Category: Systematics

Podcast: Dear Greg: Does God Accommodate, or is God Simply Powerless?

Greg wrestles with a really tough tragedy and offers theological insight.
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Syndicated from Greg Boyd – ReKnew

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Season After Pentecost (Proper 10[15]) – The Psalm Passage: The psalmist’s preaching style

“The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it; for he has founded it on the seas, and established it on the rivers.” (Psalms 24:1)
It’s one of those times, beloved reader, that I am having a hard time settling my soul and spirit to comment on the Psalm passage. How I wish I had the psalmist calm spirit right. But my soul and spirit are roiled and riled by the cares and concerns of the day. And yet . . . . and yet, the notion that the earth & world, and all that is in it is founded and established on water calms me. The sea and the ocean calm me; flowing rivers, whether fast or slow, calms me. And I am calmed and readied to hear the psalmist’s words.
“Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? Those who have clean hands and pure hearts, who do not lift up their souls to what is false, and do not swear deceitfully. They will receive blessing from the LORD, and vindication from the God of their salvation. Such is the company of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah” (Verses 2 – 6)
I am glad the psalmist did not say “those who are calm and at peace”! That would sometimes disqualify me. But even in my riled and roiled state my hands are clean (if not dear Lord, cleanse my hands) and my heart is pure (if not dear Lord, purify my heart). And my soul does not cling to that which is false (if that is so dear Lord fasten my soul more closely to you), and my spirit does not swear (that I am sure I do not do!). So maybe I will receive a blessing from the Lord as I seek the face of the “God of Jacob”. Amen!
“Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in. Who is the King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle.” (Verses 7 – 8)
This where I might part from the psalmist, where he praises the Lord who is mighty in battle, for I am not one who lauds battle might. However . . . . it is also occurred to me that this Lord God who is “mighty in battle”vies against the evil that too often threatens to overcome the world. And that is the stories of compassion and caring that are the victories in that battle. The thought comforts and appeals to me.
“Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah” (Verses 9 – 10)
May you, beloved reader, find the comfort and care you need in the Lord God who defends us from all that may assail and over come us. Selah!

Syndicated from Pondering From the Pacific

There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy

Another Way for week of June 29, 2018 Thoughts on Mercy It’s a song I’ve sung most of my life at church. As so often happens, I often do not really pay that much attention to the words. We enjoy the tunes and the sound but so often are minds are not open or connecting […]
Syndicated from findingharmonyblog

666 | S1 E8 (EP-8)

Subscribe via iTunes or Google Season 1, Episode 8 (Spring Season, 2018) In this episode, Kurt explores the mysterious and infamous number in the bible: 666. It is the topic of horror films and turn-or-burn preachers alike. But what did it mean in the first century? What significance does it have for us today or in the future? Time to get our so-called anti-christ conversation on... hurry, assemble the Tribulation Force! 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 $3 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

1 Dragon and 2 Beasts | S1 E7 (EP-7)

Subscribe via iTunes or Google Season 1, Episode 7 (Spring Season, 2018) In this episode, Kurt continues to look at Revelation in broad sweeps. Specifically, he looks at the 'dragon' (devil) and the two 'beasts' who show up in popular conversation about Revelation. Who are they for John and his audience? You might be surprised that the beasts are likely not some future deceivers.  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 $3 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

How the Bible Sounds in Occupied Territory

One more reflection based on my time spent in Palestine and Israel over the past few weeks. After this, I shall endeavour to give this “blogging sabbatical” thing another, better, try.
 ——
It’s an interesting thing how geography and social location affects the way you read and hear Scripture. Most Sundays, I am reading and hearing Scripture as a relatively comfortable, white, middle-class Christian in a more or less peaceful country where religion often occupies a peripheral (at best) role in most people’s thinking and living. This affects how I read and hear the words of the Bible. My default, whether I want this or not, tends to be to listen in ways that will more or less endorse and validate myself and those who are like me. This is, as I said, most Sundays. Last Sunday, however, I worshiped in Palestine.
It was a tiny little Lutheran church where we gathered in Beit Sahour, just outside Bethlehem. It was a mixture of Palestinian Christians and foreigners who happened to be lingering around the town of Jesus’ birth. The liturgical forms in the service were familiar enough, even if the language wasn’t. But they had transliterated the readings and prayers and it was possible, with a bit of effort, to follow along. The Scripture readings were done in both Arabic and English. And given what we had seen and heard in the previous week about how the Israeli occupation was affecting our Palestinian sisters and brothers, the readings sounded, well, different.
Psalm 35:1-10
We began the service by responsively reading from this Psalm. I am used to reading psalms like this through the lens of either the ancient Israelites or the suffering church. But it was impossible, in this place, to not hear through the ears of those who presently find themselves on the wrong end of the score in the Holy Land—those who are harassed and harried by teenage soldiers wielding automatic weapons, those who endure endless checkpoints and discriminatory policies restricting where they can go and when and how, those who are increasingly sequestered into urban ghettos by legislation that seems cruelly crafted to drive them from their farms and their land.

Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me!
Take hold of shield and buckler, and rise up to help me!
[S]ay to my soul, “I am your salvation…”
For without cause they hid their net for me; without cause they dug a pit for my life. Let ruin come on them unawares. And let the net that they hid ensnare them; let them fall in it—to their ruin.
Then my soul shall rejoice in the Lord, exulting in his deliverance. All my bones shall say, “O Lord, who is like you? You deliver the weak from those too strong for them, the weak and needy from those who despoil them.”

I don’t really have anyone contending with me in Canada, no real need for a shield or buckler. But my sisters and brothers from Beit Sahour do. They long for a strong arm of deliverance from those too strong for them.
It is grimly ironic that those who see themselves as descended from the same David who penned this Psalm, those who were once the weak that needed rescue from those who despoiled them, are now the ones that Palestinian Christians are praying for deliverance from.
Luke 16:19-31
The rich man and Lazarus… One enjoyed the best things in life while the other experienced only suffering and deprivation. Both die. The rich man ends up in torment in Hades and cries out to Father Abraham, with Lazarus by his side, saying, “Please, just a drop of water for my agony!” Father Abraham says, “Well, you’ve had your good things, haven’t you? You’ve been on the right end of the score for quite some time, and now the tables are turned.”
Father Abraham.
It must be such a complicated thing for Palestinian Christians to reckon with the word “Israel” in their Scriptures. But here, Father Abraham, patriarch of the nation, speaks a word of hope to them, to those who endure water shortages and intermittent electricity in the blistering heat of summer, to those who look over the (large and imposing) fence and see their Israeli neighbours with unlimited access to water and gleaming shopping malls and newly paved freeways (that Palestinians can’t use)…
Father Abraham says, “Comfort is coming, even across this vast chasm.”
1 John 4:15-21
God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.
This land is often called “holy.” Everywhere you go, it seems, something holy happened once upon a time. This is the place where Abraham died or where David did this or that or where Rachel is buried or where Jesus was born or where Muhammad went on his night journey. This is where God has apparently done a great many special things for a great many special people in a great many holy books. But what makes a land “holy?” What makes it matter to God? How would we ever know?
According to 1 John, it would seem rather simple. A land is “holy” because of the presence of love and unholy where this love is absent. God abides in those who love. And, presumably, takes his leave of those who persist in enmity and strife and all manner of unlove. God has little interest in this or that chunk of dirt where this or that thing happened in this or that holy book—at least not when it isn’t accompanied by love.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.  We love because he first loved us.  Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.

Like I said, the bible sounds different in occupied territory.
——
I took the picture above at Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem. The man in this picture is the father of the boy in the poster below the UN sign. It is his thirteen year old son who was shot and killed by an Israeli soldier in that exact location. The father now spends most of his days volunteering at the UN center for his refugee camp.

Syndicated from Rumblings

BGWG 14: Farewell

Ebony and Steve return for one more episode of Black Gal, White Guy to say farewell to the show as they move on to focus on other things. Some of the topics include:

Steve’s recommendation: the podcast VS. (1:38)
Ebony’s recommendation: Emergent Strategy by Adrienne Maree Brown (3:55)
Ebony and the Kinky Curly Theological Collective (8:20)
Steve and Village of Hope leaving Portland (14:45)
Ebony’s concerns (23:55)
Steve giving space for other voices (27:50)
Ebony’s parting words for listeners (31:25)
Steve’s parting words for listeners (35:15)

Note: they did actually record this a while ago and I (Ryan, the editor and distributor) did not realize it until recently – I had stopped regularly checking after they told me they were wrapping up, so I didn’t realize they had recorded one more episode a few weeks later. Oops.

http://media.blubrry.com/mennonerds_audio/p/podcasts.mennonerds.com/BGWG14-Farewell.mp3Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | Email | Google Play | Stitcher | TuneIn | RSS

