Category: Systematics

Revealing Jesus (A Revelation During the 1st Century) | S2 E6

Subscribe via iTunes or Google Season 2 | Episode 6 In this final episode of season two, we look at how the last book of the Bible must be situated during the first century. This is the longest of the videos because it is crammed full of contextual information about the book of Revelation. These episodes are the first several videos in a course called: Revealing Jesus. They can be listened to without video (especially if you are driving!) or can be utilized for the visual content as well. The full version of Revealing Jesus is available for pre-order at: https://theologycurator.com/revelation.  Here’s a free resource: Revelation Cheat Sheet, pdf! GIVE THE SHOW SOME LOVE 1) If you would be so kind to hop on iTunes (or your feed of choice) and leave Rapture Drill a review there, that would be amazing. The more reviews we can get will lead to greater visibility in iTunes. And I (Kurt) LOVE reading your comments! 2) Also, please consider hitting up Rapture Drill on Patreon online tip-jar (think Kickstarter for ongoing content creators). For $5 per month, or more, you can make a direct impact on this show. Financial partners like you really do make this all possible! Through Patreon, you make a tangible difference in this show’s sustainability and quality! http://patreon.com/kurtwillems
Syndicated from Rapture Drill: Reframing Revelation, the End Times, and our Weird Obsession with the Apocalypse

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When sensitive and thoughtful people begin to doubt

Do you know someone who appeared to be a strong christian, and then began to doubt the truth of the whole thing? I’m guessing they were likely someone in their twenties, brought up as believers but suddenly facing questions they didn’t have answers for and issues they couldn’t easily resolve. And I’m guessing many of … Continue reading When sensitive and thoughtful people begin to doubt
Syndicated from the Way?

2018 in Review

Another year has nearly come and gone and this liminal space between Christmas Day and the start of a new year seems inevitably to provide opportunity to reflect back on the year that was on this blog. Blogs are, I am told, becoming something of a relic. Not many people are writing on or reading blogs anymore. Not many people are reading period anymore if the stats are to be believed. Who has or wants to make the time? People’s clicking and sharing seems to have migrated over to less wordy platforms.
I’ve been writing here for nearly twelve years now. Sometimes I feel like that’s about enough. I think back to some of the blogs I was reading back when I began and very few are left anymore. Perhaps I’ve overstayed the internet’s welcome. Other times I feel like I’m simply running out of things to say. I’ll start writing a post and then halfway through discover that I’ve almost literally written something identical three years ago. But there are other times—fewer than in the past, I grant, but they still come around now and then—when the conversation around things I write here is stimulating, generative, corrective, even rewarding. Which is good.
At any rate, if I haven’t discouraged you from reading on by now, here are the five most viewed posts I wrote in 2018 along with a brief description of each.
For Those Who Want to Grieve in a Religious Way
I wrote this after the Humboldt Broncos bus crash back in April. Few things capture Canada’s collective attention like hockey, and the deaths of junior hockey players in their prime on the way to a game was national news for weeks. It was all anyone could seem to talk about across the Canadian prairies and beyond. This piece about the language and categories we use around collective grief in a post-Christian context seemed to resonate.
Why Appreciate a Pastor?
This was a bit of a personal reflection on the experience of being a pastor in a cultural context where the news for the church is more often discouraging than encouraging. In hindsight, it seems a bit more woe-is-me than it ought to be, but it does give a sense of what it sometimes feels like to inhabit this strange role during these strange times.
Believe in Something
Nike’s advertising campaign featuring outspoken former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick raised temperatures (and revenue for Nike) when it came out and it highlighted how deep our cultural divide is when it comes to issues of racial violence. This piece wasn’t really about race or identity politics—it was about the slogan itself (“Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything”), whether or not it was coherent, and what it says about our cultural moment—but it quite quickly and predictably became about these things in conversations online.
The Disconnect
Another post on the state of the church in the post-Christian west and the disconnect between a culture that claims to be almost literally dying for lack of community and meaning and a church that claims to be offering these very things.
Somewhere to Be
I broke a self-imposed blogging sabbatical in spring to reflect on ten days spent in Palestinian territory. This post was a juxtaposition of the experience of walking through an Israeli checkpoint with Palestinians and listening to a Zionist Christian tour guide sketch the geography and the theology of the end of all things.
——
So, there are the “top fives” from 2018. As I’ve said before, though, the main benefit of compiling these year-end posts is to provide an opportunity to thank you for actually reading what I write here. I am grateful for the engagement and connections that take place in this space. I wish you all the best in 2019.

