Making the words sing

Chapter 17

Good Monday Morning to this week 17 of 2021

Last week Chris Green made the minor prophets sing.

I’m still amazed at his summary of Hosea:
God’s love wounds, God’s love can be wounded, God’s love, wounded, heals the wounding!

Having read the Biography of Eugene Peterson this weekend, I found another, that could make the Bible sing in many wonderful ways.

Four “Blessings” out of the Beatitudes of “The Message” to start this week.

Blessed are the poor in spirit …
You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope.
With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

Blessed are the peacemakers ….
You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

Blessed are the merciful ….
You’re blessed when you care.
At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

Blessed are the pure in heart …
You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

Wishing you a care-full start to this new week!

Philemon

The long way home!

Chapter 16

Good Monday Morning to this week 16 of 2021

The Gospel According to the Minor Prophets by Chris Green

Not sure how I stumbled upon this, but it’s too good, not to share!

The Gospel according to Hosea:
God’s love wounds
God’s love can be wounded
God’s love, wounded, heals the wounding.

The Gospel according to Joel:
Dream, children! Dream, slaves!
There’s nothing now to fear! When God throws the party
the first serve the best wines to the last.

The Gospel according to Amos:
Some truths only nobodies know
like God prefers bent sticks to fine lines
and Justice is worship dead to rights.

The Gospel according to Obadiah:
Because of your pride, I bring you down
In my humility, I go down with you
There, we become sanctuary for others.

The Gospel according to Jonah:
The word of judgment is nothing but the word of mercy
taking the long way home!

The Gospel according to Micah:
The story of salvation: God leaves home
alone in the dark, looking just like his father
limping because of his hip.

The Gospel according to Nahum:
Bloody ones, your cruelties are endless
so I myself will be your end—I’l make your grave my own.

The Gospel according to Habakkuk:
The only praise God wants to hear
comes after nervy protest and the unnerving silence that follows.

The Gospel according to Zephaniah:
You say I’m a do-nothing God, but my day’s coming
I’ll act and when I’m done there’ll be nothing left—but jubilee.

The Gospel according to Haggai:
The poor are God’s signet ring
Only those with nothing left to lose can believe
how good our future may be.

The Gospel according to Zechariah:
What do I see? A city without walls or sentries
A table set for all God’s giddy friends
Faces bright with joy.

The Gospel according to Malachi:
Our curse: we cannot tell how we wound God and neighbor
But the curse is cursed! God, as neighbor, heals.

I’m not sure which is my favorit … but the the one of
Mercy .. is talking the long way home really hits home with me this morning!

Wishing you a blessed week!
Philemon

BE REAL

Chapter 15

Good Monday Morning to this week 15 of 2021

St. Ignatius of Antioch 35 – 107

As the second (or third) bishop of Antioch, one of the most important churches of the day, he was certainly one of the most prominent Christians of the time immediately succeeding the apostles. 

Ignatius was overseer (bishop) of the Christians in Antioch in Syria during one of the persecutions that broke out while Trajan was emperor. When Ignatius was arrested, he refused to acknowledge the official gods and, not being a Roman citizen, was sentenced to die in the amphitheater in Rome. The soldiers with whom he traveled to Rome allowed him to visit some of the Christian communities along the way.

St Ignatius of Antioch has some very practical tips for our daily walk in faith.
A few of my favorites:

Christianity is not a matter of persuading people of particular ideas, but of inviting them to share in the greatness of Christ. 

It is better to be silent and be real than to talk and not be real.

Take heed often to come together to give thanks to God and show forth His praise. For when you assemble frequently in the same place, the powers of Satan are destroyed, and the destruction at which he aims is prevented by the unity of your faith.

Do everything as if He were dwelling in us. Thus we shall be His temples and He will be within us as our God – as He actually is.

A Christian is not his own master, since all his time belongs to God.

It is not that I want merely to be called a Christian, but actually to be one. Yes, if I prove to be one, then I can have the name.

Let no man’s place, or dignity, or riches, puff him up; and let no man’s low condition or poverty abase him. For the chief points are faith towards God, hope towards Christ, the enjoyment of those good things for which we look, and love towards God and our neighbor.

