Showing posts from 2016

The Barmen Declaration for Today

(The “rejections” of the Barmen Declaration of 1934 updated for today)

8.10 - 1. "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me." (John 14.6). "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. . . . I am the door; if anyone enters by me, he will be saved." (John 10:1, 9.)
8.11 Jesus Christ, as he is attested for us in Holy Scripture, is the one Word of God which we have to hear and which we have to trust and obey in life and in death.
8.12 We reject the false doctrine, as though the church could and would have to acknowledge as a source of its proclamation, apart from and besides this one Word of God, still other events and powers, figures and truths, as God's revelation.

No nation, leader, ideology, other force or power, or personal interest or preference other than Jesus Christ gives us our marching orders as God’s people.

8.13 - 2. &qu…

How Stories Configure Human Nature

December 12, 2016
by Jag Bhalla

1. It is in our nature to need stories. We arrive “biologically prepared” for them. They were evolutionarily crucial. We feel and think in story-logic (story-causality configures our reaction-biology).
2. Like our language instinct, a story drive—inborn hunger to hear and make stories—emerges untutored (=“biologically prepared”).
3. “Every culture bathes its children in stories" (to explain how the world works, to educate their emotions). . .

How NT Wright Stole Christmas

by Peter J. Leithart12 . 22 . 12
This piece was originally published at the Credenda/Agenda web site in 2009. Being in a Grinchy mood and of a generally Grinchy disposition, I thought it worth re-presenting.
Several years ago, when The Passion of the Christ was making headlines, I realized that N. T. Wright has spoiled every Jesus film. Once you’ve read Wright, you realize that none of the movies get Jesus right. Pharisees and scribes are reduced stock villains with caricatured Jewish features. Pilate has to make an appearance, and Herod, but we are given no sense that first-century Israel was the powder keg that it actually was.
No film ever gives us what Wright says we should be looking for: a “crucifiable” Jesus, a Jesus who does something so provocative to make the Jews murderously hostile. In the movies, Jesus is a hippy peace-child, a delicate flower of a man, a dew-eyed first-century Jewish Gandhi. Why would anyone want to hurt Him? Maybe because He’s so annoyingly precious; but…

It’s time we think of politics more like religion

By | December 7, 2016

Supporters cheer as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump attends a campaign rally in Sarasota, Fla., on Nov. 7, 2016. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Carlo Allegri *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-FARNSLEY-OPED, originally published on Dec. 7, 2016.
(RNS) Students in my college classes start out thinking religious identity and behavior are primarily about ideas. When I ask them about differences between Catholics and Methodists, they respond with differences in beliefs: the pope, contraception and transubstantiation.
These theological differences are real, of course, but I learned long ago that ideas do not create religious identity: They follow from it. My students imagine we pick from a large menu of ideological options and then make decisions about which membership best fits our own ideas.
It does not take long to convince them this “decision” model is badly incomplete. We never start from a neutral position. Our…

There is only one biblical way to transform society, and it’s not social activism

Thu, 15/12/2016 - 12:20 | Andrew Perriman
In his talk on Daniel 4 this week Barney made passing reference to the “biblical mandate to bring justice by changing the structures of society”. I forget exactly the point he was making, but it would have had something to do with Daniel’s words to Nebuchadnezzar after interpreting the dream about the tree that is cut back to the stump:
Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity. (Dan. 4:27)
The talk was excellent and stimulated good conversation. But I’m not sure about that throw-away comment. Is there really such a “biblical mandate”? Is it clearly taught in scripture that a central task of the church is to go and bring justice by changing the structures of society?
There’s no question that God’s people are expected to demonstrate justice internally, in the various forms o…

What Might a Faithful Advent Look Like?

