For Humiliation

We hate humiliation, but is clearly part of becoming Christ-like. 2 Cor 8:9; Php 2:8; Heb 12:2, etc., etc.

This dense paragraph from Karl Barth karl-barthreminds me that humiliation is displayed by Jesus because it is in his divine nature.  (This is pretty obvious, I guess, but I enjoyed remembering it.)

God does not first elect and determine man but Himself. In His eternal counsel, and then in its execution in time, He determines to address Himself to man, and to do so in such a way that He Himself becomes man. God elects and determines Himself to be the God of man.  And this undoubtedly means . . . that He elects and determines Himself for humiliation. In so doing He does not need to become alien to Himself, to change Himself. The Godhead of the true God is not a prison whose walls have first to be broken through if He is to elect and do what He has elected and done in becoming man. In distinction from that of false gods, and especially the god of Mohammed, His Godhead embraces both height and depth, both sovereignty and humility, both lordship and service. He is the Lord over life and death. He does not become a stranger to Himself when in His Son He also goes into a far country. He does not become another when in Jesus Christ He also becomes and is man.

—Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics IV/2, 84 (thanks to Mark Galli).

More on Dr. Hawkins

larycia-hawkinsMore careful irenic writing on the Wheaton College/Larycia Hawkins matter:

  1.  Tracy McKenzie, “Academic Freedom in a Christian Context” Faith & History (Jan. 18, 2016) [link], and (of course)
  2. Alan Jacobs, “Once more on the Academic Freedom Merry-Go-Round” Snakes & Ladders (Jan. 19, 2016) [link].

Jacobs is more or less critiquing a response which McKenzie got to the original piece.  Each writer is calmly thinking through the issues, which seems very appropriate, under the circumstances, and unusual, compared with the rest of the blogosphere.

Climate-change Jeremiah?

Katharine Hayhoe is a Christ-follower and a believer in climate change.  Apparently these are not contradictory positions.

I don’t think there are any churches that have “Thou shalt not believe in climate change” written in their actual statement of faith. However, I think it’s become an unspoken article of faith in many churches because of what we have been told. I’ve even had people tell me that I must not be a Christian because I think climate change is real. But you know, there’s nothing in the Bible that says that. The sad truth is that our thought leaders—many of them in the conservative media and politics—are the ones telling us this isn’t real, and we are believing them.

Ann Neumann, “God’s Creation Is Running a Fever,” Guernica (12/15/2015) [link].

 

 

Joy to the world

Christian teachers and students alike can never forget that their views are not widely shared in the culture as a whole. We read a great many books written by people who don’t believe what we believe; we are always aware of being different. This is a tremendous boon to true learning, because it discourages people from deploying rote pieties as a substitute for genuine thought. No Christian student or professor can ever forget the possibility of alternative beliefs or unbeliefs. Most students who graduate from Christian colleges have a sharp, clear awareness of alternative ways of being in the world; yet students at secular universities can go from their first undergraduate year all the way to a PhD without ever having a serious encounter with religious thought and experience — with any view of the world other than that of their own social class.

Alan Jacobs,”Christian Education and ‘Intellectual Compromise’” The American Conservative (online post 12/18/2015) (link).

At this time of the year, it is well for Christian students and professors (and shouldn’t we all be both?) to recall that we are called to be “different.”  “Different” does not (of course) mean angry, or rude, or insecure.  It does not mean ignorant or lacking in humility.  It means loving the world in truth, and that invariably means going out into the places where the world lives.

The same God?

ScreenShot003Much has already been written about the Wheaton professor who — perhaps trying to make a mainly human rather than mainly theological point — prompted a furor when she asserted that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.  The question is complex, and has been discussed profitably many times in the past.

Here is an excerpt from a thoughtful (and irenic) article by Timothy George, published in the aftermath of 9/11:

Is the Father of Jesus the God of Muhammad? The answer is surely Yes and No. Yes, in the sense that the Father of Jesus is the only God there is. He is the Creator and Sovereign Lord of Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius, of every person who has ever lived. He is the one before whom all shall one day bow (Phil. 2:5-11). Christians and Muslims can together affirm many important truths about this great God—his oneness, eternity, power, majesty. As the Qur’an puts it, he is “the Living, the Everlasting, the All-High, the All-Glorious” (2:256).

But the answer is also No, for Muslim theology rejects the divinity of Christ and the personhood of the Holy Spirit—both essential components of the Christian understanding of God. No devout Muslim can call the God of Muhammad “Father,” for this, to their mind, would compromise divine transcendence. But no faithful Christian can refuse to confess, with joy and confidence, “I believe in God the Father. … Almighty!” Apart from the Incarnation and the Trinity, it is possible to know that God is, but not who God is.

Timothy George, “Is the God of Muhammad the Father of Jesus? Christianity Today (February 4, 2002) (link).

Perception and acceptance

“And Grace calls out, ‘You are not just a disillusioned old man who may die soon, a middle-aged woman stuck in a job and desperately wanting to get out, a young person feeling the fire in the belly begin to grow cold. You may be insecure, inadequate, mistaken or potbellied. Death, panic, depression, and disillusionment may be near you. But you are not just that. You are accepted.’ Never confuse your perception of yourself with the mystery that you really are accepted.”

Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel

#sanbernardino

Politicians and public figures are fundamentally like all other human beings and have the same basic responses to tragedy. This is true no matter their position on controversial issues of policy (say, gun control). So it is no surprise that they respond immediately, like the rest of us do, with familiar words and phrases that express their human solidarity with those who suffer. Even the most accomplished speechwriters will take hours or days to come up with words adequate to great suffering. No human being, even the most articulate, can offer adequate words in the first moments after terrible news. To demonstrate that level of rhetorical fluency would in fact be to demonstrate an inhuman lack of empathy. Inarticulacy is the proper, empathic immediate response to tragedy.

Excellent musing on the responses (and counter-responses) to the San Bernardino shooting.

Andy Crouch, “On ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ After the San Bernardino Shooting: Prayer—and lament—is the proper first response to tragedy.”  Christianity Today (December 3, 2015) (link).

In praise of dissent

metaxas[T]his morning I ask you to ask yourself: do I know and respect people who have different views than I do on the hot button topics of today? Do I have friends who are pro-choice and pro-life? Do I have friends who are for gay marriage and friends who are against gay marriage? Or don’t I think people on the other side of these issues are worthy of my respect? Do I think they must simply be avoided — and perhaps for the good of all even silenced altogether?
Eric Metaxas, Sewanee Convocation Speech (February 10, 2015).
Without irony, I confess I do not always agree with Eric Metaxas, but this is a very nice speech on the importance of viewpoint tolerance and understanding in a democratic society.  Somehow, I think this is about recognizing the image of God in others.