Books to Read over Advent and Christmas

David Russell Mosley

Third Sunday of Advent
15 December 2013
On the Edge of Elfland
Beeston, Nottinghamshire

Dear Friends and Family,

With only 10 days left in Advent, this may seem like an odd time to write a letter on books to read over Advent and Christmas, but since Christmas is 12 days long, that gives us a bit more time. This list is a combination of fiction, poetry, and theology. I hope you enjoy.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

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Perhaps the most obvious choice, I find many people have seen film versions of this story, but have rarely read the book. It is a story of transformation, of hearts of stone exchanged for hearts of flesh. Don’t let the familiarity you may have with the story allow you to pass by the beauty of this Christmas Ghost Story.

Letters from Father Christmas by J. R. R. Tolkien

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From the creator of Middle Earth (or sub-creator I should perhaps say), many people don’t know, but shouldn’t be surprised to learn, that this creator of language and myth used to write letters to his children from Father Christmas. Filled with stories about the antics that cause Christmas to almost fail, this book is a collection of twenty years of epistles from that jolly old elf.

‘Farmer Giles of Ham’ in The Tolkien Reader by J. R. R. Tolkien

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What started as an introduction to George MacDonald’s ‘The Golden Key’ turned into a delightful fairy story. Giles is a farmer in the little kingdom who finds himself battling a giant and a dragon. The story takes place between Michaelmas and St Matthias’ Day, paying special attention to Christmas Day, St Stephen’s Day and more. Be prepared to laugh at a parody of the standard fairy tale.

‘Gawain and the Green Knight’ by The Pearl Poet

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Faerie castles, green giants who can survive without their heads, King Arthur, his cousin Gawain, and more. This poem which centres around Christmas and New Year’s is an excellent example of the Medieval faerie tradition and makes an excellent addition to any Christmas reading.

On the Incarnation by Athanasius

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This text defends the doctrine of the Incarnation against the Arian heresy. This is the text you want to read if you want to understand how the Church first began to articulate in greater detail how and why it is that Jesus Christ, the person who’s birth we celebrate in Christmas, is both God and Man. This can be a bit technical and use language that non-theologians might not be familiar with, but I highly recommend working through it, nevertheless.

On God and Christ by Gregory of Nazianzus

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This collection of sermons given by Gregory, bishop of Nazianzus, continue the fight against forms of Arianism, defending both the divinity and humanity of Jesus, as well as the divinity of the Spirit. Gregory takes what Athanasius had done before him and works out more aspects of the importance of the Incarnation. What both this book and the above have in common is an understanding that the coming of Christ means much more than our salvation from sin, but also our deification.

What are some of your favourite books to read during Christmas? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Sincerely yours,
David Russell Mosley

Celebrating Christ the King

David Russell Mosley

Christ the King - Pantocrator - Kuznetsov 01

Christ the King – Pantocrator – Kuznetsov 01 (Photo credit: Waiting For The Word)

Christ the King
24 November 2013
On the Edge of Elfland
Beeston, Nottinghamshire

Dear Friends and Family,

Today we celebrate something truly countercultural and transformational. Today we celebrate Christ as King. It is a fitting way to end this season of Ordinary Time before Advent begins the following Sunday.  Today we remember who it is who upholds the heavens and the earth. Who it is who reigns on high. The one to whom all glory and power and authority has been given.

As you worship today, remember who it is you worship. Jesus is more than the carpenter’s son, though he was that. Jesus is more than a first century Palestinian Jew, though he was that. He was certainly more than a simple moral teacher who’s teachings got him into trouble. He is King. Not just of the Jews or of Israel (though he is that as a descendent of David), he is the King. He is the one from whom our whole notion of kingship derives. He is God; he is man. He both without confusion, and he chose to become the latter without ever ceasing to be the former. This is the one who saves, he rules over us. Worship him with fear and trembling, and joy and gladness.

The Collect for the Day (from Common Worship):

Eternal Father,
whose Son Jesus Christ ascended to the throne of heave that he might rule over all things as Lord and King:
keep the Church in the unity of the Spirit
and in the bond of peace,
and bring the whole created order to worship at his feet:
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.
Amen.

