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The truth is that there is Truth…

‎”The truth is that there is Truth, but not for us, only for God. This is the appropriation or recontextualizing of the hermeneutics of finitude I propose.”

Merold Westphal

I really need to get into his work once my schedule lightens up more.

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What makes something Great?

St. Peters Basilica the Night before Christmas Mass 2005

Yesterday morning I found myself thinking about greatness and faith. I have come across individuals who hold that something done with Christ is automatically great. It isn’t that I would discount the importance of living a life with the Spirit, and honoring God with our times and talents. It is that I have issue with the assumption some make about the greatness of their achievements.

In thinking through this I came across what might be the a part of the source of this misplaced understanding of the greatness of the works of our hands. It starts with the belief that we hold before we meet Christ:

My Personal Value/Worth = The value of what I do/create
Also know as: I am what I do

One of the many transformative realities of faith is that our value is now infinite because of the value that Christ sees in us. We ought to work towards accepting this reality and allowing it to transform how we view ourselves. After all Jesus didn’t die on a cross for the scum of the earth, he died on the cross for those he loves and cherishes. At this point that belief now becomes:

I am Infinitely Valuable = the value of what I do/create is Infinite
Also known as: Everything I do with Christ is Great

On the surface this change makes sense, kind of. Instead of letting what we do define who we are, we are defined externally by God. Yet it is absurd that just because something is done by a Christian or with Christian intentions that it is, therefore, great. Rather I believe that there as people of faith there is a call further for us.

I am Infinitely Valuable = God loves me with an infinite love
AND
What I do has value = Because I enjoy its creation AND others attribute it value

When we allow ourselves to separate from our value from the work of our hands we are free to be critical of the work. If it is inferior it does not mean that I am worth anything less. It just means that the work I did was not excellent. I believe that we ought to do things excellently.

My Intentions are not to say that the Church hasn’t done great things.
My desire to temper our lavish praise to that which actually deserves it.
For self disclosure, I’ve not done many great things in my life. Yet I try.

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Thoughts on the Rapture… that never was

In light of the fact that it is May 21th and no-one has been raptured and we are still here, I thought it appropriate to share a few thoughts on this whole rapture idea that people have fallen in love with.

‎Right down to the present day, this new apocalyptic is spread in the United States through Bible institutes and prophecy conferences and end-of-the-world announcements in all the major newspapers. Its theology resembles the early prophetic theology of the kingdom, but its function is the precise opposite. The messianism there finds its correspondence in the apocalyptic here. The historical involvement in resistance there is paralleled here by the apocalyptic flight from the world.
Jürgen Moltmann in The Coming of God p.159

And from a more recent Anglican theologian/scholar whom I am quite passionate about.

‎When Paul speaks of ‘meeting’ the Lord ‘in the air,’ the point is precisely not–as in the popular rapture theology–that the saved believers would then stay up in the air somewhere, away from earth. The point is that, having gone out to meet their returning Lord, they will escort him royally into [God’s] domain, that is, back to the place they have come from.
– N. T. Wright in Surprised by Hope p.133

It seems to me that as our view of salvation has narrowed from being invited back into the partnership with God for the creative and reconciliatory work in the cosmos to a simple salvation from sin (which it also and always has been) we lost so much. Instead of being excited about our opportunity to bring hope, love, and restoration to people and a planet in desperate need of such care and attention we find many western Christians hoping for a quick exit from reality with little desire for meaningful engagement with those around them beyond the scope of evangelism.

I don’t believe that God has never left our reality, or our world and He continues to be our hope. Jesus didn’t come and sacrifice himself so that one day in the future all that he died to reclaim would be destroyed, but that one day God’s passion for the cosmos could be realized through a complete transformation of the very world and matter that we experience. It is this new type of creation that Jesus continues to embody ever since he was raised from the dead, he was the first, and all of the cosmos will follow.

Jesus still is going to return and it will be a day to anticipate with much hope. That the plan and hope for the cosmos will continue to unfold, a perfect justice for the oppressed, and a healing of the systems, structures and cosmos.

Yet this reality is already breaking through into the world. God is breaking through creation and we can, if we choose, be a part of this transformation. This is my passion and the reason I have chosen to respond to the call on my life to be a pastor. It isn’t only to introduce people to the living God, but also to introduce them to the God who has never stopped being present in the hurt and pain of the world.

Thoughts?

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Excited for Life

Over the last two weeks quite a bit of time has been spent thinking about life, where I am at right now, what I am doing with my time and relationships, and so on. Initially there was a bit of despair as I journeyed through thoughts about this all being in vain. I believe that we honor Christ most in the excellence that we bring to the execution of the passions that God has placed in our being. Yet when balancing so many things I am passionate about it is easy to feel as though the time I have to put towards excellence leaves my results less than excellent.

At this point the title, Excited for Life, probably isn’t making all that much sense. It isn’t that I’ve been disingenuous above, only that those feelings only express half of the reality I have the privilege I had forgotten I get to experience on a day to day basis.

The reality is that these last two weeks have pushed me into prayer about where I am at and to spend time reflecting on those things I am juggling in life (work, family, church, and seminary). I do often feel the tension and weight of my responsibilities yet it is in the midst of this tension that I’ve felt God’s pleasure through the works of my hands. It isn’t that this sense of God’s pleasure has been missing in my life, but rather I’ve just stopped appreciating it. A short next step would lead me to start ignoring it. In some ways I think I was beginning to ignore God’s pleasure in my work in little ways.

It shouldn’t be a surprise, but taking that extra time to pray and lay everything down before God again has brought the reality of His pleasure back into focus. This is so exciting to me. To experience God’s pleasure in the little things I do day by day fuels my motivation for excellence. Knowing that, as one of His sons, I represent Him in some small way it is an honor to give all I was, am and will be to him.

So I find myself here – now – Excited for Life.