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Showing posts from October, 2012

Ethics and dualism

Many hold a two-spheres view of reality, with one sphere that is separate from God (the secular world) and one that is united with God (the sacred world). This dualistic worldview colors everything else, including one's perspective on ethics.

According to Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book Ethics, a two-spheres worldview runs contrary to the core message of the gospel, which declares that the whole world has been taken up in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit and there reconciled to the Father.

Bonhoeffer asserts that when Christians embrace a dualistic approach to ethics (or call it Christian living), they place themselves in an "irreconcilable struggle against the world," which keeps them from participating actively in Jesus' redemptive activity in the world. He continues:
Ethical thinking in terms of spheres...is invalidated by faith in the revelation of the ultimate reality in Jesus Christ.... There is no place to which the Christian can withdraw from the world, …

Read the Bible with Jesus

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Christians highly value the Bible. That is as it should be. But as we read Holy Scripture, do we receive what God intends? To do so consistently, I believe it is vital that we read the Bible with Jesus. Let me explain.

A recent post on the Evangelical Calvinist blog notes the danger of a personalized or private approach to reading the Bible:
In American Evangelicalism we have been taken captive by what some have termed a solo scriptura; meaning that... all I need is my own personal, introspective and private reading of the Bible.... My strongest argument against ‘solo scriptura’ (or scripture by itself in contrast to the Reformed ‘sola scriptura’) is that Jesus himself actually reinterpreted the Old Testament scriptures (often times in contrast to the Rabbinic readings of his earthly day) in light of himself. This at the least should underscore the fact that the scriptures have a ‘canon’ or standard by which they themselves are measured; indeed, this canon is none other than Christ i…

Our humanity & God's grace

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Just recently, I was reminded of the nature of our humanity in this fallen world and of God's amazing grace. The reminder came seemingly randomly--through a TV show, a movie and a book. I love it when the Holy Spirit speaks in unexpected ways. I hope I was listening well.

The TV show that I watched included an interview with rock legend Pete Townsend of The Who, discussing his newly released autobiography, Who I Am. I fought back tears as he recounted a troubled life--rejection by his parents, mistreatment by his mentally ill grandmother, sexual abuse from his grandmother's boyfriends, and other sources of trauma.

Though the resultant anger and sense of alienation drove him to great achievement in music, it left him with a terrible, gnawing pain deep inside his soul--feeling unloved and unlovable. This pain spilled over into his relationships, including a rocky partnership with band mate Roger Daltrey.

Thankfully, after much bitterness and some shared suffering, Pete and Roger…

Ethics--getting real

It is common for Christians to approach the subject of ethics (sometimes referred to as Christian living) as having to do with conformance with a particular code of conduct (be it the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, or perhaps one of Paul's household codes). From this rules-based perspective, Christian ethics becomes conceptual and thus static.

In contrast, a Trinitarian, incarnational approach to ethics is fundamentally relational and thus dynamic---having to do with our participation (or lack thereof), through the Holy Spirit, in the love and life of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God.

In An Introduction to Torrance Theology, Discovering the Incarnate Saviour, David Torrance writes that the "basis of the Christian life...is living out and manifesting the reality of our union with Christ...The whole of the Christian's life is a summons to be obedient to Christ and to share in and with him in his continuing ministry to the world."

In a chapter in the…