'It pains our hearts to know that a person of this calibre is being held captive. We care about his freedom more than we do our own. If you love Allah, if you have goodness in your heart, please deal with this matter as righteous Muslims and not let these kind, caring, compassionate and innocent people suffer. Prophet Mohammad, Peace be Upon Him, said, if you do not thank the people, you do not thank Allah." The Prophet, Peace be Upon Him, also said, "If someone did a favour to you, try to return his favour." We hope and pray to see these captives freed as much as we hope and pray for our own freedom here in Canada, a freedom for which James Loney has worked so hard.'Muslim scholars and activists from around the world, including leaders of Hamas and Hizbollah groups, continue to appeal for the hostages' release. Read more...
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Technorati Tags: CPT+hostages, Christian+Peacemaker+Teams
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
...we ask the kidnappers to release those hostages in order for them to go back and stand by the side of justice and peace, and by the side of the persecuted nations, notwithstanding the actions of their governments who are directly responsible for all the violence in the region.
Technorati Tags: CPT+hostages, Christian+Peacemaker+Teams
Monday, December 05, 2005
Monday, December 05, 2005
Friday, December 02, 2005
The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is written in Isaiah the prophet: "I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way" — "a voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.' "And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.There are 2 things about this that I think would have been striking to the first readers/hearers. Firstly, John calls Jews to repent. Elsewhere he reasons that if the LORD wanted to, He could raise up 'children of Abraham' from the rocks. But John is actually asking them to go through a baptism of repentance; to become, in effect, the people of God! No wonder he aroused so much antagonism! Jewish proselyte baptism was well-known at this time, as were a number of Jewish ceremonial washings. (It's nonsense when people try to reason that John's baptism came out of nowhere.) The idea for these probably came from Israel's exodus from Egypt, through the water. In that act - and the gathering together to receive the law that followed - the Jewish nation was constituted as God's covenant people. Thus, when converts were baptised they were plugging into the story and joining the people that God had rescued from captivity. Incidentally, this process for a convert was described as being 'born-again.' Again, it's nonsense when we think that Nicodemus (John 3) genuinely didn't know what Jesus was talking about. That's why Jesus calls his bluff like he does. The second thing to note is that John's re-constituting of the people in the light of God's deliverance is somehow related to 'the gospel.' Read more...
Thursday, December 01, 2005
"What I do today is important because I am paying a day of my life for it. What I accomplish must be worthwhile because the price is high."I can well imagine Paul prefacing that with, "This is a true saying, worthy of full acceptance." Secondly, the question. I'll admit up-front that this is partly inspired by all of the fuss recently over homosexuality. It seems that I am extremely naive in thinking that it's possible for folks a) to discuss contentious topics in a civil manner and b) discuss such topics without feeling the need to pick a side and fight for that side. So, that being said, here's my question:
Are blogs bad for dialogue?I'm beginning to think - and it's only taken 3 years! - that blogging is a form of false promise. It holds out the appearance of interaction and dialogue, community and mutual edification. But in reality (or at least, this has been the experience of my reality these last years), those things are almost the exceptions that prove the rule. Is it just me, or do blogs not provoke people to argue? Is it possible to read/write a blog post without at least someone saying, "Well, you're clearly wrong and here's why..."? And when that doesn't happen, those of us who do blog are so ready for it that we end up assuming that people are arguing when they're not - and we thereby end up starting an argument! I feel fortunate, because the fact is that I don't really think of this place as my blog. This is simply 1 page in the site as a whole. Evenso, as someone who is eager to learn from others and share knowledge, experience and perspective, I am disappointed with how often what I really end up with is debate and an argument for arguments sake. If all I (or we) are doing is giving a platform for folks who like to get their 2 cents in, what's the point? Where's the value in all of this if it's not helping you or I follow Jesus in the real world? Blogging: Is it worth it? What's your experience been? Is there enough good out there to make it worthwhile wading through all of the crap?
