26 February 2014

NT Eschatology—Letters 02

Last time, we started looking at the eschatology of the New Testament letters. We continue our look at 1 Thessalonians.

Brothers and sisters, we want you to know about people who have died so that you won’t mourn like others who don’t have any hope. Since we believe that Jesus died and rose, so we also believe that God will bring with him those who have died in Jesus. What we are saying is a message from the Lord: we who are alive and still around at the Lord’s coming definitely won’t go ahead of those who have died. This is because the Lord himself will come down from heaven with the signal of a shout by the head angel and a blast on God’s trumpet. First, those who are dead in Christ will rise. Then, we who are living and still around will be taken up together with them in the clouds to meet with the Lord in the air. That way we will always be with the Lord. So encourage each other with these words.

Some people see in these verses the “rapture.” But that’s not what Paul refers to here.

This isn’t a general address for all followers of Jesus throughout the ages, either. No. Paul is specifically responding to the Thessalonians (he uses the personal pronoun “you” twice) about a genuine concern of theirs. Apparently, they were upset that their brothers and sisters who had already died wouldn’t witness the coming of Christ. He assures them that they will.

But also notice that, even if Paul was referring to the supposed “rapture,” he clearly believes this is something he and the Thessalonians (at least) and, perhaps, all of the living followers of Jesus at that time would experience. He wrote, “We who are alive and still around…” This is something that was expected to happen then — not thousands of years in the future.

And why would Paul expect this? Where did he get his belief that his generation wouldn’t die out before Christ returned? As we saw from our look at the Gospels, that belief and teaching came from Christ himself. Even here, he states that this message was “from the Lord,” i.e., Jesus. This coming of Jesus, like we mentioned previously, is tied directly to the judgment of G_d upon the Jews of the first century. Again, this isn’t a separate event, even though some believe it to be the “rapture.” And to that, we now turn.

People understand Paul’s “taken up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” as describing this “rapture.” But this is a novelty (as church doctrine goes). The notion of a “rapture” was unheard of until the mid to late nineteenth century. Now, that should give us pause. To think that something so vital as this would be unknown for over 1800 years is astounding. Up until then, these verses were viewed as describing the resurrection.

But there’s something that needs to be cleared up. What Paul describes wasn’t unknown in his day. What he’s talking about is a royal visitation. When there was a new king, emissaries (ambassadors) would be sent out to proclaim the “good news” to all the territories. These emissaries would let people know that their king would be making his rounds and visiting all of the realm. When the king arrived, the trumpet would sound, the heralds would proclaim his approach, and the people would rush out to greet him. We see just this scene played out in the Gospels when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the colt (see Matthew 21.1-11 and parallels).

That story points to the important point I’m wanting to make here. In the story of Jesus, he starts out on the road. The people rush out to meet him, spreading palm branches and their own clothes to spread upon the road.

But they don’t stay out on the road.

Along with Jesus, all of them went into the city.

That’s the picture Paul’s painting here. The king will return. The herald will proclaim the approach. All the people with rush to meet him. And then they will return to the earth.

The message of the Realm of G_d is not that G_d has forsaken the earth. No. Jesus taught people to pray that G_d’s will and Realm would be “on earth as in heaven.” The destruction of the Temple signified the full establishment of G_d’s Realm here. Now. Click here for the next post in this series.

In the Love of the Three in One,

Br. Jack+, LC

23 February 2014

Weekly Gospel Reflection—23 February 2014

“You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you that you must not oppose those who want to hurt you. If people slap you on your right cheek, you must turn the left cheek to them as well. When they wish to haul you to court and take your shirt, let them have your coat too. When they force you to go one mile, go with them two. Give to those who ask, and don’t refuse those who wish to borrow from you.

“You have heard that it was said, You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who harass you so that you will be acting as children of your Father who is in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both the evil and the good and sends rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love only those who love you, what reward do you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore, just as your heavenly Father is complete in showing love to everyone, so also you must be complete.

For a lot of us, the above passage is the crux of following Jesus. It’s the practical (some would say impractical) way of living out the Greatest Commandments of loving G‑d with our whole being and loving our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22.36-40).

