Category: Systematics

Third Sunday of Lent 2019: The Gospel Passage – And even more teachings during Lent

“At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them–do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.” (Luke 13:1 – 5)
I have spoken of the season of Lent as a time when we consider hardships and doing with out sometime – at least that is a certain way to use the season of Lent. We consider, in a liturgical way, what Jesus had to put up with during the weeks that came before his trial, crucifixion, and then the joyful resurrection. But . . . we put our “blinders” on and do not consider the resurrection until it is upon us. Instead we, liturgically, stay with the suffering.
But because we stay with the suffering, or embark on spiritual exercises to test us, does that mean we are more “sinful” because we are going through it? No. The outcome of Lent is to be our realizing our sins, and what Jesus went through to redeem us and expunge our sins. Just as we do not sin extra because we know we will be forgiven, we are not more sinful because we have tasked ourselves. And, as Jesus points out, we are not more sinful because tough things have come into our lives.
The implication that is being suggested to Jesus (and I have to consult with biblical commentators on this) is that the Galileans were “no-goodniks” who placed themselves in danger when their blood was mingled with the sacrifices they were making. Jesus goes on to see that in the same way those who were killed in an architectural calamity were not sinners either. Stuff happens! And to extend the lesson, when Jesus was crucified it did not mean he was a “no-goodnik” either! Yes, he placed himself in Jerusalem and did not tiptoe around Herod, Pilate, nor the High Priest et al. He was living out his life, just as the eighteen in Siloam were and as the Galileans were. Then Jesus turns this into an even more teachable moment.
“Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'” (Verses 6 – 9)
Lent is our opportunity to turn ourselves and our lives around. Yes, maybe we did missteps, and did not live as we should. But the Divine gives up opportunities to see the error of our ways. In this parable, I believe, the Divine plays both parts; the owner of the fig tree and the gardener. Through Jesus Christ we are given the opportunity to show what we can do and who we can be. Misfortune may come our way, but we can use misfortune to learn about ourselves and our strengths, and grow closer to the Divine. Sin may become too tempting and we succumb. But we can be redeemed and restored, forming a tighter bond to the One that restores us.
Beloved reader, I pray you may use this season of Lent to learn the love, grace, care, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness that the Divine has for us. Selah!
 

Syndicated from Pondering From the Pacific

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Do People Exist in Parallel Universes, and Do They Need Jesus? (Podcast)

Greg talks the sin economy and if sin actually threatens God. Episode 474 Send Questions To: Dan: @thatdankent Email: askgregboyd@gmail.com Twitter: @reKnewOrg The Interview: http://traffic.libsyn.com/askgregboyd/Episode_0474.mp3 Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher | Google Play | RSS
The post Do People Exist in Parallel Universes, and Do They Need Jesus? (Podcast) appeared first on Greg Boyd - ReKnew.

Syndicated from Greg Boyd – ReKnew

Evangelism – learning from unbelievers

There’s a saying in chess that, if you are in doubt about your next move, choose the move your opponent would like least. I reckon a similar, but opposite, saying might apply to christian evangelism: if you are wanting to evangelise, try to choose the behaviour your friend would most appreciate. A recent study by … Continue reading Evangelism – learning from unbelievers
Syndicated from the Way?

6 Things the Church Fathers Can Teach Us about Spiritual Warfare

Image by Christina Saint Marche via Flickr Unlike our thinking today about the source of good and evil in the world, the early church fathers, including Irenaus, Athenagorus, Origen, and others before Augustine, possessed a warfare worldview. Here are 6 ideas that are common in their writings: The Reality of the ...
The post 6 Things the Church Fathers Can Teach Us about Spiritual Warfare appeared first on Greg Boyd - ReKnew.

Syndicated from Greg Boyd – ReKnew

Oh Boy, I Hope So!

