Friday, March 30, 2007

What makes Jesus so unique?

James Tabor's article makes the same mistake that all heretical movements make: Jesus is the messenger, but not the Messiah.

The message he carried wasn't vastly different from the message that other rabbis preached. It wasn't really different from that found in the prophets or in the Torah.

What makes Jesus unique is the claim he makes about himself as the particular summation of God's saving acts in the world. Jesus' claim to be the Savior - to be God in the flesh - is what was distasteful to his contemporaries. His "I AM" statements, his exclusive claims to access to the Father, his ability to send the Spirit - all of these make him unique (not his teaching or his healing ministry). It is Jesus' ontology rather than his deontology (who he is rather than his moral teaching) that makes him the Savior of humankind.

Liberalism's problem (well, one among many) is that it sets up a mindset that distinguishes Jesus based on differentiating him from his contemporaries in such a way that little can be found in common. It was precisely this mindset that led to German scholarship being so derisive and dismissive of the Israelites (thinking of their religion as Primitive whereas Christianity is an enlightened opening of that Urreligion). It sets the Jews up as scapegoats - rejecting the religion of enlightened peoples and thus worthy of contempt. (sho'ah, anyone?)

I'm not saying this doesn't happen within "conservative" circles. Certainly, dispensationalists are quite dismissive of the faith of the Hebrews (despite Hebrews 11-12!). But the Reformed (i.e., Biblical) Christians take a different view: Adam was equally a member of the same Church as Paul.

Why? Because their faith was centered in The Coming One, the Serpent-trodder (Gen. 3:15), their Savior who was displayed to them in types and shadows until the time was fulfilled.

The message was there in the Torah all along. They weren't waiting on the message or even a new messenger - they were waiting on a messiah - the Mediator of the everlasting covenant.

Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Lamentations 2:14

"Your prophets have seen for you
false and deceptive visions;
they have not exposed your iniquity
to restore your fortunes,
but have seen for you oracles
that are false and misleading." (esv)

Silence about sin is not a good thing. Exposing sin allows people to turn from it. Exposing sin allows it to be recognized for what it is, so that we can walk in obedience. Reading through Lamentations, I get the sense that the narrator who bewails Jerusalem's razing would like nothing better than a chance to recognize sin in time to do something about it.

That's part of why I stay in the PC(USA). I believe that it is an imperative for those who minister to sound the warning. But it's equally important for me to hear denunciations of my own sin. There are times when I let sins that society endorses (pride, greed, etc) sneak up on me - heck, sometimes I even relish them. And it's at that moment that I need somebody with a different perspective to point me to a broader reading of the Scriptures with a chance to repent.

May God continue to send instruments of his hand - sharpening irons - in my path. Amen.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Trendy Bracelet Slogan for PoMos

I was ruminating the other night about all the zany alternatives we came up with for WWJD at several Presbyterian youth/college meetings back in the mid 1990s. It started me thinking about what kind of slogan I'd have to use now that I'm cemetary edumicated. Here's my stab at it:

What Do You Think Jesus Might Have Done In a Given Situation, Recognizing Our Limited Knowledge as Finite Human Beings and Our Distance from the Historical Context?

Of course, how you get WDYTJMHDIGSROLKFHB&ODHC on bracelet (or even a belt) might require more power than even the God of Open (pan)Theism wields!