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

Friday, February 20, 2015

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

epistemology of film/history

Visions of the Past

The Challenge of Film to Our Idea of History

Official promo:

If you’re in search of a thoughtful overview of film and history as rival routes to the past, check out the essays collected in Visions of the Past...Rosenstone nicely reverses the assumption that history exists only on paper, approved and stamped by historians.—Carlin Romano, Chicago Tribune
[A] fascinating analysis of the traditional and nontraditional historical film...This is solid scholarship written in a manner that makes it accessible for a wide range of readers.Choice
The pieces represent work over a wide time span and demonstrate Rosenstone’s evolving attitude toward the historical movie...The author knows of his subject from various perspectives...[and] presents his arguments simply and clearly, without drowning the reader in jargon or obtuse references. Well recommended.Library Journal
In these essays, Rosenstone writes with the fervor of the convert...urging historians to admit that film can often do what books can’t...Rosenstone is really rooting for modernist or post-modern cinema--the likes of Alex Cox, Chris Marker and Trinh T. Minh-ha--as the only adequate chroniclers of our fractured sense of the past.Sight and Sound

Can filmed history measure up to written history? What happens to history when it is recorded in images, rather than words? Can images convey ideas and information that lie beyond words? Taking on these timely questions, Robert Rosenstone pioneers a new direction in the relationship between history and film. Rosenstone moves beyond traditional approaches, which examine the history of film as art and industry, or view films as texts reflecting their specific cultural contexts. This essay collection makes a radical venture into the investigation of a new concern: how a visual medium, subject to the conventions of drama and fiction, might be used as a serious vehicle for thinking about our relationship with the past.
Rosenstone looks at history films in a way that forces us to reconceptualize what we mean by "history." He explores the innovative strategies of films made in Africa, Latin America, Germany, and other parts of the world. He journeys into the history of film in a wide range of cultures, and expertly traces the contours of the postmodern historical film. In essays on specific films, including RedsJFK, and Sans Soleil, he considers such issues as the relationship between fact and film and the documentary as visionary truth.
Theorists have for some time been calling our attention to the epistemological and literary limitations of traditional history. The first sustained defense of film as a way of thinking historically, this book takes us beyond those limitations.  link

“the pivotal cultural value” of the Bible

Jackson Wu:

As various scholars have observed, honor/shame (H/S) is “the pivotal cultural value” of the Bible.1 Figure 1 lists a variety of words in Scripture related to H/S. With just a glance, we see that H/S lies beneath the surface of countless biblical passages, relating directly to reputation, respect for authority, group identity, and the gospel itself. And yet the biblical presence and significance of H/S is widely overlooked in the Western theology embraced around the world. This essay seeks to explain why this blindspot exists.
It is not sufficient simply
to write off ignorance of H/S in the Bible to “cultural differences” in general. We need to understand the reasons for this oversight. And in removing this blindspot, we will better grasp both the Bible and how it addresses the needs of the people we serve. In what follows, we distinguish culture, theology, and biblical truth to give perspective on why this blindspot exists. We then identify fears that make people reluctant to treat H/S with the same seriousness as the parallel biblical framework of Innocence/Guilt. Finally, we consider the consequences of this H/S blind to the Bible’s teaching on honor-shame? What happens when we maintain a superficial view of H/S? …
Here are four consequences of our H/S blindspot, which I’ll address further in my forthcoming book, due out in January.12First, anxieties about H/S may lead missionaries into practices that are counter-productive for long-term fruitfulness in H/S contexts. For example, people in traditional H/S cultures have a high respect for authority and tradition. We may confuse mere conformity to a teacher’s request with obedience resulting from a changed heart. Missionaries can also easily forget that many non- Westerners will pray a “prayer of salvation” simply to preserve friendships and save “face.”
Second, if we neglect to give attention to H/S, we are less likely to see worldview transformation. After all, H/S is a holistic concept, concerning every aspect of a person’s life. One’s identity transcends legal metaphors. The gospel transforms how we see God, ourselves, and others. It reshapes how we understand authority, reputation, and every human relationship.
Third, by overlooking the importance of H/S, missionaries unintentionally foster “theological syncretism.” We may be content with doctrines that our denomination, organization or church affirms but that may not reflect the emphasis of the original authors in their context. Yet, emphasis too is an integral part of the biblical authors’ meaning. Christians can easily “compromise the gospel by settling for truth.”13 Rather than elevating specific truths beyond their biblical emphasis, we must seek to understand the truths of God’s Word in balance with one another and not settle for pulling truths out of their context.
Without H/S, one’s theology can become abstract and less integrated. We can overemphasize systematic theology at the expense of biblical theology and exegesis. When this happens, Christian theology devolves into mere philosophy and we miss the grand narrative of scripture.
Finally, missionaries risk the danger of “judaizing” their listeners. That is, if missionaries do not remove this H/S blindspot from their own thinking, they will unconsciously present the gospel in a way that requires listeners to think like Westerners (e.g. as individualists who emphasize law) before they can understand the message and believe the gospel. Sadly, such new believers become functionally “Western” Christians even though they may culturally be African, Indian, Chinese, or Thai.
May God’s Word be a lamp unto our feet, exposing the blindspots that encumber gospel ministry.  link\
See also:

6 Places Honor & Shame Hide in the Bible

A sleuthing search engine that's better than the real thing (Google) and catches sex traffickers?

