Thursday, May 04, 2006

Christianity Rediscovered Chapter 5

and now chapter 5.

Donovan really kicks it into gear for this one.

What are your thoughts on this chapter?

Thanks for all your thoughts.


renee said...

In an attempt to catch up, I will go first on chapter 5. I've enjoyed reading your comments and your hearts thus far, by the way.
My very favorite part of this chapter is when he talks about Jesus showing us not only about God, but about man. I am struck everytime I read a gospel that Jesus is not the smiling image on the green plastic cup I had as a child. He is way complex and often difficult to understand even for this church-raised girl. I like that Donovan says that Jesus shows us, "Not only is God different than we thought. So is man." When I talk to my friends, when they watched Passion of the Christ, they are attracted by Jesus's revelations about us, that he washed his disciples' feet, that he died unjustly without complaint. I like that Donovan felt free to talk freely about Jesus teaching about man and not stressing that he is God. I want to think and talk more in this way.
A couple things that raised my eyebrows into a questioning, "huh?" were:
1) The one passage seems to say that God created the world to save it. Perhaps I am just dwelling too much on semantics, but this seems like funny logic. Why make it in the first place if you only want to save it? Perhaps I misunderstood what he was saying. Because I'm all for creation still happening and this being salvation.
2) "Man is God appearing in the universe" Perhaps this is left over from my early days when pantheism was to condemned and rooted out wherever it was found, but this raised a red flag. I guess I haven't really worked out what I think being made in the image of God means.
My stomach beckons me to lunch and has triumphed over my thinking, rational brain. I'm out,

Brian said...

I know I'm at risk of beating a drum too often and too loudly and so will possibly be yelled at and sent away to timeout... but nonetheless... the drumsticks please.

1) questions - it seems to me that his main question that he is grappling with in this account of his interaction is one of Jesus' best ones - "who do you say I am?" I'm beginning to think that this is where I need to spend more of my time, with Jesus' questions.

2) "I spoke before aobut the necessity of peelingaway from the gospel the accretions of the centuries, and of Western, white, European, American dulature , to get to the kernel of the gospel underneath." Let me weigh in fully here. I believe one of the primary jobs of missionaries (and I would consider us all missionaries in this culture at this time), is to constantly be asking the question, what is the gospel? This is very important because it forces us to evaluate and re-evaluate the things that we wrap up into the gospel message in our attempts to explain "good news" to those around us. Trying to explain God with fallen people using fallen words will always leave us short, talking with symbols that point to something that words cannot really capture. So it is very important work to constantly be acknowledging that and critiquing our own interpretations and accounts of the "good news". This "peeling away" as Donovan calls it is a very useful tool for us to use as we enter into cultures and to teach to people as their culture changes. The distinction I've been arguing for in these comments is that while we are peeling away culture and culturally bound comments, actions and re-actions, we must recognize that the gospel will always be in the midst of these things and not some nugget of uber-truth floating in space. The work of missionaries involves spotting the places where God is already at work (like Donovan listening to and claiming some of the Masai's stories) and pointing it out to those around us.

3) "This is what it means to create the world - to save it." What a great statement! I appreciate Renee's statement that this requires more thought and fleshing out. But the concept of salvation being about more than sin management is just wonderful!

Josh said...

I thought this chapter was beautiful. Renee, great to have you back!

Renee, your quote that stuck out to you sounds a lot like something G.K. Chesterton would say.

1. CREATED TO BE SAVED: I wonder if better words would be to say that God created the world to depend on him, to be intimately connected to him. In creating the world God set it up to work best when it's connected to him.

2. APOSTOLIC: this is cool..."unbroken chain of hands coming down from the apostles even unto our age."

3. STORY: I love his retelling of Jesus' life, based on their understanding of the world. He couldn't have told the story the way he did without listening to them and learning from them...

4. PARABLES: I wonder if it's our duty to find stories in our world to reveal God.

5. QUESTION: "What would you do if you had the task of presenting, just one time, to a people who never heard of it before, the message of Christianity, the story of Jesus? What would you pass on?"

daveapplegate said...

josh's last questions smack of an eminem rap from '8mile.' something about mom's spagetti. you know, this opportunity only comes once in a lifetime (BUH-buh-buh-BUH-buh-buh-buh-buh). my brain is obviously not functioning on the same level as you guys, so i'll keep it to one comment: 'the concept of salvation being about more than sin management is just wonderful!' yes! YES!!! please, somebody spread this to the masses! let's do it together. oh, and brian, i don't think i'll be able to live up to your standards of spam and twinkie eating. it's just wrong. 'it's wrong!' - cartman

Josh said...

Connecting thoughts from Leslie Newbigin in "The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society" to this...talks about how the missionary movement in the new testament is never something that is forced but "begins with a kind of explosion of joy."

he goes on to say, "it is a striking fact...that almost all the proclamations of the gospel which are described in Acts are in response to questions asked by those OUTSIDE the Church." (caps mine).

Kevin said...

Sorry I'm late. First off, welcome back Renee. I'm glad you're back. You focused on two of the things I was going to.

1. That God created the world to save it. Seems backwards. Josh, you pointed this out to. I fully believe that He created the world because He wanted to . . . for His pleasure . . . to experience beauty and fellowship. The saving part came about because we screwed it up. But I do like Brian's thoughts that we tired of salvation only dealing with more than sin management. We've got to get past that.

2. "Man is God appearing in the universe, appearing visibly in the midst of all he created." I think that we see a little bit of God in all of creation. And I think that man reflects only a part of God. So, it's not so much that I disagree as it is that I would never equate the two.

Brian, I like drums and I know time-out. You are no time-out material. (Sorry, I just had one of my Few Good Men flashbacks.) I "amen" all of your point number 2. It's a hard but exciting and critical question for us all to keep asking.

Josh, I absolutely LOVE your point number 1. I think you have become a poet in your spare time. And your point number 3 is one of the things I was moved by. Donovan is speaking after doing a lot of listening. And it's awesome that he connects with their history and understanding of life instead of expecting them to learn and buy into his.

And now for a few thoughts of my own.

1. I liked his realization, "Perhaps it was in this area of trying to impart to the Masai people what I kew of Jesus of Nazareth, more than in any other work I have ever done, that I felt most in contact with the church that had sent me, with the generations and generations of people who had gone before me." But I can't take it as far as when he said, "Being missionary, that is. That is the mark of the true church of Christ." There are many marks of being the true church of Christ. Being missionary is one of them. But I don't believe it is THE one, or the most important one.

2. I like his sentence, "The God that Jesus tells us of and shows us is so different from the God we had imagined with our own minds that it takes your breath away." But I'm not ready to say what he does: ". . . we would never have known about God without Jesus, that this knowledg of God was like a secret hidden from the beginning of the world until now." Yes, we have seen God because we have seen Jesus. Yes, we know more about God because we have seen Jesus. But people before still knew God. If the time had not come for God to send Jesus yet, we would still know about God.

3. I thought it was interesting when he said, "I think you could say that one of the purposes and goals of evangelizing the Masai is to put a future tense in their language." I'm not sure how I feel about this yet. But it's definitely worth thinking about.