Pray without ceasing on behalf of other men…For cannot he that falls rise again?

Pray as if God will take care of all; act as if all is up to you.

Wishing you a good, practical start to this new week!

Philemon


Atonement

Chapter 14

Good Monday Morning to this week 14 of 2021

It’s the combination of “at one,” as in, “to be in harmony with”. You are at “at one” with God, you atone. The atonement then is “man’s reconciliation with God through the sacrificial death of Christ.”

How and why is this achieved?

Andrew Springer lays out 5 views in an article he published shortly before Easter. It would be great to also hear some views of Asia or the Africa. (I still regret leaving my book in a Rwandan Air flight “Theology Brewed in an African Pot”.)

1 — The Ancient View: Christ as Ransom

For the first thousand years of Christianity, most Christians believed that Christ was a ransom that was paid to Satan in exchange for releasing humans from the bondage of sin. Jesus himself said “Just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” That dualism is what concerns most critics of the ransom theory. One writer called that dualism dangerous because “among other things, [it] threatens the very sovereignty of God.” Basically, in some respects, it makes Satan equal to God.

2 — The Medieval View: Christ as Substitute

In this theory, it is God’s honor that is offended by our sin. And that offense cannot go unanswered, God’s honor must be restored. But man, being so much less than God, can never restore that honor on his own. “The debt is total, the obligation to pay it, total, the power to pay it, zero.” The answer then is found in the sacrifice of Christ: fully human, he can atone for man, fully God, he can restore God’s honor. This is Substitutionary Atonement.At about the same time Anselm was crystalizing his theory that God demands satisfaction, the feudal system was emerging in Europe in the late middle ages. 

3 — The Reformed View: Christ Receives Your Punishment

“The Father, because of his love for human beings, sent his Son (who offered himself willingly and and gladly) to satisfy God’s justice, so that Christ took the place of sinners. The punishment and penalty we deserved was laid on Jesus Christ instead of us, so that in the cross both God’s holiness and love are manifested.”This is called the Penal Substitutionary theory of atonement. “In Christ as Ransom theory, punishment is averted. In penal substitution, punishment is absorbed.”

4 — The Ethical View: Christ as an Example

The work of Christ chiefly consists of demonstrating to the world the amazing depth of God’s love of sinful humanity… There is nothing inherent in God that must be appeased before he is willing to forgive humanity. The problem lies in the sinful, hardened human heart, with its fear and ignorance of God… Through the incarnation and death of Jesus Christ, the love of God shines like a beacon, beckoning humanity to come and fellowship. Critics of moral influence atonement argue that at its best it doesn’t sound like atonement at all, and at its worst, dangerously veers into the ancient heresy , those who argued that Christians could be saved by their good works without divine help. But more generally, critics say moral influence theology doesn’t answer the question, “what do we need saved from?”

5 — The Battlefield View: Christ as Victor

Christus victor means “Christ as conquerer” or “Christ as victor,”. In a large way, Aulén reinterpreted our first theory of atonement, the ransom theory. The dualism demonstrated in that theory returns. The earth and heaven are locked in a cosmic struggle between good (God) and evil (Satan). Christ was sent to battle with and triumph over the elements of darkness in his kingdom. All of us are standing in the middle of a cosmic war zone. This view of atonement lies in sharp contrast to other views by its emphasis on the cosmic significance of Christ over the significance of personal salvation. “We are reconciled because the cosmos (all of creation) has been reconciled. Because the rebel powers have been put in their place, we can be presented ‘holy and blameless’ before God.” supporters point to many motifs found in various passages throughout the New Testament, like the power of Satan and his demonic hosts and our slavery to sin. Not to mention literally the entire book of Revelation, which casts the end times as the ultimate and final battle between good and evil.

To be fair, most, if not all, of these theories tend to crumble when pressed too hard. No theory of atonement seems complete or absolutely correct, at least to human understanding. 

As we ponder these five views and theories of atonement, there are many more, this Easter of 2021 we are in awe of the power of the cross and the atoning work of Christ. Because despite of, or in fact because of, its mystery, this debate, and these endless questions, people still find the answer as they have for two thousand years—in Jesus.

I wish you a blessed Monday Morning as you contemplate these thoughts!

Philemon