A provocative quote from Douglas Harink for Canada Day from his insightful discussion of Romans 13 in his recent book Resurrecting Justice:
“What do messianics owe political authorities and institutions? Not obedience. Not loyalty. Not flag-waving, anthem-singing devotion. Not military service. Not participation in their ministries of punishment and death. But also, not violent resistance or revolution (Rom. 13:2). Messianics are neither for nor against worldly political authority. In this sense, they might truly be called anarchists, because for them justice and life do not depend on the “archys” – the ruling powers of this age. Nothing truly messianic hinges on whether the ruling powers are for or against them. Messianics are conscientious unbelievers in worldly politics (syneidesin = “conscience” in Rom. 13:5). They practice holy, peaceable anarchy because they refuse to believe in and dedicate their bodies and souls to the political systems of this age.”
“Basically, the gospel is a very simple thing. The gospel is no system of this or that truth, no theory on life in time and eternity, no metaphysics or the like, but simply the sign that God has blessed the world, this poor world in which we live, with all its difficulties, with all its misery, with this whole ocean of death. And in this world we dare to live in the knowledge that God loves us, but not only us Christians who believe that God loves the whole world [cf. John 3:16]. Every person, even the most miserable, the most evil, is loved by God. This is the privilege: to be commissioned and enabled as a Christian to proclaim that.”
“In prayer, a person is present with God, for the person who prays is separated from the enemy. Prayer safeguards self-control, controls the temper, restrains pride, cleanses us of malice, overthrows envy, destroys injustice, and corrects impiety. Prayer is the strength of bodies, the prosperity of the home, the good will of the city, the strength of the kingdom, the victory in war, the security of peace, the bringing together of enemies, the preserver of allies. Prayer is the seal of virgnity, the pledge of marriage, the shield of the traveler, the guard of those who sleep, the courage of those who keep watch, the productivity of farmers, the deliverance of sailors. . . . Prayer is conversation with God, the contemplation of unseen things, the fulfillment of things desired, equal in honor with angels, the progress of good things, the overthrow of evils, the correction of sinners, the enjoyment of the present, and the substance of things hoped for.”
“For the Church does not exist just to transmit a message across the centuries through a duly constituted hierarchy that arbitrarily lays down what people must believe; it exists so that people in this and every century may encounter Jesus of Nazareth as a living contemporary. This sacrament of Holy Communion that we gather to perform here is not the memorial of a dead leader, conducted by one of his duly authorized successors who controls access to his legacy; it is an event where we are invited to meet the living Jesus as surely as did his disciples on the first Easter Day. And the Bible is not an authorized code of a society managed by priests and preachers for their private purposes, but the set of human words through which the call of God is still uniquely immediate to human beings today, human words with divine energy behind them. Easter should be the moment to recover each year that sense of being contemporary with God’s action in Jesus. Everything the church does – celebrating Holy Communion, reading the Bible, ordaining priests and bishops – is meant to be in the service of this contemporary encounter. It all ought to be transparent to Jesus, not holding back or veiling his presence.” – Rowan Williams, Choose Life: Christmas and Easter Sermons in Canterbury Cathedral (London: Bloomsbury, 2013), 145-46.
When I was teaching in Toronto, there was a period of several years in a row where I read Lesslie Newbigin’s Foolishness to the Greeks with my students. I consider the book, written in 1986, to be something of a 20th century theological classic. As evidence of that, I did try a few years ago to blog through Newbigin’s seven essentials for a church seeking a genuine missionary encounter with Western culture. I only made it through the first four before other endeavors required my attention, but you can find links to those previous posts here. Continue reading Newbigin’s Prophetic Insight
I sometimes challenge my students to reflect more deeply upon the reality of the Christian faith in our post-[insert your choice of noun here: Christian, modern, secular, truth, etc.] context by inverting the popular cultural slogan and claiming that I’m “religious but not spiritual.” Continue reading More Religion?