Quote of the day

by Kim on February 24, 2011

“Jesus is Lord, and everything else is bullshit!”

– Stanley Hauerwas
(responding, in an interview in the March Reform, to the question: “What for you is the centre of Christianity?”)

{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

1

UMJeremy 02.24.11 at 4:21 pm

I like the attitude but not sure I agree with the statement. I’m reading through Thomas Oord’s “The Nature of Love” who critiques systematic theologies for placing “love” at the margins or as a consequence and not at the center of theology. Not done yet but the statement above is not quite the same as saying “God is Love and everything else is bullshit” which I suspect is Oord’s conviction.

2

Stuart 02.24.11 at 4:37 pm

I love it.

3

Mendip Nomad 02.24.11 at 4:59 pm

Stuart - I think I’m probably with you on that (though I haven’t read Oord) but I note the question Hauerwas is answering with the quote. Surely the central point of Christianity must be Christ? “God is love” is an expression that would certainly be ascribed to by Christians but could feasibly be ascribed to by those of other faiths too. “Jesus is Lord”, however, is very much a central tenet of our Christian faith (though I admit to not much liking the phrase and being able to say it only because I am capable of doing mental gymnastics over its exact meaning). I would not dare speak for Hauerwas but I would suggest he is aiming at suggesting something along the lines that the central principle of Christianity is submission to Christ and Christ alone (given the “Christ alone” allows for Christ as God who is three-in-one and one-in three) and that adding other principles, whether conservative, liberal, evangelical, or catholic, is crap that gets in the way of that submission rather than defining the nature of that submission.
I may, of course, be entirely wrong, unintelligible or both!

4

Mendip Nomad 02.24.11 at 5:07 pm

Oops, meant to address the above post to Jeremy not Stuart, although I agree with Stuart and like the quote. :)

5

Stuart 02.24.11 at 5:18 pm

Thanks Mendip ;-)

6

AndyV 02.24.11 at 5:27 pm

Totally unrelated to the subject … a poem to Richard!

Where, oh where is Richard?
King of the Methodist blog,
Who stands against injustices;
Champion of the under-dog.

Where, oh where is Richard?
Whatever has happened to him?
Wes he abducted by aliens;
And replaced by a feller called Kim?

7

UMJeremy 02.24.11 at 5:36 pm

I like your comment, Mendip and find it completely intelligible. I think the pushback for me is that it places an abstract aim (lordship) at the center rather than a practical aim (love). I don’t disagree with either, of course, and they both inform each other…but when you put them side-by-side, I’d rather Christianity’s center be praxis rather than abstract conviction. I’m probably more Liberation Theology than I realize.

8

Mendip Nomad 02.24.11 at 5:44 pm

Jeremy, could it not be said that submission is praxis, which is then visualised in the world through our further praxis of love, which, because we have submitted, is the love of God? I’m thinking out loud here so feel free to continue pushing back! (I’m also procrastinating rather than writing the Supervision Essay I’m supposed to be writing on a theme I genuinely find to be a waste of time but which I am nonetheless expected to have written 1,500-2,000 words on by later this evening!)

9

Mendip Nomad 02.24.11 at 5:51 pm

Might I also suggest that since Hauerwas is a virtue ethicist it might be said that the primary virtue of a Christian is submission to Christ, and because of that submission we therefore will live out the primary virtue of Christ, which is love? Of course, our love is not the perfect love of Christ because we are imperfect and therefore our submission is imperfect.
For those who comment here and like theology backed up by scripture I might suggest Paul in Romans, with a focus on 13.8-14.
(Really must get back to that essay!)

10

fat prophet 02.24.11 at 6:31 pm

Well said Andy - this blog seems to have suddenly become very deep and theological and while the posts and subsequent comments have been very interesting it would be good to have a little lightness and fun which Richard often provides.

Please, Please, Please, Please come back Richard!!!!!

11

UMJeremy 02.24.11 at 6:33 pm

Ah, well said Mendip. You are correct that submission can be praxis which through conviction leads to the praxis of love, thus solving my difficulty with the statement (and making it very Liberation-y even if that is not your intent). Hmph. At the risk of offending people who think every online conversation should be an unyielding debate, I don’t really have a pushback to your response.

