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Nov
04
2014

John Piper on Cancer: A Case-study in How New Calvinism Makes God into God's Own Enemy

 

When the Cure is Worse than the Disease

It might seem crazy to say that cancer is a “gift from God,” but John Piper has gone on record saying precisely that.[1]  In a 2006 article published to the website of Desiring God Ministries (Piper’s personal ministry), he wrote about cancer on the “eve of prostate surgery” after having been diagnosed with cancer himself. Piper writes:
 
1. You will waste your cancer if you do not believe it is designed for you by God.

It will not do to say that God only uses our cancer but does not design it. What God permits, he permits for a reason. And that reason is his design. If God foresees molecular developments becoming cancer, he can stop it or not. If he does not, he has a purpose. Since he is infinitely wise, it is right to call this purpose a design. Satan is real and causes many pleasures and pains. But he is not ultimate. So when he strikes Job with boils (Job 2:7), Job attributes it ultimately to God (2:10) and the inspired writer agrees: “They . . . comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him” (Job 42:11). If you don’t believe your cancer is designed for you by God, you will waste it.
 
2. You will waste your cancer if you believe it is a curse and not a gift.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13). “There is no enchantment against Jacob, no divination against Israel” (Numbers 23:23). “The Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11).”
 
Piper is confident that cancer is “designed by God” because: a) God “foresees molecular developments becoming cancer”; and b) doesn’t “stop it.” That settles it for Piper. God has exhaustive definite foreknowledge of all that will take place in the future, and God is all-powerful. Therefore, if cancer befalls anyone, it is because God wills it.[2]

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Oct
13
2014

Cruciformity or Idolatry: Reflections on Michael Gorman's "Counter-Imperial Theoformity"

I. Turning from Idols to the True and Living God (I Thes. 1.9b)

People are not their positions. Positions are ideological affirmations a person holds at a given time, but which a person can also renounce or just grow out of. If you have been journeying on a theological pilgrimage for any significant amount of time, your positions have no doubt evolved. If they haven't, I would question how critically you've examined those beliefs, and whether you've interacted with the best alternative views.

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Oct
13
2014

The Bible Project: A Beautiful and Powerful New Resource for the Church

Sometimes I wish there was a way to quickly encapsulate vast biblical themes (or summarize entire books of the Bible) in a thorough and creative way. The Bible Project is about as close to that as I've seen.

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Oct
11
2014

God is Loving Savior, the Savingly Loved One, and Saving Love Itself: Reflections on Moltmann's "Doxological Trinity"

Some Christians think God became a Savior only after the historical crucifixion of Messiah Jesus of Nazareth. For these Christians, God is not a Savior essentially, but incidentally. "Saving" is an activity God could do without; it's not something God "has to do." God is a Savior as a result of historical events, not because it is who God is in God's very nature. If humanity has not sinned, Jesus Christ would not have been 'necessary,' and God would not be a Savior.

Depending on your theological perspective, this belief could either appear common sensical or absurd. If you're coming from a Western, conservative, evangelical (Protestant) perspective, you likely find the belief that God became a Savior obvious. And it might be equally obvious that this is why Christians should worship God—because God has saved Christians by the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus. This makes sense to Western Christians because of Western culture. It is the individualism of Western culture that distorts salvation history into God's "plan of salvation" for humanity. And it is the consumerism of Western culture that makes God's praise about the salvation humanity has received."God does what God does because of us, and we worship God because of what we get from God."

Western Christians will argue that they hold this view for two important reasons. First, they claim that this view preserves and secures God's "freedom." They argue that were God a Savior in God's very nature, God would not be "free" to not save humanity. They claim this would introduce "necessity" into the nature of God. Second, they claim that it safeguards salvation as a gracious gift from God. Were salvation not something which God could have withheld from humanity, salvation would no longer be "grace" (a gift) freely given. Thus, they speculate that God could exist without communicating salvation.

However, in chapter 5 of The Trinity and the Kingdom, Jürgen Moltmann directly confronts this conception of God in a section called "The Doxological Trinity."1 He makes several arguments, which dismantle this view, rooted in Scripture, the tradition of the Church, and the doctrine of the Trinity.

