The Kuyperian Commentary

Politics, Economics, Culture, and Theology with a Biblical Viewpoint

Archive for the tag “Jesus”

Putin, Manning, the NSA’s Verizon, Pop Tarts, Drones, and Me

Nathan and David

Nathan and King David

by Luke Welch

Yesterday, Vladimir Putin and his wife Lyudmila announced on state television that they are divorcing. Sometimes politicians hold these things together. But Putin’s 30 year marriage is ending. And so some argument or division that has been private within them now for who knows the length of time, is bubbling to the surface. And now we all know it.

Speaking of the former USSR, do you remember the KGB? How they used to read people’s mail? That used to be scary, but now it’s the cost of living without fear of imminent doom.

Speaking of imminent doom, it sure seems like the cap-gun and Pop Tart pistol patrolling has gotten out of hand. These school administrations must know something we don’t about the deep dark motives of 8 year olds. It may not have been a simple gun. It might have been that the Pop Tart resembled Idaho where you can carry a rifle over your shoulder in town. A child like that needs help. Or maybe they know something we don’t.

Read more…

Cheerios, Racism, and the Plan for the Whole Earth

by Luke Welch

This is a wonderful video. Apparently 7% (about 1,000 out of 14,000 total) of the people commenting have given a thumbs down (at the moment I checked), because they disapprove of some people descended from Noah marrying other people descended from the same guy: Noah.

Hmmm. It occurs to me that lots of these people probably think the Bible tells us not to allow for so called “inter-racial” marriages.

Read more…

Sex, Magic, Power, and Christ

by Luke A Welch

800px-Veronese,_The_Marriage_at_Cana_(1563)

The Marriage at Cana, Veronese, (1563)

God created the world full of magic. He used his own divine magic to make men and women who would imitate him with glorious human magic. And God said it was very good.

He told them to fill the world with his glory, to be one flesh, to be fruitful and to multiply, to conquer the land with his power. And all along he had a plan that their obedience would, by image, preach the picture of his own union with humanity, his own son coming to conquer and be one with his creation. Glory. And divine magic.

Magic is a word in need of conquest. It’s a great word. A word for people who like Lewis and Tolkien. A word for people who treasure wonder and who long for great, out of nowhere surprises. The problem is that there are some very specific and awful actions, forbidden by God that take up some of the real estate of the word magic. When I say magic, I am not talking about these things. I am not describing communion with demons, or the usurpation and manipulation of spiritual power. What I AM describing is the wonder and surprise at watching God do mysterious and powerful things. When you are a child, and the world is full of wonder, as it should be, you think of magic in this way. And that is what I am unwilling to give up. I intend to grow the land of real magic and crowd out the perverse. That’s how dominion works, and that’s what we should do even in language. So, you see, I am saying: don’t freak out if you see the “m” word.

And now for my next trick:

Read more…

That Your Joy May Be Full: Celebrating the Ascension of our Lord

By Uri Brito

The Church celebrates the Ascension of our Lord this Thursday. Since many Protestant churches find it difficult to gather parishioners for a Thursday service, many of them celebrate Ascension on Sunday.

The Ascension of Jesus is barely mentioned in the evangelical vocabulary. We make room for his birth, death, and resurrection, but we tend to put a period where God puts a comma.

If the resurrection was the beginning of Jesus’ enthronement, then the ascension is the establishment of his enthronement. The Ascension activates Christ’s victory in history. The Great Commission is only relevant because of the Ascension. Without the Ascension the call to baptize and disciple would be meaningless. It is on the basis of Jesus’ enthronement at the right-hand of the Father, that we image-bearers can de-throne rulers through the power and authority of our Great Ruler, Jesus Christ.

The Ascension then is a joyful event, because it is the genesis of the Church’s triumph over the world. Further, it defines us as a people of glory and power, not of weakness and shame. As Jesus is ascended, we too enter into his ascension glory (Col. 3:1) This glory exhorts us to embrace full joy. As Alexander Schmemann once wrote:

“The Church was victorious over the world through joy…and she will lose the world when she loses its joy… Of all accusations against Christians, the most terrible one was uttered by Nietzsche when he said that Christians had no joy.”[1]

But this joy is given to us by a bodily Lord.

