Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).
If I had been asked two dozen years ago for an example of what Christ forbade when he said ’Use not vain repetitions,’ I should very likely have referred to the fingering of beads. But now if I wished to name a special sort of private devotion most likely to be of general profit, prayer on the beads is what I should name. Since my previous opinion was based on ignorance and my present opinion is based on experience, I am not ashamed of changing my mind. – Austin Farrer, Lord, I Believe, 1958. p. 80
Really, Joel? That’s the title you chose to go with? #clickbait
This is another quick post (mainly for memory’s sake).
In Mark 11.2, Jesus commands his disciples to go and get a colt. Matthew sees this, but expands this passage. In Matthew 21.2, Jesus commands the disciples to get the colt and the mother. But, Matthew (21.5-6) goes further and ties this to Zechariah 9.9. I believe the Hebrew assigns the gender to the colt as male.
So, here’s the thing. Matthew has 2 donkeys, one female and one male. This has caused some issues, not in the least with those who need every account to jive with the next. Did Mark forget one or did Matthew add one? If Matthew added one, is it because he can’t read the Hebrew of Zechariah correctly?
What if he was slipping one by? I mean, maybe his readers knew it (Luke didn’t) but maybe some in his ekklesia-synagogue did. So, where could he have received the image from?
What about Judges in the Old Greek, before kaige revisionism?
Those going upon a she-ass at noon, those seated upon a judgment seat, and those going upon the roads of councilors along the way: (Lexham)
There is a/the female donkey.
Could the time have been noon? Not sure, as it doesn’t say. Of course, noon was a time of Temple activity so we can speculate. Mark 11.11 does say the hour was late, but does this mean time or the “Jesus Hour,” that invisible number indicating the hour of the death of Jesus?
What else do we need? A judge. Does Jesus act as Judge (in Matthew) in anyway? Matthew 25 does something like that. Crowds of “councilors” are also present. Read the whole of Deborah’s song and apply it to the mission of Jesus (in the Gospels). See if you can find any other connection.
I am not suggesting that this is exactly the right answer, but I just find the connection interesting.
I don’t care much about getting into the details of this, but for sometime now the one and only Tony Jones has been held up as someone important in progressive/emergent circles, so much so that you’ll see him on various UMC blogs (this, I guess, counters the use of Mark Driscoll by UMC pastors). In fact, the emergents are usually idolized as the ideal “Christian.”
The problem is that Tony Jones is an abusive person. Rodney has covered his appropriation (something more common in progressive circles than you’d imagine) before. However, something else that is little known is his previous (and real) marriage to Julie McMahon. He is currently involved in another “marriage,” one that gives him “street cred,” no doubt. Anyway, she is currently very open about how Tony uses religion, his religion (sans orthodoxy, by the way) to control, abuse, and harm others. She is also accusing other well-known emergents of supporting Tony, and by supporting Tony, I mean enabling him to continue his abuse.
This is not uncommon, actually. This is how cults are formed. When one person leaves the fold to follow his/her/hen own “heart” they have declared themselves correct and unchallengeable. We can call this fundamentalism, although it is pathological (as David Howard identifies). It allows the person to do what they will, regardless of question, because that person is right. That person is God’s mouthpiece. That person is god.
Be careful. Tony and Mark Driscoll aren’t that far apart in theological practice. When you admire them, without hesitation, then it may be that you have a certain pathological issue within yourself.
I find it odd that Google/Wikipedia lists Tony Jones as an American Dudebro. “Dudebro/Dude Bro” is a slang term, and not one of endearment.
It is also one of the main reasons we started UMSCO. We believe scholars have an important role to play in the church, one that extends far beyond the conventional and sometimes stereotypical view of college and seminary professors. It is our job to help teach the church and provide academic leadership to help other leaders lead and teach the church. Furthermore, we believe strongly that the most important of our difficulties in United Methodism relate directly to doctrine and discipline.
In discussing something recently with a friend, we both agreed it was okay to say “this is right,” “this is wrong” but we must find a way to do it without arrogance or self-righteousness. The further into politically correct culture you travel, the more difficult it becomes to speak to black and white matters. Relativity reigns.
This is not always a bad thing. In ecumenical relations, dwelling in the gray is needed; otherwise, we would not be able to build full communions between the various denominations. However, it becomes a bad thing when you are so limited, you must give way to every opinion, or matter of personal belief, as if no particular one can be wrong.
