Church Lady: Greek expert shares God's true meaning; child ministry springs to life at New Life

Pastor, linguist and New Testament scholar Dr. Martin Culy and his wife Jo-Anna pose for a picture at the conclusion of their Marco vacation.  The Culys, from British Columbia, enjoy the serenely of Marco in June. 
 /Kathleen Tuttle Special to the Eagle

Photo by Kathleen G. Tuttle

Pastor, linguist and New Testament scholar Dr. Martin Culy and his wife Jo-Anna pose for a picture at the conclusion of their Marco vacation. The Culys, from British Columbia, enjoy the serenely of Marco in June. /Kathleen Tuttle Special to the Eagle

Pastor Nichole Moroney is New Life Community Church’s new children’s pastor.  The church kicks off their new children’s worship this Sunday. 
 /Kathleen Tuttle Special to the Eagle

Photo by Kathleen G. Tuttle

Pastor Nichole Moroney is New Life Community Church’s new children’s pastor. The church kicks off their new children’s worship this Sunday. /Kathleen Tuttle Special to the Eagle

Let’s explores something old — New Testament Greek — and someone new at New Life Community Church.

Dr. Martin Culy, author of several commentaries on the New Testament and editor of the Baylor Handbook on the Greek New Testament has vacationed on Marco every summer since 2007. He and his family come here to rest. However, beyond the serenity of our beaches, they are refreshed by the fellowship they experience at Marco Presbyterian Church.

Culy, who has studied the Greek language for more than 30 years, loves to visit churches as he travels, but he often cringes when a preacher says “the Greek word really means.” In a vast majority of cases what follows will sound authoritative but is less than accurate.

“I’ve had to train myself to let such claims go in one ear and out the other so that I don’t miss what God wants to say to me through the rest of the sermon,” wrote Culy in an email.

So why are incorrect assertion about Greek words in the Bible so common in both Christian books and sermons? Part of the problem is that many Christians over the years have inadvertently transferred the special nature of the New Testament to the language in which it was written.

Some think that God did not choose Classical Greek (the language of Homer, Plato and Aristotle) for the New Testament nor did he choose Modern Greek, instead, he created what Culy refers to as “Holy Ghost” Greek to reveal himself. God used what is known as Koine or Common Greek, the Greek spoken in the first century marketplace. Common Greek follows the same rules of other languages.

Unfortunately, many preachers and Christian authors assume the opposite and use methods to analyze Greek that would be silly for any other language. For example, it has been said that the Greek word that is commonly translated church “ekklesia” is made up of two parts, with the first part “ek” meaning “out of” and the second part “klesia” related to the Greek verb meaning “to call.”

Therefore, we are told that the Greek word “ekklesia” really means, the called out ones. Culy sees two problems with this. The word never means the called out ones anywhere in Greek literature. It simply refers to a gathering of people, an assembly and secondly while we can sometimes identify the meaning of words by adding up the meaning of their parts, this often doesn’t work.

Another example of a commonly repeated myth is the Greek noun “agap” and the related verb “agapao.” We’re often told that this word, unlike other lesser Greek words for love, refers to “Godlike love, self-sacrificial love.”

Culy disagrees and suggests we look at how these two related Greek words for love are used and to see that the spiritualized definition doesn’t fit.

For example, we’re told in the Greek Old Testament that Ammon “agapd” his half-sister Tamar and proceeded to rape her (2 Samuel 13:1-15). Clearly not Godlike, self-sacrificial love.

Similarly, we’re told that in John 3:19 that men loved (agapao) the darkness instead of the light because their deeds were evil; and we’re told in 2 Timothy 4:10 that Demas loved the world and so deserted Paul.

In reality, the Greek word agap simply means “love,” with the context dictating what type of love is in view.

To illustrate the problem with an English example, he uses this example. In the sentence, “Sally is nice,” what does the word nice mean? If you look at the history of the word, you would find that nice originally meant simple or ignorant.

