Monday, May 30, 2011

the imagined gospel

Nadia Bolz-Weber preaches the Gospel

This theooze forum entry begins with the claim that the speaker was preaching the gospel. Here's the kinds of things that person apparently transcribed.

"Once upon a time, the God of the Universe was basically fed up with being on the receiving end of all our human projections, tired of being nothing more to us than what we thought God should be: angry, show-offy, defensive, insecure, in short, the vengeance-seeking tyrant we would be if we were God. So, at that time, over 2,000 years ago, God’s Loving Desire to really be Known overflowed the heavens and was made manifest in the rapidly dividing cells within the womb of an insignificant peasant girl named Mary. And when the time came for her to give birth to God, there was no room in our expectations – no room in any impressive or spiffy or safe place.

Nice that it starts with the standard fairy-tale phrase. Would we be safe in thinking that Bolz-Weber is using that phrase to indicate that she questions the reality of the incarnation?

I don't think we can doubt she thinks something similar of the Old Testament. All it is, from this quote, is "our human projections". That nasty of god of Abraham, David, and Elijah, going around telling his people to fight and conquer, defend themselves, sacrifice a bunch of cute little animals, and so jealous he just won't allow his people to worship a golden calf or any other idol.

A while ago, I noticed that an emergent writer posited what I labeled The Incompetent God--while God wanted people to be nice little flower-power pacifists, he had to continually have them conquer and go to war. I've come to notice that, in one form or another, 'the incompetent god' is a common theme among emergents. Here, this emergent speakers uses it in a PR sense--God just didn't know how to manage his image, letting poor little people make him out to be all wrath and ire and angry.

Yet, is it not ironic, that at the very time the speaker goes on about man projecting on God, this speaker herself is doing the exact thing she accusing them of doing?

So this God was born in straw and dirt. He grew up, this Jesus of Nazareth, left his home, and found some, let’s be honest, rather unimpressive characters to follow him. Fishermen, Tax collectors, prostitutes, homeless women with no teeth, people from Commerce City, Ann Coulter and Charlie Sheen. If you think I’m kidding… read it for yourselves. These people were questionable. So, with his little band of misfits Jesus went about the countryside turning water to wine, eating with all the wrong people, angering the religious establishment and insisting that in him the kingdom of God had come near, that through him the world according to God was coming right to us. He touched the unclean and used spit and dirt to heal the blind and said crazy destabilizing things like the first shall be last and the last shall be first, and sell all you have and give it to the poor.

Well, that's interesting. Nice little spins on the reality. A little bit of truth mixed in with fabrications, not unlike the serpent when he tempted the woman in Eden.

No doubt, one can see a surface relationship to what she's saying Jesus said and did, and what is in the biblical accounts of Him. Yet, getting past the surface, how much of her Jesus is like the biblical Jesus?

Perhaps the one that is most missing is any sense of context to Jesus' actions. For example, he made water into wine at a wedding in which the wine had run out, which from what I understand would have been a bit of a problem for some people invovled in it. We get no hint that Jesus performed this miracle willy-nilly. Jesus ate with sinners, but is there any hint that Jesus was a partaker in their sins, or that He did it to validate their sins? Jesus touched a leper, and did so to heal him.

To one man, Jesus said to give away all he had. He seemed quite pleased enough when Zaccheaus gave only half. And He seemed to not at all hold it against Lazarus and his sisters that they had their own home, one large enough to allow Him and His disciples to stay in. And the statement about first being last was made in the context of the parable of the workers, where the landowner paid all who worked for him that same wage, no matter how long they worked that day. Another time, it is used in the context of those who have given up much to follow Him.

And the thing that really cooked people’s noodles wasn’t the question “is Jesus like God” it was “what if God is like Jesus”. What if God is not who we thought? What if the most reliable way to know God is not through religion, not through a sin and punishment program, but through a person. What if the most reliable way to know God is to look at how God chose to reveal God’s self in Jesus?"

Perhaps one can show me in the Bible, please, where anyone got "really cooked" by that question she says they got cooked by?

This is, simply, the tired old canard that Jesus was somehow different from God. No lie would be bigger. Jesus was not some radical departure from the God of the prophets, His message was not in contradiction to the God of the Scriptures that the people had at that time. He read from one of those prophets when He began His ministry, He quoted those Scriptures to the devil when He was tempted, He said that those Scriptures spoke of Him, He affirmed those Scriptures and God at every turn. He did not play this game that Bolz-Weber is doing, putting down the God of the Old Testament to create a jesus of her own making.

To separate Jesus from the context of the Old Testament is to create a jesus of one's own making, which Bolz-Weber does. We cannot understand Jesus' sacrifice apart from sin and redemption. The jesus of Bolz-Weber and other emergents is simply a propoganda tool.

Because that changes everything. If what we see in Jesus is God’s own self, revealed, then what we are dealing with here is a God who is ridiculously indiscriminate about choosing friends. A God who would rather die than be in the sin accounting business anymore. A God who would not lift a finger to condemn those who crucified him, but went to the depths of Hell rather than be apart even from his betrayers. A God unafraid to get his hands dirty for the ones he loves. This, this is the God who rises to new life with dirt still under his nails.

Ok, did God not lift a finger to condemn those who crucified him? When Jesus cried out over Jerusalem, saying how He wanted to gather them to Him but they would not allow it, then saying that bad things were coming to them, was He not condemning them for their rejection of Him?

Would God rather die than be in the sin accounting business? In Jesus, God offers us forgiveness of sin, through His death and by His blood, but as was also said, those who do not believe are condemned already.

God has shown us His love, in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us. But this is no a license to continue in sin, as Bolz-Weber does in her sexual choices, nor does it mean that all are forgiven willy-nilly. It is through repentence and faith in the crucified and risen Christ, a Christ literally crucified and risn and not some kind of fictional redefinition of those things, that we find forgiveness of sin.

Bolz-Weber did not preach the gospel, contrary to what this writer claimed. She preached propoganda.

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