The Collect for the Week (from Common Worship):

Stir up, O Lord,
the wills of your faithful people:
that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works,
may by you be plenteously rewarded;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Sincerely yours,
David Russell Mosley

Celebrating Theology Faculty from the University of Nottingham: Roland Deines

hqdefaultDear Friends and Family,

Today I want to introduce you to another of our Biblical Studies faculty, Prof Roland Deines. Roland, born and raised in Germany, did his university work in Switzerland, Germany, and Jerusalem. Roland did his PhD on the Pharisees under Dr Martin Hengel. Roland is also an ordained minister in the German Lutheran Church.

Roland’s work focuses on the Pharisees and the gospel of Matthew, however, he is also interested in the history leading up to the time of Jesus, also known as Second Temple Judaism. Along with teaching a wide variety of classes, Roland leads, off and on, two different informal groups in the department. One is the Greek Hebrew Latin Reading Group. This group tends to select 1-3 texts, depending on how many languages they want to cover, and read them together, first in the original and then translating one verse at a time. The other group, is the Informal Biblical Seminar, where students and faculty can have an opportunity to present their work and have it discussed.

Roland, as well as being an excellent person, is an excellent supervisor to his students. While often tough and demanding, his students come to truly know their material and learn how to handle all the tough questions supervisors can ask like why.

