12.27.2007

A series on "God's Rivals"

"If the true God is the Father of Jesus Christ, why did this God permit the rise and flourishing of other religions? The two options that have shaped much of the conversation are not nuanced enough: the fundamentalist view that equates the religions with the demonic and the religious relativist view that sees religions are equally true and false, each only approximating the divine."


Be sure to check this important discussion that will develop on this issue. As usual McKnight covers a chapter of a book with a post.

"God's Rivals 1"

12.25.2007

He came...


...into this world.

Our world.

A world with Aids, Cancer, Mental Illness, Addictions, Poverty, Fraud, Rape, Theft, Murder, Genocide, Familial Breakdown, Lies, Hidden Agendas of Greed and Will to Power, Abortion, Infidelity, Slavery, Ethnic Hostilities, Sexual Perversion...A World with Unbridled Consumption, Impatience, Self-Mutilation, Textual Violence, Inequitable Distribution of Resources, Intellectual Imperialism, Awful Secrets, Wicked Intentions, Slow to Listen, Quick to Wrath, Resistant to Wisdom...

He came to His own people, and we did not want Him...
He came to that which He made, which belonged to Him, and it rejected Him...

This He came to.

We the church, are thankful that He came into this.
We are thankful and we do rejoice that He came into this world of our own making...
We give thanks that He came into our world of Idol-making to make for us something New.


"But whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves." The Message

He came to His world...to "become what we are, that He might bring us to be even what He is Himself."
:: Irenaeus

This is Christmas...and because of the Incarnation merriment in a world such as this can be ours.

As I read today's news headlines I notice that nothing changes. Today when many open gifts and enjoy good food and the laughter and tickling that comes with being with our families and friends the world local and abroad is still overtaken by great tragedy and loss. And because what is written above, I have deep in my heart a quiet thanks to God for coming into this world...where He does dwell in and with our tragedy and loss making it His own as well.

"It's a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God." Lamentations 3:26

Merry Christmas friends::

12.23.2007

Because of the Incarnation merriment is ours

May the gift of grace given to all creation by Yahweh be treasured...

May the act of God drawing near to us be pondered...

May the unprecedented nexus of cosmological revolution capture our imaginations in the born child who became the man; Yeshu'a :: Jesus: "Yahweh saves"...

"Look, the virgin shall concieve and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,' which means, 'God is with us' "
The Gospel of St. Matthew 1:23

Christ is our hope...Christ is our promise of

life

beauty

justice

wholeness

& unlimited possibility...
...you Lord have and are restoring us back unto you.

"But following the only true and steadfast Teacher, the Word of God...
our Lord Jesus Christ, who did, through His transcendent love, become what we are, that He might bring us to be even what He is Himself."
-Irenaeus

12.22.2007

Peter is Blogging

"I have heard it said more than once that the contemporary West has more in common with the paganism of 1st century Palestine–where there was no “Christian subculture” to complicate things–than with the America of our parents. I think this is true, and this is the world into which we as Christians are called to speak. This will involve some risk, some discomfort, some moments of “tearing down” and “building up,” both our own views as well as those of others."

Read the entire post

12.11.2007

Keep it goin'

peace in...

In his theological treatment (notice that one cannot treat theology without doing theology) entitled, "The Character of Theology: An Introduction to its Nature, Task and Purpose", author and associate professor of theology and chair of the faculty at Biblical Theological Seminary; John R. Franke writes, "the nature of theology is an ongoing, second-order, contextual discipline...and the unending task of theology is to find ways of expressing and communicating the biblical story in terms that make use of the intellectual and conceptual tools of a particular culture without being controlled by them." (italics mine)

While not going into unpacking details of the above quote and assuming most students of theology can get a rudimentary idea of what it says I proceed onward with the old Latin dictum...

"theologia reformata semper reformanda"

English? Reformed theology is always reforming.

This principle is unique. Though the dictum speaks of "Reformed Theology" the idea is not exclusively employed by the Reformed camp alone. Most of the church has espoused to this general truth (either in theory and/or practice) as a necessary reality of God's word becoming "incarnate" in new and fresh ways throughout the course of time. To say that God's word becomes "incarnate" is to speak of the work of addressing God's word to ears everywhere near and far, in the way that culture can hear it without being controlled by the culture.

