Thursday, February 23, 2017

How The Shack movie unveils toxic representations of God




The following is a guest post from Orthodox theologian and author Brad Jersak (PhD)

Heresy Hunters Are At it Again
Paul Young’s bestseller finally hits the big screen on March 3. That’s news—great news—as I’ll explain shortly.
What’s not news is how the so-called ‘discernment ministries’ (a euphemism for heresy-hunters) have begun yelping. They’re recycling ‘ye olde’ objections but, typically, barking up the wrong tree.
The charge of ‘heresy’ is serious, so it ought to be taken seriously, especially by those wielding it. But as an Orthodox theologian, I confess that its sloppy use as a pejorative, grates on my doctrinal nerves.
For example, the outcry against Young’s creative portrayal of God’s ‘Threeness’ or his imaging the invisible God as a black woman betrays a crass literalism that the author obviously never intended.
Rublev’s Trinity and Modern Misogyny
Russian painter Andrei Rublev’s famous icon of the Trinity (15th c.) would seem to break the same rules as The Shack, . . .

Read more at http://joshvalley.com/2017/02/23/how-the-shack-movie-unveils-toxic-representations-of-god/

Insight from The Chronicles of Narnia:  The Trinity in The Horse and His Boy




The Horse and His Boy (HHB) is occupied with the importance of discovering one’s true identity and living out of that identity. Shasta and Aravis, along with their horses Hwin and Bree, learn through their adventures fleeing Calormene across the desert to the north that they are not who they believed themselves to be and that their true longings were fulfilled only in learning and living into their true identities

          Lewis wrote this series of stories out of the Christian convictions that grounded and shaped his own life. The emphasis on identity in HHB is consistent with those convictions. However, there is one other identity that comes into clearer focus in this story. And that is the identity of God. Throughout the series we have heard of the Emperor-beyond-the-sea (analogous to God the Father in Christianity), seen Aslan in action (analogous to God the Son), and, if we’ve read carefully, noticed how Aslan’s “breath” brings life to whatever it is breathed on. Aslan is the Emperor’s Son, Creator and Lord of Narnia, but Aslan’s breath is never related to the Emperor the way we find the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are occasionally in the New Testament (2 Corinthians 13:13).                                                                                                                                           

Lewis writes in Mere Christianity of the fundamental importance of God’s triunty: “The whole dance or drama or pattern of this three-Personal life is being played out in each one of us: or putting it the other way round, each of us has got to enter that pattern, take his place in that dance. There is no other way to the happiness for which we are made.”

Narnia and Aslan and all that happens there is analogous in certain ways to the Christian story. As we have just seen, Lewis believed the triune character of the Christian God is integral to that story. It would be surprising, then, if some trace of that view of God did not find its way into The Chronicles in spite of the obvious difficulties involved. Such a trace is found, in my view, in the following interaction between Shasta and a Presence Shasta suddenly realizes is at his side as he wanders alone on a mountain trail.

“Who are you?” asked Shasta. “Myself,” said the Voice, very deep and low so              that the earth shook: and again “Myself,” loud and clear and gay: and then            the third time “Myself,” whispered so softly you could hardly hear it, and yet             it seemed to come from all round you as if the leaves rustled with it.”

It is hard to think this is not an allusion to the Christian understanding of God as triune. The deep, low, earth-shaking “Myself” is the voice of the Father. The “loud, clear, and gay” voice that of the Son, and whispered “Myself” that of the Spirit. The “Myself” alludes to Exodus 3:14, “I am who I am.”

Lewis stands dead-center in the heart of the historic Christian faith with his views on the trinity. Participating in the dance of love of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit is human fulfillment, God’s intention for us. Graciously invited and welcomed to share in this relationship we experience and practice the love that brought us and our world into being. Baxter Kruger tells this lovely story to illustrate what this participation in God’s life is like:

“Many years ago when my son was six (he’s 18 now), I was sitting on the          couch in the den sorting through junk mail on a Saturday afternoon. He and          his buddy came in and they were decked out in their camouflage, face paint,     plastic guns and knives, the whole nine yards. My son peers around the corn-           er of the door and looks at me, and the next thing I know, he comes flying      through the air and jumps on me. We start wrestling and horsing around and        we end up on the floor. Then his buddy flies into us and all three of us are just       like a wad of laughter.

