Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Week 6: Art Project , Bridges, Course Summary. Philemon

Don't forget to bring magazines for our project tonight..

In the "three worlds" language of our textbook, interpreting the Bible is all about how we cross the bridge from  the literary and historical worlds to our
day (contemporary world):

This seems to get tricky..especially with issues like Slavery Sabbath War and Women.
  How do we know what cultural commandments carry over to our day?  It can be a tough bridge..
See also: "kicking butts, hair in a bun, tattoos"

Click here (scroll down to page 19-21) to see the helpful "bridge" section from Brian Dodd's book.  (i also really recommend chapter 1, pp. 9-18)

As you can see by the David Lee photo here,
and as you have been experiencing in class,
traveling the bridge can be a foggy and frustrating affair.


Or to mix the metaphor, the bridge can be
"all wet" (photo below and story here).

To play with the bridge image one more time:
Here 's a pic of the New Choluteca Bridge, which, thanks to a hurricane, effectively links "nothing to nowhere"

This way of reading the Bible really helps us cross the bridge,
ans is especially helpful for sections or books of the Bible that we have too often read with "verse-itis,"
and not through the "historical world" and "literary world" of their day.

How about building a bridge from BOTH SIDES?:
Like this one in Virginia>

or the Hoover Dam bridge.



On this week's topic of Worth and Status, we'll look at some of these Scriptures:  How do they inform your Philemon paper?
  • Matthew 12: 46 – 50
  • Matthew 13: 53 – 58
  • Mark 9:33 – 37
  • Luke 6:27 – 38
  • Luke 10:38 – 42
  • Luke 14:12 – 14
  • Luke 16:1 – 9
  • Luke 22:24 – 30
  • John 5:19-30
  • Acts 10:38
  • Romans 8:12 – 16
  • I Corinthians 11:17 – 22
  • Ephesians 5:21 – 33
  • Philippians 2:5-11
  • I Timothy 2:8 – 15
  • I Timothy 3:8 – 13
  • I Timothy 5:1 –16
In thinking about  living selflessly like Jesus did...

fill in this blank:
The Scripture suggests that Jesus was able to do miracles, and have 

supernatural knowledge, because he was ___________.

If you answered "God" ...
and not 'human" on:

Some theologians call this "Spirit Christology" or "kenosis",  whether or not  this proposed theology is consistently true. If it is, it would almost move this question into the realm of "essential" doctrines, because it then provides the very key to how we are to live in relation to daily Christian life, walking in the power and possibilities of the Spirit; doing the "greater works than Jesus" that Jesus flatly and unapologetically predicted we would do. Now, not every proponent of "Spirit Christology" or "kenosis theology" is biblical or orthodox, so hear me when I say that I know I don't agree with everyone using these categories. The basic argument would be this; to put it bluntly, as one preacher did for shock value:

"Jesus did nothing on earth as God! "

Wow, better unpack that! Now, that statement doesn't have to imply He was not God.. He was, is and always will be fully God in my Book! It's just that He didn't. during His earthly ministry, anything out of His innate, inherent and intrinsic Godhood. He voluntarily surrendered the rights to use and access His God hood's attributes... such as omniscience, or power to do mighty miracles. Several
Scriptures come into play: John 5:19 and 30 offer that Jesus did nothing in and of Himself, but only did what the Father and Spirit told/led/empowered Him to do. Philippians 2:6-11 asserts that Jesus didn't take advantage of, or even access of the rights and power of His Godhood, which would be "robbery," and a violation of the whole point of His incarnation; His coming to earth. Instead of functioning out of His eternal power and prerogative as Almighty God, He "emptied Himself". A by-product of this, is as Hebrews affirms "Jesus know every temptation we have endured by His own experience" (2:18 and 4:15). I also love to shock congregations by asking "When Jesus did miracles on earth, how was He able to do those miracles?" Well-trained evangelicals of course automatically answer, "Because He was God!" When actually, that may be the wrong answer all together. Of course He was God, no debate. But the only Scriptural answer to "How did He do those miracles?" is "in the power of the Spirit". And witness Matt. 12:28: He cast out demons; not because He was God and could do so, but as a human "by the power of the Spirit." Thus, that is the "key" key, crucial catch, and ancient but overlooked secret as to how we, mere humans, are to do the same works He did, even greater. (Jesus said that, not me. Blame Him: John 14:12) 

