Friday, June 27, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Obviously, there was some merit to Niebuhr’s attempt. His book has been accepted across a spectrum of traditions because the tent of what he considers “Christian” is wide. (Carson is not so generous.) However, by broadening his definition of “Christ” so much, Niebuhr unnecessarily (in Carson’s mind) expands the number of viable ways in which Christians can interact with culture.
For instance, the second model in Niebuhr’s paradigm is the “Christ of culture.” This category can generally be applied to the old liberals in America. They are the folks whose primary allegiance is to the culture and who trumpet the teachings of Jesus that parallel the values of the culture. Typically, they downplay “seams” in history—i.e. the fall, the resurrection, and the return of Christ. Carson wonders whether we can legitimately consider this type of “Christianity” genuinely Christian. He has a point.
Further, Carson notes that the historical examples that Niebuhr offers as following his categories don’t consistently follow his categories. This is a serious weakness of Niebuhr’s book. Almost everyone that I have seen interact with Niebuhr’s categories have picked and chosen elements from each. Carson rightly says that this is evidence that the categories are artificial and dependant upon circumstances.
Having shown the deficiencies in Niebuhr’s biblical theology, Carson outlines what the Bible says about God, man, creation, redemption, etc. The narrative is classic Carson—the typical stuff coming out of TEDS and prevalent in American evangelical churches. Carson says that it is from this starting point that we should investigate the relationship between (the real) Christ and culture.
Finally, Carson offers a series of parting shots at Niebuhr. First, he emphasizes that a well-developed biblical theology should influence our thinking about Christ and culture all of the time. Second, he points out that bifurcating ways in which Christ relates to culture is methodologically flawed (in the same way that bifurcating models of the atonement is errant). Instead, we should view Niebuhr’s models holistically and ask, “When is Christ against culture? When is Christ above culture? When are they in paradox?” Third, Carson notes that Christ and culture are not always mutually exclusive (I think this is a criticism of Niebuhr’s definition of “culture,” to which Carson will return in the future). Finally, Christ’s relationship to culture often depends upon historical circumstances.
Carson’s take on Christ and culture is very different than Niebuhr’s. Niebuhr sought to be more inclusive, which limited the extent to which he could talk about the relationship between Christ and culture. It may have even led him down paths that shouldn’t have been trodden. Carson sticks to what he believes and says, “Who cares about the liberals? How does the evangelical Christ relate to culture?” On the one hand, Carson’s model will be more helpful to me because he and I are on the same page on most doctrines. On the other hand, I disagree with how narrow he has defined Christianity. I would almost have preferred him to title this book The American Evangelical Christ and Culture.
I agree with Carson’s view of the “seams” in history, but I am not willing to say that everyone who deviates from Carson’s narrative is not a Christian. I think you can believe in sin without interpreting the fall like Carson does. I think belief in the resurrection and Trinity are non-negotiables, but I am not sure about substitutionary atonement. I think to be a Christian someone must believe that Jesus died for sins (whatever that might mean) and that He rose bodily from the dead. Christians also believe in the Trinity and that “faith” involves a conscious decision to follow/live like Christ. Obviously there is more to being a Christian that just that, but if we are talking sine qua non, that’s what I think it is.
In short, I think Carson’s net is too narrow, but since I’m in his net I’ll read what he has to say.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
In The Nature of Doctrine, George Lindbeck seeks to describe a method for "doing theology" in a postliberal age. His primary concern is ecumenicism. Is there any way that competing faiths can have meaningful dialogue in a pluralistic culture? To find out, he describes and critiques three ways of "doing theology," the pre-modern propositional model, the modern experiential-expressive model, and his own postmodern cultural-linguistic model. After showing why he thinks that the cultural-linguistic model is superior, he then moves to test whether it is applicable to modern ecumenical discussions.
Lindbeck starts by defining the different methods of "doing theology" have developed over time. In the pre-modern period, doctrine was propositional in nature. Doctrines spoke of reality and were packaged in propositions. I don't need to rehash the collapse of this method.
The modern way of "doing theology" is the experiential-expressive model. In this model, there is one true religion of which all world religions are only a shadow. Thus, none of the religions are "true," but they all have some "truth" to them. They all essentially say the same thing, just in different ways. Thus, the "doctrines" of a particular religion don't describe reality, but the particular religion's experience of reality. The problem of this view is that all religions are not saying the same thing. Often they are saying very different things, even when they address similar topics. Lindbeck points out that just because two religions both talk about "God" doesn't mean that they are saying the same thing about God. After all, the fact that there is a word for "God" both in English and Chinese does not make those two languages the same. By claiming that all religions agree, the modernist liberal sets himself over all of the religions in judgment of them. This is inappropriate.
