Wednesday, June 29, 2005

theology rap.

Isaiah 35:6-7

Streams in the deserts restoring us to life
Impelled by the Spirit reclaiming our strife
Bread sent from heaven and fruit of the vine
Community's nurturing right down the line
Sitting in the courtyard feeling sort of fine
Wondering what to do with no crystal-clear sign

seafood sandwich

Making lemonade and squeezing more limes
Parsing out daze but expecting few rhymes
Art world church world blog-style sites
Funky seafood burritos kiwi cranberry lights
Preachers teachers shopkeepers into God's rules
Multiplicitous musics sun-basking pools

Reading into history expectations and hope
One more time knowing now I gotta cope
Charge into the world make another new try
Instead of just settling reaching for the sky
Challenging this planet to listen now and hear
Everything I offer it experience held dear

Truro Beach House

star of india banner

Truro Massachusetts hazy morning in July
San Diego still is Paradise and this is no lie
I'm giving my sorrow and all of my pain
To God the Almighty, Lover not vain
Expecting just mercy and grace in the rain
Falling from heaven embracing the earth
God's glory incarnate declaring our worth

along the 8 June 2015

originally from Wednesday 29 June 2005

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Heart Knowledge: blog

Another reflective saunter!

Doing theology and living theology: how do you speak a valid word about a person without knowing that person's heart? How can you speak the word about God unless you know the Divine Essence from live experience? How does one - how do you, how do I, how does anyone - faithfully, authentically and with just plain reality talk about a person unless you know their experiences and especially their heart? During one of our online book discussions I’m remembering because recently I posted a lot of what I’d written, after mentioning how God in Christ Jesus shared our common lot and learned the human heart from the experience of living human, semi-rhetorically I asked, “As humans, can we know God’s heart?”

In Hebrew biology the heart is the seat of the will.

Throughout the Bible’s witness, the demonstration of Jesus’ life and the life of the Church we encounter the heart of God, which is the heart of a stranger, the heart of the *other*, the exiles, the outcast, the different ones: the anawim, least of these. Inside presupposes an outside (center/periphery? interior/exterior? probably both). Considered one of our most major progenitors in faith, Abram/Abraham was an Ivri - a Hebrew: one from the other side! In Jesus of Nazareth, God the Truly Other-than-us, God beyond time and space, from that exceedingly “other side,” became incarnate, spending most of his earthly life and ministry on the religious and social establishment’s geographic and functional peripheries and exteriors, on the conventional systems’ and accredited authorities’ “other sides.”

Remember imperial religion with its futile and fruitless quest to control and keep God at a distance (on the other side of human affairs and concerns) and at humanity’s beck and call (only coming close when humanity allowed)? As in the Jerusalem Temple, as in a lot of today’s institutional ecclesiastical entities? To shape God into exactly the *what* people wanted their god(s) to be?

Back to how we can know God’s heart: in Hebrew biology the heart is the seat of the will. Our central Christian hermeneutic is God’s definitive self-revelation in the human Jesus of Nazareth; in Christ Jesus - and in this present Pentecost, Sovereignty of the Spirit, Rain of God, in glory, grace, mercy and surprising vulnerability, the heavens are open to all the earth!

For Sunday, July 3rd (Sunday in Ordinary Time 14 A), one of the mix of at least eight Revised Common Lectionary texts is from Matthew 11; part of the part of Matthew 11 I’m planning to preach on includes:
Matthew 11:16-19; 25-30

Jesus exclaimed:
16 “To what can I compare this age group? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to others:
17 “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a sad song and you did not lament.’ 18 John the Baptist came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Human One, Jesus, came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunk, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is vindicated by wisdom’s deeds!”

28 “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you a break. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for my heart is gentle and unpretentious, and in me you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
To the jumble of lections for that Sunday, from Proverbs 8 I’m adding:
Proverbs 8

1 Does not wisdom call out?
Does not understanding raise her voice?
4 “To you, O humanity, I call out;
I raise my voice to all creation.
5 You who are simple, gain prudence;
you who are foolish, gain understanding.
12 “I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence;
I possess knowledge and discretion.
20 I walk in the way of righteousness,
along the paths of justice,
33 Listen to my instruction and be wise;
do not ignore it.
34 Blessed is the person who listens to me,
watching daily at my doors,
waiting at my doorway.
35 For whoever finds me finds life
and receives favor from the LORD.”
In Hebrew biology the heart is the seat of the will; in the Matthew 11 passage, Jesus identifies with Proverbs’ Wisdom. In justice and righteousness, the wise person grabs hold of this right now and feasts with friends; the gentle- and unpretentious-hearted wise one invites everyone to the banquet (or sometimes to the simple meal spread on our own picnic table), helping sustain them on every level with food and community, in the intimacy of friendship helping carry their sorrows and rejoicings. Throughout his earth-walk, Jesus’ close to indiscriminate table companionship with almost everyone except the insiders foreshadowed - yet was a taste of the completeness - of the final eschatological Reign of God. In the eucharist, in a single broken loaf and one shared cup, the assembled community of the church offers the Welcome Table’s Bread of Life in which the fruits of the totality of the redeemed and restored creation are gathered together in a single place and time.

