Blood, guts… real life

Leviticus

 

 

Theology is a “Victorian” enterprise, neo-classically bright and neat and clean, nothing out of place.  Whereas the Bible talks about hair, blood, sweat, entrails, menstruation and genital emissions.

Peter J. Leithart, Against Christianity

Preparing to preach through the book of Leviticus, Leithart’s comments above ring true in high definition. It is, after all, in Leviticus that we find so much ink spent on issues of blood, food, menstruation, childbirth, semen, animal entrails, burning meat, and on and on. It is not for the squeamish.

Leithart is not insulting theology ( = our thoughts about God) per se.  He is a theologian himself. But beliefs about God detached from the dirt beneath our feet, the way we procreate, our physical selves is not what Biblical Christianity is about.

Think of ‘spirituality’. Does that conjure up otherworldly ideas – of mystical praying, detached contemplation, or heavenly intangibles?  ‘Spirituality’ as such is foreign to the Bible – and to Christian life. The God of the Old Testament, who is incarnated in Jesus, is concerned and involved with the physical grittiness of this world.

For me, I am thankful to be so reminded.  I don’t live in esoteric clouds but with my feet on the ground in this world of bowels and blood. And I’m happy to have God involved with us here.

Will everything broken be fixed?

We can observe that the world (and ourselves) is a broken, messed-up, rebellious, destructive, and self-destructive place.  It is also God’s good creation – beautiful and filled with glory.  Such is the state we live, the times between the Fall and the Resurrection.  That Resurrection – Kingdom Come, New Creation, New Heavens and New Earth, the New Jerusalem, City of God… insert abundant list of Biblical metaphors here – is the ultimate Christian hope.  How do we imagine it to be?

Do we imagine that it will be as though there never was a Fall?  Will it be Eden as it always should have been?  Will everything broken be fixed?  Of course that is true but in what way?  Will it be as though there never was anything wrong?  Or will anything of the fallenness be left when the world is made new?

Tower of Babel - Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1563

Tower of Babel – Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1563

Things will not be as they ‘always should have been’ but not exactly.  Some things will not be undone but redeemed and renewed.  The building of Babel’s Tower was a presumptuous act of fallen pride.  God’s response of “confusing the languages” and all the division and strife that comes from it is direct judgment on early sinful humanity.  Many tongues and the diversity of peoples are results of our broken world. It the world were not broken, it would be a much more homogenous place.

And yet, in the presence of King Jesus there is a mass of diversity!  A multitude of beyond numbering, from every nation (not nation-states but ethnic groups), every tribe and people and language are there praising Him.  Did you see that?  Every language!  A result of the Fall will be present before the Lord and is actually depicted as a glorious thing.

New Jerusalem - Sister Gerturde Morgan, 1972

New Jerusalem – Sister Gerturde Morgan, 1972

In the City of God, the New Jerusalem of the end resurrection where the world and all human society will be redeemed and remade, the nations will bring their diversity in.  Yet there will be nothing unclean about it.  It will no longer be the source of strife but a sign of glory. The world will not be as it was before everything went wrong.  A symptom of it’s “wrongness” be remain – fixed but not undone.  Something that was originally a result of fallen, broken, sinful rebelliousness will be remade and redeemed into something that is a Gospel bragging point.

This is important as we face our own broken lives, and results of our living in a sinful, fallen world.  In the perfection of all things, they won’t necessarily be taken away.  Renewed, remade, redeemed but not as though all sin’s effects had never happened. They can be transformed into evidence of God’s grace.

And even Jesus kept his scars.

The Ministry of the Word

"St Peter Preaching the Gospel in the Catacombs"  by Jan Styka, 1902

“St Peter Preaching the Gospel in the Catacombs” by Jan Styka, 1902

The ministry of the Word looks laughably weak in comparison to all the armies, nuclear weapons stockpiles, and financial markets of the world.  Yet their combined powers cannot change the human heart.  

