latest issue of Theological Footnotes. With a long family road trip this past month, I did not make a lot of progress in writing. However, I do have two shorter pieces that I hope will bless you and make you think. The first is a section from my next book, The Sinews of Scripture, where I lay out the guiding image for the book: The genealogies are the connective tissue of the Bible. My prayer is that this will get you more excited to engage these neglected passages of the Bible. The second piece is a sample of the devotions that I wrote for Words of Hope that will appear in March 2024. If someone shared this issue with you and you would like to receive it in your own inbox, you can sign up by clicking here.

The Sinews of Scripture

In order for us to walk, we need our muscles to work. Muscles are the organs that pull and enable us to move. As an infant learns to stand or to walk, we can see the muscles developing and strengthening for this purpose. Without muscles, we cannot walk.

However, in order for us to walk, we also need bones. The bones gives us the stability and structure to be able to move. The muscles in our legs, feet, back, and chest pull on the bones in our body to help us move. The muscles provide the strength and the bones the structure. The muscles provide the action, but movement happens when they pull upon our bones and move them. A body without bones would struggle to move for there would be nothing for the muscles to pull on.

However, there is another thing needed for us to be able to walk: connective tissue. Muscles and bones might be necessary for us to walk, but we need something that connects the muscle to the bone, bones to other bones, and muscles to other muscles. We need sinews and ligaments that bind together all our bones and muscles so that we can walk, dance, run, and leap. Without these sinews, the body would fall apart. It would just be a collection of bones and muscles, but be unable to move.

The genealogies are the connective tissue of the Bible. Their purpose is to hold the whole thing together, to forge connections such that the story of the Bible is a coherent and connected whole. They are an instrument in the hand of the Spirit to transform the Bible from a collection of short stories, teachings, songs, and letters, into a unified whole. The narratives might be like the muscles that pull the story of Scripture forward. The law and the letters might be like the bones that give us structure and stability. But without the genealogies holding the whole together, it can become easy for us to see each book of the Bible or even each chapter or verse within a book as a separate and unrelated entity. By connecting past, present, and future together, the genealogies help us see the Bible as a whole book. Our sinews and ligaments help connect our muscles and bones so we can walk. The genealogies, the sinews of Scripture, help be able to walk as disciples of Jesus.

They are not the only instrument the Spirit uses to unify Scripture, but once we see that this is part of the Spirit’s purpose in including these genealogies, we will begin to read them differently.

Take Up Your Cross

Read: Matthew 16:21-26

"Take Up Your Cross"

let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me (v.24)

What does it look like to follow Jesus?

Peter was confident he knew how to follow Jesus. Jesus had chosen Peter and had called Peter to follow him (Mt 4:19). Peter had spent every waking moment with Jesus. When Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do you say I am?” Peter said boldly, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (16:15-16). In response, Jesus proclaimed Peter’s confession would form the foundation of the church. However, for all that Peter thought he knew, he missed the mark. Right after Peter’s declaration that Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus told them where his path would lead. Jesus would go to Jerusalem, where he suffer, die, and then rise again after three days. It would be a path down in humility.

Peter refused to accept it. He took Jesus aside to correct him. Jesus responded by saying that Peter’s words were not from God, but reflected human concerns. Then Jesus revealed what it truly means to follow him. If we follow Jesus, we will need to deny ourselves and take up our cross. This is the only way to save our life. We can gain everything else, but if we do not follow Jesus all the way, that gain is actually loss.

Following Jesus is not a path up to power, fame, wealth, security, or success. Instead, it is a path downward in humility. It is a path where we walk where Jesus walked - even denying ourselves and taking up our cross. --Stephen Shaffer

As you pray, ask Jesus to help you take up your cross and follow him.

She is Called Summer Master Class

Olga and I wrote a devotion on the prophet Huldah for this RCA series. You can sign up for all the remaining sessions below, but know that we are leading the final on August 31.

Writing Updates

The Sinews of Scripture - We have a lot of potentially major changes coming up in our life, so editing this volume has not progressed as expected. I am still really excited for you to get your hands on it and I hope that the preview above gets you excited as well. My target date for this book was fall 2023, but it may need to be pushed until next spring. However, I will share that this book is the first volume in a set of three that I plan to write helping people read the difficult part of Scripture - genealogies, places, and numbers - those sections we often skim over in our Bible reading.

Body of Doctrine: The Commentary of Zacharius Ursinus on the Heidelberg Catechism - As I get closer to moving into the bulk of translation work for this project, I am planning to start a series of weekly videos where I teach through the Heidelberg Catechism. While I translate Ursinus' commentary, I can provide free teaching for those seeking to grow in their understanding of the basics of the faith. These videos are only in the planning stage, but I have already become more active on my YouTube Channel lately. Every weekday I have been posting a short 60-second video related to scripture, theology, or discipleship.

Thank You/Milestones

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Stephen C. Shaffer

Author, Pastor-Theologian


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Theological Footnotes

I am a pastor-theologian and author creating resources to help you grow as a disciple of Jesus. My goal is to make Christian theology comprehensible so that it will build up the church. I write and publish books through Peniel Press.