While some people don’t have a problem with the above passage in their individual, personal life, they can’t see it used in national life. Here in the West, we’re big into departmentalism — i.e., the separation of church and state, spiritual and natural, work and home life, etc. We think that all of those things are separate realms and are governed by separate rules; but that’s not reality. Reality overlaps and interlocks. If anyone doubts this, just look at how one’s political views affect one’s choices regarding the environment or health care or the poor. And one’s political views will often times coincide with one’s religious views. It’s a very rare thing to find someone who’s very conservative in their political views but are very liberal in their religious beliefs (and visa versa).

But, again, the reality of life is one of interconnectedness. That is, all things are connected. When Jesus said one shouldn’t oppose those who want to hurt you, he wasn’t just talking about personal injury. He wasn’t speaking in a vacuum. He’s speaking to a people occupied and oppressed by the Romans! His fellow Jews were on the brink of violent revolt! He and his listeners see the Roman soldiers standing close by. They see the glint of sunlight on the Roman shield. The see the blood stained sword. They all know too well how the Roman’s kept peace — by killing any who oppose them.

And yet…

Jesus isn’t just giving personal recommendations for the religious life. He’s speaking to people oppressed and under the watchful eye of a tyrant. To assume that not “turning the other cheek” would not have national  ramifications is to not understand the situation fully. During the later parts of Jesus’ ministry, the air was electric with revolt. There were dozens of people crucified on either side of Jesus’ death, and all for the same reason — insurrection; would-be kings trying to overthrow Rome. Jesus’ warning has definite political consequences here.

In other words, as I stated above, our actions are tied to other people and other situations. They aren’t isolated incidents that have no repercussions for others around us. Life is much more organic than that.

And while Jesus’ words do impact politics, they’re also more subversive than that. They’re really about changing the hearts of people. Not in a smug piety but in a humbleness rarely seen. When you turn your cheek, you’re in control, not the person slapping you. When you go the extra mile, you’re in control, not the person forcing you to carry the load. When you give the shirt off your back, you’re in control, not the person demanding your coat.

And the only way we can act that way is by following the Way of Jesus in the second paragraph. When we “love [our] enemies” and pray for them, we begin to see the Other as a person — as a fellow image bearer of G‑d. Only when we see the Other as G‑d sees them, we will be acting like G‑d.

That’s a hard one.

Notice that only when we treat our enemies as our loved ones — spouses and children — will we be acting like G‑d. All of this talking and preaching and pointing fingers about the sins of others is not acting like G‑d. It’s not acting in love. To truly love we must love our enemies. And when we do that, we act like G‑d. And when we can do that, we can be “complete,” or “perfect,” as some translations have it.

I like the word “complete” over “perfect.” The Greek word there is τέλειος (teleios) and it means “completion, matured, to have gone through the appropriate stages to reach the intended goal.” Just as Jesus is the “end” or “goal” of the Law (Romans 10.4), we’re “complete” when we have the ability to “love everyone” (Matthew 5.48).

And this love of everyone is connected to the previous statements. To love someone is to not retaliate when we’ve been wronged; to go the extra mile for anyone; to give to whomever asks; to pray for everyone, even pray those who may have wronged us. In other words, loving someone is expressed through our actions — through what we do or don’t do to Others. When we get to the point where we treat all people as G-d would treat them, then we have reached the intended goal of being like Christ. In Buddhism, this is known as nirvana. In Christian Orthodoxy, this is known as theosis. It’s the idea of moving through the disciplines to become “enlightened” or “like Christ.” And in this passage, Jesus tells us how to get there — loving everyone.

In the Love of the Three in One,

Br. Jack+, LC

19 February 2014

NT Eschatology—Letters 01

This series, which started here, has sought to provide a different view to some of the opinions some people raise regarding the Apostolic belief and teaching about the return of Jesus. Some hold that the Apostles believed and taught the early followers of Jesus to expect the “end of the world” within their lifetime. “And they were obviously wrong,” is the common remark. But, I don’t think that those people who hold to this view follow it all the way through. If the New Testament writers were “obviously mistaken” in their belief and teaching, then that would mean the whole Christian church, since its very beginning was mistaken. I find this position lamentable. Sure, I get it. The writers of the Bible were human beings and prone to error. But what if we are the ones who are wrong? I never hear that as a possibility. Therefore, what we have set out to do is to see if the Apostles got it wrong or perhaps we have misunderstood them.