I’ve mentioned (and quoted) Ben Myers’ fantastic little collection of line-by-line reflections on the Apostles’ Creed a few times over the last little while. I’ve been going through it again this morning as I reflect on the beginning of the season of Lent tomorrow and, ultimately, the staggering hope of Easter coming. There were a few passages I encountered today that I thought were too good and too profoundly hopeful not to share.
On “And he will come to judge the living and the dead”:

The judgment that Christ brings… is not just a division between two kinds of people. When Christ’s light shines into our lives, it creates a division within ourselves. None of us is entirely good or entirely bad. Each of us is a mixture. The bad grows up in our lives like weeds among wheat, and the two are so closely entwined that in this life we can’t easily tell the difference (Matthew 13:24-30). Sometimes our worst mistakes turn out to produce good fruit. And sometimes we discover that our virtues have produced unforeseen collateral damage. Our lives are not transparent to ourselves. We cannot easily tell where the bad ends and the good begins.
So it is a comfort to know that one day someone else will lovingly separate the good from the bad in our lives. The confession that Christ will come as judge is not an expression of terror and doom. It is part of the good news of the gospel. It is a joy to know that there is someone who understands all the complexities and ambiguities of our lives. It is a joy to know that this one—the only one who is truly competent to judge—is “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). He comes to save, not to destroy, and he saves by his judgment…
Jesus will come to judge the living and the dead. That will be the best thing that ever happens to us. On that day, the weeds in each of us will be separated from the wheat. It will hurt—no doubt it will hurt—when our self-deceptions are burned away. But the pain of the truth heals; it does not destroy. On our judgment day we will be able for the first time to see the truth of our lives., when we see ourselves as loved.

On “The forgiveness of sins”:

A church that takes its stand on the forgiveness of sins can never be a church of the pure. It will always be a community that is patient and understanding toward the timid and the imperfect. Whenever a judgmental, elitist spirit enters into the Christian community, we need to hear again the confession: “I believe in the forgiveness of sins.”
We believe that we stand not by our own achievements but by the achievement of Jesus’ death and resurrection. We believe that the spiritually strong and the spiritually weak are both sustained by the same forgiving grace. We believe that we rely solely on grace, not only in our worst failures but also in our best successes. We believe that if ever we should turn away from grace, if ever our hearts grow cold and we forget our Lord and become unfaithful to his way, he will not forget us. His faithfulness is deeper than our faithfulness. His yes is stronger than our no.

On “The communion of saints”:

Becoming a Christian is not really about institutional membership or about adopting a system of ideas. To become a Christian is to be included in the circle of Jesus’ followers. I am washed with the same bath that Jesus and his followers have had. I get to share the same meal that Jesus shared with his followers. Four of Jesus’ followers have left written records of what he said and what he was like, and I get to spend my life continually pondering these four accounts. I read them not because I am studying ideas about Jesus but because I am studying him. I want everything in my life, right down to the smallest and most disappointing details, to enter somehow into communion with the life of Jesus.
I share the holy bath and the holy meal, and I read the holy stories because I am seeking Jesus. But when I do these things I am also seeking myself. I want to find myself among the circle of Jesus’ followers. I want to be wherever Jesus is—and he is in the company of his friends. I want my whole life to be “hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). I want my life’s small story to be tucked into the folds of Jesus’ story…
Perhaps at the end of the age, the Total Gospel will be read out and will be found to contain everything—every life, every story, every human grief and joy, all included as episodes in the one great, infinitely rich story of Jesus and his friends.  The world itself is too small for such a book. Life and death are too small for the communion of saints.

On “Amen”:

A friend told me once that he always crosses his fingers when he gets to the line about the virgin birth. I replied, “What? You mean the rest of the creed is so easy that you can say it with uncrossed fingers? Does the rest of it make perfect sense to you? Do you mean to say that you can verify the truth of everything else—creation, incarnation, resurrection, the last judgment—all except the virgin birth?”
Is there anyone who never feels a flicker of doubt when they contemplate the mysteries of faith? Can anyone really say the amen with all their heart? Isn’t it really here, at the last word of the creed, that we ought to cross our fingers? Shouldn’t we end the creed by saying: “Oh boy, I hope so!”

Amen. Oh boy, I hope so!

Syndicated from Rumblings

Apologetics is “dangerous” stuff!

Are you the sort of christian whose faith is built more on reason and evidence than an experience of God? Do you enjoy answering sceptics’ questions about Jesus and the Bible? Perhaps even enjoy arguing with atheists online? Have you considered that apologetics might be dangerous for your faith? (Well, sort of! But read on!) … Continue reading Apologetics is “dangerous” stuff!
Syndicated from the Way?