Lindbeck prefers a model he calls cultural-linguistic. In this model, religions are like languages and cultures. They are not absolute, and they are not all saying the same thing. Just like a language is guided by rules of grammar (rules that don't apply in other languages), so also religions are guided by their doctrines. Similarly, cultures have mores that shape their cultural identity, so also religions have their doctrines that shape their identities.
There are some strengths and weaknesses to Lindbeck's ideas. First, Lindbeck is right to point out that doctrines aren't important merely for their propositions, but for their role in the life of faith. The doctrine "Jesus is Lord" has no meaning unless it affects my life--unless I live like He is Lord. The doctrine of spiritual presence in communion has no meaning outside of the religious significance it has when I partake. Doctrines become meaningful when they affect spiritual practice. In that sense, they are more like rules than propositions.
Second, his theory fits the reality in which we find ourselves. In that sense--it's practical. In my circles, we tend to think of doctrine as propositions about reality. Where does that get us in a post-Christian culture? If I walk up to a guy on the street and say, "Jesus is Lord," he's not going to say, "Thank you for telling me, I'll start serving him right away." He'll probably say something like, "That's fine and nice for you, but I'm not interested in your Lord." The fact that our culture sees doctrines as rules for a particular community (thus, "that' fine and nice for you"), suggests that we should learn to do the same to communicate to them.
Interestingly enough, in the last few pages of the book, Lindbeck asks the question of how relevant his ideas are to faiths that see "evangelism" as a primary element of their faith. (These faiths believe that their "rules" are applicable to those outside of the faith.) He writes about the difference between the way the catholic church (the early church, not the Roman Catholic Church) approached the pagans and the way the Gnostics approached them. The Gnostics "changed the rules" to make them more appealing to their pagan neighbors. The catholic church continued to teach their rules to those who lived by other rules. Lindbeck writes:
"Pagan converts to the catholic mainstream did not, for the most part, first understand the faith and then decide to become Christians; rather, the process was reversed: they first decided and then they understood. More precisely, they were first attracted by the Christian community and form of life. The reasons for attraction ranged from the noble to the ignoble and were as diverse as the individuals involved; but for whatever motives, they submitted themselves to prolonged catechetical instruction in which the practiced new modes of behavior and learned the stories of Israel and their fulfillment in Christ" (George Lindbeck, The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age [Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1984], 132).
I think Lindbeck is on to something. Regardless of how we see our doctrine (generally as universally valid propositions), the world sees them as rules relevant to us only. I think that this is okay. We should preach them as such. We have to face the fact that our culture is post-Christian and that we can't just say, "The Bible says such-and-such" and expect people to listen up. We have to impress them with our lives so that they choose to submit to the faith. Then the doctrines become relevant to them.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
I love the lyrics to the last song on the album, "Death and All His Friends." The last stanza is great. Chris Martin sings it in his falsetto voice supported by intense piano, drums, bass, and guitar--much like the "Give me love over this" refrain at the end of "Politik" on A Rush of Blood to the Head or the "Tears stream down your face when you lose something you can't replace" line at the end of "Fix You" on X & Y.
We got carried
Or way over on the rooftops just get merry
All summer we just hurry
So come over just be patient and don’t worry
So come over just be patient and don’t worry
And don’t worry…
No I don't want to battle from the year to end
I don't want to cycle and recycle revenge
I don't want to follow death and all of his friends...
Monday, June 16, 2008
That was the question posed to us by Kris Rocke of the Center for Transforming Mission, a subset of the Northwest Leadership Foundation (NLF). Kris was pointing out that you can be somewhere without actually being there. This was the theme of “The World Outside,” the most recent outreach experience at Believers Fellowship.
We are surrounded by hurting people. We see them every day. But do we really see them? Do we really know their stories? Are we really there for them? Or are they just extras in a story that is really about us?
On June 14th, Believers Fellowship went “out there” to NLF to learn more about how we can be present for the people around us both in Gig Harbor and in Tacoma. First, we loaded into a bus and toured East Tacoma, learning about the lives of the people who inhabit the most uninhabitable places in our city. We learned some of their stories and talked about the difference between caring for people and merely serving them.