What I do have is an unsettled thought of what does it say about us that submission is at the heart of a human system whereas love is at the heart of the divine system of God? While certainly the praxis of love flows from the praxis of submission, I don’t think submission is a requirement for God’s love to flow through and work through us. Is it a requirement for Christianity (which is the original question)? Yes. But not for the God whom we worship. Perhaps I wasn’t answering the question presented.

(I will gladly help you procrastinate! tee hee)

12

Doug 02.24.11 at 7:12 pm

Kim, while I wouldn’t use a curse word to describe what else things are beside Jesus is Lord, it comes a little close to Paul’s use of “dung” in indirect reference to the quote. :)

However, thank God that Jesus made the way for Salvation to be made available and that by Faith in Him and His resurrection we are “made righteous”. Sounds like “being made righteous” is not “dung” but I get the point and this doesn’t detract from the importance of the quote you referenced. :)

13

Kim 02.24.11 at 7:13 pm

“Jesus is Lord” is the exegesis of “God is love” (and vice-versa).

Or try this suggestion of Karl Barth: in I Corinthians 13:4-7, substitute the name of Jesus for agape. See?

BTW, Hauerwas was exaggerating: not everything else is bullshit. There is, of course, baseball, an absolutely essential element (for Americans at least) for their training in discipleship.

14

Kim 02.24.11 at 7:19 pm

Skubala in Philippians 3:8 means, precisely, “shit”.

15

Jason Goroncy 02.24.11 at 9:19 pm

Love it Kim, except you’re up the tree with the baseball comment. Simply replace all ‘baseball’ with ‘fishing’. ;-)

16

Mendip Nomad 02.24.11 at 9:25 pm

Kim, my experience in the Deep South was that, in most places, it was football (of the American rather than European variety) that was essential to all parts of life, including discipleship, rather than baseball! ;)

And I like the Barth suggestion, might hold onto that one for a sermon some time!

Jeremy - might we say submission is part of the nature of being created? Our createdness requires us to be in submission, and we may choose to be in submission to ourselves or to God. It is right, therefore, that we submit ourselves to our Creator, who, to use what I tend of being a rather Celtic phrase, loves us into being. In doing so, we submit to that which is the very cause of our being, namely love, which is seen most perfectly in the person of Jesus Christ.

17

Pam 02.24.11 at 9:55 pm

Love this quote. Is Stanley a ’secret’ Aussie? Bulls*** is one of our favourites - very useful in all sorts of situations.

18

Tony Buglass 02.24.11 at 9:58 pm

I have often thought a good and creative question is “What is the irreducible minimum of Christian faith?” It doesn’t mean that I don’t believe the rest (calm down, Doug!) bu that there comes a point beyond which it cannot be boiled down any further. For me, it is “Jesus is Lord.” That has implications, like doing what he said: Love God, love your neighbour. That’s pretty Liberationist from where I stand, as well as being Catholic, Orthodox and Evangelical all at the same time.

The other response is the personal creed of Bishop David Jenkins, who I saw as something of a liberal bete noir in the 1980s (apart from his steadfast opposition to Mrs Thatcher), then I met him and found him a deeply engaging and loving man of God. His personal creed runs like this:
God is.
He is as he is in Jesus.
Therefore there is hope.

To paraphrase Hauerwas - all the rest is just unpacking.

19

Rachel 02.24.11 at 10:09 pm

Tony- pleased to find someone else who loves the Jenkins creed. It’s short enough for me to remember - uses completely ordinary language (whereas “Lord” needs some unpacking) - and completely sums it up for me.

20

Doug 02.24.11 at 10:20 pm

Tony, you probably will be please to know that I really enjoyed this latest response of yours. Very well written and I enjoyed it very much.

You mentioned, “Love God, love your neighbour”, might I add that the only way to truly “love God” or for that matter truly “love your neighbor” is by placing our Faith in Christ at the response of Christ drawing us to Himself and making available the free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord with our acceptance and unpacking of the free gift available to all.

You referenced a quote here “God is. He is as he is in Jesus. Therefore there is hope.” …for those who place their trust in Him. (just alittle addition I thought really makes it even more profound than it already was, which was good.