Bibliography

  • DEINES, R., 2013. Beten schwer gemacht – das Vaterunser als Gebet für Nachfolger Jesu. Zuversicht und Stärke: Zeitschrift für Gottesdienst und Verkündigung. 5. Reihe(Heft 3), 64-76
  • DEINES, R., 2012. Martin Hengel (1926–2009) – A Scholar’s Life in the Service of Christology. In: MICHAEL F. BIRD and JASON MASTON, eds., Earliest Christian History: Essays from the Tyndale Fellowship in Honor of Martin Hengel(WUNT 2.320). Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. 33-72
  • DEINES, R., 2012. Christology between Pre-existence, Incarnation and Messianic Self-understanding. In: MICHAEL F. BIRD and JASON MASTON, eds., Earliest Christian History: Essays from the Tyndale Fellowship in Honor of Martin Hengel (WUNT 2.320). Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. 75-116
  • DEINES, R., 2012. Biblische Aspekte zu Umkehr – Konversion – Bekehrung. In: M. REPPENHAGEN, ed., Konversion zwischen empirischer Forschung und religiöser Kompetenz (Beiträge zur Evangelisation und Gemeindeentwicklung 18). Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener. 13-49
  • DEINES, R., 2012. Vorbild und Fundament: Nicht nur das Matthäusevangelium weist dem Apostel Petrus eine besondere Rolle zu. Zeitzeichen: Evangelische Kommentare zu Religion und Gesellschaft. 13(9), 30-32
  • DEINES, R., 2012. The Term and Concept of Scripture. In: KARIN FINSTERBUSCH and ARMIN LANGE, eds., What is Bible? (Contributions to Biblical Exegesis & Theologie 67). Leuven: Peeters. 235-281
  • DEINES, R., 2011. Non-literary sources for the interpretation of the New Testament: methodological considerations and case studies related to the Corpus Judaeo-Hellenisticum. In: DEINES, R., HERZER, J. and NIEBUHR, K.-W., eds.,Neues Testament und hellenistisch-jüdische alltagskultur: wechselseitige wahrnehmungen: III. Internationales Symposium zum Corpus Judaeo-Hellenisticum Novi Testamenti 21.–24. Mai 2009, Leipzig Mohr Siebeck. 25-66
  • DEINES, R., 2011. How Long? God’s Revealed Schedule for Salvation and the Outbreak of the Bar Kokhba Revolt.In: LANGE, ARMIN, RÖMHILD, K. F. D. and WEIGOLD, M., eds., Judaism and Crisis: Crisis as a Catalyst in Jewish Cultural History (SIJD 9). Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. 201-234
  • DEINES, R., 2011. Gab es eine jüdische Freiheitsbewegung? Martin Hengels »Zeloten« nach 50 Jahren. In: DEINES, R. and THORNTON, C.-J., eds., Die Zeloten: Untersuchungen zur jüdischen Freiheitsbewegung in der Zeit von Herodes I. bis 70 n. Chr. Third revised and expanded edition. (WUNT 283). Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. 403-448
  • DEINES, R., 2011. Literaturnachtrag (1988–2011). In: DEINES, R. and THORNTON, C.-J., eds., M. Hengel, Die Zeloten: Untersuchungen zur jüdischenFreiheitsbewegung in der Zeit von Herodes I. bis 70 n. Chr. Third revised and expanded edition. (WUNT 283). Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. 485-492
  • DEINES, R., 2011. Eine Predigt über das Alter, Theologische Beiträge. 42, 258-263
  • DEINES, R., 2011. Review: Anders Gerdmar, Roots of Theological Anti-Semitism. German Biblical Interpretation and the Jews, from Herder and Semler to Kittel and Bultmann, Studies in Jewish History and Culture 20, Leiden: Brill, 2009. Theologische Literaturzeitung. 136(3), 272-276
  • DEINES, R., 2011. Review: Gerd Theissen, Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft vor und nach 1945. Karl Georg Kuhn und Günther Bornkamm (Schriften der Philosophisch-historischen Klasse der Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften 47). Heidelberg: Winter, 2009. Church History and Religious Culture. 91, 595-602
  • DEINES, R., 2011. Review: P. Kuhn (ed.), Gespräch über Jesus. Papst Benedikt XVI. im Dialog mit Martin Hengel, Peter Stuhlmacher und seinen Schülern in Castelgandolfo 2008, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010. Jahrbuch für evangelikale Theologie. 25, 244-248
  • DEINES, R., 2010. Pharisees. In: COLLINS, J. J. and HARLOW, D. C., eds., Dictionary of Early Judaism Grand Rapids, Mich.; Cambridge, U.K.: Eerdmans. 1261-1263 (In Press.)
  • DEINES, R., 2010. The Social Profil of the Pharisees. In: BIERINGER, R., GARCÍA MARTÍNEZ, F., POLLEFEYT, D. and TOMSON, P.J., eds., The New Testament and Rabbinic Judaism Leiden; Bosten: Brill. 111-132
  • DEINES, R. and WERMAN, C., eds., 2010. Darrell L. Bock: Jesus and the New Gospels Beersheva: Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Press [in Hebrew].
  • DEINES, R., 2010. Jüdische Steingefäße aus der Zeit von Herodes bis Bar Kochba. In: SCHEFZYK, J. and ZWICKEL, W., eds., Judäa und Jerusalem: Leben in römischer Zeit Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk. 134-137
  • DEINES, R., 2010. Jesus and the Jewish Traditions of His Time, Early Christianity. 1, 344-371
  • DEINES, R. and NIEBUHR, K.-W., 2010. The Corpus Judaeo-Hellenisticum Novi Testamenti-Project: From the Past to the Future Early Christianity. 1, 633-639
  • DEINES, R., 2009. Can the ‘Real’ Jesus be Identified with the Historical Jesus? A Review of the Pope’s Challenge to Biblical Scholarship and the Ongoing Debate. In: PABST, A. and PADDISON, A., eds., The Pope and Jesus of Nazareth: Christ, Scripture and the Church London: SCM Press. 199-232
  • DEINES, R., 2009. Can the ‘Real’ Jesus be Identified with the Historical Jesus?: A Review of the Pope’s Challenge to Biblical Scholarship and the Various Reactions it Provoked Didaskalia: Revista da Faculdade de Teologia / Lisboa. 39,11-46
  • DEINES, R., 2009. Grundmann, Walter. In: BENZ, W., ed., Handbuch des Antisemitismus: Judenfeindschaft in Geschichte und Gegenwart Vol. 2, part 1: Personen A-K. Berlin: de Gruyter Saur. 314-316
