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Showing posts from February, 2017

Our task as the church

Our task as the church is not to “change the world,” “make the world a better place to live,” or be the “moral guardians” of our time and place.
-The first is Christ’s job, and he’s done it.
-The second is a pagan preoccupation.
-The last is a perversion of the gospel.
Christ has changed the world. Period. That’s what the cross and resurrection are all about. Sin has been forgiven. The powers are defeated. New creation has dawned. The old world is passing away. The church lives from and into this new world amid the old world that is passing away.
The church is not about “making the world a better place to live.” That’s what the old world, the pagan world is up to. It’s about “Making America Great Again.” The church, however, is about demonstrating a new world, a new way of being human that in Christ has become our destiny. The church lives a conflicted relationship with the old world, the old way of being (sub)human. Indeed, it’s presence is a reminder that that world exists under the ju…

Resisting Trump with Revelation (13)

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the seven seals (2): Rev.6:1-8:1
To the question “What is going on in the world around us?” Jesus breaks open the seven seals protecting the scroll he took from the right hand on the One on the throne. The first four seals bring forth the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (6:1-8). The Conqueror, the War and Violence, Poverty and Wealth Inequality, and Death and Hades are loosed though limited to ¼ of the earth.
The fifth seal takes us to the altar in throne room under which are those martyred for their faithfulness to Jesus. They are in the place where the blood of the sacrifices in the Temple gathered. The deaths of the martyrs are priestly sacrifices to God.[1] “How long,” they cry, “till we are avenged?” They are given white robes and told to rest and wait till the full number of martyrs is reached which will be soon (6:9-11).
Remembering the vision of chs.4-5 we must interpret as part of God’s loving outreach to the world. These martyrs have walked the way of Jesus’ strange alchemy of…

Insight from The Chronicles of Narnia: Are The Chronicles Too Violent for Children?

This is another topical post rather than from one of the remaining Chronicles. Another recurring criticism of the stories is that they are too violent for children. There is plenty of fighting and war in them. If your standard is that any violence is too much, that children should not be exposed to such material, then, yes, Lewis’ stories are too violent for children. But is this reasonable or even possible in our world?
Taking possibility first, I doubt anyone would think that a child raised in the West today can be shielded from violence. It hardly seems possible even if one deems it desirable. This seems to me self-evident. For good or ill violence sells and whatever sells hits the media. And what’s in the media gets into our homes, heads, and hearts. No matter how vigilant we as parents may be.
Even if we could block our children from every hint of violence, is this a good thing? I don’t think so. Unrestricted abundance of violence is surely bad. And not just for children. We’re not…

Resisting Trump with Revelation (12)

Jesus’ sermon begins: Opening the seals (6:1-8:1)
The risen Christ’s sermon begins with him opening the seven seals that bound the scroll he received from the One on the throne. This very kinetic sermon full of words, actions, and song tell the story contained in the scroll.As the scroll is unsealed, a series of seven trumpets unfold from the last seal, and from the last trumpet emerges another series of seven, this time plagues. These three series of sevens are the main points of Jesus’ sermon. After all, every good sermon has three points and a poem or sad story, doesn’t it?
The first two series of sevens, the seals and trumpets, have a pause between the sixth and seventh of their series. After the trumpet and plague series are a number of vignettes dealing with important matters of faithful resistance to the empire. In these pauses and vignettes we find our access into the story Jesus is preaching, the way we find ourselves immersed in God’s story.
The way these sequences of sevens ar…

Mission and the Priesthood of the Christ

By Jason Goroncy
March 25, 2013
One does not have to hang around the church very long to hear some weird stuff.1 For example, when I converted to Protestantism, one of the dominant narratives as I picked it up—usually via some kind of epistemological osmosis but sometimes quite explicitly—was that the incarnation was God’s attempt to get the reconciliation ball rolling, that Jesus had laid the foundations for reconciliation and then he went back to heaven to sit down next to God in the great lounge room in the sky to watch over how events would pan out. But just before his exodus, Jesus formed a little community who would work as subcontractors to the big boss upstairs. And foreman Jesus trusted this community to carry on his work while he was away, promising to turn up again when the job was nearly done just to check that it had all been done according to his instructions. What this means, as one often hears, is that if God’s costly work in Jesus is to make any real difference in the w…

Insights from The Chronicles of Narnia: Was C. S. Lewis a Male Chauvinist?