Necessary to the task of always reforming is the non-negotiable attentiveness to the churches chief and most vocal guiding norm; the scriptures. Not all agree as to the how and what the "reforming" looks like. Hence the constant debates. Conversation is good, providing we all agree on the rules of engagement. However, the conversation can and does get ugly when the disagreement arises concerning theology and its reforming nature. One of the causes for the ugly is because often times our cherished beliefs are challenged and we take offense because of this.

So with that said, I simply submit two articles for your engagement. But engage circumspectly!

The Urgency of Reading the Bible as One Story in the 21st Century (Fourth down is the said article)

Five Streams of the Emerging Church:
Key elements of the most controversial and misunderstood movement in the church today.


...peace out.

12.10.2007

experiential spirituality

"A...danger developing in modern evangelicalism’s understanding of spirituality, according to Robert Webber in "A third danger developing in modern evangelicalism’s understanding of spirituality, according to Robert Webber in The Divine Embrace is experiential spirituality. Here are some of his thoughts:

How significant is an experience of God’s grace, or a defining experience, for your community of faith’s perception of spirituality? What can be done about the overemphasis on experience? What role does experience play in spirituality?

The issue here is 'the search for a defining spiritual experience' (87).

The origins are in Romanticism and the major theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher. What gave to evangelicalism its experiential focus was the Wesleyan born-again experience, which neither denies the significance of Wesley nor overestimates its importance. Much in evangelicalism does. Experience is elevated to the apologetic for the faith.

Spirituality is hereby situated in the experience. Conversion is to be valued; equating conversion with the experience is the danger. What are the evidences of this approach?

A personal relationship with Jesus becomes the central issue. Webber, when asked if he has a personal relationship, says this: 'You’re asking the wrong question. What is important here is not that I in and of myself achieve or create a personal relationship with God, but that God has a personal relationship with me through Jesus Christ, which I affirm and nourish' (89)."

(From Jesus Creed : Divine Embrace VII)

While the idea of a "personal relationship" with God in Christ is somewhat a truism it can also be misleading because we do import into the idea expectations unwarranted. Webber made a great statement when he said that we do not create this relationship with God but rather God has created a relationship with us through Jesus Christ...which we must affirm and nourish. This idea speaks much more heavily to the writings of the apostles and prophets and highlight the fact that we too have a responsibility to draw near relationally as we would to loved ones near us and to those afar. Romantic notions are not the norm. It does not constitute the relationship. Sometimes (perhaps all the time) if just "feels" placid or dare I say "dull"!

God is good.

12.09.2007

What'chu talkin' bout?

One of the most frustrating things that happens during communication is the tone that we communicants exhibit when we lack circumspection. Often times in discourse we have a tendency to have acute selective hearing and make responses toward issues that are absent from the "conversation partner" as if there is some kind of hidden agenda going on. This weakness of our listening and conversational skills is most clearly exhibited in the written/typed mediums of the blogosphere.

Our tone clearly conveys how it is that we are perceiving the other. Instead of asking questions or engaging on the commendable, reasonable and virtuous aspects of ones statements or writing we automatically come to a conclusion by assuming we know ones stance on issues in totality. "Oh yeah, I got you figured out, buddy!!"

We quickly throw up false caricatures and pit others in an either/or dichotomy writing them off as "one of them."

This is a sad dilemma. What are some reasons that you can think of that contribute to this poor state of communication?

I wonder if what we surround ourselves in; whether in what we read and listen to often is the chief contributing factor. No doubt it is...but what is it? Are we so steeped into the polemics of discussions, the debates, the controversies...are we constantly slicing and dicing and splitting because we are so trained to analyze everything looking for the flaws that we have simply forgotten how to engage people and assume the best? Do others have to be speaking the same language as you or I? Do we pride ourselves in an ecumenical spirit and then forget to treat issues with the reality that there are multiple perspectives?

This is an issue that needs to be addressed in our churches. Our conduct, our conversation with one another and our fellow neighbors outside of the church need to exhibit wisdom and charity in our tone and circumspection in our thinking. This is just another way we can honor our Lord and draw closer to being better image bearers.

Shalom be ours in this.