From Lament, to Hope and Action

The fact is that people who survive dire and desperate situations are not those just stay put while waiting for a rational answer. Neither do they just lament and wait for commiseration (romantic sigh of relief), whether from counsellors or from God. Well, unless they come the socially privileged class and therefore never have to fend for themselves all their lives. Not surprisingly, they are at a loss, not knowing what to do. Those who survive are those who refuse to give up. Instead, they overcome the temptation to resign to their fate and do what it takes to survive. Continue reading “From Lament, to Hope and Action”

God Has Answered our Coronavirus Lament. Contra. N.T. Wright

The headline of N.T. Wright’s piece published in Time Magazine (29/03/2020) is both shocking and provocative: “Christianity Offers No Answers About the Coronavirus. It’s Not Supposed To.”

We may summarize NTW’s piece accordingly – There is no explanation, whether rationalist or romantic. We should not rationalize away or spiritualize our suffering especially in times when “the only advice is to wait without hope.” It is better just to grieve or lament. This is because lament reminds us that God himself is the one who grieved and lamented when his people betrayed him. NTW concludes, “It is no part of the Christian vocation, then, to be able to explain what’s happening and why. In fact, it is part of the Christian vocation not to be able to explain—and to lament instead.”

Lament without an explanation for suffering without rhyme or reason? Doesn’t this sound like Greek catharsis in the face of cruel and capricious fate? Isn’t this a strange amalgamation of sentimentalism with Roman stoicism? In which case, why lament? Why not just accept our fate? In this regard, maybe the Muslims got it right – just throw up your hands and exclaim “takdir”, and get on with life. Continue reading “God Has Answered our Coronavirus Lament. Contra. N.T. Wright”

Reclaiming and Renewing Creation

Creation Reclaimed
Modern philosophy, which began with Descartes, is premised on the idea that objective knowledge is possible only if the cognitive agent first separates himself mentally from the external world around him. Kant reinforced the separation when he postulated a dichotomy between the phenomenal order (things as empirically observed) and the noumenal order (things-in-themselves) in order to give room for human freedom in a world determined by fundamental laws of nature. That is to say, both human knowledge and human freedom entail a flight from nature. The resulting loss of vital connection between man as knowing subject and the world of nature is one of the causes of human disregard of the environment today.

In contrast, the Bible upholds nature, or creation, as the theatre where knowledge of God is revealed. It acknowledges that God is transcendent but he reveals himself through his mighty works of creation, providence and redemption. T. F. Torrance emphasizes that our knowledge of God is mediated to us in and through this world as the sphere of his activity toward us. Torrance writes, “We know God, then, in such a way that our knowledge (theologia nostra) is correlated with the world as his creation and the appointed medium of his self-revelation and self-communication to mankind. Everything would go wrong if the creaturely reality of this world were confused with or mistaken for the uncreated Reality of God, or if knowledge of God were cut off from the fact that it is our knowledge, that is, knowledge of God by us in this world.” /1/ Continue reading “Reclaiming and Renewing Creation”

Critiquing N.T. Wright’s Eschatology: Why the Huffs and Puffs?

N.T. Wright commends an eschatology that is supported by three fundamental structures of hope: 1) the goodness of creation, 2) the reality of evil in God’s permissive will and 3) God’s work of redemption as a re-creation. His vision of the future is comprehensively explored through six biblical images:

1. Seedtime and Harvest [1 Cor. 15]
2. The Victorious Battle [1 Cor. 15]
3. Citizens of Heaven, Colonizing Earth [Phil. 3:20-21]
4. God will be all in all [1 Co.r 15:28]
5. New birth [Rom. 8], and
6. The marriage of heaven and earth [Rev. 21-22]

[Source: N.T.Wright, Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection & the Mission of the Church (Harper Collins,  2008)

Wright’s eschatology marches towards an exciting grand finale when there will be a union of the new heavens and the new earth, “the final accomplishment of God’s great design, to defeat and abolish death forever—which can only mean the rescue of creation from its present plight of decay.” [p. 105] He emphasizes there will be both continuity and discontinuity between the old and new creation. Continue reading “Critiquing N.T. Wright’s Eschatology: Why the Huffs and Puffs?”

Second Thoughts on N.T. Wright’s Second Thoughts on Heaven

It is good that one of my readers points out that we need to appreciate N.T. Wright’s writings as a needed correction of popular Christian thinking where the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ is little mentioned. I agree with her concerns, although I think the weekly Lord’s Supper of the local Brethren churches often refers to Jesus Christ. In any case, I appreciate the reminder. Actually, I debated whether to include the beginning and the end of Horton’s review, where he writes of his appreciation of Wright’s needed correction for popular (a)theology. However, as the post needs to be brief, I left it to the reader to read the appreciative parts from the review itself.

Quote:
Anyone familiar with Wright knows he’s a master storyteller. In that regard, The Day the Revolution Began may be his best, especially for a popular audience. But more than a good narrator, Wright is steeped in the world of Jesus and Paul, bringing decades of scholarship to the task. Still more, the story he tells is vital for us to hear; he exposes the wider redemptive-historical canvas that challenges tendencies to domesticate the gospel to a platonized eschatology focused on the salvation of the individual believer from this world rather than the redemption of all believers with this world…

Even if its provocations strike one as reactionary at times, they should be allowed to strike home nonetheless. If they’re sometimes overcorrections, perhaps they may be allowed at least to correct our distortions, exaggerations, and reductions. Continue reading “Second Thoughts on N.T. Wright’s Second Thoughts on Heaven”