Random Links 267

A 90 second lesson in the history of world religions

Stumbled on this somehow yesterday, and appreciated the insights and reminders.

… Jesus however, entered history, and both constituted God’s salvific plan, and illustrated God’s loving and saving will (something that we forget! I see this particularly so in Church debates where certain sectors of the Church emphasise the constitution of salvation at the exclusion of the illustrative purpose of the grace that caused Jesus to die on the cross. For example some would say "gay persons cannot be saved" forgetting that salvation is not just an act of constitution, it is also fully illustrated in God’s act of grace on the cross. Jesus not only saves us through his death on the cross, he also shows how much he loves us (the ‘others’) by choosing to go to the cross to die for us).

… even though we recognise that God’s most complete revelation comes to us through Jesus Christ, we must NEVER assume that we cannot learn about God from other sources! If that was the case (i.e., we could only learn from God directly through Jesus and the post incarnational scriptures) we would have to disregard the Hebrew Bible (what Christians call the Old Testament) completely. Now, if we accept that God could reveal God’s self through the Old Testament, then we also need to realise that the writers of those texts learned about God from others sources that predate them (e.g., nature, culture, mystical experience, supernatural intervention, and even other faiths – for example the the names of God, which many literalist Christians are so pleased to quote, like ELohim, ELshadai etc., are derivatives of the Baal name for God – EL. The Hebrews took these concepts and adapted them for use in their faith. This was also done by the Christian missionaries to Southern Africa in the 19th century when they adapted the Sotho / Tswana names for God (Modimo) to refer to the God of Christianity (Yehova)). Of course one needs to be extremely careful of simplistic and misguided syncretism! However, Christianity is filled with examples of us adopting a word, concept, or philosophical system and adapting it to draw out of it what we have learned and discovered about God (the debates about the nature of Jesus Christ in the Constantinople / Nicea creeds are based squarely on neo-sophist philosophical concepts and language)

… I don’t believe in a ‘Christian God’, no, rather I believe in GOD, the God who is Christ. And, I am a Christian, but God is bigger and more wonderful than my pithy attempts at understanding or expressing who God is…

The Bible and Politics

The relationship between the above too will need more attention as we try to discern appropriate responses in our Malaysian contexts too.

Two themes are discussed in Noll’s book: slavery and the providence of God. What Noll shows is that Christians, Bible-preaching and believing, each argued from the Bible toward the view that slavery was right and wrong and that God’s providence was with the slave owners and the liberation of slaves. Abolitionists generally took the line that w e should see the sweep and direction of the Bible, while pro-slavery Christian leaders said one risked denying the authority of the Bible if they pronounced slavery as sinful. Some opened up a new way of thinking by suggesting that New World Slavery was so different from biblical slavery that the latter could be seen as acceptable and the former totally unacceptable. Others said the Bible taught slavery but that Christian generosity would eventually undo slavery in the USA. Some Abolitionists combined American virtues so deeply into their theology one could not tell what was Christian and what was American.

Europeans weighed in and showed to the Americans that economics were involved in this supposed biblical debate and then the Catholics weighed in with the observation that you can’t decide such things when you leave interpretation of the Bible up to the individual.

Jesus and Context

Context matters …

the first thing i would do as president

Our kids will probably wear uniforms until high school in Malaysia. So, I read this with interest. Here’s his reasons …

Here are some random reasons why I love the idea:

  • Fashion doesn’t have to be about the have’s and have not’s.  Everyone wears the same thing.  This is my favorite reason.  But I’m sure clothing retailers are conspiring even right now how to sue my arse.  Down with Abercrombie and Fitch!
  • Remember how brutal kids can be when they tease others because of fashion.  Bullying may not stop but teasing because of fashion and clothing will.
  • Think of kids beating up other kids for their new Air Jordans.
  • Think of kids obsessing over Sperrys, Jordache jeans, Members Only jackets, etc… Those were some of the “In” stuff during my days as a teenager.
  • Think of parents and how much they’d appreciate this – especially on tight budgets.
  • Kids can focus on education – both in class and outside the class.
  • Teaches our kids and youth about simplicity and common values.  Indviduality is already heightened in the US culture. So, let’s focus on community.  Do I sound communist?

About Sivin Kit

man of one wife, father of four kids
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