Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Romans 13 Doesn’t Tell Christians to Kill their Enemy

December 30, 2015 by Preston Sprinkle 1 Comment

 
It’s fascinating (one might say disturbing) to see how each person’s political context shapes his or her understanding of Romans 13. Christians living in North Korea or Burma tend to read Romans 13 differently than Americans do. Adolf Hitler, Idi Amin, and other “Christian” dictators have celebrated the passage as their divine ticket to execute justice on whomever they deemed enemies of the state. Not more than a generation ago, Romans 13 was hailed as the charter for apartheid in South Africa. American Christian leaders did the same during the years of slavery and segregation. If the state mandates that blacks can’t drink from the same water fountain as whites, it very well has the divine right to do so, according to certain interpretations Romans 13.

Most people today would see such a view of Romans 13 as going a bit too far. But only a bit. Theologian and scholar Wayne Grudem, for instance, says that the “sword in the hand of good government is God’s designated weapon to defeat evildoers” and goes on to apply this to America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The assumption, of course, is that America is good and Iraq and Afghanistan are bad. Maybe they are, but who gets to determine who is good and who is bad? Were it flipped around and Romans 13 was used to validate Afghanistan’s invasion of America as punishment for horrific drone strikes on civilians or wholesale slaughter of women and children in, for instance, southern Kandahar or Haditha, most Americans would see this as a misreading of Romans 13. But I digress.

Even though Romans 13 has been taken to empower Christians to kill their enemy, or praise the government, or vindicate the just war tradition, there is nothing in this passage that commands Christians to use their guns to confront evil. Nothing. Here’s why.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/theologyintheraw/2015/12/romans-13-doesnt-tell-christians-to-kill-their-enemy/

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Tolkien, THE FORCE AWAKENS, and the Sadness of Expanded Universes


 (some spoilers near the end of the post, though I try to be vague)

Not long after completing The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien briefly began work on a sequel called The New Shadow, set 100 to 150 years later during the reign of Aragorn’s son Eldarion. (The main link between the two stories is the minor character Beregond, the noble but disgraced soldier of Gondor whose son, Borlas, would have been a major character in The New Shadow.) The New Shadow reveals that the eucatastrophic fairy-tale ending of The Return of the King was extremely short-lived; with the Elves and the Wizards gone from Middle-earth, the Dwarves moving underground, and the Hobbits now isolated in what amounts to an enclave in the Shire, Men are quickly falling back into their old bad habits. In fact the Men of Gondor already seem to have forgotten much of the details of the War of the Ring, even though it remains in living memory: they seem not to remember, or take seriously, the fact that they once strode with gods and angels in a war against pure evil, and were victorious. Instead, children play at being Orcs for fun; the death of Elessar has been an occasion for political striving and reactionary plots; and even something like a secret death cult of devil-worshipping rebels seems to be spreading through the elites of Gondor.

Tolkien wrote 13 pages of it.

He later wrote:

I did begin a story placed about 100 years after the Downfall, but it proved both sinister and depressing. Since we are dealing with Men it is inevitable that we should be concerned with the most regrettable feature of their nature: their quick satiety with good. So that the people of Gondor in times of peace, justice and prosperity, would become discontented and restless — while the dynasts descended from Aragorn would become just kings and governors — like Denethor or worse. I found that even so early there was an outcrop of revolutionary plots, about a centre of secret Satanistic religion; while Gondorian boys were playing at being Orcs and going around doing damage. I could have written a ‘thriller’ about the plot and its discovery and overthrow — but it would have been just that. Not worth doing.

https://gerrycanavan.wordpress.com/2015/12/23/tolkien-the-force-awakens-and-the-expanded-universe/

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas Autopsy: 5 Thoughts about the Death of Christmas

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Frederick Schmidt

The war on Christmas has become an annual topic of conversation.

This year The Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Henninger even declared that Christmas is dead.
Is it time for an autopsy?

