God Has Come in the Flesh — Easter 4

29 04 2007

Text: John 10:22-30

I will never cease to be amazed at those who confess or identify as Christian but do not believe in a bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. Granted, this is nothing that anyone can prove or disprove. Granted also, that the number of people identifying as Christian and not believing in a bodily resurrection are most likely rather small, but there are two people of the elite on the “religious left” that take an alternative view: Marcus Borg and John Shelby Spong. Now, I will not doubt that they might have good things to say about how we live as Christians and they may even offer new insights worth considering outside of the so-called traditional Christian viewpoint of things, but I cannot help feeling bad for them. They run the risk of being trapped (if they are not already) with the limits of an Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment viewpoint. Again, there are many great things that came out of these strands of secular philosophy, such as the United States Constitution and our Bill of Rights. One of the weaknesses of this mindset, however, is the desire to seek to quantify and explain away every story of what could be called a supernatural incident with a rational explanation.

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Help my Unbelief — more about the intersection of doubt and faith

23 04 2007

I got to thinking more about the intersection of doubt and faith based on comments from my post about Thomas as well as the tragedies that have come up in the news as of late, so I thought i would share this reflection from September of last year from the Gospel of Mark …

Text: Mark 9:14-29

In my mind, there was a time when what it meant to be a Christian seemed more concrete than it is today. If we look at the state of the Body of Christ today, we see two or more competing schizophrenias. On one hand, we see those who profess a living faith in Christ, but they do not really act as if their lives have been transformed by the Cross and by the love of God. On the other hand, we see those who seek to live out the ethics and precepts of the Gospels, but when pressed close, we find that they are either “atheists or agnostics with doubts.” However, no matter what stripe of Christian we are, we are to be people of faith. But the question remains … what or, more appropriately, WHO, is our faith in and how does it affect us? A lament that many preachers and other spiritual types will hear is “I wish I had more faith.” How often have we said that to ourselves and to each other?The miracles of Jesus often highlight a sense of us receiving our salvation, by being saved, from spiritual darkness, deafness, or oppression. On a deeper level, the miracles also serve as a call to discipleship.

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The tribe is coming together

19 04 2007

One reason why I like the Episcopal Church is that we can actually be honest with each other about ourselves without fear of reprisal. Where else can we be spiritual in one breath and then swap leather stories in the next with the same amount of integrity?

It seems that my little corner of the ‘net is starting to attract other like-minded and like-hearted folks. Talk about taking evangelism and discipleship to new heights!

In any event, welcome to everyone!

A very moving poem

18 04 2007

This is a very moving poem on the Virginia Tech massacre. 

The author is truly a gifted writer of poetry and prose.  I especially enjoyed how she weaved liturgy and the promise of the Resurrection against the background of such a tragedy.

Please visit Good News in the Wilderness.

The Archbishop of Canterbury to Church — Less Talk, More Listen

17 04 2007

From the Anglican Church of Canada …

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan WIlliams, has told an audience of theological students that both intensely liberal and ultra conservative readings of the Bible are ‘rootless’ and are limited in what they can contribute to the life of the church. In the Larkin Stuart lecture, delivered today at an event hosted jointly by Wycliffe and Trinity theological colleges in Toronto, Dr Williams said that Christians need to reconnect with scripture as something to be listened to and heard in the context of Jesus’s invitation to the Eucharist and to work for the Kingdom.

Emphasis mine. You can read the rest here

WARNING:  It gets dense.  To certain friends of mine who think my own writings are dense (and you know who you are <shakes corkscrew>), I would encourage you to read +Rowan’s lecture.  The difference between mine and his are like the difference between angel food cake and a cement block. 

Commentary on the lecture: 

I think that one of the points +Rowan is making is that we must be careful of using the Bible as a way of “proof-texting” our arguments.  Granted, this is something that we do all the time whether you’re a fundamentalist or an ultra-liberal.   However, you can’t really say what a particular text is saying without considering how the author got to that point and where he goes from that point.

To illustrate, take the passage in Matthew where Jesus talks to the disciples about conflict among believers and how to deal with it.  The three steps in the method he gives is basically 1) take it up privately 2) take it up with a two or three others and 3) “Treat the offending member as a gentile and a tax collector.” 

Just before this passage, Jesus tells the parable of the lost sheep, how the shepherd leaves his flock to find the one who is lost.  Therefore we can say that regardless of what is going on with the individual sheep, the sheep are still part of the same flock and are under the care of the shepherd.   

If you look at the bigger picture, we have the example of Jesus’ actions and how he treats people.  Jesus says that as a last resort we treat the one’s causing the problem as a gentile and a tax collector.  And how does Scripture say he treats these “unorthodox” members of society?  By hanging out with them and having supper with them!

So, in essence, one of the many points +Gandalf, er, +Rowan is making is that we have to consider the Big Picture, otherwise you’ll miss the forest because you’re too busy studying the bark of a particular tree.   Without considering what came before Jesus “conflict resolution class,” we would have assumed that we were to cast the offending gentiles and tax collectors out of the community, or at least shunned them, which is what 1st century Jewish people did in many cases. 

Scripture is, among many other things, the story of God’s redeeming and saving work in Creation.  It is within that light that it should be read, in my humble opinion.