Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. – Tripp Fuller

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

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - 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) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

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

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

Saturday, February 6, 2021

What To Do About Lent? Part 1/2




Introduction

We're coming up to the season of Lent and so I thought I should post two articles on the Christian observation of it during this season of political unrest during the viral pandemic and its variants.

Lent follows the celebration of Christ's Advent (Christmas) and precedes the celebration of Christ's Death and Atoning Resurrection (Easter). It lasts 40 days commemorating Jesus' time in the wilderness before coming to the Cross. This first post asks the question, "What To Do About Lent?" In Part 2 we will deal more directly with the observance of Lent itself as a practice.

This first article will highlight the obtusiveness of American Christianity as it finds itself embroiled in American politics. This energy has placed parts of the Christian church in grave danger of losing its witness, if not its faith altogether. Young people are leaving the church in droves dismayed by the church's unloving words and deeds spoken into the oppressed other.

Who? The borderwall immigrants being ripped apart from their children. The refugees seeking assylum from harm. Blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, even Asians, because of the viral pandemic gripping the world. Not to mention lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, and the queers of society (LGBTQ). Then their are the impoverished, the invisible families on the street, and on and on it goes of unjust American oppression acting against the unwanted other. Jesus said to see the other, hear the other, love the other, and minister to the other. Not to oppress the other, harm the other, chain the other, hate the other. This is not Christianity. But it is what Christianity has become.

The church then has placed itself in the position of condemning society all around itself. Seeing the sin in other lives rather than the plank in its own eye. While then having the audacity to proclaim itself holy by hosting DC Rallies in the Fall of 2020 where it repents of nothing but steels itself to launch sessionist attacks on America's democracy and Americans in general. The sin of oppression lies in the church of oppression and not in the unloved other whom it hates but God loves. Whom Jeshua has come to save. Let repentance first begin in the House of the Lord before casting aspersions upon the unapproved other whom the church would deem sinner but whom God deems loved. Thus saith the Lord.

Politics has done the church no favors. Never has. Never will. So how, during this season of Lent, will the church respond to her God? Will it repent and return to the work of ministry of the annunciation of Christ the Lover and Redeemer of our souls? Or will it continue down the path of unholiness leaning unto uncivil democracy and oppression, if not outright neo-facism, all for the prize of obtaining and holding unholy power?

Here then is my first post - "What To Do About Lent?" Part 1/2. Part 2 will deal more directly with the observance itself. But here, I feel the burden of the shallowness of observing Lent without saying something first about the church which is participating in it without qualm or uneasiness over its social and political actions.

My guide in this would be the German scholar, theologian, and pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his actions against the German church as it plummeted into Nazism. He spoke against its oppression of the Jews, gypsies, and foreigner in its lands. And as he worked against a political philosophy of death and power even he himself became imprisoned and eventually hung for his anti-fascist beliefs. Let's pray that the Lord of the Harvest may come once again to save His lost people from greater harm than they already have done. Even as Jesus stood in the fires of humanity speaking love, hope, and healing actions, until his death by the hands of ungodly religious leaders.

R.E. Slater
February 6, 2021





Jeshua [N] [H] [S]

  • Head of the ninth priestly order ( Ezra 2:36 ); called also Jeshuah ( 1 Chronicles 24:11 ).

  • A Levite appointed by Hezekiah to distribute offerings in the priestly cities ( 2 Chronicles 31:15 ).

  • Ezra 2:6 ; Nehemiah 7:11 .

  • Ezra 2:40 ; Nehemiah 7:43 .

  • The son of Jozadak, and high priest of the Jews under Zerubbabel ( Nehemiah 7:7 ; Nehemiah 12:1 Nehemiah 12:7 Nehemiah 12:10 Nehemiah 12:26 ); called Joshua ( Haggai 1:1 Haggai 1:12 ; Haggai 2:2 Haggai 2:4 ; Zechariah 3:1 Zechariah 3:3 Zechariah 3:6 Zechariah 3:8 Zechariah 3:9 ).

  • A Levite ( Ezra 8:33 ).

  • Nehemiah 3:19 .

  • A Levite who assisted in the reformation under ( Nehemiah 8:7 ; Nehemiah 9:4 Nehemiah 9:5 ).

  • Son of Kadmiel ( Nehemiah 12:24 ).

  • A city of Judah ( Nehemiah 11:26 ).

  • Nehemiah 8:17 ; Joshua, the son of Nun.





  • (a saviour ), another form of the name of Joshua of Jesus.

