Tag Archives: Greg Boyd

Some Interesting Things Elsewhere VI


edit: I accidently published this post too early, it was scheduled for wednesday but I pushed the wrong button…

The random picture today (going round on FB)  is a man ‘hugging’ a Japanese giant salamander… I always liked freaky animals, and this monster certainly fits that description…

For the interesting things elswhere:

Sarah Moon on Christian forgiveness, how subversive it is, but how Christians turn it completely wrong…

One of the important theological discussions of the moment is ‘what is the gospel’, and Peter Enns has an interesting post on that question. (I’m sorta with Enns, Wright, and McKnight in this discussion, for those wondering.)

I found this article on the orthodox view of ancestral sin (not original sin like Augustine and those who follow him) interesting.

Interesting stuff about Pentecostalism being pacifist in its early years

And since we’re doing hard theological  subjects, here is Greg Boyd on the death of Ananias and Sapphira.

What we can learn from the dying

It seems like every disaster in or around the US gives us prophetic weirdos who say that it’s Gods punishment. It’s strange that they keep silent now, with the Isaac storm and the Republican convention (except for Roger Olson in his more satirical moments)

Kurt Willems on Christian politics: Speak truth, be truth, that’s it…

Derek Flood on sojo, on gender equality and how complementarianism misses something essential in their bible reading. On his blog there’s also an interesting post about re-thinking the Wesleyan quadrilateral (in favor of experience!)

shalom

Bram

The scary consequences of baby universalism…


In my last post I  spoke about certain weird forms of well-meaning but rather merciless Christian inclusivism, which posits that all those ignorant of Christianity will not be sent to hell, but those who know  must become a Christian or go to hell. The unavoidable conclusion of these doctrines is that it would be actually better to not evangelise to people than to evangelise them…

The same problem applies to the in a way very related idea of ‘baby universalism’, (a term coined by Greg Boyd) as Sarah noted in the comments of my last post:

[We] were just talking about the related idea in evangelicalism (and now catholicism apparently) that babies go to heaven automatically. Taking into account the idea of a literal, eternal hell, we decided that from this standpoint, abortion is the most merciful act in the world. Why let a baby live if there’s even a miniscule chance that it will spend eternity being tortured? That theology can’t come to any other logical conclusion which is one reason why I can’t believe in it.

If you’re in a tradition that is scared of hell, this sounds like a very merciful idea: all babies (or all those who did not reach the ‘age of accountability’) will go directly to heaven. And it does actually make more sense to me than the idea that all babies are depraved sinful beings that deserve to go to hell, as some fundamentalist ideas might imply, and one could derive from harsher versions of the dorctrine of original sin. (But I don’t know that much about those things)

The combination of a completely legal framework of salvation, which is furthermore mostly seen as ‘getting out of hell’, and the idea that innocent children are by default saved gives us  an even more scary consequence than the inclusivism of our last post. Not only is it better not to evangelise, but also is the inevitable conclusion that it’s better to abort or kill babies, since that’ll send them directly to heaven without having a chance to sin or loose the faith later in life and so go to hell…

Yes, I’ll repeat this: the most merciful thing you can do is abortion or killing children, it’ll guarantee them for 100% a spot in heaven and keep ‘em out of the hot place. What is scary is that people have actually made that conclusion. Greg Boyd, in the essay where he coined the term baby universalism, quotes Paul Copan from his book ‘is God a moral monster’ asking that question, and gives a raather technical deconstruction of the idea:

“Why not kill all infants to make sure they are with God in the hereafter” (194)?  Paul answers his own question by noting that the Israeli soldiers killed infants only because God told them to do so. When anyone commits infanticide without God’s permission, Paul adds, they are sinning, for only God the giver of life has the right to take life (or command others to take life). Paul concedes that a murdered baby automatically receives a “heavenly benefit,” but he insists this is not to the credit of the killer and thus cannot be used to justify their killing. “The killer neither causes these [heavenly] benefits nor is responsible for them” (194).

I can easily see why, within the doctrine of baby universalism, a baby killer should not be considered the cause for the deceased baby’s heavenly benefit or held responsible for the deceased baby’s heavenly benefit. But it seems to me that the baby killer must still be viewed as the occasion and means of the baby’s heavenly benefit. Most importantly, it seems we must accept that the baby killer is the means by which the baby’s heavenly benefit is made secure. The baby killer in effect saved the baby from the possibility of hell! While this still wouldn’t remove the sin of infanticide — for it still violates a command of God — it does renders infanticide reasonable, if not loving and courageous — if one accepts that baby universalism is true.

