Friday, February 23, 2007

Theology of the Cross 1

Here's the handout the class will get on Sunday.

Theology of the Cross: what does this mean for the Church's and this congregation's life and mission?
Rise, Shine, You People!

1. Rise, shine, you people! Christ the Lord has entered
Our human story; God in him is centered.
He comes to us, by death and sin surrounded,
With grace unbounded!

2. See how he sends the powers of evil reeling;
He brings us freedom, light and life and healing.
All men and women, who by guilt are driven,
Now are forgiven.

3. Come, celebrate, your banners high unfurling,
Your songs and prayers against the darkness hurling.
To all the world go out and tell the story
Of Jesus' glory.

4. Tell how the Father sent his Son to save us;
Tell of the Son, who life and freedom gave us.
Tell how the Spirit calls from every nation
The new creation.

Text: Ron A. Klug
1. Theology of glory vs. theology of the cross:

Theologians of glory build their theology in the light of what they expect God to be like, inventing God to look something like themselves. Theologians of the cross build their theology in the light of God's own revelation of himself, particularly God's self-revelation in Christ crucified. In addition, the cross of Calvary forms a paradigm and model for God's characteristically hidden and paradoxical, sacramental presence in the commonest things, situations and people.
  • Domesticated gods: Egyptian imperial religion; Roman imperial religion; Jerusalem Temple; contemporary consumerism

  • Reign of death

  • God of the bible: dynamic, free and elusive; the God who raises the dead

  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer: "God's unfathomable condescension!"

  • Martin Luther: "God without strange work is God without proper work."

  • Three uses of the law: Martin Luther and John Calvin

  • Law and Gospel


Heidelberg Disputation

19. That person does not deserve to be called a theologian who looks upon the invisible things of God as though they were clearly perceptible in those things that have actually happened [Romans 1:20].

20. He deserves to be called a theologian, however, who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross.

21. A theologian of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theologian of the cross calls the thing what it actually is.

22. That wisdom which sees the invisible things of God in works as perceived by man is completely puffed up, blinded, and hardened.

2. Hebrew Bible roots/wellsprings

Especially look for God's hidden yet apparent presence and for "Types of Christ"

  • Genesis 9:12-16 Noah! God disarms

  • Exodus 6:6 - God redeems, frees, liberates us with an outstretched arm and judgment

  • Exodus 25:17 - a mercy seat, Gnadenstuhl - more Luther!

  • Amos 7: Plumb line in the city

  • Leviticus 25: 25 Ruth 3, 4 - Right of redemption; office of Redeemer

  • Exodus 19, 20 - Moses and the Sinai Covenant

  • Isaiah 45:15 - a hidden God

  • Job 19:25 - Job's Redeemer lives

  • Isaiah 43:1 - our Creator God becomes our Redeemer; a lot of redemption throughout 2nd Isaiah, the exilic Isaiah

3. Reading and interpreting scripture through a cruciform lens In Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ of God, and particularly in the cross of Calvary, we meet the definitive revelation of the Holy God who fills heaven and earth; for this Jesus, it's not primarily about spectacular signs and sensational miracles, but about the Sign of Jonah—death and resurrection. Separating out gospel, "What preaches Christ" from the rest of the text. Particularly in Mark's gospel, the journey to Jerusalem and to the cross is incessant and focused.
  • Matthew 17:1-9 - Transfiguration; sign of Jonah

  • Matthew 12:40; Luke 11:29 - Sign of Jonah

  • Romans 3:27-31 -the law still remains in its entirety; cross as both judgment and grace; God's Yes and God's No to the world.

  • Romans 8:1-4 - because of Jesus Christ, we no longer live under the Law's condemnation

  • Revelation 22:1-5 - the River of Life flows from the throne of God—from the cross
© Leah Chang 2007

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

True Bible Scholar

This was so fun—I found it on Sally's blog, Eternal Echoes. And readers, since you probably imagine I'm a theologian, these results assure you I also know Scripture well. And about that theologian piece, check out this one: I'm 99% Lutheran! This is most certainly true!

"Wow! You are awesome! You are a true Biblical scholar, not just a hearer but a personal reader! The books, the characters, the events, the verses - you know it all! You are fantastic!"

Saturday, February 10, 2007

River on Fire!

River on Fire? Not the Cuyahoga, with its notorious history of a dozen or more detectable fires, and not the San Diego River's more recent fire. Not the River Charles, either. Although I'm telling my readers this blog isn't about those rivers, I'll still ask what makes rivers catch on fire? It seems as if I blog and talk about the sacraments almost incessantly, and yes, this is yet another sacrament blog!

In Scripture, "River" often is boundary, border or barrier, and for Israel, the Jordan was all three, just as the surging, life-bestowing waters of baptism form the boundary between life, death and our new lives in community and in full-time ministry, a border differentiating us from the not-yet-baptized and sometimes a barrier to others' understanding and perceptions of our lives in Christ. Maybe baptism needs to be a barrier to our participation in many of the world's most common ways? Parallel to the Exodus from Egypt, the event that formed the identity of God's primal people Israel, baptism is a mighty Act of God, but beyond the Exodus, J├╝rgen Moltmann describes baptism as "sign, witness, representation and illumination of the Christ Event." In addition, the witness of scripture reveals that baptism bestows the Holy Spirit, bringer of renewing, redeeming, reforming wind and fire, bringer of the Gifts of the Spirit the apostle Paul loves talking about.

That same Paul says we're baptized into Jesus' death and resurrection, marked with the sign of the cross and the sign of the empty tomb. But living in Christ means we constantly live with paradox, and paradoxically, the Christ Event is both finished and not yet completely fulfilled. I've written about the Eucharist as commemoration, realization and anticipation, and baptism can be described in the same way. In baptism, God names us anew; we share our new name in common with our sisters and brothers. Now we claim all the separations, distinctions and distractions that once were barriers as the boundary and border of our new life together, as baptism's waters carry us home, to a place, an attitude and a condition of safety and embrace, where "I" and "me" become we and us. Because we baptize within the context of the assembly, representing the whole People of God, theoretically we can find a home anywhere we find God's people, but that theory often doesn't play out in reality.
See, the dark night has come down on us,
The world is living in its dream,
But now we know that we can wake up from this sleep,
And set out on the journey...
We'll take the road that leads down to the waterside...
We'll meet out on the water,
Where all strangers are known...

"The Ark," from Gerry Rafferty's City to City, (1978)
Of late I've been thinking so much about the fire of the Presence of God we find throughout scripture, and in our lives today. Pentecostal fire? On Advent 3 I challenged, "Today I'm asking you if the waters of baptism quench the Holy Spirit's Pentecostal fires? Think about it!" Tomorrow the choir (I get to accompany again) will sing, "You have put on Christ; in Christ you have been baptized! Alleluia, alleluia!" a festive round that's often and best sung with handbell accompaniment.

You have been baptized!

Feel that River on Fire!


That's the end of this blog for now! This is abrupt, but I'm behind in a ton of necessary stuff (though of course I make the excuse blogging prepares me for doing theology in non-blog contexts). Back to work...