Many people are uncomfortable when a spiritual authority discusses the god of mammon. You can hear it in such phrases as, “That church has no business talking to me about money”, or “What I do with my money is not my pastor’s concern”, or the up-front “So will I go to hell for not tithing 10%?” (Yes, I have heard all of these with my very own ears).
For many, money is an even harder topic when you don’t have much of it — especially if you’re in debt. We live in an age where getting a college degree is landing the upcoming generation in debt and some people say that the financial return, depending on the degree and person, sometimes isn’t worth it while (others say it is). Even in many first world economies outside the US, especially in Europe, don’t seem to be holding up well, either. With so much discussion about our monetary struggles, we cannot help but ask:
When Jesus said “blessed are the poor”, does that include me?
Check out my post on The Unitive on money!
There is a point when Christian fundamentalists can become Christian heretics.
I am speaking of those that claim to believe and practice the two greatest commandments, which are to “Love God and to love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Matthew 22:37-40), yet incite in others only hateful feelings by their condemning, protesting, shaming, and disregard for their neighbors. Far too often we have witnessed those that claim Christianity — fundamentalists, some proudly call themselves — use similar religious tactics the Pharisees in the Gospels employed that Jesus preached against. Why has the religion of grace produced such a grace-less community?
What does it mean that Scripture is “inspired” and what are its implications?*
“God is in control. He doesn’t need people, but He uses us. He did not invade Amos’ brain. Rather, He used Amos’ background and experiences to communicate to His people.”
Read Abbie’s Response→
“Theology, if its texts are truly inspired by this absent divinity, is not guided by a firm Archimedean point, but paradoxically, by a greater question mark; theology, guided by inspiration, is less firm than its secular contemporaries.”
Read Justin’s Response→
“If being fully human does not take away from being fully divine in the case of Christ, then why can we not have the same mysterious hypostatic union with Scripture?”
Read Alvin’s Response→
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*Note: This is not an ‘apologetics’ post on whether Scripture is inspired or not, but rather what inspiration means.
“Life/salvation/justification are all given to those who have faith in Christ, but it is not that faith that saves the person, it is Jesus that saves them. Jesus is δικαιοσύνη because he fulfills YHWH’s covenant faithfulness (צַדִּיק). It is Jesus’ faithful action that saves/justifies/gives new life. It is faith in Christ’s faithful action that provides these things. The righteous one will receive life from (Christ’s) faithfulness.”
Another great post by Scott on a controversial translation issue!
There is a statement being discussed among some of my fellow bloggers:
“I’m gettin’ real tired of all this postmodernist-relativistic-thought-applied-to-Christianity b—-sh—. Knock. it. the. hell. off. You don’t get to interpret the Bible based on your *feelings* or things you think the Holy Spirit told you that don’t line up with what the Bible actually, clearly says. There’s such a thing as absolute truth and you don’t get to screw with it.”
There are a few statements here that need to be addressed in relation to interpretation.
What does the Bible actually, clearly say?
You have to interpret based on your “feelings” (prejudices, etc.)
Humans and Absolute Truth
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:27, NIV 2011
I write this 30 minutes after the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the alleged Boston Marathon Bomber. On Twitter, the hashtag #manhunt is associated with the pursuit of this man. I have unfortunately seen many responses to this situation that wish for the immediate death of this man. It is here where Christians, those who wish to emulate Jesus and embody the Kingdom of God, must ask themselves — what does it mean to hunt down someone made in the image of God? How do Christians respond to those who wish death upon this man?
We can debate all day long about justice/the justice system in America and what it means to “bring someone to justice”, but what of the language to hunt someone down, as if they were less than human? It is here that we become no better than perpetrators of violent acts — their disregard for life spawns within us the drive to disregard their life. Our dehumanizing is filtered through the word and lens of “justice”, but take away that idea and you have the same underlying contempt for someone’s life. “Justified” violence is still violence.
And what of Jesus? Can we imagine the Prince of Peace — the one who died at the hands of and for his enemies — giving approval to this ethic of dehumanizing those whom he died for? If we truly understand the death of Jesus as the redemptive death for humanity and all of creation, then we see that anything that works against redemption and works towards dehumanizing is anti-Christian. Yes, may our prayers go to all the victims and those involved. Yes, the justice system has its place. But let us not forget the words of Christ that haunt and challenge us during times such as this:
You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48, NIV 2011).
So also Christ did not glorify in himself in becoming a high priest… In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.
Hebrews 5:5a and 7, NRSV
The book of Hebrews emphasizes Jesus’ humanity more than any other book in the New Testament. The alternating divine/human language about Christ can be perplexing at times, since the author weaves back and forth between the two in the same breath. The epistle (and thus, Christianity) poses a perplexing paradox:
Why does God have to be human to save humanity?