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Showing posts from October, 2014

Energiewende: A Future for Denominations

http://themissionalnetwork.com/why/what-were-discovering/energiewende/ Alan Roxburgh
The Great Unraveling We live in a time of huge change and contested stories. It is a time when even the most basic, taken-for-granted systems of organization seem to be dissolving. All of this is particularly true for those Protestant denominations into which many of us were born and to which many of those reading these words have given their life and leadership. These denominations and their churches, as we have known them, are effectively finished! They must now enter a time of being fundamentally remade.
A great hollowing out is underway that can’t be stopped but is still not believed. Just as Western nations have experienced a hollowing out of their industrial heartlands so the Protestant denominations (See, George Packer, The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America). Packer describes how generations of people in the industrial heartlands would continue. They expected some change requir…

1.The Offense of Excretion

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by Peter J. Leithart10 . 28 . 14 Ernest Becker wrote: “Excreting is the curse that threatens madness because it shows man in his abject finitude, his physicalness, the likely unreality of his hopes and dreams. But even more immediately, it represents man’s utter bafflement at the sheer non-sense of creation: to fashion the sublime miracle of the human face, the mysterium tremendum of radiant feminine beauty, the veritable goddess that beautiful women are; to bring this out of nothing, out of the void, and make it shine in noonday; to take such a miracle and put miracles again within it, deep in the mystery of the eyes that peer out - the eye that gave even the dry Darwin a chill: to do all this, and to combine it with an anus that shits! It is too much. Nature mocks us” (Denial of Death, 33-4). It’s worse for orthodox Christians, because we confess faith in a God who became flesh, a God-man with an anus that shits. Has Christian theology ever fully grappled this “scandal of anality” i…

Re-Visiting The Shack (5): Ch.7 – “God on the Dock”

Triune Servanthood

The title of this chapter is another echo of C. S. Lewis:this time his book of essays God in the Dock.While Lewis’ essays offer a variety of defenses of God and the things of God that modern culture has questioned and placed “in the dock,” this chapter of the Shack features Mack getting to know Jesus as they watch the stars “on the dock.”
The chapter begins with Mack observing Papa, Jesus, and Sarayu winsomely interacting as they prepare a meal. As they eat the three ask Mack about his family and friends, except Missy.
When Mack allows that it seemed like they were hearing all this for the first time, Sarayu explains to him that it is the first time.God “limits” himself, she explains in order to “facilitate and honor” his relationship and Mack and all other humans.
“We have limited ourselves out of respect for you.We are not bringing to mind, as it were, our knowledge of your children. As we are listening to you, it is as if this is the first time we have known about t…

Three Pacifist Cheers for a Non-Pacifist God!

(With thanks to Derek Rishmawy for his inspiration of this post.  Though he is not accountable for any errors, mistatements, and infelicities contained in this post)

The Bible’s God cannot be pacifist!His people can be, must be, but only because he is not. This startling counterintuitive claim is true for at least the following reasons.
1.Unless God has forfeited his role as the Ruler of human history in a world rebelling against him (Psa.2) and using nations as agents of his judgments against one another (Isa.10), he must be continuing to employ violence.Though God “does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone” (Lam.3:33), he will do what is necessary for justice to prevail.

2.We, followers of Christ, can only be non-violent, unless God enacts the vengeance justice demands (Rom.12:19).Miroslav Volf is required reading here.

“One could object that it is not worthy of God to wield the sword.Is God not love, long-suffering and all-powerful love?A counter-question could go something like th…

Walker Percy Nails It! (From "Lost in the Cosmos)

Now, call into question the unspoken assumption: something is wrong with you. Like Copernicus and Einstein, turn the universe upside down and begin with a new assumption. Assume that you are quite right.

You are depressed because you have every reason to be depressed. No member of the other two million species which inhabit the earth—and who are luckily exempt from depression—would fail to be depressed if it lived the life you lead. You live in a deranged age—more deranged than usual, because despite great scientific and technological advances, man has not the faintest idea of who he is or what he is doing.

Begin with the reverse hypothesis, like Copernicus and Einstein. You are depressed because you should be. You are entitled to your depression. In fact, you’d be deranged if you were not depressed. Consider the only adults who are never depressed: chuckleheads, California surfers, and fundamentalist Christians who believe they have had a personal encounter with Jesus and are saved f…

Re-Visiting The Shack (4): Ch.6 – “A Piece of ϖ”

Opening up the Garbage Can

In this cleverly titled chapter, Mackenzie begins his journey into the heart of the Great Sadness that afflicts him.This “shack” is a whole new world for Mack and he struggles to get oriented to it.In a telling line that echoes a similar comment from C. S. Lewis’ Narnia story The Last Battle, Young writes, “The inside of the cabin was roomier than (Mack) had expected” (90).Yes, this is a new world full of possibility and hope that does not exist outside it.For this is the place where the triune God is present to meet Mack.
In conversation with Papa, she opens up Mack’s inner “garbage can” and drags out the “trash” that is burdening him.She wonders if his difficulty accepting her as Papa is due to the failures of his own Papa.She offers to be “the Papa you never had” (92) but Mack bristles at this and gets to the heart of his trouble:“If you couldn’t take care of Missy, how can I trust you to take care of me?” (92)
Now with the cards on the table, Mack and Papa …

