This and That 08-17-13

All the Radical I Can Manage – No, what comes to mind for me when I encounter this see-sawing debate is something simpler, baser. Just this: sometimes faith isn’t radical; sometimes it’s just holding on. It’s not intellectual in the slightest and neither is it particularly well-argued. It doesn’t seek to change the world or do anything dynamic. It is not on any mission and it’s not a unique use of gifts. It is just holding on tight because that’s all it can do at the time. – Barnabas Piper

How Reza Aslan’s Jesus is giving history a bad name – Aslan thinks he finds a hint in Matthew 10:34, the opening quotation of the book: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Quoted on its own and put on the lips of some other first-century figure, this might read like a call to arms. But I would wager my annual book allowance that 99.9% of specialists in the field would echo Ulrich Luz, perhaps the leading authority on the Gospel of Matthew today, that “our saying does not reveal a revolutionary Jesus. The immediate context, vv. 35-36, makes this interpretation impossible.” In this passage, Jesus is speaking in classic Jewish imagery of the dividing lines his message will bring among families. This is exactly what the following verses go on to say. But by ignoring evidence that doesn’t fit and stretching evidence so that it appears to fit, Aslan is able to make the “impossible” a reality: the sword statement, he assures us, is a relic of an earlier revolutionary Jesus. – John Dickson

What’s so uncool about cool churches? – Once upon a time our faith thrived in a non-Christian empire. It took less than 300 years for 11 scared dudes to take over the most powerful empire the world had ever seen. How did they do it? Where we have opted for a relevant, homogenously grouped, segregated, attractional professionalized model; the early church did it with a  multi-ethnic, multi-social class, seeker INsensitive church. Worship was filled with sacrament and symbol. It engaged the believing community in the Christian narrative. This worship was so God-directed and insider-shaping that in the early church non-Christians were asked to leave the building before communion! With what effect? From that fellowship of the transformed, the church went out to the highways and byways loving and serving the least, last and lost. In that body of Christ, Christians shared their faith with Romans 1:16 boldness, served the poor with abandon, fed widows and took orphans into their homes. The world noticed. We went to them in love rather than invited them to our event. – Matt Marino

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