    1. Joshua the son of Nun. ( Nehemiah 8:17 ) [JOSHUA]
    2. A priest in the reign of David, to whom the nine course fell by David, to whom the ninth course fell by lot. ( 1 Chronicles 24:11 ) (B.C. 1014.)
    3. One of the Levites in the reign of Hezekiah. ( 2 Chronicles 31:15 ) (B.C. 726.)
    4. Son of Jehozadak, first high priest after the Babylonish captivity, B.C. 536. Jeshua was probably born in Babylon, whither his father Jehozadak had been taken captive while young. ( 1 Chronicles 6:15 ) Authorized Version. He came up from Babylon in the first year of Cyrus, with Zerubbabel, and took a leading part with him in the rebuilding of the temple and the restoration of the Jewish commonwealth. The two prophecies concerning him in ( Zechariah 3:1 ) ... and Zech 6:9-15 point him out as an eminent type of Christ.
    5. Head of a Levitical house, one of those which returned from the Babylonish captivity. ( Ezra 2:40 ; 3:9 ; Nehemiah 3:19 ; 8:7 ; Nehemiah 9:4 Nehemiah 9:5 ; 12:8 ) etc.
    6. A branch of the family of Pahath-moab, one of the chief families, probably, of the tribe of Judah. ( Nehemiah 10:14 ; 7:11 ) etc.; Ezra 10:30





    JESHUA

    jesh'-u-a, je-shu'-a (yeshua`):

    A place occupied by the children of Judah after their return from captivity (Nehemiah 11:26), evidently, from the places named with it, in the extreme South of Judah. It may correspond with the Shema of Joshua 15:26, and possibly to the Sheba of 19:2. The site may be Khirbet Sa`weh, a ruin upon a prominent hill, Tell es Sa`weh, 12 miles East-Northeast of Beersheba. The hill is surrounded by a wall of large blocks of stone. PEF, III, 409-10, Sh XXV.





    Meaning
    Salvation, Saved
    Etymology
    From the verb ישע (yasha'), to save.

    The name Jeshua in the Bible

    The name Jeshua is a shortened form of the name Joshua (יהושע) and this shortened form Jeshua occurs in the later Scriptures (see Nehemiah 8:17 for a Jeshua the son of Nun, who is doubtlessly Joshua the successor of Moses — Numbers 13:16).

    Other men named Jeshua are (and the following probably overlap a bit):

    • Levite who dealt with voluntary offerings (2 Chronicles 31:15).
    • A leader among the returnees under Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:6).
    • A leader of a priestly clan (Ezra 2:36).
    • The father of one of the wall's repairers (Nehemiah 3:19).
    • One of the first rabbis installed by Ezra (Nehemiah 8:7).
    • Then there is a high priest named Jeshua who is mentioned by Ezra (2:2) and Zechariah (3:1) and Haggai who names him Joshua (1:1). Nehemiah mentions this Jeshua among the kohanim who return with Zerubbabel (Nehemiah 12:1). This Jeshua is a bit mysterious because although he's fit to travel, he is father of Joiakim, grandfather of Eliashib, great-grandfather of Joiada, great-great-grandfather of Jonathan, and great-great-great-grandfather of Jaddua (12:10-11). But it seems likely that this Jeshua was still alive because only Jeshua (son of Azaniah) is mentioned among the signers of the sealed document, and one would certainly expect a high priest on that list.
    • And finally, there is also a town in Judah named Jeshua, which is mentioned in Nehemiah 11:26.

    Etymology of the name Jeshua

    The name Jeshua comes from the word group that starts with the verb ישע (yasha'), meaning to save or deliver:

    Excerpted from: Abarim Publications' Biblical Dictionary
    שוע  ישע

    The verb ישע (yasha') means to be unrestricted and thus to be free and thus to be saved (from restriction, from oppression and thus from ultimate demise). A doer of this verb is a savior. Nouns ישועה (yeshua), ישע (yesha') and תשועה (teshua) mean salvation. Adjective שוע (shoa') means (financially) independent, freed in an economic sense.

    Verb שוע (shawa') means to cry out (for salvation). Nouns שוע (shua'), שוע (shoa') and שועה (shawa) mean a cry (for salvation).





    God and Power

    So what do you think of when you think of the God of Love? Do you think of:
    • Intimidating power? Such as Judgment or Hell?
    • Self-righteousness? Such as condemnation and hate?
    • Sanctimonious hypocrisy? Such as exhibited by a Holy One doing the opposite of Holiness?
    • Or outright greed, hatred and blood-spilling, with which the church has weighed Jesus down with?
    No, neither do I. So why is today's church involved with these evils and supporting unholy men and women who daily commit them?