In Hebrew biology, the heart is the seat of the will! Throughout scripture’s narrative we encounter a multitude of images of Jesus’ feasting with friends, enemies, outsiders and strangers, showing the world the heart of God that wills to redeem and restore all people and all of creation into a community where everyone belongs, where there is no outsider and not any insiders, either! Jesus’ everyday practice of eating and drinking with all gave the world a foretaste of Maundy Thursday’s New Covenant announcement, Good Friday’s New Covenant enactment and Easter Sunday’s New Covenant ratification, of Jesus’ giving his life for the lively redemption of all creation. According to Jesus, wisdom’s deeds of inclusive table camaraderie lead to righteousness, which we celebrate as one of God’s attributes, and we recognize as one of God’s attributes with which Christ attires and endows us! In faith and in baptism? Yes, of course! But also as we continue following the Way of Jesus every day.

Monday, June 20, 2005


Another astonishing theological (not!) morsel from (some of) our more conservative sistern and brethren in Christ:

A couple days ago I was searching for something theological and though I can't recall my quest, I'll never forget one of the pages it turned up, but first I need to ask where have I been? I've been concerned about Purpose-Drivenism and Dispensationalism and Consumerism in the mainline churches?!

Again today I searched for the single word, Annihilationism, and got 72 hits. Here's a passage from an article I found—please note how my denying Annihilationism puts me in historically illustrious company:

Flaws in the Arguments for Annihilationism
by Stephen E. Alexander no longer is online where I originally found it

11 July 2004
Beginning in the 4th century, some Christian theologians argued that when non-believers die, their souls disappear into nothingness. Several prominent evangelicals today subscribe to this doctrine of annihilationism, and their numbers are growing. Why is this doctrine so flawed, and why should we be concerned about its prevalence?

The origins of the doctrine known as "annihilationism" go all the way back to the 4th-century when a man named Arnobius first propagated a doctrine that unbelievers passed into "nonexistence" either at death or at the time of resurrection. ...It was condemned as heresy at the Second Council of Constantinople in 553 A.D. The doctrine did not reappear again in church history until at least the 12th century. Throughout church history, leading church fathers have taken a strong stand against annihilationism ... A few of the more famous figures of Christ's church who have given whole-hearted support to the traditional doctrine include: Tertullian, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley, George Whitefield, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, and Dwight L. Moody. The Westminster Confession of Faith was very clear in its affirming of hell as eternal punishment.

This past generation has experienced the movement of men believed to be stalwart evangelicals reaching to defend annihilationism. The well-known ones include John Stott, Clark Pinnock, John Wenham, Philip E. Hughes, Steven Travis, and their numbers (those advocating "annihilationism") appear to be growing. Why should this be so, and what is the Biblical "weight" to be given their arguments? Can it be possible that evangelicalism is being attacked from within by a low view of God and His inspired, infallible, and inerrant word?
No further comment on the afore-cited tidbit; later today I'll probably post something of my own.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Leslie Weatherhead: The Will of God 4, 5

Leslie D. Weatherhead, The Will of God © 1944; © renewed, 1972

Will of God coverChapter 4: Discerning God's Will and Chapter 5: In His Will is our Peace

Although I read these chapters, I didn't think about them long enough or seriously enough to write any notes, but I've kept the discussion questions and maybe I'll reread both chapters so I can consider and answer the questions within the next few weeks.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Leslie Weatherhead: The Will of God 3

Leslie D. Weatherhead, The Will of God © 1944; © renewed, 1972

Chapter 3: God’s Ultimate Will—part 1

Will of God coverThe discussion moderator began:
Weatherhead begins by rehashing the three divisions of God"s will, as in chapters 1 and 2. Yet he offers an interesting perspective of our ability to choose and free will. How does this mesh with your view of choice and free will?
Then he asked,
Do you believe in a Devil as an actual being? Or do you believe in a metaphorical Satan--a personal adversary that can combine with other personal adversaries to create a greater, collective evil that we've seen repeatedly throughout history?
Actually, I don’t know, but I do believe in spirits of evil in the way Walter Wink talks about them in his Powers trilogy, as he draws upon deuteroPaul of Colossians and Ephesians as well as discussing the Spirits (the "Angels") of the Seven Churches in Revelation. And personally, some (most?) of us do what feels like near-constant battle with demons of various kinds, many of which very definitely live independent lives of their own--lives that seem to be ego-dystonic, something completely outside of us that inflicts themselves upon us. Not being an expert on knowledge of the bodily existence of - or the embodiment of - evil, I do think there's a real sense in which the sum of the parts frequently is greater than any of the elements of the parts: in plain English, "synergistic!"

