Tag Archives: Christology

Generous Orthodoxy – Part 2

Some insights from McLaren:

The 7 Jesus’ he has known

– Conservative. Protestant

– Liberal Protestant

– Roman Catholic

– Eastern Orthodox

– Pentecostal

– Anabaptist

– Liberation Theology

Son of God as the Radiance of God – looking at Perichoresis and Christ hymns.

He casts Jesus as Lord as

– the head of the household whose commands are to be obeyed

– the triumph over the powers

– the master/ apprentice


Jesus saving

– through judgement

– then forgiveness

– the saving of all creation

“‘Preach the gospel to all creation’ Christ said.  Are we only now beginning to understand what he meant?  I believe the unwritten melody that haunts this book every so faintly, the new song waiting to be sung in place of they hymn of salvation, to simply the song of creation.  To move away from the theology of salvation to the theology of creation may be the task of our time. ” from Vincent Donovan, on page 101

The Shack

When I think of The Shack, I think of Simon Stylites up his pole for 37 years thinking of God, I think of the Church spending three hundred years thinking about the Trinity; it dares to spend time with God and to boldly enter into his presence as Paul urged the Ephesians.

Sure its lines don’t live up to God (outside of scripture, which exactly would? – I want to ask Chuck Colson) but it forces us to consider the all consuming grace of God.  Some of the scenes, like when Mack has to forgive his daughter’s killer, are truly wonderful. Or when Mack has to consider his blame of God (page 161) for Missy’s death and is forced to enter the place of judgement himself.  I loved the insight that it is difficult to live with this gracious God (page 196) rather than the God who is the taskmaster or the failure.  I love the phrase “Mack, God is especially fond of you”

The Shack stands as the place where we construct all the rubbish of the world, it also stands as the wooden structure where the child died and we are offered healing.

I find its easy dismissal of religion, politics and economics as triple terrors (since their absence is not an option, we are offered either good or bad versions of these things) too simple, a recipe for tea party politics, laissez-faire economics and consumerist religion.

I think what I love about the Shack most is that it dares to be outrageous, it dares to venture, and I think that this is true to the grace of the New Testament.

Gospel According to Les Mis

The hardening of Valjean “From year to year his soul had dried away… his eye had never shed a tear.” is then met with grace.  He is a victim but he is not only a victim.  No one is only ever a victim.  And inside him is the hate that he has chosen. He is irremediably miserable, he himself cannot be cured.

The grace comes through the Bishop, M. Bienvenue, who gives his life to the poor and exemplifies the law of substitutionary love.  Valjean says, “Do you know who I am?”.  “Yes, I know your name” says the bishop, your name is brother.

The key scene of the movie is the one where Valjean steals the silver, and the when he is caught, the Bishop gives him more.  “Do not forget that you have promised to use this money in becoming an honest man?” – Grace is sneaky, finding inside of you promises that you did not know that you had made.

The key scene for Valjean is the one where he realises what the bishop has given him, he realises that he has become a wretch and he breaks down and he cries, and these are the first tears that he has shed in 19 years.  Ortberg makes the link with Newton – that saved a wretch like me.

Javert wants to live by the law, but he has forgotten the true law, to love one’s neighbour.  He cannot bear the burden of law, he hunts down grace but it will always elude him, its injustice terrify and haunt him, until grace also pardons him.  Then he too, like Valjean, sees grace, like an owl blinded by the sun, but he cannot cope and he takes his own life.

Meanwhile, Valjean lives his own life of love, but he hides from Caussette and Marius, until towards the end of his life they find him.  They end with the story of love “to love another person is to see the grace of God” (and Ortberg makes the link with Jacob and Esau).  The story ends with hope, with the hope that cannot be dimmed, They will live again in freedom in the garden of the Lord.  Somewhere beyond the barricade is there a world you long to see. It is the music of a people who are climbing towards the light.  For the wretched of the earth there is a flame that never dies.

It’s about joy, stupid

And Jesus had this way of transmitting this acceptance – and from his fullness we have all received.