  • DEINES, R., 2009. Der irdische Jesus als Messias und Gottessohn: Zu den christologischen Aufsätzen Martin HengelsTheologische Beiträge. 40, 349-351
  • DEINES, R., 2009. Walking on the Water – Did he or did he not?: Review of Rachel Nicholls, Walking on the Water: Reading Mt. 14:22–33 in the Light of its Wirkungsgeschichte. Biblical Interpretation Series 90, Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2008 The Expository Times. 120, 408-409
  • DEINES, R., 2009. Das Erkennen von Gottes Handeln in der Geschichte bei Matthäus. In: FREY, J., KRAUTER, S and H. LICHTENBERGER, eds., Heil und Geschichte: Die Geschichtsbezogenheit des Heils und das Problem der Heilsgeschichte in der biblischen Tradition und in der theologischen Deutung Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. 403-441
  • DEINES, R., 2008. Galiläa und Jesus – Anfragen zur Funktion der Herkunftsbezeichnung »Galiläa« in der neueren Jesusforschung. In: CLAUSSEN, C. and FREY, J., eds., Jesus und die Archäologie Galiläas Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener. 271-320
  • DEINES, R., 2008. Not the Law but the Messiah: Law and Righteousness in the Gospel of Matthew – An Ongoing Debate. In: GURTNER, D.M. and NOLLAND, J., eds., Buit upon the Rock: Studies in the Gospel of Matthew Grand Rapids, Mich.; Cambridge U.K.: Eerdmans. 53-84
  • DEINES, R., 2008. Sadducees. In: HUBERT CANCIK, HELMUTH SCHNEIDER, CHRISTINE F. SALAZAR, ed., New Pauly: Brill’s Encyclopaedia of the Ancient World vol. 12. Boston and Leiden: Brill. 858-9
  • DEINES, R., 2008. Die Verwendung der Bergpredigt im ältesten erhaltenen Text der jüdischen Adversus-Christianos-Literatur. In: DOERING, L., WAUBKE,H.-G. and WILK, F., eds., Judaistik und neutestamentliche WissenschaftGöttingen: Vandehoeck & Ruprecht. 372-400
  • DEINES, R., 2007. Das Aposteldekret—Halacha für Heidenchristen oder christliche Rücksichtnahme auf jüdische Tabus?. In: FREY, J., SCHWARTZ, D.R. and GRIPENTROG, S., eds., Jewish Identity in the Greco-Roman WorldLeiden: Brill. 323-395
  • DEINES, R., 2007. Jesus der Galiläer: Traditionsgeschichte und Genese eines antisemitischen Konstrukts bei Walter Grundmann. In: DEINES, R., LEPPIN, V. and NIEBUHR, K.-W., eds., Walter Grundmann: Ein Neutestamentler im Dritten Reich Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt. 43-131
  • DEINES, R., 2007. Talmud. In: STUCKRAD, KOCKU VON, ed., The Brill Dictionary of Religion: Revised edition of Metzler Lexikon Religion Vol. IV S-Z. Leiden; Bosten: Brill. 1836-44
  • DEINES, R., LEPPIN, V. and NIEBUHR, K.-W., eds., 2007. Walter Grundmann: Ein Neutestamentler im Dritten ReichLeipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt.
  • DEINES, R., 2007. Martin Hengel – A Life in the Service of Christology Tyndale Bulletin. 58, 25-42
  • DEINES, R., 2007. Die Pharisäer und das Volk im Neuen Testament und bei Josephus. In: BÖTTRICH, CHR. and HERZER, J., eds., Josephus und das Neue Testament: Wechselseitige Wahrnehmungen; II. Internationales Symposium zum Corpus Judaeo-Hellenisticum 25.–28. Mai 2006, Greifswald Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. 147-180
  • DEINES, R., 2006. Die Bedeutung des Landes Israel in christlicher Perspektive Judaica. 62, 309-330
  • DEINES, R., 2006. Die jüdische Mitwelt. In: NEUDORFER, H.-W. and SCHNABEL, E., eds., Das Studium des Neuen Testaments: Einführung in die Methoden der Exegese 2nd rev ed. Gießen: Brunnen; Wuppertal: R.Brockhaus. 101-140
  • DEINES, R., 2006. Martin Hengel – Ein Leben für die Christologie Theologische Beiträge. 37, 287-300
  • DEINES, R., 2004. Die Gerechtigkeit der Tora im Reich des Messias: Mt 5,13–20 als Schlüsseltext der matthäischen Theologie Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck.
  • DEINES, R. and NIEBUHR, K-W., 2004. Philo und das Neue Testament: Wechselseitige Wahrnehmungen 1. Internationales Symposium zum Corpus Judaeo-Hellenisticum Novi Testamenti (Eisenach/Jena, Mai 2003)Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck.
  • DEINES, R., 2004. Zeloten. In: MULLER, G., ed., Theologische Realenzyklopädie vol. 36. Berlin: De Gruyter. 626-30
  • DEINES, R., 2001. The Pharisees between “Judaisms” and “Common Judaism”. In: CARSON, D.A., O’BRIEN and SEIFRID, M.A., eds., Justification and Variegated Nomism vol. 1: The Complexities of Second Temple Judaism.Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. 443-504
  • DEINES, R., 2001. Wissenschaft des Judentums und protestantische Universitätstheologie im wilhelminischen Deutschland: Anfragen zu einem wichtigen neuen Buch von Christian Wiese Judaica. 57, 137-149
  • DEINES, R. and FRITZ, V., 1999. Catalogue of the Jewish Ossuaries in the German Protestant Institut of Archaeology Israel Exploration Journal. 49, 222-241 (In Press.)
  • DEINES, R., 1997. Die Pharisäer: Ihr Verständnis im Spiegel der christlichen und jüdischen Forschung seit Wellhausen und Graetz Tübingen : Mohr Siebeck. (In Press.)
  • DEINES, R. and HENGEL, M., 1995. E. P. Sanders’ ‘Common Judaism’, Jesus, and the Pharisees: A Review ArticleJournal of Theological Studies. 46, 1-70 (In Press.)
  • DEINES, R., 1994. Die Abwehr der Fremden in den Texten aus Qumran: Zum Verständnis der Fremdenfeindlichkeit in der Qumrangemeinde. In: FELDMEIER, R. and HECKEL, U., eds., Die Fremden Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. 59-91
  • DEINES, R., 1993. Jüdische Steingefäße und pharisäische Frömmigkeit: Ein archäologisch-historischer Beitrag zum Verständnis von Johannes 2,6 und der jüdischen Reinheitshalacha zur Zeit Jesu Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck.

