Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Hidden Question

In the early fourth century, Arius brought the proposition that the Son was begotten and not eternal, thus creating a divide between the nature of God and the Son.  This proposition and the ensuing controversy that followed set the young church on fire.  It is said that merchants on the street of Alexandria would debate with their customers the nature of God, and whether the Son was truly, fully God.

And thus the church was changed forever.  To this day, Arius is refuted in churches, attempting to revive the old debate that was, in every way it could be, won by Athanasius and the majority of bishops. Unfortnately, in the focus of the church to hammer out the nature of God and the relationship between the Father and the Son, instead of the focus of the early church.

There is a debate about the nature of God in the NT, but it contains almost nothing about the nature of God's being, but is strongly debating the nature of God's character.  Is God a force of karma, pouring out judgment on those who deserve it?  Or is God ultimately merciful, forbearing to the point of allowing his reputation to suffer so he can bring sinners further into love?

In understanding the character of God, we also understand our own goals as individuals and as societies.  If God is karma, we need to bring harsh justice onto those who do evil.  If God is love and mercy, we should be forbearing and allow people to take advantage of us because in the end it makes us all who we ought to be.

If we focus on the being of God, we neglect the question of character, God's and our own, in order to explore that which we ultimately cannot know.  The being of God is the more interesting question because it requires in depth analysis, some imagination and curiosity.  It is the question that our human nature wants to explore because it does not require us to change, it allows us to be who we are.

But this is not the focus of Jesus or the rest of the New Testament.  They are constantly telling us to change, to be more merciful, loving and peaceful, both as individuals and communities.  They are telling us that it is hard work and requires our whole focus.

We are so easily distracted.

The proper study of God is his nature as displayed by his actions through Jesus, not his being.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Is it hypocritical for a Christian to advocate for interfaith tolerance?

To advocate a lack of prejudice against people who are different than you is becoming more loving, so more Christian, and more human.
To listen to other’s point of view is being more attentive, more loving.
To assist others, even if they come from a very different religion, is to be Christlike.
To hear other people’s idea of truth and to compare it to your own, even if you don’t accept it, is simple humility, recognizing that we don’t have all the truth that exists.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

"If you do that, you're going to hell!"

When someone is seeking Truth or the Good, we have to allow them to wander paths we would never go. Perhaps they go that way and will come to the path we travel. Or perhaps we will join them on their path that we find so offensive.
We don't know. All we do know is that they have to walk in that uncomfortable (for us) place for a while. The only thing we can do is accept it.

Monday, September 12, 2016

What are the Key Faith Differences between the Three Abrahamic Religions?

Judaism: “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord, and you shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul and with all of your strength.”
Christianity: “Jesus is Lord and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Islam: “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet.”

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Holy Saturday

Today, the church celebrates Holy Saturday, the day that the disciples of Jesus lived with grief, anger and confusion. The day that God allowed them to live with their questions, and didn't answer them. The day their faith was transforming.

What questions do you have for God? 

Please, only ask, don't answer, don't judge others for their questions. 

Only if we ask our questions will our faith be transformed into truth.

Here are some of my questions:

If you are concerned about the oppressed, why don't you just deliver them all now?

Why do you allow the church, who speaks the gospel in your name, continue to oppress the poor without correcting them?
If you are a God of love, why is there so much hatred done by your hand in the Scriptures?

If you are a God of love, why do we have two ethic systems in our brains-- one of compassion and the other of judgment?

Can't I just get some rest for a change?

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Maundy Thursday

In the church, today is Maundy Thursday. A celebration of the last supper of Jesus, and a day in which people will ritually wash each other's feet.
The thing about foot washing, is that it isn't about clean feet. Or general servanthood.
Any homeless person will tell you how essential foot care is, especially when you do miles of walking a day. Foot washing is basic hygiene, like brushing your teeth, in a walking culture. Having someone care for your feet is an essential luxury.
In the ancient world, foot washing was the first step in a whole process that the ancient world called "welcoming" or "receiving" and we might call "hospitality." It is taking a person who walked all day, has no indoor place to sleep, no full meal and inviting them into your home. You would take this vulnerable stranger, wash their feed, feed them well, listen to their stories and let them sleep a night in your home. So when Jesus said, "Do to each other as I have done to you" he's not talking about washing feet. He's talking about the full process of welcoming. He washed their feet, he fed them, he granted them sleep and he taught them truth.
Jesus specifically tied this hospitality to our faithfulness to Him. "Whoever receives one whom I sent receives me," and "Whoever welcomes you welcomes me... I tell you, whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these vulnerable ones as a disciple, they will not lose their reward."
Instead of embarrassingly washing each other's feet in church on Maundy Thursday, we should obey the intent of what Jesus intended. Find a vulnerable person, invite them into your home. Allow them to shower, to have a good meal, to sleep, and then offer them peace as they go on their way.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Creation Blessings in Church

Woe is me for my children are more concerned about timelines
Than the system with which I established my creation.

I made the rain to fall for free
Upon the mountain to capture it
For the tree upon the crag
For the rock to cup it
For the goat to drink it
For the human to milk it
For the cat to drink it.
For the bladder to piss it
For the heat to evaporate it
For the sky to gather it.

I gave creation for all to give for all to receive.

But the church is a churning machine.
Take the tithes
Take the volunteers
Take the hopes
Take the land
Take the tax exemptions
And churn, and churn and churn
And regurgitate into something lacking divinity.

Into salaries
Into empty buildings
Into bureaucracies,
Into doctrines
Into death
Where grace is a paltry thing:
A spirit without substance;
A hope never realized.