We know that Jesus is at the right hand of the Father. He is ruling and reigning from his heavenly throne. He has given the Father the kingdom, and now he is preserving, progressing, and perfecting his kingdom. He is bringing all things under subjection.

We know that when he was raised from the dead, Jesus was raised bodily. But Gnostic thinking would have us assume that since Jesus is in heaven he longer needs a physical body. But the same Father who raised Jesus physically, also has his Son sitting beside him in a physical body.  As one author observed:

Jesus has gone before us in a way we may follow through the Holy Spirit whom he has sent, because the way is in his flesh, in his humanity.[1]

Our Lord is in his incarnation body at the right hand of the Father. This has all sorts of implications for us in worship. We are worshipping a God/Man; one who descended in human flesh and who ascended in human flesh. He is not a disembodied spirit. He is truly God and truly man.

As we consider and celebrate the Ascension of our blessed Lord, remember that you are worshiping the One who understands your needs, because he has a body just like you; he understands your joy because he has a body just like you.

[1] Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World. Paraphrased

[2] Gerrit Dawson, see http://apologus.wordpress.com/2012/05/16/ascension-and-jesus-humanity/

Uri Brito is a pastor and blogger. He treasures earthly life, but dwells in the heavenly places.

Maundy Thursday Homily

People of God, this is Maundy Thursday. The word “Maundy” is derived from the Latin mandatum which refers to the “commandment” that our Lord gave to His disciples“to love one another.”

This short section in John’s Gospel is right in between some gigantic events in the life of Jesus, but ultimately there is truth to the idea that this short narrative is perhaps one of the most important of Jesus’ discourses. Read more…

What Does Jesus Look Like?

The History Channel’s hit miniseries “The Bible” offers us yet another on-screen depiction of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The honor this time goes to Diogo Morgado, whom the New York Post calls “a kind of surfer Jesus.” The Portuguese actor’s Jesus is not exactly Anglo (although his on-screen accent is); but basically, this Jesus is white. And therein lies a problem.

My thoughts on what Jesus looks like were spurred by a fascinating lecture at Baylor by the University of Colorado’s Paul Harvey, author with Edward Blum of The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America. In spite of the Ten Commandment’s ban on “graven images” (and the worship of them), many Christians have become so used to visual representations of Christ that we often don’t give them a second thought, nor consider what they say about our mental picture of the Son of God.

The medieval church also produced artistic representations of Christ, but many Protestants assailed these icons, tapestries, and paintings as violations of the second commandment, smashing and burning many of them as they had opportunity. The Puritans and some other early settlers of America tried not to employ visual representations of God, although they surely must have had some mental image of God or Jesus as they spoke to him in prayer.

During the nineteenth century, visual images of Jesus became more common among American Protestants, and they were almost always ‘white’ – or at least not distinctly Semitic/Middle Eastern/North African, which one would think would be the preferred choice if ethnic accuracy were a priority. These images became more common – and insistent – in the years following the Civil War. Perhaps the most disturbing use of the white Jesus was in D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation (1915), in which Jesus blessed the founding of the Ku Klux Klan.

Most depictions of a white Jesus were more innocuous in intent than Birth of a Nation, and the most common one in American homes was Warner Sallman’s 1941 The Head of ChristThe commonplace depiction of Jesus as white led to indignant reactions, with some African Americans and other Christians claiming a “black Jesus” or some other Christ of their own ethnicity.

I don’t mean to go all ‘Puritan’ here, but should churches promote any visual depictions of Christ? Do the images of a white Jesus risk making God in our own image? Would a more Semitic Christ solve the problem? Or should we return to the full Reformed skepticism about using any images of God at all?

Whatever our answers, the fact remains that Christians do normally imagine Christ’s appearance as we read the Bible and pray (reported visions of Jesus have often seemed Anglo, too). Scripture, however, gives us precious little guidance about his appearance. If not the Jesus of Warner Sallman or The History Channel, then what should he look like?

Thomas Kidd is contributing scholar to The Kuyperian Commentary. His newest book is Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots, published in 2011 with Basic Books.

This article was originally published at Patheos.

