Welcoming the Stranger: Giving Recognition and Showing Hospitality

Hospitality most fittingly captures the ways and welfare of the pilgrim peoples. In the act of sharing we achieve freedom from the strangling and suffocating attachment to worldly goods. When we share and receive from one another, we are reminded that we are merely stewards of God’s gifts to be used for the common good. In offering hospitality to strangers we affirm we are merely fellow pilgrims en route to the heavenly city of God.

Welcoming the Stranger
Giving Recognition and Showing Hospitality

Why I Find it Hard to Recognize and Welcome Strangers
– I am a Stranger Myself
– I am a Captive to a Self-Centred LifeStyle (Economic Security and Comfort)
What Biblical Resources Challenge My Complacent/Frantic Life of Economic and Cultural Captivity?
How Can I Make Room for the Stranger?
Ministering as Fellow Pilgrims Continue reading “Welcoming the Stranger: Giving Recognition and Showing Hospitality”

What is Christological Praxis? Part 2/2

Perhaps a fruitful model may be found by integrating the covenant model of society with ideological critique represented by the critical theory of the Frankfurt School. Insofar as the church exists as a social phenomenon, the church is open to social forces operating in society. As such, relevant social analysis must be brought to bear on the historical form assumed by the church to uncover any hidden structures that contradict its professed identity.

Thesis 2: Social praxis is structurally mediated by the emancipatory solidarity of the community of Christ.

Christians seeking to be relevant to wider society should take note of Jurgen Moltmann’s analysis of the unintended consequences when Christian student activists decided to join the barricades in the student demonstrations in Berlin in 1968. The Christian students eventually abandoned their Christian faith as irrelevant to their present social struggles. Moltmann highlights the dramatic case of Christian students at the Meiji-Gakuin University in Japan who even erected a barricade in the University Chapel. The Japanese students declared,

By making our church a refuse dump we want to proclaim to the university authorities and our fellow students that Christianity and worship can become symbols of the absence of humanity and contempt for it. We want to create true Christianity n the midst of this stormy struggle within the university by common action with our fellow students. . . God does not exist in this church, but rather in the living deeds of a man involved in human relationships” (The Crucified God, p. 15) Continue reading “What is Christological Praxis? Part 2/2”

What is Christological Praxis? Part 1/2

Thesis 1: The process from Christ to social praxis is mediated through a specific anthropology, philosophy of history and social structure. Christological anthropology, that is, the concepts of freedom and cohumanity in Christ conceives of man as acting under divine determination and enables social praxis to maintain a relational view of man which is necessary to keep the community in view.

What is Christological Praxis?

Christology as a Normative Factor

Christology is a normative factor for social praxis but Christological ethic is not to be construed as merely an exercise in the detailed reproduction of the work and words of Jesus. Attempts towards mere replication of the activities of the historical Jesus give an impression of datedness since Jesus could only address issues 2000 year ago. Worse still, one may be forced to conclude that Jesus is irrelevant to social praxis today. Continue reading “What is Christological Praxis? Part 1/2”

Hermeneutical Circle: Inseparability of Theory and Praxis

It has become fashionable in some Christian circles to deride the need for theory or to disabuse the importance given to doctrinal orthodoxy as a poor substitute for living faith. Indeed, it is claimed that pre-occupation with doctrinal orthodoxy leads to judgmentalism. Hence the favourite slogan “From absolute to authentic”. I think these criticisms are unfair. . .
Given the distinction between, but inseparability of theory and practice, it is unnecessary and unacceptable to emphasize any one of the components over the other. After all, “truth as transformation always involves truth as disclosure; speaking the truth is never separable but is distinguishable from doing the truth.�?

It has become fashionable in some Christian circles to deride the need for theory or to disabuse the importance given to doctrinal orthodoxy as a poor substitute for living faith. Indeed, it is claimed that preoccupation with doctrinal orthodoxy leads to judgmentalism. Hence, the favourite slogan “From Absolute to Authentic”.

I think these criticisms are unfair. Do contemporary theologians view right doctrine as substitute for faith? Do theologians really offer their doctrinal formulations as absolute truth? For that matter how can Christians be authentic if they reject belief in absolute truth (which admittedly is fully grasped only by the omniscient God)? In any case, clarity is needed since contemporary theologians and critics differ on how the word ‘absolute’ is significant for Christian faith and understanding. Continue reading “Hermeneutical Circle: Inseparability of Theory and Praxis”

Christology and Sociality in Bonhoeffer (Part 2/2)

Bonhoeffer never conducted theology merely as an academic exercise. He insisted that acquired knowledge cannot be divorced from the existence in which it is acquired. Theology is an expression of belief since “only he who believes is obedient, and only he who is obedient believes�? (CD 69). For Bonhoeffer, there can be no abstract Christology.

