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Posts tagged "Gospel"

Am I My Brother's Keeper?

Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

When I was a kid attending Sunday School in a very traditional Baptist church in the Midwest, we learned Bible stories… I became familiar with the regular cast of characters like Adam and Eve, Noah, David, Moses, etc. I could tell you that Moses parted the Red Sea; Adam and Eve ate an apple; David slew a giant (thanks to a relative who gifted me one Christmas with 12-inch David and Goliath action figures!). As a teen, I would learn that the book of Leviticus was all about how family members in the same house should not undress in the…

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Robert Jenson (1930-2017) on the Proclamation of the Gospel

Scott Jones has already posted an article worth your time on Robert Jenson who died last week. He is, as Scott also pointed out, likely the most brilliant American theologian since Jonathan Edwards. My seminary professor, Piotr Małysz, lent me his Systematic Theology, Volume 1 while I was still in school, and I could tell immediately that I was reading one of the greats. If you have yet to read him, start with “How the World Lost Its Story” or with his latest book, A Theology in Outline. Here is an early writing from Jenson on the mind-blowingly profound, yet simple, Gospel that tells me about Jesus’ future and thus about my future as well:

The word of proclamation narrates what happened with Jesus and asserts that what happened with Jesus will happen to you as your death-certain destiny, that the achievement of love-out-of-death which he enacted will fulfill your lives also. The word of proclamation is the assertion that you go to meet him, and will therefore conclude your lives by total involvement in his. It is the assertion that you have a destiny and that he is it, that his story tells of it.

In the word of proclamation, the story of the past Jesus is addressed to me as my future, as my possibility. If then it occurs that as an event in my life I enact this story as and when it is so proclaimed, then what happened with Jesus is not only the past which my action recalls, it is also the future in which my action will eventuate. Then this enacting is the event of my being destined to this destiny. In the context of the proclamation and not otherwise, our speaking and acting-out of the gospel story is, precisely as an enacting which is an occurrence in our lives like any other, our choosing and being chosen to this destiny which is real to us as the story of Jesus. It is, therefore, the event of our having Jesus’ story as our story.

In the context of this proclamation, worship is the effective hearing of the proclamation, by which I am given love-out-of-death as my chosen future. As such it is the being done to me of what Jesus suffered himself and did to his followers. It is when Jesus’ story is enacted as not only past but also future that the enactment and not merely the enacting is a present event in our lives—and it is the word of proclamation that the past can be future.

A Religion Against Itself

Heroin in the Hymnals

Heroin in the Hymnals

There is a moment deep into Netflix’s underrated Ozark (spoilers below), where the raising of a cross atop a church emits ripples of fear, as if recreational Missouri were ancient Rome. Whatever the show’s imperfections, I submit that restoring a sense of the scandal of the cross to America’s Bible belt is a considerable accomplishment. For the most part, the sex and violence in this show is more narrative tool than titillation – though I do wish there had been less of it. Even so, while most critics have fallen into lock-step complaint that Ozark is not Breaking Bad, I…

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The Irresistible Father: Grace in The Water Diviner

The Irresistible Father: Grace in The Water Diviner

I know it may not have received very good reviews, but Russell Crowe’s The Water Diviner may be one of the greatest movies I have ever seen.

In my opinion, it’s better than The Mission. It’s better than Of Gods and Men. It may even be better than Red Beard.

Why? It’s because you don’t see it coming. You have no idea of the irresistible grace that is headed your way as you watch the movie unfold.  And it hits you, again, and again (and again).

Russell Crowe portrays an Australian farmer, Joshua Connor, who allows his three sons to enlist with the ANZAC troops in World War I….

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Mockingbird at the Movies: Intro (and Final Edition)

Mockingbird at the Movies: Intro (and Final Edition)

As this year’s Oscar buzz revs up, be sure to take a look at our latest publication, Mockingbird at the Movies, an anthology of film essays collected from many of Mockingbird’s contributing writers. Last week, we quietly released the fully-polished final edition, which consists of a few less typos but all of the same thought-provoking, Gospel-centered content. See the full Table of Contents here, order a copy here, and read the intro, by editor CJ Green, below. Oh and if you feel inspired to post a review on Amazon, by all means.