Videos

Roland is featured in many other videos at  Bibledex. I selected the one where he is most excited, since he did some very early work on Jewish stone jars.

Why Study Jesus Christ

Why Study the Pharisees

Water into Wine

I hope you’ve enjoyed Roland’s videos and are considering looking at some of his works (the ones in English, anyway, unless you know German).

Yours,
David

Related Posts

Celebrating Theology Faculty from the University of Nottingham: Simon Oliver

Celebrating Theology Faculty from the University of Nottingham: Mary Cunningham

Celebrating Theology Faculty from the University of Nottingham: Alison Milbank

Celebrating Theology Faculty from the University of Nottingham: Tom O’Loughlin

Celebrating Theology Faculty from the University of Nottingham: Richard Bell

Pentecost: ‘Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your people and kindle in us the fire of your love.’

Icon of the Pentecost

Icon of the Pentecost (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Friends and Family,

Today we celebrate Pentecost. It is the fiftieth day since our Lord was resurrected and the tenth since he ascended to the right hand of the Father. May we be filled with the Spirit, our Sanctifier and Deifier, so that we can speak the truth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Saviour and Deifier of the World, and come to greater knowledge of our Father.

Tomorrow begins Ordinary Time. Tomorrow we must go out into the world and seek God in the everyday and not simply in his great deeds done throughout salvation history. Read and pray today that you may be prepared for the time to come.

Pentecostal Prayer

‘Blessed are you, creator God,
to you be praise and glory for ever.
As your Spirit moved over the face of the waters
bringing light and life to your creation,
pour out your Spirit on us today
that we may walk as children of light
and by your grace reveal your presence.
Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Blessed be God for ever.’