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Monday, November 28, 2005
Mother of all, God birthed Creation and set humanity the task of magnifying His image and likeness across the earth.I believe that God is Light:
The light of Life that dances through the cosmos and lives in all, finding expression in creative goodness, causing multiplication in communal love, reaching fulfilment in Christ.I believe that God is Love:
He weeps for the murdered unborn children and the starving millions.
I believe that God stands with the poor and the oppressed. Those who will not support the downtrodden oppose God.I believe that Jesus Christ is Lord:
God’s Word, the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, who ever was and is and is to come.
He is before all things and in him all things find their true meaning.
For the salvation of humanity he was incarnate of the Holy Spirit by Mary, a virgin.
Having taken on humanity, through the power of the Spirit he lead a sinless life and called us to follow.
I believe that his teaching is the perfect rule of faith and life for all people. I believe that disciples of Christ love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them. I believe that disciples of Christ seek peace and pursue it. I believe that disciples of Christ lay down their swords just as they lay down their lives.
Jesus offered his life in atonement for all. This atonement cannot be denied to anyone, but can be denied by all.
Christ rose again on the third day; death was defeated. I believe that Jesus set the pattern that we must follow, that in lives given for others, we might live.
He ascended and sat down at the right hand of the Father. I believe he is Lord of the Church, ruler of the nations and judge of all.And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life. These three are God almighty:
Light and Love, grace and truth, justice and mercy. Forever to be worshipped and glorified.
The divine Life of God, seen in Christ, is birthed and seen in all those born of the Spirit.
I believe that Jesus poured out the Spirit upon his people to cleanse and teach them, to comfort and guide, to empower and sustain.And I believe in the Church: Holy, Catholic and Apostolic, ever sent into the world as the body of Christ.
I believe that the Church, through the power of the Spirit follows Christ’s rule of love. Everyone who loves is born of God, but those who do not love do not know God.
I believe in healing the sick and casting out demons, clothing the naked and feeding the hungry, giving to the poor and releasing from shackles of injustice all who are imprisoned by Sin.
I acknowledge the remission of sins for all who believe and turn from their sin in baptism, confessing Jesus Christ as Lord. I believe that salvation is by grace through faith-that-works-through-love.I believe that God is coming and that all are judged for the works that they have done:
I believe that God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is just and merciful.
I look for the Resurrection of the dead and the destruction of death. I believe that as all died in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ.
I believe God will restore all things and will be all in all.To God be glory in the Church and in the world both now and forever. Amen!
Monday, November 28, 2005
Sunday, November 27, 2005
I am not approving of homosexual behavior. I am disapproving of a church that has forgotten how to love people that Jesus will never stop loving. And if you don't like it, join another club but don't call yourself a member of the church of Jesus Christ for we are the community of lovers and we love all kinds of people with all kinds of sin and that's your good fortune and mine too, for where would we be without such a church. And I want it to be the church that Christ wants it to be. We are concerned because in this political climate there are politicians who are playing on the homophobia of people. They're tapping our deepest feelings and they're gleaning votes by playing on our hatreds and our fears. Perfect love casteth out fear. We can't let it go on. We've got to stand up. We've got to say, we have differences of opinion. I'm conservative on this issue. She is not where I am on this issue. We both hold to the word of God. We're not going to get divorced but here we stand together. We will not allow others to take away the rights and the dignities of human beings. We just won't let you do it... Because I want to tell you something, after you say you can't live in my community, after you've said you can't teach in my school, after you've said you can't go to my church and after you've said you can't come to my college, after you've said all of this stuff - don't think for one moment it's going to wash when you smile that plastic smile that I see in the Christian community and say, "But we love you in the name of Jesus."Simple as that, folks. Shit, it really is as simple as that.
Friday, November 25, 2005
What does the Bible say about homosexuality? Specifically, does it say that it's wrong?
This is my attempt to answer the first question and in so doing point to an answer to the second question that is slightly more developed than "yes" or "no." My current understanding is that the Bible says absolutely nothing about homosexuality. This is for the simple reason that it wasn't until the middle of the 20th Century that the idea of sexual orientation was understood. Thus, anyone engaging in homosexual activity before that point would have been considered, by heterosexuals, as going against nature (see Paul's argument in Romans 1).
