Theology


If your comments are partisan political statements and off topic they will be deleted (You have been warned)

Jesus delivered his inaugural public sermon in a society where the Roman -Greco influences were greater than the values that the Hebrew people learned from the Hebrew Scriptures. There was a constant political struggle between the teachings of the faith community vs the values of a secular empire-minded society. BeatitudesMany of Jesus’s teachings challenged the religious leaders to embrace God’s principles vs the expedient political positions. Theses 8 Beatitudes speak directly values that God embraces in all human beings.

I do not know the history but I would like to imagine that these Beatitudes was the backdrop for Emma Lazarus who wrote the sonnet “The New Colossus” to raise money for the Statue of Liberty. In the sonnet, we find these words,

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

The clarion call as a disciple of Jesus Christ is to be welcoming of the outsider, inviting to the outcast and hospitable to the foreigner. As Jesus was talking to the other sunkissed brothers and sisters of the first century we see the embrace of all people regardless of race, class, previous religious experience.

As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are called to be welcoming of all.  Some people have suggested that we need to be concerned of “terrorist” sneaking into the country.

Since when do the people of God make decisions and operate by fear. Fear about the “other people” is a tool that secular political communicators have used to cause division. Some Christians have embraced this principle over the scriptures that teach us in 2 Timothy 1:7

 ”For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

Bad things can happen to any of us at any time. My trust is not in a government wall of protection but in God that I will be where I am supposed to be doing the will of God and if in that moment I am to die in God’s service I will also be with God in eternity. While we are addressing the foreign terrorist we must also confront the rise of domestic terrorism and many times the underlying mental health issues that provoke their behavior.

This brings me to the specific comments that the President made concerning Hattians and Africans. Racism is America’s original sin. America’s greatest moral failing is the lack of repentance, reconciliation, and restoration of the original sin.  The effects of systemic racism impact every area of our society today from education to economics, to housing, to employment, to health care and every social institution in between. America has attempted to legislate inclusion, the valuing of diversity and move toward a post racial society. The reality there many people who still believe that there is superiority or inferiority of an individual based on the color of their skin. I agree with the New York Times opinion editorial by David Leonhardt.

“No one except Trump can know what Trump’s private thoughts or motivations are. But the public record and his behavior are now abundantly clear. Donald Trump treats black people and Latinos differe

ntly than he treats white people. And that makes him a racist.“  (https://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/01/12/opinion/trump-racist.html)

Mr. Trump’s behavior and words reflect America’s lack of repentance from its original sin. Until the hearts of men and women are transformed from believing that there is no inherent superiority, intellectual advantage or intrinsic privilege based on their “whiteness” we will find ourselves at this point again and again. This behavior is not acceptable by any bible believing disciple of Jesus Christ. Pastors who are controlled more by the power of the political empire than the Scriptures which are our authority will find it difficult to condemn the behavior and words of the President. This is one reason that the church has lost its moral authority. We can’t fight for justice and be a tool of the oppressive empire at the same time. With a collective voice the believers in Jesus Christ must speak up, speak out and no longer be silent. The drum beat for justice must crescendo into a mighty nationwide drumline that sounds a cadence that

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I had the opportunity to view Happy Feet last night. This animated movie was pretty good and the soundtrack is worth picking up for those long commutes. Happy Feet also raised all types of theological and ecclesiastical questions for me.200px-happy_feet.jpg I would like to explore three of the huge themes Environmental Theology, Spiritual Gifts that Embrace Uniqueness and Traditional vs. Contemporary Church. While this short article will not be exhaustive analysis I also saw about 5 other theological themes that will not be addressed here today.

1 The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; 2 for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters. Psalm 24:1-2

Since the earth belongs to the Lord we as God’s people have a responsibility to protect the ecosystem that God created. When humans disrupt God’s ecosystem we also destroy the perfect balance that God created. We are stewards of God’s property not the designers and so we also lack the capacity to realign the system so that all of God’s creation is maintained in perfect balance. This is a huge problem as we look at the food chain but even relates to our addiction to oil and Global Warming.

The Emperor Penguins lack of food caused by human consumption is a theological issue because as God’s steward’s we should be protecting all of God’s creatures. The church is silent because we are co-conspirators with the fishing companies. We do not demand that they invest in more self sustaining fish farms and ensure that they clean up the sea that they have polluted in their pillaging

Genesis 1:26

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

 

The second issue is about spiritual gifts and uniqueness. We find three specific texts about gifts in the scriptures. The leadership gifts in Ephesians 4:11-16, motivational gifts in Romans 12: 4-21 and spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12: As leaders do we attempt to conform people to our vision of how a gift is to be lived out. When people have unique gifts do we ostracize or embrace the gift even if we do not understand the gift.

Mumble’s – is tone deaf and nearly incapable of singing. However, Mumble has an astute talent for tap dancing. This ability is frowned upon by the colony’s elders, who do not tolerate deviance of any kind. As a result, Mumble is ostracized throughout his childhood, with only his parents and his friend Gloria to turn to for help.

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

This is the picture that I see and the basis of the stories that I hear from people who claim that they have been hurt by the church. They didn’t fit in, no one understood their perspective , they wanted to express their love for God in worship that was different than the congregational norm. Church leaders are to equip, motivate and empower people to spiritual maturity not behavioral conformity. We must move past our own views of what is right to discerning what God has designed as unique for a purpose. How do we has disciple making congregations guide people to find their God given purpose and live out that purpose. If more people in the church operated out of their spiritual gifts and purpose then I believe there would be fewer churches in need of revitalization, realignment or funeral services.

Finally Happy Feet is a critique on the traditional church vs. the contemporary church. It may also be a critique on blind faith vs. faith and reason.

This ability (tap dancing) is frowned upon by the colony’s elders, who do not tolerate deviance of any kind. the young penguin finds himself far from his home and within the carefree colony of the adélies – penguins small in stature, but fiercely loyal to those they call friends. He quickly befriends a small group of bachelors who call themselves the amigos – Ramón, the smallest of them, is the unofficial “leader” of sorts. The amigos quickly embrace Mumble’s dance moves and assimilate him into their misfit group.

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Many of our traditional church leaders have spoken harsh words, devised exclusive policies and have disciplined new thoughts and ideas by excluding the thinker and barring the implementation of the plan. Our young people run to churches (and sometimes cults) that embrace their new thinking. What is really amazing is that we are then mad at the young people because they are not perpetuating our brand of church. I have even heard some call this “contemporary church” heresy. The debate will rage on for years but I am clear about this………If your church is not relevant to the people outside of the church it will die. By choosing not to be adaptable you choose a slow demise and a sure burial for your church.

Mark 2:16-17

16 When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 When Jesus heard this, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”


If the traditional church does not regain its passion to reach out to the hurting it has chosen to write its own obituary. “We were once a great church but we refused to change so we all now Rest in Peace.”

There is another explanation about the film.

“This movie was fun. The music was good and the dancing was great.”  – Courtney Chaney  It could just be a nice animated movie for the masses to enjoy.

Friday, October 27, 2006
Voice of the Day: Stanley Saunders
Imagine a world where the representatives of the greatest military power on earth are humbled by an unarmed healer from the backwaters of Galilee. If you can imagine this kind of world, you possess…an imagination ready to discern the reign of heaven.

– Stanley Saunders

This can be found at Beliefnet http://www.beliefnet.com/blogs/godspolitics/2006/10/voice-of-day-stanley-saunders.html