Yours,
David

Why Edmund isn’t Judas: The Chronicles of Narnia, Allegory or Supposition?

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Friends and Family,

One thing that I constantly hear from well-meaning Christians is how the Chronicles of Narnia, especially The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, are allegorical. I can’t even begin to tell you how much this would anger Lewis were he still alive today (and how much it did when he was alive). The Chronicles of Narnia are not allegorical, this becomes increasing clear with each book. Nevertheless, I understand why The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe keeps being so labeled.

On first blush its obvious: Aslan represents Jesus; Peter, Peter; Susan and Lucy, Mary Magdalen and the other women who followed Jesus; the White Witch, Satan; and Edmund is Judas, right? Right here, amongst other places, is where it falls apart. Edmund can’t be Judas. First, he doesn’t betray Aslan to the White Witch, he betrays his siblings. Second, Edmund, overwrought with grief, doesn’t commit suicide. You might try to argue that because it’s a children’s book Lewis decided to give Judas a happier ending, but that alone would make this not an allegory.

In an allegory, each character and/or event is a direct representation of something else. For instance, in John Bunyon’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, the title character is called Christian because he represents Christians. The are other characters like Faith and Charity who represent those things explicitly. This isn’t what Lewis has done in the Chronicles. Peter would be a poor representation of the Apostle with the same name since he never denies Aslan. Also, what about all the animals and mythological creatures? Is Tumnus supposed to be Matthew? What about the Beavers? Where does the giant fit in? Or the good being turned to stone? It just isn’t an allegory, there is no one-to-one representation.

Instead, the Chronicles of Narnia are what is called suppositional. That is, suppose God created a world where the rational creatures were certain animals and mythological creatures. Then, suppose that world were fallen and in need of redemption. How might God redeem that world? How would he incarnate himself? Perhaps as a great Lion. This way Aslan can be Aslan (and, in one sense Jesus, but not simply a representation of Jesus); Peter can be Peter; and Edmund can be Edmund.

So, the next time you sit down to read The Chronicles of Narnia, don’t try to decode it. Don’t try and figure out who represents what (or whom). Instead, let the book speak for itself and then let it speak to you.

Yours,
David

Easter: He is Risen

English: Icon of the Resurrection

English: Icon of the Resurrection (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Friends and Family,

Today we celebrate the risen Christ. Let us remember the victory we have in Jesus. Death is defeated. Not only are our sins forgiven, but we are being made new; not only  are we being made new, but Christ is saying to us, “I say you are gods.” Let us celebrate the new reality that Christus Victor brings.

Yours,
David

An Easter Prayer and Response

Death is swallowed up in victory.
Where, O death, is your sting?
Christ is risen from the dead,
the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
Death is swallowed up in victory.
The trumpet will sound
and the dead shall be raised.
Where, O death, is your sting?
We shall not all sleep,
but we shall be changed.
Death is swallowed up in victory.
Where, O death, is your sting?

John 20:1-18

English Standard Version Anglicised (ESVUK)

20 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going towards the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes.

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her,“Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

The New Pope and Why Protestants Should Care

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Dear Friends and Family,

The other day, when I posted on evolution and Christianity, I mentioned that I would be doing a post on the selection of a new pope. I also recommend reading my good friend, Peter Stevens’s post: Thoughts on the new Pope and Christian Leadership.

I am not a Roman Catholic. Neither am I Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, or a member of a high (that is liturgical) Protestant church. I am, as I’ve said before, part of tradition called the Restoration Movement. Technically we describe ourselves as neither Protestant nor Catholic, but practically we are low-church Protestants. You may wonder, then why I care at all about the papacy. Allow me, briefly, to try and describe why I think all Christians should be concerned about the papacy.