We take a break from moving through the series to consider a regular criticism made of Lewis’ Narnian stories. He portrays the characters in stereotypical gender roles that reflect the patriarchal roots of Western culture. And they can cite a number of details from the stories in support of this charge.


But Monika Hilder's has recently offered an acute, perceptive, and, in my judgment, compelling, interpretation that counters this charge. Her book The Feminine Ethos in C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia she challenges the terms and assumptions of this criticism itself. Matthew and Joy Steem explain in their article in Christianity Today (http://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2013/june/finding-feminine-theology-in-c-s-lewiss-narnia.html) from which the rest of this post comes. They write:


“. . .by pointing to the disturbing assumptions underlying the traditional model of gender criticism, Hilder makes a convincing case that Lewis was not a sexist, and instead was consciously pres…

How The Shack movie unveils toxic representations of God

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by Josh Valley February 23, 2017 Comments1
The following is a guest post from Orthodox theologian and author Brad Jersak (PhD)
Heresy Hunters Are At it Again Paul Young’s bestseller finally hits the big screen on March 3. That’s news—great news—as I’ll explain shortly.
What’s not news is how the so-called ‘discernment ministries’ (a euphemism for heresy-hunters) have begun yelping. They’re recycling ‘ye olde’ objections but, typically, barking up the wrong tree.
The charge of ‘heresy’ is serious, so it ought to be taken seriously, especially by those wielding it. But as an Orthodox theologian, I confess that its sloppy use as a pejorative, grates on my doctrinal nerves.
For example, the outcry against Young’s creative portrayal of God’s ‘Threeness’ or his imaging the invisible God as a black woman betrays a crass literalism that the author obviously never intended.
Rublev’s Trinity and Modern Misogyny Russian painter Andrei Rublev’s famous icon of the Trinity (15th c.) would see…

Insight from The Chronicles of Narnia:  The Trinity in The Horse and His Boy

The Horse and His Boy (HHB)is occupied with the importance of discovering one’s true identity and living out of that identity. Shasta and Aravis, along with their horses Hwin and Bree, learn through their adventures fleeing Calormene across the desert to the north that they are not who they believed themselves to beand that their true longings were fulfilled only in learning and living into their true identities
Lewis wrote this series of stories out of the Christian convictions that grounded and shaped his own life. The emphasis on identity in HHB is consistent with those convictions. However, there is one other identity that comes into clearer focus in this story. And that is the identity of God.Throughout the series we have heard of the Emperor-beyond-the-sea (analogous to God the Father in Christianity), seen Aslan in action (analogous to God the Son), and, if we’ve read carefully, noticed how Aslan’s “breath” brings life to whatever it is breathed on.Aslan is the Emperor’s Son, Cr…

Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds

February 27, 2017 Issue


New discoveries about the human mind show the limitations of reason.
By Elizabeth Kolbert
In 1975, researchers at Stanford invited a group of undergraduates to take part in a study about suicide. They were presented with pairs of suicide notes. In each pair, one note had been composed by a random individual, the other by a person who had subsequently taken his own life. The students were then asked to distinguish between the genuine notes and the fake ones.
Some students discovered that they had a genius for the task. Out of twenty-five pairs of notes, they correctly identified the real one twenty-four times. Others discovered that they were hopeless. They identified the real note in only ten instances.
As is often the case with psychological studies, the whole setup was a put-on. Though half the notes were indeed genuine—they’d been obtained from the Los Angeles County coroner’s office—the scores were fictitious. The students who’d been told they were almost alway…

Resisting Trump with Revelation (11)

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Five Hymns (1)
The Gathering portion of our Resistical Worship service comes to a close with some hymns – five of them in fact. We’ve looked at the Call to Worship and John’s introduction of himself as Jesus’ interpreter and Jesus as the guest preacher for the morning. Jesus then offered his own messages to each of the seven churches in his congregation. Now it’s time to sing!
With these hymns John (and we with him) find ourselves caught up into the very throne room of God to join in the celestial worship going on there. So far we have learned that John’s vision (revelation) unveils the truth of the Sovereign lordship of God and of Jesus Christ his Son over all earthly authorities and powers no matter their pretentions.
We sing in worship today, though many us not very enthusiastically. I recently heard congregational singing described like this. Mennonites and Baptists, the speaker explained had good congregational singing. Methodists and Presbyterians mumbled their songs so low you co…