But there is more: If our clumsy inclusivism of my last post had some scary outworkings, the combination of baby universalism with exclusivism (all non-christians go to hell)  as it exists in some circles is even able to create even more scary consequences: inevitably the only way to not go to hell for someone who gets born and lives in the wrong place and circumstances to ever hear the gospel (which includes catholic and orthodox places for some fundamentalists btw) would be to not get born at all, or to get killed before reaching a certain age of accountability!

(Yes this would for example give a  free ticket for Americans to bomb as much muslims including children and pregnant women, since killing them before reaching the age of accountability would be more merciful than let them become adults.  I sincerely hope that no one will ever uses this reasoning…)

Combining very rigid excluisivist ideas about hell with complete amnesty for certain groups just does not work, sorry. It will always have horrible consequences…

Now, I don’t pretend to know everything about the afterlife, but I do know that Jesus came to save not only individuals from sin, death, destruction, evil and so on, but the whole of Creation. How everything works I do not know, yet I know that God wants none to perish, and I trust that God, who is love, will save as much as possible. Let us just trust in His mercy, and believe that the good news is better than we can imagine. Death and hell are beaten, Christus Victor!

what do you think?

Bram

Random Links I liked lately 1


I don’t know a which frequency I’ll be able to post in this series in the future, but here’s the fist collection of articles, blog posts and other internet stuff I liked lately or at least found interesting… It’s very randomly compiled, chaotic as my mind is, and if no-one reads it it’s still a good way for me to remember those links… Subjects may vary in a lot of unexpected directions, just as in the regular blog…

So here we go:

Am I the only one who likes articles called Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!: On Disenchantment and the Demonic? It could’ve been a Sufjan Stevens song title…

I’ve been blogging recently about Mr. Driscoll and his problem with effeminate worship leaders (still don’t know what that’s supposed to be though) but something probably more troubling is his famous older statement “I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.’ . Dianna E Anderson explains in her blog post A Jesus I can beat up one of the important problems with that statement, and I don’t think you need a hardcore Anabaptist to get the idea that the point of the crucificion is that Jesus just was beaten up…

If this is true it’s really sad and it makes me angy: Monsanto’s Agent Orange Being Used to Clear Brazil’s Rainforest

Some music from a young Belgian band I liked: Lunar rays – do you know Maybe if they played more music like this on the radio, I’d listen to it once in a while…

For those interested in my radish pod curry with tree spinach, and stir-fried daylilies, let google translate do something with the post on my dutch blog with the recipes. (Which might be very funny bad English) Or just look at the photographs…

Also very interesting for those who like philosphical theology: An Open Theism Theodicy by David D. Flowers: Gregory Boyd on the Problem of Evil. I like this approach…

I used to hate this song when I was a teenager. Now I just find it very strange but slightly entertaining. There are some gabber influences, a phenomenon was something with very fast techno music and weird bald people that only did exis in the benelux mainly in the nineties.

I love this new album by the restoration project, which can be listened and bought @ bandcamp It’s a beautiful concept album based on the beautitudes. I reviewed it for cultuurshock.net, but again only for those who can read the noble dutch language…

Some false gods are really dumb and annoying, like igod, the chat-bot.

Possibly my favorite Christian female blogger Rachel Held Evans has a point with her waring ‘Beware of overcorrecting‘!

One timeless piece from the onion: Rock Fans Outraged As Bob Dylan Goes Electronica

Michael Gungor isn’t only a very interesting musician who wrote the God is not a white man song that I post on my facebookwall sometimes, but he writes very interesting blog posts too, like this one called Love and Justice about God beling love and how it connects to His justice…

The End of the Sexual Revolution, or in case you haven’t noticed, almost all of these songwriting insiders writing the soundtrack for teen femininity are middle-aged men.

That’s all for today folks

God bless

Bram

Prophecy, free will and the openness of the future…


This older post from Richard Becks Experimental Theology site has been popping up in the dutch blog- and twitterverse a few times lately:Why the anti-christ is an idiot. It’s kinda funny, but it also reminds me of old King Herod. I’ve always wondered what was going on in the guys head: he hears from the magi about a newborn king, and supposes it is the messiah of which the prophecies speak. So what does he do: he tries to kill the newborn messiah…

Isn’t this very strange? How can anyone in their right mind believe in the prophecy that tells about the birth of the messiah, and then still think that they can stop the rest of the prophecy by killing the baby? It’s a strange way of taking prophecy serious: believing in it and still believing you can change the end of the story in a way that workes out better for you…

