Tag Archives: Church

Jesus (Letter 14)



My Dear Dangerous

SMASH

I agree with your point that ‘Son of God,’ is only one of many titles used by and given to Jesus in the Scriptures. But I still think it deserves its place in the picture and I would myself nudge it forward as of particular importance. There are a few reasons for this. First, it shapes Peter’s confession of Jesus in the Gospels (“Who do you say I am?” – “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”). This episode was crucial and Jesus affirms Peter in his conviction. Second, the ‘Father-Son’ image is used by Jesus throughout his parables to explain his own mission and calling. The main example I have in mind is the Parable of the Tenants, where the landowner keeps sending his servants to the tenants to collect the harvest and they keep killing them. Then he sends his son thinking that the tenants will give him greater respect but they kill him too. Now I know that a.) this is a parable, not a theological grid and b.) the context is Israel’s rejection of God, but in the parable, Jesus definitely sets himself apart from the prophets who have come before him by framing himself as the ‘son’ of the landowner. This to me is a strong hint that Jesus has a way more intimate and prominent relationship with God than all the other seers/prophets/teachers who have been sent. Third, God ‘giving us’ his Son provides the context for many of the Apostle Paul’s most inspiring descriptions of God’s generous love. For example: ‘He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?’ In other words, there was a sacrificial element to God’s mission to save us and it has something to do with giving up his Son, his most precious possession.

OK, let me take a step back here. Having defended the ‘Son of God’ moniker, I want to say two things in qualification. First, as you rightly point out, ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.’ So it might actually be more helpful, as you put it, to ‘say that He Himself came to Earth and took our place.’ This truth certainly helps clarify all the messy models of atonement we have inherited where you have ‘an angry God upstairs sending his poor innocent son to do his dirty work for him.’ Second, I’m reminded that we are meant to be approaching this through the perspective of someone completely new to Christianity, so let me have another punt below.

Who is Jesus? Jesus is the perfect embodiment of the God who made us, calls us and loves us. We spoke before about how God’s ways are ‘high above’ our own. Jesus makes him knowable. The character of Jesus gives us an insight into God’s character (and we should never neglect the Risen Jesus who teaches throughout the first three chapters of Revelation: he is just as awesome, mighty and scary as he is gracious, loving and tender). The work of Jesus gives us an insight into God’s love for us (because he sacrificed himself for us). And the teaching of Jesus gives us a moral framework for what pleases God. So, leaving aside all established theological titles, Jesus is a window into God.

SMASH, old chap!

Sir Tom


Episode 4 – God



In this episode, “A Despicable Human Being”, ‘Dangerous’ and Sir Tom talk about God and who He is. Or at least they try to, but they veer off into cricket and The Kinks back catalogue a fair bit. Still they make some good points about what, if anything we can understand about the Big Man and the proof that He really does exist…

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Jesus (Letter 13)



Sir Tom,

SMASHY, Old Boy,

Soooo, tough subject. I think we need to agree on what our theological basis for Jesus is. A basis that we can pin our discussion on (as I’m well aware we will meander around the topic, if not get off it completely!). But here’s the twist, it can’t be the Son of God.

Whaaaaat?

Here’s my issue with the whole Son of God thing. He’s not, we know He’s not, it’s just a moniker. That being said we hear (an awful lot) in church people talk about God’s sacrifice in sending His only son to die. Like if I sent my daughter to die. But it’s not like that is it? It’s closer to say that He Himself came to Earth and took our place.

It’s one of those examples where we as Christians take an idea that we all know is not theologically sound and bump it up to prime of place. It’s like when people say ‘Jesus defeated death’. What does that even mean? In order to believe or even understand that phrase requires a lot of theology that most church goers don’t have. But they still bandy it about.

We don’t theologically believe Jesus to be God’s son, but in our working, day to day theology, we basically do. And in fact, I think we do Jesus a disservice by focusing on that particular title (he uses Son of Man just as much, if not more) as we tend then to focus less on the other things He may be.

So that is the question. Who do you think Jesus is?

Peace

‘Dangerous’


Episode 3 – What is the Bible?



In this episode ‘Dangerous’ and Sir Tom explicitly state they won’t talk about Biblical inerrancy and then talk about it a lot.

As they do however, they cover many topics such as ‘what is the Bible?’; ‘How should we use it?’; ‘What is the core message of the Bible?’ and ‘Did the Apostle Paul get invited to parties?’

Ask questions; leave comments; accuse us of heresy on Facebook (unspokenchurch); Twitter (@unspoken_church) or email (unspokenchurch@gmail.com)


Ep.16 – Christmas ‘special’



If you thought Christmas was all peace and fairy lights, think again.

In this episode we host a sermon that Dangerous preached. It’s basically ‘Stuff We Don’t Talk about in Church’ – Christmas Edition covering the exciting history of the Magi; the interesting lack of evidence for the Virgin Birth;  ditto the lack of Nativity coverage and ultimately viewing Christmas through the lens of The Great and Dreadful Day of the Lord.


Ep.15 – The Bible (part 2)



In this episode BT and Dangerous discuss how they use the Bible, what it means to them and, more importantly how the Holy Spirit uses it. With that in mind they ponder when, if and how we open up the Bible to new converts. Are there black and white answers in the Good Book or is it a tool of the Holy Spirit that means different things to different people?


Ep.14 The Bible (part 1)



In this episode, Cirque du Sola Scriptura, the gents look at whether the Bible is reliable. Paul tells Timothy that all scripture is ‘God-breathed’ and that’s often used to prove Biblical inerrancy (ack of errors), but can we really use the Bible to argue the Bible’s reliability? Can we show Biblical reliability in other ways? Even without inerrancy? And what can the late, great cricketer Donald Bradman teach us (And can we teach all Bible studies through analogies with his life?)

