by Luis Aranguiz Kahn.
It is a known story that some group of radical Jews wanted to go against the Roman Empire fighting for the independence of the land of Israel. In such a context, the figure of Jesus was at least contradictory. He claimed to be a king though without a land to rule, he said his realm was not of this world and he proclaimed freedom for the slaves, but not Israeli independence. It was understandable to see some Jews rejecting him, because why should we follow a liberator that can’t give political freedom?
This story has a different meaning depending on the place where it is remembered. For instance, it is not the same to speak about it being a Christian of a first world country like England -that was a big Christian empire until just some years ago- or United States -that still looks to be like a kind of empire for many parts of the world-, than to reflect on it from a third world country like a Latin-American one. Continue reading Pentecostals vs the Empire
by Faith Totushek.
Mark 11:12-22 tells us the remarkable account of the fig tree and the temple. These stories are strung together to teach us a number of things about how our faith might be hi-jacked to represent not the character, image and heart of God but nationalism and earthly systems of power, oppression and corruption.
As Jesus is riding into Jerusalem, he notices a fig tree and examines it to see if there is fruit. Finding no fruit, he curses it, saying, “may no one eat fruit from you again.” What’s going on? Why would Jesus do this? What does he have against fig trees? The cursing of the fig tree is a prophetic act that hints at what might happen in Jerusalem.
When Jesus arrives in Jerusalem he makes his way to the temple. Actually, if you look at verse 11, you will notice that Jesus had been to the temple the night before but returned to where he was staying because it was late. I find this curious, wondering if he took note of what was occurring in the temple and what it stood for and returned home to consider what he saw.
In the morning we see Jesus entering the Temple and driving out the animals and money changers and those who were selling animals for sacrifice. And Jesus says this, “My house will be a house of prayer for all nations but you have made it a den of thieves.” Was he concerned about selling stuff in the Temple? Was he concerned that the activity would disrupt prayer time? Seriously, this is how the account is often taught.
But there is some much deeper taking place. Continue reading How the Fig Tree that Jesus Cursed Represents Nationalism
by Craig Keener
In many circles, editorials and sermons on the true meaning of Christmas have become a routine, perhaps almost obligatory, protest against the materialism and rush of the season. Christmas, of course, has taken on various expressions in a range of cultures through history, along the way picking up fir trees, wrapped gifts, and developing permutations of figures such as St. Nicholas of Myra (a fourth-century bishop).
Continue reading Christmas vs the Empire