Monday, September 28, 2009

A Blog Post that made me Weep

I don't normally link to specific blog posts written by others. But after neglecting Reggie Kidd's blog for far too long, I noticed a post written back in December of last year that is more than worthy of sharing. Please take a look:

Even though it was one of Reggie's Christmas meditations, the post has a decidedly year-round message. It is this kind of thoughtful interaction with culture that we should be seeing much more of in Christian circles, rather than blind acceptance or vitriolic hostility.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Defending the Gospel of John Scripts Now Available

Last week, I began teaching a new self-developed curriculum entitled 'Defending the Gospel of John'. The first 9 lesson scripts are now available online at my church's website. A link to the scripts can be found on the Links section of this blog. We had over 30 folks attend Week 1 last week, which is a very good start.

The course addresses a number of accusations that have been made against the Gospel of John, including the following:

1) The GJ strongly incorporates Gnostic ideas, terms, and categories.
2) The Apostle John did not write a single word of the GJ.
3) The GJ is historically unreliable and totally dissimilar from the Synoptics.
4) The GJ is a sectarian document written by a sectarian community.
5) The GJ is anti-semitic.
6) The GJ is anti-pluralistic.

The course touches on biblical exegesis, church history, theology, ethics, and other disciplines. I invite all interested readers to pull up the scripts and peruse. And, of course, anyone who would like to attend the course at Faith Church is very invited to come. I'd love the chance to meet you.

Many thanx to Faith Church for making these scripts available online.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Justice - 'Manson Family' Style

With the recent news that former Manson Family devotee Lynette Fromme was released from prison while terminally ill Susan Atkin's latest parole request was denied, I am once again confronted by the ultimate inadequacy of human justice. In saying this, let me be clear about two things:

1) I am not necessarily questioning the wisdom of either decision.
2) Scripture seems clear to me that God established human governing authorities to maintain general social welfare (Rom 12-13). This includes the administration of justice.

Squeaky Fromme, so far as we know, never killed anyone. She was in prison for waving a gun at President Gerald Ford, and her sentence was later lengthened as a result of a brief prison escape in the late 1980s. Atkins, on the other hand, admits to brutally killing Sharon Tate and her unborn child. By normal standards of American justice, her ultimate sentence of life without parole is rather mainstream.

But human justice is not always nice and neat. Atkins, along with other Manson Family members sentenced to life in prison (not including Manson himself), have been model prisoners according to many prison administrators. Their 'good works' in prison have now spanned decades. While not an ironclad argument, a case can be made that these folks have largely been 'rehabilitated'. While the issue of rehabilitation doesn't necessarily override the 'punishment should fit the crime' motto of justice, it is a complicating factor to neat and clean justice. It is further complicated by the release of Fromme.

In my uneducated view, if there is one Manson Family member who continues to have the potential of being dangerous (again, not including Manson himself), it is Fromme. Unlike the other Manson Family members in prison, Fromme has never disassociated herself from Manson. To the contrary, she strongly suggested that the reason behind her attempt to escape from prison in the late 1980s was to visit Manson. In addition, unlike the other Manson Family inmates, Fromme has not been a model prisoner. She has had scrapes with other inmates, and was actually transferred to another prison as a result of attacking another prisoner. Lastly, she has never expressed remorse either about the Manson Family's activities or her own actions that landed her in prison.

From one point of view, 'justice' has been upheld, in that the non-murderer is eventually freed, while the murderers are not. But from another point of view, 'justice' has been decidedly mixed, in that the dangerous and unrepentant person goes free, while the rehabilitated and remorseful people remain jailed. Again, I'm not necessarily questioning the wisdom behind either decision, or the legal process and sentencing guidelines that got us here. But it does make me long for the day when, as Revelation 15.4 says, all nations will worship God, because his righteous acts have been revealed. The 'just' God of Deuteronomy 32 is just that; just. Human justice will always be imperfect, and it will often be messy. Divine justice is the only ultimate remedy, and the imperfections of human justice make me long for it all the more.