Rant at us at unspokenchurch@gmail.com, Facebook (unspokenchurch) and Twitter (@unspoken_church)

Produced by Debs McBeany


Episode 2 – The Greatest Novel Never Written



This episode is a re-recording of a light-hearted talk Dangerous gave. It’s about why the Bible can’t be made up and the reason it’s here is that it deals with Biblical dating. We’re talking about what’s and wherefores of the Bible in this month’s episode so it seemed a good idea to get the facts about Biblical dating out the way so we don’t have to slog through them in the episode. We hope you enjoy it and hopefully it helps in your quest.

Reach us at unspokenchurch@gmail.com with any questions or comments or find us on Facebook and Twitter.


The Bible (Letter 7)



Sir Tom,

SMASH!

I think your 3 points are really the formation of, in terms of a backbone, the episode.

I’m not sure how we tackle point 1 without tackling society’s philosophy. A greater issue as postmodernism/subjectivism is not a philosophy that is overt. Our generation(s?) and younger would not admit (or ever think about) that they hold to a philosophy of any kind. Ergo, it’s tough to get them to change it. The other issue there is that people don’t like being told what to do, or, more so, what to do and how to do it.

I think that’s it! Not reliability, but relevance. As we talk through what the Bible is we need to show that it’s still relevant. A subjective generation will still take on things they feel are relevant to them.

Point 3 is very interesting, isn’t it. As with point 1 it’s hard to get Christians to understand this because they don’t see it. If you told them they worshiped the Bible, they would simply disagree and say they use the Bible to worship God. This is something I hope to discuss on this month’s Stuff Podcast (also on the Bible!).

Point 2 is linked into the question of how we read the Bible. Can we really take it all as words from God or does it make more sense as a handbook? As you say it’s complex and sometimes baffling. Again this is more the realms of the Stuff podcast, but it is good to have in our minds. I think for us the question is of purpose. What do we (or perhaps should we) use the Bible for?

If someone is listening to the podcast to grasp the fundamentals of the faith, then what part does the Bible play? How can it help us in our faith and in our life? Is it still relevant or outdated?

It vexes me because to question inerrancy is basically to question Christianity in it’s present form. To reshape theology as we know it. That’s a big call. Are we up to it? Should we be doing it?

Just a note on whether we question parts of the Bible that do not gel with God’s character. I think this is dangerous as it relies on our understanding of God’s character which is very limited. We must remember that we have no place to cry unjust or unfair; God can do what He likes with His creations in the same way we can build and destroy anything we want when we play with Lego. It is not for the bricks to decide.

Peace

D

 


The Bible (Letter 6)



Dangerous,

Given our remit (to tackle the fundamentals of Christianity afresh, for the benefit of outsiders to the faith) this is one of the most vital discussions we need to have. I say this because ‘The Bible,’ itself often constitutes a stumbling block to would-be Christians. I have had at least three discussions with unbelieving friends over the years, in which they have effectively told me: “I would be a Christian if it wasn’t for the Bible.” Why is this? I would suggest three underlying reasons:

1.) In our Post-truth culture, people are extremely wary of absolutists and especially absolutists who hold to ancient Scriptures. I think the fear many people have is that Christians, Muslims or others hold to outdated teachings in an unthinking way, holding their emotions and intellects at arm’s length. In response, our reading of the Bible needs to engage emotions and intellect.

2.) Let’s be honest, the Bible is complex and at face value, its moral lessons are baffling. Examples include the perplexing Levitical code and the Apostle Paul’s apparent disdain for women. I say ‘at face value,’ because I think one of the lessons we need to learn is that it’s OK to read the Bible carefully and intelligently, rather than from a confrontational, simplistic, “this I know ‘cos the Bible tells me so,” stance. But nevertheless, I think people are interested in God, but sometimes put off by the Bible.

3.) Some Christians give the (misguiding) impression that the Bible ITSELF is God, rather than Jesus. You can’t put the cart before the horse: I only grew to love the Bible after my Christian conversion. Beforehand, I remember telling my Dad, “the Bible is dead to me,” because it was. You can only love God’s word when you first love God. So I think unbelievers are frankly baffled by Christians’ devotion for the good book. We need to push Jesus first, Bible second.

With all this in mind and turning to your two questions, I think we need to be upfront with believers that although the Bible is ‘reliable,’ and ‘trustworthy,’ it is also troublesome and you can still be a Christian while living and walking with uncertainty about the Scriptures. If you give people an ultimatum – it’s either completely perfect, easy and infallible or it’s not – you’ll likely put people off. In other words, as you have said, ‘the Bible is true, separate from inerrancy.’

So to your second question. I would be open to more radical voices in the Evangelical fold who are moving towards an altogether fresh approach to the question of ‘how we read the Bible.’ For example, if the Bible attributes an action to God which really seems to jar with the character of God as revealed in Christ, could we consider that the writers of the Bible falsely attributed that action. The best example are the so-called ‘genocide,’ passages where God apparently commands the Israelites to slaughter whole nations, ‘women and children,’ included. If you want to read more, Steve Chalke’s paper on the Scriptures (‘Restoring Confidence in the Bible’) is helpful and can be found on the ‘Oasis’ website. The drawback of this idea is clearly that it is subsequently difficult to define which accounts are reliable and which are not. But whatever the case, I agree that this is, as you say,’the big one.’ One approach as we move forward might be for you and I to target these so-called ‘difficult’ passages in our discussions.

Anyway, let me know what you think, great mate. SMASHY.

Sir Tom