Our journey in this series has taken us through some Old Testament passages that used poetic language that uses “the coming of Yahweh” and the destruction of creation to refer to the overthrow of a nation.  We saw that even though poetic imagery was used, sometimes a “human timetable” was used to predict when the event(s) would take place. However, we also observed that, at times, a cryptic phrase was used (“the Day of Yahweh”) to keep people watching and waiting.

Next we looked at a passage that bridged the Old Testament promises with the New Testament story. In that passage, Yahweh promised to send Elijah to prepare the people for the coming Messiah before the “great and dreadful day of the Lord.” We saw that this Old Testament passage was pointing to John the Baptist (Elijah) and Jesus of Nazareth (Messiah).

Then, we looked at the conversation that Jesus had with the disciples regarding the fall of Jerusalem (Matthew 24-25). We observed that, while some people see the “end of the world” in that conversation, Jesus was actually telling those first disciples about the destruction Jerusalem and the Temple. He told them that this would be something they and their contemporaries, their “generation,” would experience.

With this as our foundation, we now turn to some of the letters in the New Testament and see if the Apostles continued with this idea of the coming judgment on Jerusalem or did they start looking for the “end of the world.” Our first stop will be the first letter to the Thessalonians.

1 Thessalonians was (probably) written in the early 50’s by St. Paul and is one of the uncontested letters. Our first passage is found in the first chapter.

1 Thessalonians 1.8-10 (NLT): And now the word of the Lord is ringing out from you to people everywhere, even beyond Macedonia and Achaia, for wherever we go we find people telling us about your faith in God. We don’t need to tell them about it, for they keep talking about the wonderful welcome you gave us and how you turned away from idols to serve the living and true God. And they speak of how you are looking forward to the coming of God’s Son from heaven
— Jesus, whom God raised from the dead. He is the one who has rescued us from the terrors of the coming judgment.

The idea here is not one of “perpetual anticipation,” as some maintain. Paul’s referring to the hope that the Thessalonians would witness the coming of Jesus. But this “coming of G_d’s Son from heaven” would also bring “judgment.” This judgment is something that (at least) Paul thought he would experience as well for he wrote that G_d would “rescue us”—meaning, at the very least, him and the Thessalonians.

This “coming judgment” should remind us of things we read earlier. John the Baptist used this phrase when talking with the religious leaders of his day. We would go too far to suppose that Paul meant a completely different judgment when the one John predicted hadn’t come to pass yet. Since Paul doesn’t give us any ideas of a different judgment, the safest view is that he was referring to the same one as John the Baptist.

The judgment (or justice) of G_d is the point of our next passage.

1 Thessalonians 2.14-17 (NLT): And then, dear brothers and sisters, you suffered persecution from your own countrymen. In this way, you imitated the believers in God’s churches in Judea who, because of their belief in Christ Jesus, suffered from their own people, the Jews. For some of the Jews killed the prophets, and some even killed the Lord Jesus. Now they have persecuted us, too. They fail to please God and work against all humanity as they try to keep us from preaching the Good News of salvation to the Gentiles. By doing this, they continue to pile up their sins. But the anger of God has caught up with them at last.

Some people suppose that Paul here (as elsewhere) refers to all Jews for all ages. That’s not the case. He had a specific group in mind, the Jews of the first century who didn’t trust in Jesus the Messiah. It was upon those people that G_d’s anger had “caught up with them at last.” Again, the idea here is the coming judgment of Israel at the hands of the Romans in less that 20 years. That judgment had yet to take place when Paul wrote this letter and it would be overstepping our place to suppose that Paul meant a different judgment.  A judgment that some people would say “failed to come.” The only failure that I see is not recognizing the judgment that did take place within that generation — the fall of Jerusalem. That was the judgment that John the Baptist talked about. That was the judgment that Jesus talked about. Paul, our earliest Christian witness, was referring to the same event. If we keep that judgment in mind then Paul wasn’t “obviously mistaken” but completely accurate.  If we can keep that judgment in mind, then there’s a continuity with the teachings of Jesus.  It’s what we would expect to find.  Only when we leave 70 CE off the table as a possible interpretation do we come up with the “they were mistaken” position.  If we leave it as a possibility, everything seems to fall into place.

