Showing posts from March, 2015

God's Subversive Counter-Revolutionary Movement (SCRM)


“Church” is a word that has suffered the death of a thousand indignities, many of them self-inflicted. The word does little more now than name an irrelevancy, a blasphemy, or danger for many in our culture. It badly needs rehabilitation of its identity and integrity. Essential is a fresh image that captures what church is about that has been lost or obscured and rendered in an idiom that recaptures the sharp edge of its calling. In America, I contend, that image is the church as God's “Subversive Counter-Revolutionary Movement” (SCRM).
After Genesis 3 the nature and shape of God's people has been a community sent by God to subvert the attitudes, actions, relationships, patterns, and social organizations set humanity in revolt against God. This subversive counter-revolutionary action is the kind of life God intends for all humanity. It takes it subversive counter-revolutionary shape in a fallen world because of the resistance God's people meet and has to act against…

Economic Inequality: It’s Far Worse Than You Think

The great divide between our beliefs, our ideals, and reality March 31, 2015 |By Nicholas Fitz

According to Pew Research, most Americans believe the economic system unfairly favors the wealthy, but 60% believe that most people can make it if they’re willing to work hard. 
Credit: Allan Danahar via ThinkstockBehavioral Finance: Using Psychology in the Market In a candid conversation with Frank Rich last fall, Chris Rock said, "Oh, people don’t even know. If poor people knew how rich rich people are, there would be riots in the streets." The findings of three studies, published over the last several years in Perspectives on Psychological Science, suggest that Rock is right. We have no idea how unequal our society has become.

In their 2011 paper, Michael Norton and Dan Ariely analyzed beliefs about wealth inequality. They asked more than 5,000 Americans to guess the percentage of wealth (i.e., savings, property, stocks, etc., minus debts) owned by each fifth of the population…

The Iconography of Sorrow: How Easter Transforms Our Response to Suffering

Luke BrethertonABC Religion and Ethics31 Mar 2015
It should not be the fickle attention of Western media that determines who appears as the subject of care. Uncoupled from contemplation of Christ crucified, we misperceive what suffering looks like. Credit: vincent desjardins / Wikimedia Commons From pictures of poor farmers in Depression era America to bloated children in Sudan, the contemporary aesthetics of poverty subtly reinscribe the ancient division between the children of the soil (chthonoi) and children of the gods (theion) familiar to us from the Greek and Babylonian myths. Those who live some form of what is often deemed the ideal "Western" lifestyle look down from Olympus with sympathy on the sons and daughters of the soil and their visceral imprisonment to nature and necessity.

"We" who benefit from consumer lifestyles, technological advancement and decent sewers contemplate the photographs of stricken faces and think: "If only they can…

10 Situations Where Christian Bakers Should Refuse To Bake Wedding Cakes

March 30, 2015 by 6 Comments
This past week has been a major victory folks. With Indiana passing a law that gives us the right to refuse to sell our cakes to gay people, there are now close to 20 states where we can look our gay citizens in the eyes and say, “no cake for you!” While I was celebrating this great victory of ours, the Lord laid it on my heart that gay people aren’t the only people we should deny cake to. This got me pretty excited, because I really enjoy saying “no cake for you!” and this will give us ten more areas where we can arbitrarily apply principles from the bible to our businesses, instead of playing by the basic societal rules that make commerce fair for everyone. Here are the other ten areas where I hope we can all band together and start standing up for our right to be biblically consistent in who we discriminate against– let us be bold! Effective immediately, we need to smile and say “no cake for you!” to the following ten people:
10. Career …

John Kasich's Passion for the Poor Is Rankling Conservative Christians

Photo: AP Photo/Tony Dejak 2016 ElectionMarch 27, 2015 182 3.5k By @ebruenig Photo: AP Photo/Tony Dejak Ohio’s governor John Kasich certainly won't be president, nor even receive the Republican party’s nomination in 2016. But if Kasich does throw his hat into the increasingly packed Republican primary ring (as some sources suggest he intends to do), the long-term outcome for American politics could be even better than a hypothetical win. This is because, unlike his Republican competitors, Kasich takes Christian politics very seriously.