In the 13th century, it took on the sense of foolish, stupid. In the following century, it had the sense of sexually lawless or unrestrained. And in the 15th century, it was used to refer to someone who was coy or shy. So, what do we say about Sally by calling her nice? What kind of girl is she? No competent reader of English would question her intelligence or her virtue because we simply don’t use the word nice in those ways anymore.

“We need to be very careful when we delve into the original Greek of the New Testament to make sure we understand how languages work in general and how this language works in particular,” wrote Culy.

“Just using common sense and trusting the reliability of a standard English translation will save you from a multitude of linguistic sins. Thankfully, just as God used common Greek to reveal himself to us in the New Testament, we can pick up any number of translations today that use modern English and generally understand what God has said without knowing what a Greek word really means.”

Someone New — New Life at New Life

This Sunday New Life Community Church kicks off its new kids’ ministry with the introduction of the new kids’ pastor and the unveiling of the innovative kids’ media room.

“Kids in the community are about to receive a new opportunity to have fun; life-changing, soul-satisfying, wholesome fun,” wrote New Life’s Pastor the Rev. Thomas McCulley in his news release.

The folks at New Life Community Church have been praying and searching for the right person to fill the void at their church. Pastor Nichole Moroney comes to Marco from Sarasota’s Church of Hope where, as a volunteer, she assisted their vibrant children’s worship.

The Church Lady met with McCulley in June soon after he had observed and met with Moroney. He became animated as he spoke of her devotion to Jesus, kids and her high-energy approach to ministry.

“Nichole makes it cool to love God and tell Him so.”

He also noted that one child under her ministry for the first time, ran to his mother and shouted, “Mom, that was awesome!”

Moroney, who prefers to be called Pastor Nicci, pronounced Nicky, earned a bachelor’s degree in practical theology with a minor in children’s ministry from Southeastern University. She has a passion for Christ, fueled by the Holy Spirit, with the energy of the twenty-something she is, and is very tech savvy.

She was drawn to Marco Island and New Life because of their zeal for children. This will be her first professional paid position. Her love of children’s ministry was born out of frustration by the way children were taught about Jesus. She has taken part in several undeveloped and unappreciated children’s ministries and has encountered many churches that see children as a secondary priority.

“There are many churches who believe that adults are the prime harvest and I believe that thinking is incredibly harmful to the church and opposite of what Jesus wanted,” wrote Moroney in an email. “He said to let the little children come to Him, and that if adults wanted to enter the Kingdom they needed to become like little children. It was obvious to me that children matter to Jesus, and I couldn’t see why they didn’t matter to these churches.”

She believes that children deserve better than the ho-hum, classroom style, sit still and listen style of ministry.

“Children are high energy. They love to move and talk, and they have important things to say,” she continued. Children have things they want to pray, talk about and to be involved. She wants children to have a relationship with Jesus.

“We need to teach them to be active Christians and I believe a high energy, interactive program is our best shot of doing that,” wrote Moroney.

Meanwhile the folks at New Life have been installing cutting-edge technology and volunteers are scrambling to renovate the church’s children’s ministry areas.

Longtime Island resident Julie Booth will continue her work with the church’s children’s ministry, but will focus her attention on the younger children ages toddler to 5 while Moroney will lead a super-high energy kids’ church for the older children.

“Finally we will be firing on all thrusters!” wrote McCulley, quoting a line from Star Trek. “We’ve had outstanding, world-class contemporary music since Rev. Greg Barrett came on staff two years ago and now we’re going to offer the best possible ministry to children.”

Aug. 19 marks the first day of school for Collier County. Send your house of worship’s back-to-school event to for inclusion in the Faith Briefs.

If you go:

New Life Community Church

590 Elkcam Circle, Marco Island

Sunday services for all ages, 10 a.m.

© 2013 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 3

MIOCENE (Inactive) writes:

This article says absolutely nothing.

If we take an Orphaned Child and put him in a seminary; he emerges as a devout Catholic. Take the same child and instead raise him as a Muslim; and he will later spout the Koran.
Put the same child in a Christian Missionary School, and he will go out into the world with that silly look of joy on his face to evangelize everyone to Christianity.

