Yesterday I shared some thoughts on hermeneutics, the language of faith when discussing doctrines like the virgin birth, and the historical-critical approach to studying Jesus in “Three hermeneutical paradigms to use when studying the doctrine of the virgin birth.” Later in the day someone posted a video that Greg Boyd put on YouTube on Sunday where he attempts to answer the question, “How can something as important as faith in Christ depend on the accuracy of information about the historical Jesus, when our evaluation of the veracity of historical information can never rise above the level of the more or less probable?” Since it is relevant to yesterday’s post I thought I’d share it here. Let me know your thoughts!
I have been particularly impressed with two pastors who have addressed some weighty matter recently with wisdom.
First, I want to point to a sermon series by Greg Boyd where he seeks to reconcile the violent depictions of God in the Hebrew Bible with the God revealed to us through Christ. He argues that we should understand these depictions as “shadows” like the Law, Sabbath, holy feasts, and other things that pointed to Christ but that were incomplete without Christ. I am wrestling with his words, but I admit that they are very thought provoking. If you have the time watch/listen to “God’s Shadow Activity” and “Shadow of the Cross.”
Second, Jonathan Martin was late to the discussion around Doug Wilson’s use of words like “colonization” and “conquering” to describe the so-called “passive role” of women in sex, but he may have given one of the best responses. In “Gender, race, and Pentecost: the world has moved on.” he humbles us all. Martin reminds us that God is doing amazing things around the world while we act as if we are the center of the Christian universe. These are three of my favorite excerpts:
“The future has already arrived, and it has little to do with people like me. In the global body of Christ, we have seen a remarkable shift in the balance of power. Those of us in the west in general and North America in particular are used to being in the seat of power and influence; we are used to being those who shape global conversation in the Church. Our sense of self-importance is innate. Drunk on the rhetoric of America as a new Israel, our Christian faith a curious syncretism of sentimental piety and manifest destiny, we send missionaries into the world. We ship our virtues and vices wholesale into all the earth.”
“I am a Pentecostal by heritage and tradition, but culturally I am one of the bourgeois pastors whose day might seem to be coming, but in many ways has already passed. The whole white male, coffee-drinking, apple product-using, Coldplay-listening type. It is a very small world that we live in that feels deceitfully large. We have blogs, we write books, we talk about the most recent issue of Christianity Today. So it is easy to think we are the center of the universe.”
“The average Christian in the world right now is an African or Latin American female in her early 20’s. She doesn’t read our blogs and she doesn’t readChristianity Today. She doesn’t know or care who I am and she never will. The names Piper, Driscoll, Chan, Bell, Stanley, Warren—mean nothing to her. Like most Pentecostal women coming into the kingdom around the world, words like “complementarian” and “egalitarian” are not in her vocabulary, nor Calvinism and Arminianism. Unlike some of my brothers would lead you believe (where their lunch table is the only one that cares about Scripture and THE GOSPEL while anybody who believes differently from them in these tired conversations are flaming liberals), she takes the authority of the Bible very seriously. But more importantly, she believes in the power of the Bible in ways that are incomprehensible even for our most rabid “conservatives.” The western filter and language that frames these issues will not be determinative for her, unlucky as she is not to read our blogs. She may well in end up leading a church one day where she preaches Jesus like a woman on fire and lays hands on the sick and watches God heal them, though this will surprise those Reformed colleagues who are sure all female church leaders have been trained by godless-Unitarian-lesbian-leftist-radical feminist-seminarians (she didn’t have access to seminary at all–unfortunately she has read the Acts of the Apostles). Who knew?”
I recommend taking the time to listen to Boyd’s sermons and read Martin’s article. This is why the pastor-theologian is so valuable to the church. We need more people like them!
I think Gregory Boyd has written a fair-minded response to John Piper regarding the Minneapolis, MN, tornadoes, which Piper understood as a warning from God, to the ELCA, regarding homosexual ordination here. I will quote his final two paragraphs:
Far from supporting John’s speculation about why a tornado broke a church steeple, it seems to me this passage directly assails it! It makes me want to ask John, “do you think that the folks at Central Lutheran church are more guilty than you or any others living in the Twin Cities?” And the only answer this passage allows us to give is an unequivocal “no!” In the fallen world in which we live, towers sometimes randomly fall; bridges sometimes randomly collapse; and tornadoes sometimes randomly do property damage – even to churches. That’s all there is to be said about it.
Rather than speculating about how God is judging others through natural calamities, Jesus tells his audience they should be concerned with their own relationship with God. “Unless you repent,” Jesus said, ” you too will perish.” Jesus boldly confronts our tendency to find a speck in another’s eye and our temptation to assume God is involved in their misfortune as we overlook the two-by-four sticking out of our own eye (Mt. 7:1-3). Instead, we should follow Paul’s example and consider ourselves worse sinners than others (1 Tim. 1:15-16) and concern ourselves with the judgment we ourselves will receive if we don’t repent and throw ourselves on God’s mercy.
It’s a warning I think we all do well to adhere to.