Earlier today I posted this on FB:
“The only way to "keep Christ in Christmas" is to admit we've lost the "Christmas" battle to the culture which wipes out Advent and reclaim the Twelve Days of the Christmas Season (beginning Christmas Day running to Epiphany). If you can reclaim Advent in some meaningful way, great. Most of us cannot/will not. If you can't, partake of culture's "Christmas" in so far as you can with some degree of integrity/modesty/moderation intact. Then celebrate the heck out of the Twelve Days.”
A friend asked in response to this how I would like to see Christians celebrate Advent.Very good question! Here is a first pass at a response.
1.Recognize that the persecution of the American church grows most intense this time of the year. I don’t mean, of course, the facile and wrong-headed bleating about “Keeping Christ in Christmas” and all that crap. I mean it in the sense I expounded on here in 7.16.14 “Persecution in America – R…

Fourth Sunday of Advent (12.18.16)

Matthew 1:18-25 18 Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah[a] took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20 But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

23 “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall name him Emmanuel,”

which means, “God is with us.” 24 When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, 25 but had no marit…

Review of N. T. Wright's "The Day the Revolution Began" (8)

Ch.8: New Goal, New Humanity
The redemption Jesus accomplished (though unexpected and unfathomable to his fellow Jews) on the cross and at the resurrection was not “from” the world (as in an escape to elsewhere) but “for” the world back to God’s original design for it. Humanity is reclaimed and restore to play their creational role as royal priest in God’s creation temple.
          What is humanity’s roll in God’s new creation and how did God rescue us so we can take up that role again. Traditionally we have held a view that rests on a threefold mistake:
                   -We want to go to heaven                    -But we sinned and need to be rescued -Jesus offers the obedience we failed at and at the cross God punishes Jesus to pacify his wrath
          This way of thinking is infected with Platonism (valuing the spiritual over the material), Moralism (defining humanity in terms of its moral performance), and Paganism (the God who needs blood to be pacified).
          In the biblical …

Third Sunday of Advent 12.12.16

Third Sunday of Advent 2016 Matthew 11:2-11 When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” 4 Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. 6 And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. 9 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
    who will prepare your way before you.’
11 Truly I tell you, among th…

On the fallacy of ‘Christian marriage’

Posted on 6 December, 2016 by Jason Goroncy
 ‘There really is no such thing as “Christian marriage” as the term is commonly used. “Christian marriage” is a vain, romantic, unbiblical conception. “Christian marriage” is a fiction. There is no more an institution of “Christian marriage” than there is a “Christian nation” or a “Christian lawyer” or a “Christian athlete.” Even where such terms are invoked as a matter of careless formulation and imprecise speech, they are symptoms of a desire to separate Christians from the common life of the world, whereas Christians are called into radical involvement in the common life of the world. To be sure, there are Christians who are athletes and those who practice law, and there are Christians who are citizens of this and the other nations. But none of these or similar activities or institutions are in any respect essentially Christian, nor can they be changed or reconstituted in order to become Christian. They are, on the contrary, realities of t…

The Problem With Us Evangelicals Is We’re Just Too Liberal

Written by David Fitch on November 30, 2016 If there’s anything the election of Donald Trump has taught me it is this: We evangelicals have gone liberal and it’s taking us down a wrong path. Let me explain. The Word “Liberal” Current American Politics “Liberal” is a word that can mean many things. In everyday use, the word refers to the opposite of “conservative.” If Republicans are conservative, then Democrats must be liberal. To be conservative socially is to support traditional values and personal responsibility. To be liberal socially is to advocate for personal freedom, self-expression and personal flourishing on all social moral issues. Evangelicals tend to be conservatives in these ways. Classical Liberalism The more classical use of the word however, in the political tradition of John Locke, J.S. Mill, John Rawls, describes a brand of individualist politics. The goal of this kind of “liberal” is to order a society around the freedom of each to pursue his or her “life, liberty and hap…

Trump and the 'War on Christmas'

Michael Sean Winters |  Nov. 29, 2016
You know the celebration of the birth of our Savior is nigh when Fox News starts yapping about the "War on Christmas." Their website has usefully collected a series of stories that expose the liberal plot to rob Americans of our most cherished holiday. Once again, liberals have stolen a cultural inheritance that most Americans have always enjoyed. This is all hooey best ignored, of course. Until it results in an Electoral College victory, at which point you can no longer ignore it. First, the hooey. Those referred to as "early Americans" had a positive aversion to Christmas. Heirs to the most radical variety of Reformation ideology, the Puritans banned any celebration of Christmas which they viewed as a pagan observance that had crept into Christianity thanks to the anti-Christ (that would be the pope to us). Christmas became popular in America more on account of the popularity of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol"…