What do ANY of these people actually know about the truth of god?
They know NOTHING; only the religious software which was programmed into their heads as a child; and today plays round and round in the mind in a never ending loop like a computer virus.

So-called religious “truth” is simply an accident of birth; and if Mel Gibson was switched at birth with Osama bin laden; Gibson would today be spouting the Koran; -as absolute truth.

There IS no absolute religious truth.
One billion Muslims believe Mohammed gave them the true word of god. One billion Muslims can’t be wrong.
One billion Catholics believe that Christ gave THEM the true word of god. One billion CATHOLICS can’t be wrong.
It's all messianic rubbish.

Indoctrination of young children into a particular faith who grow into adults who “parrot” scripture; doesn’t change the fact that the so-called three great religions all cancel out to a net value of zero.

Each religion is only valid within its own scripture. Outside of it's own scripture, each religion disintegrates immediately into rubbish.

It would be interesting to see a Rabbi, Christian Theologian and an Islamic Cleric; all “EXPERTS” on their own scripture; all sitting at a panel on National TV; each trying to prove the messianic truth of his OWN religion to the exclusion of the other two.

What a THREE-RING-CIRCUS it would be as the perceived absolutes of each religion disintegrate into nothing but blind faith based upon superstition and myth; rooted in exaggeration, hallucination, self-delusion; and lies

As of this writing; Dr. Culy has no degree in anything; until he goes “nose to nose” with an Hasidic Jew and proves the validity of the resurrection of Christ.

Until then: No Christ rose from the dead. No ghost spoke to Moses; and no angel appeared to Mohammed.


MIOCENE (Inactive) writes:

"if adults wanted to enter the Kingdom they needed to become like little children. It was obvious to me that children matter to Jesus"

Of course. Because only a child or a delusioned, hopeless adult would believe someone who told them that he was the son of a god.

-and in today's world one has to get people early; REAL early; like age two; to get them to believe a story about a man who rose from the dead two thousand years ago, and is someday going to come back.

Yet it is a great way for some people (the clergy) to make a living; off of people who were "hooked" on the narcartic of faith by parents and clergy before they could even read.

And by the way: If "children mattered to Jesus" then Jesus would have designed the human species such that miscarriage would occur in all species except mankind.

MIOCENE (Inactive) writes:

Now let's take a look at Pastor Nicky's "kingdom of god"; the heaven, paradise or afterlife which she SELLS to the vulnerable in order to make a living.

It doesn't exist, and this is why:

Eternal salvation is the engine which drives Nicky's faith; meaning that without this BRIBE; she would have no control over her flock.

Say you make it to heaven. What about your best friend, or the man who saved your son's life in Viet nam, your sister, a brother, a beloved aunt, a parent, a loving spouse, the nice neighbor who always lent a helping hand, or a complete stranger for that matter.

How are you going to be happy in heaven; knowing that one of these is screaming over a slow fire in hell for all eternity?
After all. SOMEBODY'S mother is going to hell.

So you see: The whole concept of an afterlife is unworkable; because it is a SELFISH concept.
Unworkable unless those who make it to heaven are transformed into unfeeling, robots; unmoved by the sight of the neighborhood ice cream man screaming within a wall of flames.

Included in those who would be happy in heaven are Charles Manson and Adolph Hitler.
Mother Theresa would NOT be happy there.

The whole concept of an afterlife, the rapture; heaven; cannot possibly work.

So you see: Heaven doesn't exist. It can't; because the kind of people who are supposed to go there; wouldn't be happy.

Regardless; it's all messianic rubbish; and the only reason Christianity "got off the ground" in the first place was because it was sold with a CANDY JAR containing eternal salvation.

However: I DO understand WHY you believe in your faith. What I DON'T understand is HOW any rational and intelligent person CAN believe it after thinking about it for a while; which they are afraid of letting themselves do; for fear of arriving at the reality that: Heaven just wouldn’t work.


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