Christology and Sociality in Bonhoeffer

II. Participation in Christ: An individual response

Bonhoeffer never conducted theology merely as an academic exercise. He insisted that acquired knowledge cannot be divorced from the existence in which it is acquired. Theology is an expression of belief since “only he who believes is obedient, and only he who is obedient believes” (CD 69). For Bonhoeffer, there can be no abstract Christology.

“An abstract Christology, a doctrinal system… renders discipleship superfluous, and in fact they positively exclude any idea of discipleship whatever, and are essentially inimical to the whole conception of following Christ… Christianity without the living Christ is inevitably Christianity without discipleship, and Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ” (CD 64).

The question of how Christ takes form among the disciples here and now becomes decisive. Continue reading “Christology and Sociality in Bonhoeffer (Part 2/2)”

Christology and Sociality in Bonhoeffer (Part 1/2)

In their protests against established religion, many youths today cry aloud the slogan, “Hostile to the church, but friendly to Jesus.�? The question, however, is, which Jesus are they friendly with? Is it the Jesus of the liberal theologian, the liberationist, the Gnostic or even perhaps the Jesus of Hollywood? Bonhoeffer would certainly approve of their insistence on the centrality of Christ, unclouded by traditional religious trappings. We must, however, be fully aware of the great temptation to substitute the Christ of tradition with a Christ who is constructed out of some current concerns or personal fancies.

Christology and Sociality in Bonhoeffer

I. Concrete-relational Christology

In their protests against established religion, many youths today cry aloud the slogan, “Hostile to the church, but friendly to Jesus.” The question, however, is, which Jesus are they friendly with? Is it the Jesus of the liberal theologian, the liberationist, the Gnostic or even perhaps the Jesus of Hollywood? Bonhoeffer would certainly approve of their insistence on the centrality of Christ, unclouded by traditional religious trappings. We must, however, be fully aware of the great temptation to substitute the Christ of tradition with a Christ who is constructed out of some current concerns or personal fancies.

We must approach Christology as a divine given. Our integrity as faithful Christians stands or falls by the belief that in Christ we are given divine revelation that has become tangible and visible in history. Continue reading “Christology and Sociality in Bonhoeffer (Part 1/2)”

JESUS CHRIST – ESCHATOLOGICAL PROPHET AND INCARNATE SAVIOR (Part 4/4)

The Gospels make clear that Jesus was not only bringing a special message. He personified what God reveals. He was not only an ‘emissary’ but the personality in and through whom God is known. Whereas in Islam the Quran is the very ‘text’ of divine truth, the New Testament is the access to the Christ-expression of God. The Scripture has its being by derivation from the prior and primarily reality of ‘the Word made flesh’

JESUS CHRIST – ESCHATOLOGICAL PROPHET AND INCARNATE SAVIOR
A CHRISTIAN PROPOSAL TO MUSLIMS (PART 4/4)

The Gospels make clear that Jesus was not only bringing a special message. He personified what God reveals. He was not only an ‘emissary’ but the personality in and through whom God is known. Whereas in Islam the Quran is the very ‘text’ of divine truth, the New Testament is the access to the Christ-expression of God. The Scripture has its being by derivation from the prior and primarily reality of ‘the Word made flesh’

Indeed, the life of Christ confirms a prophethood that is deepened, if not climaxed, in a one-for-all incarnate revelation of God. Continue reading “JESUS CHRIST – ESCHATOLOGICAL PROPHET AND INCARNATE SAVIOR (Part 4/4)”

JESUS CHRIST – ESCHATOLOGICAL PROPHET AND INCARNATE SAVIOR (Part 3/4)

Christians buttress evidence for the historical factuality of the cross by appealing to eyewitness-accounts and reports found in non-Christian historical sources (Josephus, Tacitus). Muslim critics therefore grudgingly acknowledge that historically a crucifixion did occur. However, they suggest that someone other than Jesus was crucified. They argue that Christians have misunderstood the significance of the cross because they are victims of an illusion. God, they claim, replaced Jesus with someone that bore his likeness.

