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Archive for August, 2007

I’m very glad Ben Myers, who is usually too “Barthian” for my likes, wrote this. Brilliant writing, analysis and criticism.

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A few months ago, here in Chile we had the priviledge of the visit of Dr. Glenn Davies, bishop of the Northern region of Sydney, Australia. He gave three wonderful and challenging talks of the Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. In each talk he awesomely expounded the Scriptures, taking us through the Biblical-Theological themes and issues relating to these respective subjects.

One of the questions posed by Glenn, during the first talk, was hypothetical: If Jesus had died as a baby, under the sword of Herod, would His death provided salvation?

Glenn gave us a thorough, biblical (OT and NT founded) answer. The Anglican Litany, sums it up quite well:

By the mystery of thy holy Incarnation; by thy holy Nativity
and submission to the Law; by thy Baptism, Fasting, and
Temptation,

By thine Agony and Bloody Sweat; by thy Cross and Passion;
by thy precious Death and Burial; by thy glorious Resurrection
and Ascension; and by the Coming of the Holy Ghost,
Good Lord, deliver us.

So, what do you think is the answer? How does this affect your understanding of Christ’s life and ministry?

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Confession

I ain’t gonna lie: I love liturgy and in particular, the Book of Common prayer (I am Anglican, after all). One day I will probably post a rant on the value liturgy in shaping community worship, but I have no time right now, as I am under pressure this week to hand in my thesis.

However, I thought I’d post the typical BCP public confession, that I often use in private prayer as well. Here’s the “Common Worship” version, in contemporary english.

Almighty and most merciful Father,
we have wandered and strayed from your ways like lost sheep.
We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.
We have offended against your holy laws.
We have left undone those things that we ought to have done;
and we have done those things that we ought not to have done;
and there is no health in us.
But you, O Lord, have mercy upon us sinners.
Spare those who confess their faults.
Restore those who are penitent,
according to your promises declared to mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake,
that we may live a disciplined, righteous and godly life,
to the glory of your holy name.
Amen.

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I remember that in my first year at University I wrote a piece on the movie “The Matrix” for a class called “The History of Culture”. I affirmed in the paper that the film’s narrative and characters were imbued with gnostic-christian and Buddhist doctrine, admittedly woven into the wider sci-fi structure and anime style.

Having read Nietzsche, I realize now that I was quite mistaken. Sure enough, on the surface Judeo-Christian elements abound: The “Nebuchadnezzar”, Cyphus as the Judas-figure, Resurrection themes and so on. But fundamentally, the ideology that serves as the basis for the ideas that the film promotes are thoroughly nietzschean. Neo isn’t fundamentally a Christ-figure, despite a few references here and there.

In the end, he is Nietzsche’s “Super-man”: the one who becomes aware of the myth in which we all are living and being. Myth, for Nietzsche, as an apparent proto-late-modernist, is an over-arching explanatory paradigm. The big story that helps us make sense of the little stories. Nietzsche doesn’t hate the Myth, but rather values it as a means of bring order and structure to everyday life. We’ve bought into the illusion that there is something that makes sense of the never-ending and ever-changing chaos of reality, and participate in a sort of grand play, each with his role, totally enrapt in the illusion.

The superman, on the other hand, is supra-myth, and even though he still lives and interacts within the walls of the illusion, he is conscious of its existence, which allows him ultimately to use and encounter the myth in the ways he desires, no longer bound by it’s limitations. In the Matrix, it’s physical laws; for Nietzsche, it’s the moral universe, Good and Bad, from which the Superman is freed.

Ultimately, both the Matrix and Nietzsche have got something terribly wrong. Man IS in fact, under a self-imposed and self-created illusion: the illusion of emancipation from His creator, to whom he is accountable. Man cannot escape this Illusion: the prison of sin, of his in-selfness. He is inescapably “homo incurvat us se” (see Romans 1:21-31).

It is God himself who must become the Super-man, but this is not Nietzsche’s super-man. Existing eternally as the second person of the Trinity, The Son of God, totally outside and above any and all rules that bind man (these, in fact, having their origin in Him), left this authority of position behind him, submitted himself and became man in Jesus of Nazareth. Instead of lording it over everyone, as the one in charge and as the only one with any right to, this super-man goes to the Cross, and dies in the most horrific, embarrassing and scandalous way imaginable. This super-man flys in the face of anything Nietzsche conceived of.

 

 

2000 years later, and the Cross is still madness for the World, but in reality, God’s grandest display of Wisdom. God’s victory is achieved through sacrifice and self-giving. God’s might, power and righteousness are affirmed through Christ’s meekness, humility and (apparent) weakness. God’s purposes are achieved, promises fulfilled and justice satisfied through the Death of the Super-man for those under the Illusion.

As if this wasn’t enough, the resurrection of Jesus becomes the guarantee that in Christ, by the power of the spirit, all those who have been freed are allowed to live lives of “super-men” in imitation of Christ: they are MADE aware of the illusion, and seek to live lives modeled on the cross, and so serve as instruments of God that others may “wake up” and be allowed to know, trust and serve the only true Super-man.

Martyrdom of Stephen

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