Why Does God Allow Pain and Suffering? With anything so viscerally devastating, the Christian community has long tried to explain it. At the beginning of the written word, we see this tension: Job has suffered in ways incomprehensible leaving a wake of crushing confusion. God tells us it was Satan, Job tells us it was God, his friends tell Job it was him. The finger-pointing is instinctual, because what we have always wanted to know when tragedy strikes is WHY.To this end, the church has a history of formulizing suffering, giving it tidy origins and endings and whitewashing the horrid, debilitating middle. We’ve assessed the complicated nuances of universal sorrow and assigned it categories, roots, principles.
Or in the face of uncertain causes, we recite cold theology:"Well, you know God is sovereign. " In inconsolable times … | Jason Goroncy. Just after beginning to come somewhat to terms (I say ‘somewhat’ for with evil there can be no such arrangement) with the devastating and deadly powers unleashed in Cyclone Evan, we find ourselves again on this day stirred with rage, frustration, despair, lament and grief birthed by news of yet another mass shooting in the USA. It is timely (and sadly so) that I happen to be working on a book of essays on the Hebrew notion of tikkun olam (to mend the world). It is timely too that today my friend Rebecca Floyd drew my attention to two sermons by J. Mary Luti. The first, first preached after the tragic events of the massive Indian Ocean tsunami, and the second, an excerpt from a sermon on the Feast of the Holy Innocents, both speak to this week’s events.
Here are a few snippets. From the first: We Christians sometimes find it hard to refrain from overwhelming great empty spaces and terrifying silences with hope-filled murmuring about God’s love and abiding presence. But no, not now. Examen. A story of a girl, a boy, and ‘that voice’ | Jason Goroncy. Luke 1:26–38 No one ever listens to girls. Not in my world. No one listens when we have something to say. No one believes us when something amazing happens. I was by the hearth when it happened. I heard a noise. And then a face poked in through the door. I wasn’t scared when he – when she – walked in. I should have run. ‘Mary, I’ve got something to ask.’ She knew my name. ‘Who are you?’ ‘You already know,’ she said. And I did. ‘Will you say yes?’ I had felt womanhood stirring in me for months. I knew what was being asked. I said, ‘Why me?’ God shrugged. I had two questions. God wept. ‘Will you do it?’ I gave the answer I knew I’d regret. Matthew 1:18–25 Do I look like a fool?
I might not be shiniest nail in the box, but that doesn’t mean I deserve to be treated like a pillock. That’s what I felt like she’d done. She’d told me she was pregnant. I laughed when she first said it. But from the look on her face – fierce, determined, scared – I saw this was no joke. I stared at her and I couldn’t speak.
O Come O Come Emmanuel Matt Maher. The Christmas Revolution. Photo BECAUSE the Christmas story has been told so often for so long, it’s easy even for Christians to forget how revolutionary Jesus’ birth was. The idea that God would become human and dwell among us, in circumstances both humble and humiliating, shattered previous assumptions. It was through this story of divine enfleshment that much of our humanistic tradition was born. For most Christians, the incarnation — the belief that God, in the person of Jesus, walked in our midst — is history’s hinge point. The incarnation’s most common theological take-away relates to the doctrine of redemption: the belief that salvation is made possible by the sinless life and atoning death of Jesus.
But there are other, less familiar aspects of Jesus’ earthly pilgrimage that are profoundly important. One of them was rejecting the Platonic belief that the material world was evil. But just as basic is the notion that we have value because God values us. Continue reading the main story. Losing Jesus - Brian Zahnd.
Losing JesusBrian Zahnd Mary had lost Jesus. She couldn’t find him anywhere. Jesus had gone missing. He wasn’t among the friends and relatives who had traveled to Jerusalem for Passover and who were now returning home to Nazareth. For three days Mary and Joseph frantically searched Jerusalem. Our sympathies are naturally with Mary. “Why were you looking for me? Mary and Joseph didn’t understand what Jesus meant by this. When Jesus began his ministry around the age of thirty, he left Nazareth and moved to Capernaum.