Scanning the store windows up and down New York’s Fifth Avenue, Henninger chronicled the ways in which major commercial outlets had erased even the most sentimental traces of Christmas from their windows, replacing Santa Claus and his elves with palm readers; the Roman god, Neptune; and the inebriated and seductive images of holiday revelers.  Only Macy’s, Henninger notes, held out and featured Charlie Brown and the gang.

Do these developments suggest a trend, or what Henninger describes as the “de-sanctification” of Christmas?  Probably. But it is perilously easy to overestimate the significance of New York ad agencies and window dressers.

Would Christian leaders be well advised to pay attention to what is happening in the culture around them?  Sure.

Read more at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/whatgodwantsforyourlife/2015/12/christmas-autopsy-5-thoughts-about-the-death-of-christmas/

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

An Apocalyptic Advent

Seth Richardson
on December 23, 2015


This year, I’m dreaming of an apocalyptic Advent. I need fresh imagination for what God is doing in the waiting and hoping everyone keeps talking about, and I think it’s apocalyptic.

That’s what Advent is, after all – the church’s choice to participate in the arrival, and then proleptic unfolding, of that Great Cataclysm: the Incarnation of the Son of God. In that Great Cataclysm, the Son unveiled God and made him known – at once answering, disrupting, and transforming the aching hope for deliverance. Yes, apocalyptic.

Advent doesn’t really do much unless it’s apocalyptic. If Advent isn’t apocalyptic, then nothing ever changes. Advent is like the uncle who circles around once a year and stumbles into our living room. The routine feels a bit different from normal, but mostly predictable. It’s easy to put things back together like they were before, after he leaves.

Read more at http://www.missioalliance.org/an-apocalyptic-advent/

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Wishing you all a happy and revolutionary Christmas!

Andrew Perriman
Tue, 22/12/2015 - 17:57  

According to the tradition that has been passed down to us, Christmas is the time of year when we celebrate God coming to earth in lowly human form to save humankind from sin and death. The glory of the deity has been laid aside, the radiant godhead has been veiled in flesh, the creator of all things has been pleased to dwell as man with man for a while, God-with-us, Immanuel, so that there may be peace on earth, so that God and sinners may be reconciled, so that the sons (and daughters) of earth may experience a second birth and die no more, etc. 

That coming is dressed in the robes and regalia of Jewish kingship. The incarnate deity is the newborn king, born in Bethlehem of David’s line. But this is little more than circumstantial detail; the essence of the story is theological rather than political, metaphysical rather than historical. Even O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, perhaps the most Jewish of carols, has in view the dispelling of death’s dark shadows and victory o’er the grave as the final outcome.
In this respect, the tradition is at odds with the stories that we have in Matthew and Luke.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

No, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Did Not Try to Kill Adolf Hitler

Dr. Joseph McGarry

When people think about the Bonhoeffer’s life and involvement in the resistance, the flow of logic goes something like this:

a) Dietrich Bonhoeffer worked for the Abwehr, and was recruited there by his brother in law, Hans von Dohnányi. b) Members of the Abwehr’s leadership (specifically Hans Oster, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, and Dohnányi) actively planned attempts on Hitler’s life. c) When the “Zossen files” were discovered in September 1944 (after the failure of the 20 July plot) von Dohnányi was clearly implicated in assassination planning, and the rest of the Abwehr by extension. Therefore, everyone associated with these files was executed for treason against the Reich. Generally, it is then assumed that— because Bonhoeffer was executed with these other people who actively planned Hitler’s assassination—Bonhoeffer himself was actively involved as well.

Unfortunately, it is this assumption that scholars have again and again called an overstatement of the evidence. Something closer to reality is that Bonhoeffer was (at least) one level removed from the active planning. He was part of the organization but not part of the core. He was surely knowledgeable that *something* was being planned, but he was not part of the inner circle and it is likely he didn’t know what that *something* was.

