Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Messianic Secret in Mark's Gospel

Mark's gospel has been the center of preaching for the Lenten season at Hillside Christian Church. On several occasions we've had reason to note one of the key literary characteristics of this gospel: "the messianic secret."

Mark Goodacre from Duke University has new podcast that discusses this feature of the gospel. Hear his insights here.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

We Are The World - YouTube Edition

This video has gone viral, so you've probably already seen it. I hadn't until last night when Diane Sawyer on ABC News featured the singers as her Person of the Week.

The concept: just regular people doing their own remake of We Are The World to focus on Haiti relief. Recorded in bathrooms and kitchens by 57 "stars" around the world and edited into one video. Here it is in case you've missed it.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Non-Believing Clergy

A study by two professors at Tufts University profiles five ministers who no longer "believe" but continue to minister. The five are UCC, Church of Christ, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Southern Baptist. I found these case studies intriguing and wonder: What do you think about ministers who cease to believe in God or core Christian doctrines such as the divinity of Christ? Should they resign? Share their spiritual pilgrimage with the congregation? Just keep quiet? To read the cases in the study click here.

The study, "Preachers Who Are Not Believers," is referenced in the religion section of the Washington Post, along with a section in which diverse respondents such as Marcus Borg, Martin Marty, Rabbi David Wolpe, and Cal Thomas share what they think such ministers should do. Check out their thoughts here. Share your own here at revJohn.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Lord's Supper in Stone-Campbell Churches

John Mark Hicks, Professor of Theology at Lipscomb University, a Church of Christ institution has an insightful blog for Stone-Campbell Christians entitled: "The Practice of Table in 20th Century Churches of Christ." His research identifies four characteristics of how the Supper was conceived during this period:
  1. Cognitive and Mental
  2. Introspective and Penitential
  3. Vertical and Individual
  4. Legal Test of Loyalty
Based on my experience in Churches of Christ, Hicks is on target with his analysis. I would contrast those four concepts then with my experience within Disciples of Christ. Here are four characteristics of Lord's Supper that I've seen in practice in Disciple churches:
  1. Oneness - represented by both men and women serving at the Table
  2. Centrality in Worship - centrality of the Supper in worship, including times other that Sunday
  3. Vertical and Horizontal - awareness of participating as a community of believers as well as an individual
  4. Sacramental - where we experience the presence of the resurrected Christ
Here are three quotes from three Disciple authors about the Lord's Supper within the Disciple heritage.

"They (Disciples) interpreted the Lord's Supper largely in terms of remembrance. Yet they viewed it as much more than a symbolic action designed to recall the death of Jesus. Disciples quite commonly think of this action as a communion - a term which refers to a present engagement, not a memory of the past." The Faith We Affirm: Basic Beliefs of Disciple of Chris, Ronald E. Osborn, 1979

"If as is commonly said, the sacraments are outward signs of an invisible grace which God gives his people, then Disciples, despite Alexander Campbell's disdain of the term, have two sacraments - baptism and the Lord's Supper." People of the Chalice: Disciples of Christ in Faith and Practice, Colbert S. Cartwright, 1987

"The oneness of the church lies at the core of why Communion expresses our identity as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) more than anything else we do together." Disciples: Reclaiming Our Identity, Reforming Our Practice, Michael Kinnamon and Jan Linn, 2009

Note: All three of these Disciple authors would agree that historically "remembrance" has been central to Disciple interpretations of the Supper.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

For the Love of . . . Thomas

These two links let us in on a conversation between two scholars who disagree! The basis for their disagreement is how to read the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas.

Stephen Patterson from Eden Theological Seminary initiates the "dialog" by reviewing April DeConick's book on Thomas. See his review here.

In response to his review, DeConick offers up a defense of her approach on her blog, The Forbidden Gospels. Read it here.

This interchange is instructive of scholarly methodology It demonstrates the difficulty of understanding the meaning of ancient texts. It also demonstrates why there is such diversity in the scholarly community over our canonical texts.

The next time you feel compelled to speak authoritatively on what Jesus or Paul meant when they said "this" or"that" think about methodology. What is the basis for your pronouncement?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Was Jesus' Last Supper a Seder

No, writes Jewish scholar Jonathan Klawans. Compare his conclusions with your understanding by clicking here.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Imperial History of the Middle East

Here is 5,000 years of history in 90 seconds, thanks to Maps of War.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Philippians - Another Resource

Bibledex, from the University of Nottingham, did not have this video available at the tim of our Philippians class. But now here is their look at Paul's letter to the church at Philippi.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Purim 2010. And I Missed It.

What is Purim? Rabbi Brad Hirschfield describes it as a serious party, a socially responsible Mardi Gras. To learn more about this Jewish celebration, click here.