“To paraphrase Hauerwas - all the rest is just unpacking.”

Sounds like Hauerwas agrees with me more than anyone would realize. Sounds like a confirmation of my position in the discussions with Kim on the “free gift of eternal life” awhile back.

21

Kim 02.24.11 at 10:50 pm

Re. baseball: I dare say that this is Hauerwas’ own view. He is always linking theology with baseball - and with Christian pedagogy. It just so happens that he agrees with me!

Jason, I can also see a place for fishing in virtue ethics (patience, endurance, hope, loafing). As long as you’re allowed to take a six-pack with you!

But American football (a sport I also love)? Well, perhaps as an outlet for pacifists to kill people without killing people.

22

Mendip Nomad 02.24.11 at 11:46 pm

Kim, much as Ole Miss has a very well respected baseball team (at least in Oxford, MS!) nothing comes close to the energy and importance placed upon the Rebel Football team. I haven’t read huge amounts of Hauerwas (yet) but I do recognise his love of baseball and it’s relevancy, at least for him, of understanding life, faith and their interaction.

Doug, I’m afraid the Rt Rev David Jenkins would likely not allow your addendum to his great personal creed. It would be vitally important to him that the ending of it remains open-ended - only God knows whether there is an elect, a self-selecting people, or universal salvation, what we must recognise is that through God as seen in Christ there is hope, the rest is entirely in God’s hand.

Tony, I may come from a different tradition to you, indeed to many who comment on these threads (one day I will get around to blogging in my own space about where I do come from!), but I too would admit to “Jesus is Lord” being the most irreducible minimum of our Christian faith, though, as mentioned, I am not comfortable with the precise language nor do I believe it to be helpful for all people.

23

Jim 02.25.11 at 1:31 am

I sat at Hauerwas’ feet while at seminary and his language always shocked me…which I think is part of the package. But, even as you edited out the profanity, the theology never failed to shock me either. Twenty years later, he’s still influencing me.

And, yes, the baseball image would be right at home in one of his classes.

24

Tony Buglass 02.25.11 at 9:30 am

“…I am not comfortable with the precise language nor do I believe it to be helpful for all people.”

I agree. It is very much of its time, as would be most translations or interpretations. Back in the days of yore, I often translated it in terms of a familiar graffito: Jesus Rules, OK. The point is the same, however it is translated.

25

Tony Buglass 02.25.11 at 9:49 am

Doug, the point about David Jenkins’ personal creed is that it is his personal summary of a lot more. Yes, he was notorious among UK evangelicalism for his very liberal theology, but that was largely because the Press and most evangelicals simply failed to understand the man. On the couple of occasions I met him, he came across a a person of very deep Christian faith. The only difficulty is that his brain was wired up for a different philosophical language from the rest of us!

As to adding on your bits to his creed - well, that misses the point of a credal statement. It is essentially a summary, a symbol of a shared faith. “Jesus is Lord” was probably the first Christian creed, used more than likely as a baptismal statement, and in conscious opposition to the statement from which it was derived: “Caesar is Lord” (hence my comment about it being of its time). You can add bits if you like, clarifying your position in ever more detail, but the more you do that, the more you exclude other believers rather than include them, until what should have been a gathering point showing the whole church together in faith actually divides it into lots of little sects, each defending their corner against the dangerous heretics next door. Not what God wants.

26

Tony Buglass 02.25.11 at 9:51 am

To illustrate the above:
Fred was walking across a high bridge and saw a man about to jump. So he said, “Don’t jump!”
He said, “Nobody loves me.”
Fred said, “God loves you.”
He said, “I do believe in God.”
Fred said, “Are you a Christian or a Jew?” He said, “A Christian.”
Fred said, “Me too. Protestant or Catholic?”
He said, “Protestant.”
Fred said, “Me too! What denomination?” He says, “Baptist.”
Fred said, “Me too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?”
He says, “Northern Baptist.”
Fred said, “Me too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?”
He says, “Northern Conservative Baptist.” Fred said, “Me too! Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist or Northern Conservative Reform Baptist?”
He says, “Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist.”
Fred said, “Me too! Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes Region or Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Eastern Region?”
He says, “Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes Region.”
Fred say, “Me too! Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879 or Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?”
He says, “Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912.”
Fred said, “Die, heretic!” and pushed him off!