My Name is Lazarus

I’ve spent part of this morning sifting through a week’s worth of difficult conversations. Several dealt with the trials and tribulations of parenting adult children. What do you do when the kids you have poured years of yourself into seem determined to walk down destructive roads, when they have little interest in your values or hopes for them? What do when you see nothing but trouble on the horizon but feel powerless to do anything about it? How do you sustain hope when it feels like you are failing or have failed at one of life’s most important tasks?
Other conversations traversed the murky terrain of marriage—the many ways that we fail one another and fall so far short of what real love (as opposed to the saccharine fantasies served up by popular media) actually requires. We are so desperate for love, intimacy, connection, but often so utterly useless at doing the things required to secure these things for ourselves and to extend them outward. We can know, rationally, what has to happen, the steps that need to be taken for our relationships to improve, but we are wildly irrational creatures. We are driven by emotion and lust and pain and primal fear. We are terrified of being rejected and alone and we thwart ourselves at every turn.
Still others explored whether or not change is even possible for human beings. You get to a certain stage of life and you have a certain body of work to reflect back upon. You start to notice a fairly unimpressive record of meaningful change. Can we actually adjust course and do things differently? Or are we just a bunch of slaves to biological urges and impulses, stumbling through life trying to maximize pleasure and minimize pain? Are we forever destined to return to the path of least resistance, no matter how many fitful successes we have along the way?
Each of these conversations felt, well, hard. There are no easy answers, no magic wand to wave struggles away. Life throws difficult stuff our way. We do not easily become the people we want to be, the people that others need us to be. Pastors are supposed to have the right answer, the right bible verse, the penetrating question at just the right moment. But in each of these conversations, I found myself mostly just thinking, “Yeah, this is really hard.” We want so much for ourselves and those we love—more, it seems, than we are capable of attaining.
This morning, I came across a marvelous sermon by Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson, preached two Sundays ago at Washington’s National Cathedral. The sermon is drawing a lot of attention because of Gerson’s vulnerability in sharing about his very recent depressive episode, and rightly so. But even beyond the courage that it took to share so personally and with such vulnerability, the sermon is a marvelous piece of writing and a powerful exposition of the Christian hope in the face of hard stuff.
The whole sermon is worth reading or watching, but particularly the second half where Gerson pivots from the specifics of his own experience to the human condition more generally. At one point, Gerson quotes G.K. Chesterton’s poem, “The Convert,“—a poem that beautifully holds out the hope that change is possible, that we can become, by the grace of God, what we were created to be, whether in a flash of divine light or in fits and starts along the way:

After one moment when I bowed my head
And the whole world turned over and came upright,
And I came out where the old road shone white.
I walked the ways and heard what all men said,
Forests of tongues, like autumn leaves unshed,
Being not unlovable but strange and light;
Old riddles and new creeds, not in despite
But softly, as men smile about the dead

The sages have a hundred maps to give
That trace their crawling cosmos like a tree,
They rattle reason out through many a sieve
That stores the sand and lets the gold go free:
And all these things are less than dust to me
Because my name is Lazarus and I live.

Quite a line, that last one.
Evoking Chesterton’s poem, Gerson’s sermon ends, powerfully, thus:

I suspect that there are people here today—and I include myself—who are stalked by sadness, or stalked by cancer, or stalked by anger. We are afraid of the mortality that is knit into our bones. We experience unearned suffering, or give unreturned love, or cry useless tears. And many of us eventually grow weary of ourselves – tired of our own sour company.
At some point, willed cheerfulness fails. Or we skim along the surface of our lives, afraid of what lies in the depths below. It is a way to cope, but no way to live.
I’d urge anyone with undiagnosed depression to seek out professional help. There is no way to will yourself out of this disease, any more than to will yourself out of tuberculosis.
There are, however, other forms of comfort. Those who hold to the wild hope of a living God can say certain things:
In our right minds—as our most sane and solid selves—we know that the appearance of a universe ruled by cruel chaos is a lie and that the cold void is actually a sheltering sky.
In our right minds, we know that life is not a farce but a pilgrimage—or maybe a farce and a pilgrimage, depending on the day.
In our right minds, we know that hope can grow within us—like a seed, like a child.
In our right minds, we know that transcendence sparks and crackles around us—in a blinding light, and a child’s voice, and fire, and tears, and a warmed heart, and a sculpture just down the hill—if we open ourselves to seeing it.
Fate may do what it wants. But this much is settled. In our right minds, we know that love is at the heart of all things.
Many, understandably, pray for a strength they do not possess. But God’s promise is somewhat different: That even when strength fails, there is perseverance. And even when perseverance fails, there is hope. And even when hope fails, there is love. And love never fails.
So how do we know this? How can anyone be so confident?
Because we are Lazarus, and we live.