We generally have issues with telling people they are wrong. I, on the other hand do not — when it is necessary. For instance, unrestrained capitalism is wrong. A denomination not in direct apostolic succession has built themselves upon a wrong foundation. Denying the Trinity is wrong in orthodox Christianity. Recently, First Things ran an article by Stephen Webb, a Catholic theologian that tracks Mormon. Webb is wrong, as is Mormonism on the topic of the materiality of God. I hope Mormons disagree with me and would have no issue telling me I was wrong. I hope gnostics think I am wrong I hope they can bear with me with I tell them they may not be correct! Such things are actually beneficial, much more beneficial than each side suppressing their own theology or even walking head long into meaningless existence. It only becomes dangerous when we think our differences are boundaries to determine worth.
All of this started my thinking process. Mainline denominations have become places lacking theology and lacking theological conviction as well as a voice. Indeed, while many of us do great service, we lack the desire to stand up for what makes us (Christian in far too many cases) unique among the denominational landscape. It is almost like we afraid to be something different and by being different, offensive. This doesn’t have to be the case. In my opinion, United Methodist Wesleyans are by far the best of the Protestant options because we have one foot in the evangelical sphere as well as the episcopal sphere (by this, I mean we also make use of Tradition).
We need to reclaim a voice based our doctrinal heritage. All mainline denominations are rooted in the Protestant Reformation and/or the great divorce between Rome and Canterbury. We have a historic tradition reaching back to the earliest days of Christianity and through this tradition we have helped to shape Creeds, Councils, and even Kingdoms. We have, in a large part, shaped this country in which we live as well. We have given voice, because of our doctrine, to the voiceless, fighting for those who are powerless. We have lost this voice because have lost the ability to say what it means to be a Christian and a Christian as a mainliner.
My great concern is that Christianity in the Mainline Denominations has become the stereotype assigned to it by more legalistic traditions, that of a country club. We do good, yes, but we are failing miserably because we no longer really know why.
So, what can we do to reclaim a voice?
We must relearn our doctrine and theology. Not everyone’s opinion, doctrine, or belief system is right. It is just not. Neo-Calvinism is wrong on a few levels, and not in the least because of the role women are forced to take. To deny, dismiss, or ignore the Trinity is likewise wrong in orthodox Christianity. Just because you think it, does not mean you have the right not to be told you are wrong. We are who we are because we are not others. We can be ecumenical while not giving up what makes us who we are. We once had the best and brightest theological institutions and minds. What do we have now?
We need to know our history and heritage. We need to know why this is important as these things help to guide us into the future. Unless you use them as such, they are not completely restrictive. Mainlines are mainlines because they tend to accept progress easier than others. We have long accepted science, historical criticism, as well as changes in polity. Further, we do not need to be afraid of these things nor employ stereotypical conspiracy theories to dismiss them.
We need to reclaim the language of the Gospel. Yes, there is still sin. Yes, there is still salvation. Yes, there is evil. There is satan. There are boundaries. There is exclusion. We speak of justice which means we know of lines that cannot be crossed. We speak of the just which means there is the injust. Yet, we seem to have lost the ability to speak the language of Christianity because of post-modernism, sensitivity and tolerance.
We need to find hope. Evangelicals have this (false) notion that one day Jesus will return and take us (good ones) away. That this there hope. Mainliners have long ago left this hope behind as unscriptural. So, what do we substitute for it? There is still the hope of the afterlife, but I think the words of 2 Clement are likewise important. We hope towards the change in the world we know God has promised. It will ebb and flow and sometimes we will lose ground; however, we continue to hope towards justice, unity, and the maturity of the Church. That is our hope, that all may be one with each other, this body with Christ, as Christ is with the Father. Christ did not establish the covenant just with a select few to give them acreage in heaven; rather, God is in Christ reconciling the world.
The reason we need a voice is simple. Aren’t you tired of Evangelicals and Fundamentalists having the voice of Christianity? We see a good many small sects, non-mainlines, and others leading American Christianity, abusing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and destroying our foundations. What if we knew more than it was good to do good works, but why and what makes them good? What if we knew what sin was and what sin wasn’t rather than just relying on such faulty notions as human rights?
I wrote a post in a follow-up with Dr. Watson, followed by a post at Via Media by Drew M. Jeremy Smith, someone I imagine I could agree more than I disagree on certain topics, goes on to rebut us, not on arguments, but by accusing us of date rape, among other things.
Somehow, he connects this discussion to these points:
Men don’t need a friend to watch our bar drink when we go to the bathroom.
White Men don’t need an advocate when we make a complaint about the police, or a translator when applying for asylum, or hope for a video camera on a cop that shoots them.
Straight White Men don’t have to bring a partner to Thanksgiving dinner to feel safe with our families.
Married Straight White Men don’t need to be walked home, and after being dropped off, we don’t need to be watched from the car to make sure we make it in the door.
Not only did he fail, horribly, to get what I was actually saying, but he then suggests that somehow this is connected to date rape, being closeted, and other forms of rape/harassment.
