Friday, July 03, 2015

Expanding the horizons

Growing in our knowledge of God changes our view of everything else. It is not that we lose sight of all except God, but rather that we view everything in light of God and through the story of his creation and redemption. True worship of God frees and enables us to love his creation rightly and to grieve when we see it abused.—A Little Book for New Theologians, page 26

Thursday, July 02, 2015

The cry of the heart

Let me seek you in longing,
and long for you in seeking.
Let me find you in love,
and love you in finding—Anselm, Proslogion cited in A Little Book for New Theologians, page 19

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Divide away

I have seen God use good theology to liberate lives. But I have also seen people misuse theology, resulting in abuse, hard hearts and pain. One thing that I have become concerned about in theological studies is the temptation to make overly strong divisions: between academics and the church, between theology and life, between truth and love.—A Little Book for New Theologians, page 9

<idle musing>
New book started today. I had read about this book multiple times and it sounded intriguing. So I finally broke down and got it (via interlibrary loan, of course!). Let's see what we can learn as we go through it.
</idle musing>

Monday, June 29, 2015

The cross beckons us

The Sermon on the Mount is not law that can save us; it is, rather, the texture of the life of those who have died with Christ and are now made alive with him through resurrection (e.g., blessed are those who mourn, who hunger and thirst for righteousness, who turn the other cheek, etc.). The disciple is called to the cross, to come and follow Jesus into death. And this is not because Jesus’s call seeks masochism, but rather because Jesus’s call is the gift of giving us new life through the Stellvertretung (the place-sharing) of Jesus’s very person. The disciple is called to the cross because it is from the cross that Jesus calls us, calling us to carry our cross, calling us to love the person of our neighbor in and through suffering of the cross that they bear.—Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker, page 189

Saturday, June 27, 2015

What would the early church do?

Yesterday SCOTUS decided that same-sex marriages were legal. So, I ask, "What would the early church have done if the emperor had allowed same-sex marriages?"

You think this is unique to the United States and a few other countries? That we have (depending on your perspective) advanced/declined beyond any other civilization?

Hardly! The ancient world knew a good bit about sexuality—the sexual revolution of the 1960s has nothing on them. Why did Achilles in the Iliad get so mad about the death of Patrocles? It certainly wasn't because they were merely comrades! They were lovers. Or, have you heard of the Theban Band of 300? They were gay lovers who formed the core of the Theban army that dominated Greece for a while. Or what about Alexander the Great? He had his male lover. Or Julius Caesar? His troops had him as the butt of a joke about infamia—the passive role in homosexual sex. Or Marcus Arurelius? Or...well the list is long.

OK. Those are relationships. But what about marriage? Well, that wasn't all that uncommon either. Check out the wiki article, which seems pretty accurate.

OK. But what would the apostles say? Surely Paul—or Peter especially—would call down judgment on the emperor if he declared same-sex marriages legal! Guess what? Nero, you know the emperor who beheaded Paul and crucified Peter, was married to another man, not once, but twice! Once as the groom, and again as the bride. And probably at the same time. So, bigamy besides. You can read about it in Suetonius here, chapter XXIX.

And what do we hear from the apostles? No especial condemnation, just the generic condemnation of sexual sins of all types. There isn't any wringing of hands, worries that the world as we know it is ending. Just a proclamation of the Good News that God in Christ has come to redeem us and set us free from sin. All sin. Sexual sins. Greed. Lying. Cheating. Murder. Envy. Gluttony. All of them.

As for whether or not homosexuality is a sin, the Bible is very clear about it. It is. Period. But it isn't listed as any worse than lying, cheating, stealing, divorce, etc. All are sins. And Christ came to set us free from them.

So our response should be the same. The world needs the freedom from self that only Christ can bring. As Christians, we have the responsibility to live in that freedom ourselves and proclaim it by our lives and words to those around us. And, above all, to love others with a selfless love.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Costly Grace

Grace is costly, then, not because it is an idea; it is no principle, program, or doctrine. Grace is costly because it is a person; it is the very Christ who calls us. Jesus’s person is the living reality of grace itself. And because it is a person who calls us to come and follow, it is not base in our own works, it is not based in the power of the human will to create for itself. Grace is based solely on the encounter with the person who lives and calls us to himself through love and life.

Christian faith is no “idea”; it is, at its core, first and finally, a person. Christian faith exists not through its ideas, institutional programs, principles, and doctrines, but only because the person of Jesus Christ lives and continues to call us, even today, Bonhoeffer would say, beckoning our young people to come and Nachfolgen, to come and follow. Christian faith is not believing in the ideas of Christianity, but following the person of the living Christ.—Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker, page 182

Thursday, June 25, 2015

More than head knowledge

Bonhoeffer was aware that the situation in which these young pastors would find themselves in the future would be one of great challenge, a test that could be met not by sheer intellectual book knowledge but only through a deep theological commitment that formed in them a rich spirituality. Bonhoeffer pushed them academically, bringing to bear the full weight of his academic credentials. But he did not do so outside of prayer, meditation, and confession. The student needed to encounter the living Christ as much as learn about him. Bonhoeffer would not settle for theology in his school but demanded a move into the theological, into concrete spiritual experiences of the living Christ.—Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker, pages 140-141

<idle musing>
And that is one of the reasons I like Bonhoeffer so much. His theology is rooted and grounded in the practical.
</idle musing>