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Leslie Weatherhead: The Will of God 2

Leslie D. Weatherhead, The Will of God © 1944; © renewed, 1972

Chapter 2: God's Circumstantial Will

Chapter 2, part 1:

Will of God coverThis chapter deals with God's plan within certain circumstances; Weatherhead uses the image of the cross to better explain how circumstantial will works. Reading and connecting to this chapter, I keep finding myself full of gratitude for quite a few totally unintended circumstances I've found myself in--and, of course, particularly thankful for the people who've helped carry me through those times that weren't easy in any sense of the word. Here’s a little on the first part of chapter 2:

Regarding the Cross: given the circumstances of evil, the crucifixion became God's will. Dr. Weatherhead says, "The laws of the universe, which are themselves an expression of God's will, were not set aside for Jesus, the beloved Son." That fact relates to God's preference for acting in incarnational ways! Also, as our moderator observed, there are both natural and spiritual elements within God's circumstantial will.

But continuing: so, like, "every woman" has a maternal instinct...though possibly "repressed into unconsciousness?!" "...a home and husband and babies..." are a women's "primary raison d’être"?!?!?!?! This book is © 1944 and the copyright renewed in 1972. Oh, his definitive solution here is comment.

Chapter 2, part 2:

Whether (or not) an event is the will of God? Get our thinking straight, because the answer is both Yes and No! Once again, natural laws vis-à-vis God's [spiritual] ultimate will. "The Christian minister...he..." OK, this book was written quite some time ago...God would not allow an event to occur if of itself it had the power to defeat Godself. Dr. Weatherhead is correct that in the Bible we don't hear people explaining away diseases, etc. as "the will of God," but this has happened, or currently is happening "that God might be glorified!" He's got it right about the kingdom of evil – in deutero-Pauline terms, "powers and principalities" and their sometimes temporary sway or even what appears as their momentary rule over the Kingdom of Heaven. God's perspective is different...yes! Jesus overcoming the world rather than explaining the world!
My notes from later in this chapter:
...indeed the biblical writers were "trying to give God the credit or blame for everything that happens, even the bad stuff!" Because that's the way the people who were beholden to all those other gods were used to thinking - you remember, the temperamental nature gods and place gods that demanded tribute, propitiation, sacrifice and protection? Whatever happened, it simply had to be because of some volatile divinity's anger, pleasure, rage or approval! For a fact the Bible reveals a constantly developing, growing and evolving understanding on the people's part of Who God is and how God acts--and of God's real requirements for the people of God, coupled with increasing awareness of the gracious gifts of God that enable the people's response and fulfillment of God's holy and just demands. Of course I'll refer you to the God of love and mercy - the God of righteousness and holiness - the God Who in Jesus of Nazareth "shared our common lot." With Martin Luther I believe there's a real sense in which all scripture is not equal; like Luther, I'd definitely assign a higher position to those passages that "show forth Christ" most fully.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Leslie Weatherhead: The Will of God 1

Leslie D. Weatherhead, The Will of God © 1944; © renewed, 1972

Will of God coverFollowing the trilogy of books about mission, during the autumnal time of 2003 (that long ago!) I took part in another online book discussion; the book this time it was The Will of God. Leslie Dixon Weatherhead, the book's author, preached at City Temple in London. One site describes City Temple as " historic Nonconformist Congregation founded circa 1640, whose first minister was the Rev. Thomas Goodwin (chaplain to Oliver Cromwell). Today it's a cosmopolitan international church ministering in the City of London."

Since I've posted notes from at least four of our other book discussions and given the fact I don't have anything really original to put on this site at the moment, here are some my notes, mainly in response to our moderator's questions and comments. On Amazon-dot-com I found the acronym SIP and when I looked it up I discovered it meant Statistically Improbable Phrases in Amazon-speak (but likely not elsewhere). Related to this book, as SIPs Amazon listed circumstantial will, intentional will, ultimate will and evil circumstances. On to the book!

Chapter 1: God's Intentional Will—part 1

As Dr. Leslie Weatherhead points out, polar opposite outcomes cannot possibly equally be the "will of God."
  1. God's intentional will - maybe we need to reserve "God's will" for this
  2. God’s circumstantial will - in those particular circumstances
  3. God's ultimate will - in spite of evil and even through evil. As our discussion moderator mentioned, the cross achieved God's will not only in spite of but actually through.
Everything is within God's will...but human will can defeat God's will for a time, otherwise we'd have no real freedom, which we know as a facet of the image of God in which we're created. It's blasphemy to call evil, wickedness, immorality and manifestations of sin and fallenness the will of God...but he's also correct we humans sometimes imagine our imagining bad outcomes as God's will to be comforting.
Here are our moderator's questions, followed by my responses:
1) How does your concept of God's will agree or disagree with Weatherhead’s?

? on the whole it does agree – I often differentiate only between God's "perfect will" and God's "permissive will," but I like these further, more defined and refined divisions.

2) Do you also try to explain a death or other tragedy as "God’s will"?

? only in the sense of acknowledging that in sovereignty God allowed the event to happen, but not is the sense of that horrific monster sometimes known as "God’s-willa."

3) If God and his ultimate will cannot be defeated, are human efforts to combat evil in the world in vain?

? Not at all – for this I'll give that stock theological buzz-answer and say God calls us to be and to act in the image of our God who is justice, love, compassion and mercy – and in the image of our God whose name is a verb rather than a noun!

4) A participant asked, "how individual is God's will for each of us? Does God will something different for you than for me?" I responded:

? Indeed, yes - much of God's desires for us have to do with our particular circumstances and our special gifts.