Pastor Ron Vignec showed us life in East Tacoma
After the tour, we returned to NLF headquarters where Kris Rocke led us in a dialogue about the marginalized and how we can develop a healthy relationship with the city. Finally, Duncan Wilson from Sound Youth Counseling (SYC) told us a little about what they are doing for the city’s youth and how we can be a part of their ministry.
Kris Rocke warned us about putting "problems" before relationshipsThe consensus response to this experience was, “Wow.” I learned a lot from our friends at SYC and NLF, and I am excited about how our relationship with the city will develop in the future.
Last night we had the sixth worship service for Kainos, a group in my church for people 18–25. Johnny and I have started a new series called Owning the Faith, based on The Book of Galatians. Good stuff.
Last night we looked at Galatians 1:1–10 and introduced the topic of Owning the Faith. People 18–25 are leaving the church in droves. As soon as people leave home, it seems like they do one of three things: (1) they continue to believe everything that their parents told them, (2) they hold on to some of their parents’ beliefs but adapt their faith to “own” it themselves, or (3) they abandon the faith altogether.
The problem with option (1) is that if you uncritically accept everything your parents taught you, you will always associate Christianity with your parents. You will never grow up in your faith. Jesus will always make you feel like a kid. The problem with option (3) is that, well, it leads to a rough life. You may be more “self-empowered” by rejecting your parents’ faith, but you’re not better off. I think option (2) is the best way to go. Maintain what works for you, but make your faith your own. That’s the only way that your faith will be personally meaningful.
Galatians 1:1–10 (NET) reads:
From Paul, an apostle (not from men, nor by human agency, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from the dead) and all the brothers with me, to the churches of Galatia. Grace and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever! Amen.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are following a different gospel-- not that there really is another gospel, but there are some who are disturbing you and wanting to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we (or an angel from heaven) should preach a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be condemned to hell! As we have said before, and now I say again, if any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let him be condemned to hell! Am I now trying to gain the approval of people, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ!
Paul was accused of preaching a different Gospel depending on what was convenient to the audience (see 1 Cor 9:20). However, he adamantly denied that he did this, claiming that it wouldn’t make sense. There is only one Gospel! Why would he preach something he didn’t believe? That wouldn’t do anybody any good.
In the same way, it doesn’t do us any good to go along with a faith that we don’t really believe. We need to make our faith our own, so that Jesus is our Lord, that the mission of God is our mission, that the community of faith is our community.
Why are so many young people walking away from the church? What are some of the major obstacles to “owning” the faith of our parents?
Thursday, June 12, 2008
D.A. Carson is a research professor of New Testament at TEDS in Illinois. He is also the champion of conservative American evangelicalism.
I confess, I am not an early adopter of technology. I usually wait until things catch on and I can get them for cheap. I did, however, try VOIP when I was in college, and found it to be too laggy and distorted to be useful. I filed it away under "cool ideas that will never be practical." I would rather pay for a good phone conversation than get a messed up one for free.
However, I tried Skype again yesterday--seven or so years after my first experiment with VOIP. They have made some huge progress! There was no lag, the sound was crystal clear, the UI was great, and (best of all) it can run in the background while you play Starcraft without causing the game to lag. The computer headset was $12 at Target.
