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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
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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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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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
14
2014

THEO GRAFF PODCAST

The THEO GRAFF PODCAST is a show about faith, theology and how they intersect the various cultures in our world. In particular, Theo Graff is an outflow of the life and ministry of T. C. Moore, an urban minister deeply influenced by hip hop culture. For more about T. C., check out his personal website.

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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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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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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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