This could hardly be any more significant. The bible does not address the broad subject of homosexuality - in terms of sexual orientation - because it was written before that was an issue. Therefore, whenever the Scriptures refer to 'homosexuality' or 'homosexuals' we cannot simply assume that they mean the same thing by that word that we do (same-gender attraction/orientation/love). Nevertheless, that hasn't stopped people regularly turning to the same small selection of scriptures whenever the subject is tackled. The following proof-texts are frequently read as negative references to homosexual behaviour.Read more...
Friday, November 25, 2005
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
5. Assume the dumbest interpretation. For example, if someone says that he can run a mile in 12 minutes, assume he means it happens underwater and argue that no one can hold his breath that long. 6. Hallucinate entirely different points. For example, if someone says apples grow on trees, accuse him of saying snakes have arms and then point out how stupid that is.Add to that, my own number 8: Argue a minor detail of the post (if possible, grammar or spelling) so that you can win a point and assume that the whole post is therefore nonsense.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Technorati Tags: Bruderhof, Eberhard+Arnold, anabaptist+history
Monday, November 21, 2005
Saturday, November 19, 2005
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
The Anabaptist emphasis on the role of the Spirit meant that only a congregation where there was freedom for the Sprit to guide individuals and unite the community around the Word would be able to operate properly as a hermeneutic community. And the Anabaptist emphasis on obedience as a prerequisite for understanding Scripture meant that only a community of would-be disciples could expect illumination. Unfaithfulness could make a congregation unable to function properly as a hermeneutic community. There were two other qualifications which would have limited the interpretative freedom of the congregation, although the first only marginally. The belief that Scripture was usually plain and self-interpreting limited the role of the congregation in theory, but in practice there were enough unclear passages to require the help of others and the guidance of congregational leaders. More important was the emphasis on Jesus, which meant that communal understandings of Scripture were expected to be in line with this fundamental Christocentrism, although here too it was in the community that the meaning of Jesus' life and teaching was established.So, it was natural for me to offer a comment on someone's blog recently that questioned the assertion that all we need to understand God's teaching on something is to get alone with our Bibles, rejecting the help that other books or people might offer us. In response, someone quoted John 14 v.26:
But when the Father sends the Counselor as my representative--and by the Counselor I mean the Holy Spirit--he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I myself have told you.There are a few reasons why this passage cannot be taken as a denial of the need for congregational hermeneutics. Firstly, the 'you' (υμιν) is plural. That's reason enough isn't it? Secondly, it's possible to argue that this is a specific promise to those Jesus was speaking to at the time. After all, the words 'will remind you of everything I myself have told you' seem directly applicable to them in a way that they are not to us. Thirdly, the same Jesus who said this is the same Jesus who 'gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.' Jesus seems to sense no contradiction between saying that the Spirit will teach us and calling other people to teach us. Perhaps he was an anabaptist and happy to confirm that the way God teaches us is through other people as we together delve into the scriptures as we follow Christ!? ;-) The simple fact is that if we want to grow in God we are going to have to reach the point where - like children - we are able to depend on others.