Whether we like it or not, the papacy exists. Every so often, the Roman Catholic church selects a new man to help lead them. It is his job to promote orthodoxy, to be the voice of the people of God, and to tell political leaders when what they do is not consonant with the position they hold. While we in the lower churches may not subscribe to the same understandings of leadership that Roman Catholics do, we must remember that the pope in Rome is there and that he stands for many of the same things we stand for. Pope Francis stands against abortion, against homosexuality as a practice (both things most evangelical Protestants stand against), and he stands for the spreading of the good news of Jesus Christ and caring for the poor and the oppressed. How can we rail against a man who seeks to be the kingdom of God in the world?

Finally, while there are various issues that keep me from becoming Catholic, John 17 is ever in my mind, that we may be one as the Father and Son are one. If we wish to be one then we must work with one another and not against one another. Unity is a big deal to the movement to which I belong. It is one of our two core pillars. If that is the case, then we must seek union with Rome as well as with Constantinope, Canterbury, Wittenburg, Geneva, etc.

I want to leave you with four things, two videos, an article, and a Scripture:
Simon Oliver on issues surrounding there being two living popes:

Thomas O’Loughlin on the proper understanding of papal power:

An article from Simon Oliver and Sam Kimbriel: Analysis: What is the role of a modern pope?

And John 17:

17 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

I pray that you, as I will, will pray for Pope Francis and that his time of service may see a deeper union between all Christians. As the Western World continues to reject Christianity, we must band together under the reign of Jesus Christ.

Yours,

David

Seth Rogen, The Green Hornet and Christian Heroism: Old Post 3

The_Green_Hornet_cover

The New Green Hornet
Last night my wife and I watched the new Green Hornet with Seth Rogen. While I knew better than to expect something that remained true to the original Green Hornet, I was, nevertheless, severely disappointed. Not only did Rogen’s adaptation fail to deliver the essence of the Green Hornet as the purposely misunderstood hero who’s alter ego is the intelligent newspaperman, but he also failed to understand the purpose of heroes in society.
What Makes Rogen’s Hornet the Hero?
While heroes come from different kinds of backgrounds and upbringings, Rogen’s Hornet is the spoiled child of a mean, if not otherwise mostly virtuous, widower. Growing up he becomes a rather unintelligent, hedonistic loaf who becomes the head of a media empire after the death of his father. Through a variety of circumstances he and his martial art/engineering expert partner pose as bad guys to fight crime. First they do so in order to “stick it” to Rogen’s old man. Then they do it in his honor, once they understand him better.
What Didn’t I Like?
Rogen’s Hornet is selfish. Until the end of the movie he fights for selfish reasons. He refuses to listen to his partner Cato and does not have the intelligence to have any reason not to do so. Rogen’s Hornet is a bumbling idiot who fights for something, but it is difficult to figure out what. Is it justice? Is it the memory of his father? Is it to be cool? I’m not sure, but mostly the latter with a mix of the first two seems to be the case.
Also, I could not stand the sheer amount of violence and death that took place in this film. In their first outing, Cato causes at least one gang member to be shot and killed. The others seem either to be dead or unconscious. Either way, violence, the ability to better beat or kill your opponent is seen as a virtue. The rid themselves of the two main villains by killing them. One get stabbed in the eyes and the other is crushed by half of car falling from about 30 stories. This I cannot stand. It seems to me, that Rogen in his attempt to make a slapstick superhero movie missed the purpose of the hero rather than truly parodying it.
What are Heroes supposed to Be?
Rogen’s heroes fight for themselves or at least for some semblance of an idea of justice. This is not what the hero is supposed to be. The hero stands for societal values. The hero inspires societal values. The hero is someone both the individual and the society as a whole can say, “I want to be like that person. That person is better than I am and makes me want to be better than I am.” Heroes also cause some aspect, or aspects, of the divine to be brought down to the human level.
Upholders and Creators of Societal Virtues
Heroes, true, mythic heroes, are representations of what a society values. They embody the ideals and can even go beyond the current ideals of a society in order to encourage and inspire those who are not heroes. If we take a look at comics from the 30s, 40s and 50s, those heroes may have had flaws––save Aunt May or save the world? Always be Superman or take time to be Clark Kent? Take out your anger on the villain or help them get better––but they served to inspire. They taught the children of those ages that truth was better than lying; that justice meant doing what was right no matter the costs; that freedom for all meant the eradication of oppression. Captain America, Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Thor these characters filled a much-needed niche. They taught us to be better. In some ways they even showed us new virtues. A society built on capitalism might make us think that ends justify the means, Superman taught us never to lie (except about your secret identity).
Incarnating the Divine
Heroes also serve to show us God. Its true, many of the heroes I listed above were not made by professing Christians. Nevertheless, when they show us things that are true, that are virtuous, they are showing us aspects of God that we might not see or understand otherwise. God does this often. In fact, the Incarnation, God the Son becoming a human is perhaps the ultimate example of that. God knows that for us to be truly human, to reach the goals he has set for us, we will need not only his help internally, through the Holy Spirit, but we also need the example of other men and women. Sometimes it is hard to think that we can ever be like Jesus, he was perfect, infallible; we are not. But maybe we can be a bit more like Paul or Timothy or Polycarp or Augustine or John Cassian or Catherine of Siena or Mary the mother of Jesus. Perhaps these people whose faults we can see we can be like, while they also try to be like Christ. Rogen’s Hornet does none of this for us.
The New Green Hornet and American Virtues
The new Green Hornet seems to be saying that violence, sex, some misguided sense of justice and intelligence are what we value as a society. As Christians, even as Americans, we must reject these values.
Who are Our Heroes?
We need to return to better heroes. We need to be reminded of the virtues and values that all societies ought to stand for. As Christians we need to baptize the heroes our societies do have so we can use them to show people the light and truth that is Jesus Christ, our Savior, our Redeemer, our Teacher, our Model, our Hero. We also need to rediscover some of our own heroes from Christian history and learn from and follow them as they followed Christ. Finally, we need to every day become heroes ourselves so we can inspire those around us to be better, to become more like Christ and give their lives over to him. The only way to be truly heroic, to be truly human, is to be like Christ.

