Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Creation as Perfect Context through Limits (Genesis 1)

The Bible begins with the story of creation (Genesis 1:1-31). Karl Barth, greatest theologian of the 20th century, shares his insightful understanding of this passage with us in his Church Dogmatics.

The biblical story begins simply enough: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (1:1 New Revised Standard Version, here and following).

Here we have the briefest description of creation as a cosmos or ordered good.

The second verse of the story has always caused troubled. What does it mean? How does it fit with the verses that come before and after it?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Jesus vs. Bacchus

As with the other Olympian gods, Jesus proves to be a poor servant and model for Bacchus. Not that Jesus was all about deprivation! On the contrary, he partied with people regarded as marginal by the religious establishment. He even graciously turned water into wine to sustain the festivity of a wedding reception.

Jesus vs. Venus

The gospels tell us nothing about the appearance of Jesus. For all we know and might suspect, and despite all visual art to the contrary, Jesus was nothing to look at. It would be more helpful if we thought of him as ugly. If he were the Son of Venus, she would have made him gorgeous.

Jesus vs. Vulcan

In the Bible, Jesus is called the Son of God but he was no Son or servant of Vulcan. If he had been, he could have been born in the great imperial city of Rome and become its master. He would have given Rome the most efficient possible systems of transportation and communication. He would have made it the center of all the arts and entertainments. He would have bent the backs of millions of human beings and stolen the vitality of most of creation to make Rome as glorious as possible.

Jesus vs. Mars

In the New Testament, Jesus is called the Son of God but he was neither a Son of Mars nor his loyal servant.

Jesus witnessed to the true nature of the one odd god by telling us to love our enemies as well as our friends. Why? Because God loves each one of us humans even though, apart from his grace, we adore the six conventional gods who both hate him and work to destroy us.

Jesus vs. Jupiter

While writers of the New Testament call Jesus the Son of God, Jesus certainly was no Son of Jupiter. Jesus did not set up a coercive political or religious organization with himself at the top. Instead, he remained both politically and religiously marginal. Even when a well-fed crowd wanted to crown him king, he ran away (John 6:15).

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Starting Your Own Prophetic Mission Group

As prophetic witnesses to Jesus Christ, we need to affirm that our witness has a communal dimension as well as a personal one.

How delightful life would be if affirming our communal witness was simply a matter of identifying which religion rightly witnessed to Jesus Christ rather than being tragically compromised by devotion to the six false Olympian gods. Then we could simply join that one right religion and rejoice. Sadly, Christianity should be devoted to Jesus Christ but has become tragically compromised.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Walking with Jesus: A Daily Decision

At the beginning of his public ministry, Jesus called Peter and Andrew to join him. Immediately they left everything and followed him (Luke 5:11).

Let’s pause and think about this for a moment. Immediately they left everything and followed him. This means they left their jobs. Soon they left their families and hometown. They left their known past and imagined future. For what? Surprising words and unexpected adventures with no Olympian guarantees.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Olympian or Christian? A Quick Comparison

We might summarize the Gospel by saying that Jesus Christ is the truth who sets us free to love and so leads us into fullness of life. Wherever Jesus is present, we have truth, freedom, love, and vitality.

Conversely, wherever false gods are present, we find just the opposite: falsehood (lies but especially illusions), power (control and being controlled), indifference (apathy, contempt, and violence), and finally death (including debilitation and despair).

Monday, September 15, 2014

Watching TV, Reading Scripture

“Come out of her, my people” (Revelation 18:4, New Revised Standard Version, here and following).

Let us take a deep breath and recall, briefly, that we have but one true god. He revealed to us his name: Yahweh. He remains the god of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob embodied by Jesus Christ.

In contrast, we have six false but universally worshiped gods: (1) Jupiter, god of politics; (2) Mars, god of war; (3) Vulcan, god of technology; (4) Venus, goddess of sex; (5) Pluto, god of money; and (6) Bacchus, god of consumption. We may refer to these as the Olympian gods and to the religion based upon them as Olympianity.