Parousia and the Glorification of the Cosmos

In my personal life as many will know I have a deep affinity for the eastern spiritual tradition of Christianity.

This article is written by a wonderful Priest of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

It deals with the subject of Eschatology in an almost systematic way. It brings in so many treasures of the tradition to really bring the discussion alive!

I would recommend that my readers (Who are mostly of the western tradition) to read Christ as referenced as “The Logos”. I think this adds another layer of depth to an already spirited piece.

Enjoy! And let me know in the comments what you think of our brothers from the Eastern Church🙂

Eclectic Orthodoxy

“But according to his promise we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet 3:13).

When Christ returns in glory, all will be made new. The cosmos will be transfigured, transformed, transmuted, redeemed, renewed, sanctified, sophianized, glorified, deified. These are just words, of course. We have to use them in order to talk about the coming Kingdom of God, but the eschatological event of which they speak transcends our imagining. The consummation of cosmic history will be glorious. This is the hope that empowers and fills all gospel preaching.

As we have seen in this series, the primary characteristic of the parousia is glory. The risen Christ will appear in the glory of the Spirit who eternally rests upon him. The time of hiddenness is over. Glory comes into the world and all is glorified. “The glory that accompanies the parousia,” writes Sergius…

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The Parable of the Two Good Guys

*Below is an excellent modern day perspective on the “Parable of the Good Samaritan”.  With our divisions in Christianity, attitudes that create polemic environments, and complexity of narratives/interpretations we sometimes miss common sense and the whole spirit of the Gospel.  Hopefully this piece helps awaken you from within the rabbit hole.*

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A young man who knew his Bible, could cite chapter and verse, was sent by his pastor to question this new teacher in town, name of Jesus, to see if he was “sound”. “Jesus,” the lad was told to ask, “how do I get eternal life?”

“That looks like a Bible you’ve got there, young fella” Jesus said.

Waving the black book to which Jesus had pointed, the lad declared, “Yep, it’s the inspired and inerrant Word of God, infallible and perfect in every way.”

“Sorry?” Jesus said.

“It’s the inerrant Word of God,” the lad repeated.

“Let me see,” said Jesus.

The lad handed the Bible to Jesus, who took it, opened it, shook it, smelled it, then returned it to the youngster. “Who says it’s inerrant?” he asked.

“God says,” the youngster replied.

“Where does God say that?” asked Jesus.

“In the Bible,” the youngster replied.

“But that doesn’t answer the question,” Jesus said, “it begs the question. It’s circular reasoning to say that the Bible is inerrant because in the Bible God says that the Bible is inerrant. What you claim to be true you’re assuming rather than proving. Which is a logical fallacy, which is bad apologetics, which shames our faith.”

“You what?” said the lad, completely discombobulated. “Are you trying to trick me?”

“Of course not,” said Jesus. “It’s just that you’re brandishing that book like it’s an assault weapon rather than a surgeon’s scalpel, and I suspect that you read it rather unimaginatively, one-dimensionally, as if it were a cook book rather than a love story, and listen to it as if it were a collection of notes rather than a magnificent symphony. You search it for answers, but you don’t allow it to probe you with questions. You look for closure when you should pray for critique. God certainly speaks to us through the scriptures, but interpreting the Bible is rarely a simple matter, let alone an open-and-shut case. We should expect to be surprised and disturbed, to have our fixed views challenged – and our settled selves changed.”

But the young man had that impatient, I’m-not-listening-to-a-thing-you-say look on his face. “Just answer the question,” he demanded: “How do I get eternal life?”

“Ahem,” sighed Jesus (not “Amen”). “Let’s turn to the Bible then. What do you say it says?”

“It’s obvious,” replied the youngster (rather smugly, it must be said): “You must love the Lord with all your heart and soul, mind and strength, and you must love your neighbour as yourself. Leviticus 19:18 and Deuteronomy 6:5. End of.”

“Excellent. So all you need is love,” said Jesus, pretending to be impressed and persuaded. For he suspected that the lad had an agenda, that he would try to embarrass and expose Jesus as an unreliable teacher. And Jesus was right.

“Ah,” the lad said, “but who is this neighbour I must love?” Of course he knew the answer: according to Leviticus and Deuteronomy, the neighbour is my fellow believer. But rumour had it that Jesus was mixing with all sorts, pervs and quislings and folk of other faiths, so how would he answer the question?

