Tagged Theology, Missional, Emerging on March 05th, 2007 with No Comments »

Note: I am presently participating in a seminary class re: Judaism. Thankfully, it is a class actually taught by a Rabbi, rather than the more familiar academic and experiential fiasco that is a Christian prof. attempting to teach Judaism. There is an authentic difference. This class is one of my semester highlights, to say the least. Jesus of Nazareth, my Lord and Savior, was Jewish, after all. Right? At any rate, onward toward conversation …

A theological comparison of selected theologies from Rifat Sonsino and Daniel B. Syme’s Finding God: Selected Responses reveals the variety of thought inherent to Judaism. This theological variety only becomes more complex as I consider my own theology as well, which is obviously Christian. As I reflect, I appreciate deeply the idea that none of us have God perfectly boxed up, and/or figured out. God hates our boxes, I’m sure. God is God … and that is enough for God, it seems. It should be enough for us too!

Consider the philosophical thought of Martin Buber, for example. Buber is unarguably one of the most influential religious thinkers of our time. He is definitely one of the most widely recognized Jewish theologians. Buber’s theology was constructed around the idea of “perfect knowledge” as obtainable only “by means of a dialogue, possible only through a real encounter” (Sonsino and Syme 88). This foundational belief led to Buber’s identification of two approaches to authentic dialogue, which he famously summarized as “I-It” and “I-Thou,” with “I-Thou” inherently the superior, as a result of the utter lack of mutuality available in “I-It” exchanges. Buber, from here, went on to establish a theology dedicated to this dialogue potential. God’s nature exists as the inexpressible “Eternal Thou,” of the “I-Thou” relationship. Humanity’s goal is a genuine “I-Thou” encounter with God, which occurs in authentic dialogue with others. “I-Thou” dialogue is the will and desire of God. So much so, in fact, “I-It” exchanges are evil in contrast. This is basically Buber’s theological understanding of God, in brief.

Erich Fromm’s understanding and articulation of God is far removed from the theistic and mystical expression of Buber. Fromm’s theology is informed by an obvious post-enlightenment humanism. His humanism not only stands irreconcilable to Buber’s Chasidic-laden encounter with “God-The Eternal Thou,” but it is also quite incompatible with his own background and upbringing within Orthodox Judaism. Fromm dedicated himself to rational solutions to the world’s political predicaments. Perhaps this dedication to rationality was a result of his Jewish experience(s) of the irrationality of humanity leading up to and during WWII? Perhaps. At any rate, “one of his major concerns was how to deal with human isolation, feelings of insignificance, and doubt about the meaning of life” (ibid 119). Fromm, in other words, was very dedicated to the articulation of and the provision for human needs. Religion, according to Fromm, fulfilled specific human needs. He did differentiate, however, between what he referred to as two types of religion: “authoritarian” and “humanistic”. A humanistic religion, obviously, was the superior in Fromm’s understanding. God, in a humanistic expression, is mere symbol, or an idea constructed upon humanity’s greatest ideal, if God is anything at all. Consequently, God is not reality apart from humanity’s cognitive symbolism. God, in other words, does not exist apart from humanity’s thought of it. Logically, therefore, God does not share a relationship with/to the world or its inhabitants, save the ideal formed in the mind. There are none chosen, or saved, by this God. God is merely that which pushes humanity toward self-improvement, justice, and authentic relationship.

My own theology diverges from both Buber and Fromm. I do have a deep, deep appreciation for Buber’s articulation of the authenticity of the “I-Thou” experience. In fact, I would say my faith-practice is founded upon this very articulation. My attraction to intentional incarnational missions has more to do with authentic relationships with people who do not know Christ than it does anything else. I agree with Buber: God is authentically experienced in relationships shared with those who are not frivolously objectified. God is not an object, as are not people. So, I agree that God cannot be defined, but met. So, I do find a bit of theological convergence between myself and Buber; now, as concerns Fromm: I find zero convergence. Fromm’s humanism is a dead end for me. I have tried to find something of value in post-enlightenment humanism, but have not. I say this as one who has found in Christianity all that post-enlightenment humanism beneficially offers humanity, as concerns social and political needs. Christianity does not, however, stop at social and political needs. It indeed satisfies these needs, as well as any humanism ever could, and then moves beyond the limited scope of such satisfaction by addressing and satisfying many other needs too. So, I am forced to question this post-enlightenment humanism at every occasion, as a result of its willing imposition of detrimental limit and the subsequent discarding of the God-Who-Is-There. I can’t embrace such obvious limitations. My own theological position can be summarized in a short sentence: I believe in God as He was revealed by Jesus of Nazareth. Obviously, this is an expressed departure from Buber and Fromm’s Jewish theologies. I suppose this characteristic is what makes them Jewish and me Christian. The point, however, is not blind agreement, but open and willing dialogue with the “other.” So, I suppose that makes Buber the winner!

I wonder what it would be like if humanity would/could begin to actually see God in divergent dialogue shared with “un-like others?” I wonder … I mean, we wont agree all the time, but is God somewhere there … in the discussion? I’m willing to say yes. It’s all about the conversation.

