Showing posts from June, 2017

Some Thoughts about the "Contested" Bible of Our Day

How should we respond when we discover passages or ideas in the Bible that mystify, offend, or scandalize us? Discussions of violence, God, and the Old Testament over the last few years keep the issue on the front burner. Should we reject the whole thing? The parts that offend us? Or grit our teeth and refuse to jettison these parts hoping that somehow we can find a way to live with them? There may be other options but these three are the major ones so I’ll go with them for now. Just a few comments from my seat in the peanut gallery.
Obviously, one’s view of the Bible will in large part determine which way you go. If you don’t think God’s involved with it in any way that appends his authority to what it says, you’re free to go any of the three ways I mentioned above, though usually the first two ways will appeal more to you.
If you do think God is involved with and gives a special authority to these writings, you are probably not free to take the first option. You could go with either t…

The Church as God’s Subversive Counter-Revolutionary Movement

(A rough draft of a chapter from my forthcoming book on Bonhoeffer)
I have argued that Subversive Counter-Revolutionary Movement captures the DNA of God’s people in scripture and that the Submerging Church captures the form and ethos the church needs today. This image, I argue, provides a compelling icon for the church’s identity and vocation today and setting for scripture to function authoritatively as God’s Word.
I want to offer here a further description of such a community, particularly in light of the work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.This is not a model and certainly not a formula for doing church today. It is rather a set of characteristics we might expect to find in all sorts of different forms and configurations where the church embraces and attempts to live out this “general campaign of sabotage” (as C. S. Lewis wonderfully put it) against the disorder of the world.
1.A prayer movement (DB’s arcane discipline)

a.“To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against th…

Herma and Herman Neutics on the Interpretive Filter

“As human beings are biologically oriented towards homeostasis… we are creatures of habit. Adaptation and co-evolution is a slow process of acclimatisation to new sets of circumstances, but dissonance is interruptive… on a day-to-day basis, most of us cope with such dissonance through repression and denial, refusing to see the world in any way that departs from the customary. Hence most of us see very little. The seeing as has become a seeing as we want to see it.”Graham Ward, Cultural Transformation and Religious Practice We think that an important implication of Ward’s statement is that if our interpretation of the Bible squares in most important ways with what we already believe, it is probably wrong in important ways. How do we combat this interpretive myopia? Question ourselves relentlessly. Read widely, especially views that are not your own. Discuss the Bible with those different (ethic, class, politics, experience, gender, etc.)

Resisting Trump with Revelation (34)

New Creation (21:1-22:5)
Gen.1-2 and Rev.21-22
This last scene of the vision of Revelation, the conclusion to Jesus’ sermon, takes us beyond the realm of sin and struggle to the fulfilment of God’s eternal purpose. Here we find the counterpart to Gen.1-2 as bookends of the entire biblical story which reveal the “point” of purpose of the whole story.
The creation stories reveal the Creator’s work in constructing a temple for he and his creatures to live together in intimacy and harmony.[1] That is his purpose and that for which God works throughout the biblical story. When this purpose is derailed by our sin, resolving that becomes the major focus of the story from Gen.3 – Rev.20. But that story serves to demonstrate not only the reclamation of God’s wayward creatures but most importantly their restoration to God’s original design. That’s what we find in Gen.1-2 and Rev.21-22, the only four chapters in the Bible in which sin plays no role. Here we find God’s purpose in embryo (Gen.1-2) a…

The lab or the factory

Seth Godin's pithy insight. Is your church a lab or a factory?

You work at one, or the other.

At the lab, the pressure is to keep searching for a breakthrough, a new way to do things. And it's accepted that the cost of this insight is failure, finding out what doesn't work on your way to figuring out what does. The lab doesn't worry so much about exploiting all the value of what it produces--they're too busy working on the next thing.


A Mantra of Grace

They do not deserve your sympathy in any way!” So Ares screams at Diana Prince, Wonder Woman, pushing her to drop the tank she holds threateningly over the evil Dr. Maru, her alter ego in the film, and then unleash her righteous anger on all humanity. He is desperate for her to give them what they deserve.Diana, however, somehow experiences an “aha” moment, a revelation, that “It’s not about deserve.” It’s about love.

I think about this scene often in our world, oh so desperate for someone else, some other group, to get what they deserve.

-Most of us want ISIS to get what we think they deserve. -Others want Donald Trump to get what they think he deserves. -Some want the poor and sick to get what they believe these people deserve, as in “Diabetics don’t deserve heath care”. -Many still think homosexuals deserve to hear that “God hates fags!” -Others believe the 1% deserve the judgment they will receive from God for their injustices. -And on it goes . . .
Yet, “It’s not about deserve,” as Won…

Seven FAQ's about Christian Faith (and Seven More for Good Luck) 03

Ch.3: Is God in Control? Why Predestination Does Not Have to be Depress-tination
What Do You Mean By “Control”?
Is God in control of the direction and actions of history? Yes? No? Maybe? It all depends on what you mean by control. -if you mean total control via a pre-scripted invariant plan drawn up by God before history began, No. -if you mean that God is directing history to a preordained end through the real and responsible actions of creatures he has enabled to make their own actions and decisions, Yes. The first is not love. Love creates new possibilities, growth, and futures. God’s love is both the expansive power of our growth toward new futures and that new future itself which brings each of us individually and as a whole to the fulness that is in Christ. Thus, the second option seems preferable. God establishes a good end for his creation and creatures and journeys with them in real relationships (in all their ups and downs) trusting his love to bring all things to that good end. B…

Resisting Trump with Revelation (33)

The Great Judgment (20:11-15)

The Great Judgment
Images of power introduce this scene. A “great white throne,” an undescribed but imperious “one” sits on it. Creation felling in terror but finding no place to hide. Even more terrifying, the dead are all over the place. Famous infamous, unknown, uncared about, they’re all there. From the sea and Death and Hades the dead come. Before the throne they watch as “books” are opened, full of the deeds of the deed (20:13). Death and Hades join the two beasts in the lake of fire. The sea too, after disgorging its dead disappears and has no place in the new creation. The dragon is already caged in the abyss. The powers that oppose God are defeated.
Human beings still face a reckoning before God based on what they have done (20:13). And those who have not done enough to get their name written in the “book of life” join the evil powers in the lake of fire, “the second death 20:14). The first death, of course, is our physical death. The faithful who h…

Some Reflections of God and Violence

Old Testament scholar Stephen Chapman from Duke writes in the book Holy War and the Bible:

“Warfare in the Old Testament, as indeed all killing in the Old Testament needs to be recognized within Christian theology as a strictly circumscribed divine concession to the brutal reality of human sin (Gen.9:3-6). However, someone still might ask, ‘Couldn’t God design a world in which war wasn’t necessary?’' The appropriate theological response is that God in fact did so (Gen.1-2), but human sinfulness spoiled it precisely by generating violence (Gen. 6:11-13). Someone might push further and say 'Even with the advent of human violence, couldn’t God have devised a strictly nonviolent method for dealing with it?" Here again the theological response is that God did just that in Jesus Christ, but in order for Christ to appear in the fullness of time (Gal.4:4) it was necessary for God to elect and preserve the people of Israel. And apparently - this is the hard part - God was not able,…