27

Tim 02.25.11 at 10:40 am

‘Jesus is Lord’ is an objective statement about the structure of the universe (to paraphrase John Howard Yoder). Thus, to believe it and to live in obedience to Jesus the Lord is to live in harmony with the structure of the cosmos.

28

Mendip Nomad 02.25.11 at 4:33 pm

Tim, I see what you’re saying, and (I think) I agree re: the living in harmony with cosmic structure, but the scientific part of my brain is screaming at me regarding “‘Jesus is Lord’ is an objective statement…”! It isn’t! It is something which is not empirically observable and cannot therefore be objective. It is certainly what I would label the truth, and also a statement that is demonstrably the most singular truth within Christian faith & pactice. I think, however, that I would, personally, be happier if the sentence simply omitted the word “objective”, but I know others who would be more than happy to keep it in.

To echo Andy & FP, however, “when’s Richard back”? I love these in-depth conversations, they certainly help my studies, but it’s been a tough week, I have a busy weekend, and I’d like some light-heartedness returned to the environs of this blog, please! :)

29

Kim 02.25.11 at 4:48 pm

There has been a coup. Richard is in my attic, under house arrest. :)

30

Bob Gilston 02.25.11 at 5:02 pm

Stop lying Kim. He’s been seen skulking around Caergwrle pretending to walk the dog - but I think there must be something afoot.

31

Methodist Preacher 02.25.11 at 5:19 pm

I hope Richard’s OK.

32

Tim 02.25.11 at 5:20 pm

The value in the word ‘objective’ is that it affirms that the Lordship of Jesus is not dependent on whether or not I acknowledge it. I do not ‘make’ Jesus the Lord; he isalready the Lord of all (as Peter affirms in Acts 10:36).

33

Kim 02.25.11 at 5:25 pm

“Skulking”?

34

Tony Buglass 02.25.11 at 5:26 pm

OK, just for MN, a few comments to make you relax/laugh/run away screaming:
So what if I can’t spell Armageddon? It isn’t the end of the world.

Doctor Doctor, I’m shrinking.
Well you will have to be a little patient.

Two parrots are sitting on a perch, one says to the other “Can you smell fish?”

Guitar, for sale…….. Cheap……. . …….no strings attached.

The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe
is the fact that it has never tried to contact us.

My inferiority complex is not as good as yours.

I have kleptomania, but when it gets bad, I take something for it.

Just in case you’re really trying hard to get that essay done in time: I love deadlines. I especially like the whooshing sound they make as
they go flying by.

(One for Pam)
Behind every great man,
There is a surprised woman.

Have a great weekend, folks.

35

Mendip Nomad 02.25.11 at 5:59 pm

Cheers, Tony, much appreciated. The deadlines one reminds me of one of my favourite Jerome K. Jerome quotes - “I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.” :)

Tim, I think, at least for now, that we may just need to agree to disagree. I’m pretty sure disagreement over the word “objective”, to reference Tony at #24, isn’t any reason to be pushing one another off a bridge and, to be quite honest, at this time on a Friday evening I haven’t got the energy to try! :)

36

PamBG 02.25.11 at 6:02 pm

@Tim re comments 25 & 29: Amen!

37

PamBG 02.25.11 at 6:06 pm

I might add, if it’s helpful, that I tend to use the word “ontological” rather than “objective”, but maybe that will drive MN even more crazy.

Jesus *is* (ontological) Saviour and (ontological) Lord. His salvation and Lordship cannot be undone. In my view, it’s also how I can affirm Jesus as my saviour and Lord and not be a Christian exclusivist. ISTM that Christian exclusivism is based on the (often denied, but usually practiced) idea that *I* create Jesus’ Lordship and salvation by “accepting” him as such.

38

Doug 02.25.11 at 6:49 pm

“only God knows whether there is an elect, a self-selecting people, or universal salvation, what we must recognise is that through God as seen in Christ there is hope, the rest is entirely in God’s hand.”

