Wednesday, March 24, 2010

searching for a Christian Voice

Sitting here in my home, watching cable television on my HD TV, I am searching, or perhaps hungering is a better word, for a Christian voice in the midst of our political system. I have heard Christians react to the health care reform bill with a cold laugh, "if anyone votes for Obama again, they are fools." I have heard the rhetoric of fear from both parties---it will be the ruin of our economy, it will be the triumph of the left. I am tired. Sitting in this comfortable place of privilege, I am tired. I can't help to think the Christians in America are losing an amazing, eternal opportunity to speak God's justice into our political system but instead we sound like the Republican rhetoric--"this will ruin our economy," "thank God I can pay for everyone else's health care," "baby killers." The Democrats call those opposed "fools" and "ignorant." So where is the Kingdom voice?
In the lectionary and in my Bible study we are going through Philippians. Philippians 2 calls us to think of others as better than ourselves, to have the attitude of Christ who did not claim his rights as God but served, to shine like stars in the darkness. This sure doesn't sound like the Republican or the Democrat rhetoric.
I wonder if the voice of the Kingdom focuses on people and not individual rights. I wonder if the Kingdom voice puts aside my continuing my lifestyle so that more people can have a better life. I wonder what part of my lifestyle is luxurious and I can do without so someone else can get the health care they need.
I wonder if the voice of the Kingdom finds the places in the health care reform bill restores justice in a broken system and celebrates--such as the end of insurance companies power to drop people for pre-existent conditions or because they get sicker.
I wonder if the voice of the Kingdom would speak justice into the health care reform where it fails to be just--not fair, not comfortable for me--but just like in the area of taxing someone who does not have health insurance. Is this adding to the oppression of the system?
The Kingdom calls me to speak justice and life into both the Republicans and the Democrats because both oppress and kill the weak and vulnerable. The Kingdom calls me to stop asking the question, "why should I have to pay for someone else?" And forces me to ask, "why do I deserve and how can I justify this lifestyle when there is someone down my street in need?" The Kingdom calls me to confess the excuse that the poor and uninsured are lazy and I shouldn't have to help them--as a sinful justification for inaction.
No the bill is not perfect. But I choose to see where the Kingdom's justice is being elevated and rejoice. And I choose to call for more justice to be done. And I choose to cease letting economics be my excuse for inaction.
I wonder if the voice of the Kingdom

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

narrow theology

I have been thinking about my theological journey. The main influence in my life as I grew up was fundamentalism and evangelicalism. Fundamentalism did give me a strong love for God's Word and desire to hold the Word in highest respect.
Yet as I have studied the Bible I have found context is important. As Dr. Witherington states, "a text without a context is a pretext." The problem is my fundamentalist friends have often slam the door on context discussion as adding things to the text. I remember my English classes through high school. As we read Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, we encountered the "n" word. This lead us into the discussion over the culture these books were written in--their context. In doing so, we were able to analyze how Mark Twain uses the terms of the day but tells a story of a moral and good person who was called such a derogatory name. This analysis and the deeper meaning of these books came through understanding the culture Twain lived in and wrote in. Disregarding the context is to disregard the People of God, their Culture and God's activity in real space and time. God spoke to people in a real time and a real place. God stepped into our world in a specific culture. To discover as much as we can about the context of Scripture can only enrich our experience of God and the Word. It can only help us truly treat the Bible with the utmost respect.