Syndicated from Rumblings

Revealing Jesus (A Revelation against the Empire) | S2 E5

Subscribe via iTunes or Google Season 2 | Episode 5 The last book of the bible is against the empire, in its spiritual and physical manifestations. John's apocalyptic letter confronts the arrogance of Rome and summons Christ-followers into allegiance to the Lamb alone. These episodes are the first several videos in a course called: Revealing Jesus. They can be listened to without video (especially if you are driving!) or can be utilized for the visual content as well. The full version of Revealing Jesus is available for pre-order at: https://theologycurator.com/revelation.  Here’s a free resource: Revelation Cheat Sheet, pdf! GIVE THE SHOW SOME LOVE 1) If you would be so kind to hop on iTunes (or your feed of choice) and leave Rapture Drill a review there, that would be amazing. The more reviews we can get will lead to greater visibility in iTunes. And I (Kurt) LOVE reading your comments! 2) Also, please consider hitting up Rapture Drill on Patreon online tip-jar (think Kickstarter for ongoing content creators). For $5 per month, or more, you can make a direct impact on this show. Financial partners like you really do make this all possible! Through Patreon, you make a tangible difference in this show’s sustainability and quality! http://patreon.com/kurtwillems
Syndicated from Rapture Drill: Reframing Revelation, the End Times, and our Weird Obsession with the Apocalypse

When does salvation happen?

Question: I grew up in a strict, fundamentalist community and our whole goal in life was to get people to pray “the sinners prayer.” Once they prayed this prayer, we believed, they were “saved.” But the vast majority of these people went on living like nothing happened. I’m now questioning ...
The post When does salvation happen? appeared first on Greg Boyd - ReKnew.

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The Conquest of Christmas

Each year around this time, I find myself remarking to my congregation that the songs of Advent and Christmas give us some of our best theology. I’m sure they’re getting weary of hearing it by now. In my meagre defense, after a while one runs out of new things to say. At any rate, it’s no less true for my repeating it endlessly. Aside from just being a delight to sing, these songs give us marvelous lines like:

Oh, love beyond all telling, that led thee to embrace, in love, all love excelling, our lost and troubled race.
Dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.
Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today!
Hail the incarnate deity; pleased with us in flesh to dwell; Jesus, our Immanuel!
Son of God, Love’s pure light, radiant, beams from thy holy face with the dawn of redeeming grace, Jesus, Lord at Thy birth.

I could go on, but I’ll refrain. I will note in passing, however, that even as I was digging up these lines from my hymnal, I was struck by how many exclamation marks dot the songs of this season. The incarnation is nothing if not hyperbolic.
One of my tasks over the last few days has been to put together a PowerPoint presentation for our upcoming Christmas Eve service. It will be a simple candle-light service of lessons and carols where the lights will be left low. This makes for a lovely aesthetic, of course, but it’s hard to read a hymnal in the dark. So, to the screen the songs must go. And to the digital archives I must go to find song slides from Christmas Eves past.
One of the songs we’ll be singing on Christmas Eve is, O Come, O Come Immanuel. I dutifully retrieved a past set of slides and inserted them into the presentation. But one thing I’ve learned from past Christmas Eves is to double check the slides with the hymnal. Sometimes they don’t match and, well, who wants to ruin Christmas Eve with words that aren’t what people expect?! I noticed something interesting as I compared our PowerPoint presentation version of this song and the version in our church’s hymnal. The song has six verses, but we only sing four. And, as I wrote about a few years ago, I find it endlessly fascinating to pay attention to the things that we leave out, whether it’s in our songs or the Scripture readings the lectionary serves up or in the life of faith more generally.
In this case, these were the two verses left out:

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory o’er the grave.
O come, Thou Key of David, come
And open wide our heav’nly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