I totally agree God knows but clearly from God’s Word we DO know:, “that the only way to truly “love God” or for that matter truly “love your neighbor” is by placing ones Faith in Christ at the response of Christ drawing us to Himself and making available the free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord with our acceptance and unpacking of the free gift available to all.”

At the same time I’m not doubting 100% that David is not a Believer but we at the same time must have a proper understanding of the nature of God, Christ, Salvation, etc.

PamBG I some questions, is this quotation from Jesus “He that has the Son has life. He that has not the Son has not life.” an “exclusive statement”? Is this statement of Jesus “If you deny Me I will deny you before My Father in heaven. If you accept Me I will accept you before My Father in heaven.” an “exclusive statement”? Is this statement in God’s Word in the New Covenent, “Without Faith it is impossible to please God.” an “exclusive statement”? If they are then doesn’t my view of Salvation put aside your concern about the wrong idea that “”I” create Jesus’s Lordship”?

39

Kim 02.25.11 at 7:12 pm

Personally, Mendip, while I think we all hear what you are saying, I’d resist the reduction of the “objective” to the “empirical”, i.e., to the “scientifically” factual, observable (or, to be more precise, detectable). As a Cambridge lad (hey, nobody’s perfect!), you will know the numinous presence of Nicholas Lash. In his famous demolition of an essay of Dawkins’ The God Delusion, he observes “that there are no ’scientific’ facts. There are just facts, what is the case.” And it is the case that “Jesus is Lord”.

In fact (!), why concede the use of the word “scientific” to the scientists? Lash goes on in his essay (citing Martin Rudwick) to refer to the “anglophone heresy of ’science’”, and cautions us against the way the word is often ideologically deployed, as if in science alone (rather than, say, in the arts) does truth reside. In the non-English view, an enterprise is scientific if it rigorously studies its object in appropriate epistemological ways. You study God in ways different from the ways you study a quark or a quasar, but the former is no less scientific than the latter. Indeed, only a false humility prevents us from still calling theology the “Queen of the Sciences”.

Of course, as long as you define your terms, fine. But to many (most?) people, if you say that something isn’t “objective”, they will conclude that it is “subjective”, or even an “opinion”. And certainly no Christian would want to say that about the confession that “Jesus is Lord”.

40

PamBG 02.25.11 at 7:33 pm

is this quotation from Jesus “He that has the Son has life. He that has not the Son has not life.” an “exclusive statement”?

Yes, Jesus said that. :-)

41

Bob Gilston 02.25.11 at 8:06 pm

Kim. Skulking was a wrong word. I think he’s just trying to stay out of the way for a bit.

42

Doug 02.25.11 at 8:10 pm

Well, since you said that yes to my question of it being an “exclusive statement” then doesn’t that put aside your concern that those who believe in an exclusive view of Salvation are attempting to create Jesus’s Lordship and show as a a matter of fact that this exclusive view is Jesus’s view while at the same time being a Salvation made available to all?

43

Doug 02.25.11 at 8:13 pm

“Of course, as long as you define your terms, fine. But to many (most?) people, if you say that something isn’t “objective”, they will conclude that it is “subjective”, or even an “opinion”. And certainly no Christian would want to say that about the confession that “Jesus is Lord”.”

Perfectly said Kim. Can you say “100% agreement with Doug”?

just for you because you like them :)

44

PamBG 02.25.11 at 10:25 pm

then doesn’t that put aside your concern that those who believe in an exclusive view of Salvation are attempting to create Jesus’s Lordship and show as a a matter of fact that this exclusive view is Jesus’s view while at the same time being a Salvation made available to all?

Jesus also said that not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven but only the one who does the will of the Father. He also told a parable about the sheep and goats which suggests that those who are certain that they are sheep may find that God believes them to be goats.

I believe that there are non-Christians who do the will of the Father and many Christians who don’t. I don’t know which individuals will be harshly judged; that is up to God. What I do know is that the popular form of evangelical Christianity is not at all grace-based but rather fear-based.

