I would that we who read and study the Scriptures and read theology would be as graciously critical as my friend Mark. Too many want to summarily dismiss others out of hand for a breach. Read Mark’s treatment of Wright. Follow his link to Mohler’s comments and I think you will find two fellows willing to commend Wright where he is good and question him where he errs.
Archives for April 2006
Anonymity should be banned, especially in church. I wonder sometimes if people address God anonymously in prayers. You know something like,
” Hello God, “Anonymous” here. I really think you are not listening to me. If you would just ask I could help you out. Amen.”
Before you wonder too far, an anonymous note found its way to me this morning. The note was written yesterday morning. It is troublesome. It really is not that some of the “suggested prayer needs” are not important, many are particularly to the life of our church. It was the last couple of items that really created no opportunity to get at the heart of the matter – no occasion for conversation. I confess to letting my mind wonder no less than a few times today. Don’t read into this post a sense the note was critical of me. It may have indirect implications but it did not appear sent with too much finger pointing.
I guess what I am wondering on the day after Easter, why the note yesterday? Certainly ink pens and paper avail themselves to any writer on any given Sunday. Why would someone feel compelled on “Resurrection Sunday?” It struck me this afternoon recalling a message I heard last night. Yes, we did not have evening services but a friend was preaching and I needed an occasion to worship from the others side of the “platform.” The text hosted in the evening was the text we read yesterday morning, Mark 16:1-8. Most scholars contend Mark end’s his telling of the Jesus story at verse 8. Some offer the later additions may have been authentic and may well have been added for the startling way the earliest manuscripts end.
It seems as Mark ends the story the women who visit the tomb fail to tell anyone because they are gripped with trembling and are astonished. Despite the charge from the angels to tell the disciples and Peter, Mark mentions they tell no one. Curtain drawn. Yet, verse 9 and following note the women do eventually tell the disciples as noted in the other gospels. What would compel Mark to end with the women saying nothing? Fear? Could be they just could not get their minds around what they experienced. After all you have doubtlessly made particular plans heading out to accomplish a task only to find something significant altered your course. What to make of it all? Can be overwhelming when you consider we are talking about “resurrection!”
Greg used a verse from a Nickel Creek song that has given me pause to think all day. The lyrics noted were,
Where can a dead man go
The question with an answer only dead men know
But I’m gonna bet they never really feel at home
If they spent a lifetime learning
How to live in Rome
If we spend our time trying to live the way our natural inclinations lead us, we may find ourselves not feeling very at home in the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God. We can do better than anonymity and should. Nameless and faceless concerns take the observer out of the opportunity for solution. Instead, the anonymous set themselves up as “constant judge.” It seems to me in that position Jesus describes the logical conclusion of becoming the judge of others is an exclusionary practice that may well mark the judge outside the fold when he/she intended it the other way around. Jesus also seems to say in that same Sermon on the Mount such a practice smacks of the germination of anger which leads to contempt. Contempt dehumanizes others and makes them non-persons. Anonymous suggestions that relate to real people and what should or shouldn’t be done to them expressly dehumanizes the person under scrutiny. I cannot abide it. Seems like this is the way to live in Rome and not the way to live in the Kingdom of God.
So how to bring it together. Honesty at the end of the day must bring us face to face with the dawn of newness. What would it be like to live into the new creation work of the Spirit of God? What would it look like? Leading out of a deference for people rather than contempt. Risking honesty and openness over the dehumanizing effects of “judging.” In the end, this may have well been the Spirit’s shaping of Resurrection Day for me. After all it was the Apostle Paul who wrote, “we are a new creation in Christ Jesus, old things have passed away (could it be the way of Rome?) and new things of come (surely it is the way of life in the Kingdom of God!).
Father may you continue to make us new after the fashion of Jesus. May we live our lives learning how to live in the Kingdom rather than in Rome …
Some gathered for a Maundy Thursday Silent Communion last evening at church. I could not help but think of the “good” darkness we celebrate this evening. “Good” and “darkness” lie in tension reflecting on the events of the previous night and current day in the life of Jesus.
I read a blogger recently who suggested much of those considered “emerging” offered reading recommendations from the past 100 years and many much more recent. He suggested he would stick with those that have “stood the test of time.” Despite the fact many have looked to works prior to the sixteenth century to learn from, what was really being suggested was the need to stay with literature from that era in order to avoid error. I tire of this. I know, God only spoke in the wake of posted theses and attempts at theocracy. I have read and enjoy many form that era, and others as well.
Growing up with the obligatory “revival” seasons in an SBC church led to the regular reference to be a good “watchman.” The reference from Ezekiel found a new context – guilting people to tell “lost” people they must heed the “word of God” or face judgment. The goal of course was to avoid being held accountable for the blood of the guilty for failure to warn. I admit we must do some warning. There is little doubt we need to warn. The question remains, “Of what do we warn?” In those revival meetings “evangelists” warned of the evils of individual sin. The standard fare was a diatribe against the evils of alcohol, the pitfalls of promiscuity and the harmful effects of rock ‘n roll and “R” rated movies. Eventually we would hear about wounded relationships but this really formed more of a footnote as opposed to a headliner.
Treating the text of Ezekiel in this way is akin to treating church history as only residing in the sixteenth century; mining it for our presuppositions. Or, we may say, an idea in search of a text. Now surely those who hold to a “high” view of Scripture would never succumb to the temptation to eisegete. Yet, those who came traveling through championed the “inerrant, infallible” word of God only to lift the valuable metaphor from the clutches of the work of the prophet so we could motivate with guilt and fear.
So, exactly how does Ezekiel 3 and Ezekiel 33 read? In the first instance where the metaphor of a watchman is employed God tells Ezekiel he is sending him to the “House of Israel.” The second reference records the charge for Ezekiel to tell the people to appoint watchmen for themselves. If we approach the text reading the story of Ezekiel with the history of Israel and the people of God as the backdrop, we may conclude (read, “must” for you who require certitude as an evidence of conviction) one of the chief task of the prophet was to speak for God to the people of God charging them to live as the people of God before the peoples of the world so God’s blessing might be both expressed and experienced “in the world.”
Now, to make the watchman metaphor work for modern evangelistic crusades requires universalism. The text assigns Ezekiel’s task to the “House of Israel.” It is not a call to the Babylonians, it is to the people of God. There really is no good way to hold a “high” view of Scripture and make the metaphor found in Ezekiel work for “evangelism.” The people of God have lost their way and what it means to be the people of God in the world. Welcome to our world.
We need to appoint people to be watchpeople among us to remind us constantly to be the people of God. Criticize what you may of many of the “emerging church’ movement, but one consistent message I heard oft repeated is the need for the people of God to be the people of God. This means we warn. We warn of injustice in the church. We warn of injustice practiced among the people of God. We warn of an indifference to poverty. We warn of the perils of materialism. We warn of a latent racism in the church. We warn of an all too often overt racism in the church. We warn of the indignities produced by intense individualism. We warn of neglect. We warn of the insular nature of the “mega” and the “techno.” We warn the people of God of the crisis to come when we fail to be the people of God. The world misses the blessing of God. We bid safe passage to Hell.
We can no longer afford to misconstrue the text … regardless of what we come to the Scripture holding …
Spending some time with my daughter. Watch them grow up and you realize just how fast. Our youngest will graduate next summer and so Dad is taking in a few rounds of golf over the next few weeks. We used to sit in the stands and watch basketball. We stood along the sidelines and watched soccer. Today I head out to watch her chase golf balls.
Time permitting later today, I will post my friend Spencer’s flash presentation of the “Stations of the Cross.”