    I don't really know either. But I think Christians should stop. And stop confusing good civil democracy with their cherished totalitarian theocracy. America doesn't lift up kings here, but it does lift up people of all kinds as a melting pot of hope and responsible freedom.

    A loving God loves all the time. In this life and the next. Remember, it is our sin which condemns us... not a loving God. A God who would heal us... not condemn us. Too many have confused God with sin, and sin with judgment. The two ideas have been intimated wrongly of each other by confusing essence with outcome.

    A loving God saves and does not condemn. Surely He judges in terms of failure and wrong. But it is our sin which judges and condemns our actions to death and hell. A God of life and love can do neither. It would go against His essence. God is Jeshua, Savior. He is Life and Light. But the outcomes are upon us and the misuse of our freedom to hate and do evil. Hell is that place which flees from God, whether in this life or the next. Many a Christian is fleeing from God just like the irreligious and unfaithful. One doesn't have to be dead to be living in hell.

    A Kingdom on Earth?

    I earlier mentioned a totalitarian theocracy (or kingdom) which today's New Testament Church yearns for by seating Christ upon the throne of rulership. However, in theocratic terms, or kingdom terms, this is not how democracies work. They are opposed to kings and rule by fiat. Democracies more or less observe the idea of the God who shares power. Democracies lead through service. By lifting up the weak and powerless over the strong and willful. Democracies follow in the image and likeness of Christ rather than the Old Testament ideals of benevolent kings and despots which are fundamentally at odds as oxymorons to the rule of power itself.

    Further, a good civil democracy rejects an Old Testament theocracy permitting stoning, racial hatred, legalism, genocide, discrimination, religious bigotry, murder, etc and etc. God was a God of love then even as He is now. This hasn't changed. Further, Israel's theocratic leadership, whether vested in its priests or kings, was no different then its people. Most were as corrupt then as the church's leadership is deficit today. A godly leader, either then or now, is a man or woman who admits their weakness, seeks God to overcome their failings, is humble, modest, and leads by example by work and by deed. When leaders do such practices they stand out. Consider Moses, Joshua, David, or any one of the Apostles. Leaders lead by example.

    What About Theocratic Living?

    Back in the "good old days" of the Old Testament under the Mosaic Covenant established by God through Moses at Mt. Sinai, the Ten Commandments stated what love wasn't. Which is curious, isn't it? Think about it.... Since when is Love ever expressed in the not doing of something? Yeah, verily, Love is always expressed in the doing. Not in the not doing. As example, if one doesn't dishonor their parents one still may not love them. But if one loves their parents they would not dishonor them intentionally. Understand?

    So too with a good civil democracy which has its laws but underneath those laws is the commitment to treat one's fellow neighbor well and with intentional goodness. By this arrangement, both it's democratically elected laws and it's civic duty upheld the other in responsible accountability. And by these Americans are to stand against lies, duplicity, double-dealing, hypocrisy, and sedition against the nation. Americans work their disagreements out with one another through civil institutions. Not by slandering one another, seeking to overthrow their government, or suppressing rightful votes. So let's say it again... the season of Lent is a season of introspection, repentance, and commitment to love God and neighbor.

    Why then do you think Jesus was so angered by the scribes and the pharisees? By Israel's religious leadership? Because her Jewish priests and leaders had taken God's love and made it an evil thing. Even as today's church leaders are actively commiting in their political activism by choosing for racial bondage, discriminating oppression, opposing social justice, illegal anti-democratic reforms, denial of interfaith ministries and reformatory societal norms.

    Yeshua, Jehovah, Yahveh, Adoni, YHWH, are names of the God who is Love. We, as God's children, are to learn to love. To learn to bring God's love into societal civics and political public forums. We do not stand on the outside of civil institutions throwing rocks from platforms of denial and borderland beliefs. We must learn to listen, speak truth and not lies, and be at peace with one another. The evil which Christians are doing are but a litany to the list we started with in this post.

    Therefore my brothers and sisters, Refuse evil. Do good. Love your democracy and make it better, not worse. Let the season of Lent begin a season of personal and political churchly repentance. A repentance which unmasks false Christian leaders from the power and privilege they lust. And from the earthly oppressions they seek by harm and destruction upon fellow human beings they have declared unholy and uncircumscribed, lest they place Jesus and His Church again upon the altars of evil and crosses of death. Amen.

    R.E. Slater
    February 6, 2021