Extracurricular Activities — March 1, 2014
At the center of the Christian faith stands a perplexing event--a human named Jesus of Nazareth becomes a living embodiment of God. Over the centuries many Christians have raised questions about this moment: How did such a transformation occur? How can a man be fully human and fully divine at the same time? How did Jesus become God? Two new books explore these questions anew.
So, what does it mean when someone says they are “anti Institutional church”? Frankly, I don’t know...
It appears to me that what most folks do is swap one kind of institutional church for another institutional church.
There is a recent archaeological report about camels, or the lack thereof in the Holy Land. John Noble Wilford of the NY Times has a recent article about the findings which can be found here. The findings include the deduction that because evidence has not yet been found for camels in the Holy Land prior to 1,000 B.C. therefore they likely were not part of the economy in that Land before then, and also therefore, the reports in Genesis of Abraham and others having camels ‘must be anachronistic’ reflecting the fact that those accounts must have been written at a much later period of time, not in the 2nd millennium B.C. There are so many problems with this sort of thinking that I find it staggering that good archaeologists from Tel Aviv University and elsewhere could say such things.
Well, it seems that my earlier posting ... questioning the characterization of ancient Christian “gnostics” as “intellectuals” (in the recent “Bible Hunters” programme) has drawn a lot of interest ... and controversy. I note, in particular, that my long-time friend, April DeConick, has weighed in challenging my posting here.
I will return her compliment, in affirming her as a long-time friend, and I acknowledge her as an impressive scholar in the field of ancient “gnostic” texts and versions of early Christianity. In offering the following response to her critique, my purpose is not rebuttal, but a productive public dialogue.
When the questions come, it's clear that not everyone goes through pain the same way. There's not one good answer for questions about God and suffering. People are complex, and so are God's ways. Our answers should reflect that reality.
Nevertheless, I have found three categories of thinking about God and pain that have been helpful as I talk with different people in my church who have been fired from work, learned of their wife's affair, lost their spouse, or endured infertility. These three different ways help us wrap our minds around Romans 8, which teaches that somehow God works all things—whether pain or joy, sword or comfort—for our good.
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