Bill O’Reilly, Robert Jeffress, “The Bible,” and the Truth of God’s Revelation

Bill O’Reilly had on Pastor Robert Jeffress of The First Baptist Church of Dallas, TX. Jeffress gained a lot of attention during the 2012 presidential elections when he opposed Romney—in favor of Perry—on the grounds that Romney was a Mormon. Jeffress argued that we needed an evangelical in the White House.

O’Reilly’s segment focused on whether the Bible should be understood literally or allegorically. The unstable Fox News host began the segment with an irresponsible remark:

“The Bible,” which was co-created by Mark Burnett and his wife, Roma Downey, “highlights fundamentalist Christian beliefs.”

The History Channel show can be debated (at another time), but the opening assumption already triggers the insult of ignorance of anyone who believes such events to be literal. “Fundamentalist Christian beliefs” is the media’s way of perpetuating evangelical Christians as theological dinosaurs. Further, it carries on the abusive stereo-types usually addressed towards Islamic radicals. If you are a fundamentalist, you are in some way capable of doing things the typical enlightened human being would never do. Read more…

Jesus the Anti-War Hippie?

My post last week addressed an image on the internet claiming that Jesus is an anti-war, socialist hippie. The image is obviously directed at Christian conservatives, attempting to show an inconsistency in their acceptance of Jesus Christ but their rejection of President Obama’s policies. We looked at how even though Jesus wants his followers to be charitable to the poor and needy, this doesn’t mean that Jesus approves of the government forcing people to be charitable. In a similar way, Jesus is anti-war but this doesn’t mean he is against all government force. He is neither a pacifist nor an anarchist. Read more…

The End of the World as We Know It

We are a worldly people and we know it. Trouble is, we don’t know it well enough.  As the broader western culture sinks more deeply into the moral abyss, as even our anemic and apologetic Christianity is vilified and judged it becomes all too easy to awaken to the dangers of worldliness. And of course our worldliness is easy enough to find.

Consider the evangelicals at your local abortion mill. One study, referenced here-http://www.heartlink.org/prodevelopment/A000000409.cfm suggests that evangelicals represent one of every six procurers of surgical abortion. Why? Sometimes it’s an unmarried young lady who wants to put her shame behind her, or whose father wants to put it behind him. Sometimes it is a young married who fears the baby will cramp the lifestyle she would like to lead. Other times it’s a mom whose doctor has told her about a fetal abnormality. The baby may be suspected of having Downs, trisomy-13, or something rarer still.

Now if I posed those three circumstances at most evangelical churches I can count on disapproval in the first two instances. Murdering your baby due to shame or to avoid giving up your second car, data plan, cable movie package, vacation is wicked. But the third instance, that too many of us find at least understandable. That said, we like to believe that if we ever found ourselves in such a situation, we would bravely do the right thing and not murder the burden. We would stiff-upper lip our way to obedience because we know it’s wrong to murder babies, even ones we don’t want.

Which is just as compelling proof that we are worldly. The world murders its babies because they believe the baby will get in their way of having a good life. Good life is defined by financial freedom, peaceful relationships and health for ourselves and those whom we love. Too many in the church murder their babies for the same reason. And those who don’t, those who spare their baby’s life well, they just decide they won’t have a good life, if it requires killing their baby.

It’s a good thing to have a strong conviction against killing babies. But it is also a good thing to understand how the Bible, as opposed to the world, presents the good life. It’s not wealth and health, but joyful service, not receiving the respect of our neighbors, but giving love to our “neighbors,” those in need whom the Lord has set before us. The good life is less the triumph of our merit scholar, beauty pageant, volleyball state champ daughter, more gratefully wrestling your daughter’s wheelchair through the sand at the beach so she can smell the salt water and watch the seagulls. The world lies, but Jesus is the truth, and He says not just that we must lose our lives, but that in losing them we will find them.

The Christian faith is not pursuing the world’s ends the Lord’s ways. It is instead pursuing the Lord. And we find Him amongst the widows and orphans. Indeed when our Lord wanted to show us the goal, what the complete man of God looks like, when He wanted us to see what we are to strive for, what maturity, integrity and success look like, He put a child on His knee.