Rambling through Romans (20): 3:21-31(5)

21 But now God’s righteousness has been revealed apart from the Law, which is confirmed by the Law and the Prophets. 22 God’s righteousness comes through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who have faith in him. There’s no distinction. 23 All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, 24 but all are treated as righteous freely by his grace because of a ransom that was paid by Christ Jesus. 25 Through his faithfulness, God displayed Jesus as the place of sacrifice where mercy is found by means of his blood. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness in passing over sins that happened before, 26 during the time of God’s patient tolerance. He also did this to demonstrate that he is righteous in the present time, and to treat the one who has faith in Jesus as righteous.

27 What happens to our bragging? It’s thrown out. With which law? With what we have accomplished under the Law? 28 No, not at all, but through the law of faith. We consider that a person is treated as righteous by f…

On the Questioning of God

My FB friend Bobby Grow and I are thinking along the same line tonight (see his post at http://growrag.wordpress.com/2014/10/25/schooled-in-the-faith-of-christ-thomas-torrance-responds-to-rachel-held-evans-questioning-approach/).Great minds think alike? :-)I want to come at what I take to be our similar concern from another direction.He takes on the matter of what constitutes proper questioning of God.I will look at another facet of the matter here.
I have a growing concern that a certain recklessness in questioning God is becoming our default mode of relating to him.From the Garden of Eden on the central issue between God and humanity was/is the latter inability/unwillingness to trust God.Even for those who follow Jesus this remains our central struggle.God accommodates this weakness by allowing us to vent and rage at him, call him terrible names, and hurl all manner of vile accusation against him (see Job and Lamentations).For people of faith it is necessary and important for us to a…

Rambling through Romans (19): 3:21-31(4)

21 But now God’s righteousness has been revealed apart from the Law, which is confirmed by the Law and the Prophets. 22 God’s righteousness comes through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who have faith in him. There’s no distinction. 23 All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, 24 but all are treated as righteous freely by his grace because of a ransom that was paid by Christ Jesus. 25 Through his faithfulness, God displayed Jesus as the place of sacrifice where mercy is found by means of his blood. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness in passing over sins that happened before, 26 during the time of God’s patient tolerance. He also did this to demonstrate that he is righteous in the present time, and to treat the one who has faith in Jesus as righteous.
27 What happens to our bragging? It’s thrown out. With which law? With what we have accomplished under the Law? 28 No, not at all, but through the law of faith. We consider that a person is treated as righteous by f…

Why We Ought to Pay Serious Attention to Spiritual but Not Religious (You Should Read This….)

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Jana Bennett John BerkmanThomas BushlackCharles CamosyMeghan ClarkPatrick ClarkDavid CloutierDana DillonNichole FloresKathryn Getek SoltisBeth HaileAndrew KimJason KingRamon LuzarragaEmily Reimer-BarryJulie Hanlon RubioMatthew ShadleChristopher VogtJessica WrobleskiKari-Shane Davis Zimmerman posted by on Oct 24, 2014 in Current Events | 0 comments
I’ve been teaching for almost a decade, and in past years, if there’s been anything I’ve been more annoyed with (in a gentle, mild, non-violent way) in class, it’s been when my students try to wriggle out of difficult discussions about faith and being Catholic by saying, ‘Well, I’m spiritual but not religious.” It’s a famous phrase – one that even New Atheist Sam Harris extols, suggested that it is possible to achieve the benefits of meditation and spiritual encounters without believing in God.



It’s often seemed an arrogant kind of statement, perhaps along the lines of what Lillian Daniel, a UCC pastor, wrote very defensively (a…

What Does the Bible Tell Us: Peter Enns’ The Bible Tells Me So

Pete Enns’ believes that the view of the Bible many evangelicals hold is both wrong and damaging.And his The Bible Tells Me So is his evangelistic tract to share the good news that there is another and better way to read the Bible.We just can’t go on treating the Bible as “Truth downloaded from heaven, God’s rulebook, a heavenly instructional manual” (3). They don’t fit the Bible we have in front of us.According to Enns our Bible reading is motivated mostly by fear and anxiety to defend the Bible we imagine and control the faith of Bible readers (4).He thinks this “a warning signal that deep down we do not really trust God at all (9).”

So Enns wants to convert us, bring us to faith!By facing up to the truth about the Bible, that it contains many things wrong or reprehensible, He discovered a freedom to engage God in a no-holds-barred quest to discover the Bible’s truth.He learned God loved him not because of but even in spite of his mental efforts, reservations, objections, questions a…