45

Mendip Nomad 02.25.11 at 10:56 pm

Kim, maybe the use of the term scientific was misleading/mistaken - as you say, no-one is perfect (except, of course, our Lord, Jesus Christ), least of all us Cantabs (especially in the eyes of my wife, who went to “The Other Place” - for those unversed in English elitist terminology this refers to the univerity in a place beginning with O, ending in D and with the Thames, known there as the Isis, flowing through it - unless, of course, you are in “The Other Place”, in which case the term refers to Cambridge!) But I think we cannot help that the word objective has become tied in the English speaking mind to the idea of fact, and it is therefore inappropriate, I would argue, to suggest that “Jesus is Lord” is objective.
Of course, the further problem is then that most people would indeed assume this means it is subjective, which of course it isn’t - it is either true or false, and it is either always true or always false, therefore it is not subjective.
And here I turn to PamBG - you know what, as much as I dislike ontological ethics, I actually find the use of the word in this situation quite appealing (and I don’t think that at any point I actually went crazy, but you may all disagree!).
Doug, I agree that we do know that the ultimate demonstration of love of God and of the world (neighbour and enemy) is submission to Jesus as Lord (and I am happy to say that even as a non-evangelical) but I also am aware that many of my friends of no faith or agnostic, do not use know in the same that I use it within that sentence. They would argue that we believe it to be the truth, we may have faith in such truth, but we do not know it - because knowledge is based on fact, and God is not a fact. (To which I would say that, indeed, God is not a fact, God simply is.)

Anyway, it is late, and I am off to bed as I have a busy weekend!

46

doug 02.26.11 at 1:18 am

To do the will of God is to turn ones life over to the Lordship of Christ. Also Scripture says “Not by works of righteousness which we have done.” I agree not everyone who says Lord Lord will enter the Kingdom for many people have not given their hearts over to Christ. It was only in their mind but not their whole being. Scripture is clear what is needed for Salvation and what happens thereafter based on the choice or lack of choice but itsn’t fear but love for without God making Salvation available to all we all would be “dead in our tresspass of sins.” and without no hope. If that isn’t Grace but fear then you really don’t understand Evangelical Christianity. Do some “evangelicals” have more of a “fear” without some compassion? yes but that doesn’t change what I have said or that my view is as harsh as they.

However we do know that “The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” not a human fear but a Holy Fear just like Isaiah says with the Godly coal to his lips, “Woe is me for I am a man of unclean lips.”

47

doug 02.26.11 at 1:26 am

“I also am aware that many of my friends of no faith or agnostic, do not use know in the same that I use it within that sentence.”

Mendip, Scripture says “Withour Faith it is impossible to please God.” I believe we CAN know it why else does Scripture say “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” or Being confident in this very thing that He who began a good work in you shall perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

Mendip, sorry to say, not everybody will submit to the Lord. Not everybody who says Lord, Lord will enter the Kingdom of heaven. Jesus even explained the “fact of God is Lord’ with His explainning about you know the wind and even feel it yet you can’t see it yet you know without a doubt and with fact that the wind is in fact wind. (paraphrase) so how can one say that God is not fact? or Christ’s rebuke of Thomas, “Blessed are they who have not seen and yet Believe.”? When one looks at Scripture fully one can see how Christ is the only way. the only Truth and the only life by which by Faith there is no other way that one can be saved.

48

Pam 02.26.11 at 8:40 am

What an exclusive little club your ‘kingdom’ is Doug.

49

Tony Buglass 02.26.11 at 10:05 am

“Rebuke” of Thomas? D’you really think so? It sounds to me more like a compassionate approval, after Jesus has taken the trouble to give Thomas the evidence he needs to believe. It is also very deliberately phrased in the Gospel, which was written very late in the 1st C, and written for a generation of believers who had never had any chance of seeing Jesus - the words of Jesus are so presented to affirm their faith.

I have a great deal of sympathy for Thomas, and feel that he’s been badly maligned over the years by that unfair epithet “Doubting Thomas” - he was taking a very common-sense position, really. Dead people do not come back. The others are telling him they’ve seen Jesus - how does he know it isn’t just bereavement hallucinations? So he simply says that when he sees for himself, he’ll believe. This is no weak half-believing doubter, but the one who was prepared to walk with Jesus into great danger (Jn.11:16). His ‘common-sense’ need for evidence seems to me to speak very clearly to a modernist empirical culture such as ours, and say that it is right to seek evidence for the claims which are made, but that faith is much more than empiricism.