Dr. R.C. Sproul Jr. is special contributing scholar to the Kuyperian Commentary. The End of the World as We Know It was originally published at RCSproulJr.com

Lent, Fish, and the Feast of the Gentiles

lenten fish fry, fish fries for lent, symbolic fish for lent, lent symbol, lenten season fish, eating fish for lent, why eat fish for lent

(First, if you aren’t quite sure how to think about Lent, start here)

I like eating. Eating is glorious and it’s at the heart of the Christian life, so I think about it a lot. That being the case, I recently got to thinking about the historical practice of eating fish during Lent and about the possible rationale behind it. Aside from an apocryphal story about a corrupt pope who owned a fishing business, I didn’t find much to satisfy my Protestant curiosity. Still I came to the ultimate conclusion that regardless of one’s particular Lenten practices, we could afford to eat more fish during the season. Let me tell you why.

Some arms of the Church, Romans in particular, have a longstanding tradition of observing the Fridays in Lent as days of particular penance, marked by abstinence from the eating of meat. Historically, fish has served as a popular meat substitute on these days, distinguished from other prohibited meats because the fish is a cold-blooded creature (Lev. 7:26 seems to back this up). Excepting a sometimes-but-seldom-invoked acronymic relationship between the Greek word for fish—ἰχθύς—and the name of Jesus—Iesous ChristosTheou Yios, Sotor—the choice of fish, in practice, is mostly arbitrary or pragmatic (it is filling and satisfying like meat). But there better, deeper-rooted reasons to make fish a part of our Lenten diet.

In Scripture, the seas and waters under the earth are commonly a symbol of the gentile nations, and likewise the fish dwelling in them. The rulers of Tyre are called “the princes of the sea” (Ez.26:16), Nebuchadnezzar is pictured as a great sea monster (Jer. 51:34), the nation of Egypt is called a nation of fish and river-dwellers (Ez. 29:4). (for more on this, see Through New Eyes or pretty much anything else Jim Jordan has ever written…ever…probably even his grocery lists). In contrast, Israel is seen as a people of the land, and in the Old Testament the prominent men of God are farmers and keepers of livestock, not fisherman. That changes when Jesus comes calling fishermen into his service. With me so far? Okay, here’s where the ride speeds up.

The forty days of Lent are taken from the forty-day period our Lord spent in the Wilderness after his baptism, which in turn shares a typological relationship with other ”forty” periods in Israel’s (or protoIsrael’s) history—most notably the forty days on the ark after Noah’s flood and the forty years of exile after crossing the Red Sea. These earlier events culminated in further separation from and/or victory over the gentile “nations.” Jesus’ forty days, however, orient Israel in the opposite direction. He comes out of the Wilderness and departs immediately to Galilee of the Gentiles, the first order of business being to recruit experienced fish-catchers. Unlike the conquest of Canaan, Jesus doesn’t slay gentiles and drive them away, but begins drawing them to himself by the net-full.

In fact, after Jesus’ forty days of fasting, the first food mentioned in each of the synoptic gospels is fish. While the first Joshua supplanted the nations and took possession of their land and their vineyards, the final and greater Joshua desires to possess the nations themselves—fish is the sign of the gentile peoples being incorporated into the body of Christ. Throughout the gospels, fish is one of the few foods explicitly named as something Jesus ate, and he is always feeding it to his disciples. Alongside bread it is the food given to the multitudes in all the gospel accounts of miraculous feedings. Jesus not only tells Israel to embrace the nations (to love her enemies and be a light shining before all nations), he has them practicing it through meals of fish. Finally, the Lord’s “feed my sheep” admonition to Peter in Jn. 21 follows immediately on the heels of his preparing a breakfast of fish for his disciples and bidding them “come and eat,” a possible sign that the life and health of the Church will be bound up with the pursuit and inclusion of the gentile nations.

So, how should we then eat? As we—the Church, a mixed multitude—move through this season that appropriately culminates in both Jesus’ calling of the gentiles and his death and resurrection (if you aren’t already thinking about the Sign of Jonah, start now), giving thanks to God that the work of Christ is for all the world, we have a boat load of reasons to have fish on the table. Do my comments and observations translate into a biblical imperative to consume fish? No, of course not.. But, all things considered—whether feast, fast, or famine—I can’t help but find it beautifully appropriate.*

*Unless you’re eating fish sticks, which should only be served to children (as punishment for being picky) or to convicts (as punishment for being convicts).

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