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Sep
01
2014

Dancing, Arson, and a Plain Reading of Scripture: Brian Zahnd and Austin Fischer Debate Two New Calvinists in Chicago

Last Wednesday, Zondervan and the Sojourn Network (a New Calvinist church planting group) partnered to sponsor a debate on Calvinism in Chicago. The debate featured four participants: Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones representing Calvinism, along with Brian Zahnd and Austin Fischer representing non-Calvinist Christian theology. The reason Zondervan was involved is because the debate was designed as a promotional event for the two New Calvinists' book: PROOF: Finding Freedom Through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace published by Zonderan.

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Aug
15
2014

"You Think Our Lives are Cheap" — A Lament for Eric Garner and Mike Brown

"In the streets the sword kills, and at home there is only death." - Lamentations 1.20b

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Aug
10
2014

Black Jesus (Aaron McGruder's): Some Initial Thoughts

Heaven and the Bible are all the rage at the movies right now—as if Hollywood producers are just now realizing that there is money to be made in religion. I've already written about the string of comedies about the "biblical" end times that came out last summer, and a Left Behind remake is due out in October [sigh]. I walked past a local Red Box machine the other day and 4 of the top 10 featured rentals were about religion or the Bible: 'Noah,' 'Heaven is for Real,' 'Son of God,' and 'God's Not Dead.' Not to mention Ridley Scott's 'Exodus' is due to premiere this December, and some movie I can't stomach the trailer for called 'Christian Mingle' (don't Google it, you'll thank me later).

So it's no surprise Aaron McGruder, creator of The Boondocks (one of my all-time favorite shows!), has gotten in on the action with a new show on Adult Swim called Black Jesus. As many others have already pointed out, McGruder isn't the first in pop culture to depict Jesus as black, and he isn't even the first to depict Jesus as a pot-smoker. However, there may be more to McGruder's comedy than critics have recognized. Sure, reviews have been predictably mixed, ranging from the now obligatory "conservatives are up in arms" reports to the "calm down people, it's a comedy" reviews. But I predict, not unlike The Boondocks, McGruder's 'Black Jesus' will be packed with astute social commentary.

I'd just like to offer a few initial thoughts on Black Jesus through my hip hop hermeneutical lens, with an eye in particular toward racism.

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Aug
03
2014

Towards an Open, Unitive, and Liberative Christology, Part 3: Luther, Nestorius, and the Communicatio Idiomata

Modern day Nestorians ("Neo-Nestorians") follow in the footsteps of the condemned heretic Nestorius by denying the truth about Messiah Jesus, the Son of God, revealed in the Scriptures. They do this by disjoining the Person of Jesus Christ in a vein attempt at piety—an attempt to rescue God from the characteristics they find inappropriate for God.

In rejection of Nestorianism—a heresy which denied the unity of Jesus's Person—the Christian church adopted the principle of Communicatio idiomatum, the "communication of attributes" between the human and divine natures of Jesus Christ. Neo-Nestorians continue to reject this principle and thus remain in heretical error.

In what follows, I lay out in clear fashion the Christological principle of "communicatio idiomatum" starting with a definition, an except from Martin Luther, an explanation written by Alister McGrath, and excerpts from Jürgen Moltmann and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

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Jul
04
2014

July 4th PSA from Brian Zahnd

My wife, some friends, and I have been reading Brian Zahnd's new book A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace. We've only just started reading it, but already we've been challenged and inspired.

Since today is July 4th, and no doubt some of the US Americans who will be celebrating the birth of the United States today will be self-professed followers of Jesus, I wanted to share this Public Service Announcement from brother Zahnd in the form of an epic poem that will rock your socks off.

Enjoy!

 

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Welcome to TheologicalGraffiti.com

T. C. and Tyson Moore

Theological Graffiti is a blog written by T. C. Moore @tc_moore ...a Jesus-disciple, husband, father, urban minister, sometimes designer, writer, preacher, and theology geek. For more about me, visit my Personal Website or my Online Profile. Otherwise, enjoy the graffiti.

Shalom,
T. C.

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