Friday, November 11, 2005
Trinitarian theology is at the heart of the Christian faith. It is a mystery and incomprehensible, but, at least to me, that's part of it's beauty. God exists as three in one, one in three. I don't think that you can mess with the Godhead. If you mess with just one member of the Trinity, the whole thing falls apart... The early Church was really wrestling with the issue of how to define Orthodoxy and how to understand the revelation of God that they had in Christ, scriptures and the Church. They realized that if you mess with the incarnation, you're messing with the whole of the Godhead. That's why adoptionism, docetism, etc. were all condemned. ...Is there any ground on which to say today that if you're not a Trinitarian, you're not a Christian? Is that of value?Well, I'm not really sure what he means by "Christian" - or how important that is - so I by-passed that part of the question. My answer, in essence was that some of the non-Trinitarians I know are also amongst the best disciples I have ever met. I think that the trinity is the heart of Christian doctrine. It is the most precious truth I know of. And it impacts and shapes so many others. It is also, obviously, the most difficult to grasp. However, we have to stop and ask exactly what we mean by 'the doctrine of the trinity.' Do we really think that the Creeds nailed this down perfectly? Is it not possible that they simply came up with the most appropriate language to symbolise God's being for the Church at that time? Is it possible for us - without necessarilly denying what the Creeds say - to come of with something more appropriate for post-Christendom disciples of Christ? (And, if possible, is it not necessary?) I guess the question is, does discipleship require us to be Trinitarians, in the way prescribed by the Creeds? Might we not be better served by other models of Christ and his relationship to The Divine? Does it really affect my following of Christ if I don't fully or clearly graps the exact nature of his divine ontology and how that relates to his human nature and how it functions within God? As a separate thought, that I'll expand on some other time, does God even need us to be Thiests?!
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Monday, November 07, 2005
The United Pentecostal Church International has mission programs to reach many ethnic groups — Chinese, Ethiopians, French, Native Americans, even Gypsies. The list looks typical, with one exception — Old Order Amish and conservative Mennonites. UPCI’s Multicultural Ministries program targets them so they may know “the only true God” and “become part of the family of God,” according to its Web site. "We’re not trying to come out and break up the Amish and Mennonite churches," said Stephen Yoder, coordinator of the UPCI’s Amish/Mennonite Evangelism Ministry. "We just want to say there is much more."Well, of course there's bloody more! There's more than speaking in tongues, as well! Donald Kraybill, a Pasadena College professor who has researched and written extensively about Old Order Mennonite and Amish groups, writes:
"Evangelical assumptions are based on individualism such as personal salvation and emotional experiences", he said, "compared with plain people’s more collective, more communal understanding of salvation. "The Old Order groups are very loathe to say they are saved because they feel that is arrogant and haughty and cocky. . . . Who knows more than God?" Kraybill said. "Instead, they speak of a 'living hope' of salvation if they are faithful."What's the real reason these groups are being targeted? They are different and they stick out like a sore thumb., They are clearly freaks, marching to the beat of a different drum, and anyone who doesn't live like us provokes our suspicion. Plus: the misguided evangelists failed to take the opportunity to listen and learn from those who spoke a different (theological) language. This whole thing just reeks of the educated white man liberating the ignorant natives.
Friday, November 04, 2005
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Technorati Tags: Anabaptist History, Martyrs+Mirror, Reformation+Day, All+Saints+Day, Persecution
Monday, October 31, 2005
'That seditious articles of doctrine should be punished by the sword needed no further proof. For the rest, the Anabaptists hold tenets relating to infant baptism, original sin, and inspiration, which have no connection with the Word of God, and are indeed opposed to it . . . Secular authorities are also bound to restrain and punish avowedly false doctrine . . . For think what disaster would ensue if children were not baptized? . . . Besides this the Anabaptists separate themselves from the churches . . . and they set up a ministry and congregation of their own, which is also contrary to the command of God. From all this it becomes clear that the secular authorities are bound . . . to inflict corporal punishment on the offenders . . . Also when it is a case of only upholding some spiritual tenet, such as infant baptism, original sin, and unnecessary separation, then . . . we conclude that . . . the stubborn sectaries must be put to death.' (History of the German People From the Close of the Middle Ages by Johannes Janssen, quoting a pamphlet from Luther in 1536.)Luther is so explicit there that special pleading like this is either blatantly deceptive, or horribly ignorant. Ronald Bainton, in a popular biography of Luther records that
'In 1530 Luther advanced the view that two offences should be penalized even with death, namely sedition and blasphemy . . . Luther construed mere abstention from public office and military service as sedition and a rejection of an article of the Apostles' Creed as blasphemy. In a memorandum of 1531, composed by Melanchthon and signed by Luther, a rejection of the ministerial office was described as insufferable blasphemy, and the disintegration of the Church as sedition against the ecclesiastical order. In a memorandum of 1536, again composed by Melanchthon and signed by Luther, the distinction between the peaceful and the revolutionary Anabaptists was obliterated.' (Here I Stand by Ronald Bainton, p. 295)Do you want to celebrate that? Read more...
