Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I Don't Have Any Original Thoughts

My friend keeps giving me rewrite assignments, and as I am a good little boy and he is a lit prof, I keep producing.

Here are the preceding posts:

[original] "Theology Is A Deliverance Ministry"
[rewrite 1] "Going Hammer-Time On That Last Post" a bullet point breakdown
[rewrite 2] "That Just Happened" a haiku
[rewrite 3] "Leviathan" a free-verse internal monologue in a sci-fi/fantasy allegorical genre

And now this is [rewrite 4]. A textual collage consisting of scraps of several different Biblical genres.


In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Now the earth was chaotic and useless

For the creation eagerly waits for the revelation of the children of God. For the creation was subjected to futility—not willingly but because of God who subjected it—in hope that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of decay into the glorious freedom of God’s children. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers together until now.

God created humankind in his own image

[God] breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply! Fill the earth and subdue it!"

[God said] "You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will surely die.”

The man said, “The woman whom you gave me, she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it.” So the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman replied, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.”

[God said "They] must not be allowed to stretch out [their] hand and take also from the tree of life and eat."

Moses said to him... "I wish that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!”

I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your body and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit within you; I will take the initiative and you will obey my statutes and carefully observe my regulations.

I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God The Word was with God in the beginning. All things were created by him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. And the light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it.

Now the Word became flesh and took up residence among us.

He said, “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”

But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has already overtaken you. How else can someone enter a strong man’s house and steal his property, unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can thoroughly plunder the house.

 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation,
     for all things in heaven and on earth were created by him—all things, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether principalities or powers—all things were created through him and for him.
     He himself is before all things and all things are held together in him.
     He is the head of the body, the church, as well as the beginning, the firstborn from among the dead, so that he himself may become first in all things.
     For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in the Son
     and through him to reconcile all things to himself by making peace through the blood of his cross—through him, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

He has destroyed what was against us, a certificate of indebtedness expressed in decrees opposed to us. He has taken it away by nailing it to the cross. Disarming the rulers and authorities, he has made a public disgrace of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

In spite of what you think, these men are not drunk, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. But this is what was spoken about through the prophet Joel

For those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit. For the outlook of the flesh is death, but the outlook of the Spirit is life and peace.

For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.

Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God—what is good and well-pleasing and perfect

The only thing that matters is a new creation!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Is Not For Christians

I have previously expressed some......um.......dissatisfaction with some of how Christmas is treated (that is here).  Now it is Easter.

Christians celebrate Easter because they have a tradition of recognizing the event. But it seems to me that to a significant extent Christians do not fully comprehend the meaning of the event. (I can't claim that I fully comprehend the meaning of the event either, it is just so huge.)

Jesus did not die and come back for Christians. It is not a Christian event. It is a cosmic event. In Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection God brought his forgiveness to bear in the concrete historical reality of this world. That forgiveness has hit the ground. God has done this whether we recognize it or not. It has changed the whole dynamic of the world.

Many people ask, "But I am a good person. Why do I need forgiveness?" Ask that question when you look at yourself in the mirror in the morning, or while you are driving to work, or in the quiet at the end of the day. Ask that question when you remember that feeling that you just don't measure up, that you don't really make any difference, that it wouldn't really make any difference if you weren't there. You feel this because you know that you are supposed to measure up (even people who had affirming families feel this.) You feel this because you know that you are supposed to make a difference. You feel this because you know that there should be value in you being here. Those of you who have really accomplished things know that accomplishment does not banish this feeling.

We are supposed to make a difference, a huge difference. We were designed to make this world perfect. Every day we fail and we know it.

That is what forgiveness is for. That is what Easter is about. God always forgave us for our failure. In Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection God brought his forgiveness to bear in the concrete historical reality of this world. It did not change God's heart. It transformed the order of creation. God's eternal forgiveness has intersected time in the universally transforming event that Easter remembers. Easter is for the cosmos. Your failure has been forgiven not just in principle but in fact. (A glimpse at what this says about the personality of God is here.)

