Random Links 86

Theology in the Context of “World Christianity”
Can’t remember whether I linked this before. … but then it was quoted in the recent Pastor’s School the last few days.

Truth Is Stranger than Fiction: The Da Vinci Code and Early Christianity
For me the Da Vinci Code issue is getting boring, but May Chin reminded me that when the movie comes out then maybe some people might get a little excited. And of course, it could be a chance to talk about our faith in Christ and what the Bible is about.

Placing Early Christianity as a Social Movement within its Greco-Roman Context
“Christians did not hold such a dominant place in the first few centuries CE. They were not the majority, and held little real power in society until Constantine’s reign (312-337 CE) at the earliest. They lived instead on the margins, first as varieties within early Judaism with apocalyptic and messianic emphases, and then, thanks to the missionary work of Paul and others, as small communities in many cities scattered throughout the Empire. The urban profile of early Christianity grew in the first centuries, and it is within the cities of the Roman Empire that Christianity experienced much of its early growth and where it was called upon to respond to societal needs. “ … food for thought here in Malaysia who’s perhaps around 10% of the population?

Plenary on Christian identity and religious plurality
The Archbishop of Canterbury highlights these in the recent 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches:

“Christian identity is to belong in a place that Jesus defines for us. By living in that place, we come in some degree to share his identity, to bear his name and to be in the same relationships he has with God and with the world. Forget ‘Christianity’ for a moment – Christianity as a system of ideas competing with others in the market: concentrate on the place in the world that is the place of Jesus the anointed, and what it is that becomes possible in that place.

There is a difference between seeing the world as basically a territory where systems compete, where groups with different allegiances live at each other’s expense, where rivalry is inescapable, and seeing the world as a territory where being in a particular place makes it possible for you to see, to say and to do certain things that aren’t possible elsewhere. The claim of Christian belief is not first and foremost that it offers the only accurate system of thought, as against all other competitors; it is that, by standing in the place of Christ, it is possible to live in such intimacy with God that no fear or failure can ever break God’s commitment to us, and to live in such a degree of mutual gift and understanding that no human conflict or division need bring us to uncontrollable violence and mutual damage. From here, you can see what you need to see to be at peace with God and with God’s creation; and also what you need to be at peace with yourself, acknowledging your need of mercy and re-creation.

… What does this mean for the actual, on-the-ground experience of living alongside the plurality of religious communities – and non-religious ones too – that we cannot escape or ignore in our world? I believe that our emphasis should not be on possessing a system in which all questions are answered, but precisely on witness to the place and the identity that we have been invited to live in. We are to show what we see, to reproduce the life of God as it has been delivered to us by the anointed. And it seems from what we have already been saying that at the heart of this witness must be faithful commitment. Christian identity is a faithful identity, an identity marked by consistently being with both God and God’s world.

… The question of Christian identity in a world of plural perspectives and convictions cannot be answered in clichés about the tolerant co-existence of different opinions. It is rather that the nature of our conviction as Christians puts us irrevocably in a certain place, which is both promising and deeply risky, the place where we are called to show utter commitment to the God who is revealed in Jesus and to all those to whom his invitation is addressed. Our very identity obliges us to active faithfulness of this double kind. We are not called to win competitions or arguments in favour of our ‘product’ in some religious marketplace. If we are, in the words of Olivier Clement, to take our dialogue beyond the encounter of ideologies, we have to be ready to witness, in life and word, to what is made possible by being in the place of Jesus the anointed – ‘our reasons for living, for loving less badly and dying less badly’ (Clement, Anachroniques, p.307).”

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