These are understandable omissions. First, there’s the pragmatic to consider. Six verses are a lot. Christmas Eve tends to be a night when many people have somewhere to be, and the service had better not be more than 45-60 minutes!  Second, what’s all this clunky language about rods and keys and Jesses and Davids? Yes, we can dig around in our bibles and figure out that these terms refer to Jesus’ genetic lineage and the scope of his authority. This is all fine and good, but we’d much rather sing about the desire of all the nations, about the Dayspring coming to cheer our spirits, about envy, strife and quarrels ceasing and the whole earth being filled with heaven’s peace.
I suspect that we have our theological reasons for avoiding these two verses as well. Satan’s tyranny, the depths of hell, the grave, and the path to misery aren’t exactly warm Christmas Eve-y images, even if these verses proclaim their defeat. We don’t like to think of ourselves being tyrannized by Satan or threatened by the depths of hell. At best, these can be reclaimed as metaphors for the brokenness of our systems and structures. At worst, they are embarrassingly anthropomorphic theological relics that we are well rid of. At any rate, we have eggnog and sugar cookies to get to! Who wants all those ugly words ringing in their ears as they set out into the season?
I do, actually. I look at a world plagued with violence, greed, and inhumanity, of an ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor and I long for tyrannical shackles to be broken, for the paths to misery to be closed, once and for all. I long for Mary’s Magnificat to be more than a wistful Scripture reading on the Fourth Sunday of Advent but an accomplished reality. I long for the Rod of Jesse to save us from hell—whether the hells that we create for one another or the final judgment our deeds demand. I long for death’s icy grip to be loosened and heaven’s doors flung wide. I need Christmas to be more than warm pastoral images of a cherubic white baby Jesus with his placid parents pondering the wonder and holiness of it all. Christmas is wonderful and holy and I am grateful for all the warmth and hope that it delivers. But Christmas is also the conquest of sin, death, and the tyrannical enemy that frustrates the good, the true, and the beautiful at every turn. Thank God.
I don’t know if we’ll end up singing verses two and four of O Come, O Come Immanuel in four days. Rods and keys and Davids and Jesses really don’t roll off the tongue as easily as the more cherished Christmas strains. And six verses is rather a lot. But as the celebration of a baby in a manger steadily approaches, I find myself grateful for both conquest and the consolation of Christmas.
——
The image above was created by John August Swanson and is taken from the 2011-12 Christian Seasons Calendar. It is Christmas’s conqueror on his own early path of misery, fleeing the hell-on-earth of a murderous despot. 

Syndicated from Rumblings

Is the Book of Acts Reliable?

(Note: We apologize that certain German vowels didn’t translate onto this site). Introduction The book of Acts is of critical importance in the contemporary debate about the historical Jesus. The reason for this is straightforward. Those who deny that the original, historical Jesus made divine claims for himself, performed miracles ...
The post Is the Book of Acts Reliable? appeared first on Greg Boyd - ReKnew.

Syndicated from Greg Boyd – ReKnew

Revealing Jesus (A Revelation for the Church) | S2 E4

Subscribe via iTunes or Google Season 2 | Episode 4 The last book of the Bible is a letter written to seven churches in the first century. These churches are not symbolic of the various scenarios and players in an end times drama, but were real communities facing real challenges in a real time and place. These episodes are the first several videos in a course called: Revealing Jesus. They can be listened to without video (especially if you are driving!) or can be utilized for the visual content as well. The full version of Revealing Jesus is available for pre-order at: https://theologycurator.com/revelation.  Here’s a free resource: Revelation Cheat Sheet, pdf! GIVE THE SHOW SOME LOVE 1) If you would be so kind to hop on iTunes (or your feed of choice) and leave Rapture Drill a review there, that would be amazing. The more reviews we can get will lead to greater visibility in iTunes. And I (Kurt) LOVE reading your comments! 2) Also, please consider hitting up Rapture Drill on Patreon online tip-jar (think Kickstarter for ongoing content creators). For $5 per month, or more, you can make a direct impact on this show. Financial partners like you really do make this all possible! Through Patreon, you make a tangible difference in this show’s sustainability and quality! http://patreon.com/kurtwillems
Syndicated from Rapture Drill: Reframing Revelation, the End Times, and our Weird Obsession with the Apocalypse

