Tag Archives: Theology

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Impress-ability and Wisdom

Impress-ability and Wisdom

Could it be that much of western culture believes that the more impressive an item must be, the more life it must contain? What if wisdom is an opposite of this: the more life something contains, the more that something reshapes and redefines what we find impressive?

The big, powerful, and attractive are impressive in our culture; we all feel drawn to them in our seasons. We often associate these things with vitality. The more we see these large traits, the more we feel their gravitational pull. This pull and wiring of desire propels is to then pursue these abstractions in our religious dialog (moments we see in hindsight that struggle to get beyond religious salesmanship).

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How Would You Define “Grace?”

How Would You Define “Grace?”

[Enter your thought here.]

Here’s why I ask:

The essence of grace has been something I’ve been wrestling with a lot lately. I’m working through the jumble I’ve inherited from all over: dear friends, theologians I admire, and cliche that’s magnetized to my conscience (as I view it in hindsight).

I believe my concoction is confused, but what’s most perplexing is how I feel I have so many answers for such a simple (and essential) question.

I wonder, “Why the diversity?” Continue reading

Behold the Spirit by Alan Watts [Book Reaction]

Behold the Spirit: The Necessity of Mystical Religion
by Alan Watts

Book Reaction

Initial Question(s):
Can I discover what has my father found so influential about this book that he keeps coming back to it? What might I relate to as I read?

Behold the Spirit was an invigorating, thought provoking read about taking the incarnation of Jesus seriously. Taking the incarnation seriously means, as I paraphrase Watts, to see that union with God has already been established in creation – God has taken this first and permanent step in love. Humanity’s goal or life purpose then is to become awakened to this already-present grace of God’s presence and love. Continue reading

Wisdom Chaser (Nathan Foster) | Book Note

Some people’s lives seem messier than others. It always comes as a surprise when it’s “the pastor’s kid” who goes off the deep end. That’s Nathan’s story in Wisdom Chaser.

Wisdom Chaser is a collection of short thoughts and stories from a son who is getting to know himself and his father. The setting is the collection of 14,000 foot mountains of Colorado. And, it all starts with an estranged relationship and a risky question: “Do you want to climb the 14-ers, Dad?”

With the stories of adventure and failure on the mountain, interspersed by life’s parallels in the normal places of life, Nathan and his dad Richard (of Christian spirituality fame, a la The Celebration of Discipline) explore the mystery of one another and of God. The core of the story is learning humility, and accepting oneself as a person who is low – that life is made up of this very moment and not meant to be the pursuit of being the top person on whichever ladder you’re dreaming of. We need freedom from that competition that dehumanizes. We need salvation from The Western Way. Continue reading

On the Incarnation (St. Athanasius) | Book Note

I’ve begun a pursuit, a wrestling over this question: Why did Jesus have to die on the cross and what did his dying mean, create, cause, etc? I’ve read articles, study notes, and commentaries, and now have begun reading some books, ancient and modern, about the subject.

I began reading Athanasius’ persepective on the subject by suggestion of C.S. Lewis as well as Renovare’s 25 Books Every Christian Should Read, which starts its list with On the Incarnation (their list is categorized by date). Lewis listed it (cited in the intro to my copy of On the Incarnation) as one of the most influential books he has read.

I’ll attempt to pick apart Athanasius’ ideas here though citing the perceived purpose of life, the problem thwarting that purpose, and the solution or remedy for such.

For Athanasius, the purpose of human life is to dwell with their maker and to live a happy and blessed life in light of that knowledge.

The problem: humanity sinned, turned away from God. They defiled their own soul so completely that they not only lost their apprehension of God, but invented for themselves other gods of various kinds. This, of course, would prevent the true purpose of human life – that is, knowing and dwelling with God.

The result of the human rebellion was the declaration of the curse: you will die. By cutting themselves off from life with God, from knowing God, humanity thus cuts themselves off from life and the source of life, which is to say, the Divine Word, the logos.

It would have been unthinkable, Athanasius states, that God would go back on his declaration of the curse. It would have also been unthinkable that beings which once shared the nature of the Word should perish and turn back again into non-existence through corruption.

The solution: death needs to be dealt with. How so? Athanasius posts that repentance does not cover this, for repentance can surely reverse an action and an instance, but it is powerless toward changing an overall disposition, a nature. So while we make small, help-to-the-moment situational changes, our disposition is ruined – we are against God by nature, propelled by our own selves on a trajectory toward death. This trajectory would tear apart all humanity and all creation if left unchecked, unresolved.

So, what needed to happen, by Athanasius’ belief, is that the Divine Word which caused all life to be and sustains life as it is, needed to take on human flesh, and die, absorbing that curse of death. This happens in the person of Jesus, whom John’s Gospel cites as being that very Word of God. The Word is fully God and fully man. When he dies by his own will and purpose, the Divine Word takes that curse of death with him. Yet, because he is the Divine Word, death does not keep him dead, but rather, he rises to life, bringing life and hope to all humanity. Because that curse has been defeated, it has been killed, it has been taken to the grave itself, and it no longer threatens humanity, now there is hope and life.

Being the Divine Word, that which/who sustains and holds all life together, Jesus as man and God would be a fully sufficient exchange for all, since all are held together and given life by him. In essence, all of life was at the cross. All of humanity’s life-driving, life-sustaining force died on the cross, yet rose again.

Now, all men are clothed with incorruption in the promise of the resurrection, states Athanasius. Death’s curse has been destroyed – we are now capable and drawn to restorative relationship with God the Trinity. As we once knew only death, now we are becoming alive and aware of the Presence of God, the Love of God, the Power of God.

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The True Presence of Christ With Us (The Heart of True Obedience)

(Thoughts on obedience and life with the EverPresent Jesus)

I believe it is the lack of faith in the reality that the Living Christ is always with us that deflates our courage, faith, and obedience. We feel isolated and it feels to be a burden to carry out our Lord’s will, as if he is distant from us and we that we may hear from him some time later regarding our actions. …much like hearing reading a letter a week later after you first wrote.

Rather, when we live life from faith in the reality of the Everpresent Jesus, the one who is with us and before us as a real person and presence, we have the faith that whatever is done in life is done not for Jesus but with him. Any change, healing, or hope that we walk into, we discover and realize is not from us but from the presence of God, of Jesus, the one who is with us always.

We believe and live this way, no longer preoccupied with carrying out a distant Lord’s will, but instead, by accompanying Jesus in all of life. In this way we are keeping his will because our attentions have been shaped by Scripture to be on him, which is to say, to pray without ceasing – not casting prayers to a distant deity, but keeping company and conversation with Immanuel, God-With-Us.

When we live from this state of being, this posture, we see resurrection life around us take shape, not as a result of our obedience, but because the Christ himself is present and shaping us to be ones who express life as we are healed and vivified by the Spirit. This is true obedience: to be ones who once again have been gifted the capacity to express the Image of God (that is, Jesus).

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