Wright or Willard Wednesdays: Power

NT Wright published a neat little book on faith and public life, basically a view of what a Christian politic might look like with the NT book of Acts as a starting point.

Near the end of the book, Wright suggests how God might be at work in the world:

As for power, when people say (as they often do), “Why doesn’t God do something?”, they always seem to assume that if God was really in control he’d send in the tanks and stop the bullies and the unscrupulous getting away with it. But according to the Sermon on the Mount…. when God wants to change the world he doesn’t send in the tanks… he sends the meek, the mourners, the merciful, the hungry-for-justice people, the peacemakers, the incorruptibly pure in heart. That was never a list of qualities you needed to try to work at in order to get into heaven. It was always a list of human characteristics through which God would bring his kingdom on earth as in heaven. That’s how God works. And by the time the bullies and the arrogant have woken up to what’s happening, the meek and the mourners and the merciful have built hospitals and schools; they are looking after the sick and the wounded; they are feeding the hungry and rescuing the helpless; and they are telling the powerful and the vested-interest people that this is what a genuinely human society looks like, thank you very much.

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Wright or Willard Wednesday: Apologetics

Dallas Willard passed away on May 8th, 2013. Truly a sad day for many in the Christian world. Dallas was in the midst of writing a book on apolgetics (defense of the faith) as he was passing. The book was completed posthumously and reveals many of his intellectual claims for the Christian faith. You can buy this book on Amazon. I highly recommend.

Here is a section of the where Dallas shares about the manner in which apologetics should be conducted:

Since apologetics is involved with ideas, intellectual claims, and reasoning, it is fitting for apologists to engage in intellectual debates and arguments. However, as we will see in this book, given we are seeking to do apologetics in the manner of Jesus, what is not fitting is for apologists to engage in debates and arguments with an antagonizing, arrogant spirit. Indeed, the best way to make the intellectual aspects of apologetics more effective is to combine them with a gentle spirit and kind presentation.

Wright or Willard Wednesday: Jesus’ Appearing

Each Wednesday, I’ll try to offer a short thought from a couple of my favorite sages: NT Wright and Dallas Willard. Today, a long quotation from Dallas Willard’s The Divine Conspiracy. In this quotation, Willard reveals how it was God’s plan to arrive among us through ordinary means:

He slipped into our world through the backroads and outlying districts of one of the least important places on earth and has allowed his program for human history to unfold ever so slowly through the centuries.

He lived for thirty years among socially insignificant members of a negligible nation – though one with rich tradition of divine covenant and interaction. He grew up in the home of the carpenter for the little Middle-Eastern village of Nazareth. After his father, Joseph, died, he became ‘the man of the house’ and helped his mother raise the rest of the family. He was an ordinary workman: a ‘blue-collar’ worker.

He did all this to be with us, to be one of us, to ‘arrange for the delivery’ of his life to us. It must be no simple thing to make it possible for human beings to receive the eternal kind of life. But, as F.W. Faber opens one of his profound works, now ‘Jesus belongs to us. He vouchsafes to put Himself at our disposal. He communicates to us everything of His which we are capable of receiving.’

If he were to come today as he did then, he could carry out his mission through most any decent and useful occupation. He could be a clerk or accountant in a hardware store, a computer repairman, a banker, an editor, doctor, waiter, teacher, farmhand, lab technician, or construction worker. He could run a housecleaning service or repair automobiles.

In other words, if he were to come today he could very well do what you do. He could very well live in your apartment or house, hold down your job, have your education and life prospects, and live within your family, surroundings, and time. None of this world be the least hindrance to the eternal kind of life that was his by nature and becomes available to us through him. Our human life, it turns out, is not destroyed by God’s life but is fulfilled in it and in it alone.

Taller and Taller

In Tom Wright’s Spiritual and Religious Wright has a fascinating chapter on idolatry on how humans can fall for lesser loves,

The process begins with a lie; it continues with the habitual lie; it goes yet deeper when we are unable to distinguish the lie from the truth; and it ends when our words are literally meaningless, the mouthing and mumbling of mechanical untruth that nobody believes but which functions like the clanking of the machinery that says the system is still working. This is the cost of human inflation. We may have felt ten feet tall, but it was a lie. That is the story, in essence, of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11: humans decide to make themselves taller and taller, but the end result is chaos, confusion, the disintegration of human speech.