Archive for the ‘James D. G. Dunn’ Tag

Patience and the Kingdom of God   1 comment

01968v

Above:  The Ascension of Christ, Circa 1873

Image Source = Library of Congress

(http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2003670200/)

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-pga-01968

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Collect:

Almighty God, your Son came into the world to free us

from all sin and death.  Breathe upon us the power

of your Spirit, that we may be raised to new life in Christ

and serve you in righteousness all our days,  through Jesus Christ,

our Savior and Lord, who lives  and reigns with you and the

Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 28

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Assigned Readings:

Ezekiel 36:8-15

Psalm 130

Luke 24:44-53

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

My soul waits for the Lord,

more than the night watch for the morning,

more than the night watch for the morning.

–Psalm 130:5, Common Worship (2000)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The kingdom of God has arrived,

the canonical Gospels proclaim,

yet it has not arrived completely.

That is my paraphrase of one Gospel theme.  Some of my recent reading for the Historical Jesus group to which I belong proves helpful here.  James D. G. Dunn, in Jesus Remembered (2003), considers Mark 1:15a:

…The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand….

Revised Standard Version—Second Edition (1971),

words of St. John the Baptist.  That “time,” or kairos in Greek,

…can be readily understood to indicate not simply one event, a date in time, but a period of time.

–page 438

I like this understanding of the Kingdom of God as an age.  Too much of Protestantism overemphasizes events and minimizes ages and processes in personal life and the Bible.  The comprehension of the Kingdom of God as an age and as a promise fulfilled partially, with more to come reconciles several seeming contradictions in biblical texts.  Ezekiel’s vision, yet unfulfilled, will become reality.  The Kingdom of God, evident since Jesus walked the face of the planet, will become more pronounced.

Frustration over the partial fulfillment of the promise is understandable and predictable.  In fact, so is the perception that the Kingdom of God is a promise we will never see made real.  Alfred Firmin Loisy (1857-1940), a French Roman Catholic theologian, said that Jesus promised us the Kingdom of God and all we got was the Church, which Christ founded, but not in the form it took in time.  For these and other opinions the Roman Catholic Church excommunicated him.  Loisy’s disappointment did contain some legitimate points yet missed a crucial truth:  we have received a down payment on the Kingdom of God, which is evident in the Church.  It has been evident in the Church for nearly two thousand years.  But there is more to come.

Patience can be a difficult spiritual lesson to learn.  I am still working on it, in fact.  And even more patience will be necessary for growth in God, whose timeframe is not ours.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 27, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES INTERCISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF HENRY SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGIAN

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2013/11/27/devotion-for-the-twenty-eighth-day-of-lent-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Lashing Out in Desperation and Fear   1 comment

03713v

Above:  Mosaic of Jesus Healing the Two Blind Men, Mosquee Karie, Constantinople, Ottoman Empire, 1892

Image Source = Library of Congress

(http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2003688255/)

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsca-03713

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Collect:

Bend your ear to our prayers, Lord Christ, and come among us.

By your gracious life and death for us, bring light into the darkness

of our hearts, and anoint us with your Spirit, for you live and reign

with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 28

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 60:17-22

Psalm 146

Matthew 9:27-34

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Some Related Posts:

Isaiah 60:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/devotion-for-december-31-lcms-daily-lectionary/

Matthew 9:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/14/sixth-day-of-advent/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/21/week-of-proper-9-tuesday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/09/06/week-of-proper-9-tuesday-year-2/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/05/02/devotion-for-october-7-8-and-9-lcms-daily-lectionary/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Lord shall reign for ever,

your God, O Zion, throughout all generations.  Alleluia.

–Psalm 146:10, Common Worship (2000)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

James D. G. Dunn wrote in Jesus Remembered (2003):

The point is this:  within Jewish prophetic/apocalyptic tradition there was some sort of recognition that the partial fulfillment of a hope did not nullify or falsify that hope.  Instead the earlier hope became the basis and springboard for a fresh articulation of the same hope.

–Page 481

Neither immediately Post-Exilic Judea nor the Hasmonean kingdom nor Roman-occupied Palestine resembled the positive future promised in Isaiah 60.  Yet, in Matthew 9, there were powerful works of God via Jesus, who healed two blind men and a mute man, the latter of which spoke afterward.

…and the people were amazed and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.”

–Verse 33b, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

The cultural assumption regarding the causation of many conditions held that evil spirits were responsible.  Thus the Gospels assign blame for muteness, epilepsy, and metal illness to demonic possession and describe many healings as exorcisms.  This is not my understanding of reality, for modern science informs my thinking.  Yet my worldview is not a major issue here; that of the characters Matthew 9:32-34 is.  Within that context some Pharisees accused our Lord and Savior of exorcising demons by means of an alliance with Satan.  That alleged logic makes no sense even with a certain cultural milieu.  No, that that allegation was an example of striking out in desperation and fear.