I gave my friend Aaron Spikes a call on Skype yesterday while we played Starcraft--we were able to talk while we played. This is huge for us because I am a slow typer, so in-game communication between us has previously been strained. This will certainly lead to more battle.net victories. Thank you Skype.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Monday, June 9, 2008
N.T. Wright reminds us of the importance of the traditional forms of Christianity as they relate to resurrection. With regard to the redemption of space, he says that too many people have discounted the value of "holy places," i.e. churches. While he sees the wisdom in avoiding undue worship directed at "holy places," he says that there is something valuable in feeling that church is a place where one is on holy ground. (N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church [New York: HarperOne, 2008], 260.) But redemption extends beyond just space to encompass time as well. To this, Wright warns us not to discriminate against those who have gone before us. Honoring tradition respects God's redemption of time--that we are all part of God's story. (261) Finally, redemption affects matter itself. To this, Wright speaks of the importance of the sacraments of eucharist and baptism. In these sacraments, heaven and earth intersect in the realm of matter. (262) Wright says that the sacraments describe heaven in ways that language can't. He writes, "Remember the ballerina who, asked to say what a particular dance meant, replied, 'If I could have said it, I wouldn't have needed to dance it.'" (263)
In addition to it's effect on time, space, and matter, the resurrection also affects the mission of the church. Wright says that the mission of the church should be to be the "already but not yet" to the world. He writes:
"The world of space, time, and matter is a place where real people live, where real communities happen, where difficult decisions are taken, where schools and hospitals bear witness to the 'now, already' of the gospel while police and prisons bear witness to the 'not yet.' The world of space, time, and matter is where parliaments, city councils, neighborhood watch groups, and everything in between are set up and run for the benefit of the wider community, the community where anarchy means that bullies (economic or social as well as physical) will always win, where the weak and vulnerable will always need protecting, and where therefore the social and political structures of society are part of the Creator's design." (265)
Finally, Wright says that the resurrection gives new meaning to personal holiness. In order for the church to bring heaven to earth, heaven has to break into the lives of the individuals of the church. Thus holy living is motivated by our future hope. He writes:
"The point of 1 Corinthians 13 is that love is not our duty; it is our destiny. It is the language Jesus spoke, and we are called to speak it so that we can converse with him. It is the food they eat in God's new world, and we must acquire the taste for it here and now. It is the music God has written for all his creatures to sing, and we are called to learn it and practice it now so as to be ready when the conductor brings down his baton. It is the resurrection life, and the resurrected Jesus calls us to begin living it with him and for him right now. Love is at the very heart of the surprise of hope: people who truly hope as the resurrection encourages us to hope will be people enabled to love in a new way. Conversely, people who are living by this rule of love will be people who are learning more deeply how to hope." (288)
In Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church, N.T. Wright makes scholarship practical. This is the thing I love about him--he has one of the sharpest minds in New Testament scholarship, but his heart is in the church.
The church in America seems split into two camps, represented by "Pastor Gospelman" and "Reverend Smoothtongue" in the appendix to Surprised by Hope. Many, like Gospelman, focus on the "truth" of the resurrection and all of the theology that this entails. "Because Jesus is raised," they say, "we are going to heaven when we die." Others, like Smoothtongue, belittle to Scriptures as antiquated and irrelevant, and focus instead on the moral clean-up of society. "What really matters," they say, "is that Jesus is resurrected in our hearts and in society." I've been looking for some middle ground for a long time. I'm conservative like the fundamentalists, but I think the church needs to get out there into the culture to "bring heaven to earth," as Wright says. Hopefully there will be movement in America--one that takes the historic doctrines of the faith seriously, but one that isn't afraid to put legs on their faith to make a difference.
Friday, June 6, 2008
I realize that this now makes 4 negative posts about Todd Bentley this month on Awaiting Redemption. I really don't have an axe to grind against the guy, I am just finding a lot of good stuff on him.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
A prayer of David.
LORD, consider my just cause!
Pay attention to my cry for help!
Listen to the prayer
I sincerely offer!
2 Make a just decision on my behalf!
Decide what is right!
3 You have scrutinized my inner motives;
you have examined me during the night.
You have carefully evaluated me, but you find no sin.
I am determined I will say nothing sinful.
4 As for the actions of people--
just as you have commanded,
I have not followed in the footsteps of violent men.
5 I carefully obey your commands;
I do not deviate from them.
6 I call to you for you will answer me, O God.
Listen to me!
Hear what I say!
7 Accomplish awesome, faithful deeds,
you who powerfully deliver those who look to you for protection from their enemies.
8 Protect me as you would protect the pupil of your eye!
Hide me in the shadow of your wings!
9 Protect me from the wicked men who attack me,
my enemies who crowd around me for the kill.
10 They are calloused;
they speak arrogantly.
11 They attack me, now they surround me;
they intend to throw me to the ground.
12 He is like a lion that wants to tear its prey to bits,
like a young lion crouching in hidden places.
13 Rise up, LORD!
Confront him! Knock him down!
Use your sword to rescue me from the wicked man!
14 LORD, use your power to deliver me from these murderers,
from the murderers of this world!
They enjoy prosperity;
you overwhelm them with the riches they desire.
They have many children,
and leave their wealth to their offspring.
15 As for me, because I am innocent I will see your face;
when I awake you will reveal yourself to me.
