Coming Soon: Patristics Carnival XXXVVI – All Saints’ Day Edition!

November 1 will bring the next Patristics Carnival in celebration of All Saints’ Day.

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If you have written or read any great posts on the church fathers in the past couple of months please let me know so I can include them!

You can comment on this post, email me at mike@fc3.org, or tweet me at @mike_skinner.

Thanks!

Scot McKnight on the Politics of Jesus

“Roman politics is about power and domination and might and force and coercion and the sword. The politics of Jesus is about sacrificial love for the other even if that means death from the sword. Lording it over others is the way of Rome; serving others is the way of Jesus. The lords of the empire are for Jesus lordless lords. Those are two stories at work in two politics, and the politics of Jesus counters the politics of Rome.”

- Scot McKnight, Kingdom Conspiracy, 61. (review coming soon!)

Karl Barth on the Cruciform God

“In being neighbor to man . . . He does not need to fear for His Godhead. On the contrary . . . God shows himself to be the great and true God in the fact that He can and will let His grace bear this cost, that He is capable and willing and ready for this condescension, this act of extravagance, this far journey. What marks God above all false gods is that they are not capable and ready for this. In their otherworldliness and supernaturalness and otherness, etc., the gods are a reflection of the human pride which will not unbend. . . . God is not proud. In His high majesty He is humble.”

- Karl Barth, CD IV/1:159

PonderForth: Halloween and Soteriology

Go ahead an bookmark the new blog PonderForth.
You can thank me later.

Michael Forth, the author, is a good friend of mine and a bright doctoral student at Aberdeen University. This week he posted two blogs worth reading:

A Word About Halloween:
“The bottom line is that we are witnesses to Christ and His Kingdom.  All symbols that do not point to Jesus are not wrong; they have been twisted from their proper purpose of revealing Him to His world.  We are to untwist them; we are to bend them back into shape so they can reveal Christ and His Kingdom.  In the case of Halloween, is there anyone better to explain the true meaning of death and how it has been overcome?  How can we not embrace this opportunity to reclaim a symbol that has been illegitimately appropriated by an unbelieving culture, especially when it was done by means of such a silly subculture as the neopagans.

It would be improper, however, to use this line of thinking as an opportunity to browbeat our neighbors in the name of Jesus.  We are witnesses and ambassadors, not Gospel thugs.  When we use Halloween as an excuse for aggressive evangelism, we show that evangelism per se mean more to us than our neighbor.  Our neighbors feel as though we are using a children’s holiday to sell them a spiritual pyramid scheme.  Opportunistic evangelism never works.”

The Price We Pay for Soteriology:
“The more and more that I experience of the Evangelical world, both in the U.S. and in our new circumstances in Scotland, the more I am convinced of the dangers of soteriolatry (soteriology + idolatry).  Soteriolatry is a name that I have given to the Evangelical tendency to prize soteriology (the doctrine of salvation) above all else, functionally turning it into an idol with disastrous effects.  While I may have coined the neologism “soteriolatry” in a moment of self-congratulatory pseudo-insight several years ago, others with similar concerns may have coined the same term or something similar….

This overemphasis on soteriology in the Evangelical tradition may well be labeled as Neo-Lutheran, since it stems largely from one of the primary motivations of Luther (though without his nuance and balance).  Some may disagree with this label, but I will use ‘NL’ as shorthand for this perspective in what follows.  What am I offering in contrast to the focus?  What can I say?  I’m a kingdom guy.  I believe that when the New Testament refers to the gospel it is referring to the good news of the arrival of the Kingdom of God.  It is only within such a context that our salvation in Jesus Christ has its proper place.  Without such a context, it too often seems as though we are saved for the sake of being saved.”

What It Means To Be “Fishers of Men” (Mark 1:17)

In Mark 1:17 Jesus tells Simon & Andrew: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” But what exactly does this title, “fishers of men,” mean?

The “common-sense” reading of the text suggests that it simply implies that Jesus’ followers will come to have same mission that Jesus has (calling people to follow him). Indeed, this is how the text is normally read and preached. As those who follow Christ, we are called to be “fishers of men” and continue to extend the invitation of following Christ to those around us. However, at least two alternate or supplemental readings are possible:

1) The “Martyr” Reading

If you take the metaphor of fishing seriously, perhaps there is a note of implied suffering involved in the call to be “fishers of men.” Fishing is a somewhat violent activity which involves the hooking of an animal and, usually, it’s eventual death. Already in the first chapter of Mark’s Gospel, John has been arrested by the authorities, Jesus has been tempted in the desert by Satan, and Simon/Andrew/James/John have abandoned their financial and social security in order to follow Jesus. It won’t be long until Jesus reveals that the call to follow him is ultimately a call to martyrdom – a call to pick up one’s cross and die. Is Jesus playing on the metaphor of fishing and suggesting that the mission the disciples are called to join is one of bidding people to a life of temptation, suffering, and death? William Placher concludes: “Is such a connotation (of suffering) intentional? It is hard to tell. Those who are ‘caught’ in discipleship of Jesus will come to great joy, but only, we will learn, on the other side of suffering.” (Placher, Mark, 37).

2) The “Judgement” Reading

It’s possible, if not likely, that Jesus is drawing this title from Old Testament prophetic images of God “fishing” his people. Perhaps Jesus draws this title from Jeremiah 16:16, Amos 4:2, or Ezekiel 29:4. In these texts, “fishing men” is seen as a euphemism for God’s judgement on his people – the rich and powerful who have abandoned his call to obedience. If Jesus is intentionally drawing on these prophetic traditions, then perhaps he is inviting Simon/Andrew/James/John to “join him in his struggle to overturn the existing order of power and privilege.” (Myers, Binding the Strong Man, 132). To follow Jesus, in this reading, is thus to become part of a people who by their very existence cast judgement on those living in disobedience to God’s true desires. It is to live a life of radical generosity and enemy-love which necessarily clashes with the world and its rulers.

What do you think?
How do you read the call to be “fishers of men”?
What do you think about these alternative/supplemental readings?

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