“Right in the middle of that event the Lord spoke to me and said to pay atten-      tion. I’m thinking, it’s Saturday afternoon, your son comes in and you’re hors-        ing around on the floor, it happens every day all over the world, so what’s the         big deal? Then it started to dawn on me that I didn’t know who this other kid       was. I had never met him. He had never met me. So I re-wound the story and               thought about what would have happened if this little boy would have walked        into my den alone. Remember, he didn’t know me and I didn’t know him, and         he didn’t know my name and I didn’t know his name. So he looks over and sees            me, a complete stranger, sitting on the couch. Would he fly through the air and engage me in play? Would we end up in a pile of laughter on the floor? Of course not. That is the last thing that would have happened.

“Within himself, that little boy had no freedom to have a relationship with me.                  We were strangers. He had no right to that kind of familiarity and fellowship. But    my son knows me. My son knows that I love him and that I accept him and that    he’s the apple of my eye. So in the knowledge of my love and affection, he did       the most natural thing in the world. He dove into my lap. The miracle that hap-  pened was that my son’s knowledge of my acceptance and delight, and my son’s freedom for fellowship with me, rubbed off onto that other little boy. He got to experience it. That other little boy got to taste and feel and know my son’s relationship with me. He participated in my son’s life and communion with me.”[1]

          Unless God is triune, the mystery of the one-in-three and three-in-one deity, he has no shared life to invite us to share in. Love requires an other and shared love requires a third outside itself for genuine community. The Father loves the Son, the Son returns the love of the Father, and both love the Spirit who is the eternal bond of their shared love. However abstract and inadequate such language may seem, and it is, it points beyond itself to the reality Lewis gestures toward with his three-fold “Myself” in HHB. And to the experience Baxter Kruger shares which is a real but dim expression of the difference God’s tri-unity makes. It seems appropriate, then, to close with the Pauline expression of this truth I referenced above, 2 Corinthians 13:13: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of[a] the Holy Spirit be with all of you.



[1] https://www.gci.org/God/perichoresis

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds





New discoveries about the human mind show the limitations of reason.


In 1975, researchers at Stanford invited a group of undergraduates to take part in a study about suicide. They were presented with pairs of suicide notes. In each pair, one note had been composed by a random individual, the other by a person who had subsequently taken his own life. The students were then asked to distinguish between the genuine notes and the fake ones.

Some students discovered that they had a genius for the task. Out of twenty-five pairs of notes, they correctly identified the real one twenty-four times. Others discovered that they were hopeless. They identified the real note in only ten instances.

As is often the case with psychological studies, the whole setup was a put-on. Though half the notes were indeed genuine—they’d been obtained from the Los Angeles County coroner’s office—the scores were fictitious. The students who’d been told they were almost always right were, on average, no more discerning than those who had been told they were mostly wrong.

Read more at http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/02/27/why-facts-dont-change-our-minds?mbid=social_facebook

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Resisting Trump with Revelation (11)



Five Hymns (1)


The Gathering portion of our Resistical Worship service comes to a close with some hymns – five of them in fact. We’ve looked at the Call to Worship and John’s introduction of himself as Jesus’ interpreter and Jesus as the guest preacher for the morning. Jesus then offered his own messages to each of the seven churches in his congregation. Now it’s time to sing!

With these hymns John (and we with him) find ourselves caught up into the very throne room of God to join in the celestial worship going on there. So far we have learned that John’s vision (revelation) unveils the truth of the Sovereign lordship of God and of Jesus Christ his Son over all earthly authorities and powers no matter their pretentions.

We sing in worship today, though many us not very enthusiastically. I recently heard congregational singing described like this. Mennonites and Baptists, the speaker explained had good congregational singing. Methodists and Presbyterians mumbled their songs so low you couldn’t understand them. And Episcopalians paid people to sing their hymns! I think it was St. Augustine who claimed that to sing was to pray twice. Singing, despite its present low estate in many churches, is crucial to our experience and expression of our faith and our resistance to Trump. Our hypothetical worship service is well served here by four hymns in the place in worship we usually sing.