Within the lore of conservative Christian politics, there is a line of questionable thinking regarding state-funded welfare that is far more recent than its proliferators make it seem. The story goes like this. While Jesus Christ undoubtedly promoted (if not commanded) charity and generosity toward the less-fortunate, He never said that the state should be the veh…

5 Reasons Your Church Should Be Smaller SuttleTimSuttle.com201513 Mar
For years it has bothered me that, although the majority of churches in America have fewer than 300 people, most church leadership advice comes from pastors of huge churches. The assumption that bigger is better pervades the church leadership culture. What if that’s the wrong tack? Here are five reasons your church might be better off focusing on faithfulness instead of success… even if it that means it will Shrink.

1. Faithfulness, not success, is the goal of the church
The church’s job is not to grow, multiply, or expand. The church’s job is not to take back the culture for Jesus. The church’s job is not even to survive. The church’s job is to be the church—to be the faithful people of God who organize their common life together in such a way that they image God to all creation. Sadly, most American churches do not image God so much as they image Ameri…

ISIS Is a Disgrace to True Fundamentalism

By September 3, 2014 2:45 pmSeptember 3, 2014 2:45 pm502Comments
campaign: nyt2015_sharetools_mkt_opinion_47K78 -- 271975, creative: nyt2014_sharetools_mktg_opinion_47K78 -- 375123, page:, targetedPage:, position: MiddleLeft It has become a commonplace in recent months to observe that the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, is the latest chapter in the long story of the anticolonial awakening — the arbitrary borders drawn after World War I by the great powers being redrawn — and simultaneously a chapter in the struggle against the way global capital undermines the power of nation states. But what causes such fear and consternation is another feature of the ISIS regime: The public statements of the ISIS authorities make it clear that the principal task of state power is not the regulation of the welfare of the state’s population (health, the fight against hunger) — what really matters is religi…

The Atlantic: Welfare Makes America More Entrepreneurial

A common perspective among political conservatives, especially of the libertarian and Tea Party varieties, is that welfare is a drag on economic growth and it is a disincentive to initiative. Paul Ryan wants a safety net and not safety hammock. Some libertarians don’t even want the net. It would be better to let people assume their own risks. Money taxed away by the government is money that people could have used to buy goods and services and boost the economy.

I do not dispute that government programs could be a drag on the economy but this conservative narrative is grossly incomplete! Entrepreneurship and economic innovation are, at the heart, calculations about risk. By taking a bold step, what are the chances I will be better off (however I measure that) and what are …

There is such a thing as "a Christian way to vote" - by John Dickson

Introduction: Mixing Religion and Politics
 "He who says politics and religion do not mix understands neither one." (Mahatma Gandhi)

I am the true ‘swinging voter’. In the numerous elections of my life (beginning with the Federal election of July 1987), my personal votes have been fairly evenly split between Labor and The Liberal, or Coalition, parties.

In what follows, then, I have no agenda. The last thing on my mind is to influence which party you vote for.

I do, however, want to insist that people who identify themselves as Christian should vote in a way that is informed by their faith, whatever decision they finally make. While Christianity is not party political, it is political in the broader sense. At a fundamental level, faith concerns life in society—the word ‘politics’ comes from the Greek politeuō, meaning to live as a citizen. Everyone who is concerned with the life of our wider community  (as every Christian must be) is ‘political’ in the larger sense…

Why the church should be welcoming but not affirming of straight Christians

3/26/2015 Branson Parler    1. Their straight orientation will most often be a source of life-long temptation and struggle. Although straight Christians should grow in holiness over the course of their life, they will most likely never reach a point where their orientation ceases to be a source of temptation in one way or another. So we must demand life-long vigilance against the temptation to simply do what feels natural based on their orientation.  2. Straight people have been told that their sinful lust is just a normal part of human sexuality. It's not. Humans have been created by God as sexual beings. But proper sexual desire is not the same as sinful lust that uses another person as a means to the end of pleasing oneself. Lust is a problem across the board. Straight lust does not somehow have a privileged standing with God because it's straight.
If the statistics are correct, around 2% of the American population identifies as gay or lesbian. Quantitatively, then, we sh…

