According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Failure of Christianity is a Modern Myth


by Scot McKnight
April 26, 2012

If you are, say, Voltaire, or a postmodern journalist, then the failure of Christianity is the way to tell the story of the course of history. Of course Christianity gets muddled, but there’s far more in that story about love and creativity and beauty and justice and healing and education and hope. So N.T. Wright, in How God Became King (p. 162-163). The world without the gospel of Jesus, Wright claims, would be “the cultural and ideological equivalent of those horrible 1960s buildings that were structures without spirit, boxes without beauty, all function and no flourish” (163).

The Enlightenment had to tell that story because it had to tell history with itself as the goal and the center, while Christianity had an entirely different eschatology — so the Enlightenment pushed religion into the private world and told it stay put. The storytellers may say otherwise, but the Christian story is good and goes on because it has an anchor in the cross and resurrection of Jesus, because Jesus is the reigning king, and because the kingdom will come.

How do you differ Wright’s kingdom theocracy with the four views below? How and why have the cross and the kingdom been separated?

But too much of Christianity bought the Enlightenment’s story and it led to dualities: cross Christians with saving-for-heaven agendas and religion vs. kingdom Christians with social justice agendas and politics. Tom Wright’s thesis — of all his writings mind you — is that kingdom and cross belong together and that the kingdom vision is simultaneously social and spiritual.

Which just shows one more time how important eschatology is: the NT eschatology is one in which the kingdom has already begun to appear but still will happen completely in the future. But what has happened is not just the internal, religiousness or spirituality but instead the kingdom has been inaugurated holistically — social, cultural, political, cosmic and spiritual.

Wright steps up his critique of how the church has read the Gospels, though there are exceptions: Wilberforce, Tutu, William Temple, Reinhold and H. Richard Niebuhr, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. [I wonder what N.T. Wright thinks of Wesley, of Edwards, of Kuyper, of Finney.]

Wright finds four reactions to what has happened in modernity:

1. “This” [world, kingdom, etc] doesn’t matter; we’re going to heaven when we die; we’ll leave this old world behind us. Wright accurately observes this gets too close to gnosticism.

2. Neo-Anabaptists: get the church in order, live as a beacon of light, “but without actually engaging with the world.” Well, that is precisely not what the Neo-Anabaptists argue or do; instead Tom is here speaking of some forms, perhaps most, of Anabaptism. The original Anabaptists — we’re speaking here of Grebel, Blaurock, Hubmaier — were social protesters fighting Catholic taxes. Anabaptism did go through a quietist and sectarian, separatistic period, but the modern “Neo-” Anabaptists are anything but quietist and uninvolved. Think Sider and Yoder or Claiborne and McKenna… very involved.

3. Right-wing Christian activism. Those who exulted in the killing of Osama bin Laden; FoxNews.

4. Left-wing Christian activism. Those often fighting for the poor and pushing a new sexual ethic are often aping liberal modernism (166). The UK Christians are grumpy pragmatists, Tom says. He parrots them with a caricature: “What do we want? Gradual change! When do we want it? In due course!” [LOL]

5. And there are the Reformers (who assumed by justification what late medieval theologians meant and were discussing) and the modern proponents of empire criticism (who assume when Paul spoke into empire that he meant by that term what we mean today).

So we need to read the New Testament afresh.

The Jewish vision was a theocracy — an on-earth, creational theocracy, ruled by image-bearers (Eikons of God). This is not what left-wingers today perceive. He sees a temptation toward anarchy in the left-wing. [Well, yes, but also strong centralization.] Nor is the right-winger small government the solution. So, in spite of the Anabaptists who gnarl at Tom on this one, creational monotheism works best with humans ruling as wise stewards under God.

Power isn’t the problem; the problem is who does what with that power. In other words, the biblical approach is not a fear of rule or power or leaders; it is a fear of bad rule. Neither anarchy nor small government is the way forward; the way is good government. Theocracy, then, is the right word.

And the right theocracy is messianic rule by the Messiah/King.




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