John reminds us again that he is “in the Spirit” (v.2; see 1:9). Even if he is referring to a special visionary experience it remains the case that it is the Spirit in and through whom we worship.

The striking scene John sees would daunt the greatest of special effects producers to effect. Some elements reflect Israel’s temple (“seven flaming torches [the Menorah]; “a sea glass, like crystal”; vv.5-6). Another takes us back to the flood story with the “rainbow” around the throne (v.3) suggesting the disposition of God is redemptive and healing, not angry and punitive.

Twenty-four thrones on which sit the twenty-four elders surround the throne (probably suggesting the totality of God’s people, the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles.  On each side of the throne are four living creatures – one lion-like, one ox-like, one human-like, and one eagle-like. With eyes all over they ceaselessly sing God’s praise (vv.7-8). “It is likely,” Paul Spilsbury writes, “the four living creatures . . . represent the whole created cosmos of heaven and earth. Their role is to spend their whole lives worshiping God.”[1] 

All of creation, all of God’s people, doing what they are created to do – praise God. What is to be done on earth is already being done in heaven (Matthew 6:10). And we get to participate in that worship “in the Spirit”!

The First Hymn (4:8): God’s Holiness

The four living creatures, all of creation, testifies to God’s holiness. Holiness if primarily about godness, the unique, and uniquely sovereign God. Not the Emperor. Not some King or Queen. No cosmic power or force. None of them have godness, or holiness. None of them have supreme authority. None of them deserve our unconditional or absolute obedience.  None of them are holy.

But the Bible’s God is – thrice holy! That’s the message of this first hymn. You might look at or listen to the great hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty” to get a feel for the hymn’s claim here.

The Second Hymn (4:11): God’s Worthiness

The twenty-four elders join the living creatures in extolling God’s worthiness. God, the eternal one (“who lives forever and ever,” 4:10) is the Creator. As the source and goal of all things he has made, God is unique and in that uniqueness is intrinsically worthy of all praise and honor. The Creator of all is worthy of all praise!

The Third Hymn (5:9): The Worthiness of the Lamb

In ch.5 we enter what many consider the most important chapter in Revelation and, indeed, in the whole New Testament. The praise of the hymns here is elicited by the drama depicted. They witness to the central reality of the biblical story. The drama begins with God on his throne, a scroll resting in right hand (symbol of power in the Bible), sealed with “seven[2] seals” (v.1). A most desirable item to take a gander at.

Yet no one anywhere in creation is found worthy to open the scroll (v.4)! Only someone worthy as God is worthy can do it. But where is such a one? “Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals’” (v.5).

John turns eager to glimpse these regal being who is so worthy. But what he sees does not seem to match the description he hears. “Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth” (v.6). In this one verse, as Grimsrud puts it, John “creates a theological revolution that leads to a transformation in how theo-politics is to be understood – and actually reorients the way we understand the vision of the one on the throne in chapter four.”[3] In other words, this is “the” game-changer in the New Testament!

The Lion of Judah as a slaughtered Lamb. The One seated on the throne (ch.4) as a slaughtered Lamb. Yes, that’s what John sees and what his vision means. This changes everything! No longer do we seek to discover how godlike Jesus is. Rather, astonishingly, we are confronted with the reality of how Jesus-like God is. The New Testament, and John here in Revelation, tells us that we do not know who or what God is until we have looked in the face of Jesus Messiah and his work on our behalf. His life led to his death. The unthinkable – God in and as this man Jesus died (gasp!) for us (gasp again!). A Declaration of Faith captures something of the scandalous wonder Text Box: We believe that in the death of Jesus on the cross                                                                                         God achieved and demonstrated once for all                                             the costly forgiveness of our sins.                                                                     Jesus Christ is the Reconciler between God and the world.                  He acted on behalf of sinners as one of us,                                          fulfilling the obedience God demands of us,                                      accepting God's condemnation of our sinfulness.                                               In his lonely agony on the cross                                                                                    Jesus felt forsaken by God                                                                                                 and thus experienced hell itself for us.                                                             Yet the Son was never more in accord with the Father’s will.     He was acting on behalf of God,                                                             manifesting the Father's love that takes on itself                                         the loneliness, pain, and death                                                                                that result from our waywardness.                                                                   In Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself,                                           not holding our sins against us.                                                                       Each of us beholds on the cross                                                                       the Savior who died in our place, so that we may no longer live for ourselves,                                                                                                                          but for him.                                                                                                                               In him is our only hope of salvation.and mystery at work here[4]:































