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

Monday, May 14, 2012

Nameless Women of the Bible


Life-Giving Widow
http://www.jrdkirk.com/2012/05/11/life-giving-widow/

by J.R. Daniel Kirk
May 11, 2012
Comments

The Freely-Given Life.

On several occasions I’ve reflected on the nameless woman who anoints Jesus in Mark 14. She is unique in that Jesus promises that her deed of burial-preparation / anointing will be told everywhere the gospel is proclaimed.

Why remember her?

It seems that she alone, of all the characters in the story, has held together “anointed one” with “the one who must die.”

Another word of approbation is given to a woman a couple chapters before. She, too, is nameless.

It is the widow who gives her own 2 cents.

Her presence here is double-edged, without a doubt.

The scribes have just been accused of devouring widows houses. Enter the widow. Behold how she has put in her whole livelihood.

Check that.

She has put in her whole life (ὅλον τὸν βίον αὐτῆς).

Why would Jesus draw attention to this one person, of all the people in the gospel, and point to her as an example of discipleship? Why is she the great positive example who puts to shame all the others who are giving to God’s work?

Perhaps because in giving her life she has executed faithfully the sacrifice that Jesus lauds in ch. 8:
After calling the crowd together with his disciples, Jesus said to them, All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me and because of the good news will save them. (Mark 8:34-36, CEB)
She has given her life. She has not clung to it.

Unlike the rich man who cannot part with his wares, and unlike these rich who give from the overflow, she has given all.

Yes, she is consumed by the scribes who devour widows’ houses. But then again, such forces lay behind Jesus’ own cross as well.




The Value of Asking Difficult Questions & Disturbing the Comfortable to Wrestle Afresh


Questions and Answers
http://www.jrdkirk.com/2012/05/12/questions-and-answers/

by J.R. Daniel Kirk
May 12, 2012
Comments

AI love writing about theological things for folks who aren’t academic professionals. One of the great benefits of being a New Testament professor is that there are thousands upon thousands of pastors and lay people who are interested in the ideas and capable of having insightful conversations about them.

But I discovered something.

I really only like writing about theological things for normal people when I get to set the rules. When I have to adapt to someone else’s idea of what it means to talk to normal people, I’m not so happy about it.

I should have clued into this a long time ago.

Once I was interviewing for a position at a church. They asked me what sort of curriculum I’d use for Sunday School. My answer was basically: I’ve got a seminary degree and a Ph.D.–I’ll use the Bible and other books people have written and make my own. They weren’t so happy with that.

But to the point for today.
When you are preaching and/or teaching and/or leading folks in your faith community, to what extent do you see your task as providing direction through difficult issues? And to what extent do you see your task as raising questions for them to wrestle with?
This week I was revising something I had put together for a “popular” audience. I was revising it under the direction of the editors / readers whose first comment was this:
Author: Please rewrite the introduction. Think of writing it for Sunday school classes – not to raise questions but to provide orientation.
My first (and enduring) response to this in my heart was: “Please tell me what church you go to, because I do not want to attend such a Sunday school!”

But there’s a both/and here. I know it. In fact, I see one of my most important roles as a professor and writer as one of providing direction for asking the right, difficult questions.

It’s more important for me to raise the issues surrounding who might or might not have written a book of the Bible, and allow you to be disturbed, comforted, or otherwise engaged with the issues as you read.

It’s more important for me to highlight the difficulties entailed in signing off on household codes than to provide an explanation for why a NT writer might have made them all better by introducing Jesus into them.

The direction I can give, the value I can bring to the process, is often to disturb the comfortable and cause us to wrestle afresh with the text. I’m less concerned that people will be troubled by issues and more concerned that they will fail to be troubled by important difficulties that have the power to transform our understanding of what the Bible is and how we faithfully live out the narrative contained there.

Just as I was grumping about having to turn my vintage Kirk piece into tame “Sunday School” material, I saw a friends link to this:




It’s a promo video for a new Sunday-School-like material.

At one point, a person in the video says, “I think Animate will spark conversations for adults because we’re not spoon-feeding them the answers.”

Bingo. Christian education for adults.

Ok, so it’s not one or the other. (Either questions or answers.) But still…

Having laid out my own proclivities (and, knowing that I’m more of a provocateur than answer-giver!), I truly would like to hear from you:
  • When you preach or teach or lead, how do you think through how much direction to give and how much you raise salient, even difficult or impossible questions?
  • When you’re in a group such as a Bible study or Sunday School class, to what extent to you hope the person will be giving direction, and to what extent provoking difficult questions?
  • To what extent do you imagine that it’s the leader’s job to direct you–into difficult / impossible questions?!

I’d love to have good conversation about this.

(And, that Animate series looks great–though don’t ask me what “electric, carbonated space,” is!)



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For More on the Animate Series - 

Introducing Animate's "Faith Formation Series"
for Adults, Teens, and Kids by Sparkhouse