Answer: We do them through "checking in" with the same Father Jesus checked in with while on earth; and trusting,...radically; to the point where the supernatural almost becomes natural and norm... the same Spirit Jesus trusted. (Note Jesus, a few sentences later, suggests that is His secret, and ours. He simply passes the torch to us, but not without the sharing the same equipping Holy Spirit: verses 16-17).Such deep trust and dependency doesn't make us Jesus, of course, but they do position us to trust the timing and voice of the Father, and prompting and power of the Spirit, as radically as Jesus did...with similar and "even greater" results! If JESUS never did anything in and of Himself (John 5:19 and 30), who do we think WE are?

When Jesus asked, in Mark 5:30, "Who touched me?," did He mean it, or was this a test? If "Spirit Christology" is true, one could answer the former, without sacrificing an iota of essential, foundational evangelical theology. When Jesus said even He (Matthew 24:36) did not know the day or hour of His return, was that a lie?. No, and this "lack of knowledge" on the part of a member of the all-knowing Trinity poses no problem. I would propose that He knows now, but He chose not to know on earth. This was all part of His modeling a complete self-emptying. This, though, is core to my third question:" How consistent and complete is this theology.? Did Jesus ever do anything 'on earth as God', even though He was God? And Lord, is this profound truth so profound that to miss it allows us to miss the 'normal' life you have intended for us?"

Whatever the ultimate answer to this question the Lord would give me, the bottom line question I keep hearing in the meantime. and "real time" is haunting: "Have I yet trusted as completely and recklessly as I could in the leading of the Father and the power of the Sprit? I almost don't even care if I do a greater work or not, I just want to be found faithful, and be an answer to Jesus' wild and waiting prophecy of John 14:12. 

I love Dwight Edwards' penetrating, "must-be- wrestled- with" self-questions :

1. What have I done recently that could not be duplicated by an unbeliever, no matter how hard they tried?

2.What blatant evidence of the supernatural God has leaked out of my life?

Questions indeed! (link)


Here are some notes the faculty has put together to help summarize the class and themes:

: is created
stories are foundational, laws/norms provide boundaries and guidelines, relational concept of righteousness/guidelines, power and authority are present but look different in community of believers, worship as something which forms and nurtures community, challenge of dealing with the realities of status within community and the different way status and relationships are to be grounded in the community of faith, the challenge of living lives that are connected, of allowing others to challenge and test our preconceptions about how the world works and who God is. Community as process and shared journey.

Skills: You know more about how to read and interpret the Bible than you did 6 weeks ago. We have noticed that there are different kinds of writing in scripture, and we have to work at reading and interpreting those different kinds of texts differently. We have realized that we bring who we are to the text, and must be aware of our own biases. We have recognized that sometimes we come asking questions the text is not trying to answer. We have to work at hearing the text and taking it on its own terms, developing ourselves as good listening partners. The work of hearing the text has meant we've asked many different kinds of questions of the texts themselves. What are the underlying assumptions about how the world works, who God is, how the community should be—these make up the historical world. They require investigative work and thought by us. They may reveal differences between assumptions of our day and the day of the texts were written. We have asked questions about the way in which the things we were reading were put together. Biblical writers have lots of material and are making choices about what is told and the way in which it is told. We learn what is important to them by the way they construct the story they tell. This is the literary world. And finally, tonight, we have especially asked questions about how the text impacts the people hearing or reading it. What are the biblical writers trying to encourage or cajole or command their hearers/readers to do? What is happening in the encounter that happens in front of the text as reader and text interact? This the contemporary world includes both the first readers and us, as readers now. How is the text influencing us? How are we responding?
The hope is that our time together, spent getting to know these different worlds, has enhanced your skills and joy for reading scripture. 
Be sure to find all the helpful resources for your Philemon paper on the "Philemon" tab above.. Pay special attention to the chiasms found there...Tonight we may have time to watch this clip from NT Wright

 Think about any ways we found these symbols in Philemon during class discussion tonight:
Click Here fort he syllabus for your next Bible Class: 300B..  IMPORTANT: ALL WORK IS DONE AHEAD OF CLASS, INCLUDING A  SERVICE PROJECT AND CHURCH VISIT..

