Monday, May 23, 2011

NT Wright 52111 The Kingdom and the Cross (3rd Session)

NT Wright 52111 The Kingdom and the Cross

We've not simply misread the Gospels but we've made them ordinary.

Through them, we can gain new life and new vocation.

Worldview is not what you look at but what you look through (Lee's Constantinian Cataract)

A Kingdom without a cross is no kingdom at all.

Theology is not the same thing as religion.

A great deal of the New Testament is about how to live together in this new community.

Some people say that what Jesus promised never arrived and it's the church's responsibility to make that happen (triumphalism)

The critical scholarship of the last two hundred years was to perpetuate the separation of politics and religion

Many western Christians would be happy to let Jesus have authority in Heaven but not Earth, as opposed to what Jesus says in Matthew 28.

Jesus's resurrection was not to prove that there is a heaven and we're going there. Jesus is Alive again, therefore God's new creation has begun, Jesus is the Lord of it, and we have a vocation to bring about that New Creation into the world.

The church has been responsible for muddle and wickedness, but also for hope, charity, and beauty and love.

The enlightenment has a rival eschatology to promote. World history turned the corner sometime in the 1700s and everything before was superstition. Through this Christianity is downgraded from an eschatology to a religion.

There have been Christians who haven't allowed the world to silence them: Wilberforce, Tutu, etc.

Unhelpful reactions by the church:
- (dispensationalism) it doesn't matter because we'll be going to heaven anyway. What happens when the literature of the oppressed becomes the literature of the powerful?
- (neo-Anabaptist) the church must be a beacon of light, but be separate from the world. There is strong sectarian ism in this. That vision doesn't do the full job
- right or left wing politics with a Christian wash on it. Makes it easy to define someone.

More Americans have discovered the NT as a book of political philosophy that speaks strongly against the Empire.

Today's political readers assume that Paul and the other writers meant power in the same way we do. Just because Paul made a radical critique of the empire, we can just pick it up wholesale and apply it directly to us.

Post-exilic Jews believed that God was going to reign and come in his fullness and power, and he was still sovereign in some way over the nations.

In creational monotheism, the world is best ruled by wise and humble rulers trying to care for God's creation.

First century Jews knew all about bad rulers, both pagan and Jewish.

Judaism assumed that the creator God wanted the world ruled by his image bearing people.

The Temple was the meeting of heaven and earth to first century Jews. Jesus radically redefined the temple to mean himself and those who have the Spirit.

Baptism vs temptation narratives. Temptations are to give the easy way to power.

The breaking of the power of the enemy is the beginning of the in breaking of the Kingdom of God.

The Gospels portray the observers as suspicious, because they'd seen kingdom/messiah movements before.

Political and theological fear lie behind many of the controversies in the Gospels.

People are obtaining the benefits that they got from the Temple from Jesus where they were. Jesus was a walking Temple; a one man apocalypse.

Jesus will come to his global sovereignty through suffering and will alleviate that suffering through his suffering.

Traditional atonement theology doesn't typically look at the Gospels for directions.

We make divinity and humanity into abstractions, but that's not how scripture deals with it.

The trial scenes with Jesus are to be seen upside down. It's not Jesus on trial, but Pilate and Caiphas.

All the evangelists see Jesus going to his death to accomplish the will of God in bringing out the kingdom through suffering.

Golgotha becomes the new holy mountain where you go to meet God.

We are to understand Jesus' death and Kingdom in terms of the Temple.

When Jesus wanted to explain his death, he didn't give his followers a theory; he gave them a meal.

Reducing the Cross into a ticket to heaven belittles it disgracefully. It is so much greater than that.

Temple and theocracy are joined at the hip; no less in Jesus than before him.

The Spirit does what the Spirit does through Jesus' followers. John 16, 18, & 19. What Jesus did before Pilate is what Christians should do before the powers.

NT Wright 52111 Living, Praying, and Preaching the Gospels (4th Session)

NT Wright 52111 Living, Praying, and Preaching the Gospels

The Bible is not merely the authoritative source about Jesus, but how he is made known and becomes present to congregations and individuals.

The Gospels are among the most contested documents in faith and life by post-enlightenment secularism.

Our praying and preaching has followed the creedal pattern rather than the Kingdom and Cross one.

Reading the Gospels prayerfully and humbly is an excellent way of getting to know Jesus better and internalizing the Kingdom shaped by the cross.

Nearly all churches refer to living under the authority of Scripture, but what does that actually look like? We need to be more intentional about creative ways to live under Scripture.

Public reading of scripture is not just for conveying information, but part of the act of worship.

