Archive for Theology
Here we go. Gay marriages are officially “on” tomorrow in my state. There’s been a lot of talk, obviously, about it all. I don’t think I need to (or want to) go through my take on all the different issues on the table. I did want to contribute an article, however, that gave an interesting perspective, one that I don’t seem to hear too much. Here it is. Let me know what you think.
My good friend James Choung just posted a video of a gospel diagram he’s pioneered. It will be coming out in print form Spring 2008 under the title True Story: A Christianity Worth Believing In. (You can find a chapter excerpt here)
Simply put, the diagram is amazing. It captures many of the horizontal, relational, creational, and missional aspects that previous gospel diagrams and presentations failed to capture. To be sure, some may feel a bit uncomfortable with the lack of elaboration on justification/substitution in the presentation. Not to worry- the diagram allows for one to explain it as necessary. (And don’t forget- the video is a quick clip, and how do you diagram substitution anyway? No prior gospel diagram I’m aware of actually drew it out).
I pray that many find this helpful, and many encounter Jesus and the New Life as a result.
I believe this is my first post on a purely biblical-theological issue. A good thing, I guess- I did spend a chunk of change studying issues like this, and I spend much of my weeks sifting through these as well!
In any case, the following link is a great summary of a very important, indeed crucial, discussion in theological circles. My guess is that almost every theology student and seminary-trained pastor has had to think through the issues, and it drastically affects our understanding of what Jesus came to do. As with any theological issue, there are great and needed points to glean from each perspective. I think the author does a pretty decent job on doing it… Enjoy the article! (beware- it will take a little more time to read than most articles)
In a few days, I will be celebrating six years of marriage (known as the “iron” or “candy” anniversary). Below is an excerpt that has given me great guidance in the journey so far. Definitely food for thought, whether we are married or single.
“Marriage is the closest bond that is possible between two human beings. That, at least, was the original idea behind it… It was to transcend every other form of human union on earth, every other covenant that could possibly be made between two people. Friendship, parent-child, master-pupil- marriage would surpass all these other bonds in a whole constellations of remarkable ways… Socially, legally, physically, emotionally, every which way, there is just no other means of getting closer to another human being, and never has been, that in marriage.
Such extraordinary closeness is bought at a cost, and the cost is no other more nor less than one’s own self. No one has ever been married without being shocked at the enormity of this price and at the monstrous inconvenience of this thing called intimacy which suddenly invades one’s life. At the wedding a bride and groom may have gone through the motions of the candle-lighting ceremony, blowing out their own flames and lighting one central candle in place of the two. But the touching simplicity of this ritual has little in common with the actual day-to-day pressures of two persons being merged into one. It is a different matter when the flame that must be extinguished is no lambent flicker of a candle, but the blistering inferno of self-will and independence. There is really nothing else like this lifelong cauterization of the ego that must take place in marriage. All of life is, in one way or another, humbling. But there is nothing like the experience of being humbled by another person, and by the same person day in and day out. In can be exhausting, unnerving, infuriating, disintegrating. There is no suffering like the suffering involved in being close to another person. But neither is there any joy nor any real comfort at all outside of intimacy, outside the joy and the comfort that are wrung out like wine from the crush and ferment of two lives being pressed together.”
The Mystery of Marriage by Mike Mason, 89-90.
A few weeks back, I came across two ideas that I had not heard in a while:
1. Western Civilization in the Medieval-Modern period, particularly the parts that stemmed from the Bible and the Christian worldview, have contributed positively to societal development.
2. There is a metanarrative developing in the West, where we live in an unprecedented time, characterized by postmodernism.
These aren’t new thoughts, of course. But it was who I heard it from that caught my attention.
#1 was from an Indian-born thinker that began his course of inquiry as he was serving the poorest of the poor in India. Why was it, he thought, that the West, although imperfect, lacked the depth of poverty and suffering compared to India? I actually got to meet this guy, and after whetting my appetite on his website, I am eager to discover more. www.vishalmangalwadi.com.
#2 was from an American thinker who had some good thoughts. My dilemma is that I am always thinking like Ecclesiates- “there is nothing new under sun…” But what if there is some sort of grand story (other than the explicit Grand Story revolving around Jesus) that is happening?
Just some thoughts in my journey…
I recently picked up Cleveland’s A History of the Middle East, an accessible work on the subject. After blazing through a 50 page synopsis of about one thousand years of history (from the beginning of Islam up to the 18th century), I was struck by how much that little bit of information began to change and challenge my outlook on the region and, more broadly, relationships between nations today.
In particular, what struck me was the sense that all nations are either in the process of being conquered or being a conquerer. I’m not a historian (I know some of you reading this are- I’d love to hear your comments), but my guess is that this has been and will the case throughout history.
What to do as a Jesus follower if this is true? Do we just sit back and watch? Do we get involved somehow, especially if this is an ongoing reality? I feel like I can begin to understand how Christians end up having different ideas about this.
For example, as a Jesus follower I might take a more passive approach, given the belief that the Kingdom (Jesus’ Kingdom) is what matters, and so be a little more passive in my involvement (note the below comment by Chase, distinguishing passivism and pacifism. This post has been edited as a result). The tension comes when a deeply corrupt and unjust nation comes around and begins to devastate humanity (eg- the 3rd Reich)- can Christians just be passive then? I can see how this might drive someone, especially in a democratic nation like the US, to get deeply involved in a nation’s foreign policy- there’s a belief that the ideas behind our government are good and can promote something better in a different area of the world, especially if other regions are devastating humanity. Yet at the same time, I can see why other Christians feel quite squeamish about this, especially if people go to the extreme of presenting a nation’s agenda as God’s agenda, seemingly equating a kingdom for the Kingdom in all its fulness.
As usual, there are no hard and fast rules in attempting to live for Jesus in our complex world. Being in a present kingdom and living for an already/not yet Kingdom is never easy…
As many of you can probably tell based off this blog, one of my passions in life is seeing Jesus contextualized/translated into other cultures. I read this article recently, and was greatly encouraged. It’s part of a larger project called The Christian Vision Project. If you haven’t checked out the essays, it’s definitely worth a look.