Rather, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a courier, passing messages—particularly to England through his friend Bishop George Bell—and trying to get assurances from the Allied forces that they would stop bombing Germany when Hitler’s regime was overthrown. Bonhoeffer’s job was to try to find a way to convince England to stop destroying Germany. He was a messenger, not an assassination planner. He likely provided a measure of theological justification for what others were doing (as can be seen in his Christmas 1942 letter “After 10 Years”), but he himself was—at best—a bit player in the overall scheme of things. When we think of Bonhoeffer and Hitler’s assassination, it’s probably better to think of his role as “message boy” and not “core leader”.

Now, there is a current stream of interpretation that says that Bonhoeffer had actually no knowledge whatsoever that the Abwehr leadership was planning an assassination, but this seems to me to be a bit of an overstatement from the other side.

Either way, the general consensus of scholarship is that Bonhoeffer himself was neither a core member of the resistance, nor was he central to any of the planning that the Abwer did.
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/formerlyfundie/no-dietrich-bonhoeffer-didnt-try-to-kill-adolph-hitler/

Saturday, December 19, 2015

It’s Not About the Baby

Posted by debra dean murphy

I’ve never liked the phrase “Jesus is the reason for the season.”
It’s fine with me when people write “Xmas” instead of “Christmas.”
I think the “war on Christmas” is falsely-hyped nonsense.
It’s hard to square the militancy and sheer meanness of those who insist on keeping Christ in Christmas with the Prince of Peace and the celebration of his birth. 
Three thoughts:
1. It’s not about the baby.

Please: Don’t Respect My Beliefs

December 18, 2015 by Marc

Respect for other beliefs, tolerance of other religions, acceptance of other cultures — these doctrines are usually sugar-sweet forms of violence. This seems to me the only adequate explanation as to why our age is simultaneously respectful and racist; liberal and segregated; proud of diversity and incapable of actually enjoying diverse company outside of mandatorily diverse institutions — a schizophrenic personality that imagines itself open to the Other in all her differences while fearing, more than most things, any actual contact with the Other. 

When someone tells me that they respect my Catholicism and my “right to believe what I want,” or that, while not agreeing with me, they celebrate the diverse viewpoint my “cherished religious convictions” bring to the community — this usually indicates that they have stripped, reduced, and re-fashioned me into an image they can bear. 

See, I came declaring myself a Believer in that obnoxious, loudmouth pride unique to the Catholic laity. Now, were this a healthy planet, the human with the misfortune of being in the way of my evangelical warpath might respond: “I’m not Catholic. In fact, you Catholics are moronic, drunk Pope-worshipers. Get the @#$ out of my pool.” This would be, officially speaking, an insult. But I would be highly tempted to wrap the other up in a big, fat Apostolic hug — his insult would meet me in my otherness. It would take me as Catholic. It would negatively affirm the difference I claim as my own.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Narrative-Historical Hermeneutic of Andrew Perriman


