by Bob Ekblad. Originally published at his blog, reposted with permission.
Followers of Jesus have a spiritual obligation to bring into the light offenses or injustices otherwise hidden from sight. While discernment is certainly needed in knowing how and when to speak, prohibiting leaks is like silencing the prophets, who in Scripture carried out a function in Israel similar yet far beyond that of WikiLeaks or the best investigative journalism.
Jesus himself taught: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled,” affirming all who long for truth and justice. This hunger and thirst will lead us to walk in the light ourselves through personal confession and repentance, and also to expose injustices that affect the vulnerable.
Think of confession of sin as the exposure of our own hidden secret attitudes and actions that the Holy Spirit brings up. The Spirit sounds our hearts, “leaking” our sins into our conscious awareness, bringing conviction and inviting confession, renunciation and new, life-giving choices. Continue reading Blessed Are the Leakers
by Craig M. Watts. Originally published at The Yoke, reposted with permission.
Clarity brings trouble.
Few ministers would bother preaching a second sermon if they got the reaction Jesus received after his first one in his hometown synagogue. Many preachers have had people respond to a message with anger but not with attempts on their lives. Jesus roused passions with his preaching. And some of those passions were deadly. Continue reading The Jesus Agenda
I’ve been reflecting on recent headlines about the emergence or re-emergence of white supremacy. I’ve been especially disturbed by how quiet my tribe is and by how defensive conversations around race are among my faith group. I can’t speak for everyone but I can share about some of the myths that were commonly discussed when I was growing up.
I grew up in a rural/suburban mostly white culture around good hardworking people who went to church, loved their neighbors and were largely good citizens. Most would never march or support a white supremacist cause or overtly try to hurt anyone. In fact the unspoken rule was “don’t hurt anyone and be nice to everyone.” Nevertheless, racism was a part of the folk Christianity that I grew up with. And I use the word folk Christianity because I believe these myths are aberrations and not a part of true Christianity. I hope to refute these myths as simply as I can.
The first myth I encountered was the “Curse of Ham.” The curse of Ham was drawn from the story of Noah found in Genesis 9:18-27. Noah had planted a vineyard and made some wine and after an evening of drinking he became drunk and naked. One of his son’s noticed that he was naked and told the others who walked in backwards and covered him with a robe. Ham the one who found his father drunk and naked was cursed. Ham founded the Canaanites. As folk religion does, this text was applied to African-Americans who had come from Africa in slave ships to the US serving many years in forced slavery. The curse implied that Ham’s descendents would serve his brothers Shem and Japheth. Then I was shown a map of where each son of Noah settled and naturally the map showed that Ham settled in Africa. It was inferred then that such people were cursed by God and destined for service to the people who settled in Europe and the Americas. Continue reading 6 Ways The Bible Was Hijacked to Support Racism.
Quite a few media outlets have recently claimed that science has disproven the Bible. They point to a recent study showing that the DNA of modern Lebanese people match 90 % with the DNA of five Canaanites that died 3 700 tears ago. They then go on claiming that the Bible says that all the Canaanites were killed as Joshua and the Israelites conquered their land.
The titles of the articles show that their authors think that according to the Bible, Canaanites were “wiped out”. The Telegraph states “Study disproves the Bible’s suggestion that the ancient Canaanites were wiped out”. The Independent agrees: “Bible says Canaanites were wiped out by Israelites but scientists just found their descendants living in Lebanon”. And the Daily Mail argues “Bronze Age DNA disproves the Bible’s claim that the Canaanites were wiped out: Study says their genes live on in modern-day Lebanese people”
There’s only one problem. The Bible doesn’t say that the Canaanites were wiped out.
Judges, you know the book that comes right after Joshua, clearly states that there were “Canaanites living in the hill country, the Negev and the western foothills” (Jud 1:9) and “Canaanites living in Hebron” (v. 10). Canaanites were around in Israel around the time of Solomon (1 Kings 9:16) and even in the time of Jesus (Matt 15:22). Continue reading No, the Bible Doesn’t Claim that the Israelites Killed All the Canaanites
This Good Friday, millions of Christians over the world contemplate about the sufferings of Christ as he died for our sins. In my experience, it is not so common among Pentecostals and Charismatics to talk about suffering as something achievable. Rather, our emphasis on healing has often made us think that pain is always evil. And while I am convinced that we should always pray and work to alleviate involuntarily suffering, we should also be ready to suffer for Christ’s sake – and even count it as a joy! (Mt 5:11-12)
After all, we follow a crucified God who told us to take up our crosses and follow Him (Lk 14:27). He told us that we should expect persecution and turn the other cheek when attacked (Mt 5:39). We are also told in the Scriptures that we will experience spiritual trials and hardships (Jam 1:2ff.).
This may seem hard to sync with the Kingdom message of fighting suffering through healing, deliverance, poverty reduction and peacemaking. But it is one of the Kingdom paradoxes – while we should alleviate suffering, we should be ready to suffer. We should not seek suffering or be happy when others suffer, but when we are affected by suffering, which undoubtedly will happen from time to time, we should not interpret it as being abandoned by God but see it as a humiliating experience for us to identify ourselves with Christ. Continue reading The Role of Suffering in the Charismatic Movement
The Jerusalem Project is based on the radical idea that biblical followers of Jesus should live like the followers of Jesus in the Bible. Specifically, we don’t think that the community of goods that Jesus practiced with his disciples (John 13:29) and that they then continued to practice in the apostolic church in Jerusalem (Acts 2:44-45), was a mistake or has gone obsolete. On the contrary, since Jesus is “the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2) and the apostles are the foundation of the church (Eph 2:19), we believe we should live like them.
Most Christians would agree that the apostles has ultimate authority on who Jesus is, what he did for us and what he wants us to do for him. In fact, this authority is so great that the words they or their associates wrote down in letters and books are considered to be the Word of God!
That’s basically as much authority one can get.
But if they have this much authority, shouldn’t we view their lives and works as expressing God’s will as much as their words? Not that they would be sinless, but they had spend a lot of time with the sinless Son of God. He had taught them not only doctrines but practices, not just orthodoxy but orthopraxy. And so, they continued to heal the sick, preach the Gospel and have everything in common just as Jesus had trained them. Continue reading The Jerusalem Project: Starting a Christian Community from Scratch
Over and over again I see how some fellow Christian activists want to de-emphasize the importance of Heaven. It is often claimed that the reason why traditional evangelical and charismatic churches have not been so involved in promoting peace and justice is because there is too much focus on Heaven, salvation and evangelism – they don’t want to waste their energy and time on politics and activism when they can use it to save souls instead.
To challenge this heresy, some Christian activists go to another extreme. They might argue that giving people eternal life wasn’t Jesus’ main concern, that the Kingdom is mainly here and now and not there and then, that evangelism is not so important, etc. God’s focus is primarily earth, not heaven, and we should mimic that, they claim.
However, Paul wrote:
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (Col 3:1-2)
Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Phil 3:19-21)
Continue reading On Earth as it is in Whatever?