If the system hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the system, the system would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the system, but I have chosen you out of the system—therefore the system hates you.So if we run afoul of the various systems that dehumanize and destroy, we might be on the right track. There is no illusion in John’s gospel that we will ultimately change all systems. They will be with us as far as we can see. Yet it is possible to make the system a little more humane. It is possible for us as individuals to identify not with our systems, but to become human.
The task of the human being is to love. It is a love that lays down one’s life for one’s friends. In Jesus’ kingdom which is really a non-kingdom, we live as friends—equals--not masters or slaves.
Shuck and Jive
Theology is thus always on its way. It never arrives. There is no definitive and normative theology. Theology is ever in the making. It is always to be remade and refined as struggles develop, as experience deepens, change follows change, and history keeps unfolding. It is ever on the move in the direction of the Truth symbolized by faith and mysteriously known in love. Theology is a pilgrim of truth.
I often see people proclaiming how they trust God, and how God will always be there for the, and God will always be a present source of help in times of trouble. And yet, that source of help and trust come down to a very vague concept of God being by one's side. I'm reminded of a scene in the book "The Shack" where the father asks God where God was when his daughter was abducted and murdered. God said that He was with the daughter the whole time.
Yet the daughter still ended up murdered.
I Wonder as I Wander
Charismatics are notorious for not realizing that Christianity exists outside of their
The reason I'm interested in the role of luck is that I hear a lot of religious people railing against the rise of "socialism" in America. But I think it is very clear, the case in Outliers as one example, that personality, work ethic, religious affiliation and income are impacted by luck. Consequently, all I am and all I own isn't solely due to my virtue or work ethic. I'm not good, I'm fortunate. Importantly, luck implies success at someone else's expense. I got the break and you didn't. You're a janitor and I'm a millionaire professional athlete (or CEO, Dr., or whatever). Consequently, it seems right and just that I share.
How much should I share? I don't know. Where is the balance here? How much luck is involved? How much work? When are the taxes too low or too high? Again, I don't know. All I'm arguing is that the socialistic move isn't, on the face of it, immoral or unfair. It's realistic as far as I can tell. I don't mind debates about taxes or entitlements. But I do mind an ideological stance that automatically and unthinkingly equates taxation or "socialism" as evil. Why? Because it assumes life is all merit, work and virtue with no luck involved.
I don’t think you can have Gospel without Justice. Not the Gospel of Christ at least. Remember, Jesus defined the Gospel (and shouldn’t we let him define it?) as “the Kingdom of God is at hand,” not “accept me as your personal savior and ask forgiveness for your sins so you can go to heaven.” Not to mention, nobody really defined the Gospel in the latter way until the industrial age. I realize those last two sentences may sound outlandish to some. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying there’s nothing personal about the message (there is); I’m just saying Jesus himself didn’t define it that way. The Kingdom (which is a social word) aspect is primary to Jesus, so if we put emphasis on the personal over and above the corporate, we disagree with the Christ. So I think the extent to which we see Gospel as interconnected to Justice is the extent to which we agree with Jesus, who opened his preaching ministry with a social justice quote from Isaiah (Luke 4).
Emerging Toward Something Redeeming
This is the problem that I have with some apologists (those who defend the faith). Don’t get me wrong, I believe very much in apologetics and also love many apologists. But very rarely do I find a reasonable apologist. Most are very hardened because they are committed first to defending their particular position, not so much to learning.
Parchment and Pen