It was an ill-defined notion but there nevertheless—my vague childhood idea that ‘Hollywood’ had it…

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But Which God?: Revisiting the Law And Gospel Debate

But Which God?: Revisiting the Law And Gospel Debate

A few months ago, I wrote a brief piece entitled “When John Locke Turned Gospel into Law”, one that I considered to be true to the classic Mockingbird message: the unmistakably clear articulation of grace. Trying to connect that message with the philosopher John Locke’s vision of Christianity, I challenged his version of “the covenant of faith” as a false articulation of grace [a kind of afterthought]. Yet to my surprise, the post met with some pushback, and the comments, I must admit, did make a point: Does not Christianity shore up a positive vision of life, and thus an ethic?…

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Law & Gospel: News from Across the Sea

Law & Gospel: News from Across the Sea

The following is excerpted from Mockingbird’s newest resource, Law and Gospel: A Theology for Sinners (and Saints), which is available here. This comes from the beginning of the Gospel section:

‘News’ expresses something different from ‘knowledge.’ We live in a time of unprecedented knowledge: a day’s worth of new data now would, in terms of raw amount of information, be the envy of entire centuries past. Knowledge equips us to better live in the world around us: The scientist must be in control in the lab, and the factory manager needs good data on her employees’ output, the cost of raw…

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When John Locke Turned Gospel Into Law

When John Locke Turned Gospel Into Law

It’s no secret that here at Mockingbird we like to talk about how the themes of Law and Grace play out in everyday life, so much, in fact, that there’s now a Mockingbird publication which bears its namesake.

When we say “law”, we tend to mean that the posture of the self in some way fails to be truly at rest. As the Glossary puts it,

In practice… the requirement of perfect submission to the commandments of God is exactly the same as the requirement of perfect submission to the innumerable drives for perfection that drive everyday people’s crippled and crippling lives…

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Two Words in Job

Two Words in Job

Yesterday, while preparing for a sermon, I came across a beautiful description of both Law and Gospel in the Old Testament that I’d never noticed before. Job 33.14-28:

For God speaks in one way,
and in two, though man does not perceive it.
15 In a dream, in a vision of the night,
when deep sleep falls on men,
while they slumber on their beds,
16 then he opens the ears of men
and terrifies them with warnings,
17 that he may turn man aside from his deed
and conceal pride from a man;
18 he keeps back his soul from the pit,
his life from perishing by the sword…

26 …then man prays to God, and he accepts him;
    he sees his face with a shout of…

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The Verbal Dynamics of Spiritual Cousins, or, The Trouble with Talking Theologically

The Verbal Dynamics of Spiritual Cousins, or, The Trouble with Talking Theologically

Nothing’s lost. Or else: all is translation / And every bit of us is lost in it.

—James Merrill, “Lost in Translation”

A Simple Conversation

It may be more strenuous to discuss theology with my theological cousin than with another with whom I have only a passing ideological kinship. Language simultaneously hides, reveals, and obscures differences in theological priority or emphasis that, though logically subtle, yield immense differences in the style, tone, and attitude of daily living. Recently, I spoke with a minister about the difficulty I have had with committing to a church, or engaging with a Christian…

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When You Encounter the Spirit (You May Not Like It)

When You Encounter the Spirit (You May Not Like It)

I’ve been fortunate enough to get my hands on a copy of Simeon Zahl’s Pneumatology and Theology of the Cross in the Preaching of Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt: The Holy Spirit Between Wittenberg and Azusa Street. He has some truly trenchant things to say about the work of the Holy Spirit and its relationship to preaching. For Simeon, the Holy Spirit can encounter us directly as “negative” experience in convicting us of our sinful nature and need for grace. This outlook changes the task of preaching, shifting the emphasis away from conviction of sin and towards giving people a framework to…

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My feet and the Rawa Special.

All or Nothing: The Problem with that little bit of Law

“Name Your Own Vacation” sounds like a wonderful benefit package. Who wouldn’t want to have the freedom to determine their own vacation time?

photo by yipinglim (flickr.com)

It has always puzzled me how the  American worker survives with the paltry vacation allocation that most companies in N. America offer. (Back home in Singapore, 3 weeks of vacation is more or less de rigueur and even that seems too little.)  So this blog article in the WSJ, at first glance, appeared to be a wonderful example of grace in the workplace. Having an employer who trusted the employee to know how much…

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