Revealing Jesus (A Revelation to John) | S2 E3

Subscribe via iTunes or Google Season 2 | Episode 3 Who was John? What world did he step into and why should that shape our understanding of Revelation? Many believe that he was John the disciple of Jesus. However, evidence seems to point in a different direction. What we do know, however, is that Jesus used him in a powerful way. The last book of the Bible is a revelation to John! These episodes are the first several videos in a course called: Revealing Jesus. They can be listened to without video (especially if you are driving!) or can be utilized for the visual content as well. The full version of Revealing Jesus is available for pre-order at: https://theologycurator.com/revelation.  Here’s a free resource: Revelation Cheat Sheet, pdf! GIVE THE SHOW SOME LOVE 1) If you would be so kind to hop on iTunes (or your feed of choice) and leave Rapture Drill a review there, that would be amazing. The more reviews we can get will lead to greater visibility in iTunes. And I (Kurt) LOVE reading your comments! 2) Also, please consider hitting up Rapture Drill on Patreon online tip-jar (think Kickstarter for ongoing content creators). For $5 per month, or more, you can make a direct impact on this show. Financial partners like you really do make this all possible! Through Patreon, you make a tangible difference in this show’s sustainability and quality! http://patreon.com/kurtwillems
Syndicated from Rapture Drill: Reframing Revelation, the End Times, and our Weird Obsession with the Apocalypse

Where is Human Free Will in the Bible?

The Bible is emphatic on its teaching that humans possess free will and are capable of originating evil. Notice, for example, that in the very first chapter of the Bible God commands humans to be fruitful and exercise dominion over the animal kingdom and the earth (Gen. 1:26). The fact ...
The post Where is Human Free Will in the Bible? appeared first on Greg Boyd - ReKnew.

Syndicated from Greg Boyd – ReKnew

Wednesday Miscellany

A few unfinished scraps and fragments are cluttering up my “drafts” folder, so it’s time for another “Miscellany” post. There’s a common thread that runs through what follows—something like “the truth and how we tell it”—but nothing cohesive enough for a single post, evidently. 
***
Andrew Sullivan thinks it’s impossible for human beings not to have a religion, “even in our secularized husk of a society.” I happen to agree with him—both about humans being irreducibly religious and about our society being a “secularized husk.” What a great description of a society that claims not to have left religion behind but is morally zealous in ways that rival the most enthusiastic evangelists from days long past.
According to Sullivan, our religious impulses have not disappeared, they have simply migrated to other domains. In America, the right’s religious fervour is concentrated in the attaining and securing of power. Salvation comes via the levers of politics. The left embraces an activistic narrative of social and moral progress. Here, too, salvation often comes via politics. Both views function as religions for their adherents.
This is perhaps nowhere more evident than in this paragraph where Sullivan compares the “Great Awakening” with the “Great Awokening”:

And so the young adherents of the Great Awokening exhibit the zeal of the Great Awakening. Like early modern Christians, they punish heresy by banishing sinners from society or coercing them to public demonstrations of shame, and provide an avenue for redemption in the form of a thorough public confession of sin. “Social justice” theory requires the admission of white privilege in ways that are strikingly like the admission of original sin. A Christian is born again; an activist gets woke.

The article has me thinking that whatever else the old religions may or may not have going for them, at least they were explicit about what they were. Few things get as tiresome as politics and irreligion masquerading as religion.
***
Those I work with on the preaching schedule for our church regularly hear me say something like, “We need to have a guest speaker soon. I’m getting sick of hearing my own voice.” I usually say this with a bit of a grin on my face. Sometimes I’d just like a break from sermon prep. But there’s a deeper reason. I really do believe that people benefit from encountering Jesus through a different set of theological goggles than my own.
The other day, I heard a preacher I respect talk about a mid-life/mid-faith course correction he had undergone. He finally encountered the “unvarnished Jesus,” he said. I wonder about that. I know what he’s trying to say. He came to a truer, deeper understanding of Jesus, one more faithful to the gospels, one less encumbered by the trappings of his own culture and the theological biases in which he was raised. I get all that. But do we ever encounter an “unvarnished Jesus?”
I don’t think so. This is one of my worries as someone who preaches 40+ times a year—that my congregation gets a Jesus that is heavily refracted through what I think is important, through what I prefer to ignore, through my agenda for the church, through my constellation of existential anxieties. It’s not that I think my Jesus is wrong or deficient. But I’m just barely smart enough to know that he’s incomplete.
Thank God for other voices. And thank God that preaching is only one way that the risen Christ encounters people on the road.
***
One of the albums that’s been getting regular play in the headphones these days is Muse’s new one, “Simulation Theory.” I’m a sucker for anthemic rock full of grandiose lyrics, and Muse has always supplied both of these in abundance. Usually, after a few songs I’m just about ready to march out to protest something or stick it to the man. Just about.
There’s a song on their most recent album called “Thought Contagion” that takes direct aim at our post-truth, fake news times with megalomaniacal leaders spurred on by populist mobs.

