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

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

N.T. Wright - How God Became King

Welcome to Relevancy22, an Emergent Christian web journal focusing on... what else!? But Emergent Christian topics and issues for this postmodern age! Below follows NT Wright's audio lecture on How God Became King as he focused on the subject of re-discovering the Christian message through the Gospels based upon a Christological focus on Jesus' words, actions and the events surrounding his life, for today's postmodern church.

And as I listened to Dr. N.T. Wright's lecture at Calvin College's January 2012 Series today I was reminded of my beloved mentor and teacher Dr. Carl Hoch (NT Studies Biblical Studies, GRTS) as he taught us of Jesus from both the Hebrew OT and Greek NT (using the original languages of each no less! And requiring us to do the same). Thereupon he wove theme upon theme, narrative upon narrative, word upon word, nuance upon nuance, from Genesis to Revelation, recounting God's revelation through Israel's storied histories culminating in the personage and ministry of their Messiah King, called Jesus. Who had come to rebirth mankind to God's restored Kingdom through the burden of the Cross and through the intrigue of the early Church that would gather believing men and women unto itself from all the nations of the earth. For twelve or more years I had had the great privilege of Dr. Hoch's friendship/mentorship and loved to trouble him no end to the questions racing around my youthful head while absorbing as much as I could before his untimely departure years later after I had left both church and school.

So that upon hearing N.T. "Tom" Wright (as he prefers to be called) rehearse these same themes today I was reminded just how thorough the good doctor had been at revealing biblical thematic narratives and tying each together in grand, majestic strokes. Themes that didn't simply lay in your head but stirred your heart to action and caused your soul to soar at God's majesty. Themes that inspired ministries to leap forth within the larger context of God's love and grace. That didn't get lost in the popular rhetoric of today's evangelical topics. But would hold to hermeneutical context and the centrality of God's revelatory message assuaging all contemporary discussions into new streams of thought and profundity, towards innovative ministries and benevolent works.


Dr. Carl B. Hoch, Jr.
Prof. of NT, GRTS, 1974-1999

Consequently, How God Became King, is Tom Wright's review of the Gospels through the lens of OT which opens up the relevancy of the life of Jesus beyond our own theological minimization's as we would hurry on past the Gospels to the Apostle Paul's writings to discover God's deeper truths. Wright wrote his book on the Gospels to help correct such egregious error and to re-enliven our imaginations with Jesus' own unique witness to the living God of Israel.

And so I think you will enjoy this lecture as much as I did today.  I have included both his lecture given at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan (January 2012) and the same lecture in video format through Moody Bible of Chicago (October 2011). I have not listened to the Moody series but trust it to be measurably the same.

And then, in a month or so from now, Tom Wright's book by the same title should be released to help provide words and content to what we are listening to now. So then, sit back and, with pen and paper in hand, enjoy hearing the wonders of our God and King from this fine and widely-respected English theologian! Enjoy.

R.E. Slater
January 24, 2012
 
Go here to hear the audio file of
Dr. Wright at Calvin College presented on January 24, 2012
  

How God Became King
by Dr. N.T. Wright
Moody Bible Institute, October 2011



The Forgotten Story Of The Gospels. New Testament scholar N.T. Wright reveals how we have been misreading the Gospels for centuries, powerfully restoring the lost central story of the Scripture: that the coronation of God through the acts of Jesus was the climax of human history. Wright fills the gaps that centuries of misdirection have opened up in our collective spiritual story, tracing a narrative from Eden, to Jesus, to today.

Wright’s powerful re-reading of the Gospels helps us re-align the focus of our spiritual beliefs, which have for too long been focused on the afterlife. Instead, the forgotten story of the Gospels reveals why we should understand that our real charge is to sustain and cooperate with God's kingdom here and now. Echoing the triumphs of "Simply Christian" and "The Meaning of Jesus," Wright’s "How God Became King" is required reading for any Christian searching to understand their mission in the world today.




Review - N.T. Wright’s Forthcoming Book – How God Became King

by Michael F. Bird
Oct 20th, 2011

N.T. Wright’s forthcoming book from HarperOne is called How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels, which deals with the relationship between the Kingdom of God and the Cross. That is the subject that Wright spoke about at both Fuller and IBR last year. Due out March 2012. Here is the blurb:

Since ancient times, the church has sought to distance itself from its Jewish roots and has developed teachings on the Bible and about Jesus that actually serve as a barrier for reading the New Testament for what it is: the story of the coronation of God through Jesus at the fulfillment of Jewish history and as the climax of all human history. Award-winning New Testament scholar and Anglican bishop, N.T. Wright peels back the barriers to reveal the lost story they tell. He begins by asking why each gospel starts by connecting back to the Old Testament in a dramatic way, repeatedly making the point that Jesus was the Messiah, God’s chosen one, who is continuing a story that began in Eden. Not only does Wright reveal a new way of looking at what the writers of the New Testament were attempting to reveal, he also lays the groundwork for how this new perspective can transform how we see our role and duties in the world today. Whereas the old framework caused the church to be preoccupied with our future fate (i.e., who’s going to be in heaven and who will be left out), this new paradigm sees our current life as under the reign of an active and caring God who wants his kingdom made incarnate in this world by the church. The forgotten story shows us that we should read our charge as: “Are you cooperating with God’s kingdom here and now?” This book will revolutionize how we read the Gospels and how the church understands its role in the world.