JESUS CHRIST – ESCHATOLOGICAL PROPHET AND INCARNATE SAVIOR
A CHRISTIAN PROPOSAL TO MUSLIMS (Part 3/4)

The Historical Factuality of the Crucifixion
Christians buttress evidence for the historical factuality of the cross by appealing to eyewitness-accounts and reports found in non-Christian historical sources (Josephus, Tacitus). The Christian witness to the crucifixion is plausible since it is inconceivable why Christians should invent the crucifixion which declares that their founder died an accursed death (under divine judgment) on the cross. As such, an outright denial of the crucifixion would tantamount to a willful blindness to historical reality. Muslim critics therefore grudgingly acknowledge that historically a crucifixion did occur. However, they suggest that someone other than Jesus was crucified. They argue that Christians have misunderstood the significance of the cross because they are victims of an illusion. God, they claim, replaced Jesus with someone that bore his likeness. Continue reading “JESUS CHRIST – ESCHATOLOGICAL PROPHET AND INCARNATE SAVIOR (Part 3/4)”

JESUS CHRIST AS ESCHATOLOGICAL PROPHET AND INCARNATE SAVIOR (Part 2/3)

How do we adjudicate the difference between Christians and Muslims regarding the prophetic mission and status of Jesus? Obviously, the issue cannot be answered in abstraction. For this reason, it is unfortunate that the controversy revolving around the incarnation of Christ has overshadowed his actual life lived out in history. It is of vital importance that Christians present their doctrine not as an imposition of a philosophical grid on the historical facts. Their proclamation of Jesus as God’s incarnation should be seen as a compelling conclusion based on a respectful handling and faithful interpretation of the historical data. In other words, reading about the life and works of Christ must lead us to ask what manner of man was Jesus: Isn’t he a remarkable man; isn’t he a prophet; isn’t he more than a prophet and what then?

JESUS CHRIST – ESCHATOLOGICAL PROPHET AND INCARNATE SAVIOR
A CHRISTIAN PROPOSAL TO MUSLIMS (Part 2/4)

MORE THAN AN ORDINARY PROPHET
One reason why Muslims reject Jesus’ crucifixion arises from Islamic faith in divine justice. In particular, God cannot abandon his prophet to tragic and unjust fate Indeed, as the Quran testifies, God gives victory to those who seek to further his cause (Surah 22:40; 40:51);
O you who believe!
If you will aid (the cause of) God,
He will aid you, and plant your feet firmly
(Surah 47:7);

Nay, God raised him up unto Himself; and God is Exalted in Power, Wise (Surah 4:158).

Herein lies an ironic twist in the denial of the cross or the Messiahship of Jesus. For the Jews Jesus could not be a prophet sent by God since he was crucified. The Muslims reverse this logic – if Jesus was a prophet sent by God then he could not be crucified. Continue reading “JESUS CHRIST AS ESCHATOLOGICAL PROPHET AND INCARNATE SAVIOR (Part 2/3)”

JESUS CHRIST AS ESCHATOLOGICAL PROPHET AND INCARNATE SAVIOR(Part 1/4)

Reginald Fuller argues that the category of the eschatological prophet remains the best category for understanding Jesus’ historical mission and “gives a unity to all of Jesus’ historical activity, his proclamation, his teaching with exousia (‘authority’), his healings and exorcisms, his conduct in eating with the outcast, and finally his death in the fulfillment of his prophetic mission. Take the implied self-understanding of his role in terms of the eschatological prophet away, and the whole ministry falls into a series of unrelated, if not meaningless fragments�?

JESUS CHRIST – ESCHATOLOGICAL PROPHET AND INCARNATE SAVIOR
A CHRISTIAN PROPOSAL TO MUSLIMS (Part 1/3)

Both Muslims and Christians apply the title ‘prophet’ to Jesus. However, the distinctive Islamic emphasis on prophethood should not be missed. In general the Muslim teaching of prophets includes the following: 1) A messenger/apostle (rasul) is sent with divine Scripture to guide and reform mankind; 2) All God’s prophets were trustworthy, knowledgeable, and most obedient to God. Allah protected them from serious sins and bad diseases; 3) Denying any of the prophets constitutes unbelief (Surah 4: 150-151); 4) Many prophets were mocked and rejected (Surah 15:11; 17:94). Some prophets were delivered by God, e.g. Noah (Surah 21:76; 26:118; 29:15; 37:76), Lot (21:71, 74; 26:170), and Moses (Surah 28:20-22; 26:65). Some of the prophets, however, were killed ‘wrongfully’ (e.g. Abel, Zechariah, and Yahya or John the Baptist), c.f. Surah 2:61, 87, 91; 3:21, 112; 4:155; 5:70. Finally, and most importantly, for Muslims Muhammad is ‘the seal of the prophets’ (Surah 33:40) /1/. Continue reading “JESUS CHRIST AS ESCHATOLOGICAL PROPHET AND INCARNATE SAVIOR(Part 1/4)”