You’ve been bitten by a true believer
You’ve been bitten by someone who’s hungrier than you
You’ve been bitten by a true believer
You’ve been bitten by someone’s false beliefs
Thought contagion
Thought contagion

It’s an understandable response to a truly odious cultural phenomenon. But the language is interesting, isn’t it? Nasty beliefs that we disagree with are described in the language of predation and disease. It’s “true believers” that are the problem. They spread their ugliness like a virus and if we’re lucky (or smart/virtuous) enough, we’ll stave off the infection. Our beliefs (i.e., right-thinking people’s beliefs) are the result of rational reflection and general decency. We are not “true believers” but “free thinkers.” At least so we are pleased to tell ourselves.
My skepticism of human nature and how we form/maintain our beliefs has a broader application than Muse’s, I think. “Thought contagions” seem to me come in all kinds of different strains, and we’re all more vulnerable to them that we might want to admit.
***
I was recently invited to speak on a panel next year about evolution and faith. One of my co-panelists evidently comes from an apologetics organization and wanted each of us to articulate our “positions” on evolution beforehand to aid in his preparation. I’ll confess that I groaned inwardly when the email came through.
There are two reasons for my groaning. First, the thought of going into battle in the Christian apologetics wars holds pretty much zero appeal to me. There was a time when this might have excited me, but that time has evidently passed. Haggling over the age of the earth and the one correct interpretation of a handful of bible passages isn’t something that exactly sets my pulse a-racing these days.
Second, I really dislike this assumption that we ought to be able to produce a “position” on an “issue” on demand. “Positions” on “issues” very often end up relegating more important things (like people) to the sidelines. I’d much rather talk about what’s going on behind the positions about issues. What views of God are operating? What existential hungers are being fed or starved?  What unspoken hopes and fears are lingering around the periphery? And so on.
I’ll likely lose the battle over the age of the earth. My “position” probably isn’t as well-fortified as it ought to be. But who knows, maybe an interesting conversation or two will materialize once the swords are set aside and truth is treated less as an artifact to protect than a puzzle to explore.

Syndicated from Rumblings

Revealing Jesus (A Revelation of Jesus) | S2 E2

Subscribe via iTunes or Google Season 2 | Episode 2 How does Revelation "Reveal Jesus?" The opening line of the book makes a compelling claim: "A Revelation of Jesus Christ." This is the purpose of the last book of the Bible, but we often struggle to understand how the Jesus of the Gospels is anything like the image of him we see in Revelation. When we step into the ancient world, these struggles start to resolve. These episodes are the first several videos in a course called: Revealing Jesus. They can be listened to without video (especially if you are driving!) or can be utilized for the visual content as well. The full version of Revealing Jesus is available for pre-order at: https://theologycurator.com/revelation.  Here’s a free resource: Revelation Cheat Sheet, pdf! GIVE THE SHOW SOME LOVE 1) If you would be so kind to hop on iTunes (or your feed of choice) and leave Rapture Drill a review there, that would be amazing. The more reviews we can get will lead to greater visibility in iTunes. And I (Kurt) LOVE reading your comments! 2) Also, please consider hitting up Rapture Drill on Patreon online tip-jar (think Kickstarter for ongoing content creators). For $5 per month, or more, you can make a direct impact on this show. Financial partners like you really do make this all possible! Through Patreon, you make a tangible difference in this show’s sustainability and quality! http://patreon.com/kurtwillems
Syndicated from Rapture Drill: Reframing Revelation, the End Times, and our Weird Obsession with the Apocalypse

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