This One, this slaughtered yet living Lamb takes the scroll and opens it up. He is worthy, because of his life of self-giving, sacrificial love to unfold the consummation of God’s plan for creation. He is worthy because, as God in action, he has demonstrated this love as the power that makes the world go around. The power that envisioned, created, sustains, and will bring to final fruition everything God wants.

Therefore the living creatures and the twenty-four elders, all creation, acclaim the worthiness of the Lamb.

“You are worthy to take the scroll
   
  and to open its seals,
for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God
    saints from every tribe and language and people and nation;
                                                  You made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God,
    and they will reign on earth.”

He is worthy precisely because of his redeeming death which reclaimed and restored God’s creation dream!

“Many angels” add their voices in acclamation of the worthiness of the Lamb in the fourth hymn (v.12).

And, finally, “every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea” bring us full circle in acclaiming both the One on the throne and the Lamb (v.13):

“To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might
forever and ever!”

Here the notions of power and sacrifice (throne and Lamb) are brought together in a full, final, and eternal way. The living creatures add an “Amen” and the twenty-four elders bow down in worship. As do we.

***************************

 These hymns add to and deepen our worship and acclamation of the world’s true and rightful Emperor. All the tokens of Rome’s imperial pretentions that saturate the world these churches live and work in are cut down to size here. The church is in the most desperate need of this kind of ballast to its theological convictions. Rome/empire constructs what is called a “plausibility structure” to catechize and reinforce its way of seeing the world. John’s vision in Revelation debunks this imperial worldview by borrowing many of its symbols and ideas and reworking them around what the God made known in Jesus Christ has revealed and done to make known and incarnate God’s true designs for human life and creation’s flourishing.

Singing is one of the best ways to construct a new plausibility structure calibrated to God’s gospel rather than Rome’s or Trump’s. Remember, if you are old enough, how vital the songs and music of Dylan, Seeger, Joni Mitchell, Negro spirituals, and the like were to the 60’s upheavals. Or how, more recently, how Pussy Riot galvanized and focused dissent in Russia. Revelation’s hymns function the same way, those in chs. 4 and 5 and those elsewhere in the vision, to consolidate and extend our resistance to the empire-building of Donald Trump!



[1] Spilsbury, The Throne, 58.
[2] Here’s that number “seven” again, completeness. The scroll contains the fulfilment of God’s plans and purposes. That it is written down and sealed suggests its certainty and finality.
[3] https://peacetheology.net/2014/03/30/revelation-notes-chapter-4/.
[4] A Declaration of Faith (PCUSA), ch.4, par.4 at https://www.pcusa.org/site_media/media/uploads/theologyandworship/pdfs/decoffaith.pdf.

Insight from The Chronicles of Narnia:  The Story We Live By in The Silver Chair




          We are beginning to learn that we live by what we love rather than by what we can figure out, prove, or reason our way toward. Reason, rather, works to provide grounds for our living by what we love. We were meant to live by and for the love of our Creator. Our reason would have unfolded all knowledge and insight congruent with that love. We call that truth. Unfortunately, humanity rejected the love of God and chose its own love, each to their own. Our reason went to work generating all manner of claims for the truth of our loves. John Calvin describes our minds engaged in this work as a “factory for idols.” Our loves “enchant” us. We are bound by their spell to mobilize all our resources to support and “prove” them true.

          In The Silver Chair Eustace Clarence Scrubb and Jill Pole are called into Narnia by Aslan to search out and rescue Prince Rilian, so of King Caspian X (Prince Caspian). The prince had disappeared and no one knew why or where. It turns out he had been captured, or rather enchanted by a Witch who lived in an underground kingdom, and made to live with her there as her “prince.”