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Week 5: Quiz, Rabbi, Psalms in Community, Philemon

Don't forget to bring  a stack of magazines  that you don't need...bring them tonight for our project next week..

Quiz tonight will look just like this.
The read symbols constitute the main quiz, which is not open notes.  
The black symbols are the extra credit quiz, which IS open notes.
Mix and match..
 More detail  and where to find answers on main quiz, see Week 1 post, for detail /answers on extra credit quiz, see Week 3 Post.

a) Chiasm: Greek word for letter 'X.'  A literary device that follows an 'X' or ABBA pattern or reversal; mirror image.  Example: "the first shall be last, the last shall be first"
b). Subversion of Empire: The story of Jesus offers a counter-story to the dominant story/worldview of his day
c)The Three Worlds:  Litereary (created by the text), Historical (behind the text). Conetmporary (in front of the text)
d).Intercalation  (Sandwiching); a literary technique in which one story/narrative is inserted into the middle of another story/narrative.  Example.  The temple tantrum is inserted in the middle of the fig tree episode in Mark 11.
e). Intertextuality (Hyperlinking): cross-referencing, secripture quoting  or referencing another scripture.    Example: Jesus quotes Isaih 56: "My house will be a house of prayer for all nations."
f) Parallelism: a word, phrase, or idea is intentionally repeated throughout a text.  Example: the five teaching blocks of Matthew.
g). Centered Set: Though it has a boundary, it is defined by direction of   persons relative to the center (towards/ away)
h).Inclusio: a literary device inw hich a word, phrase, or idea is included at the beginning and ened ofa  text (and sometimes in the middle).  Example: the "with you"s of Matthew 1:23 , 18:20 and 28:20
i). Bounded set: Defined by boundaries, who is in or out

>>a)Fuzzy set: where the boundaries are not clear
>>b)Synonymous parallelism: says same thing different way.
          Example, Luke 6:27-28:
        "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you
bless those who bless you, pray for those who abuse you"
>>c) Hubs:
Just like on the internet, or any network, there are hubs/connectors/spokes in biblical connections/relationships
>>d)Anithetical parallelism: second line sets up contrast with first.  Example:
    Matt 7:17-18 "Every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit...
A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit."
>>e)Prophecy:"what God is saying in the moment, often about justice. Not just

fore-telling (predicting the future) but forth-telling  (telling forth truth). often having multiple applications and fulfillments, to different "contemporary worlds" and across time.

>>f)Kingdom of God: The rule and reign of Jesus; more Person and Presence than place; not just "then and there," but 'here and now" ...the "age to come" invades "this age"
>>g)step parallelism second line picks up thought/word from first and builds on it, takes it further.
Example, Luke 9:48:
"Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me (and whoever welcomes the one who sent me...)

>>h)Hemistiche:biblical verses of two or more parallel hemistiches will very often omit a word, a term or an idea already found in a previous hemistich (less common is the omission of content in the first hemistich).  The reader is of course supposed to fill in the blank on her own.
>>i)6 Degrees of separation: as in the "Kevin Bacon" analogy, science suggests everybody/everything is more interconnected than we realize.

Hopefully, we;ll have some video posted on this very page   of Rabbi Adam Bernay from his visit tonight, but  for now, here is some info:
his congregation, his music,  his   radio show ...and  FREE BOOK DOWNLOAD.