——
The image above is Rembrandt’s “The Raising of Lazarus,” painted between 1630-32.

Syndicated from Rumblings

We Die as Those Being Born

Some further thoughts on death…
At the conference I attended last week, our attention was drawn to an article from a few years back where Thomas Lynch, an undertaker, was interviewed about changing funeral practices in the postmodern West. We are increasingly uncomfortable with actual bodies at funerals—too morbid, too grim a reminder of our own inevitable fate—so we deal with them before the service, often in private ceremonies attended only by close family and friends. That’s if we even have a service. Many don’t anymore, preferring to slip away quietly, not wanting to burden people (financially or existentially) with their death. Others prefer a “celebration of life,” which often amounts to an extended eulogy with only saccharine references to God and the afterlife or none at all. This is how, increasingly, we are choosing to die and to deal with death, both inside and outside of the church.
There are all kinds of reasons for this trajectory and these are the subject of considerable cultural analysis. But one little line from the article stood out. According to Lynch one of the reasons we are dying the way we do is because

We’ve lost the narrative of redemption, salvation, heaven and eternal life, so we are left with the downsized narratives of personal biography.

Ah yes, the downsized narratives of personal biography. As God recedes from the picture, we inevitably assume center stage. In a perverse inversion of John the Baptist’s cry in the wilderness, “he must decrease and I must increase.” In a world where we think little of God, where our faith hangs by a thread, where it has shrunk from a robust all-encompassing hope to a thin justification for an ethical system or a private consolation, our funerals predictably become mostly about ourselves. This is not to say that personal biography should not be part of how we grieve and honour our dead. Far from it! I’ve been to funerals where the deceased hardly made an appearance, and these are very often grim affairs indeed. I want to hear stories of who this person was and what they meant in and for the world. But for the Christian, at least, biography ought always to be contextualized within the context of theology at a funeral. We need this narrative of redemption, salvation, and eternal life. Our personal biographies can be truly inspiring. But as far as funeral narratives go, they’re no match for death.
I’ve been picking my through Benjamin Myers’ little book on the Apostles’ Creed over the last little while. In his chapter on Jesus’ descent into hell and resurrection from the dead, Myers has this to say about death:

Where others see only defeat, Jesus’ followers see a paradoxical victory. Where others see only contamination, we see the sanctification of human nature. Where others see only darkness and despair, we see broken gates. Where others see an end, we see new beginnings. Death is serious: but not as serious as life. It has been placed in a wider context of meaning. We bury our dead under the sign of the cross. We lay our bones to rest not in horror but in peace. The dominant sound at a Christian funeral is not mourning but the singing of praise.

It should be, at any rate. In the face of even the darkest and most apparently hope-starved tragedy, the Christian should be able to summon a word of hope and praise—often through clenched teeth, closed fists, and rivers of tears—if only because the darkest tragedy is the soil from which our faith has taken root. Death was and is the doorway to life.

By nature we are all on the way from birth to death. But by grace we are traveling in the opposite direction. The Christian life is a mystery that moves from death to birth. At the beginning we are baptized into Christ’s death; and at the end we are born into the life of the resurrection. We are born as though dying; we die as those being born.

This is the Christian hope. It should be, at any rate. Perhaps one of the tasks of the church in our time and place is to remind Christians that, as Myers puts it, “We die differently because the Son of God has touched our frail mortality and has drawn it into the wider context of his life.”