Pray For Me, St. Joseph

Joseph greets me with a smile and warm handshake before serving me breakfast every morning in Bethlehem. I met Joseph two years ago during my first trip to Israel and Palestine and it has been a delight to reconnect with him this week. Joseph is a Palestinian Christian and is always willing to share about his life and story. The one memory of him that stood out in 2016 was of him telling me about the hotel being shut down and commandeered by the Israeli army during one of the uprisings of the early 2000’s. For forty days, the top floor was used for army surveillance and sniper locations. Joseph was conscripted to prepare food for the army and not permitted to leave for the entire time they were there. 
This week, thanks mostly to my wife’s curiosity, I’ve learned a bit more of Joseph’s story. His family comes from the area around what is now called Tel Aviv. In 1948, when the state of Israel came into being, they were forced from to flee as refugees and found their way to Bethlehem. He and his family were given a tent and much later a one room structure in a UN refugee camp. They assumed that it would be a temporary move—that they would be allowed to return home once the conflicts settled down. Seventy years later, Joseph and his family still live in that same UN refugee camp. The camp has grown swelled and bloated over the years as many more refugees have had to leave their home and now is a congested urban jungle numbering over fifteen thousand souls squeezed into one square kilometer.
 I asked Joseph about his family. He has four children, two sons and two daughters. The oldest two have recently completed university, one becoming a lawyer, the other an x-ray technician. I wondered how on earth Joseph managed to put two kids through university given what I knew of his situation. So I asked. He smiled and paused before saying, “Well, I managed.” He told us that he would go to England once a year loaded down with olive wood products from Bethlehem. For thirty days he would set up outside churches selling woodcarvings and cooking food and collecting donations outside churches. He did this every year for the years when his kids were studying. He did this so that his kids could afford not only the exorbitant costs of tuition, but also the costs of transportation to get to and from Jerusalem each day, which is always a time consuming and expensive task for any Palestinian.
And so it went. Joseph would sell and cook and sell and cook and work, all the while doing without himself. He has no car, relying only “these size 42s to get around the city.” He has a larger house in the refugee camp now, but only because he spent years working himself into the ground so that his kids wouldn’t have to sleep “under the bed” in the one room house they were allotted. Additionally, Joseph would take time each year during the Muslim holiday of Ramadan to collect beans, rice, noodles, and other things for forty-five of the neediest families in the UN refugee camp where he lived. He still does this. I do not detect even a hint of pride in Joseph as he tells this story. A barely concealed anger, perhaps, but not pride. He is not special. Others are doing the same as him. It is what must be done given the conditions they must live in as Palestinians.
Joseph moves to clear a plate. He looks at the food remaining on it and says, “I don’t like to see food wasted. We never waste food here. If there is any left, I bring it home and give it to someone who needs it. Food is a gift from God and it is a sin to waste it.”
 As I take my leave, Joseph wishes me a good day in the Holy Land. “Don’t worry about my story, just enjoy yourself here,” he says. But I wonder if that would be a sin on par with leaving food on the breakfast plate he has prepared for me. Can I share your story, I ask. “Of course,” Joseph says. “I have nothing to hide. I want people to know the truth.” I thank him and head out into a Bethlehem day.
Pray for me, St. Joseph.
——
The image above is of the city of Bethlehem, taken from the restaurant where Joseph serves us each day. On the first day we were here, I stood with Jospeh looking out over the city and said, “It’s quite a view.” Jospeh shrugged his shoulders and said, “Not for me.” 

