Social Connects

 

TC's blog
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 fifteen minutes from MIT. For a lot of people, just getting here is a success in itself. For others, getting here 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?

Tags:
Links: Bookmark and Share

Mar
25
2014

Q&A: Canaanite Genocide and Interpreting the Hebrew Bible

It's Q&A time again! On the last episode, I addressed questions I'm frequently asked about Hitler and home invasion. This time, I'm addressing a few questions I'm frequently asked about the Canaanite genocide and interpreting the Hebrew Bible.

Q1: How do you interpret the Canaanite genocide passages?

There are at least two shifts in my thinking that have contributed significantly to my present way of approaching the infamous Canaanite genocide accounts.

First, I've come to reject the notion that there is a "face value" reading of Scripture. I think this idea is a leading culprit to making the Canaanite genocide passages so problematic. It is thought that interpreting them as "historical" (in the modern, scientific sense) is the "face value" reading. This is demonstrably false. Early church theologians and peoples outside the West do not read them that way necessarily. The question I always ask is: "Whose face is doing the reading?" Theologies which have emerged from minority communities and oppressed communities (e.g. Liberation theology, Black theology, etc.) have taught us that the social location out of which we read the Scriptures is highly determinative of the conclusions we are likely to draw. For example, a friend who is a Methodist pastor told me a story of when he was teaching the parable of the talents to a group of desperately poor and oppressed field workers in South America, they instinctively thought the slave who stood up to the master for reaping where he did not plant was the Jesus character because that was how they envisioned Jesus liberating them. 1 We Westerners tend to read that slave as the villain of the parable, and some (like Wayne Grudem) see biblical support for capitalism! 

My point is simple: We all come to the Scriptures with presuppositions; no one is exempt. And the historical-grammatical hermeneutic that evangelical seminaries and Bible colleges are famous for is not without its presuppositions. It assumes a view of "history" that is modern, scientific, despite the fact that ancient peoples did not share that outlook on history.

A few great books I've read which speak to this are The "Real" Jesus by Luke Timothy Johnson, Mere Discipleship by Lee Camp, and The Lost World of Genesis One by John Walton.

Tags:
Links: Bookmark and Share

Mar
24
2014

Are Science and Faith Mutually Exclusive? On Cosmos and Anti-Theism

When the first episode of Cosmos—the new reboot starring Neil deGrasse Tyson of the classic show starring Carl Sagan—featured a clear anti-religious narrative, I chalked it up to appeasing some corporate entity or the atheistic bent of one of its executive producers (you know which one!). Now that they've gotten that out of their system, I thought, they can now move on to actual science. But I'm sad to report: three episodes into the series and all three have prominently featured an unscientific approach to the relationship between faith and science and an ahistoric approach to the history of religion and science. 1 Even Harvard Professor Emeritus Owen Gingerich has weighed in with a critique. 2

Clearly this is red meat for the growing number of 'nones' in the U.S., who have abandoned "organized religion" due to the perception that all religious people and religion itself are anti-science. But the response from this growing constituency has been far less than measured and rational. Instead, the rejection of religious Fundamentalism has produced Anti-theist Fundamentalists. Both groups trade metaphysical attacks that discount the others' entire worldview. I had hopes Cosmos could rise above this juvenile approach, and not fall prey to this sort of uneducated partisanship. It has unfortunately become a shining example it.

Tags:
Links: Bookmark and Share

Mar
23
2014

Muslim Open Theists, Politics, T. F. Torrance, and Why the God-Man Matters

Muslim Open Theists?

People arrive at the conclusion that the future is at least partly 'open,' and that God knows it as such, 1 from multiple starting places. Since the 1994 publishing of The Openness of God 2 by five evangelical authors, many have arrived at these conclusions from within the evangelical subculture. This subculture is obviously Protestant, and overwhelmingly Trinitarian. 3 Others arrive at these conclusions through philosophical reflection on the nature of the future and on human agency. Not uncontroversially, others still arrive at these conclusions from contexts wholly removed from evangelical Christianity. (Whether or not the label "Open theists" should be ascribed to these non-Christian theists is still an active debate among evangelical Open theists.) 4

Nevertheless, Michael Lodahl, professor of Theology and World Religions at Point Loma Nazarene University, contributed a chapter to the book Creation Made Free: Open Theology Engaging Science titled "The (Brief) Openness Debate in Islamic Theology." 5 In this chapter, Lodahl reports that, according to accounts in Islamic history and philosophy, there arose a group of Muslims which rejected the traditional theological determinism/fatalism of Islam for a form of free will theism that included the epistemic 'openness' of the future.