Read all about it here

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"American public space is theistic and moral, but not Christian or spiritual."

"American public space 
is theistic and moral,
                            but not Christian or spiritual..

Many Christians founded America, 
but the public space
                            is not Christian, and it's not spiritual"
-H. Spees, p 218, 222 in "Street Saints:Renewing America's Cities"

Many implications here.  Start by reading the quoues in context here

laundromat as third place

Check out the NPR story: laundromat as third places

A Growing Movement To Spread Faith, Love — And Clean Laundry 

For more, talk to our awesome friend Kathleen Bergon Green

Monday, February 09, 2015

"The Secret Jewish History Of U2"

Here's a note Bono left in his room at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem (click to enlarge, or click here to read text, and get the backstory): "In Jerusalem, hope springs eternal..."

As I have suggested in these posts from years past:

Elevation leads to Vertigo 2.0

Rabbi Chazat Bono is hungry, so he pulls a nigun


I think there are more Jewish connections in U2 and U2 lyrics than many realize.

All that to tip you to this  new article:

The Secret Jewish History Of U2


"Christ Can't Be Pictured"

I was stunned to see this title at the used book store.
I shouldn't have been.

It's a classic Reformation principle .. for some.. that words are more important than images;

even that any images/imaginations of Jesus..therefore art..are forbidden as they are idolatry.

Note the picture (image!) on the cover consists of words about Jesus. 

The well-meaning, but misguided premise, according to the author's blog:

Pictures "de-present" Christ—much more than they "re-present" him. The purpose of this book is to call Christians back to the Bible for their revelation of who Christ is.

The pictures everybody uses to represent Christ are not pictures of Christ at all. They are forbidden by Scripture. They are rooted in a non-biblical monistic idea of God—akin to pantheism.
They become idolatrous, not just when they are "worshiped," but at the moment they are given the name of Christ.   link

The whole book can be read on the right-hand bar of the author's blog.

An ironic quote:
"This book is necessary to bring Christians to their senses."— Richard Bennett

Hmm, primacy of senses and primacy of word..

The author comments:

"'The Passion of the Christ' movie  by Mel Gibson...That is perhaps the deadliest influence of the movie is its subliminal denial of the Deity of Christ. Those who made the movie can insist that this man on the screen images Christ. Promoters of the movie may claim that the movie proclaims the Deity of Christ. But the movie makes us call Jim Caviezel “Christ”. This is idolatry.  link

What would Mark DeRaud say?

Lamech or Lament? Tearing out Bin Laden's Adam's Apple..or singing the songs Jesus sang?

Branson Parker:
I wanted then, as I do now, revenge for what happened. Bring me the head of Osama bin Laden” wrote Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen two years ago. Cohen was in lower Manhattan on 9/11 and isn’t shy about acknowledging his desire for revenge. At the root of his foreign policy, he declares (with complete seriousness), is his desire to grab bin Laden “by the throat and tear out his Adam’s apple.”1

Cohen’s sentiment finds a counterpart in the early pages of Scripture. One of the first poems recorded in Genesis is Lamech’s boast. Lamech revels in a vengeful violence: “I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me. If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times” (Gen. 4:23–24, NIV).

My first impulse is to deride and reject everything for which Lamech and Cohen stand. Lamech’s boast, after all, is specifically countered in Jesus’s command to forgive seventy-seven times (Matt. 18:22). Nevertheless, I’ve often found that my arguments don’t carry as much weight as I’d wish, both with Christians and non-Christians alike. The violence and suffering of 9/11 stands out so strongly in their minds that all my theological arguments—about their vain attempts at peace without eschatology, about Jesus as suffering servant, about the church as a new creation—seem to fall on deaf ears.
But perhaps I’m going about things wrong. What if my carefully crafted arguments against violence are less compelling than singing and giving voice to lament over the evil in the world? What if, as John Howard Yoder suggests, the ultimate source of violence goes deeper than any rationalization we give for violence?2 What if the antidote for Lamech is thus not argument but lament? Perhaps we are to sing the kinds of songs that Jesus himself sang as he suffered (Matt. 27:46 and Mark 15:34)....continued here

