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Showing posts from September, 2013

Weekly Gospel Reflection -- 29 September 2013

Luke 16:19-31 (CEB): “There was a certain rich man who clothed himself in purple and fine linen, and who feasted luxuriously every day. At his gate lay a certain poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. Lazarus longed to eat the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table. Instead, dogs would come and lick his sores.

“The poor man died and was carried by angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. While being tormented in the place of the dead, he looked up and saw Abraham at a distance with Lazarus at his side. He shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I’m suffering in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received good things, whereas Lazarus received terrible things. Now Lazarus is being comforted and you are in great pain. Moreover, a great crevasse has been fixed between us and you. Those who wish to cross over from here to you ca…

The Goodness of Humanity—Part 1

A friend of mine recently posed a question, “Could someone send me a small list of all the Scriptures extoling (sic) the good virtues and attributes that exist within human nature? Thanks.”
The underlying thought, here, is that there isn’t a very long list. In fact, it’s supposed that there’s an overwhelmingly long “list of all the Scriptures” emphasising the opposite. Now, granted, my friend is Reformed and the “total depravity” of humanity is part of their foundation (like a lot of Western Christianity; see Romans 5.12). So, the view that humanity is blind, broken, dead, sinful, wicked, etc., is pretty much where Western Christianity lives. And, certainly, that’s part of the picture the Bible paints. The question we need to ask is, “Why?” Not why is humanity (and all creation) in the Bible in such a mess (though the Bible does address that question), but why does the Bible paint the picture in that way?
I think a lot of the reason, perhaps even the biggest reason, is because other peo…

Weekly Gospel Reflection -- 22 September 2013

Luke 16:1-13 (CEB): Jesus also said to the disciples, “A certain rich man heard that his household manager was wasting his estate. He called the manager in and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give me a report of your administration because you can no longer serve as my manager.’
“The household manager said to himself, What will I do now that my master is firing me as his manager? I’m not strong enough to dig and too proud to beg. I know what I’ll do so that, when I am removed from my management position, people will welcome me into their houses.
“One by one, the manager sent for each person who owed his master money. He said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He said, ‘Nine hundred gallons of olive oil.’ The manager said to him, ‘Take your contract, sit down quickly, and write four hundred fifty gallons.’ Then the manager said to another, ‘How much do you owe?’ He said, ‘One thousand bushels of wheat.’ He said, ‘Take your contract and write eight hundred.’
“The ma…

Weekly Gospel Reflection -- 15 September 2013

Luke 15:1-10 (CEB): All the tax collectors and sinners were gathering around Jesus to listen to him. The Pharisees and legal experts were grumbling, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose someone among you had one hundred sheep and lost one of them. Wouldn’t he leave the other ninety-nine in the pasture and search for the lost one until he finds it? And when he finds it, he is thrilled and places it on his shoulders. When he arrives home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Celebrate with me because I’ve found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who changes both heart and life than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to change their hearts and lives.

“Or what woman, if she owns ten silver coins and loses one of them, won’t light a lamp and sweep the house, searching her home carefully until she finds it? When she finds it, she calls to…

A Misunderstanding of Election

I have a confession to make…
I used to be a Calvinist.
For a number of years the Doctrine of Election, the teaching that God chooses whom God would love and save, was the comfort of my soul. But…
I was comforted by a false idol.
Furthermore, while the Bible does teach election—the selection of Israel over every other nation, the choosing of Jacob over Esau, people predestined before the foundation of the world to be adopted children of God—I believe this has been misread. From the beginning, that is, from the choosing of Abraham and Sarah, the selection was never an end of itself. It was a means. In Genesis 12, when God chose Abraham and Sarah, God said, “All the families on earth will be blessed through you” (verse 3; NLT). The Divine purpose of choosing Abraham and Sarah was that “all the families on earth”—not just the Jews, nor the Christians, nor the Muslims, but all—would be “blessed through [Abraham].”
The word translated “blessed” is “barak” and it means “to kneel” as in homage or …