Syndicated from Rumblings

Rest in Peace

Death has been on my mind a lot lately. Not my own, necessarily, although I do think about that more than I probably ought to. But just death as a phenomenon. Both of my grandmothers have died in the last six months. Several people in my orbit could well be approaching this threshold. I just returned from a pastors conference about death, funerals and the Christian hope. Death has been a hard thing to avoid lately.
For most of my life, I have stubbornly rehearsed the familiar Christian maxim that death is the final enemy to be defeated, the destroyer of human flourishing to be fought against with everything we have. Death is bad, full stop. I still feel like this most days. But of course death is also the most natural thing you could hope to find. Everyone dies. Everything dies. Christianity has always insisted upon the unnaturalness of death but we must acknowledge that this is, on the face of it, a thoroughly counterintuitive claim in light of observable reality. It’s not hard to imagine how some would write off post-mortem hope as so much wish projection and fear assuagement—”projecting our paltry selves ad infinitum,” as Christian Wiman puts it.
At the conference this week, a friend commented in one of the forums that they don’t spend much time thinking about the post-mortem component of the Christian hope anymore. Who can say what, if anything, lies beyond? Maybe what comes after death is something like a sabbath rest—the cessation of struggle and pain and conflicted pursuits. Maybe death is when we finally get a really long break from our tormented selves. We Christians tie ourselves in knots trying to do enough, believe enough, think clearly enough to prepare ourselves for eternity. What if it’s all a bunch of puritanical striving toward nothing. What if, in the end, we are destined to simply rest in peace?
A theology reading group that I’m a part of has been reading Dale Allison’s Night Comes over the past few months. It’s a book about death—about what might become of us, what we might hope for, and what death might mean. In keeping with the theme of the book (endings), I skipped to the end of the book even though our group is still in the middle. Allison’s last few paragraphs caught me off guard, initially. And then, after a few more readings, they began to resonate a bit more deeply.

Although some might find this a tad morbid, part of me, with a sort of reverent curiosity, now looks forward to [death]. Most of the time, to be sure, life is full, and I’m all for staying with the familiar as long as possible. On the usual morning I eagerly anticipate the coming day, and on the usual evening I return thanks for most of what’s happened.
On occasion, however, the adventure seems stale, and it’s not so easy to feel grateful. The world, which is ever full of wonder, isn’t the problem. It’s rather me. I repeatedly resolve to do better, and I fail. I set out to pursue the good, the true, and the beautiful, and my attention wanders. I aspire to love God with all my heart and soul and mind, and my neighbor as myself, but I get distracted.
My incessant failures are more than frustrating, and sometimes I grow weary of myself. My fatigue can be such that I long to quit this stage for some other stage, to wake up in a new and different world, to swap my current self for something better, to undergo whatever will turn Romans 7—“I can will what is right, but I cannot do it”—into nothing but a bad memory. As it became evident long ago that this isn’t going to happen in this world, I don’t always mind the aches and pains and the memory glitches that attend aging. They remind me that night comes. My hope is that light shines in the darkness.

Maybe all of us, in our more honest moments, feel this way. Or, maybe not. I don’t know. Perhaps it’s only introspective melancholic types who think along these lines. I admire those whose whose conviction about what comes next seems unshakeable. I really do. I have never been able to manufacture such certainty about the topography of the afterlife and I’m not sure I ever will. I take comfort in the fact that Jesus said a mustard seed of faith was enough.
But I, too, hope that light shines in the darkness. Desperately so. I long for life where the reality of Romans 7 recedes into a shadowy and unremembered past. And I am still convinced that the bare existence of this hope is itself powerfully suggestive of what might lie on the other side of death’s door. The good, the true, the beautiful—these cannot just be pleasant and useful fictions to keep our overactive prefrontal cortexes occupied for a few decades on a chunk of rock hurtling through space. They somehow have to mean more than that.
They point, surely, to the God who has set eternity in the human heart and who finally offers rest, wholeness, consummation, forgiveness, peace and, yes, even life, unnaturally eternal and eternally unnatural.

Syndicated from Rumblings

If salvation depends on our free choice, how are we saved totally by grace?

Question: I’m an Arminian-turned-Calvinist, and the thing that turned me was the realization that if salvation hinges on whether individuals choose to be saved or not, as Arminians and Open Theists believe, then we can’t say salvation is 100% by grace. If we have to choose for or against God, ...
The post If salvation depends on our free choice, how are we saved totally by grace? appeared first on Greg Boyd - ReKnew.

Syndicated from Greg Boyd – ReKnew

Perhaps We Will Have to Suffer

A few days ago, I was invited with a handful of other “clergypersons” to lunch at a local seniors home. I accepted the invitation—I thought it would be a chance to meet a few seniors, perhaps hear a few interesting stories, make a few connections, etc. Turns out, we were not invited to eat with the seniors at all. We were sequestered off in a private room for a kind sales pitch for the home. I was, I confess, a little disappointed by this. I don’t particularly need more semi-awkward social situations with middle-aged-ish, white-ish, Protestant-ish pastor-ish types.