But Jesus didn’t answer the question, or at least he didn’t give a straight answer. Instead he told a story. “One night a man was walking to town when he was attacked by some thugs. They beat him up, took his wallet and iPhone, then ran off, leaving him half-dead. A minister happened to be walking along the same road, but when he saw the man, he checked his watch and hurried past him. A priest followed a few minutes later (he and the minister had been at a conference on theological ethics). He also saw the man, left some change, but stepped around him. Then two strangers to the area, oddly dressed, came upon the man, and when they saw the state of him they were overwhelmed with pity and compassion. They held him in their arms, stopped the bleeding, called a cab, took him to a local public house, and stayed with him all night. The next morning, they gave the landlord £100. ‘Look after him,’ they said. ‘Call a chemist and get some bandages, Savlon, and Ibuprofen. We’ll be back in a few days and reimburse you for any extra expense.’ Now,” concluded Jesus, “who were the good guys?”

The youngster was nonplussed. “The ‘good guys’? What’s that got to do with getting eternal life?”

“I’ll get to that,” Jesus replied. “But first, answer my question.”

“Well, the minister and the priest – what denominations were they?”

“Who cares?” said Jesus.

“And were they born again?”

“Does it matter?” asked Jesus

“And those two other guys – are you sure they weren’t gay?”

“And if they were?” said Jesus.

“And why didn’t they call 999 for the cops and the paramedics?” the youngster continued his third degree. “Had they been drinking? Were they on drugs? They sound like foreigners. Were they migrants, even illegals?”

“What is this, a sketch from Life of Brian?” suggested Jesus.

“And the man who was mugged – where was he going, what was he doing? It all sounds very suspicious to me.”

“I …” began Jesus, quite flabbergasted.

“And …” interrupted the youngster.

“Look,” counter-interrupted Jesus, “Leviticus and Deuteronomy don’t have the last word on defining ‘neighbour’, and eternal life isn’t a matter of your church, theology, or religious experience, nor do you ‘get’ it, you live it, starting now, with simple human decency: being truthful and thoughtful, kind and generous, acting justly, practicing mercy – and not just to your own, to fellow citizens and co-religionists, but to anyone in need, especially strangers, whatever their ethnicity, faith, or sexuality. If they’re hurting, they’re your neighbour, and if you help them, you’re their neighbour. We are called to help even those who hate us, and one day you might find someone you hate helping you. Eternal life is another life, but it’s hidden in this life.”

“Well,” harrumphed the youngster, “I’ve heard enough. You’ve said nothing about getting saved. You’re clearly unsound.” But feeling sorry for Jesus, he added, “I’ll pray for you.” Then he handed Jesus a leaflet and started to walk away.

Suddenly, however, he stopped, as if struck by lightning. But the sky was blue, though a cottony cumulus cloud had just passed the sun, which winked, flashed, then glowed benignly, like a huge egg yolk, on the two people below. The young man turned around: “I’ll think about what you said.”
Jesus waved and picked up his fishing rod.

— Kim Fabricius

(Kim Fabricius is a man who settled on a farm in the south of England, where Love mugged him, hugged him, and finally bugged him into faith and ministry. He read theology at Mansfield College, Oxford (1979-81), and then became the pastor of Bethel United Reformed Church, Swansea and a chaplain at Swansea University (1982-2013).)

 

Verse of the Day

Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.
 The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.
 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
    Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

— Isaiah 58:7-12

Namaste

Namaste

Namaste is a respectful greeting, salutation, and even valediction in Hindu culture.

Most commonly in the West we use it as a respectful affirmation with someone we feel comfortable with in an environment that it is most proper to use.  For example a yoga studio Lol😉

It is a beautiful word and means “I bow to the divine in you”.

So to all my readers and followers Namaste🙂

LGBT Christianity

I stumbled upon some material today and I felt called to share it with my audience.

It was a group of men discussing their lives in an honest and safe forum.  They discussed their attraction to men and how they were exploring this personal journey alongside their Christian faith.

Many of the men talked about a call to celibacy, Others spoke about Mixed-orientation marriage, and others still talked about same-sex relationships.

The common theme was an honest and open discussion.  The discussion wasn’t mired in assumptions or limits.

What was so striking about this discussion was its depth and from this experience I started to realize something.

I realized that these men and woman were having a discussion so much more real and honest than we have really ever had in the Church.  That the stories and experiences these individuals were sharing far surpassed the content of the discussion we usually associate with the study/debate of sexuality.

These men and woman had lived this experience and they where exploring their lives with God and with friends with an ethos of Love.

They where sharing different perspectives and different narratives of each others lives.  They where there for each other and talked as a family.