          This underground kingdom is a complete world in every respect. The witch claims the overland is a mere copy of her underworld. The enchanted prince believes this eleven hours a day. He has one hour of sanity each day for which he must be bound lest he try and escape.

          Eustace, Jill, and a delightfully dour Marshwiggle, Puddleglum, find the prince and plan on releasing him and escaping to the overland (Narnia) during his hour of sanity. The Witch catches them, however, and begins to toss a powder on the fire that has an enchanting effect on our three companions. All the while the Witch catechizes them into the “truth” of her underworld kingdom.

          Finally, Puddleglum gathers the last shreds of his sanity and bravely sticks his foot in the fire. He is burned, of course, and the pain clears his mind of the witch’s enchantment. He launches on the following remarkable statement:

“One word, Ma’am,” he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of           the pain. “One word. All you’ve been saying is quite right, I shouldn’t wonder.        I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I          can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one more thing to        be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things-   trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we       have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good      deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of   yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a      funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game,      if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a    Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland.    Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that’s a small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say.”

          Here, when it comes down to declaring one’s allegiance, one’s love, and acting on it, Puddleglum is an example for all of us.

-First, he gives up trying to reason or prove Narnia’s existence and reality to the Witch. It can’t be done. She reasons from her love, her underground kingdom, and is impervious to the children’s and Marshwiggle’s arguments against it.

-Second, he witnesses to and from his love, Narnia and Aslan, in counterpoint to the Witch’s enchantment.

-Third, his witness grows out of the story which has shaped his identity and character, following Aslan and living like a Narnian. The philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre says it well:“I can only answer the question ‘What am I to do?’ if I can answer the prior question ‘Of what story or stories do I find myself a part?’” Puddleglum does that here and it sets him free from the Witch’s enchantment for faithful living.

How do we get our loves that drive our reason and direct our lives? They are given to us in creation. We are made to love our Creator and all he has made. In breaking away from him we are tethered to some other love and other stories about who we are and what we are to do. This is pre-rational. We are created to love and we will love something. Ultimately, I think, we love ourselves and everything else derives from that. One could say we are I-dols. And because I-dolaters, we sIn. The imperial I takes precedence over everything else. This is the agony of being a (fallen) human being.

Lewis once said: “Do you think I am trying to weave a spell? Perhaps I am; but remember your fairy tales. Spells are used for breaking enchantments as well as for inducing them. And you and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness which has been laid upon us for nearly a hundred years.” He wrote The Chronicles of Narnia out of such a conviction. And nothing breaks our enchantment to the power of reason more than Puddleglum’s witness to the Witch in SC.

People in my experience usually change for one or a combination of three reasons. First, the pain of living the way they are living grows unbearable. Second, they are forced to change by some external power or force. Or third, a more compelling vision or story of life captivates them. Puddleglum’s witness draws on this third reason for change – a compelling vision for life.

This is what the church has to offer the world – a compelling testimony to the beauty, truth, and rightness of God’s call and claim on our lives. And our trust and loyalty to the author of this story and his vision of life for us in his world.

This Century Is Broken



David Brooks FEB. 21, 2017

Most of us came of age in the last half of the 20th century and had our perceptions of “normal” formed in that era. It was, all things considered, an unusually happy period. No world wars, no Great Depressions, fewer civil wars, fewer plagues.

It’s looking like we’re not going to get to enjoy one of those times again. The 21st century is looking much nastier and bumpier: rising ethnic nationalism, falling faith in democracy, a dissolving world order.

At the bottom of all this, perhaps, is declining economic growth. As Nicholas Eberstadt points out in his powerful essay “Our Miserable 21st Century,” in the current issue of Commentary, between 1948 and 2000 the U.S. economy grew at a per-capita rate of about 2.3 percent a year.

But then around 2000, something shifted.
Read more at:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/21/opinion/this-century-is-broken.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-right-region&region=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-region&_r=0

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Resisting Trump with rRvelation (10)



Round uP of Christ’s Seven Letters to the churches


Our Resistical Worship Service So Far

We have been called to Worship in a responsive way by John (1:4-8). John has introduced himself as Jesus’ interpreter (1:9-11) and Jesus as the Guest Preacher for the day (1:12-20). Jesus has greeted his churches with a message directed to each of the seven. We are ready to sing and sing we will with the two hymns in Revelation 4 & 5.

