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Sunday, December 08, 2013

Smith James-Bryan The good and beautiful life... 

False imperative narratives

I am alone
Things always have to go as I want them
Something terrible will happen if I make a mistake
I must be in control all of the time
Life must always be fair and just
I need to anticipate everything that will happen to me today
I need to be perfect all of the time pp73

Which of these are you familiar with?

In the kingdom we live in union with one another. My brother's struggle is my struggle as well. So we show our love by continuing to pray for the person and by letting the person know that he or she is not alone. 197


wright n.t.(2012) How god became king.spck 


The challenge is to accept that we have all misunderstood the Gospels....

The gospels are not about 
Not Jesus coming to show us the way to heaven, nor a means of  Jesus teaching was merely that of ethics and how we should behave
Jesus as the moral example equally is inadequate 
Or even that Jesus is the perfect sacrifice
The  gospels neither are about providing stories for us identify with and then to show  us the way, or are they about proving Christ's divinity.

Wrights argument is that the underlying emphasis of the gospels has been thoroughly overlooked, that of how God became king.

"Wright argues that four speakers influence our reading of the Gospels. Each speaker has its volume controls set incorrectly. One speaker is too loud, while, perhaps, the others are too quiet. According to Wright, when we read the Gospels, we need to keep these four speakers in balance. These four speakers or influences on our reading the Gospels include the following: (1) The Gospels are an organic fulfillment of the story of Israel (The Old Testament), and not simply Genesis 1–3; (2) The story of Jesus is the story of Yahweh visiting his people, and this means that his deity is assumed; (3) Jesus comes to launch God’s renewed people into the kingdom or into kingdom life. This is what eternal life is all about; (4) The kingdom of God conflicts with the kingdom of this world, because it subverts the expectations of worldly kingdoms. (Caesar v god) It many ways, this means the Christians are called to live out this new life that Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension inaugurated"

Cleverly by bouncing Bultmann, wright is saying listen to me I am evangelical, I'm doing what evangelicals do - turn to scripture. But he does say that for many we are missing the fullness of the gospels because the balance of our interpretation is out. We've lost the sense of sequel and need to reclaim the story of Israel, an unfinished agenda rather than think that what we have in the OT is a failed first attempt. What we have in the gospels is more than reference to Jesus fulfilling prophecy, we have in the story of Israel a microcosm of god's beating heart for his world that he chose to bless through Israel . What god does for Israel is what he is doing for the whole world. Matthew presents Jesus as the jubilee of jubilees!

The pattern of God intending to live among his people but being unable to because of their rebellion,  but coming back in grace is the continued story of the OT. Garden of Eden , exodus, temple, exile ,  second temple etc... The story of the gospels is not that 'he's divine he's divine', more that YHWH is back with his people again.

The gospels offer not so much a different kind of human, but a different kind of god 104

So whether at a scholarly or a popular level, the gospels have been perceived and read as the story of Jesus launching the Christian movement, teaching the early Christians,  and then dying and rising to save them. The speaker carrying these notes has been up at full volume. And this has prevented us from hearing the much more subtle point that all four gospels, each in its own way, are making. 110

When we ponder this we realise that the four gospels were never meant as 'historical reminiscence' 125

Clear line from gen 11 via Isaiah 40-55 and Daniel 7 to mark 10 and in turn mark14-15 139 ... JC establishes the new kind of power - God's kingdom as opposed to Caesar's, on earth as it is in heaven. ... God rescues his people from their sins, through the work of the isaianic servant precisely in order to establish his rule, his own very different kind of power, in all the world.   139

Near the heart of my purpose of this book is to suggest that not only have we misread the gospels, but that we have made them ordinary, have cut them down to size, have allowed them to speak aboutbhe few concerns that happened to occupy our minds already, rather than setting them free to generate an entire world of meaning in all directions, a new world in which we would discover not only new life , but new vocation  158

We have lived for many years with 'kingdom christians' and 'cross Christians' in opposite corners of the room, anxious that those on the other side are missing the point, the one group with its social-gospel agenda and the other with its saving souls for heaven agenda. The four gospel bring these two viewpoints together into a unity that is much greater than the sum of their parts 159

We should not imagine that 'forgiveness of sins' here is a purely individualistic thing. In the light of the 'Nazareth manifesto' it seems clearly to extend to the jubilee principle, the release from all debts, the cosmic sigh of relief at God's new exodus achievement, rescuing people from all forms of slavery. Jesus' followers were thereby commissioned and then empowered by the spirit to announce to the world that there was a different way to be human.  231

We have, alas, belittled the cross, imagining it merely as a mechanism for getting us off the hook of our own petty naughtiness or as an example of some benevolent truth. It is much, much more. It is the moment when the story of Israel reached its climax; the moment when, at last, the watchmen of Jerusalem's walls see their god coming in his kingdom; the moment when the people of God coming in his kingdom; the moment when the people of avid are renewed so as to be, at last the royal priesthood who will take over the world not with the love of power but with the power of love; the moment when the kingdom of God overcomes the kingdoms of the world ... This is the vision the evangelists offer us as they bring together the kingdom and the cross 239

I offer three reflections about what this combination does to our vision of the kingdom. First, the evangelists insist that the kingdom truly was inaugurated by Jesus in his active public career... That whole narrative is the story of 'how God became king in and through Jesus' 240

Secondly, this kingdom is radically defined in relation to Jesus' entire agenda of suffering leading to the cross 241

Third the kingdom that Jesus inaugurated, that is implemented through his cross, is emphatically for this world.... The gospels are there, waiting to inform a new generation for holistic mission, to embody, explain and advocate new ways of ordering communities, nations and the world. 242

What happens if we ask ... What do we lean about the cross when we discover that the gospels present it as the means by which God (in Jesus) becomes king of the world?
1) the way we have normally listed options in atonement theology simply won't do. Our questions have been wrongly put, because they have not been about the kingdom. They haven't been about God's sovereign saving rule coming on earth as in heaven. Instead our questions have been about a 'salvation' that rescues people from the world, instead of for the world. Going to heaven has been the object (ever since the Middle Ages ; sin is what stops us; so the cross must deal with sin ... Simply untrue to the story.... In all four gospels, the cross is the victory that overcomes the world.... 

2)Through his death, the evangelists are telling their readers there will come the jubilee event, the great redemption, freedom from debts of every kind 243

3) if the cross is to be interpreted as the coming of the kingdom on earth as in heaven, centring on some kind of messianic victory, with some kind of substitution at its heart, making sense through some kind of representation,then the four gospels leave us with the primary application of the cross not in abstract preaching  about 'how to have your sins forgiven' or 'how to go to heaven', but in an agenda in which the forgiven people are put to work, addressing the evils of the world... From this there flows both a new missiology, including an integrated political theology, and the new ecclesiology that will be needed to support it, a community whose very heart will be forgiveness. 244

The resurrection is, from Mark's point of view,  the moments when God's kingdom 'comes in power'. From johnn's point of view, it is the launching of the new creation, the new Genesis. From Matthew's  point of view, it brings Jesus into the position for which was always destined, that of the world's rightful Lord, sending out his followers (as a new Roman emperor might send out his emissaries...) to call the world to follow him and learn his way of being human. From Luke's point of view, the resurrection is the moment when Israelis messiah 'comes into his glory', so that 'repentance for the forgiveness of sins' can now be announced to all the world as the way of life 247




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