Rabbi Adam appears in the second video below.  Both videos truly deal with our theme of community guidelines.
(especially this first one, one Matthew 18: 1-20,which we showed last week.)   You'll see that these three staffers of our local Mennonite-Brethren related radio station needed me to run an intervention just so they could all get along:

Rabbi Adam will likely talk about 4 levels of Bible Study from a  Jewish rabbinic perspective:

  • 1)"pashat" "simple":  plain, obvious, literal meaning
  • 2)"remez"  "hint" :  implied, intuitive meaning
  • 3)drash     "search":  Context is Everything, what comes before/after the passage
  • 4)sod        "hidden": secret, few find it


  • how does this dovetail, compare with the "Three Worlds" model?
  • Does #4 worry you ? Does it sound gnostic? the rabbi seemed to be content that only a few experts can ever get to this level)
 Here is more detail on these four.
2)There are two rabbinic ways of reading a text:

  • Hagakah:  "path"          commandments,      prescriptive      ethical/moral      
  • Hagadah:  "narrative"  not commandments,  descriptive         devotional/inspirational

  • How does this relate to any devotional reading you do?
  • Which of the two do you prefer?
More detail on this, see pp.19 and 234 of your "Three Worlds" textbook.

 video of Rabbi Adam visiting another class of mine/..explaining the prayer shawl.

>>The Psalms were the basic ""literary world"  worship and prayer book
for the "historical world"  Jews....and the early Christian church.. why don't we follow it in our "contemporary world?"   Maybe it's too honest.... and "spiritual." 

There are several ways to categorize, organize and group the psalms. 
You may have noticed they are broken into 5 "books."  The 5 is probably intentional...for the same reason we found 5 teachings in Mathew: it's the number of Torah/Pentateuch/Moses.

There are  different ways to categorize the "types" of psalms

Here is one way (thus the diagram): 

These four categories sound pretty distinct, and they are...but sometimes they overlap and Venn in surprising ways.  One psalm might visit most of these types, even switching midsentence.
How do they overlap, relate for you?  I put them in a traditional order, but could they work in the opposite order (say, if you were having a bad day?).  Where would you place them in the diagram?
--You may still be having trouble forgiving Walter Brueggemann for writing that book you had to read for last class (:..

But the same guy suggests another helpful way to categorize the Psalms:
q        Orientation:
o      Creation - in which we consider the world and our place in it
o      Torah - in which we consider the importance of God's revealed will
o      Wisdom - in which we consider the importance of living well
o      Narrative - in which we consider our past and its influence on our present
o      Psalms of Trust - in which we express our trust in God's care and goodness

q        Disorientation:
o      Lament - in which we/I express anger, frustration, confusion about God's (seeming?) absence
§       Communal
§       Individual
o      Penitential - in which we/I express regret and sorrow over wrongs we have done
§       Communal
§       Individual

q        Reorientation
o      Thanksgiving - in which we thank God for what God has done for us/me
§       Communal
§       Individual
o      Hymns of Praise - in which we praise God for who God is
o      Zion Psalms - in which we praise God for our home
o      Royal Psalms - in which we consider the role of political leadership
o      Covenant Renewal - in which we renew our relationship with God
(Click here for more)

We noted how astonishingly HONEST the prayer/worship book of the Jews (and Christians) is!

When we talk about the psalms of lament, psalms of imprecation, and psalms of disorientation being just as integral a part of biblical "worship" as the more "obvious," upbeat and "worshipful" psalms,
these comments from Bono of U2 comes to mind. He makes a good point:

Why are believers often so afraid of/threatened by the "honest and full truth," when the Scripture,
and the biblical "historical world," is not?

(By the way, Tim Neufeld teaches a whole FPU class on the Christian implications of U2;
you should also be aware of The Rev. Beth Maynard's blog)

Remember the video,"Everything is Spiritual"? (excerpt below)..