I can't see how people believe in the prosperity Gospel when they read psalms like this. Often, it is the wicked who prosper in life. We know that this shouldn't be the case, but more often than not, it is.
This is an intense psalm. Throughout, the psalmist seems like he is almost pleading with God to act on his behalf. When I was little and I wanted my parents to do something, I would rattle off a whole list of reasons why I deserved them to do whatever it is I wanted them to do. This psalm almost seems like that. The psalmist is saying to God, "I am holding up my end of the bargain. I am living a righteous life. Why are these guys tearing me down? Take them out, God!"
I know I have had feelings like this before. When you are in the ministry (or in any service profession), it is easy to feel like life should be better for you. Even though I don't do what I do because I want God to make me comfotable, it's nice to know that God isn't threatened when people speak out honestly and ask Him, "What's the deal?"
"Father, You have been good to me. I thank You again for caring about my needs. I thank You for desiring to hear what is on my heart. I pray that when I get disatisfied in life that I would turn to you instead of acting out in anger. I confess that Your ways are the ways of life. Amen."
I haven't watched hockey in years, and I haven't watched the Penguins since I moved to Dallas (I followed the Stars there). I like the 2008 Penguins better than the Jagr era Penguins. These Penguins play defense. They're feisty. They aren't afraid to put a body on someone or play "dump and chase" hockey. The late 90s Penguins were all about getting Jagr in an odd-man rush--exciting, but you lost a lot of games that way (especially in the playoffs to teams with good goaltending). When the Penguins did not win the Stanley Cup in 2001 with Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Alexi Kovalev, Martin Straka, Robert Lang, Jan Hrdina, and Kevin Stevens on offense, I figured it was never going to happen. You gotta play defense and you gotta have goaltending. It looks like the new Penguins have both of those, with some offensive superstars to boot.
If hockey is on TV next year, maybe I'll watch.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
A prayer of David.
Protect me, O God, for I have taken shelter in you.
2 I say to the LORD, "You are the sovereign Master,
my only source of well-being."
3 As for God's chosen people who are in the land,
and the leading officials I admired so much--
4 their troubles multiply,
they desire other gods.
I will not pour out drink offerings of blood to their gods,
nor will I make vows in the name of their gods.
5 LORD, you give me stability and prosperity;
you make my future secure.
6 It is as if I have been given fertile fields or received a beautiful tract of land.
7 I will praise the LORD who guides me;
yes, during the night I reflect and learn.
8 I constantly trust in the LORD;
because he is at my right hand, I will not be upended.
9 So my heart rejoices
and I am happy;
My life is safe.
10 You will not abandon me to Sheol;
you will not allow your faithful follower to see the Pit.
11 You lead me in the path of life;
I experience absolute joy in your presence;
you always give me sheer delight.
This Psalm beautifully expresses the goodness of the Lord. I love verse 6, rendered by the NIV, "The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance." It's a great picture of God's sovereign control over simple, everyday things like how property is divided. God is good, and we can't complain.
The other side of this Psalm is that those who desire other gods multiply their troubles. True.
"Father, I thank You for the way You have watched over me. I don't give You enough credit for Your goodness. Amen."
This is a great post. Mike is an excellent writer and he has me rivited to find out more about what goes on at Bentley's meetings.
Before I read this post, I laughed Bentley off as some kind of a kook. But now I am kind of mad at him as a truly bad person.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
A psalm of David.
LORD, who may be a guest in your home?
Who may live on your holy hill?
2 Whoever lives a blameless life,
does what is right,
and speaks honestly.
3 He does not slander,
or do harm to others,
or insult his neighbor.
4 He despises a reprobate,
but honors the LORD's loyal followers.
He makes firm commitments and does not renege on his promise.
5 He does not charge interest when he lends his money.
He does not take bribes to testify against the innocent.
The one who lives like this will never be upended.
This Psalm is more or less a catalogue of virtues for those who claim to follow God. Verse 2 seems to emphasize justice. Verse 3 says that the righteous person won't harm his or her neighbor. Verse 4 speaks of loyalty--the righteous person is loyal to his or her word and to those who are loyal to God. He or she wants nothing to do with those who are disloyal to God. Verse 5 speaks against greed, either in charging interest or in taking bribes. Maybe we could say that the God-fearing person is just, benevolent, loyal, and content.