"Led Zeppelin to the clipped lawn of Hillsong: Žižek, Atonement Theory, and Pentecostal Theology"

 Click here to read the Matthew Del Novo article,  "Žižek, Atonement Theory, and Pentecostal Theology after Metaphysics." 
 How could you NOT click to read it, after reading the official (non-abstract) abstract below?:

  Note from the editor: an abstract would defeat the purpose of this article. It needs to be read, not summarised. What I can do is take the unusual step of citing the referee, John Capper, who responded:
There is something very integrated about the form and content: voice and vision. It is three leagues away from any caricatured norm, and will not be tamed. Meaning seeking words – antithesis of the norm; horizon stretching; grounded in the air, thus engaged; stimULATIINNNGGGGG.
Few will engage the meaning, and perhaps there is none. This is not the journal for this article, and yet it is…
It is Led Zeppelin to the clipped lawn of Hillsong.
This is an article that will annoy and enrich me (i don't yet know which will be stronger).  LINK

Pail Hiebert: An Anabaptist, Christus Victor perspective on spiritual warfare

There are a wealth of resources (lecture notes, articles, audio, video) from respected missionary anthropologist Paul Hiebert on the Hiebert Global Center website.  You'll have to email the curator of rhe site to get the passwords for many items (including the video seminar below).

This  below is Hiebert on spiritual warfare; a course I enjoted with him many years ago at Overseas Ministry Center on the Yale campus.

Copyright2015, Hiebert Global Center. All rights reserved.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

sola scriptura or prima scriptura?

Ken Schenk's "first thoughts" on What is distinct about a Wesleyan hermeneutic?
  • Historical method is historical method. I think what is more distinctive are the hermeneutical values in which we place the results of historical study.
  • The priority of the Bible for Wesleyans is transformation, both corporate and individual. This is God's doing and it is on God's agenda. The priority is formation rather than information.
  • The priorities of the individual for God are 1) our hearts, 2) our behavior, 3) our thoughts. So God is most interested in forming our attitudes and living through the Bible. Ideas are secondary.
  • Because of its sense that God's love is his central feature, the Wesleyan tradition naturally gels with an incarnational God, a God who comes to us. As such, we believe God speaks to us whatever our understanding of Scripture may be. We don't have to get to the original meaning to finally hear God. God will meet us without us having to have a certain understanding.
  • Thus, the Wesleyan tradition is more open to "more than literal" and figural readings of the Bible than other Protestant traditions. We are not bothered if the NT does not read the OT in context. We are open to the Spirit speaking to us out of context through Scripture. God's goal with the Bible is to meet us, not to give us a homework assignment.
  • On a side note, the "new perspectives" are far less a problem for the Wesleyan tradition than they are for the "high Protestant" traditions. 
  • We are not opposed to the way the Spirit has used the Church to clarify the application of Scripture in the Church. We are more a tradition of prima scripturarather than sola scriptura. link

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Danielle Strickland video: human trafficking

part 1 here
part 2 here

More links:
  • Profile: Danielle Strickland - Premier Christianity
    Danielle Strickland spends her days in brothels ministering to prostitutes, or trawling the streets praying with drug addicts. Her uncomfortable but challenging ...
  • Danielle Strickland (@djstrickland) | Twitter
    665 tweets • 7 photos/videos • 7258 followers. Check out the latest Tweets fromDanielle Strickland (@djstrickland)
  • Danielle Strickland | Facebook
    Danielle Strickland is on Facebook. Join Facebook to connect with Danielle Strickland and others you may know. Facebook gives people the power to share...
  • Danielle Strickland - YouTube
    Dec 27, 2013 - Uploaded by GOD TV
    Danielle Strickland, a major in the Salvation Army in Canada talks with Chip K about her testimony and the ...
  • Danielle Strickland | Focus 2014 - YouTube
    Aug 6, 2014 - Uploaded by HTB Church
    Find out more and book your place for 2015 International speaker, author and ...
  • Danielle Strickland | HTB Church - Holy Trinity Brompton
    International speaker, author and Salvation Army Officer Danielle Strickland shares her experience of how Jesus transformed her life. Speaking on the ...
  • Meet Danielle Strickland »
    Australia Eastern Territory
    Meet Danielle Strickland. Major Danielle Strickland is a Canadian Salvation Army officer, currently living in Edmonton, Canada. Outspoken and vivid, she is ...
  • Salvation Army Major Danielle Strickland Fights Human ...
    Sep 2, 2014 - Major Danielle Strickland's life has been a journey from a rebellious childhood to juvenile prison, God revealed His love to Danielle which led ...
  • Danielle is an internationally recognised in her capacity as a leader, speaker, writer, justice advocate, mission developer, and church planter.