For some years now in books and blog posts Andrew Perriman has been developing what he calls a Narrative-Historical Hermeneutic. His book Re: Mission sketches the biblical story from this perspective. His post at http://www.postost.net/2015/06/10-good-reasons-switch-narrative-historical-hermeneutic-it-s-too-late gives a list of the benefits he finds in following this approach.
In his post today “This changes everything” http://www.postost.net/2015/12/changes-everything) Perriman provides a convenient glossary of terms and concepts as they appear from the perspective of his Narrative-Historical Hermeneutic. In some respects, Perriman is extending the approach of N. T. Wright by taking the underlying narrative of the biblical story in a fully historical direction (see “Eschatological Horizons” below). In other respects, it demands a radical rethink of our theology (evangelical in Perriman’s case, though his rethink takes him well outside the bounds of what most would accept as evangelical in the US).
I find Perriman’s proposals stimulating and in most respects persuasive. I’ll go down his glossary (24 items) and offer a brief assessment.  
The Bible: The Bible tells the story of how the God who called Abraham would eventually become God of the nations. It is true insofar as it is an accurate witness to how the community understood that story. (this statement of authority seems important and right to me; see my post “Bible Reading for the Biblically Illiterate” at marginalchristianity.blogspot.com)
Story: Current evangelical theology focuses on personal and (to a lesser extent) cosmic themes but almost entirely ignores the central narrative of scripture, which patently has to do neither with the salvation of individuals nor with the restoration of the cosmos but with the historical existence of Israel in relation to mostly hostile nations. Evangelical theology has got the whole narrative structure inside out. (yes, I think the Bible is fundamentally a  Theodicy, which has important implications for interpreting it and the place of doubt in Christian growth and experience)
Jesus: For evangelical theology Jesus is God-as-man, who invades history at an arbitrary point in order to save humanity. The narrative-historical approach puts Jesus firmly back in the New Testament narrative and puts the New Testament narrative firmly back in its literary and historical context. Jesus cannot be properly understood apart from what happens before and what happens after. (Yes, fortunately this is becoming a widely shared assumption for reading the gospels)
Resurrection: Evangelical theology has organised everything around the saving death of Jesus. The narrative-historical reading of the New Testament organises everything around the resurrection of Jesus and draws attention to the fundamentally political implications of his exaltation to the right hand of God for Israel and the nations. (Yes, fundamental and needed shift here)
Apocalyptic: The theology of Christendom has been at core Johannine: Jesus is the Word become flesh who takes away the sin of the world. Both historical criticism and historical experience, however, are pushing us to recover the much more widely attested apocalyptic storyline, running from the Synoptic Gospels, Acts, Paul and culminating in Revelation, which is that God has put his Son in charge of things, not least the historical fate of his people. I use the term “apocalyptic” here because the whole story works towards realistic outcomes that were most vividly described in Jewish and Jewish-Christian writings. (yes, along with theodicy apocalyptic is another primary lens for reading the Bible)
The Trinity: The doctrine of the Trinity was a later attempt to rationalise the apocalyptic narrative when people had forgotten what the apocalyptic narrative was for. The doctrine was not wrong, but it is part of the story. (the development of trinitarian doctrine is certainly a part of the story but it also serves as a ground and presupposition of reading the biblical story Christianly)
Atonement: Traditionally Jesus’ death has been understood as an atonement for the sins of the world according to an abstract universal metaphysic. Under a narrative-historical hermeneutic it is primarily a death for the sins of Israel according to a Jewish martyrdom theology or at least a general understanding of the place of suffering in Israel’s story. (Makes best sense IMO of Jesus’ death in New Testament)
Kingdom: Statements about the coming kingdom of God have in view not a final renewal of all things (that’s another matter) but the intervention of God in history to judge his people and establish his own rule over the nations of the ancient world. (probably so, but this does not preclude a foreshadowing of a final renewal of all things under this rubric)
Eschatological horizons: Jesus’ ministry, his teaching and actions, operated almost entirely within the limited historical horizon of the impending destruction of Jerusalem and the temple and the transfer of the vineyard to “other tenants” who would give the owner the fruits their seasons. The eschatological horizon of the churches in the Greek-Roman world was the confession of Christ as Lord by the nations. (Last sentence controversial, to be sure, but it best illustrates the effect of a Narrative-Historical reading)
Great Commission: The so-called “Great Commission” was not a universal missional mandate. The disciples were sent to tell Israel and the nations about the significance of the resurrection in the period leading up to the end of the age of second temple Judaism. (again another effect of recalibrating the New Testament in a Narrative-Historical mode)