Lastly there wasn’t a bitterness to the institutions and individuals who had so greatly failed them.  Instead the discussion was how to be part of the mission of the church in the most faithful and honest way.

Isn’t that the way of God though.  To empower the victims, powerless, and marginalized in order for them to be a witness of the greatness and paradigm smashing power of Love.

I think there are seeds being planted in many of these communities that will bear a fruit so beautiful it is hard to express.  I think a lot of these communities will be remembered in glory for being a witness and for tending to discussions that will lead to a harmony and communion we haven’t seen or been able to envision.

This isn’t a post about LGBT or LGBTQIA affirmation or negation in the traditional sense of the discussion we have so many times had.

This is about a new type of discussion and one more fitting for the christian community.  A beautiful conversation infused with the breath of growth, honesty, and exploration that I believe is going to bloom into a wonderful flower that all of us enjoy.

:) <3

Christian Character Traits

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

— Proverbs 27:17

There is something happening in Christianity right now which we need to address.  It is the trend of many of my brothers and sisters (Myself included) to act in ways mirroring the world while preaching against it.

More often than not in the Conservative/Traditionalist branches of the faith we see a frenzied attack or stubborn refusal to delve into subjects.  This type of attitude and approach is hurting the Christian witness.

A great many Christians feel they are under attack and I understand this.  The fact of the matter is that the world has always been defined by scripture as hostile to those trying to live the religious life.

The world is based on a paradigm of fear of death/loss and self centered motivations.  This kind of a framework ultimately leads to things like Greed, Arrogance, Gossip, Dishonesty, Etc.  The problem is that it becomes more and more pervasive as that attitude and mindset is adapted to and internalized.  Ones rational almost becomes imprisoned in this framework and so does the community and larger society.

The paradigm of the world has left a lot of people exploited and in a great deal of pain.  It is appropriate to be angry about being hurt and about others being hurt.  It is appropriate to be sad for being part of that and feeling great remorse for the harm you have done to yourself and others.

It is however not correct to start viewing yourself as “Saved” and the rest of the world and its inhabitants as worthy of your wrath, ridicule, and slander.

We are all suffering and we are all injured and scarred/scared.  Most likely in ways we aren’t fully aware of or understand.

As the spirit of the world is one that only leads to alienation from oneself and others, The spirit of heaven is one that builds communion and heals/lifts ever higher.

The spirit of heaven seems foolishness to the wisdom derived from living in the world.

It is the spirit of lending without expecting to get anything back, Selling all your possessions and giving them to the poor.  Devote your life to feeding the hungry and thirsty, Welcoming the stranger into your home and to partake of your blessings, Making sure those without clothes and support have so, Tending to the sick and dying, Visiting and befriending the prisoners and most hated amongst men.

Lastly the spirit of heaven calls on people to take no bag, no money, no food, or extra clothes and to preach that the truth isn’t the spirit of the world which seems to be unavoidable and all that there is.  That the truth is that death has been defeated and no longer has a sting and we can live free from fear.  That life can begin to be about healing and finding our proper place/meaning and that this is how God wants us to live.  He wants us to prosper and be happy and be reconciled to each other and then to praise him not out of duty but out of sheer gratitude and happiness for the new lives we have.

This is what it means to die to the old self and be born again.

A big part of this is changing the culture.

We as Christians need to remember that it’s not only about having the right propositions (Gospel) it is about the attitude and way in which we live and witness to it.

If we address peoples points of debate and or other ideas with slander or worse manipulation to suit our narratives we strengthen the world and not the witness of the Kingdom of God.

There is a golden dawn in really delving into these discussions with people from other points of view and understanding their narrative.  In fostering an environment of peace and discussion we will be able to better witness and the light of the gospel will clearly shine.

So in summary please don’t lash out at people with other view points.  Instead foster the “Fruits of the Holy Spirit” within you:  Love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

And meditate day and night on the commandment to “Love your neighbor as yourself”.

If you do this you may be amazed at how you start relating to others and remember if one is a Christian than one believes everyone is their relative and like a brother, sister, mother, or father.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

 

R.I.P John Webster

“Theology is the work of the children of Adam who are slowly learning what it is to be the children of God.”

John Webster was a notable contemporary British theologian of the Anglican Communion.

He was an expert in the work of Eberhard Jüngel and Karl Barth (Two of the great theologians of our era).

It is very sad to hear of his passing.  I recommend anyone that wishes to send some well wishes to our brothers and sisters in the Anglican Church to do so.

In Christ we are all one.

“Theology arises from God’s presence, by which it is endlessly astonished and to which it never ceases to turn in humility & hope.”