I think we’ll stop here before we continue on with some of the most troublesome passages in 1 Thessalonians. Click here for the next post in this series.

In the Love of the Three in One,

Br. Jack+, LC

16 February 2014

Weekly Gospel Reflection—16 February 2014

“You have heard that it was said to those who lived long ago, Don’t commit murder, and all who commit murder will be in danger of judgment. But I say to you that everyone who is angry with their brother or sister will be in danger of judgment. If they say to their brother or sister, ‘You idiot,’ they will be in danger of being condemned by the governing council. And if they say, ‘You fool,’ they will be in danger of fiery hell. Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift at the altar and go. First make things right with your brother or sister and then come back and offer your gift. Be sure to make friends quickly with your opponents while you are with them on the way to court. Otherwise, they will haul you before the judge, the judge will turn you over to the officer of the court, and you will be thrown into prison. I say to you in all seriousness that you won’t get out of there until you’ve paid the very last penny.

“You have heard that it was said, Don’t commit adultery. But I say to you that every man who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery in his heart. And if your right eye causes you to fall into sin, tear it out and throw it away. It’s better that you lose a part of your body than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to fall into sin, chop it off and throw it away. It’s better that you lose a part of your body than that your whole body go into hell.

“It was said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife must give her a divorce certificate.’ But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife except for sexual unfaithfulness forces her to commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

“Again you have heard that it was said to those who lived long ago: Don’t make a false solemn pledge, but you should follow through on what you have pledged to the Lord. But I say to you that you must not pledge at all. You must not pledge by heaven, because it’s God’s throne. You must not pledge by the earth, because it’s God’s footstool. You must not pledge by Jerusalem, because it’s the city of the great king. And you must not pledge by your head, because you can’t turn one hair white or black. Let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no. Anything more than this comes from the evil one.

Last week we noted that Jesus’ statements have a historical context. They aren’t, as some would have us believe, just universal wisdom sayings. No. They’re grounded in the very real world of first-century Israel — a place occupied by Rome. To sharpen that point, before us is Jesus’ own commentary on some of the laws contained in the Mosaic Law.

He starts out with a command about violence, “Don’t commit murder” (the sixth commandment; Exodus 20). Jesus tells his contemporaries that the root of the sixth commandment is not about physical violence. It’s about the hidden realm deep within people — the emotions that people just bury instead of dealing with them in a healthy, life-affirming way. When they continue to get buried deeper and deeper and deeper, one day, they will erupt into a violent reaction.

Imagine this from their standpoint. They are “G_d’s chosen people.” Living in the land that Yahweh gave them. But they’re occupied by pagans. Everywhere they looked, Romans were desecrating their sacred places (the city itself was considered sacred; see Nehemiah 11.1; Isaiah 48.2; cf. Matthew 4.5). It seemed that there was always some new tax for Caesar, collected by their own people no less. They saw how those who sided with Rome were some of the wealthiest people in the city — eating some of the best foods and wearing some of the best fabrics and living in some of the best houses money and power could buy. And all the while, they and their families and friends were looked down upon as being less than...human.

The feelings at first would be small, seemingly insignificant...




Those feelings continue to get buried deep within until they start become something more…




And that’s Jesus point. The people who were to be the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” (see last week’s reflection) were becoming just like everyone else.

Those of his day looked at the letter of the Law — how it was to be understood and followed in a literal way. That’s why there were so many clarifications of the Law — so much more was added to it to try and explain what the Law really meant.

But that was only one part of the Law. The Law was also to make people look deeper than the surface. To see what’s really going on in the human heart. It was there, in those depths, that the true work needed to be done. Jesus is pointing that out in these verses. It’s the heart — the attitudes and intentions and character of a person — that needs to be dealt with.

