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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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May
28
2014

Towards an Open, Unitive, and Liberative Christology, Part 2: A Theological Virus and the Roots of Divine “Impassibility"

If you’re just tuning in, we’ve begun a new uber-nerdy/geeky theology series on Christology. In part one, we began by laying the groundwork for a particular type of Christology: Open, Unitive, and Liberative. The “Open” part signifies that this Christology will be compatible with Open theism 1. That means it will entail a relational view of ultimate reality. The “Unitive” part means it will not divide the Person of Jesus Christ as the early church heresy of Nestorianism (for example) did, and its contemporary manifestion, Neo-Nestorianism, continues to do. And the “Liberative” part means it will address the sociopolitical reality of both the ancient world as well as the world today.

To move toward this type of Christology, we had to begin at the beginning: with clashing conceptions of God. From pagan Gentile origins like Hellenistic culture, there arose a conception of God as static, impassible, unchangeable perfection. This conception fundamentally clashes with the God revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures, the God of Israel, and the God revealed in Messiah Jesus of Nazareth. The biblical conception of God is that of a dynamic, passible, relational God. Our guide to this contrast in God-conceptions was the eminent Jewish theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel. We saw that his work was seminal for the Open theist authors of the ground-breaking 1995 book The Openness of God and for leading proponent of Open theism, Clark Pinnock, in his 2001 book Most Moved Mover.

We also began to glimpse how the adoption of the Hellenistic conception of God contributed to the rise of the early Christological heresies. Dr. Justin Holcomb, author of Know the Heretics, identifies the precise pressure point of Nestorianism: the compulsion to protect the ‘impassibility’ of God. 2 Therefore, we sought to show how that compulsion is unnecessary when relieved by the dynamic, relational, passible conception of God proposed by Open theists, since at least 1995. The God revealed in Messiah Jesus of Nazareth, the God of the Bible, is willingly passible—hence the Cross.

In part two, we’ll chart the lead up to the age of church councils by highlighting the thinking of several important concepts and figures in early Christian theology. This will set the stage for part three when we’ll note the rejection of Nestorianism due to its disjunctive Christology, and the Christian Church’s stubborn refusal not to abandon the God revealed in Jesus Christ for the unmoved mover or Aristotle or the changeless perfection of Plato.

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May
24
2014

Towards an Open, Unitive, and Liberative Christology, Part 1: Abraham Heschel, Pathos, and Clashing Conceptions of God

Introduction: What’s the Eucharist Got to Do with Christ?

Recently I attended the worship gathering of an evangelical Christian fellowship who celebrate communion weekly. This was encouraging to me because I’ve come to believe that Christian worship is meant to center around the Lord’s Table, the meal that Jesus gave his disciples, which was received and ‘passed on’ by the apostles. Few evangelical congregations of which I’ve been a part have practiced Eucharist weekly, and that’s been disappointing. But the way over which the Eucharist was presided in the worship service this particular Sunday bothered me. The minister who introduced the Table said things like “we do this to remember the night Jesus ate with his disciples” and “when we do this, we’re saying ‘yes’ to Jesus—we’re ‘opting in’.” Those things aren’t wrong necessarily—in fact they’re generically true; they just aren’t the whole story. There’s more to the Eucharist than just a memorial (#sorrynotsorry Zwingli). I left that gathering thinking: “That’s not good theology.”

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May
10
2014

Justo González and the Politics of Impassibility, Part 5

We’ve finally arrived at the fifth and final installment of this series on the ‘politics of impassibility,’ looking deeply into an important book: Mañana 1 by world-renowned, Hispanic theologian and historian Justo González. Be sure to check out the rest of the series (one, two, three, four).

In part four, we drew readers’ attention to the ninth and tenth chapters of Mañana: “On Being Human,” “And the Word Was Made Flesh” respectively. Part four focused on chapter nine and so we’ll now turn our focus to chapter ten.

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May
03
2014

Justo González and the Politics of Impassibility, Part 4

This is the fourth part of our series on Justo González and the politics of impassibility. (If you’re just tuning in, be sure to check out parts one, two, and three.)

Two the best chapters in Mañana 1, are chapter 9: “On Being Human,” and chapter 10: “And the Word Was Made Flesh”. In these two brief chapters, González accomplishes something most theology scholars could devote dozens of books to and not address nearly as thoroughly. In the span of 30 pages, González takes readers through a seminary degree’s worth of insights into human nature, church history, Scripture, and Christology. But if that wasn't enough, he continues to integrate the socio-political nature of faith into his discussion. 

In this fourth part, I’ll attempt to synthesize González’s thought on human nature from chapter 9, the implications it has on Christian theology, the church, as well as the socio-political ramifications. Let’s dive in!

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Apr
28
2014

Justo González and the Politics of Impassibility, Part 3

Were in part three of a series considering the thoughts of celebrated historical theologian Justo González on the doctrine of “impassibility” from his fantastic book Mañana. Be sure to also check out parts one and two.

The Patripassian Truth

After Nicea ruled definitively against Arianism, rejecting the immutable and impassible god of the philosophers in favor of the God revealed in the Crucified Son of God, who is ‘of one substance with the Father,’ another heresy arose which came to be known as Patripassianism. The name is unfortunate because instead of being named for the heretical portion of its view, it is named for its only truth.

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Apr
24
2014

Justo González and the Politics of Impassibility, Part 2

In part one of this series on the politics of impassibilty, we surveyed the argument made by Hispanic theologian Justo González for the rejection of the false god of the pagan, Gentile philosophers—which is actually an idol—in favor of the self-disclosing God of the Bible, supremely revealed in Messiah Jesus of Nazareth. We demonstrated that there is a socio-political dimension to the theological conclusions at which one arrives. The doctrine of impassibility comes from an Athenian society built on the backs of slave labor. Impassibility was the natural outflow the Athenian aristocracy’s indifference to the suffering of the lower classes. They projected their value of personal impassibility onto their conception of God.

“The interests of a dominant social class work much more subtly, pervading the mentality of those who form part of it, and even of those who are subject to it, to such a point that those interests are eventually confused with pure rationality.” 

“It has often been remarked that Plato’s understanding of the ideal state and its order was essentially aristocracy, although an aristocracy of the intellect rather than of wealth. What has not be remarked as often is that the same is true of his metaphysics.” 1

In part two, we’ll look at González's explanation for how the early Christianity made the turn from triune God of the Bible, revealed in Jesus to the idolatry of the philosophers God-conception.

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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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