An Open Letter to Ted Cruz from God

Ted, Ted, Ted, my beloved but confused son! I heard your speech the other night. Actually stayed awake through it. I don't usually make it through political speeches these days. But, as I say, I listened to yours.
I listened because you never seem to have gotten the distinction between being an American Christian and a Christian American. And because of that you get most everything else wrong or out of balance. I love you, boy, but you need to get clear on this!
It matters whether the “Christian” is the adjective or the noun. Nouns are the primary thing which adjectives modify in one way or another. An American Christians is what I intend you to be, but you keep insisting on being a Christian American. And as I already said, that makes you get everything else out of whack.
To wit, Ted, if you were an American Christian rather than the Christian American I heard you proclaim yourself to be the other night.
-you would not confuse America with the church the way you so evidently did…

Violence in the Old Testament: Theological and Pastoral Concerns

Allan R. Bevere I keep coming back to this issue of violence in the Old Testament on this blog because I have two concerns--one as a theologian, and the other as a pastor (I'll get to that a little later). Of late there has been a resurgence of a kind of quasi, neo-Marcionite reading of some of the Old Testament texts that simply dismiss difficult themes, in this case, God's participation in violence, particularly in the conquest narratives in the Old Testament book of Joshua. These texts are viewed as incompatible with the revelation of God in Jesus Christ in the New Testament, so they are simply to be dismissed as primitive projections of a primitive tribal people. I have suggested in a previous post that a Christological understanding that leads to such a view of these Old Testament texts is itself based on a deficient Christology.

In the video posted below, Walter Brueggemann says that such a dismissive approach to the violence of the Old Testament is too easy, and I agree…

The Stars Will Fall from Heaven

March 23, 2015 posted by Leave a Comment Today we are pleased to share the latest post in our new weekly series, Beyond the Book. This month J. Richard Middleton will be discussing interesting things he learned about eschatology while working on A New Heaven and a New Earth. Also, as part of this series we are giving away three copies of A New Heaven and a New Earth. The winners will be announced at the end of the month, and you can enter here. ——– “Despite vivid apocalyptic imagery of stars falling from heaven, the Bible never imagines the literal destruction of the cosmos in the eschaton.” – J. Richard Middleton Among the issues I addressed in A New Heaven and a New Earth were “problem texts” in the New Testament that seemed to suggest the destruction of the cosmos when Christ returns. I was already convinced that that the main thrust of New Testament eschatology is the redemption of creation—God wants to restore this earthly world to the flourishing he had intended fro…

Christian Stoicism (Clement of Alexandria)

byFred SandersonMarch 22, 2015
People who worry about the hellenization, or greekifying, of Christianity tend to worry about Platonism. But the interaction with Stoicism has been equally complex and interesting.
Clement of Alexandria (ca 150-215)’s fascinating book Paedagogus is a great early example. The title is variously translated as Tutor, Educator, Instructor, or Teacher of Little Children. etc. It’s a work of Christian ethics, but it incorporates so much from Stoic thought that about a century ago, when form critics were enjoying the apex of their credibility, they hypothesized that it was nothing more than a lightly revised Christian version of a lost work by the Stoic lecturer Musonius (see Charles Pomeroy Parker, “Musonius in Clement.” Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 11 (1901): 191-200). The fact that such a hypothesis could be entertained at all does at least indicate just how pervasively Clement’s Paedagogus uses Stoic terms and ideas.
In many ways, Stoicism makes a…

The Gospel

God, the triune God of Christian faith, is love. God intends to live in love with humanity on this earth forever. Our sin, yelling at God like a two year-old “You're not the boss of me!”, imperiled God's plan. But God never gives up on his plan, calling the family of Abraham and Sarah to be his people and promising them to make them a great people, to bless and protect them, and bless everyone else through them. In other words, this family was to serve as God's Subversive Counter-Revolutionary Movement (SCRM) to reclaim and restore both humanity and the world for his purpose. They were to subvert humanity's revolt against God by loving, serving, suffering, and even dying for them; they were to demonstrate in their life together what God intends for human life and counter the way sinful humanity organized itself at every level of life. Abraham and Sarah's family failed in this mission. They ended in exile and defeat. Well, all but one failed. There was one faithful Israe…