Showing posts from August, 2016

Bonhoeffer on Prayer

Why should you pray?
Because I can take nothing for myself and must instead ask everything of God; because I want to thank God for all his gifts.

Why are you permitted to pray?
Because my Lord Jesus Christ has commanded me to do so and wants to be my intercessor.

For what should you pray?
For all things necessary for the body and soul, which the child asks of its father.
From a catechism he developed at Finkenwalde. Which prayers are pleasing to God?
I should call on God alone in my prayer. For everything I ask, I should do so for Christ’s sake. I should believe with assurance that God hears me. I should pray with my heart rather than only with my mouth (Matt. 6: 5– 8). I should pray several times each day (in the morning, at midday, and in the evening). (1 Thess. 5: 17; Rom. 12: 12.) [—] John 15: 7; 16: 23– 24; Ps. 119.

How does God answer prayers?
By relieving us of and bearing all our care, trouble, and sin. All our prayers have been answered in the cross of Jesus Christ.

What does Chr…

Jacques Ellul's 8 Characteristics of Propaganda

From Ellul's 1965 (!) book Propaganda. 1) It Prevents Dialogue.
“To be effective, propaganda cannot be concerned with detail... Propaganda ceases where simple dialogue begins… it does not tolerate discussion; by its very nature, it excludes contradiction and discussion.” 
2) It Focuses on the Mass
“For propaganda to address itself to the individual, in his isolation, apart from the crowd, is impossible. The individual is of no interest to the propagandist; as an isolated unit he presents too much resistance to external action… The most favorable moment to seize a man and influence him is when he is alone in the mass: it is at this point that propaganda can be most effective.”
3) It is “Total”
“Propaganda must be total. The propagandist must utilize all of the technical means at his disposal – the press, radio, TV, movies, posters, meetings, door-to-door canvassing. Modern propaganda must utilize all of these media. There is no propaganda as long as one makes use, in sporadic fashion and…

If You Think . . . (13)

Cleanliness is Next to Godliness
What is Cleanliness?
If you think “cleanliness is next to Godliness,” you just might be right! Christian faith has a vital interest in cleanliness. And it’s right up there with godliness. Don’t believe me? Please keep reading.
            Besides teaching the people all the Mosaic commandments priests are charged with helping the people “distinguish . . . between the clean and the unclean” (Leviticus 10:10). This same task is prophesied for priests in God’s eschatological temple (Ezekiel 44:23). Jesus is that eschatological temple (John 2:22) and his followers become part of that temple in him (Ephesians 2:22; 1 Peter 2:1-10). And Jesus, as our high priest, spends a good deal of his ministry help his disciples discern between the clean and unclean.
            Really, you ask? How so?
            The book of Leviticus is about godness and goodness (in that order). The first 16 chapters are pretty much about the godness of the people while chs.17-27 are abou…

If You Think . . . (12)

Ch.12: You’d Like (Hate) Living in the End Times
If you think you’d like to live in the end times, or if that scares the hell out of you, I’ve got really great or really bad news for you! YOU DO!
That’s right, you and I live in what the Bible calls the end times. That’s the whole period from Jesus’ resurrection to his return. It is his resurrection that demonstrates this. For Jews, who expected a general resurrection of the dead on the day when God intervenes to set all things right, the inescapable meaning of the resurrection of a Jew in the middle of time was that the Day of the Lord had arrived and the end times were upon them. This is certainly how the Jews who wrote the New Testament documents took it.
-in both the gospel and letters of John “eternal life” (the life of the age to come) is a reality Christians can experience in the here and now as well as the then and there.
-Paul describes the Corinthians as those “on whom the ends of the ages have come” (1Cor.10:11).
-the author of …

If You Think . . . (11)

Ch.11: The Bible is Important

The Bible plays a vital role in God’s Subversive Counter-Revolutionary Movement. Every movement, especially a “great campaign of sabotage” (C. S. Lewis) needs a Field Guide, and that, I suggest, is how, in most respects, the Bible functions for God’s people. The respect in which the Bible is unlike a Field Guide, however, is the most important. It serves as a sacrament, sign, and servant of God’s SCRM.

The Bible as the Living Word of God

The SCRM God communicates himself and his will and way for us in the Bible. “Jesus Christ as he is attested in Holy Scripture is the one Word of God whom we have to hear, and whom we have to trust and obey in life and in death.”[1] So claims the remarkable Theological Declaration of Barmen written by the Confessing Church as a witness against the Nazi regime in Germany in 1934.
“As he is attested in Holy Scripture” – the Jesus we find in the pages of the New Testament witnesses to the living Word of God that effects and grows…

If You Thiink . . . (10)

Ch.10: Genesis 1-2 Are About Scientific Origins

The vexed matter of how to interpret Genesis 1-2 seems inextricably tethered to debates about science and origins. Sadly, this misplaced focus robs these texts of much of their richness and either unjustifiably inflates the explanatory power of science on the one side, or unjustifiably jaundices our view of it one the other. Many voices, of course, have been raised from many directions contesting this focus on these texts but they seemed to have made little headway. I don’t expect that my contribution will make much headway either. My justification for it is my conviction that the most effective way to contest another perspective is to show the fruitfulness of other perspectives in treating the same issues. It would be a fine thing if all who preached and taught these texts broadened their viewpoints enough to include some or all of the 5 other perspectives on Genesis 1-2 that I will suggest in this piece.

All the peoples and cultures surr…

"If You Think . . . (9)

The Sacraments are Boring and Irrelevant The sacraments for us Protestants number two: Baptism and Eucharist or Communion or the Lord’s Supper. In all honesty, these rituals hold little purchase on our hearts and minds these days. Baptism, for those churches that baptism infants, is often little more than pious baby worship, and hence, idolatrous. And most of us have little idea of what the Eucharist is about. And often the little we do know is that it’s somber and sorrowful, with little scraps or cubes or wafers of bread and a thimble full of juice or wine passing for a “feast,” supposedly re-enacting the Last Supper, and it makes us late to the restaurant after worship for Sunday lunch. There’s got to be more to them than that, though. Isn’t there? What happens when we celebrate them. Are they mere symbols of something else? That’s a common misconception needs to be debunked. They are indeed symbolic but through them God also communicates the reality to which they point.  Flannery O’…