,,in a Hebrew/Jewish worldview, where everything is spiritual, it is not contradictory to be angry in one verse, and worshipful the Kraybill says in your BIB 300 book, "The Upside Down Kingdom,"..
and how about this:

God in the Bathroom?The ancient Hebrew language didn’t have a world for “spirituality.” Apparently that category didn’t exist in ancient Hebrew thought because they believed that all of life had the potential to be “spiritual.” This is very different from our dualistic worldview that separates the world into two categories: the spiritual (sacred) and the material (secular). In this worldview, God inhabits the spiritual realm, but he leaves the material realm to us. In order for a dualist to experience God’s presence, he has to transcend the secular realm and tap into the sacred where he will find God. The Hebrew worldview rejects this dualism. Lawrence Kushner puts it this way:
Judaism sees only one world, which is material and spiritual at the same time. The material world is always potentially spiritual. All things– including and especially, such apparently non-spiritual things and grossly material things as garbage, sweat, dirt, and bushes–are not impediments to but dimensions of spirituality.
That means it’s possible to encounter God’s presence anywhere, including the bathroom. Here’s a prayer taken from the Babylonian Talmud that was meant to be prayed while the pray-er was relieving himself:
"Blessed is he who has formed man in wisdom in wisdom and created in him many orifices and cavities. Is is fully know before the Throne of Thy glory that if one of them should be improperly opened or one of them closed it would be impossible for a man to stand before Thee."
If this prayer makes you uncomfortable because you think the bathroom is off limits to God, then you are a dualist.-by Wade Hodges

Here's a sermon I once did on Psalm 22, which is another amazing psalm to use in a worship setting...How often have you heard "My God, My God, Why have You forsaken me?" in a church song?.

But that sentence is not just what Jesus said on the cross, he was quoting  (hyperlinking, intertexting) from the prayer book of the psalms.

 One excerpt:

I’ve got nothing left to give,” the professor said.

Several years ago some other pastors and I had responsibility for a pastors retreat. We decided to bring in a deep, profound, distinguished man of God; a professor renowned in the field of spiritual formation.

We were busy pastors, some of us bordering on burnout; we badly needed retreat…and training in the meat spiritual formation .

So there was indeed a huge hunger and holy hush in the room, when after weeks of waiting, the respected PhD, whom we were thrilled had said “yes” to flying out the 3,000 miles from his seminary to enlighten our relatively small but serious group, opened his mouth that first night.

Bibles and notebooks in hand , we leaned forward to receive what the master would say; what gleanings the guru had studied and prayed hard to impart.

His opening line broke the silence, the mood, and all the “rules” of grad-school-level spiritual formation 701:

“I have nothing to give.”

“Excuse me?,” I am sure we all collectively thought.

He continued, oblivious to our headscratching; indeed not even acknowledging the question marks hanging over us.

I almost didn’t come. I almost cancelled, but I figured this retreat was booked, and I had better keep my commitment.

You see, the other day, I woke up to my wife saying ‘I’m leaving you.’

And she did.

I was so distraught that all I could do was immediately, and in a daze, drive the thousand miles to my best friend’s house.

When his wife answered the door, she could only manage: ‘How did you know?’

‘Know what?, I asked.

‘He just killed himself!’

I could only jump shellshocked into my car, drive all those miles back home..

..To find my house had been struck by lightning and burned to the ground.”

The question marks over our heads were gone.

He matter-of-factly concluded:

So all I could do is keep my commitment and make this retreat where you want me to teach you spiritual formation. I’m sorry if I’ve made the wrong choice in coming; if I’m wasting your valuable time and money. I am here to teach spiritual formation, and maybe I can do that…

The only problem is I’m not sure I have anything left to give.

That was the most profound lesson and lecture in spiritual formation that I have ever received.

As you can tell, I remember every word of that opening lecture.

whole sermon:

"The Lord Be With You...Even When He’s Not!"



PHILEMON:  If you have to miss tonight, be sure to get the notes from someone, as we did the two Philemon homework sheets in class, and anyone who did them got full credit.

Also, be sure to check the  tabs marked  "Philemon" and "three worlds" for tons of help on Philemon paper