Easter has nothing to do with eggs, or bunnies, or chocolate, or sunrise services. Easter is about a cosmic revolution that God effected nearly 2000 years ago in a backwater province of the Roman Empire.

Easter is not for Christians. Christians are those who have seen and thereby have experienced and been transformed by this universal explosion and who cannot help but show it to all the others who it effects but have not seen it.

Easter commemorates God's concrete forgiveness of our failure to interact with this world in the way he designed us to. Easter looks forward to Pentecost. Pentecost commemorates the event in which God empowered us to no-longer fail but to truly measure up to our purpose, to truly make the difference we desire to make, to be fully alive and crammed full of exactly the sort of value we know that we were made for.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


So, big season.

Jews the world over are commemorating the divine founding of their nation with Passover. Christians are remembering the effective cosmic establishment of the forgiveness of God in the concreteness of history. This year these celebrations coincide on the calendar. But they coincide at a much deeper level.

T. F. Torrance, in “The Mediation Of Christ” formulates an integration of what he calls “the mediation of reconciliation” and the “mediation of revelation.” It is really a simple and straightforward idea: God’s actions of reconciliation in the world reveal who God is. The two events that we celebrate this season are the two pinnacles of God’s interaction with people in history and they both mediate reconciliation and they both mediate the revelation that God is most deeply a rescuer. In both Passover and Easter God is rescuing. In the first he is rescuing a particular people out of bondage to another nation with the purpose of making this people the mediators of his presence in the world. In the second he is rescuing humanity from the chaotic futility summed up in human death to the purpose of making humanity the mediators of his presence in the world to bring all creation to perfection.

However screwed up you are or you situation is, remember and think on this: God in extremis reveals himself as rescuer. And remember also that these two celebrations are the lead up to Pentecost when we remember that God not only rescues but empowers. At Pentecost God pours out his Spirit. In this God actually makes humans the very carriers of his presence, and we finally truly become his people empowered to be his creatively transformational presence in this world.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


can't breathe
the beast it keeps coming
hold on a little longer
why can it keep coming
cut again
the walls so close
attacking through water yet it moves freely
tired, hold on
moving to my side
thrusting arc, too slow
only a scratch, but
at least a scratch
futility so thick I can feel it
shock as it hits me
it is home
it's home
not mine
aching body
it plays with me as I struggle to fight
fight through thick water
struggle to breathe
the beast keeps coming

why don't they help
why don't they kill it
they keep yelling but the sound doesn't travel

it connects hard
my stomach wrenches

why do they hold the knife that way
I can control it better with this grip
push through the thickness
another scratch
it doesn't care
it is so quick
here it comes
most of the blow on my blocking arm

get up, get up
why didn't we get better weapons

my leg

they cut


struggle to stand
hold on, a little longer
I can control the knife better with this grip

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

That Just Happened

Okay Bear, here is installment number two of rewrites. I mistakenly said two rewrites in the first rewrite post. I just reread your comment and realized that it actually calls for 3 rewrites. So after this one I owe you one more rewrite.

So here is rewrite number 2 of the post on theology being a deliverance ministry (but that really hits an enormous complex of points).

world running futile
Jesus fills humanity
see & live ... create

It is a haiku..... your argument is invalid.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Going Hammer-Time On That Last Post

One of my friends requested that I rewrite "Theology Is A Deliverance Ministry" twice so that he can be sure of what I am saying. He is a lit professor so I will obey. I will rewrite in different formats and possibly even genres if only to work my skills.

In this first rewrite I will break it down:

God did not complete the creation.
The creation is yet to a significant degree subject to chaos and futility (formless and void).
God intends that creation be completed.
God created humans to complete the creation.
God truly loves the humans.
God put his life into humans so that they would be able to complete the creation.
Humans disobeyed God.
God forgives the humans for their disobedience.
The humans' disobedience broke them from the life of God.
 Without this life the humans are unable to complete the creation.