Like so many of us today, the people of Jesus’ day got so caught up on the letter of the Law that they failed to see that it’s really only a sign pointing to deeper issues. Jesus cut through all of that and points out that the Law’s true purpose was missed entirely.

And to sharpen his point, Jesus uses hyperbole. “It would be better,” he teased, “if you cut of your hand or poked out your eye than to fall into sin.” He’s not really talking about people dismembering themselves. Nor is he talking about a “literal” place called “hell.”

But like the people of his day, we miss the point and start looking at the “letter of the law.” “Jesus said people would be cast into ‘hell’,” we exclaim, “so there’s got to be a literally place called hell.” It’s funny how we pick and choose where things are to be understood literally, especially when the genre itself dictates otherwise. Jesus compared G_d to a woman who lost a coin (Luke 15.8-10), but most people don’t teach that G_d’s a woman. Jesus also claimed to be a door or gate (John 10.9), but we don’t teach that he has a latch and hinges. So it’s astounding to me that, in a place where Jesus is telling people to look deeper than the words on the page, a lot of us only look at the words on the page!

Jesus was making a point — not building a theological case for the supposed reality of “hell.” Again, his point was to show that there’s something deeper that the Law was pointing to. The actions of people reveal a deeper character. Sure, people should be held accountable for their actions, but their actions should also tell us that something else is going on. Something deeper needs to be addressed, as is seen in his last statements. If something more than a simple “Yes” or “No” is needed before people believe us, if we don’t act out like we would prefer because of the consequences outlined in the law, then we need to take a long, hard look at ourselves.

In the Love of the Three in One,

Br. Jack+, LC

12 February 2014

NT Eschatology—Questions 2

I have received some comments and emails regarding my understanding of the “coming” of Jesus in Matthew 24. Since this, to me, is foundational to the rest of this series, I thought I would address it now before we move on.

Basically, the question is, “I have always been taught (or believed) that the ‘coming’ Jesus talked about in Matthew 24 was his ‘Second Coming’ at the end of time. So, I’m not so sure if I agree with you. Can you give me some passages to help support your view?”

It’s a fair question. I’ve not always held this view and, like so many others, saw the “coming” of Jesus as the “Second Coming” at the end of history. But, once I started looking into eschatology, I realized that there were other views out there and some were better at addressing some of my concerns. To sharpen the point, I saw other “comings” in the Bible. Please, consider the following.

Genesis 18.13-14: [Yahweh] said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Me give birth? At my age?’ Is anything too difficult for [Yahweh]? When I return to you about this time next year, Sarah will have a son.”

Did you notice that? Yahweh promised Abraham and Sarah that Yahweh would “return” to them the following year. But, when we read the passage, Yahweh is nowhere to be “seen.”

Genesis 21.1-3: [Yahweh] was attentive to Sarah just as he had said, and [Yahweh] carried out just what he had promised her. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son for Abraham when he was old, at the very time God had told him. Abraham named his son—the one Sarah bore him—Isaac.

What’s fascinating about this passage is manifold. First, in Genesis 18, Yahweh appeared as a human being (verses 1-2). Then Abraham was told that Yahweh would return to them (verses 10-14). Now, we would expect this to be a “physical” return, wouldn’t we? I mean, that’s how Yahweh appeared to them the first time. And that’s what we think of in the New Testament. But that is not what the passage is telling us. Yahweh’s “return” was the birth of Isaac. Yahweh fulfilled the promise. So, the fulfilling of a promise can be seen as a “coming” of Yahweh.

Another passage that we don’t often think of when we think of the “coming” of Yahweh is 1 Samuel 24. I’m sure we remember the story. King Saul has heard that David and his men are hiding in the wilderness near Engedi. So he gathers 3,000 of his best warriors and goes after David. At some point, Saul goes into a cave at Wild Goat Rock to relieve himself and David and his men are further back in that very cave! “Now’s your chance,” they tell David. “Yahweh has delivered your enemy right into your hand.” David sneaks up on Saul. However, instead of killing him, David just cuts off part of Saul’s robe and creeps away. Once Saul left the cave and ventured a little ways away, David comes out and tells him what happened. Now, what’s interesting about all of this is the song David wrote about this scene. He wrote:

Psalm 18.6-11: In my distress I cried out to [Yahweh]; I called to my God for help. God heard my voice from his temple; I called to him for help, and my call reached his ears.

