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Saturday, February 28, 2015

best article on ISIS

HT to Michael Bird, who suggests this article in Atlantic Monthly  is the best thing to read on ISIS:

"What ISIS really wants"
--click here
video interviews with Graeme Wood, the author :
Rebuttal here 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

i borrowed my preacher's license from Brian Williams

Tim Gombis:

Preachers Behaving Like Brian Williams

Brian Williams has been in some trouble over the last few weeks for taking liberties with his experiences while on reporting assignments. He admitted that he exaggerated claims about being fired upon while in a helicopter in Iraq andNBC News suspended him for six months. The substance of objections to allowing Williams to remain in his post with NBC News is that he has lost credibility. If he is willing to embellish his personal narrative, can he be a trusted figure when delivering the news?
While considering this, a related question struck me: How should Christians regard pastors and preachers who embellish their personal narratives in sermons?
This phenomenon isn’t rare. When I..continued here

Related headlines:

See also:

have faith (and works), and speak to Herod's artificial line-mountain on the horizon

 (bonus points for anyone catching the two U2 references in my title)

I am all for '"you can move mountains" as radical charismatic faith...sometimes.
But as a corrective to the typical "speak to the mountain of your circumstance" interpretation,
Charles R. Page II is helpful.

Many have weighed in as to which mountain of the "this mountain" Jesus spoke of/to is in mind:.

  the temple itself (called a mountain in Isaiah 2; Isaiah 56 etc) ,
               Temple Mount (Joel Green/John Carroll says Jesus "could only mean" this),
                               Mt Zion,
                                      Mount of Olives.

Whichever candidate we  choose above (maybe all), the bottom line is the same: the whole temple system is under judgement and must go.  On that topic, see N.T. Wright in this video.   And this: "For Jesus, the time of the temple is no more.” -Green/ Carroll, “The Death of Jesus in Early Christianity,”).

BUT consider Ryland's first paragraph below:  Could the mountain  instead/also be Herod's Herodian?

ALSO consider the second paragraph as compelling alternative to "faith that can move mountains."
Could it be "faith and works"?"

Jesus was possibly passing along from Bethpage to the Mount of Olives when this teaching was offered.  From that from which they traveled one can see off on the horizon to the south the mountain fortress of the Herodian, Herod the Great's summer palace, some seven miles south of Jerusalem.  The Herodian fortress is built inside an artificial mountain that resembles a volcanic cone.  To create this structure, Herod the Great had the dirt removed from one hill and piled up on another.  It was hollow on the inside, and a very tall fortification wall surrounded its perimeter.  This is a mountain that was literally moved!

Furthermore, from the Mount of Olives, on a clear day, the Dead Sea is visible to the southeast.  In  the West we often misinterpret Jesus' meaning when he says we may move mountains, believing he is taking about magic, or perhaps telekenesis.  Yet this is a very practical teaching, conforming to practical Hillelian thought: 'You can do unbelievable things if you are willing to work.'  You can move mountains, but you must have faith to put a shovel into the ground and bend your back!
--Jesus and the Land,Charles R. Page II, p127-128

Related: On the Herodian symbolism to Jesus' subversion of empire:

"In the Shadow of Herod" video

"on the edge of the inside of institutional religion"

Richard Rohr:

Who Would Want to Be a Prophet?
by Richard Rohr:
By definition, the prophet has to be on the edge of the inside of institutional religion. It's a hard position to hold, and it must be held both structurally and personally, with wisdom and grace. There are many times it would be easier to leave the system or to play the company man/woman and just go along with the game. Jesus understood this. He loved and respected his Jewish religion, yet he pushed the envelope wide open. He often healed people on the Sabbath, which was a deliberate statement against making a practice into a dogma that was higher than human need (Matthew 12:1-8). Yet he honored the same Jewish establishment by telling some he had healed to "go show yourselves to the priests" (Luke 17:14). Jesus walked the thin line of a true prophet, or what Ken Wilber so wisely names as the central principle, "transcend and include."

Being a prophet demands two seemingly opposites: radical traditionalism and shocking iconoclasm at the same time. If ... continued here

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

"The Primacy of Pastor": the "most important profession/people in the world"?

cartoon credit

From Jesus Creed:

The Primacy of Pastor

John lets loose here a bit, and I support him. Too many who don’t know what pastoring is are trying to refashion what pastoring is supposed to be. He (and I) could give names but won’t.
The Primacy of Pastor (by John Frye)
You would think that with all the second-guessing about and dismissal of who a pastor is and what a pastor does that the five-fold gifting mentioned in Ephesians 4:11 is also mentioned from cover to cover in the Bible. Sorry, it’s not. It’s listed one time. And you would think that with all the spiritual wizardry and exegetical technology that spins out of the so-called five-fold gifting that the term “pastor” is a throw-away term, not worthy of the trendy entrepreneurial discussions about how best to lead the church. But is the term pastor (shepherd) nothing more than so much biblical Styrofoam? Sorry, it’s not.
In Genesis 48:15 Jacob did not say that the God of his fathers had been an apostle to him, or an evangelist, or a prophet, or a teacher. No. He said ‘pastor’ (shepherd, see Genesis 49:24). What qualified David as a good king was his pastoral training, i.e., he was a shepherd (Psalm 78:70-72). God was not angry with Israel’s leaders (Ezekiel 34) because they were inadequate apostles, evangelists, prophets or teachers. “The word of the LORD came to me: ‘Son of man, prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves.’” What was God’s remedy? Did he raise up a great Apostle? Did he promise a great Prophet or a sterling Evangelist or fascinating Teacher? “I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd (pastor)” (Ezekiel 34:23).
Jesus didn’t say, “I am the good Apostle or Evangelist or Teacher or Prophet.” Jesus said, “I am the good Pastor” (John 10:1114). The writer of Hebrews calls Jesus the Great Pastor, and Peter hails Jesus as the Chief Pastor. Do we see a trend here in the Bible? Did not Paul exhort church leaders in Ephesus to “be pastors” of God’s flock (Acts 20:28). And what’s up with Peter who himself was an apostle? At least, he could have picked up on the five-fold gifting and commanded the church leaders to be apostles (those keen entrepreneurs) or be evangelists or prophets or teachers. But no. Peter, himself an apostle, exhorts them to be pastors (1 Peter 5:2). When Jesus the Chief Apostle returns we leaders will get our reward from him. Uh, no. Jesus is not the Chief Apostle; he is the Chief Shepherd.
I have only referenced a few texts that put the primacy of church leadership squarely on the shoulders of pastors. I am so tired of good women and men who are persevering in the demanding calling of pastor being demoralized by the latest wizards of the new ecclesiology. Pastors have a  continued here

The Primacy of Pastor-ing (by T)

This post by T.
The Primacy of Pastor-ing
Just a few posts ago, John Frye put up a controversial post here, titled “The Primacy of Pastor” which received not a little push back, including from me. For this post, though, I’d like to focus on what I hope can be a source of at least some agreement with the spirit, if not the letter, of John’s post. As some folks mentioned in the comments. The issue is really one of ecclesiology. On that front, I want to offer this as a way to move us forward.
So first, the title. What do I think pastor-ing is, and why do I think it’s primary? In a nutshell, I think:
Pastoring is what you get when love of others grows up. Pastoring is looking out and working for the health of individuals, families, communities. Asking what pastoring includes is like asking what mothering includes, or what being a good friend includes. The answer is “whatever is necessary.” And because growing people up in Christ, in Love, is so central to God’s work on the earth, pastoring is central to God’s work on the earth.
One thing I didn’t say that the office or gift of pastor is central, though I certainly hope that those with the title of pastor, elder or even deacon are leading examples of pastoring. But sometimes (a lot) I think we get too focused on offices and miss the building they reside in, which is one of the points of this post. So, let me be clear. If the folks we often call “pastor” are the only ones pastor-ing, if being on the church payroll is a prerequisite to pastor-ing, we’ve lost. It’s over. Pastor-ing is bread and butter, love of one another, grown-up style. We need more of it. From everybody.
But let me put this whole discussion in a context that I think is especially helpful, and even necessary (though often lacking). Specifically, I want to look at church, the people and children of God, through the lens of familial relationships. Now, when I say “familial relationships” in this discussion of pastoring, what role do you think of? Father? Brother? Crazy uncle? I think one of the main problems the church faces today is a failure to see ourselves and others in our correct way in the family of God. Consider this bit of instruction from Jesus, which I think is pointed directly at this very problem (emphasis added):
“Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples: ‘The scribes and the Pharisees are seated in the chair of Moses. Therefore do whatever they tell you, and observe it. But don’t do what they do, because they don’t practice what they teach. They tie up heavy loads that are hard to carry and put them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves aren’t willing to lift a finger to move them. They do everything to be observed by others: They enlarge their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love the place of honor at banquets, the front seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by people. But as for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi,’ because you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father, because you have one Father, who is in heaven. And do not be called masters either, because you have one Master, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.’”
For now I want to ignore the commands not to call or be called by various religious titles (we’ve ignored those for centuries, what’s a minute more?), and I want to focus on the “because” Jesus gives. The reason we are to be cautious about these titles and roles we give or take, even if we are apostles, is because of who Jesus wants to be in relation to us, and because of who we are to be in relation to each other.

The Pastor’s Calling

In Gary Black, Jr.’s, new book, Exploring the Life and Calling (Foundations for Learning), opens the book with this breathtaking set of convictions:
In my first lecture, in my first class, on my first day as a professor or theology in a Christian seminary, I took my stand behind the lectern, took a deep breath, and looked out at the eager, somewhat anxious, very devoted, and curious faces of my students, and made this simple statement: “I am of the firm opinion that as professional ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, those of you sitting in this room represent the most important profession in the world today. And therefore, that makes you, by association, some of the most important people in the world today” (3).
He then looked at the students, and has come to this conviction:
What I 
soon learned from that first class lecture and have witnessed every year since then was that none of my students had ever heard of, or even considered, such proposition (3).  link