Work Cited: Rifat Sonsino, and Syme, Daniel. “Finding God: Selected Responses.” New York: UAHC Press, 2002.

439. “i’m” has been launched by Microsoft. What is it? It is an initiative to connect Windows Live Messanger users to organizations dedicated social causes. Microsoft shares a portion of the program’s advertising revenue with these organizations. “So,” says Microsoft, “any time you have an i’m conversation using Windows Live Messenger, you help address the issues you feel most passionate about, including poverty, child protection, disease, and environmental degradation.” Kudos to MS! 0 #

Tagged Video on March 03rd, 2007 with No Comments »

I’m taking a little break to mess with site design some more … and to do some other very important non-blog things. So, in the meantime, enjoy a really great song and video from Jennifer Knapp. The song is “Trinity.” It’s awesome. Enjoy!

UPDATE: The YouTube video of Trinity was removed until I can find a a better method of posting online video. Thanks!

437. Live re-design in process! Please ignore the mess. Sometimes the urge to actually create or express creation needs to be satisfied … so, the class books and assignments were set aside tonight. Self-care is available and manifests in the strangest places. All better now. I like the original so, so much better. So, it is back, and for a good while too! 0 #
436. I’ve been paging through Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis again (Sex God is on my bookshelf, and next). First of all, for those who don’t know, the book is great; love it. There are many, many snippets of wisdom in it. One of my favorites: “Is the greatest truth about Adam and Eve and the fruit that it happened, or that it happens? This story, one of the first in the Bible, is true for us because it is our story. We have all taken the fruit. We have all crossed boundaries. We have all made decisions to do things our way and then looked back and said to ourselves, What was I thinking?” The book is full of great thoughts like this … Bell is a must read. 0 #

Tagged Theology on March 02nd, 2007 with No Comments »

The following excerpt from David B. Hart’s The Doors of the Sea properly ’sets the table’ for Christus Victor:

In the New Testament, our condition as fallen creatures is explicitly portrayed as a subjugation to the subsidiary and often mutinous authority of angelic and demonic “powers,” which are not able to defeat God’s transcendent and providential governance of all things, but which certainly are able to act against him within limits of cosmic time. This age is ruled by spiritual and terrestrial “Thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers” (Col. 1:16; cf. 1 Cor. 2:8; Eph. 1:21; 3:10), by “the elements (stoicheia) of the world” (Gal. 4:3), and by “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2.2), who - while they cannot ultimately separate us from God’s love (Rom. 8:38) - nevertheless contend against us: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12). Hence John’s Gospel calls the devil “the prince of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11), while 2 Corinthians calls him (somewhat shockingly) “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4), and 1 John says that “The whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). The cosmos, then, is divided between two kingdoms, that of God and that of death. And while God must triumph, death remains mighty and terrible until the end - it remains, in fact, the “Last enemy that shall be destroyed” (1 Cor. 15:26).

Tagged Theology on March 02nd, 2007 with No Comments »

I have spent the last few weeks seriously grappling with the cross of Jesus of Nazareth. Atonement, specifically, is very, very important to me. Salvation is very, very important to me, as it should be. Christ’s work for humanity is important. I am a minister of the Gospel. The importance of such subjects are presumed, and correctly so. A seminary night class focused upon Christology is proving itself to be an enormously helpful guide, as far as Christological & theological clarity, focus, and construction are concerned. So, I have been seriously preoccupied with one, ultimate question: “What happened on the cross?” I found the answer while critically unpacking the Cross, Atonement Theory(ies), and honestly questioning more than a few of my previously unexamined beliefs.

So, where am I landing, as far as Christology is concerned? My answer, without a second of hesitation: Christus Victor. I have had more than a few serious difficulties with Vicarious Atonement, Penal Substitution, and Satisfaction Theories. I will save the specific problems inherent to such theories for a later post, but I will now say that these motifs developed much, much later in Christian history (Anselm, Abelard, & Protestantism). The first 1000 years of so of Christianity were characterized by an embrace of Christus Victor. I think that is more than important to note.

So, what is Christus Victor? It is, as some would advance, the Atonement motif in the New Testament. It is the proverbial battle between Good and Evil. Christus Victor explains Christ’s work on the cross as the defeat of Satan (the Biblical “Strong Man”), and the freeing of humanity from the bonds of Sin, Death and the Satan (the autonomous force of defiance). Christ defeated the Satan in what was incorrectly perceived, by the Satan, as a moment of weakness. Christ’s death was the literal undoing of the evil bent upon deterioration, death and destruction. Jesus, by overextending the over-confident enemy, defeated it, thus providing not only humanity, but also the universe its salvation (salvation which occurs in each of us upon our acknowledgment & acceptance of it, via the daily work of the Holy Spirit). Christus Victor is not built upon the idea of Christ’s work on the cross as appeasement for God. God does not need a blood appeasement - or the death of His Son - to forgive. The problem is Sin, Death, and The Satan, not God’s need for blood appeasement. This is a huge difference! Again, Christus Victor was the embraced Atonement motif of the earliest Christians. Too, Christus Victor is very, very conducive to the overarching cosmic dualism of the New Testament (Good vs. Evil). In fact, here a few NT verses supporting it (Note: all scripture references from the English Standard Version):

I Corinthians 15: 20-26: 20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

Colossians 2:15: 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities (that is, demonic rulers and authorities) and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him (or in it, that is, the cross).

