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Posts tagged "Theology of Glory"

"Have a Token Lent" and Other Seasonal Suggestions from a Weary Jesuit

“Have a Token Lent” and Other Seasonal Suggestions from a Weary Jesuit

John L’Heureux was a Jesuit for 17 years before he quit in ’71 and got married. He’s also written an insane amount of fiction and poetry which I am slowly working through, and loving. I first encountered his work with The Rise and Rise of Annie Clark from last autumn’s New Yorker and am currently flipping […]

From Matt Johnson’s Getting Jesus Wrong

Another great find from our friend Luke Mackinnon.

Getting Jesus Wrong, written by Matt Johnson, is an insightful invitation to give up spiritual vitamins and checklist Christianity. The freelance writer and editor gives a breath of fresh air to the worn out soul trying to follow caricatures of Jesus that are far from the Jesus we read about in the Bible. Johnson assures us that life does not become better by swallowing religious pills or crossing things off inventories, but becomes better by God’s grace and Christ’s sacrifice. This comes from the chapter titled “The Problem,” and it unearths our tendency to shove Jesus into the mold we want him to be instead of grasping his true essence and character on the cross.

Everyone has an image of Jesus they prefer, a Jesus who values what they value: Tough-guy Jesus, Wise Sage Jesus, Bearded, Tattooed, Skinny Jeans Jesus, Khakis and Polo Shirt Jesus, Suit and Tie Conservative Jesus, or Social Revolutionary Jesus. On a deeper level, our personal images of Jesus reveal that we think the Christian faith is about furthering our hopes and dreams, and that Jesus is the primary catalyst for getting us where we want to be in life. This is another way of saying, in the words of Gerhard Forde, we all are ‘inverted theologians of glory.’ When we operate within the glory-story paradigm, it reveals we’re in love with all the attractiveness of power, influence, success, or possessions, and we call it being ‘blessed.’ We’re encouraged by all the cliché slogans ‘reach for the stars’ and ‘don’t give up on your dreams,’ but then like a flaky boyfriend or girlfriend, when we don’t ‘feel the chemistry’ anymore, when real life really falls apart, suddenly our relationship with Jesus is on shaky ground…

God works in ways that are the opposite of our lofty imaginings. If we take the story of Jesus at bare-bones face value, he wasn’t a great success. God sent Jesus into the world to be born in a barn. He was born into scandal (imagine the naysayers: ‘Yeah, right, Mary conceived of the “Holy Spirit”’), he worked a regular job, he didn’t study under a famous Rabbi, he claimed he was God, many people thought he was crazy or demon possessed, and he was executed like a criminal. In our day and age where only good things in life constitute being blessed, it would seem that Jesus was anything but.

It’s only by faith that we can grasp the God reveals his character on the cross. On the cross, God subverted everything we intuitively understand about power. ‘Of all the places to search for God, the last place most people would think to look is the gallows.’ Instead of demanding power for himself and presenting himself as a God who ‘… could knock heads and straighten people out when they got out of line…,’ God, in Christ, laid down his power and died for us.

The Theology of Everything: Jane and Stephen Hawking Head to the Cross

The Theology of Everything: Jane and Stephen Hawking Head to the Cross

The title of the Oscar-nominated movie The Theory of Everything might seem a little ambitious, maybe even ironic in its grandiose magnitude, and, in some ways, it is. The title pokes at real-life physicist Stephen Hawking’s initial desire to find a theory of everything, a single equation to explain the creation of the universe. Having […]

Adrian Peterson's Theology of Glory (and Why It's Unhelpful)

Adrian Peterson’s Theology of Glory (and Why It’s Unhelpful)

Perhaps you know the story: Adrian Peterson, who suffered from an injury that was to alter his career (tearing his ACL), returned the next year and had such a good season that he was named the NFL’s most valuable player. Players who tear their ACL usually don’t bounce back very well or very quickly, let […]

Prone to Wander…from the Pickle Jar?

Prone to Wander…from the Pickle Jar?

A few Sundays ago, I preached a sermon on Galatians 1:11-24, and we had a rough landing. It was one of those Sundays where I felt the plane take off perfectly, maintaining altitude for most of the sermon, but somewhere along the descent we hit turbulence. As I drove home that day I asked myself, […]

"He Will Be a God to Them": The Confused Christology of the <i>Man of Steel</i>

“He Will Be a God to Them”: The Confused Christology of the Man of Steel

Despite the warnings on Rotten Tomatoes, I found myself in the theater watching Man of Steel. I’d decided this was the film I wanted to see on my birthday and, critics be darned, I was gonna see it. Really should have listened to the critics this time. For some reason I’ve been obsessed with superhero […]

Tiger Woods: Theologian of Glory

Tiger Woods: Theologian of Glory

Tiger Woods’ new ad campaign (or, more accurately, Nike’s new ad campaign featuring Tiger Woods) is making the rounds. Featuring Woods staring down a put, the tagline is “Winning Takes Care of Everything,” a quote attributed to “Tiger Woods, World #1.” There has been much debate about the taste level of this ad, seeing as […]

Lady Edith Put to the Test: "I Don’t Think It’s Working"

Lady Edith Put to the Test: “I Don’t Think It’s Working”

Spoiler alert! This concerns the latest episode of Downton Abbey, Season 3: Episode 2. As those who have been watching this season of Downton know, this past week, Edith’s big day finally came to be wed to the affable, albeit much older, Sir Anthony Strallan. (“Finally something is going on in this house that’s about […]

<i>Catching Fire:</i> Breaking the Closed Circle of the Modern Bestseller

Catching Fire: Breaking the Closed Circle of the Modern Bestseller

A brief recap: in The Hunger Games piece, we examined a two-level voyeuristic scaffolding built by Suzanne Collins as the book meditates on our attraction to violence and suffering. The Gamemakers create a brutal world into which teenagers are plunged to fight to the death for the amusement of thousands in the fictional dystopia of […]

The Dark Knight Dies and Rises: Sacrifice and Freedom in Gotham

The Dark Knight Dies and Rises: Sacrifice and Freedom in Gotham

[Spoiler Alert – those who haven’t seen it, run don’t walk…it’s fantastic!] “All their days are full of pain, and their work is a vexation; even at night their minds do not rest.”   -Ecclesiastes 2:23 “Put your sword back in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”   […]

Hopelessly Devoted: Numbers Chapter Twenty Two Verses Nine Through Thirty Five

Hopelessly Devoted: Numbers Chapter Twenty Two Verses Nine Through Thirty Five

Who knew? For what can be seen as a dark and and foreboding picture of the all-too-fearsome power of the magnifying glass-wrath-and-anthill God, the God of the Old Testament kings and prophets, instead becomes a powerful indication of God’s favor for working things out in the upside-down world of the cross. Old Testament mysteries, talking […]

Forde Friday: Glory vs. Cross Part I

Forde Friday: Glory vs. Cross Part I

Superhuman theologies of human achievement and graceless religion are a drag. Then along comes Gerhard Forde and puts a finger on what we already know, but couldn’t quite articulate. Happy Forde Friday! Glory vs. Cross Part I Does anyone remember those awful (or at least incredibly cheesy) Christian T-shirts of the 80s and 90s? Budweiser […]