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R.E. Slater - The Power of Our Words (poem)





Spake Adam -

In the hurry of the day,
In the brevity of life,
At the dawn of creation,
Before the Tree of Life,

“Giveth to me the power of your words…”


To bind or create
Make dead or alive
Burden or uplift
Withhold or provoke
Bury or resurrect
Expire or inspire
Imprison or release
Prevent or excite
Dissuade or arouse
Divide or multiply


To add or subtract
Fortify or offend
Declare or hide
Begin or end
Wake or sleep
Enrich or impoverish
Transpire or cease
Help or hurt
Heal or harm
Transform or change


Spake the Voice of the Almighty -

Like the oceans of turbulent seas,
Like the storm in thunderous deeps,
On birdsong as gentle as the breeze,
As love ever bent in tender kiss,

“Bless now the power of My words…”



R.E. Slater
October 31, 2011













Jefferson Bethke: Jesus, Religion, & Relationships, Part 1



"Virgil's ability to plumb the complexity of human affairs is a key to his greatness,
a key to his relevance for us today. We live in an age in which simplistic versions
of reality - simplified social and political perspectives, philosophical world
pictures, moral principles - are privileged, over-nuanced, understandings."

From an introduction to Virgil's The Aeneid, by Fred Will



When coming to the subject matter of Faith and Worship,
and having at the last plumbed its depths,
we may only stand back and say that we know nothing.
Nothing. That we have but only begun on our journey
into the Divine mystery of all that is God,
despite all the words and practices of mortal man.

- R.E. Slater, January 22, 2012



POINT



A poem I wrote to highlight the difference between Jesus and false religion. In the scriptures Jesus received the most opposition from the most religious people of his day. At it's core Jesus' gospel and the good news of the Cross is in pure opposition to self-righteousness/self-justification. Religion is man centered, Jesus is God-centered. This poem highlights my journey to discover this truth. Religion either ends in pride or despair. Pride because you make a list and can do it and act better than everyone, or despair because you can't do your own list of rules and feel "not good enough" for God. With Jesus though you have humble confident joy because He represents you, you don't represent yourself and His sacrifice is perfect putting us in perfect standing with God!

- Jefferson Bethke



COUNTERPOINT



For the sake of clarity, I did not misunderstand Bethke's point. I believe his point is that Jesus is full of grace, and as a fellow Christian, I wholeheartedly concur. My critique is of his careless use of language. He is an admirable wordsmith, but with such a gift comes a HUGE responsibility to use words RIGHTLY. I understand that he meant "bad religion," not good religion or all religion, but he did not make this clear enough, which is unfortunate for all his listeners who have found grace in and through their religion. I am not against the guy. He is talented. But he missed the mark.

So my point is . . . he can continue to preach the same thing in the same way, touch a lot of hearts, but also leave a trail of harm with his misrepresentation of religion, OR he can keep at it but improve by developing a more robust portrayal of the Gospel, which would do a lot more good for everyone. May Christ have mercy on us all.

I sincerely wish Bethke the best,

Kyndall

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

An Observation or Two...

Both Jeff and Kyndall have made amazing observations and have given very clear commentary as to their position on the topic of religion and true spirituality. Jeff's position is to discard religion and start over (most probably to repeat all of religion's past mistakes as well as its accomplishments). Kyndall's is to keep what we've got and to move forward trying to fix it where it needs fixing. One is idealistic. The other practical. One wants to throw the baby-out-with-the-bath-water and the other doesn't wish to recreate-the-wheel (forgive me for my cliches!). But both, from their separate positions and viewpoints, wish to see their Christian faith behave better. To recognize its strengths and its weaknesses. To create a spiritual space that connects the reality of Christianity-in-the-name-of-Jesus with the appropriate observance of that reality. And in that observance maintain a high spiritual plane of belief mixed with love, truth, justice, and hope.

The Church of the 21st Century has a multitude of voices pulling upon its heart to do a million different things... and what better than to have a million different voices doing just that... each believer tugging upon the heartstrings of God seeking Holy Spirit empowerment for faith, witness, life, breath and duty. I believe God is big enough to live up to our expectations even though in ourselves, and in the institutions we build, we may fail and may only some of God's light but never enough of who He is and what He is about.... Still, it is God's task of spiritual enlightenment. Spiritual empowerment. Spiritual victories. Witness. Transformation. And rebirth. Let us be patient with God as we must be patient with each other. There is no right or wrong if our heart is set upon God for His direction and guidance. The only wrong that can be done is if we do nothing at all. Let us therefore lift up one another in encouragement and challenge. To pray for one another. And learn to work with one another. And be confidant in the knowledge that God has many workers, seekers, followers, and faithful. They are numbered throughout the world wishing to uplift the name of Jesus. Be patient. And be faithful in prayer that gives rebirth to all the world. God will end what He has begun. He will make perfect what has been made imperfect. He is our confidance. Our power. Our Hope. Our Redeemer.

R.E. Slater
January 24, 2011



Continue...

Commentary:
Jesus, Religion, and Relationships
Part 2 -