There was one point where we were politely munching on our salads and listening to our host talk about lawn bowling and cribbage, where I could almost feel my soul shriveling. This is what it’s come to? I despaired. This is why I devoted all those years to the study of theology? To sit with a bunch of polite, well-groomed clergypersons pretending to be interested in bingo night for a free lunch? The experience was right up there with seeing Richard Marx’s Greatest Hits in Apple Music’s “Suggested For You” section when I opened iTunes this morning (I pondered what prior musical sins I could possibly have committed, what perverse algorithm could possibly have produced such a suggestion?!). This is what existential entropy must feel like, I melodramatically grumbled as I gazed longingly at the bottle of wine on the table that I knew none of us would dare touch.
Between the main course and dessert, the conversation turned, predictably, to the decline of the church. There were half-hearted diagnoses of the problem and the odd limp solution offered. There was talk of the good old days when churches were full and the culture was Christian and people dressed up on Sundays. There was a recognition that the structures we’ve inherited aren’t working anymore. People aren’t buying what the church is selling, alas. There was longing and lament, however guardedly it was expressed. Who wants to ruin a nice lunch, after all?
I wasn’t entirely telling the truth about the room being full of middle-aged white Protestants. There was an older Buddhist priest there, too, and I made sure to sit beside him. My wife is Japanese and so I’ve had the opportunity to get to know him at various family and church events over the years. He even showed up at the Bible study I lead a few times a few years ago (he calls me his “Bible teacher”; I call him sensei). He’s a delightful guy and I was glad to have him close by to break the awkward silences. I had observed him listening politely to all of this nostalgic memorializing of our “Christian” past, all this talk of how even though we came from different denominations we all worshiped the “same God,” all this thin sociological analysis of the state of the church in the post-Christian West. I knew him well enough to know that he wasn’t going to make much of a fuss about having his religion referred to as a “denomination” (you know, the Lutherans, the Mennonites, the Baptists, and the Buddhists). I sighed and imagined that he was having very tranquil and centred thoughts while I was sliding into angst-ridden entropy.
Near the end of our lunch, sensei leaned over to me and asked me why I thought that the Christian church was having such trouble in this culture. I gestured toward the usual suspects—postmodernism, consumerism, individualism, pluralism, etc. But then I had the good sense to stop talking and ask him what he thought. “What about you? Do you see similar trends in your context?” He smiled in a very tranquil way. “Oh yes,” he said. “Not many people come on Sundays. We have people who attend cultural events at the temple [my wife would be in this category—she started Japanese dancing this year] and who are interested in Japanese celebrations and rituals. But not many are interested in the Buddhist teachings. Mostly the older people… ” His concerns were identical to what I hear in church circles. What will happen when the carriers of this tradition and culture die? Who will pick up the baton? Will anything survive beyond cultural curiosity and highly selective practice? 
We sat together with this for a bit. I looked out into the dining area where the seniors were finishing their lunch. I thought about what some of them had seen over their many decades, what many of them had suffered. Some had seen war, some had known poverty, some had endured backbreaking labour that I struggle to imagine. I turned to sensei and said, “Perhaps we will have to suffer for our communities to grow and thrive again.” He smiled. “I think so,” he said. “The Japanese community was strongest here when we first arrived during the war. We needed each other to survive. We were a community with a shared purpose.” I nodded along as I thought about the history of my own Mennonite community and about the church around the world. There certainly does seem to be a correlation between suffering and the strength of the church. And, of course, between comfort and weakness.
Nobody wants to suffer, of course. I certainly don’t. But there is an existential urgency that suffering often produces that easily withers and dies in contexts of comfort. Religion that was once understood as a response to the gaping wound at the heart of existence degenerates into a smattering of spiritual accoutrements to pretty up our private narratives. What was once a lifeline now becomes a product to consume. What once bound us to our neighbour in shared narratives of meaning and hope now becomes a status update. Ours is a context of comfort, certainly, but also a context quite conducive to the shriveling of souls. God help us. Literally.

Syndicated from Rumblings

When thoughtful christians begin to doubt

In my previous post (When sensitive and thoughtful people begin to doubt) I looked at 4 different sets of musicians who were christians earlier in their lives, but had struggled with faith since then. Now I want to share a few thoughts on how churches and parents might help their youth to be able to … Continue reading When thoughtful christians begin to doubt
Syndicated from the Way?

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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