The Birth of Jesus: Solidarity with the Outcast

We typically portray the story of Jesus’ birth in a very romanticized way. It’s all very cute and happy. There’s no blood or sweat or tears or troubling social dynamics. That is pretty far from the truth, as anybody who has had a baby even with today’s technology could tell you.

Jesus the Bastard

I don’t use the word “bastard” to be crude. Before becoming more of a generic insult in recent years, bastard meant somebody who was conceived before his or her parents were married. According to Matthew, Jesus was a bastard: Mary was pregnant before she married Joseph. An even bigger problem was when Joseph found out because he knew that he hadn’t slept with her. As an honorable man who didn’t want to unnecessarily hurt her, he decided to call off the wedding quietly before an angel stopped him. (more…)

Violent Videogames

Micah Murray recently wrote for Convergent Books about how he has stopped playing violent video games. It’s a great piece about how he didn’t feel it made him a violent person or anything like that, but it was weird for him to set aside his convictions for an hour or two for the sake of entertainment. He doesn’t condemn any Christians who still play violent games, but says that he can’t anymore. I think of it like Paul’s teaching on eating meat sacrificed to idols, personally: not a clear right or wrong, but listen to your own conscience and if you do say yes for yourself, also respect those who say no.

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Israel, Palestine, and the Myth of Just War

I’ve gotten myself in trouble a couple of times with one of my Twitter followers in the past couple of days for retweeting a couple of things related to the current war (aka genocide) in Israel/Palestine. The first, to paraphrase, asked why people are surprised that Palestinians are fighting back – unsuccessfully for the most part – against their oppressors. The second tried to be a bit more humorous and suggested that the Israeli mindset was “do unto others as the Nazis did unto you.” Of course, I know that as soon as you compare somebody to the Nazis, you’ve lost the argument. I am familiar with that rule of the Internet, so maybe I shouldn’t have retweeted that one, but I do still think it makes a good point.

The point of both tweets from my perspective: both Israel and Hamas are operating on the same framework that the way they achieve peace is through wiping out all of your enemies. And yes, it was the same framework as the Nazis and really the same framework of most people and most nations. It was the basis of the Pax Romana, the Roman Peace: peace through victory.

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Women in Jesus’ Ancestry

Luke, surprisingly perhaps since he is generally considered the most woman-friendly of the four Gospel writers, does not include any women in his genealogy of Jesus. Matthew, however, lists among his genealogy 3 different women by name and then also references Bathsheba (but only by her husband’s name). These references are a radical idea. Genealogies are typically traced through men, particularly in the Ancient world but we still often do it today, too. That’s why you get so many cases where somebody is introduced as a “son of (father’s name)” in the Bible. Rarely does the Bible or any other Ancient book speak of sons or daughters of their mother as a primary characteristic. It just wasn’t as important as their fathers, so the fact that women were included here does say something about what Matthew wanted to get across.

Even more significantly, these women generally are not the ones you would brag about descending from.

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Jesus’ Ancestry: Of Abraham and God

The Gospels of Matthew (1:1-17) and Luke (3:23-38) don’t line up completely in their ancestries of Jesus. Some have devoted hours to trying to get these accounts to line up in a literally-true historical sense. Others, like me, argue that it would be missing the point to focus on the literal historical ancestry.

The authors included these genealogies for specific reasons. One or both or a mixing of the two is quite possibly historically true but dwelling on that just distracts us from the real question: what were the authors trying to say to their readers by including who they included? Ancient authors didn’t write things down if they didn’t consider them really important – it was too expensive, time-consuming, and literacy was not high enough for there to a large return on that investment. The exact historicity doesn’t really affect my life right now as it didn’t for those earlier readers, but stopping and considering what themes are brought forward by claiming Jesus’ origins as they do can matter quite a bit.

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We Believe: Theology Proper

Let’s continue with some comments as we go through The Meeting House’s current series We Believe. Next up: theology proper. The original sermon and the After Party are linked below, and most of my thoughts come more from the After Party even though the main sermon was clearly the most important point in discussing theology proper.

Week 3: Theology Proper

I generally don’t get very excited to talk about the Trinity or the various attempts to simplify the Trinity that have been deemed heresy: modalism (1 God, different modes), tritheism (3 gods), or subordinationism (1 god with 2 created subordinates).

Bruxy, as he is very good at doing, focused on the important part, though: God is love. That is the start point, the end point, and every point in between for a good understanding of theology. God is not wrath, although sometimes love looks like wrath. God is not justice, although love does necessitate true world-restoring justice. God is not holiness, although God’s radical love does clearly set him apart as different than us. God is love. (more…)

Jesus the Word

In the beginning was the one
    who is called the Word.
The Word was with God
    and was truly God.
From the very beginning
    the Word was with God.

And with this Word,
    God created all things.
Nothing was made
    without the Word.
Everything that was created
    received its life from him,
and his life gave light
    to everyone.
The light keeps shining
    in the dark,
and darkness has never
    put it out.

14 The Word became
a human being
    and lived here with us.
We saw his true glory,
the glory of the only Son
    of the Father.
From him all the kindness
and all the truth of God
    have come down to us.

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We Believe: Gospelology, Bibliology, and Christology

Most Meeting House Home Churches are on break for the summer, including mine, but I’m loving this series we’re in. It’s essentially a systematic theology 101 course. In some ways, not much so far I haven’t really encountered before; I have taken not only Intro Systematics but also some others in my M.Div. Doesn’t mean I don’t really enjoy it, though, so I’ve decided to basically just release the videos here with some short comments during the summer while I’m not likely to be blogging as often.

Week 1: Prolegomena and Gospelology

Bruxy makes a lot of great points in the first week in terms of cautions for studying theology. Most prominently, it has the potential to make us very arrogant and end up actually in living in ways contrary to Jesus even when we say we’re studying Jesus. That’s a very important caution.

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