Tags:
Links: Bookmark and Share

Mar
20
2014

Truth is the Justice League, Not Superman: On Factions in Open Theism



'Closed' Theism?

When I surrendered my life to Jesus at 17, I soon began to wrestle with the age-old philosophical dilemma of free will vs. determinism. I read as much as I could on the subject, but remained largely unsatisfied with many of the conclusions that were offered by traditional Christian systemic theology. I began to develop my own way of making sense of the biblical texts—which seemed to affirm both God's providential reign over human affairs and human free agency. I concluded that God has complete knowledge of all things knowable, but that the choices humans have yet to actualize aren't known as settled facts until they have been rendered by free human agents. I thought my view was simply a modified version of Arminianism (which was the default position of the tradition through which I became a Christian).

Then I happened to read Clark Pinnock's essay titled "From Augustine to Arminius: A Pilgrimage in Theology," 1 and discovered that there was a burgeoning movement in academic theology toward the very same conclusions at which I'd been arriving independently. I instantly became an "Open theist." It felt good to have a term for the strange belief I thought I alone believed. It felt good to know there were others out there that shared that strange belief. And since that time, I've considered myself an Open theist. I even attended the first "Open Theology and Science" conference in Quincy, MA, where I met Clark Pinnock and all the other authors of the 1994 book The Openness of God. After that, I became even more active online promoting Open theism, administrating Facebook groups, and starting a fan page for Greg Boyd (a well-known Open theist).

Fast forward to 2013, when I and three others co-directed the first Open theology conference geared toward non-academics. This conference was supposed to gather all those who have embraced Open theism and are trying to live it out in their everyday contexts. Right away, it became clear we hadn't fully anticipated just how different were all the other views Open theists hold. There were folks from widely divergent points of view—not just moderate evangelicals, like we expected. Some who attended were dyed-in-the-wool Fundamentalists. They balked at the suggestion that theistic evolution should be accepted by Open theists, and they insisted that the Bible be considered "inerrant." Open theism had it's first faction.

Tags:
Links: Bookmark and Share

Mar
15
2014

Cosmos, Episode One: A Religious Approach to Science and an Unscientific Approach to History

As I've publicly stated in the past, Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of my favorite people on the planet 1. He has a compelling personality; he's a brilliant thinker; and he has an inspiring story. When he has appeared on The Daily Show (btw, Jon Stewart is another one of my favorite people on the planet), I've watched with a generous portion of fanboy enthusiasm. I love it when he corrects the inaccurate science of movies and TV shows without apology or subtlety 2. I'm like that when it comes to theology. If I come on your show and you've got Jesus hanging on the wall depicted as a European, better believe I'm going to tell you about yourself!

For all these reasons and more, I was very excited when I find out Tyson had been chosen to host a reboot of the classic TV show: Cosmos. And I watched the first episode with 'nerdy glee'. 3

While the episode's visual effects were stunning (including a very cool, updated version of the "Cosmic Calendar" from the original show), and while I will continue to watch the series to see what develops, I have to unfortunately report that I was very disappointed with what I can only call the episode's religious approach to science and its unscientific approach to history.

Tags:
Links: Bookmark and Share

Mar
10
2014

How Not to Worship a Black Hole: A Review of Young, Restless, No Longer Reformed by Austin Fischer

Author: Austin Fischer
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Cascade/Wipf & Stock (2014)
Language: English
ISBN: 9781625641519

Amazon

Official Website

Over the last 15 years, I’ve engaged in far more discussions, “debates,” and arguments over the subjects of election, predestination, free will, determinism, foreknowledge and the like, than I’d actually be comfortable admitting. Some Christians care very little for these subjects, not simply because they are anti-intellectual or want to avoid conflict, but because they don’t understand what they have to do with their picture of God’s character. For me, however, these subjects have been critical. I’ve heard it said regarding theology that for many people—but perhaps particularly for certain personalities—one’s head and one’s heart have to agree, in order for that person to genuinely worship God. When it comes to these subjects, that has always been my desire: to worship God with my whole self. That is why I have never been able to either stomach emotionally nor substantiate intellectually the God constructed by Calvinism. I both cannot find it taught in Scripture, nor can I love and worship the portrait of God it paints.