I Corinthians 2:6-8: 6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

Philippians 2:9-11: 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

John 12:71: 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.

Hebrews 2:14: 14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil …

I John 3:8: 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

A few asides: Anabaptism is historically characterized by an embrace and advance of Christus Victor. Too, Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ is laden with what seems to be a a serious Christus Victor motif (e.g., see the Gethsemane scene). The Devil Symbol is prevalent in the film. It is pictured as pushing all toward the execution of - and seeming victory over - Jesus Christ. The unholy trinity that is Sin, Death and Devil, however, mistook Jesus’ strength for weakness and was eternally defeated as a result. The unholy trinity currently rages in desperation; but all will find a culmination, as the scriptures say.

433. So, this guy tries to cash a check … from God. He was arrested Monday after he tried to cash a check for $50,000 at the Chase Bank in Hobart, Indiana that was signed “King Savior, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Servant.” The result? Two felonies and a misdemeanor. The guy could spend some time in jail. One detective said, according to the AP Report, “I’ve heard about God giving out eternal life, but this is the first time I’ve heard of him giving out cash.” 2 #
432. Yet another timely word from Tim Challies: If you have a hard drive or MP3 player filled with pirated music, you owe it to yourself, to the rightful owners, to the copyright holders and to God to erase it. I might venture so far as to suggest that you ought to purchase that music yourself since you have already benefited from the enjoyment of it. At the very least, repent of your sin, ask for forgiveness, and commit to obeying the laws of our land. Commit to obeying God. Right on! Christians shouldn’t be pirates!
431. This morning comes with a direct quote from the Washington Post (Alan Cooperman): “Leading archaeologists in Israel and the United States yesterday denounced the purported discovery of the tomb of Jesus as a publicity stunt. Scorn for the Discovery Channel’s claim to have found the burial place of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and — most explosively — their possible son came not just from Christian scholars but also from Jewish and secular experts who said their judgments were unaffected by any desire to uphold Christian orthodoxy. ‘I’m not a Christian. I’m not a believer. I don’t have a dog in this fight,’ said William G. Dever, who has been excavating ancient sites in Israel for 50 years and is widely considered the dean of biblical archaeology among U.S. scholars. ‘I just think it’s a shame the way this story is being hyped and manipulated.’” Well, that’s that, I suppose! Some folk should be ashamed, seriously. Read the whole story. 1 #

 

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Conversation

  • Shawn: That’s hilarious.
  • Jon: Apparently God has taken the blame for bouncing this check on His blog: http://www.blogofthegods.com/2 007/03/01/oops-my-check-bounce d/ Reason: Too much time down at the races.
  • Chris Rosebrough: I’ve written a comprehensive rebuttal of the films claims. Please read it and decide for yourself whether or not the film claims are solid or a hoax. You will find it at...
  • Shawn Anthony: Wow! No, I did not. Awesome artistic representation! Well done.
  • Rob: Did you catch the 14 stations that were on display at my church? 1-7
  • Shawn: Thanks, Rob. I actually had this left over from last year’s Lo-Fi Tribe incarnation, which has since completely been deleted. So, after a few necessary theological tweaks, I...
  • Rob: A wonderful set of devotions. Thank you for sharing this.
  • Shawn: Hello Joel! You may find something of use at one or more of the following sites: ONE | TWO | THREE. I’m pretty sure there are tons more out there in Internet land, but those are my...
  • Joel Elder: I am trying to get a DVD of Tony Dungy sharing his testimony to show to a youth group. Do you know where that may be obtained? Thanks, Joel
  • Shawn Anthony: Thanks, Dwayne. I appreciate the heads up.
  • Dwayne Forehand: Driscoll has also just began his Nehemiah series at Mars Hill: http://digg.com/videos/educati onal/Building_a_City_Within_th e_City
  • Shawn Anthony: Yeah, I use Joyent’s Strongspace (20.0 GiB of Strongsapce came packaged with my lifetime Mixed-Grill TextDrive account). So, I have it forever, or as long as there is a Joyent,...
  • ck: Sorry to hear about that! Have you checked out Carbonite or any of the other online backup systems? Carbonite is what I use and it is $5 a month to automatically save your stuff. If your system...
  • Shawn Anthony: Matt, right on brother. I’ll go back to your place and take a bit more time to investigate. My apologies for my misunderstanding. I must say though, I am very, very familiar...
  • ck: I am really torn about the younger generation using the Internet - from a teaching perspective, it has the potential to diminish the need for critical thought in using sources. (Typing in...

 

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