In a world of pervasive and intensive indoctrination into the worldview of the Empire this worship service is a counter-blast challenging and correcting its mistakes and errors by casting Jesus Christ as the world’s rightful and true Emperor before whom the Roman wannabe is revealed for who he really is and whittled down to size.

The vision of Christ John crafts to introduce him provides basic elements of the seven messages Christ delivers to his churches. That there are the symbolic number “seven” of them shows us that these messages offer insight for all of Christ’s churches today.

The Seven Letters

Five Ways the Empire Corrupts the Church

Ephesus  -  turns us into culture warriors, anger                                                                                                                   Pergamum – invites us to religious syncretism (whatever religion you chose + worship of Rome)                                                       Thyatira – entangles us in consumeristic/materialistic ways, envy                                                                                  Sardis – sloth, inattention to the things of God                                                                                                                  Laodicea – pride, a country club church

Ways the Church Resists Empire

Patient endurance (2:2, 3, 10, 19; 3:10)                                                                                                                         Accountability (2:2,3)                                                                                                                                                                     Steadfast faith (2:13, 19; 3:8, 11)                                                                                                                                                      Love (2:19)                                                                                                                                                                                                               Healing and invigorating ministry (3:15)                                                                                                                                    humility (3:17)

It would not be hard at all to identify groups of churches that demonstrate the corrupting presence of imperial thoughts and ways. More churches receive mixed reviews than total affirmation or warning which is not surprising. Most of us and our churches are a mixture of faith and faithlessness. That’s why we need this book.

These items, both the ways the Empire corrupts us and the ways of faithful resistance, form the table of contents (as it were) for the rest of the book.

”Patient Endurance”

“Patient endurance” jumps out from this list as Christ’ most commended and recommended virtue for resisting Empire. In 1933, after the Nazi’s had recently taken power in Germany, Karl Barth wrote a famous (or infamous) essay in the journal Theological Existence Today! In this essay Barth wrote[1],

“I endeavor to carry on theology, and only theology, now as previously, and as if no-                             thing had happened. Perhaps there is a slightly increased tone, but without direct                       allusions: something like the chanting of the hours by the Benedictines nearby in the                      Maria Laach, which goes on undoubtedly without break or interruption, pursuing the                        even tenor of its way even in the Third Reich.”

That’s the kind of “patient endurance” John has in mind. Barth describes it even further later in the essay. He wanted Hitler gone as much as anyone. He realized, however, that for a theologian, for a church, entrusted with God’s gospel, the logic of resistance ran in a different channel than most political resistance. Paul Dafydd Jones[2] explains:

“Barth favored a different approach: a style of theological writing that, in refusing to es-       teem that which is ethically and politically inexcusable, in declining to “normalize” the                      new status quo, focuses attention on the future that God promises, and provides a thick description of what it means for human beings to turn their backs on sin and commit themselves to realizing the “two commandments” on which “hang all the law and the prophets”: love of God and love of neighbor (Matthew 22:34-40).”

-Refusing to esteem or normalizing the evil,

-focusing on the promised future God gives up, and

-giving detailed attention to the lives has called us to live in following Jesus –

this is a “patient endurance” suited to resisting the tyrannies and oppressions the church faces on its journey through history. There’s much wisdom in Barth’s approach, I think.

-The first item he lists taken by itself becomes just political rabble-rousing like all other political forms of resistance. Not unimportant but not a specifically Christian form of resistance.

-focusing on the promised future God gives us outside a context of the other two ways Barth recommends distorts this emphasis such that it often ends up sanctioning the status quo, and    

-focusing on Christian living apart from the other two of Barth’s recommendations tends to become an end in itself and legalism.

And as we will see when we get to Christ’s breaking open the seven seals in ch.6 and 7, they unfold in just this fashion.

But next up the part of worship for hymns. And hymns we will have!  



[1] Cited in Paul Dafydd Jones, “Patience, Impatience, and Political Life Today,” at http://enhancinglife.uchicago.edu/blog/patience-impatience-and-political-life-today.
[2] Ibid.