The earth rocked and shook; the bases of the mountains trembled and reeled because of God’s anger. Smoke went up from God’s nostrils; out of his mouth came a devouring fire; flaming coals blazed out in front of him! God parted the skies and came down; thick darkness was beneath his feet. God mounted the heavenly creatures and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind. God made darkness cloak him; his covering was dark water and dense cloud.

Now, did any of that take place in 1 Samuel 24? Nope. But that doesn’t mean it’s not real. David saw his rescue from Saul as Yahweh “coming” to his aid and used poetic language to describe it. So, deliverance from an enemy can be seen as a “coming” of Yahweh.

There are a lot of other passage that contain similar poetic language but we will only give a couple of examples. In Isaiah 13 we read:

Isaiah 13.6-13: Wail, for the day of [Yahweh] is near. Like destruction from the Almighty it will come. Then all hands will fall limp; every human heart will melt, and they will be terrified. Like a woman writhing in labor, they will be seized by spasms and agony. They will look at each other aghast, their faces blazing.

Look, the day of [Yahweh] is coming with cruel rage and burning anger, making the earth a ruin, and wiping out its sinners. Heaven’s stars and constellations won’t show their light. The sun will be dark when it rises; the moon will no longer shine. I will bring disaster upon the world for its evil, and bring their own sin upon the wicked. I will end the pride of the insolent, and the conceit of tyrants I will lay low. I will make humans scarcer than fine gold; people rarer than the gold of Ophir. I will rattle the heavens; the earth will shake loose from its place—because of the rage of [Yahweh] of heavenly forces on the day his anger burns.

In this passage we have several things: the day of Yahweh, desolate land, destruction of sinners, the heavens turned black, extinguished stars, darkened sun and moon. On this day Yahweh will “bring disaster upon the world for its evil” and “rattle the heavens” and move the earth from its place. This was a message Isaiah received concerning the destruction of Babylon and it was fulfilled in roughly 539 BCE. One of the questions that comes in here is, if this type of thing literally took place, then where is the passage that talks about Yahweh creating a new heavens and new earth? A literal reading of this passage would lead one to believe that the entire planet was destroyed. “The earth will shake loose from its place” would completely destroy all life here and perhaps even the planet itself. This is poetic language used to describe the judgment of Yahweh on Babylon.

Another example is found in Micah 1. There we read:

Micah 1.1-5: [Yahweh’s] word that came to Micah of Moresheth in the days of Judah’s Kings Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem:

Listen, all you peoples! Pay attention, earth, and all that fills it! May [Yahweh] God be a witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple. Look! [Yahweh] is coming out from his place; he will go down and tread on the shrines of the earth. Then the mountains will melt under him; the valleys will split apart, like wax yielding to the fire, like waters poured down a slope. All this is for the crime of Jacob and the sins of the house of Israel. Who is responsible for the crime of Jacob? Isn’t it Samaria? Who is responsible for the shrines of Judah? Isn’t it Jerusalem?

There are a couple of things here. There’s the “coming” of Yahweh resulting in the trampling the “shrines of earth” and melting of the mountains. This passage was fulfilled in roughly 722 BCE by the Assyrians. Again, none of this actually or literally happened. The poetic language is used to show that the fall of a nation is the work of Yahweh. So, the destruction of a nation is seen as a “coming” of Yahweh.

In this post we have looked at different “comings” of Yahweh. Yahweh “came” at the fulfillment of a promise, the deliverance from an enemy, and the destruction of a nation. It’s with the last one that the New Testament is most concerned. It’s used throughout the entire New Testament. I believe it’s the basis for Jesus’ conversation with the disciples in Matthew 24 (parallel passages are Mark 13 and Luke 21) and their use of the “coming of the Lord” throughout the rest of the New Testament. Next time we will start looking at some of the New Testament passages. Click here for the next post in this series.

In the Love of the Three in One,

Br. Jack+, LC