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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Hauerwas, S and Willimon, W (1989) Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony. Abingdon 

church was said, by commentators like Martin Marty, to consist of two types-the "public" church and the “private" church. The "private” church were those conservative evangelicals who thought that the business of the church was to stick to saving souls and to concern itself with the purely private world of religion. The "public' church (including our denomination) felt that Christians were obligated to go public with their social agenda, working within given social structures to make a better society.


The confessing church, like the conversionist church, also calls people to conversion, but it depicts that conversion as a long process of being baptismally engrafted into a new people, an alternative Polis, a countercultural social structure called church. It seeks to influence the world by being the church, that is, by being something the world is not and can never be, lacking the gift of faith and vision, which is ours in Christ. The confessing church seeks the visible church, a place, clearly visible to the world, in which people are faithful to their promises, love their enemies, tell the truth, honor the poor, suffer for righteousness, and thereby testify to the amazing community-creating power of God. The confessing church has no interest in withdrawing from the world, but it is not surprised when its witness evokes hostility from the world. The confessing church moves from the activist church's acceptance of the culture with a few qualifications, to rejection of the culture with a few exceptions. The confessing church can participate in secular movements against war, against hunger, and against other forms of inhumanity, but it sees this as part of its necessary proclamatory action. This church knows that its most credible form of witness (and the most 11 effective" thing it can do for the world) is the actual creation of a living, breathing, visible community of faith.

Too often, we have conceived of salvation-what God does to us in Jesus-as a purely personal decision, or a matter of finally getting our heads straight on basic beliefs, or of having some inner feelings of righteousness about ourselves and God, or of having our social attitudes readjusted… salvation is not so much a new beginning but rather a beginning in the middle, so to speak. Faith begins, not in discovery, but in remembrance. The story began without us, as a story of the peculiar way God is redeeming the world, a story that invites us to come forth and be saved by sharing in the work of a new people whom God has created in Israel and Jesus. Such movement saves us by (1) placing us within an adventure that is nothing less than God's purpose for the whole world, and (2) communally training us to fashion our lives in accordance with what is true rather than what is false. 52

When people are very detached, very devoid of purpose and a coherent world view, Christians must be very suspicious of talk about community. In a world like ours, people will be attracted to communities that promise them an easy way out of loneliness, togetherness based on common tastes, racial or ethnic traits, or mutual self-interest. There is then little cheek on community becoming as tyrannical as the individual ego. Community becomes totalitarian when its only purpose is to foster a sense of belonging in order to overcome the fragility of the lone individual. 78

As Barth says, "[The Church] exists . . . to set up in the world a new sign which is radically dissimilar to [the worlds own manner and which contradicts it in a way which is full of promise" (Church Dogmatics, 4.3.2). 83

the world needs the church, not to help the world run more smoothly or to make the world a better and safer place for Christians to live. Rather, the world needs the church because, without the church, the world does not know who it is. The only way for the world to know that it is being redeemed is for the church to point to the Redeemer by being a redeemed people. The way for the world to know that it needs redeeming, that it is broken and fallen, is for the church to enable the world to strike hard against something which is an alternative to what the world offers. 94

Unfortunately, an accommodationist church, so intent on running errands for the world, is giving the world less and less in which to disbelieve. Atheism slips into the church where God really does not matter, as we go about building bigger and better congregations (church administration), confirming people's self-esteem (worship), enabling people to adjust to their anxieties brought on by their materialism (pastoral care), and making Christ a worthy subject for poetic reflection (preaching). At every turn the church must ask itself, Does it really make any difference, in our life together, in what we do, that in Jesus Christ God is reconciling the world to himself? 94-95

Being a minister (like a pastor), is not a vocation merely to help people. We are called to help people---inthe name of Jesus. " And that's the rub. In fact, we are not called to help people. We are called to follow Jesus, in whose service we learn who we are and how we are to help and be helped. Jesus, in texts like his Sermon on the Mount, robs us of our attempts to do something worthwhile for the world, something "effective" that yields results as an end in itself. His is an ethic built not upon helping people or even upon results, certainly not upon helping folk to be a bit better adjusted within an occupied Judea. His actions are based upon his account of how God is "kind to the ungrateful and the selfish," making the sun to rise on the good and the bad. We are called to "be perfect" even as our Heavenly Father is. 121

Walter Brueggemann (Hopeful Inwgination [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986), p. 16) 169


Baddiel, D. (1999) Whatever Love Means. Abacus 


Brookmyre, C. (1996) Quite ugly one morning. abacus 


Kraybill, D (1990) The Upside-down kingdom. Herald 

The kingdom of God is the common thread woven throughout the fabric of Jesus' teaching and ministry. Jesus frequently introduced parables as examples of the kingdom. The Sermons on the Mount and Plain describe kingdom life. The Lord's Prayer welcomes the advent of the kingdom. The vocabulary of the kingdom is continually on Jesus' lips.