Explore fresh ways of praying the Lord's prayer. It's a remarkably accurate summary of the mission of Jesus. Read chapters of the gospel, quoting the Lords Prayer between each one.

The combination of Kingdom and Cross is summed up in Jesus as the new Temple and us his followers as temples.

The Sacraments as a context for reading the Gospels. Baptism is about the whole church. It's our corporate reenactment of the whole story of Scripture: creation, Noah, Exodus, Jonah, Jesus. Creation, Covenant, New Covenant, New Creation.

The coming together of man and woman is symbolic of the joining of Heaven and Earth throughout Scripture. Genesis, Revelation, Ephesians. In our marriage services and marriage counseling and enrichment is that we need to show and tell how marriages are a Kingdom moment to be cherished and protected.

For John, the wedding at Cana is the beginning of Jesus' signs, not separate from his ministry.

The stories you enact makes you the person you become.

Over thespian histrionics

Preaching ought to flow from congregational life and back into it.

God seems to want wise rulers to bring order to his world. Chaos is worse than tyranny, but even that order can corrupt to tyranny.

The Church should be for the world what Jesus was to Israel.

The Church working for the Kingdom doesn't necessarily have to be for or against the government, but has to be for the Kingdom.

We can't bak the power of evil; only Jesus can, but we work with him in that.

What would it look like if God were in charge of Nashville?

The work of the kingdom of God is God's answer to the central problems of the world: chaos and tyranny.

When we do the works of the kingdom through beauty and wonder and truth and justice, evangelism happens naturally from that.

NT Wright 52111 The Gospels in Four Dimensions (2nd Session)

NT Wright 5/21/11 The Gospels in Four Dimensions

We need to re-complexify in order to get to the simplicity of the Gospels.

The Gospels are each in their own way doing four primary things.

People today are used to hearing the gospels in a distorted fashion.

The basic tune that the gospels are all playing is to tell the story of the life of Jesus himself, but not biographies as we think of them. They are similar to what biographies of the time did. All biographies select, highlight, and arrange.

People used to say that the Gospels were Passion narratives with extended introductions, which is a distortion.

The gospels are shallow enough for a child to paddle in, but deep enough for an elephant to swim in.

The Four Dimensions of the Gospels
1. The Gospels tell the story of Jesus as the climax of the story of Israel
2. The story of Jesus' divinity, but importantly the God that Jesus is embodying: Israel's God
3. The Gospels are telling the story of God's Launching of His people into the world.
4. It is the story of Jesus told as the kingdom of God clashing with the kingdom of Caesar and the kingdom of the Enemy.

1. The Gospels tell the story of Jesus as the climax of the story of Israel
The OT ends with a question mark, looking toward something coming.
Genesis 1-11 is the story of Humanity; Genesis 12 to the end of the OT tells the similar story of Israel

The word "Christ" bears the weight of the entirety of Jewish Messianic expectation, I.e. The story of Israel in the OT.

Most Jews of Jesus' day did not believe that the Exile was true and properly over. Exile is not just about geography, but about politics and theocracy.

When the promises of Jeremiah and Isaiah are fulfilled, that's when Exile is over.

Even though the coming of Jesus was new, it was the new thing that had been promised for centuries.

Jesus' life and actions "flashback" to actions of the prophets, priests, and kings of the OT.

What's the point? The reason Israel's story matters is that the Creator of the world chose Israel to be the vessel through which God would save the world. Israel's story is the microcosm of the world's story.

Mark indicates that in Jesus' baptism is the beginning of the fulfillment of Isaiah's and Jeremiah's prophecies.
John retells the OT through his writing. "In the beginning."

Genesis and Exodus are shaped in the frame of God creating and rescuing the Creation.

Gnostic gospels talk about rescue from the world, not rescue for the world.

This fulfillment that Jesus brought is not what Israel expected.

2. The story of Jesus' divinity, but importantly the God that Jesus is embodying: Israel's God

Creates a covenant with Abraham and fulfills that covenant by rescuing his people and dwelling with them in the tabernacle and the Temple

Not tame, not safe, but good. - Aslan

Israel fails so dramatically that God leaves (Ezekiel)

At no point in the 2nd Temple literature, do we see a reference to God returning to the Temple.

The story is not simply that Jesus is divine, but the story of how Yahweh returns to his people.

The parable of the master who goes away and servants world have been seen by first century listeners as God leaving and then returning. God as the master and Israel as the servants..

John's talk of the Logos is not simply addressing Gnostic theology, but the embodiment of God returning.