Gospel: The gospel was not “believe in Jesus and you will have eternal life”. It was the public announcement that through the judgment and restoration of his own people the God of Israel was about to bring centuries of pagan domination to an end and annex the nations of the Greek-Roman for his own rule. (yes)
Pentecost: Pentecost was interpreted by Peter not as the founding experience of the universal church but as the indiscriminate empowering of the community of disciples to continue Jesus’ prophetic proclamation to Israel on the years before the war against Rome.
Salvation: To be saved meant to have a part in the future of God’s people in the world. The future of God’s people in the world was secured by the faithfulness of Jesus. To be part of that future a person had to leave an old moribund world behind—whether Judaism according to the Law or classical paganism—and learn to live under the lordship of God’s Son. (spot on!)
Church: The New Testament church is not a model or template for the universal church throughout the ages but a remnant of the people of God in eschatological transition. It is the historical community that must make the difficult journey from the death of its leader in Jerusalem to an improbable victory over the supernatural forces that inspired and sustained pagan Rome. This is part of our story, but it is not our story. (reveals the fallacy of restorationist movements and give credence to N. T. Wright’s notion of the church as “improvising” faithfulness in its own world)
Discipleship: Disciples, apostles and communities of believers were trained with eschatological outcomes in view. Jesus taught his disciples to take up their own crosses in the expectation of being vindicated at his parousia (see below). The apostles built churches that would survive the coming day of persecution. Paul knew that if he was to fulfil his calling he would have to suffer as Christ had suffered, in the hope of being glorified as Christ had been glorified. Discipleship is learning to deal with our place in the story. (yes)
Justification by faith: The doctrine of justification by faith belongs to the eschatological narrative: the church in transition will eventually find itself publicly justified for having believed—and for having acted on the belief—that the resurrection of Jesus from the dead signaled the impending transformation of the standing of God’s people in the ancient world, etc. (yes)
The parousia: The coming of the Son of Man or parousia marks not the end of history but the moment when Jesus “comes” to deliver his persecuted followers from their enemies and share his glory with them. (yes)
Heaven: Contrary to the traditional view, going to heaven at death is not for the whole universal church. It is the suffering church in eschatological transition—in particular the martyrs—which shares in a “first resurrection” and reigns with Christ throughout the coming ages at the right hand of God. The rest of us have missed that bus and will just have to wait for the next resurrection to come along. (Hmm!)
Hell: In narrative-historical perspective there is no place of conscious torment after death, traditionally called “hell”. But historical judgments against Israel and against an aggressive paganism are conceived in fiercely apocalyptic terms. Jesus’ “judgment of gehenna” refers to the horrors of the coming war against Rome and siege of Jerusalem. (obviously controversial, but consistent with the method)
Mission: Mission should be defined in line with the core “political” narrative. The church in the West today is the “Abrahamic” community that is the product not only of this eschatological transition narrated in the New Testament but of subsequent developments—notably the collapse of Christendom and the assimilation to modernity. We are still a priestly-prophetic people called to serve the one true living God, but with all this narrative baggage. The church in the West today must rise to the particular challenge of securing a credible ongoing witness as society reinvents itself on a post-Christian basis. (yes, dealing with this historical “baggage” is a crucial past of being the church in our day in the west)
Missio Dei: Perhaps the missio Dei could be construed as God determining to maintain a viable priestly-prophetic people for himself, throughout history, come hell or high water, for the sake of his reputation among the nations and cultures of the world. (yes)
Renewal of all things: Highlighting the dominant political narrative that controls scripture contradicts optimistic arguments about the progressive or eventual conversion of all humanity and restoration of the world-as-we-know-it. In the course of history there are high points and low points, but everything is contingent—temporally and geographically. (yes
The end: Humanity will always be in rebellion against the creator. The church is not somehow collaborating with God in the slow and fitful transformation of the world. But in the end, I think, God will have the final word over everything that is corrupt and wicked, including the final enemy death. There will be a final judgment of all humanity and a new heaven and new earth. (yes)
Theology: The goal of theology is to serve the narrative, to make sense of the narrated existence of God’s people. Theology should not be an excuse for misreading the texts. (yes, yes, yes!)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Confessing Trinity