That is not to say that I don’t recognize that many millions of Christians can and do. In the process of honing my own views, I have learned a great deal about Calvinism from Calvinists themselves. I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy many long-term relationships with Calvinists, including mentoring and professorial relationships. The vast majority of the Calvinists I’ve interacted with in person have been thoughtful, godly people. (Some unfortunately have not been). Online, however, I cannot say the same. The vast majority of the Calvinists I’ve interacted with through the medium of the internet have come across as arrogant, militant, and intellectually dishonest. That is perhaps why I continue to read books on this subject. A part of me is still deeply puzzled by the phenomenon of New Calvinism 1. In fact, it surprised me that I was not aware of this book sooner. While I’m normally one of the first to hear of books rebutting Calvinism, I didn’t know this book existed until a Facebook friend named Taylor Scott Brown began posting quotes from it as he was reading it. A few weeks later, my friend Erik Merksamer (aka "Mixmaster Merks") read the book and lent it to me. So now that I’ve read it myself, I’d simply like to outline the book for anyone who might read this review before making a decision about reading it, add some of my own thoughts here and there, and give it my hearty recommendation.

Tags:
Links: Bookmark and Share

Feb
28
2014

Precious Paleo-Confederates, the Laser Klan, and "Big God" Theology: Yeah, That Happened...

Precious Paleo-Confederates?

I had a bit of an odd interaction on Twitter with black hip hop artist Propaganda recently. You may remember that Prop once spoke out about the offense of his favorite Calvinist pastors and authors venerating their slave-holding forebears without regard for the suffering of his African ancestors. Well, I guess he got over it. Because, he was excited to read Joy at the End of the Tether by the infamous paleo-confederate Calvinist Douglas Wilson. When I asked him if Wilson was his "precious Paleo-Confederate", he responded:

Tags:
Links: Bookmark and Share

Feb
26
2014

ECC Perspectives on Salvation: Shalom, Justification, and Breathing Kingdom Air

For Covenanters, any study of salvation must begin with the Scriptures. We ask, “What does the Bible say?” (which is a version of the Covenant axiom “Where is it written?” that discourages proof-texting). This means that regardless of tradition, informed and skillful interpretation of Scripture will be the final arbiter of our soteriology. Covenanters also engage with the best scholarly thinking available to us, both past and present. Therefore, Covenanters gladly stand within the Reformation tradition of ‘justification by grace through faith,’ while also making space for contemporary perspectives on justification. We want to be Reformed, and always reforming! The Covenant’s perspective on salvation is colored not only by its historical roots in the Reformation, but also in the Pietist renewal movement which sought to further reform Protestantism and also to recover the living faith of the Early Church. So in the Covenant’s own history there is precedent for an on-going process of reformation toward greater and greater spiritual renewal.

The Scriptural Story: Salvation as Shalom-establishing

Beginning with Scripture, we find that salvation is rescue. In this sense, it implies the overcoming of danger, a conflict, or an enemy. But it is also the state of being free, whole, and safe from harm. For humanity, this state can only be achieved when we are joined with our Creator. Therefore, salvation is both being saved from something and saved to Someone. Scripture’s witness to salvation is displayed in the progressively-unfolding story of God’s action in the world in relationship to God’s creation, and to humanity in particular. The story which Scripture tells again and again is: 1) God forms a people; 2) God provides that people with a home; 3) God gives that people a purpose and/or mission. Then danger, conflict, an enemy emerge and threaten the people, the home, and the purpose God has created. In love, God rescues God’s people by repeating the process: forming again, providing again, purposing again. In a very real sense, biblical salvation is New Creation!

Tags:
Links: Bookmark and Share

Feb
25
2014

"Son of God" Movie: Part Brilliant, Part Failure

If you're not aware, the new "Son of God" movie opening in theaters on Friday is directly from the miniseries called "The Bible" which debuted on the History Channel back in March of last year. I watched the entire miniseries and was a vocal critic of many of the producers' choices—especially regarding ethnicity and racial stereotypes.

But their New Testament episodes weren't nearly as terrible as their Old Testament episodes. In fact, there was quite a bit worthy of celebration. So, here I'd like to re-post both the: 1) Brilliant Aspects as well as the; 2) Missed Opportunities

Tags:
Links: Bookmark and Share

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

New City Productions  

Books I'm Currently Reading:

Facebook Page

Follow This Blog

 
 

Member: MennoNerds

Browncoats Biblioblog Network

We Aim to Misbehave!

 

Recommended Books