Jeremy on twitter charges us with the crimes of Ferguson, which I imagine will soon be followed by slavery, the holocaust and maybe even Japanese internment camps. He writes,
.@therevdodger@eJoelWatts And Ferguson. And detainees. And other areas where more eyes in the room provide needed accountability & safety.
Here’s the deal. Closing the floor doesn’t mean everything is done in private. What it means is that there is no audience participation. It means that neither the left nor the right (because believe it or not, the right has their share of attempts to disrupt the meetings and control the delegates) can control delegates through threats or intimidation. The conference, even the closed sessions, would be streamed so that all can see. There will always be a record.
Further, as I stated, I would hope that such a plan would moderate the delegates. Because coming from experience, not having threats leveled at you actually makes you more moderate. As someone who has spoken with more than a few conservative-voters about threats against them (to vote conservative), I can tell you that without the glare of the exclusion community, you may even see a change.
Yesterday, a question was posed in one of the UMC FB forums about inerrancy. Granted, this question was posed by a rather young, confused non-Methodist, but it sparked conversation. One of the people in the conversation brought up Bishop Willimon to his defense. Willimon is not an inerrantist.
As John Wesley began his search for a relationship with God, he began in Scripture. He said that he studied the Bible because it was “the one, the only standard of truth and the only model of pure religion” [Works, Jackson, 2:367). Toward the end of his life he could continue to claim, “My ground is the Bible. … I follow it in all things great and small” (ibid., 3:251), In speaking of a fourfold test for belief, it is clear that Wesley set Scripture above tradition, reason, and experience in terms of ultimate authority. (The quadrilateral is not equilateral.) United Methodists can therefore be said to have a “high” view of scripture. However, we cannot be accused of bibliolatry, inerrancy, literalism, or fundamentalism. Wesley could boast that he was “a man of one book.” However, he did not mean this in a naive, uninformed way. He also meant that he not only believed but attempted to live by this one book.
The quad tries to maintain this view, although many have made all of the sides equal while misunderstanding such things as “experience.” In my view, Scripture is the authority of the Church (much like the Constitution is for the United States), but Tradition, Reason and Experience are there to help us read and apply Scripture (much like case law — although Tradition produced Scripture (and legal issues produced the Constitution).
Even if the Pentateuch is not from Moses, and many Psalms attributed to David are not from David, and the second part of Isaiah is from another author than the first part, this does not detract from the divine inspiration and authority of Scripture. The inspiration is certain, but the authenticity is an open question. As a divine book the Bible is above all criticism, but as a human book it may, like all literature, be examined by historical-critical methods and standards.
Luke’s parables are narratives of disorientation that subvert conventional wisdom about many issues such as the use of wealth and possessions. The parables use specific rhetorical strategies (character identification and premature closure) in order to transform the lives of Luke’s readers/hearers
The Theotokos of Vladimir, one of the most venerated of Orthodox Christian icons of the Virgin Mary. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This isn’t going to be a long post.
First, I read this by Stephen Webb this morning. I was left with the distinct impression that Webb did not know what he was talking about, or wrote in such a way to be more polemical than enlightening. Why? He mentions apophatictheology and calls it “more historically grounded now than in the postmodern eighties.” He means the 1980’s, not the 380’s and the Cappadocian Fathers who helped to “mainstream” negative theology. Further, he reaches to tie it to the liberalism of the last few decades, as if they are one and the same. Webb notes, “Negative theology is a sign of a crisis in theological authority.” Given the great writers who used it, Sts John of Damascus and Maximus the Confessor, among others, I doubt they were so troubled in their faith as to shrink into “cowardice.”
When I went to search for Webb, to see who he was, I discovered that this Roman Catholic holds close affinities for Mormon theology. In fact, he has adopted some of their theology about the nature (i.e., matter) of God. As one reviewer summarizes Webb’s theology states,
God is material, knowable, embodied, “not radically different from everything else that exists.” As spirits, human intelligences are eternal, existing before mortality in the presence of heavenly parents. That God is “one of us” does not impede Mormon wonder, awe, or love of the divine. Human beings can become more like God or even become gods, but in a universe of eternal progression God is also “ever becoming more Godlike.” Per Webb, Mormon materialism fosters a healthy, optimistic understanding of God, human beings, and the universe. Other Christians, Webb suggests, have a “breathtaking opportunity” to discover “the full intellectual richness of the Christian tradition” through Mormonism.
Essentially, Webb holds to a Mormon view of God and matter, eschewing the Platonic side of orthodox Christian theology. This shades his view of apophatic theology, as much as apophatic theology (and church history) shades my view of Mormon theology.1 Webb not only fails to give apophatic theology its proper historical context, setting, and tradition, but fails to include its role in Eastern Orthodoxy and even in the Tradition of the Catholic Church.