In addition to his words, Jesus' activity, and behavior teach us about the kingdom. Jesus of Nazareth provides the most concrete example---the most visible expression of God's rule. His words and behavior offer the best clues to solving the riddle of the kingdom.' But in the final analysis it isn't his kingdom, nor is it ours. Always and foremost Jesus points us to Gods kingdom.

This false split between spiritual and social leads to a warped reading of the Scripture. It tempts us to turn Jesus' hard sayings into sweet, spiritualized syrup. This dilutes his teaching, making it harmless. We marvel at the atoning death of Jesus but forget he also demonstrated a new way of living.

Any gospel which isn't social isn't gospel. God's love for the world produced social action. God didn't just sit in a great theological rocking chair and muse about loving the world. God acted. God entered social affairs --- in human form. Through Jesus, God lived and interacted in a real social environment. Jesus, in essence, disclosed God's social habits. In the incarnation, the spiritual became social. Pp29

… It communicated God's spiritual mysteries to us in a practical social form. Word and deed blended into a single reality in the incarnation. …The genius of the incarnation is that spiritual and social worlds intersect in Jesus Christ. To separate them is to deny the incarnation. Social and spiritual are inextricably woven together in the Gospels' account of Jesus' life. pp30

In true biblical fashion, the Jubilee integrates spiritual and social dimensions. It weaves religion and economics into one fabric. Pulling the two apart prostitutes the biblical truth. Refusing to participate in the economic turnover constitutes flagrant disobedience. Pp99

(1) What are the specific needs which this program is meeting?

(2) Would people create this project anew if it were terminated?

(3) Does it express the spirit and mission of the gospel?

(4) Is this structure designed to serve in the Spirit of Jesus?

(5) Does- it promote an exclusive self-righteous posture?

(6) Do people enjoy participating in it?

(7) Is flexibility built into its very structure?

(8) Has a time been designated to evaluate its functions

(9) Is there a decision-making process to declare an institutional funeral" if necessary?

(10) Is it clear that the people of God, as led by the Spirit, have the authority to declare its moratorium? Pp177

Jesus modeled agape. He embodied it by being an advocate for the poor. He violated civil and religious laws in the face of human need. His words and deeds insulted the rich and powerful. They didn't think he was loving. He championed the downtrodden, the outcasts, and the oppressed even when his behavior created a ruckus. Pp189

Brurgemann, W 1982 Living toward a vision: biblical reflection on Shalom . United Church Press

Down is up
Free slaves
luxurious poverty
impious piety
lovcable enemies
inside outsiders
low is high
successful enemies


Hosseini, K (2003) The Kite Runner.Bloomsbury 

Great novel - highly recommended


Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Hancock, S (2004) The Two of Us: My Life with John Thaw 

  • Hancock, S (2004) The Two of Us: My Life with John Thaw. Bloomsbury

  • Time does not bring relief;
    you all have lied
    Who told me time would ease me of my pain!
    I miss him in the weeping of the rain;
    I want him at the shrinking of the tide;
    The old snows melt from every mountainside,
    And last year's leaves are smoke in every lane,
    But last year's bitter loving must remain
    Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide.
    There are a hundred places where I fear
    To go, - so with his memory they brim!
    And entering with relief some quiet place
    Where never fell his foot or shone his face I say,
    'There is no memory of him here!'
    And so stand stricken, so remembering him.


    You can shed tears that he is gone
    Or you can smile because he has lived.
    You can close your eyes and pray that he'll come back
    Or you can open your eyes and see all that he's left.
    Your heart can be empty because you can't see him
    Or you can be full of the love you. shared.
    You can turn your back on tomorrow and live for yesterday
    Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
    You can remember him and only that he's gone
    Or you can cherish his memory and let it live on.
    You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
    Or you can do what he'd want. Smile, open your eyes, love and go on.


    Yancey, P. (2004) Rumours of Another World: What on Earth Are We Missing? 

  • Yancey, P. (2004) Rumours of Another World: What on Earth Are We Missing?

  • ‘To end all wars’ Ernest Gordon

    … they would endeavour to build a community of faith, beauty, and compassion, nourishing souls even in a place that destroyed bodies.

    Perhaps something like this was what Jesus had in mind as he turned again and again to his favourite topic: the kingdom of God. In the soil of this violent, disordered world, an alternate community may take root. It lives in hope of a day of liberation. In the meantime, it aligns itself with another world, not just spreading rumours but planting settlements-in-advance of that coming reign.


    Taking God's assignment seriously means that I must learn to look at the world upside down, as Jesus did. Instead of seeking out people who stroke my ego, I find those whose egos need stroking; instead of important people with resources who can do me favours, I find people with few resources; instead of the strong, I look for the weak; instead of the healthy, the sick. Is not this how God reconciles the world to himself. Did Jesus not insist that he came for the sinners and not the righteous, for the sick and not the healthy?



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