Sunday, October 30, 2005
LwC Keywords: Jesus said...
Technorati Tags: Jesus+said...
Friday, October 28, 2005
A certain landowner planted a vineyard, built a wall around it, dug a pit for pressing out the grape juice, and built a lookout tower. Then he leased the vineyard to tenant farmers and moved to another country. At the time of the grape harvest he sent his servants to collect his share of the crop. But the farmers grabbed his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. So the landowner sent a larger group of his servants to collect for him, but the results were the same. "Finally, the owner sent his son, thinking, Surely they will respect my son.' "But when the farmers saw his son coming, they said to one another, Here comes the heir to this estate. Come on, let's kill him and get the estate for ourselves!' So they grabbed him, took him out of the vineyard, and murdered him. "When the owner of the vineyard returns," Jesus asked, "what do you think he will do to those farmers?" The religious leaders replied, "He will put the wicked men to a horrible death and lease the vineyard to others who will give him his share of the crop after each harvest."Read more...
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
"Whenever anyone starts talking about Calvinism vs. Arminianism, excuse yourself, make a cup of Tea and spend some time in prayer..."He said that, as a result, his walk with God really improved! Me? I got into some great debates! :-? (I should qualify that: I got into some great-but-pointless debates. In my experience, this whole areas is perhaps the topic where it is least possible to convince someone else to change their mind.) Anyway, back to the point, I think that the question, "Can you lose your salvation?" is completely the wrong question. For starters, it conveys salvation as something that we have - like a golden ticket. Secondly - and relatedly - it makes little sense outside of a paradigm of salvation that involves some prayer or action getting you a place in heaven. Christ is our salvation. To talk about whether we can lose or keep our salvation, thus seems a little presumptuous. I think there will always be an element where we are working from presuppositions and theological systems; that's surely inevitable. Yet, we need to be aware of this and be open to our presuppositions being influenced by our exegetical work. Read more...
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Rosa Parks, the black woman whose refusal in 1955 to give up her bus seat in favour of a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama, became emblematic of the US civil rights struggle, has died aged 92 years...
Parks' health had been steadily declining over the last ten years. She stopped giving interviews in the late 1990s and rarely appeared in public. In one of her last full-length interviews with the Detroit Free Press in 1995, she spoke of what she would like people to say about her after she passed away.
"I'd like people to say I'm a person who always wanted to be free and wanted it not only for myself; freedom is for all human beings", she declared during an interview in the pastor's study at St Matthew African Methodist Episcopal Church, a small congregation she joined when she moved to the city in 1957.She was arrested for the bus refusal on Wednesday 1 December, 1955 Although presented in sections of the media as an everyday passenger who was too tired to move, or who had finally had enough and decided to assert her rights, Parks was actually an indefatigable campaigner with a long track record of opposing racism.
...The Montgomery Bus Boycott is often considered to be one of the most defining non-violent direct action campaigns in the western world, showing how the power of principle can challenge the principle of power in refusing injustice ? and illustrating how the power of the media can play a key role.