(by Peter J. Leithart 12.15.15)

The point of Trinitarian theology is not simply that there are three instead of one. We can’t just plug our pre-conceptions about God into the Trinity, and say that now we are Trinitarian. We can’t assume Deism, the idea that God is a watchmaker who leaves the world to run on its own, and then say that we are Trinitarian because we believe in three watchmakers. We can’t assume that God is sheer power like Allah, and then say we are Trinitarian because we believe in three Allahs and not just one. 
To confess the Trinity is not merely to confess a number, but to confess that the true God is a certain kind of God. What kind of God?
For Paul, the answer to that question has everything to do with Jesus.
Read more at http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/leithart/2015/12/confessing-trinity

Just Drop the Blanket: The Moment You Never Noticed in A Charlie Brown Christmas

Jason Soroskijasonsoroski.wordpress.com

  • 201514 Dec
  • COMMENTS27
Just Drop the Blanket: The Moment You Never Noticed in <i>A Charlie Brown Christmas</i>                
This week A Charlie Brown Christmas aired on national prime time television for the 50th time. In a world where the latest greatest technology is outdated in a matter of months, and social media trends come and go in a matter of days, 50 years of anything becomes quite meaningful.

I am a fan of all things nostalgic and all things Christmas, and so when the two are combined I am hooked, and the Charlie Brown Christmas special falls squarely into that category.

I was in the first grade back when they still performed Christmas pageants in schools (less than 50 years, but still a very long time ago), and our class performed a version of the Charlie Brown Christmas. Since I was kind of a bookworm and already had a blue blanket, I was chosen to play the part of Linus. As Linus, I memorized Luke 2:8-14, and that Scripture has been hidden in my heart ever since.

But while working so diligently to learn those lines, there is one important thing I didn’t notice then, and didn’t notice until now.

Right in the middle of speaking, Linus drops the blanket.

Charlie Brown is best known for his uniquely striped shirt, and Linus is most associated with his ever-present security blanket. Throughout the story of Peanuts, Lucy, Snoopy, Sally and others all work to no avail to separate Linus from his blanket. And even though his security blanket remains a major source of ridicule for the otherwise mature and thoughtful Linus, he simply refuses to give it up.

Until this moment. 

Read more at http://www.crosswalk.com/special-coverage/christmas-and-advent/just-drop-the-blanket-the-moment-you-never-noticed-in-a-charlie-brown-christmas.html

Monday, December 14, 2015


Nonviolence in the Face of ISIS?

By Micah Bales 03-04-2015  

A couple of folks I really respect – Kate Gould of Friends Committee on National Legislation (aka, the Quaker Lobby), and Jim Wallis of Sojourners – were recently on the O’Reilly Factor. For those of you who don’t watch cable news, this is a television program where Bill O’Reilly basically screams at people and incites hatred of anything non-white, non-rich, and non-Republican. I normally don’t watch the show. But when I heard that Kate and Jim were going to be talking, I tuned in. 

I knew almost immediately this wasn’t going to be good. It’s Bill’s program, so he gets to frame the question. Here’s what he asks: Do Christian pacifists have a solution for stopping ISIS? 

It’s the wrong question. 

O’Reilly knows it’s the wrong question, and that’s why he’s asking it. Both Gould and Wallis attempt to answer his question directly and rationally. Gould presents an argument for diplomatic measures to curb ISIS’ support. Wallis tries to explain that O’Reilly’s rhetoric of holy war will only lead to a wider conflagration and cost more lives.

- See more at: https://sojo.net/articles/nonviolence-face-isis#sthash.Zm6KE6DL.dpuf

Waiting for the Messiah

December 14, 2015 J. R. Daniel Kirk

Advent is a time of waiting. And it is the time leading up to the celebration of Jesus’ birth. This might create the mistaken impression that Advent is time when we sit around waiting for the Messiah to be born.
That’s not it. Though we are waiting for the Messiah.
Advent is a time when we sit between the first and second comings of the Messiah. It’s the time that we look forward to the time when every tear will be dried, every wound healed, every prisoner set free–because we remember that the Messiah has already appeared as the tear-drier, the wound-healer, the liberator of the oppressed.

Friday, December 11, 2015

What Would Jesus Conceal and Carry?