John 2 (?) is about replacing the thorns and thistles of Genesis with new creation.

The Gospels deconstruct the either or of human or divine. They reject the idea of a different kind of human, but a different kind of God; a creator God who continues to love and care for his creation. A God who made humans as image bearers and Israel as the bearers of is message to the world, so that he mint more easily come as a human in Israel to redeem the world.

3. The Gospels are telling the story of God's Launching of His people into the world.

The Gospel writers are very much aware that they are writing foundational documents for a community.

They are telling the story of Jesus of how the church began.

We should look at how Jesus called the 12. The reversal of the prestige. The mission he gave them. He left tasks and vocations in the villages he travelled in. He wanted people to embody the Kingdom in the places that they were. A community practicing Jubilee and forgiveness.

The story of the Gospels reaching their climax in the death and resurrection of Jesus tells convincingly that his followers now have a mission. To take the message out that the King has come.

4. It is the story of Jesus told as the kingdom of God clashing with the kingdom of Caesar and the kingdom of the Enemy.

The story of Israel is one of how they oppose the powers in this world. The empire of this world vs. The Empire of God

Even though Caesar doesn't appear much in the Gospels, but his presence hovers like a shadow over the story.

"Should we pay Caesar the tax?" is a hugely loaded political question.

Jesus and Pilate talking is what it looks like when God's Kingdom confronts the kingdom of this world.

N.T Wright 52111 The Gospels: What are we missing? (1st Session)

N.T Wright 5/21/11 The Gospels: What are we missing?

No birth, crucifixion, or resurrection narrative in Gospel of Thomas

In many Christian circles, the assumption is that the "Gospel" is what you find in Paul.

The Gospels don't seem to say much about justification and atonement.

"The Jesus we find in the four canonical gospels is the Jesus of our creeds, drawing a distinction between the reconstructed Jesus of today." However, the creeds don't pay much attention Jesus' life between birth and death.

Many Christians choose the creeds over the Gospels.

Details of the New Testament story are important but only in the context of the big picture.

In most of the creeds, the only mention of the Kingdom is at the end, as though the Kingdom only happens after His return.

In the early church, the creed and canon had a symbiotic relationship.

The Gospels are the story of how God became the King of the world.

Even when Jesus was talking about the Kingdom, even he was working with idealized metaphor because of people's experiences with Caesar and Herod.

Liberal reductionism removed the miraculous aspects of Jesus and reduced him to talking about the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man.

In many of the writers of the Jesus Seminar, there's no logical reason for Jesus' death.

Jesus was talking about God to try and explain what he (Jesus) was doing. "This is what it looks like when God is becoming King."

God and the world have a strange, interlocking, mysterious relationship; different from what pantheism or deism say.

God becoming King is a new reality bursting into the cosmos (but wasn't that God's purpose in the OT as well?)

The story the Gospels tell is the story of how through Jesus brings about the reign of Israel's God.

In the Bible, heaven and earth overlap and interlock. Heaven is not a geographical location somewhere above the clouds.

The Ascension is not about Jesus going a long way away; the Ascension is about Jesus being in Heaven and relating to all the World for all time.

Why do we have the story of Jesus' life in the Gospels?
Answers Wright has heard
- to teach people how to go to Heaven (Heaven is important, but it's not the end of the world)
- in order to convey his ethical teaching, i.e. Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon on the Mount is not simply about a new way to live, but what people who live in the Kingdom of God look like.
- the aim is to get us to heaven, but he lives the life of the perfect sacrifice. Some later New Testament writers say that.However, the Gospels don't seem interested in that.
- the Gospels are to show us Jesus' divinity (and potentially his full humanity as well). But the Gospels don't seem to be saying that primarily. Jesus' divinity is the key in which the Gospel writers write their music, not the tune.

What the Gospels are saying is what God is doing in the world through Jesus. It is in this man and this man alone that we see the Messianic agenda acted out.

To focus on Jesus' divinity to the exclusion of the work of the Kingdom he did here on earth to bring about the kingdom is to take a large step toward the detatched spirituality the early church rejected.

It's possible to be orthodox, to tell the story of the divinity of Jesus, but to be telling the wrong story.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Dad - Part 2

Part Two.

Saturday morning, I headed to Chattanooga. From Nashville, it’s about a two hour drive through some beautiful country side and over Monteagle, a respectable mountain. It’s a trip I’ve made several times, back when Sheryl and I dated, and on various trips to Atlanta and through Georgia to Florida. The immediately previous trip had been with friends to see U2 at the Georgia Dome, which was one of the best experiences of my life.

This trip wasn’t.

