Week Links

The last two months have been busy, so my blog has been neglected. I’ve been reading lots of great stuff here and there, gathering general reflections, all with the intent to publish them here… but alas, it has not happened.

But, instead of adding my blog to the list of who-knows-how-many neglected blogs, I thought I’d try something different to ensure I’m posting frequently. On weeks when I don’t find the time to post, I am going to start posting the best of the best of what I’ve read during that week.

So, links for the week, or, “Week Links,” as I’m not so cleverly calling it here.

Beginning with this little gem, which is more picture than reading:

duty_callsMy wife can emphasize with the un-pictured spouse …

Brian McLaren recently wrote a brief piece in God’s Politics blog arguing that there are two kinds of Islam and two kinds of Christianity (and two kinds of all religion) …

one of social control and one of social transformation … one to hold people down, one to lift them up … one an opiate to pacify people into compliance, the other a stimulant to empower people to imagine a better world, a better future, a better life — giving them the courage to live in peaceful defiance of violent, corrupt, and greedy powers-that-be.

Neither kind is perfect, and both kinds contain good and sincere people. But if those who use God and religion for social control are left to define faith, then the religion they define will be a false one, an ugly one, an idolatrous one. God bless humanity … and God help us find a way of being faithful that opens the door to a better future.

Christianity Today recently featured a piece entitled The Changing Face of Apologetics, which suggests that apologetics/evangelism is becoming less about the truth claims of the Bible and Christianity and more about narrative.

[People] have become more relational, more story-driven. Josh McDowell would go on college campuses and describe why to trust the Bible. And people would come to faith in droves. Then they stopped coming to faith in so many numbers, and he didn’t know why. And now he takes a story approach. “You know,” he says, “I was the son of the town drunk. This is how it affected my life and my relationship with [my dad]. This is what prompted me to seek spiritually. This is the evidence I found. This is how my life was changed. This is how I reconciled with my father.” So it becomes a story.

That’s what my ministry is about. I tell my story: I was an atheist. I scoffed. My wife became a Christian. It prompted me to investigate. Here’s the evidence I found, how I received Christ, the difference it’s made. It’s a story. And I found that in postmodern America, people often are willing to engage on the level of story.

Over at primal subversion, Sean makes a very probing (albeit tentative) statement, at least to those of us who value Christian Scripture and its capacity to function as God’s Word to human beings:

I cannot reconcile the GOD revealed in Jesus of Nazareth with a few of the depictions of YHWH in the Hebrew scriptures. In fact, this is a significant problem for me… It appears that only a Christological reading of the Hebrew scriptures can solve this dilemma.

If, as I believe, Jesus fully reveals to us the identity of God, and we are to live and decide what’s right and wrong within the trajectory of Jesus’ teachings, actions, ethics, life, etc. (the NT), why can’t we read the Hebrew scriptures retrospectively, and through the lens of Jesus, assess whether or not Israel got it right when they heard God? I realize this sounds slightly like Marcion, but I have no desire to throw out the Hebrew Scriptures. However, I’ve got to question whether or not they (Israel or the particular writers of these traditions) heard right, or faithfully represented the intentions of YHWH when engaging in such horrific acts.

What makes his comments so interesting to me (and perhaps so appealing) is that his proposed reading is grounded Christologically. Such a reading isn’t merely cherry-picking Scripture for what is and what is not palatable; it’s a proposed rethink based on a foundational Christian doctrine. If Jesus really is God’s self-revelation, shouldn’t that have some radical implications?

And finally, to lighten the mood after those weighty considerations, why not invest in one of the coolest external hard drives one could ever see?


5 thoughts on “Week Links

  1. I have a friend who has spent many, many hours of his life arguing with people on the internet who, to his everlasting disappointment, do not care about well-reasoned, carefully written, exhaustively researched arguments. His wife framed that xkcd panel and hung it above his computer 🙂

    Regarding the comment from primal subversion, I was always of the understanding that that was how you were to read the OT – backwards from the Gospel, because the Gospel was the clearest expression of what was only hinted at earlier, and often those depicted were depicted because they got things wrong. Maybe I’m just naive, or something, but he seems to me to be saying something fairly obvious.

    1. Maybe I’m just naive, or something, but he seems to me to be saying something fairly obvious.

      Not naive 🙂

      Reading the bible backwards through Christ is certainly in keeping with orthodox Christian exegesis; however, in Evangelical America (and especially fundamentalism), we don’t do much more than lip service to that concept.

      The idea that what is revealed in Jesus would cause us to question whether or not something in the OT was actually wrong would be heretical (at least given how I was raised to think about the Bible).

      Interestingly, this is exactly what Jesus does in his own teaching, a trajectory which Paul continues with respect to the Law.

  2. Hmmm, when you put it that way I can see how that would seem rather radical. It could also explain why I had so much trouble with a strictly literal reading even when I was in that kind of environment.

  3. Regarding the idea of storytelling, we do indeed seem to be at a time when it is highly valued. I hear preachers polishing up their most clever stories. I like to remind them that we need to be sure not to neglect the truly interesting stories in scripture.

    I worry that people enjoy their stories but miss the point.

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