July 2010


Reggie McNeal: “The church doesn’t have a mission; the mission has a church.” via

The various “new perspective” scholars bother some people because for all their differences, they generally agree that Luther and Calvin grappled with Paul as if Paul was like them – a 16th Century Reformer whose primary antagonist was a religious institution very much like the medieval papacy.

I think we’re at a real renaissance period in biblical studies. Yes, some will fight new perspectives on old texts tooth and nail, just as they did in the 1st and 16th centuries … declaring that the old wine is good enough, thank you very much. But new wine keeps showing up in old vessels … and so this is a wonderful time to be alive and enjoy the flavor.
McLaren

I think the conversation is more important than the conclusion. Not everyone believes this. To many (and I think this is a fundamentalist value), knowledge of the truth is valued more highly than the search for it.
The Naked Pastor

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CBC Tapestry:Interview with Richard Rohr

But first enter into a Modern Lament: by Reverend Vince, Amy Moffet and the band – as heard on a recording of a group discussion during the Trans4m Conference.

Maranatha

You are my strength, when I am weak,
You are my strength, when I am weak,
You are my strength, when I am weak.
Maranatha, Maranatha, Maranatha.

I’ve given up, sometimes when I’ve been tired,
I’ve given up, sometimes when I’ve been tired,
I’ve given up, sometimes when I’ve been tired.
Does it move You? Does it move You? Does it move You?

I curse the day, when  I received the light,
I curse the day, when  I received the light,
I curse the day, when  I received the light.
When you deceived me, When you deceived me, When you deceived me.

I’ve fucked it up, so many times,
I’ve fucked it up Lord, so many times,
I’ve fucked it up Lord, so many times.
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

I found my home, in Babylon,
I found my home, right here in Babylon,
I found my home, here in Babylon,
Here in exile! Here in exile. Here in exile.

Some of the nuttiest American religious leaders today (and in the past) have latched on to one form or another of Christian Zionism.
Frank Schaeffer

The Anabaptists (and those who affiliate with them, ecclesially or theologically) have been profoundly shaped by the work of the Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder, in particular his epic book The Politics of Jesus. A central tenet of Anabaptist theology is the Constantinian heresy, also called Christendom. According to the Anabaptists, Christianity became corrupted when the Roman emperor Constantine declared Christianity to be the official religion of the Empire. Up to that point, Christians, as a marginal and powerless group, were able to faithfully live out the Sermon on the Mount, a life and witness very much in contrast with the violence of Empire. But in the wake of Constantine and the establishment of a “Christian Empire”–called Christendom–Christians, now holding power, had to make critical concessions. No longer could the Sermon on the Mount be followed literally. Thus, Constantinian theologians stepped in to reconcile the teachings of the radical, peasant rabbi with the gilded halls of power and affluence. The two, you might expect, didn’t fit well together. So Christianity became diluted and corrupted. More, Christianity became an instrument of the state. Being a good Christian meant being a good citizen and a flag waving patriot. Jesus and the Empire were now one and the same.
Experimental Theology

“For too long we have read scripture with nineteenth-century eyes and sixteenth-century questions. It’s time to get back to reading with first-century eyes and twenty-first century questions.” – N.T. Wright VIA

I’m not sure what it is, whether it’s the exotic unfamiliarity of Buddhism in contrast to the assumed familiarity of Christianity, or the fact that Buddhists are less numerous and politically significant in the West, or something else entirely. But when the Dalai Lama speaks of ahimsa, people lap it up. But when a Christian speaks of nonviolence, people call it irresponsible.
Matt Stone

It is a tragedy that, among those who uphold the banner of redemptive violence (especially at a global level), the voices of Christians are often the loudest.  What Sharon Baker sets out to do in Razing Hell is remind those who follow Jesus that the way to peace is through restoration and reconciliation, not retribution.
Razing Hell

Wired Jesus Podcast #54 What We Have Is a Failure To Communicate [21:20]

Here is another one by Tony Compolo – TOPIC: Current Events – Israel’s Gaza Blockade

This podcast has fantastic dialog between opposing view points. Go to A Christian and an Atheist to listen to some more, they will challenge you.

PS. If you are not willing to go where ever TRUTH leads you, then maybe you should ignore this post.

other episodes:

On hell (1)
Hell (2)
Freewill vs Sin
Killing babies to save their souls
Abortion

(there are 82 episodes in all)

Here is excerpts from a blog post of  Richard Beck at Experimental Theology. Richard is looking at George MacDonald’s sermon Justice. It is a great read:


MacDonald wants to push back on that notion [of equivalence between the “punishment” of sin and God’s “justice”], to suggest that justice is a far richer concept than punishment. And if this is so, no amount of punishment in hell gets God closer to achieving justice. To illustrate this MacDonald has us consider someone stealing our watch:

Suppose my watch has been taken from my pocket; I lay hold of the thief; he is dragged before the magistrate, proved guilty, and sentenced to a just imprisonment: must I walk home satisfied with the result? Have I had justice done me? The thief may have had justice done him—but where is my watch?

The point here, obviously, is that a “just” result can’t be found through punishment alone.

The doctrine of substitutionary atonement feels right to us because, as victims, we want wrong-doers to be punished. It’s emotionally satisfying. We want people to go to hell.

In short, the appeal and logic at work behind subsituionary atonement is really just a symptom of an evil impulse within our own hearts. But this evil impulse doesn’t describe God’s justice. God only punishes as a means, not as an end in itself:

It is no pleasure to God, as it so often is to us, to see the wicked suffer. To regard any suffering with satisfaction, save it be sympathetically with its curative quality, comes of evil, is inhuman because undivine, is a thing God is incapable of. His nature is always to forgive, and just because he forgives, he punishes.

A further problem with the allure of substitutionary atonement–to have Jesus suffer the consequences of my sin rather than me getting into the hard work of repentance and reconciliation–is that it is selfish, a theological product of my sin.

Substitutionary atonement is an attempt to cling to my sin ever more tightly! Let Christ suffer the consequences of my sin so I don’t have to make amends and restitution. I’m off the hook as it were.

If I hate the sin in my heart how is substitutionary atonement good news? It’s only good news for people who love their sin but want off the hook.

Our business is not to think correctly, but to live truly. One chief cause of the amount of unbelief in the world is, that those who have seen something of the glory of Christ, set themselves to theorize concerning him rather than to obey him.

But the question is still out there, how does MacDonald see Christ as our atonement? Toward the end of the sermon he offers his positive view:

I believe in Jesus Christ. Nowhere am I requested to believe in any thing, or in any statement, but everywhere to believe in God and in Jesus Christ…
Jesus, our propitiation, our atonement. He is the head and leader, the prince of the atonement. He could not do it without us, but he leads us up to the Father’s knee: he makes us make atonement. Learning Christ, we are not only sorry for what we have done wrong, we not only turn from it and hate it, but we become able to serve both God and man with an infinitely high and true service, a soulservice. We are able to offer our whole being to God to whom by deepest right it belongs. Have I injured anyone? With him to aid my justice, new risen with him from the dead, shall I not make good amends? Have I failed in love to my neighbour? Shall I not now love him with an infinitely better love than was possible to me before? That I will and can make atonement, thanks be to him who is my atonement, making me at one with God and my fellows! He is my life, my joy, my lord, my owner, the perfecter of my being by the perfection of his own. I dare not say with Paul that I am the slave of Christ; but my highest aspiration and desire is to be the slave of Christ.