From Dallas Willard:
“Joy is not pleasure, a mere sensation, but a pervasive and constant sense of well-being.  Hope in the goodness of God is joy’s indispensable support”

Joy is not a pleasure.  Not a mere sensation.  Not just feeling happy in the moment because of something that’s going on.  it’s a pervasive and constant knowledge of well-being that all ultimately is well with me and not just with me but with all things.  That’s joy.

Paul says “Rejoice in the Lord” and Nehemiah says “the joy of the Lord is my strength.”

2. Sustenance

It is important to engage in the things that cause us to be sustained – worship, scripture, friendship, finding the things that give us joy.  For Jesus this included partying with non-religious people.

3. Significance

The idea of significance is that I was made to make a difference beyond myself.  Satan’s temptation was to find the significance outwith the identity of God.

4. Achievement

For Jesus this is “my food is to do the will of him who sent me and to do his work.”

Jesus tells us all these things so that our joy may be complete in him.

Our temptation is to reverse the cycle, to begin with achievement, then significance, then sustenance, then identity.  Jesus reverses this which is why he was able to sustain massive personal rejection.

Comes back to this phrase “In a little while”, in a little while we will  receive all the answers.

Bultmann “It is the nature of joy that all questions go silent and nothing needs explaining.”

In a little while our joy will be complete.

The Great Feast

The original guests refuse to respond to the good news that the banquet is ready.  They are confident that the banquet cannot proceed without them and that the entire event will thus become a humiliating defeat for the host.  But not so – unworthy guests are invited.  The host is not indebted socially to the poor, maimed, blind and lame, and they will not be able to respond in kind.  The offer is what we have described elsewhere as “unexpected visible demonstration of love in humiliation”.  The dramatic, visible nature of the demonstration is clear.  It is unexpected and breaks in upon the new group of undeserving guests as a stunning surprise.  The host may anticipate suffering since the original guests will be infuriated that their attempt to abort the banquet has failed, and they will taunt the host as one who is unable to put together a banquet without “bringing in the riffraff”.  Again, as in the case of the Prodigal Son, this unexpected visible demonstration of love in suffering theologically foreshadows the cross and demonstrates in essential form its meaning. (page 100)

Jesus does not here teach either a mechanically operating predestination, which determines from all eternity who shall or who shall not be brought into the Kingdom.  Neither does He proclaim that man’s entry into the Kingdom is purely his own affair.  The essential points in His teaching are that no man can enter the Kingdom without the invitation of God, and that no man can remain outside it but by his own deliberate choice.  Man cannot save himself; but he can damn himself… He (Jesus) sees the deepest tragedy of human life, not in the many wrong and foolish things that men do, or the many good and wise things that they fail to accomplish, but in their rejection of God’s greatest gift (From Manson, on page 110)


1. Jesus is God’s unique agent calling for participation in the messianic banquet of salvation.

2. The messianic banquet promised by Isaiah (Isaiah 25:6-9) is inaugurated in the table fellowship of Jesus (realised eschatology).  But the parable is left open-ended.  All the guests are not assembled.  The parable breaks off with the house not yet full.  Thus there is an unfulfilled future anticipated by the parable (futuristic eschatology).  The full vision of the messianic banquet is yet in the future, when the faithful will sit down in the kingdom with Abaraham, Isaac and Jacob (Luke 13:28-29).  Thus the messianic banquet of the end times is both now and not yet.

3. The excuses people offer for refusal to respond to the invitation to join in the banquet are stupid and insulting.  The original guests have their counterpart in every age.

4. The invitation to table fellowship at the banquet is extended to the unworthy who can in no way compensate the host for his grace.  These outcasts may be from within or from without the community.

5. Grace is unbelievable.   This is so true that some special pleading is required for many of the undeserving to be convinced that the invitation is genuine.

6. There is a centrifugal force to the mission taught in the parable.  The servant, with his invitation, is told to go out beyond the city.  If God’s salvation is to reach to the ends of the earth (Isaiah 49:6) someone must take the message out and present it with all the winsomeness possible (Luke 14:23).