God intends that creation be completed.
The world exists as concrete time and space.
The forgiveness of God must come concretely into time and space to take effect in this world.
Jesus is the concrete expression of God's forgiveness in time and space.
As God takes on humanity in Jesus humanity is taken into God.
In the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus God effects his forgiveness on humanity.
The proof of this forgiveness is the return of the life of God into the humans.
Redemption is the action of this forgiveness taking full root in humanity.
Though the forgiveness has been made concrete the redemption is yet to be fulfilled in space and time.

Humans are complex entities.
The overtaking of this complexity by redemption involves the totality of this complexity.
As the redemption overtakes us we progressively become more aware and active in our participation in the reason for which we were created.
Our thoughts and beliefs are part of this complexity.
When our thoughts and beliefs are inconsistent with reality they require energy to maintain.
The greater our thoughts and beliefs diverge from reality the more energy they take to maintain.
Theology and evangelism are means by which our thoughts and beliefs come more into line with reality.
Theology and evangelism deliver us from ideas and beliefs that take up energy to maintain.
As these tools of redemption have their effect our energies are released to be focused on the completion of creation once again in obedience to God by the life of God in us.

We proclaim the good news because Jesus tells us to proclaim the good news.
We proclaim the good news because doing so moves redemption forward in the concrete time and space of this world.
We proclaim the good news so that the whole of humanity that has been taken up into God by the incarnation may become fully self aware as the body of Christ.
We proclaim the good news because the workers are few and the harvest is great, as great as the whole of creation.

Stop, hammer-time.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Theology Is A Deliverance Ministry

Being Christian does not get you into heaven. That is not the point of Christianity. At least it wasn't until Christianity lost it's way and needed a punishment/reward system to compensate for it's waning focus on the centrality of Jesus' work of effecting the forgiveness of God in the concrete history of the world that reinstated humanity as the very presence of God by the indwelling of the Spirit of God and the participating instruments of God's plan to bring the creation to completion (see here) (also, the length of this sentence is a tribute to my partial German heritage).

The work of Jesus is universal in scope for all things are in him.

Yet this complete salvation is incomplete. This universality of salvation is in principle. Just as the forgiveness of God has been an in principle reality from the first instance of disobedience. Though God's forgiveness has always been there it still needed to have its concrete establishment in the actual history of the world for it to take effect in the world. In the same way, the universality of this forgiveness and redemption must work out into the actual dirt and blood of history. Though in the incarnation all of humanity has been drawn into the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus and been opened to the life of the Spirit this reality has yet to actually overcome the futility and chaos that pervade the concrete reality of history.

This points to the purpose of theology and evangelism.

Evangelism is the wider end of theology. Where theology deals with the fine grains, evangelism interacts on the level of large chunks but they are on the same continuum. They are both addressing the actual structure of reality.

If redemption is universal then why theologize or evangelize? If what we think and believe has nothing to do with our ultimate destiny then why concern ourselves with it? If "God Gets Everyone" then what is the point of working hard?

First, because Jesus tells us to proclaim the good news.

Second, because our ultimate destiny was never the issue. The issue has always been the fulfillment of creation, so the objection is really baseless in that it assumes a falsity.

Third, we proclaim the Gospel, we work hard to accurately grasp reality because our purpose is active participation in this plan of God for creation.

If our beliefs are inconsistent or are at odds with reality then we suffer cognitive dissonance. We must exert a tremendous amount of creative mental energy to hold together ideas and beliefs that do not fit.

Now, imagine how much God given creative energy would be freed up if we were delivered from false ideas. Energy that could then be directed toward our actual purpose in this world: our active participation in bringing the universal redemption enacted in principle in Jesus into the concrete blood and dirt of history.

Theology is a deliverance ministry. It releases the the children of God from the demonically onerous futility of screwy ideas.

Evangelism is the process by which the universal body of Christ becomes self-aware.
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