Kevin Vanhoozer (KJV), Remythologizing Theology

A God Too Big to Hold

There’s a fallacy afoot that says ‘if I can’t understand it, than it can not be true’.  Many objections and much questioning of the Christian faith find their basis here.  Even those who are Christian sometimes make their own ability to grasp something the measure of it’s value or truthfulness.

How can God be both One and Three?

How can Jesus be both God and Man (not half and half)?

How can a good God allow, permit, ordain suffering and evil?

How can what Adam did way back when have consequences for human nature now?

These are all valid questions but the truth of the answers to them is not dependant on whether we can grasp the immensity.  (They’re also not dependant on whether we like the answers)  But we’re not called first to exhaustively understand but to believe and confess. The truth is that God is too big to hold.  We need lots of words and thought to try and understand but even in our best and most faithful efforts we must find Him as He is.  And the true God is too immense for our knowledge.  This should free us from the “if I can’t get it, it can’t be true” position.  Or using Cornelius Van Til’s analogy “if my net can’t catch it, it must not be fish.”  The truth is that some fish are far too big for our nets.  What we can know of God is immense and so we must be confident to speak of Him in clear ways.  But even then the nets are bursting. fish in net

Coming To The Table – what’s in a name?

EucharistIn front of us sits a Table and on it is bread and wine.  As we approach this central piece of Christian worship to eat and drink some questions may arise for us.  What does it mean?  Who can come?  How should we come?  What happens when we partake?

This act has different names.  And there is a lot contained in a name.  Each name can answer a different question about it.  Here are the names by which it is known and what they tell us:

The Eucharist.  This name may sound unusual or carry High-Churchy connotations.  But it is a perfectly appropriate name for what is on the Table.  The word means, quite simply, thanksgiving.  …   It answers for us the question:  How should we come?  We should come thankful because we’re about to receive a gift.  We should come remembering what Jesus did for us on the Cross – his body crucified, his blood shed.  And He did it for us.  Remembrance (and being thankful), that is what we’re commanded to do.  And so how we come is aware of what Jesus has done for us.  And we come thankful for the gift.

The Lord’s Supper.  This answers for us the question:  Who can come?  It tells us who can come to the Table because it tells us who it belongs to.  It is the Lord’s Supper and it is his Table.  We don’t fence it off.  We don’t determine who is worthy and who isn’t, who can approach and who can’t.  Everyone can come.  But even as everyone can come, all who do need to realize something.  It is the Lord’s Supper and they can’t bring anything to it.  The Gospel tells us we are saved not by anything we have done or can do.  We are saved by the work of Jesus alone.  Therefore we can’t bring anything to this Table, we can only receive and consume.  Anyone who comes needs to know that.

Communion.   This name answers probably the most interesting question of all:  What happens when we consume this bread and wine?  The easiest question to answer is what does the bread and wine represent.  Answer?  Jesus’ body and blood.  Nobody has ever disagreed on the fact that they symbolize that.  But you are encouraged to believe something more than that.  When you eat and drink in faith, God’s Holy Spirit communicates to you the grace and promises of the Gospel.  That is why it is called Communion – because something is communicated to us.  It is not by automatic magic or by the transformation of the bread and wine.  It is by the Spirit’s work through the elements as we eat in faith. If that is true, than this meal is indispensable to the Christian life because it is a means of grace.  That is, it is one of the appointed ways for God to give us what he promises in the Gospel.  And it is serious business.

 

 

Male & Female Complementarity – a vital issue and a superb video

Man.  Woman.  Maleness.  Femaleness.  Marriage.  Family.  Gender.  Difference.

Anyone with ears open knows that these are important issues in today’s world.  And also that our culture is attempting to radically alter the fabric of these things.

Presently, there is an international colloquium taking place at the Vatican – Humanum.  It is concerning issues of gender, marriage, sexuality, and family.  It is a collaboration between Catholics, Evangelicals, and others to recommit to the basic foundation of our common humanity.

This is the first of a series of videos produced to help articulate the philosophical and theological basis for male/female complementarity.  This first one is superb.  And a Must-Watch.

May this project be blessed and glorify the One who created by dividing (Genesis 1)

 

re:  On Marriage and Temple Desecration, C C Pecknold, First Things