7. There is a self imposed concept of judgment.  Those who by their own choice reject the invitation thereby shut themselves off from the fellowship with the host and his guests.

8. There is a warning addressed to the presumptuous in the believing community.  God can get along without them.  If they fail to respond to his invitation, he will proceed with outsiders.

9. Time runs out on the invitation.  As Charles Smith has said, “Places are not kept open indefinitely at the Messianic table and those who assume… that there will always be room for them are likely to receive a rude shock.”

10. The guests must be invited.  No one “storms the party” Attendance is by invitation only.  Yet the guests must respond and come in.  There is no participation at a distance. (pages 111-112)


The Biggest Competitor

Christianity’s Biggest Competitor – February 3rd 2013 – Transcript here

The biggest competitor for Christianity is works righteousness, which we rebel against because we always want to boast.  Imagine a wife saying to you that she loves you but that this has nothing to do with anything that you have done, it is purely gift, we would not be too pleased about that.


Forgiveness always costs somebody something, and talks about the illustration of three students being forgiven their college debts.

Robert Haire who got married to his wife Ada – he was 86, she was 97; and he thought I don’t have many years left, I have to commit.

The Outstretched Arms of Jesus

The outstretched arms of Jesus exclude no one, not the drunk in the doorway, the panhandler on the street, gays and lesbians in their isolation, the most selfish and ungrateful in their cocoons, the most unjust of employers and the most overweening of snobs.  The love of Christ embraces all without exception.

Brennan Manning, August 20th

In The Company of Jesus

Something has to change and Jesus says that something can change, promising the ‘the first shall be last and the last shall be first.’  In a world obsessed with celebrity, sex and superficial appearance, he still chooses the lepers and the AIDS victims, the bullied kids from school and the ‘fools’ of this world to confound the wise with hope and justice.

In the company of Christ, the ugly become beautiful and classroom cowards become the bewildered heroes of his kingdom.  That, after all, is my story and I suspect it is yours too.

Jackie Pullinger used to say “If you want to see revival, plant your church in the gutter.”

Jesus warned us that the upwardly mobile middle classes would always find it extremely hard to receive him.  But among the losers, the freaks and the apparent failures, what one preacher called the ‘shrimps and wimps and those with limps’… that is actually where the gospel spreads quite easily.


From Frederick Buechner

The grace of God means something like this: Here is your life.  You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you.

Here is the world.  Beautiful and terrible things will happen.  Don’t be afraid.  I am with you.  Nothing can ever separate us.  It’s for you I created the universe.  I love you.

There’s only one catch.  Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you’ll reach out and take it.  Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too.

Grace Alone

Or looking good. How attractive enough. Comparison with George Clooney.

Grace is enough. Paul in Ephesians 2

What would grace say to this area ? Stop

All this success looks like idolatry

In the bible the opposite of grace is salvation by works. It is ironic that a generation that does not believe in God still believes in salvation by works.

Grace is good news but it is not soft. It teaches us about sin. Amazing grace it was grace that taught my heart to fear

Grace would say that that uneasiness you feel cannot be healed by achievement or messages of self esteem. You need to be saved by what sin is doing to your soul.

Tell story of girl who disobeyed. Girl says you had better spank me now because I have disobeyed. The human will has rebelled.

And we have just got used to this world because it is all of us.  But god never gets used to it. Never says that’s okay. Gods standard is the sinless position in which he dwells. In gods eyes sin is the real horror of our soul.

Reads list of sins and asks people to honestly deal with where they are.

Spiritual sanity begins by saying something is broken in me

Grace came one day (John 1)

All have sinned (Romans 3)

Grace would say you can have the acceptance you have always craved. Just humble yourself and check out of the culture of performance.

You can affirm this and still not be a follower of Jesus.

Take a pencil out. What does it mean to give my heart to God.

My only hope is this man Jesus.

I want to receive your forgiveness and love and I want to surrender.

I want God to fly the plane