As we wait for a complete fulfillment of the hope of Isaiah 60, what do we fear wrongly?  May we refrain from calling that which is of God evil, no matter how much it threatens our status and ego.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 27, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES INTERCISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF HENRY SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGIAN

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2013/11/27/devotion-for-the-twenty-fifth-day-of-lent-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Posted January 14, 2014 by neatnik2009 in Isaiah 60, Matthew 9, Psalm 146

Tagged with ,

Faith, Questions, and Confidence   Leave a comment

th

Above:  A Question Mark

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Collect:

Almighty God, you have filled the earth with the light of your incarnate Word.

By your grace empower us to reflect your light in all that we do,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 21

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Assigned Readings:

Genesis 12:1-7 (January 2)

Genesis 28:10-22 (January 3)

Psalm 72 (both days)

Hebrews 11:1-12 (January 2)

Hebrews 11:13-22 (January 3)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Some Related Posts:

Genesis 12:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/second-sunday-in-lent-year-a/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/05/12/devotion-for-the-eighth-and-ninth-days-of-lent-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/11/20/proper-5-year-a/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/06/week-of-proper-7-monday-year-1/

Genesis 28:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/05/18/devotion-for-the-third-sunday-in-lent-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/20/week-of-proper-9-monday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/31/proper-11-year-a/

Hebrews 11:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/05/week-of-3-epiphany-saturday-year-1/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/week-of-6-epiphany-saturday-year-1/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/devotion-for-the-fifth-day-of-easter-thursday-in-easter-week-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/11/13/week-of-proper-1-saturday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2012/10/16/proper-14-year-c/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2012/11/09/proper-15-year-c/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/devotion-for-friday-before-the-first-sunday-of-advent-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Now faith means that we have full confidence in the things we hope for, it means being certain of things we cannot see.  It was this that that won their reputation for the saints of old.

–Hebrews 11:1-2, J. B. Phillips, The New Testament in Modern English, Revised Edition (1972)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Faith gives substance to our hopes and convinces us of realities we do not see.

It was by faith that the people of old won God’s approval.

–Hebrews 11:1-2, The Revised English Bible

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Faith is the reality of we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see.  The elders in the past were approved because they showed faith.

–Hebrews 11;1-2, Common English Bible

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for, or prove the existence of realities that are unseen.  It is for their faith that our ancestors are acknowledged.

–Hebrews 11:1-2, The New Jerusalem Bible

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval.

–Hebrews 11:1-2, The New Revised Standard Version–Catholic Edition

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,

who alone does wonderful things.

And blessed by his glorious name for ever.

May all the earth be filled with his gory.

Amen.  Amen.

–Psalm 72:18-19, The Book of Common Prayer (2004)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Bible is replete with troublesome characters.  Yet, the texts tell us, God worked through many of them.  For example, Abraham and Sarah became the parents of nations in their old age–an inspiring story?  But what about the mistreatment of Hagar and Ishmael?  Furthermore, the story of near-sacrifice of Isaac disturbs me; I will make no excuses for it.  As Elie Wiesel pointed out in a Bible study I saw in the 1990s, the Bible does not record any conversation between father and son after that incident, which must have damaged their relationship in ways which the passage of time did not repair.

As for Jacob, he was a trickster whom others conned.

Yet God worked with and through them, transforming these people for their benefit and that of many others, even to the present day.  That is grace, is it not?

“Faith” has more than one meaning in the Bible.  It is purely intellectual in James and inherently active in Paul, hence the appearance (but no more than that) of a faith-works contradiction between the two.  And, in the Letter to the Hebrews, faith is that which, in the absence of evidence for or against, enables one to continue in justifiable confidence.  If we have empirical evidence one way or the another, we do need faith.  I have heard church members say that they (A) have faith and (B) have evidence for the same proposition.  They misunderstood whereof they spoke.  They sought certainty when they should have desired confidence.

As James D. G. Dunn wrote in a different context (the search for the historical Jesus):

The language of faith uses words like “confidence” rather than “certainty.”  Faith deals in trust, not in mathematical calculations, nor in a “science” which methodically doubts everything which can be doubted….Walking “by faith” is different from walking “by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7).  Faith is commitment, not just conviction.

Faith as trust is never invulnerable to questions.  Rather, faith lives in dialogue with questions.  Faith-without-doubt is a rare commodity, which few (if any) have experienced for any length of time.  On the contrary, doubt is the inoculation which keeps faith strong in the face of unbelief.  Whereas it is the “lust for certainty” which leads to fundamentalism’s absolutising of its own faith claims and dismissal of all others.  In fact, of course, little or nothing in real life is a matter of certainty, including the risks of eating beef, or of crossing a road, or of committing oneself in marriage….

Jesus Remembered (Grand Rapids, MI:  William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2003), pages 104-105

I propose that we should never fear to question God faithfully.  Have we understood God correctly?  We can misunderstand, after all.  We have done so often.  And sometimes, as in the case of the Syro-Phoenician woman who encountered Jesus, rebutting a statement is the result which the speaker of the rebutted statement desires.  Sometimes passing the test of faithfulness entails arguing with, not being submissive, to God.  We need not stand in terror of God if we act out of healthy faith, the kind which creates space for many intelligent questions.  And then how will God work through us in the world?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 24, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THOMAS A KEMPIS, SPIRITUAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN BOSTE, GEORGE SWALLOWELL, AND JOHN INGRAM, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Adapted from this post:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/devotion-for-january-2-and-3-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++