It’s a strange subject: prophecy and the openness of the future. I as a Christian do believe in prophecy, including foretelling prophecy. (I even believe as a charismatic that it still happens today, even though I’m very sceptical about the wacko prophecies that arise out of some corners of the hypercharismatic world that never seem to be fulfilled) For example I believe that Jesus was the fulfilling of a lot of prophecies in the Old Testament, like the gospels tell us, and like Jesus told the guys on the way to Emmaus. So I believe God can, and does, show us the future. (And sometimes hide it in weird cryptical pictures that only are clears afterward…but that’s another story)

But yet I don’t believe in a God that micro-manages everything, but in free will. So even if God is above time the future is in a way ‘open’. We do what we do in free will. We might be influenced by our instincts, our DNA, our trauma, the Holy Spirit or even more evil spirits, whatever,… But our deeds are ours, and we more or less choose them. Otherwise justice cannot even exist. If God micromanages every very deed we do, He is the cause of our sin, not we. Then He is behind everything He says He hates in the bibles, which does not make much sense at all… (I don’t say that God should always follow our human logic, but this is evil nonsense and even blasphemy[1])

So I wouldn’t use the modern concept of the universe as a watch and God as a watchmaker (an idea which did much harm to christianity defending itself in modernity, sorry mr. Paley) The universe is not a machine (and neither is the human being, or any living organism) But more as God sheperding both this world and the lives of believers -and non-believers-. Leading it, and where needed influencing it, probably correcting it here and there, but letting the world mostly unfold in it’s onw free will. Except of course that when God wants to do someting, it will happen. God will maken it happen. After all, He is the Almighty…

I was thinking about the same concept when I was re-reading the silver chair, one of the narnia stories by C.S. Lewis, who in his non-fiction also speaks of God above time and seeing all time at once (I think it was in mere christianity) and who says to defend a traditional view there. In the beginning Aslan sends Jill on a quest to find the lost prince, and he also gives her some signs that she and Eustace should follow, which they mostly don’t. They pretty much screw op most of the time! But in spite of that, they manage to find the prince, and save Narnia from an evil witch who wants to enslave it once more… So Aslan is working towards something with the 2 children, and probably cleaning up the mess behind the scenes, but in the end he gets to the goal. It could’ve happened more easily is they had talked the old King, or not had gone to the city of giants, but still the outcome is there: the prince is found, and Narnia is saved!

God has an outcome, but that does not mean that the ways are fixed. So that means that foretelling prophecy might just be God telling what His plans are, not revealing a fixed future… Like Jonah foretelling the destruction of Nineveh, which doesn’t happen because the people change their mind…

So, is this ‘open theism’? I honestly don’t know. I guess I should read some Greg Boyd on the subject. I don’t know if we as humans can even understand how the relation is between eternity where God lives and our time… We probably are flatlanders explaining a goldfish in the terms of our 2D worldview. I believe that God created time as we know it together with our universe -so I reject process theology- and I also know that God the son entered time in the incarnation. Maybe it is a mystery. God does probably influence a lot more than we realise, and the paradox between free will and predestination might be solved from a view outside of this time…

But the future is calling us. The Kingdom of God is already breaking is into our world here and now sometimes. That which started with the resurrection will once be a whole new earth and a whole new heaven, and it’s inviting us to join in already. God is calling us, and will do all he can, and fulfill His promises. But that does not mean we have to sit back and wait…

shalom

Bram

[1] I am aware that some in the reformed tradition try to make sense of this kind of ideas, in order to protect their faith from problems that I don’t see, but that’s not my problem… It’s not my tradition and I don’t care any more about supposed calvinist theology and philosophy(of which some wouldn’t even be recoginised by old John Calvin) than I do about the infallibility of the pope. It only would distract me from the Christ and the bible to engage in such discussions, even when I see both reformed and catholics as my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Why fear non-violence as a christian?


Scot McKnight, who himself self-identifies as an anabaptist, links on his blog to an article from the American spectator that poses the question if a ‘mennonite take-over’ is going on.

Now i’m still a european who doesn’t understand much of American politics, but after reading the American Spectator I sense a bit of fear of what they percieve as ‘mennonite’, even though most of the names they give are in fact not at all mennonites. What they seem to be affraid of is the growing influence of peace church thought and pacifism in christianity, which they for some reason see as agressive.