Written by Nijay Gupta
on December 11, 2015


By now most of us are quite well acquainted with the Dr. Jerry Falwell Jr.’s comments concluding a convocation service at Liberty University last week. Seth Richardson first wrote about these comments here at Missio Alliance in his article, “How Jerry Falwell Jr. Helps Me Repent.” Pastor Rich Villodas also offered some Advent-oriented reflections on this episode in his article, “Advent, Herod, and Liberty University.”  Yet there is another angle from which it’s important to consider these comments, given how Falwell and others have sought to defend them. This has to do with biblical interpretation, and the relevant lines from his address are these:

“I’ve always thought if more good people had concealed carry permits we could end those Muslims before they walked in… Let’s teach them a lesson if they ever show up here.”

And what lesson would that be? And is that lesson a Jesus-lesson? This takes us back to WWJD, what would Jesus do, or better yet, what would Jesus carry – would Jesus pack heat and/or encourage others to do so?

Read more at
http://www.missioalliance.org/jesus-conceal-carry/?utm_content=bufferb8fec&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Blood of American Christianity Will Be The Seed Of The Church

December 9, 2015 by Benjamin L. Corey Leave a Comment
 

It’s a funny thing what makes Christianity grow and flourish.
In the Second Century, Tertullian (one of the early Christian theologians), wrote in Apologeticus that the “blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”
For the first few hundred years of our faith, Christianity was an illegal cult of nonviolent enemy lovers who were systematically slaughtered by the powers that be, even though they refused to fight back. Dying instead of fighting had an interesting effect: it caused the growth of the church to explode. Thus, Tertullian argued that death is the very thing that makes the church to grow.
We still see this principle play out today. For example, if we look to China, we see a place where there is systematic persecution of Christians, yet an explosion of Christianity to the point they are on pace to become the largest Christian nation in the world.
We often call the Kingdom of Jesus an “upside-down” Kingdom because it operates on principles that are contrary to anything else we find in the world– and this is also true with how it grows.
It’s an upside-down Kingdom that grows in upside-down ways.
Read more at: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/formerlyfundie/the-blood-of-american-christianity-will-be-the-seed-of-the-church/

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Holiday of Advent: Consumerism and Learning to Re-Tell Time

 

 
In school my son has learned to measure time. In being taught this skill he has now been given another way in which to make sense of his reality.

This struck me the last time I went to Chicago for my studies. When I had left, my son asked my wife, “How long will daddy be away?” She replied, “He’s gone for a week.” At which point he went into his room and burst into tears. He understood what a “week” was and for a six-year-old a week can feel like an eternity.

This is juxtaposed to the previous trip where he asked the same question. Upon being given the answer he simply gave me a hug and went off to play. This occurred at a point where he did not have the conceptual tools to understand what a “week” was. It meant nothing to him. I could have said 1000 years and I would’ve received the same reaction.

Read more at http://www.christianweek.org/the-holiday-of-advent/

Friday, December 4, 2015

What does God think of you?

God thinks of you as the royal priest he created you to be serving in his temple-palace of creation. God has never thought of you as anything else. Even in rebellion against him, denying or ignoring your royal priesthood, he has never accepted or thought of you in terms of what you have become, sinners, but always in terms of who he made you to be. Of course he knows you have gone wrong and that this has to dealt with. And God has done that in Christ – once for all time! And having done it, he never thinks of us in terms of sin and failure again. Only as his beloved children, children of the Great King, royal siblings, those to whom he has entrusted and equipped for the protection and care of his creation.

When you next look in the mirror, behold there this you – not whatever other you you may believe yourself to be! For this is the true you, the real you, the you God created you to be.

And if you don’t believe me, maybe these wise words of the great theologian Karl Barth will help:

“[Man’s] legal status as a sinner is rejected in every form. Man is no longer seriously regarded by God as a sinner. Whatever he may be, whatever there is to be said of him, whatever he has to reproach himself with, God no longer takes him seriously as a sinner. He has died to sin; there on the Cross of Golgotha…We are no longer addressed and regarded by God as sinners…We are acquitted gratis, sola gratia, by God’s own entering in for us.” (Dogmatics in Outline)

If you can begin to see yourself, and everyone else you meet, like this, as God does, it will change your life! And isn’t that what Advent is all about anyway?