Here are the class notes for The Bible:
Here is the video from Week4:
I wondered why Christianity had not typically embedded itself into these festivals, why we weren’t among the leaders of new cultural developments and wildly creative thought. Certainly God is wildly creative – enough to find his way into human hearts in other cultures around the world. But at these festivals, and in the newly developing cultures of postmodernity, there seemed to be so few people of Jesus.
Just something to think about….
Those who have a heart for morality, believe God’s heart centers on morality.
Those who have a heart for orphans, believer that God’s heart centers on orphans.
Those who have a heart for America, believe that God’s heart centers on America.
Those who have a heart for prayer, believer that God’s heart centers on prayer.
Those who have a heart for the church, believe that God’s heart centers on the church.
Those who have a heart for missions, believe that God’s heart centers is for missions.
Those who have a heart for individuals, believe that God’s heart centers on the individual.
Those who have a heart for families, believe that God’s heart centers on families.
Those who have a heart for the Bible, believe that God’s heart centers on the Bible.
And on it goes…
Holiness is the most attractive quality, the more intense experience we ever get of sheer life – authentic, firsthand living, not life looked at and enjoyed from a distance. We find ourselves in on the operations of God himself, not talking about them or reading about them. But at the very moment we find ourselves in on more than ourselves, we realize we also might very well lose ourselves. We cannot domesticate the holy. Moses didn’t take a photograph of the burning bush to take home and show his wife and children. Isaiah’s singing angels were not accompanied by a Handel oratorio, which he then purchased on a CD for later listening at his leisure. John didn’t reduce his vision of Jesus into charts which he used to entertain religious consumers with titillating views on the future.
Holiness is a furnace that transforms the men and women who get too close to it. Holy, holy, holy is not Christian needlepoint – it is the banner of a revolution, the revolution.
I realize, of course, by the nature of their questions that they have been listening. It’s because they understand very clearly that Paul’s world is different from our world, that Paul faced different challenges than we do today, that Paul’s assumptions do not translate directly into out context, they must ask “So what?” They want to take Paul’s advice seriously. It’s not enough for them to understand the historical meaning of Paul’s letters. They want to know-they must know!-if Paul’s gospel still matters today, especially since the apostle dealt with some of the same issues we face: gender battles, social contests, racial prejudice, marital struggles, sexual vices. Indeed, Paul didn’t hide behind vague theological ideas when he wrote his letters to the churches of the first century. He deals with the messy details of daily life for Christ believers. Do we eat this or that? Should I have sex with her or not? Do we have to believe everything you do? Should I get married? Should we help the poor who refuse to work? Because Paul’s instructions are so specific on his experiences and ideas about what the gospel should look like in his time, we can’t help but wonder: is Paul’s timely advice timeless?
Trying to answer the “So what?” question has brought Paul’s gospel into better focus for us-not just his theological ideas, but his personal experience of the gospel of Jesus Christ, his spirituality. Typically, Paul’s letters have been used as resources for his theology. We’ve grown accustomed to studying Paul for his theological insights, siphoning from his letters what he believed, distilling the contents for “hard doctrine.” Yet, for Paul, the gospel was not merely what he taught, but how he lived. He wanted his converts not only to believe what he had “received”; he expected them to follow “his ways” in Christ (1 Cor 4:17).
O’Connor insisted that it was her Christian faith that kept her skeptical. She says that the cultivation of skepticism is a sacred obligation because skepticism keeps us asking questions. Against whatever flavor of brainwash is popular, skepticism “will keep you free – not free to do anything you please, but free to be formed by something larger than your own intellect or the intellects of those around you.” This redemptive skepticism is a religious commitment to avoid being swept up by bad ideas, especially ones that wear a godly guise and demand absolute, unquestioning allegiance.
Evil is not minimized, but it is put in its place, bracketed between Christ and prayer. There is a detail listing of evil and a courageous facing of evil, but no explanation of it. Nowhere in the Bible is there any attempt to answer the question, “Why does a good God permit evil?” Evil is a fact. The Bible spends a good deal of space insisting that certain facts are evil, and not minor blemishes on the surface of existence. But the Bible does not provide an explanation of evil – rather, it defines a context: all evil takes place in an historical arena bounded by Christ and prayer. Evil is not explained but surrounded. The Revelation summarizes the context: admit evil and do not fear it – for “he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4); endure evil, for you are already triumphant over it – “ I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18). The Revelation expands the apostolic and dominical words into visions. By putting evil in its place and enumerating it accurately in the precise part of the story where it belongs, it is seen as finite episode and not a total triumph.