50

Paul F. 02.26.11 at 12:32 pm

Doug, can you empirically demonstrate that God exists? No, you can’t. Therefore, God is not a “fact”. Having faith in God or “knowing” God is not the same thing as saying God’s existence is “factually” true.

As for your very exclusive soteriology, I mourn for the vast majority of humanity (three-fourths of the world’s population) that has absolutely no chance (and, in previous times, had no chance) of being saved. If you’re being logically consistent, the reprobate also has to include the stillborn and aborted. Those poor souls. But, hey, the Bible says what the Bible says. Anyway, one-fourth of us are going to heaven, so it’s not a total loss on God’s end.

51

Kim 02.26.11 at 1:36 pm

Kierkegaard: “God does not exist, he is eternal.”

Doug always reminds me of Nisus, the Roman soldier in charge of executions in Life of Brian: he is so pleasant and polite as he works through the queue of the condemned, directing them methodically, but cheerfully, to their deaths:

Next. Ah. Crucifixion? Good. Out of the door, line on the left. One cross each. Jailer? … Thank you. Crucifixion? Good…
Crucifixion Party, morning. Now, we will be on show as we go through the town, so let’s not let the side down. Keep in a good straight line. Three lengths between you and the man in front, and a good steady pace. Crosses over your left shoulders, and if you keep your backs hard up against the crossbeam, you’ll be there in no time…

52

PamBG 02.26.11 at 1:45 pm

To do the will of God is to turn ones life over to the Lordship of Christ.

I agree. What I suspect we don’t agree on is what “turning one’s life over to the Lordship of Christ” means.

The popular version of what it means wouldn’t have been recognizable to Jesus or his disciples or anyone in the Prophetic Tradition in which Jesus stood.

The clear message of Popular Christianity is: “If you want to get into heaven, ‘Jesus is Lord’ is the secret password into heaven.” Which isn’t actually very “clear” in the bible at all. What *is* clear in the bible is to show mercy, do justice and walk humbly with one’s God. Over and over and over again in the bible. Yet, somehow, Popular Christianity misses this message. Yep, I agree the bible is clear. And yet, somehow, we come up with vastly different readings of it.

53

Tim 02.26.11 at 4:18 pm

Doug: ‘To do the will of God is to turn ones life over to the Lordship of Christ.’
Pam: ‘I agree. What I suspect we don’t agree on is what “turning one’s life over to the Lordship of Christ” means.’

Amen to that, Pam. It seems, for instance, that turning one’s life over to the Lordship of Jesus Christ doesn’t include actually obeying him when it comes to loving your enemies, turning the other cheek, not storing up for yourselves treasure on earth, not taking your fellow-Christian to court and so on.

54

PamBG 02.26.11 at 9:09 pm

I offer the following link: Morna Hooker on Paul’s concept of holiness

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Pam 02.26.11 at 11:34 pm

Kim @ comment 51: Maybe we can all chip in and send Doug a copy of “Life of Brian”, although I suspect it will get lost in translation (if not the US Mail).

The words from Micah that Pam BG quoted I always think of as the “essence” of our faith. It’s a big challenge though, especially the “walking humbly” bit.

Won’t be around for a while as we’re off to Tassie tomorrow. Have fun without me!

56

Bob Gilston 02.27.11 at 12:04 am

I once had the opportunity to spend a weekend with the Anglican priest J John. He told me that he had displayed in his office the words “True humility is taking the praise, handing it all over to God and keeping nothing for yourself”. Something he found difficult to do. Don’t we all!!!

57

Tim 02.27.11 at 2:29 am

Wow! I’d love to have been a fly on the wall at that lecture by Morna Hooker, Pam (BG). I’ve got a great admiration for her as a NT scholar.

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PamBG 02.27.11 at 8:56 pm

I’d have liked to have been there too, Tim. She is n my class picture from Theology College. She was a tutor at Wesley House Cambridge. :-)

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