(I guess they are affraid of the other side of the american 2-party system, and of the ‘socialism’ monster of the cold war indoctrination, but what I see in both Shane Claibornes ‘Jesus for president’ and Greg Boyds ‘the myth of a Christian nation’ is rejecting both parties alike, and not putting much faith in governments at all, and it shows more a down-top grass-roots anarchism which does not wait on the State to do things…)

Most of the names they give, like Greg boyd and Shane Claiborne, are in fact not mennonites, but it surely can not be denied that they are gravely influenced by postmodern neo-anabaptist christian non-violence. Which is why I like them by the way. One of the things I like most about certain parts of the post-evangelical christianity and the emerging church dialogue is exactly that: a commitment to Jesus and His words, the sermon on the mount and to radical discipleship, even to enemy-love.

I do think this ‘neo-anabaptist’ emphasis in post(modern) evangelicalism is not only very important, but also a move of the Holy Spirit and a call to go back to the core of our faith. A call to first be a citizen of the Kingdom of God before being part of the systems of this world (or ‘empire’) I’m not only thinking of Shane Claiborne, and Greg Boyd, but of Scot McKnight himself, and Rob Bell or even Brian McLaren.

Like Derek Webb sings:

my first allegiance is not to a flag, a country, or a man
my first allegiance is not to democracy or blood
it’s to a king & a kingdom

We as Christians need to be serious that our first commitment is not to any nation, but to Jesus, and to the ‘transnational church that transcends all artificial borders’, like Shane Claiborne says in his ‘litany of resistance‘, which the reporter of the American spectator finds “angry and defamatory“. The first Christians were known to be willing to die for their faith, but not to kill. This is a serious way of following Christ, even into a possible death, but it’s also very powerful. It trancends the so-called myth of redemptive violence.

Like Bonhoeffer said, “…when evil meets no opposition and encounters no obstacle but only patient endurance, its sting is drawn, and at last it meets an opponent which is more than its match.” (thanks to JoeyS) Or like Walter Wink says “Violent revolution fails because it is not revolutionary enough.”

These are the things that make me want to be a christian. But it seems that exactly these things scare some people, even some Christians… They are too far from our natural human way of thinking. But isn’t that exactly what Christianity is supposed to be. Jesus nor the Holy Spirit can be boxed or put before our cart, and neither can any genuine follower.

No we should not completely withdraw from the world, as some anabaptists tend to do (think about the Amish) Neither should we take over all the values of the world, we belong to Christ. We are to be in the world, but not of the world, like light and salt… We are not to take over with violence, but to love the hell out of this world…

Not by might,
Not by power
by my spirit
says the Lord

Shalom

Bram

a tip for heresy hunters: The american conservative religion


Wow

The world is scary these days. For some reason we are bombing the moon (they call it science) and on the same day unexpectedly Obama get the nobel peace price. But that’s not what I mean

Some really freaky things are happening in American ‘christian’ circles. So while all heresy-hunters are for some reason busy looking at the emerging church (because they are so immersed in modernist worldviews that they cannot understand postmodernism) , something realy weird is emerging calling itself conservative christianity. Something that’s weird synchretism at best and pure heretic idolatry at worst.

Take for example this picture, which just scares the hell out of me. But Greg Boyd can explain better than me what is wrong with it. I just wonder where the native americans are, and why everybody is white (including Jesus, whose skin as a middle-eastern guy should have been a lot darker than this all-american pretty guy…) And why claim founding fathers who were all for the separation of state and church, who were deists or non-believers?

And oh, get over your stupid constitution. it’s NOT  inerrant word of God. And America isn’t the center of the world.  The world isn’t even flat, it is round you know…And the US of A isn’t  the most important culmination point in the history of mankind either.

And who can explain me why Obama shouldn’t be taken serious as a president, but when anyone opposed Bush every shouted Romans 13? Can you be consistent please? If Bush was appointed by God and no-one should have criticised him, then please honor Obama all the same.

Oh, and speaking of not just intellectual honesty and dumb amerericacentrism, but even of plain rewriting of the bible: the conservapedia conservative bible project wants to rewrite the bible and rid it of ‘liberal bias’. Liberal being everything they don’t like, including the story of Jesus and the adulteress, and Jesus’ prayer on the cross ‘Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.’

My advice to all heresy hunters: broaden your scope. In the conservative corner some weird idolatry is emerging that is really worth examiining. They re-write the bible, they ignore history and claim historic figures who would be totally opposed to them, and they make Jesus into a tribal idol of some American godly super-empire.  They ignore the words of Jesus and worship America and capitalism… And it’s an insult to all genuine conservative believers. God have mercy!

Isn’t this troubling?
Isn’t this scary?
Or am I a weird european that is excluded of having common sense since I’m not American and part of your blessed evil empire???

Father forgive them,
for they know not what they do

shalom

Bram