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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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Apr
23
2014

Justo González and the Politics of Impassibility, Part 1

Doing Theology in Spanish

Theology has everyday implications for life. Christian faith is more than just the abstract ideas one holds in one’s head; faith is the lived reality one embodies in the world. In fact, in parts of the world today, theology remains a matter of life and death, the difference between privilege and oppression. 


Few are better than Justo González at connecting the dots between what a person thinks about God and Christ, and how a person lives as a result. In his book Mañana: Christian Theology from a Hispanic Perspective, González starts by confronting the myth of objectivity. He knows that every human being who explores the mystery of God, and every person who reads the Bible, has a context and a culture that impact their perspective. He himself is no exception.

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Apr
18
2014

Good Friday and the Boston Marathon Bombers: The Terrorist on the Cross

Good Friday is the day in the Christian year when Christians look deeply into the mystery of the Cross of Jesus. 1 It is a solemn time for Christians, as we reflect on the suffering that Jesus endured. Some Christians recount in excruciatingly graphic detail all the various ways Jesus suffered. Other Christians reflect on those among us who are currently enduring suffering, and imagine ways we can be Jesus to them.

This year in Boston, this is also a time when Bostonians are looking back on the events of last year which powerfully impacted our city. Just over a year ago, the Boston Marathon was wrapping up, and many runners were nearing the finish line, when two explosions caused the deaths of three race spectators and the injuries of well over 200 more people.

In the days that followed that tragic act of terrorism, a manhunt was conducted in Boston and Cambridge which ended in Watertown only a few blocks from where my family and I live. 2 A suspect named Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arrested, and his brother Tamerlan was killed in a shootout with police. Both lived here in Cambridge, went to our schools, and were friends with our young people. They were members of our community.

This Good Friday, I'm particularly struck by one perspective on the Cross which has the potential to reframe all our thoughts on justice, on terrorists, and the system of sin in which we live. And ultimately, it reveals a God who is immensely worthy of worship.

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Apr
13
2014

Messiahs, "Success," and the Way of Jesus: A Palm Sunday Sermon

Text: Matthew 21.1-11

Success is the most important thing in life, and failure is to be avoided at all cost.

That’s the message I hear when I listen closely to the world around me. Success is celebrated; failure is mocked. Success means: you matter; failure means: you don’t.

I live in Cambridge, Massachusetts, five minutes from Harvard and ten or fifteen minutes from MIT. For a lot of people, just getting here is a success in itself. For others, getting here is only part of the journey to success. Not everyone completes their journey; some journeys end here. Here is where success and failure often hang in the balance.

How do You define “success”?

If you’re smart, what does “success” look like for you?
If you’re attractive, outgoing, what does “success” look like for you?
If you come from a wealthy family, what does “success” look like for you?
If you come from a poor family, what does “success” look for you?
If you’re spiritual, devout, what does “success” look like for you?
Whatever your background or current situation, ask yourself: What does “success” look like for me?

When I became a Christian at close to 17 years old, I discovered theology and fell in love. I read every theology book on I could get my hands on. I devoured them, because I wanted to know everything about God, the Bible, Christianity. Before I’d even left for Bible college, I made a goal for myself. I wanted to have a PhD in theology by 33. (It rhymes, so it’s gotta be God’s will, right?!)

I’ll be 32 next week, and I’m still working on a Masters degree with no plans to apply to PhD programs anytime soon! So, I could look at that and see failure—if that’s how I measure success. But another thing I have to ask myself is: Is that God’s definition of “success”, or mine?

What is God’s definition of “success” for you?

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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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