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March 2013
Mar
30
2013

Politics, the Jesus Way (A Quick Reminder)

Jesus's "disciples" are His apprentices. That means, when we signed up to be a part of His army—this Jesus Movement we call the Church—we covenanted to do things His Way! Jesus's Way was to walk along the villages and towns preaching the Good News, healing the sick, and loving on people despised and rejected like Him. Jesus's Way was Not to put more rules on people on whom the Pharisees had already put so many—but to be ruled by Love. Jesus was in relationship with people who were different from Him: people the religious establishment called 'sinners.' Jesus's Way was Not to force anyone to follow Him, but to Invite them to follow him—to show them a better Way of being-in-the-world. This is what Jesus called the Kingdom of God.
 
When we, Jesus's apprentices, cozy up with the Empire and use their methods (laws, legislation, force) we are not following the Way of our Master: Jesus. Instead, we are following the ways of the world. All the kingdoms of the world operate the same way: By Force! Either you pay your taxes, or prison! Either you obey the laws, or prison! And, ultimately, every law is backed by the power of the sword to enforce it.
 
The Way of Jesus is not the way of the sword, but the Way of the Cross. Jesus's Way is to lay down our lives for our friends, our neighbors, even our enemies!! Jesus's Way is to triumph over Satan through unconditional, self-sacrificial love—because it is More Powerful Than The Sword! Jesus's Cross is the most powerful force in the universe—because it defeated sin, Satan, and reversed Death itself!
 
So, to love our neighbors the Way Jesus loved His neighbors (or enemies, if they are outside your empathy), is to advocate for them, to treat them with dignity as people made in the image of God, and to lay down our lives for them: demonstrating unconditional, self-sacrificial love for them.
 
That is the Jesus Way!
 

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Mar
25
2013

Best Episode Yet of "The Bible" Miniseries: Mission

I've been a vocal critic of "The Bible" miniseries on the History Channel since it began. Part of my critique has been due to the many historical, cultural, and biblical inaccuracies. But my primary criticism has been the complete mishandling of ethnicity, racial stereotyping, and glorification of violence. That's why it may come as a surprise that I actually liked this week's episode: Mission.

Yes, Jesus was still a white guy with dirty blonde hair—which is mind-numbingly ridiculous! But, several of the scenes in this week's episode were actually pretty well done. It was definitely hit and miss, like the scenes were voted on by the writing team the way the Jesus Seminar votes on his sayings. But overall, I was impressed.

So, in this post, I'd just like to highlight several brilliant aspects of the episode and several missed opportunities.

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Mar
19
2013

The "Genetic Relationship" Between Theological Determinism and Political Oppression: Extended Excerpts from Amjad-Ali and Ruiz

I've been told there is no "genetic relationship" between theologies that conceptualize God as all-controlling, all-determining, and utterly unfeeling and the political, cultural oppression of human beings in societies set up by adherents of such views.

I've been told theologies that teach God "ordains" the unjust circumstances under which some human beings suffer (while others prosper) and "predestines" those circumstances hasn't been used as justification for continued injustice and oppression.

I've been told that people can have "good theology" and yet own human beings like chattel, deem them less than human, and brutalize them. Such actions, they say, don't reflect the slave-owners' conception of God at all.

But I think we all know Thomas Paine was right when he said, "Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel [person]."

Well, I'm proud to say at least two eminently qualified Christian theologians have had the intellectual integrity and courage to make the case for just such a "genetic" link, and to refute this classic copout with a clear argument from history, sociology, and politics.

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Mar
18
2013

Judge For Yourself: Do These Statements Agree?

My blogging style is polemical, and I don't deny it. But I am also careful to cite all my sources when I mention the views of others, so readers can read the original source themselves.

Pastor Thabiti feels that I have misrepresented him with regard to his position on the relationship between theology and practice.

So, here are the extended quotes in question. You be the judge: Do they agree? 

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Mar
17
2013

Two Different Thabitis: The Calvinist and the Abolitionist

Recently, I wrote about the ruckus Christian hip hop artist Propaganda caused when he released a track called "Precious Puritans," which begins as a hard-hitting critique of the Neo-Calvinist hypocrisy of placing Puritans on pedestals while ignoring their slave-owning. Even as a Calvinist himself, Propaganda was nevertheless struck by the deep, visceral disconnect between the praise attributed to Puritans by Neo-Puritans such as Piper and Driscoll and his own outrage at their slave-owning. Unfortunately, what could have been a watershed moment in U.S. theological history was cut short by Propaganda's own self-critique which robbed that beautifully prophetic piece of nearly all its weight and sting. With the hypocrisy of Neo-Puritans in his crosshairs, he refused to pull the trigger.

Equally, if not more, complicit in the Neo-Puritan hypocrisy is Thabiti Anyabwile, the token black blogger at the Gospel Coalition (for which "The Calvinist Coalition" would be a more accurate descriptor). Several times pastor Thabiti has attempted to decouple the Puritan's theology from their practice of slave-owning, saying, for example:

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Mar
16
2013

Freestyle Providence: Hip Hop, Improvisation, and the Praiseworthy Wisdom of God [Throwback Post from 2009]

I spent longer than normal on the bus today because I needed to get a haircut in Allston, which is out of the way of my usual trek from Cambridge to Roxbury. This detour gave me time to listen to music and think. I listened to staples like Pac, 100 Portraits, and Jason Morant. But the extended trip gave me the opportunity to indulge in some favorites by Jill Scott and the Roots crew. While Jill and the Roots make music in two separate genres—R & B and hip hop respectively—the two share in common that jazzy Philly sound. This got me thinking about about the many connections hip hop and jazz share. From there, my mind shifted to theology—as it often does.

God and Improvisation

In Openness circles, the analogy of dynamic providence to improvisational jazz is well-known and affirmed. For Open theists, God's relationship to humanity, particularly regarding his salvific economy, is more analogous to the improvisation of jazz musicians than the direct rendering of notes from a musical composition. The brilliance and the artistry of the music is found in its creativity and spontaneity, not its ability to follow a pre-programmed routine.

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Mar
13
2013

On Love and Using the Bible as a Weapon...

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Mar
08
2013

Third Way Womanhood

What Does it Mean to Be a "Biblical" Woman?

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Mar
08
2013

Third Way Womanhood: What Does it Mean to Be a "Biblical" Woman?

Evangelical Christian women naturally want to be "biblical" women. Yet there is a deep-seated divide in evangelical circles amongst women regarding what "biblical womanhood" specifically looks like. One camp (the "Fearlessly Feminine"), argues that biblical womanhood is characterized by Calvinistic theology, complementarianism (male headship in both the home and Church), and Western, stereotypical expressions of femininity. 1 Another camp (the "Liberated Christian Women"), argues that biblical womanhood rejects complementarianism as patriarchy, and endorses feminism or egalitarianism (interchangeable gender roles in both the home and Church), and a missional view toward oppressed groups like women. This latter group often maligns Western, stereotypical expressions of femininity.

In this series of post, my incredible wife Osheta reflects upon her: a) encounters with both groups of Christian women; b) the values she appreciates from both groups; and c) where her journey has led her to now—which is not to identify entirely with either camp. She calls the journey she's on "Third Way Womanhood."

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Welcome to TheologicalGraffiti.com

T. C. and Tyson Moore

Theological Graffiti is the offical blog of T. C. Moore @tc_moore ...a Jesus-disciple, husband, father, urban church planter @NewCityCovenant, designer @NewCityPro, teacher, student, and friend. Discussion is welcome, so long as it is conducted in a spirit of charity. First and foremost, this blog is for self-expression—then community. More About.Me

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