"Father I pray that You would make me the kind of man that this Psalm extols. I pray that you would open my eyes to the injustice around me--that I would not be a participant in it and that I would speak out against it. I pray that you would make me compassionate--that I would be kind and generous to those who don't deserve it, even to those who wish me ill-will or who have harmed me. I pray that I would be true to You and to my word. I don't want to be one of those men who compromises what he holds dear because of fear or potential for gain. Finally, I pray that I would be content with what I have. I pray that you would direct my eyes toward those who have less than me rather than toward those who have more. You have given me so much, and I confess that I have not been grateful. Father I look forward to the day when we can say 'The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.' I pray that until then I would be faithful in bringing heaven to earth by being just, benevolent, loyal, and content. Amen."
If you don't know who Bentley is, The Boar's Head Tavern has a number of videos on their site (linked to YouTube). He's a faith healer in Florida, I think. He's raised 13 people from the dead! Props to brother Todd--that's more than Jesus himself!
Wright argues from the Gospels, Acts, and Paul that the message of the kingdom of God is "Jesus is Lord and Caesar [or, insert world ruler here] is not." Wright writes:
"The resurrection is not an isolated supernatural oddity proving how powerful, if apparently arbitrary, God can be when he wants to. Nor is it at all a way of showing that there is indeed a heaven waiting for us after death. It is the decisive event demonstrating that God's kingdom really has been launched on earth as it is in heaven." (N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church [New York: HarperOne, 2008], 234.)
The obvious objection to this is, "If Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not, why does Caesar seem to have all of the power?" Wright answers:
"The difference between the kingdoms of the world and the kingdom of God lies exactly in this, that the kingdom of God comes through the death and resurrection of his Son, not through naked displays of brute force or wealth." (245)
This leads one naturally to ask the question, what does Jesus's reign look like, if not brute force and wealth? Wright writes:
"The revolutionary new world, which began in the resurrection of Jesus--the world where Jesus reigns as Lord, having won the victory over sin and death--has its frontline outposts in those who in baptism have shared in his death and resurrection. The intermediate stage between the resurrection of Jesus and the renewal of the whole world is the renewal of human beings--you and me!--in our own lives of obedience here and now." (249)
"Heaven and earth, I repeat, are made for each other, and at certain points they intersect and interlock. Jesus is the ultimate such point. We as Christians are meant to be such points, derived from him. The Spirit, the sacraments, and the scriptures are given so that the double life of Jesus, both heavenly and earthly, can become ours as well, already in the present." (252)
I think Wright perfectly articulates what is going on in the church. God is renewing the world, and He is doing so by renewing individuals. I think Paul's language of the Holy Spirit being a "downpayment" of the world to come means that the Spirit's work in the community of faith is the world becoming "on earth as it is in heaven."
I started this blog to explore what effect "already/not yet" theology would have on Christian living and the mission of the church, and I think Wright has perfectly articulated a lot of this in Surprised by Hope.
What are some things that the church in America can do to make our communities "on earth as it is in heaven"?
Monday, June 2, 2008
For the music director; by David.
Fools say to themselves, "There is no God."
They sin and commit evil deeds;
none of them does what is right.
2 The LORD looks down from heaven at the human race,
to see if there is anyone who is wise and seeks God.
3 Everyone rejects God;
they are all morally corrupt.
None of them does what is right, not even one!
4 All those who behave wickedly do not understand--
those who devour my people as if they were eating bread,
and do not call out to the LORD.
5 They are absolutely terrified,
for God defends the godly.
6 You want to humiliate the oppressed,
even though the LORD is their shelter.
7 I wish the deliverance of Israel would come from Zion!
When the LORD restores the well-being of his people,
may Jacob rejoice,
may Israel be happy!
I love the NET note on the first line, "Fools say to themselves, 'There is no God.'" It says that this is probably not philosophical assertion, but a moral one. Fools live like there is no God.
This raises a good question for me. You claim to believe in God, but do you live like you believe in God. This psalm is not talking about philosophy, it is talking about ethics. How often do I live as though there is no God of justice? Too often.
"Father, I confess that Your heart is with the needy and disenfranchised. I confess that I have often been a contributer to a system that worsens their lot in life. I don't want to be a part of such a system any more. I pray that You will show me a new way--the way of Christ, the way that confronts the Empire with a radically counter-cultural initiative. I want to be a peacemaker. I want to hunger and thirst for justice. I want to show mercy. Teach me how to live justly in suburban America. Amen."