Source: Ekklesia News
Monday, October 24, 2005
Saturday, October 22, 2005
I just wanted to say something here, as an aside, that might be considered controversial, but I think it needs stating. In drawing the parallel between Christ/Church and man/woman in Ephesians 5, Paul exhorts the woman to submit to the man, and commands the man to love the woman sacrificially, the way that Christ did. I want to suggest that the word “head” has been traditionally misunderstood, because a better interpretation would uncover the truth of mutual submission that Paul has already laid as his foundation in verse 21. He unmistakably commands us “to be subject to one another out of reverence to Christ”, clearly requiring men to be subject to women and women to be subject to men. So when a man comes to this passage and says to his wife, “you should submit to me”, he is right – but he is also dreadfully wrong. His wife should submit to him, but he also should submit to his wife. And when he says, “The Bible says I am head of this household,” I have to say, actually, no it doesn’t; the Bible says you are head of your wife. “Okay, I am head of my wife, so she should do what I say.” But do you understand what Paul is saying? To a Jewish culture where man was boss and was the head, what Paul says is actually “be ‘head’ sure. But be the kind of head that Christ was. Jesus teaches us what it really means to have authority, to lead. Be head the way that Christ was head for the church – lay down your rights and your position and your comfort and your esteem. Lay down your life for your wife.” Phew! This passage was actually liberating for women living in the 1st century in the Middle East. When first read it would have been the men in the church that felt threatened by the counter-cultural teaching that Paul gives. They would have accused Paul of being a blasted feminist! Does that make sense? Have you thought about this passage in that way before?
Friday, October 21, 2005
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
What is your philosophical orientation to Christianity generally and this community specifically?I'm not sure I'm able to articulate my 'philosophical orientation to Christianity' (and I'm not even sure that I know what that means!). If it doesn't sound too corny, I would prefer to speak of my orientation to Christ. I think 'Christianity' is merely a historical and sociological description of what happened to one segment of people who similarly felt an orientation to Christ. I go into this a little bit in these posts: Christian behaviour: the problems Christian behaviour: problem #5 'Christianity,E' it seems to me, is what happens when you seek to organise all of those trying to follow Jesus into one institution - and you then raise that institution to the level of a world power. It is, I believe, a dangerous thing. Jesus was all about renouncing power and the power-games of the weak-but-privileged. This thing of ours doesn't work when it is in a position of power. In fact, it self-destructs, as it has shown numerous times. As for 'this community,E' if you mean lifewithchrist.org then I am on the admin team of a site that seeks to provide free blogs for those seeking to learn from Jesus. If you mean 'the Church' then I am one of the many people who would consider themselves followers of Jesus. I find that difficult to do, so I find it helpful to meet with others on a similar path. It also gives me the opportunity to give, as well as receive.
I must confess that Christianity lost nearly all spiritual utility for me ages ago as there is simply no way for me to get my mind around the sine qua nons of its central tenets, no matter how compelling the storyline of redemptive grace admitted is.Read more...
Monday, October 17, 2005
I think that how people approach the scripture is certainly worth blogging about. Throughout history it has had incredible implications, both good and bad.The bottom-line is, our allegiance is in the wrong place. I've had countless conversations with folks who to dismiss certain aspects of the call of Christ on their life, who then physically squirm if they think you're not taking the Bible literally. Turn the other cheek? "Well, of course Jesus can't really have meant that because Paul/Moses/John/Isaiah/Hebrews says..." But dare to question Paul or Moses and it's another thing completely! Isn't it time that we let Christ stand on his own two feet and speak on his own terms? And isn't it time that we recognised that - when he does so - he often stands in direct contrast to the so-called "word of God"?'Is there anyone anywhere that in any sense at all would say that the Bible is Jesus or that any one who/that calls the Bible the word of God thinks that they are calling the Bible Jesus because of John 1? It's a term that has just become or always been a sort generic application isn't it? Kind of like calling facial tissues "Kleenex".'I think it's far more than that. If that's all it is, then why do some people react so strongly when it's suggested that the Bible isn't the Word of God? People have started new denominations and seminaries over this very issue! I think you're right, in a way, that it shouldn't be an issue. But I think the bottom-line is that it is. I mean, we still speak about the "authority of the word of God" when talking about the Bible. I would far rather we speak about the Lordship of Christ. And maybe the day will come when we recognise that the former will always take second place to the latter.
Technorati Tags: Bible, word+of+God, authority, John+1:1
Friday, October 14, 2005
Anyway, I'm sure it's not a "sin" to call the bible the "word of God," but maybe we should all think twice about actually calling it that.I'm convinced that part of that statement is true and I suspect that part of it is false.