All through that two hour trip, I thought about Dad. I thought about the fact that he was now lying in a hospital bed, I didn’t have any idea as to what his condition was or what life was going to hold next. I just knew I had to be there because I felt like I was all he had.

This wasn’t true, of course. He had friends and he’d been staying with his sister when he had the attack. But as his oldest son, I felt a lot of... maybe not responsibility, necessarily, but let’s call it a loving obligation.

Dad and I had always been pretty close. As the eldest child in a divorced family, I’d always been fiercely loyal to Dad. When Mom remarried, it took me quite a while to call her husband “Dad,” because in my teenaged mind, he wasn’t. Dad was my dad and I was going to be damned if I gave in like my brother and sister had and call someone else by that name. However, I eventually started calling him Dad as well, sometimes referring to John as “Bio-Dad” and Greg as “Bellevue Dad.”

Even later, after graduating college, I got my first (and only) teaching job at Martin Luther King Magnet High School. And there, Dad was basically a permanent sub, prior to my arrival. And in my first year, when some of my students saw “Mr. Wilson” on their schedules, they assumed it was Dad who was going to be teaching them. Dad did become the In-School Suspension Co-ordinator (Lackey of the Administration, as I jokingly referred to him) and so we began a different kind of relationship: co-workers. We never stopped being father and son, but I got a very different experience of him that I ever had before in my life, even living with him for a couple of years in college, and very different from my younger sister and brother. We basically saw each other every day. He helped me get accepted in the MLK community. He told me some areas where I shouldn’t try to rock the boat and who to rock the boat against if I needed to. We had breakfast together on a regular basis with other teachers and administrators. We’d have lunch, sit at basketball games. We became friends on some level.

However, that changed a lot when I quit teaching. Dad always disagreed with that decision. He thought I should have gone back to school to get my Master’s or Ph.D. in English and become a college professor. I left teaching because Sheryl and I wanted to start a family and we wanted her to be able to stay home with the kids. And you can’t do that very well on a single teacher’s salary. After that, we saw Dad on a much more irregular basis. After the kids were born, we’d see him about 4 times a year. Christmas, birthdays, odd times when he’d show up at the house or at church, usually unannounced.

I sometimes wondered if seeing us reminded him of his failed marriage to Mom, and then the fact that he didn’t see us that much reminded him of how he didn’t see us that much. I never asked him about it. It’s just as possible that he got busy with his life and didn’t make time to do it. Almost similar to how we did the same thing in our lives. We didn’t go out of our way to see him on a regular basis either. Honestly, it was inconvenient. And as our lives became busy with soccer and dance and preschool and piano and church, it became easy for us to not see him. He was there, but almost more as an idea rather than a person.

All of that and more was going through my head as I made that drive to Chattanooga that Saturday. What I didn’t know was how long and short the next 5 months were going to be.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Dad - Part 1

It was just about a year ago that life changed for me and my family in ways that I’d only heard about, but never really understood. It was just about a year ago that we heard that Dad had had a heart attack.

We’d gotten home from vacation and Connor and I had gone out to do a little shopping. I remember feeling kind of excited, because I’d found a set of Star Wars action figures that included “old” Obi-Wan Kenobi from the first Star Wars movie and Connor was excited to have him as well. We’d gotten home and were putting away the groceries, when my phone rang. I looked and saw that it was my aunt, Dad’s sister. She told me that Dad was in the hospital in Chattanooga having suffered a heart attack. I sat down on our front steps, my mind reeling.

Dad had never been healthy. My sister and I talked after his death and came to the conclusion that Dad didn’t die because he’d abused his body. He’d died because he’d neglected it. He’d been diagnosed as a diabetic six years earlier, having had to have a toe amputated. Now, because he hadn’t carefully monitored himself, his diabetes was worse and in fact, had been a causational factor in not feeling the normal pain during his heart attack.

He’d lived alone for the last 20 years or so, after his and Mom’s divorce and after I’d graduated from college. He lived close enough to my university’s campus that I could live with him and basically be on campus. Because he’d lived alone and never remarried, he could eat what he wanted, do the exercise he wanted (not much, if any), and basically live how he’d wanted. And because of all those choices, his diabetes had gotten worse and he’d suffered a heart attack.

All these things ran through my mind that Friday night after I talked to Aunt Millie. And I knew what I was going to have to do. The next day I’d need to drive to Chattanooga and see what was going on with him, because outside of a few other people, I felt like I was all he had.
Template Designed by Douglas Bowman - Updated to Beta by: Blogger Team
Modified for 3-Column Layout by Hoctro