Feast of St John, Or Three French Hens, Or The Word Became Flesh

Dear Friends and Family,

Today in the Church Calendar we celebrate the life of John the Evangelist, known in the Eastern Orthodox Church as John the Theologian. I love that we remember the author of John 1 in the middle of Christmastide. You see, as my friend Colin has written, Christmas Doesn’t End After Dinner. Christmas goes from 25 December until 5 January. Thus, as well as being the Feast of St John, today is also the third day of Christmas (hence the three french hens).

John is called the theologian because his gospel is always seen as the most theological. When the gospels are represented by the animals in Revelation, John’s is always depicted as the eagle soaring above the heights of the other three because it is more theologically explicit about Jesus is. John tells us that Christ is the Word (or at least leaves that inference to us). He then tells us that the Word is God and yet with God, and that the Word took on flesh and dwelt among us. You see, this is the meaning of Christmas. God the Son, or the Word as John calls him in his prologue, became a human being, born of the Virgin Mary. But what does this mean?

What we usually focus on, when it comes to God becoming human, or the Incarnation, is that Christ came to save us from our sins. He came to die, so he could defeat death and conquer sin so we could live with him in eternity. I don’t want to downplay the salvific significance of Christ’s coming, but I want to introduce another: God became man that we might become gods.

As I’ve said in a previous post, I’m now working in my research on the topic of Christian deification. Part of what this notion is centred in is that when Christ became human he made humans capable of becoming gods. Our ability to become gods is only by his grace and our adoption into his Sonship. As the Scriptures say, we become partakers of the divine nature. As one of the possible collects for the Morning Prayer Service in the Anglican Church says, ‘as he came to share our humanity, so we may share the life of his divinity.’ God coming as a baby into this world was to do more than save us from our sins, it was to do more than redeem us, it was, in a sense, to deify us. It can sound scary to ears not trained to hear it, but it is the life to which we are called.

I hope you all are enjoying the Christmas season. It is a time with family, as it should be, for family should remind us of Christ and his family: Scared (but obedient), young Mary and nervous (but noble) Joseph and the child they raised and named Jesus.

I want to leave you with Jesus’ prayer from the seventeenth chapter in John’s Gospel:

17 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

Sincerely Yours,
David