Syndicated from Rumblings

Somewhere to Be

I know I’m technically on a “blogging sabbatical,” but I decided to interrupt it to offer a few reflections and observations on a trip I’m presently on to Israel and Palestine. One of the things we consistently hear wherever we go in this conflicted area is, “Tell others what you have seen and heard with your own eyes and ears.” It’s a serious call, and one that I feel an obligation to respond to given the privilege that I have of being here. Here are some assorted stories and reflections from my first few days here.
At 5:30 yesterday morning we made our way to the main checkpoint that Palestinians must take to get from Bethlehem to Jerusalem. We were coming a bit later in the morning—most Palestians (men, mainly) arrive before 4:00 am in order to ensure that they can get through in time to get to work on the other side by 7:00 or so. After a briefing from a few humanitarian monitors of the checkpoint, we proceeded through a labyrinth of cages and turnstiles and barbed wire and metal detectors and soldiers. We wanted to get a sense of what it was like to be a Palestinian for whom this is a daily reality.
But of course we only got a tiny sense of what it was actually like. It was far emptier than earlier in the morning. We got to sleep in until 5:00 am to get there rather than waking as early as 1:00 am to travel from surrounding villages to arrive at the checkpoint by 4:00. We had no need to consider if our employer would be waiting for us on other side, no cause to worry about a medical appointment we might miss, no anxiety about whether we might be turned back once we finally got to the Israeli soldiers, often for reasons as simple as expired paperwork or the fact that there were reports of someone in our village who threw a stone at an Israeli vehicle. Or less. We didn’t have a hard day of labour in the hot sun to look ahead to once we made it through the lineup (which can take anywhere from half an hour to two hours, depending on how many metal detectors they decide to open at any given point of the day). We didn’t have any anxiety about whether we’d even have a job waiting for us on the other side nor did we have to struggle with the grim irony that surely must accompany the common reality of Palestinian day labourers building helping to build Jewish settlements on what is supposed to be their land. We didn’t have to think about doing it all over again tomorrow morning. And the morning after that. And the morning after that… We got through with barely a disinterested glance at our passports and made our way back to the hotel for hot coffee and breakfast.
At one point when we were walking along the long walkway that felt like a livestock chute, an older Palestinian man said to me, “Welcome to our checkpoint, what do you think?” I shook my head and mumbled something like, “I don’t quite know what to say when I see something like this… What do you think?” He just smiled and said, “Every day,” before hurrying off past me. I suppose he had somewhere to be.
We spent part of Sunday touring through the Old City of Jerusalem. At one point, my wife and I wandered down from the Al Aqsa mosque toward a lookout point that faces over toward the Kidron Valley and the Mount of Olives. There was a structure there and I offhandedly asked the guy beside me if he knew what it was. He proceeded to summon his Holy Land tour leader to come over and answer my question. What followed was some interesting theology.
“Well, you see, this is the East Gate but the Muslims have walled it off and built a cemetery on the other side… And of course we know that when Jesus returns he will touch down on the Mount of Olives and make his way over here to institute the new temple… But he can’t set foot in the Muslim cemetery, of course (of course?)… Luckily, it was recently discovered that there was a fault line on top of the Mount of Olives… And of course (of course?) we know that this fault line is designed by God to literally split the earth in half and pave the way for Jesus to triumphantly reenter Jerusalem. My face must have looked rather blank as I pondered this image of king Jesus parachuting down from heaven onto the Mount of Olives to be ushered via earthquake through the remains of a Muslim cemetery to reestablish a Jewish temple. An interesting eschatological path to take for the Prince of Peace. Jesus, too, apparently, has somewhere to be.
As I reflected upon these two experiences, I wondered what might happen if the Holy Land tour guide I met would walk through an Israeli checkpoint. I wonder if he might get a glimpse into the grinding, soul-crushing daily reality that his theological fervour feeds into for ordinary human beings. Would he pause to wonder if his need for the nation state of Israel and Jerusalem in particular to be a staging ground for his particular version of eschatological pyrotechnics legitimates the kind of struggle and suffering for ordinary people that is obvious at the checkpoint? Would he soften his position in any way? Would he think twice before mapping out Jesus’ triumphant (and violent) return to Jerusalem for eager tourists every day? Or would he only see tens of thousands of potential terrorists being daily herded like cattle through a maze of steel and barbed wire?
I don’t know the answer to these questions. Obviously. I don’t know the answer to very many questions when it comes to this part of the world. But I do know that if this land is ever going to turn into somewhere to be for both Jews and Palestinians, it is going to require a determination to imagine things from the perspective of the other and to at least try to see a human being where it’s so easy to see only an enemy. It’s going to require Jesus-y things like forgiving what seems impossible to forgive, in turning cheeks that have been stung too many times with violence. It’s going to require walking miles that we have little interest in walking to places we would rather not go because we’re convinced that there has to a better future around the bend.

Syndicated from Rumblings

How a deep and growing divide is killing Protestant christianity – or maybe renewing it!

Right from the earliest days, there have always been disagreements within the christian community. Some are resolved, but some lead to major splits, new denominations or new doctrinal positions. I have the feeling that a major, and probably irreversible, divergence is brewing in the western Protestant church, between those we may label “evangelical” and those … Continue reading How a deep and growing divide is killing Protestant christianity – or maybe renewing it!
Syndicated from the Way?

Lowercase gods, 7 Churches, & Worship | S1 E6 (EP-6)

Subscribe via iTunes or Google Season 1, Episode 6 (Spring Season, 2018) In this episode, Kurt Willems explores the imperial cult, the gods of the Roman Empire, and how they influence the 7 cities in Revelation. The followers of Jesus have to navigate how to give the slaughtered Lamb their full allegiance, when the forces around them seek to take captive their imaginations. Worship anchors them either in the ideology of Rome or in the way of Jesus. 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 $3 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

Resistance and Hope in Revelation | S1 E5 (EP-5)

Subscribe via iTunes or Google Season 1, Episode 5 (Spring Season, 2018) In this episode, Kurt Willems looks at Revelation through its broad themes and genre. It is apocalyptic literature and must be read as such. It is a book of resistance and hope in the midst of oppression. Civil religion wants our imagination; this allegiance of the mind belong only to the Slaughtered Lamb. 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 $3 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

Cosmic Signs Don’t Signal a Rapture (Next Week’s Prediction by David Meade)

I thought you might want to know that the rapture is set to occur on April 23rd. According to Christian Numerologist David Meade, we all need to be ready. <<<By the way, this reflection is based on podcast episode #4 from, Rapture Drill: Reframing Revelation, the End Times, & Our Weird Obsession with the Apocalypse.>>> Planet […]

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Syndicated from the Pangea Blog

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