Mary would lose Jesus one more time. Losing Jesus. We think we’ve got Jesus figured out. I’ve had the experience of what feels like losing Jesus several times in my four decades of trying to follow Jesus. How did I become a sacramental, liturgical Christian? What about those who never have the experience of feeling like they’ve lost Jesus? We have Jesus. This is the inescapable pattern for spiritual growth. Losing Jesus. Click here for the sermon “Losing Jesus.” Women in the World - Journal. "If Jesus & Holy Week were Covered by 24 Hour Cable News" by Nathan Roberts - The Salt Collective. All too often, the speed of the 24 hour news machine reduces complex stories to bite size talking points. Journalists and talking heads seem to take one look at a news story and then grind the details through their pre-existing narratives.
It got me wondering how Cable News would have spun Holy Week. And after a week of 24 hour coverage how would the public feel about Jesus’ crucifixion? This is how I imagine it might have gone. Palm Sunday Riots Jesus entered Jerusalem on Passover weekend. Interviews with Pharisees After feeding a crowd Jesus said, ” I tell you, you are looking for me, not because of my miracles and teachers but because I gave you bread to eat, but I am the bread of life. ” (John 6) Jesus’ Attacking Vendors Selling in the Temple Jesus entered the temple in Jerusalem and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.
Examining Jesus’ Friends Arrested in Garden of Gethsemane. The Deer's Cry. The False Gospel of Gender Binaries. Not long ago I had the pleasure of working with Adrian,* a visual artist with a quick wit, easygoing spirit, and creative eye. After an afternoon of laugher and collaboration, Adrian opened up about what it’s been like working with other religious people, particularly evangelicals. “I’m intersex,” Adrian said, with a shrug of the shoulders. “Evangelicals don’t have a category for me, so there’s no real place for me in their church.” (Intersex is a term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.
Learn more here.) Adrian’s words hurt my heart, but I knew they were true. “God made male and female,” culture warriors like to thunder. Even the Vatican reinforced this message this week in an international forum on marriage where “complementarity between man and woman in marriage” was described by Pope Francis as “the root of marriage and family.” Who are we to judge? How Scripture and tradition help to form our consciences. At the gathering of the Synod of Bishops in October 2015, church leaders discussed a wide range of challenges facing modern families, including—though not limited to—sensitive questions around Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, contraception and same-sex marriage. In their final report, the bishops noted that in cases where a marriage has broken down, “Pastoral discernment, while taking into account a person’s properly formed conscience, must take responsibility for these situations” (No. 85).
And in his final address to the synod, Pope Francis noted that “apart from dogmatic questions clearly defined by the Church’s Magisterium…what for some is freedom of conscience is for others simply confusion.” To clear away some of this confusion, it is helpful to turn to the Bible and the tradition of the church, which provide widely applicable insights on the topic. Here let me offer four of the major contributions to the church’s understanding of conscience today. Tradition Today. Top 10 takeaways from “Amoris Laetitia” Pope Francis’s groundbreaking new document “Amoris Laetitia” (“The Joy of Love”) asks the church to meet people where they are, to consider the complexities of people’s lives and to respect people’s consciences when it comes to moral decisions.
The apostolic exhortation is mainly a document that reflects on family life and encourages families. But it is also the pope’s reminder that the church should avoid simply judging people and imposing rules on them without considering their struggles. Using insights from the Synod of Bishops on the Family and from bishops’ conferences from around the world, Pope Francis affirms church teaching on family life and marriage, but strongly emphasizes the role of personal conscience and pastoral discernment.
He urges the church to appreciate the context of people’s lives when helping them make good decisions. The goal is to help families—in fact, everyone—experience God’s love and know that they are welcome members of the church. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Understanding discernment is key to understanding “Amoris Laetitia” One word that occurs repeatedly in Pope Francis’s new apostolic exhortation on the family and love is “discernment.” For Jesuits like the pope, the word is not a generic phrase but one with a specific meaning. Understanding discernment, then, is key to understanding “Amoris Laetitia,” as well as the pope’s overall approach to pastoral care.
His use of discernment is closely tied to the idea of conscience, also highlighted in this document, particularly for those facing complex spiritual decisions. In the popular imagination, a “discerning” person is one with good taste or a good eye. For the Jesuit, however, “discernment” means something much more. Discernment for St. So discernment is the ability to see clearly what those forces are; to be able to identify, weigh and judge them; and finally to choose the path most in line with God’s desires for you and for the world.
Thus, it is not as simple as blindly following certain rules and regulations. How does one discern? April Maskiewicz on the “E” Word. I watched a fantastic TEDx talk this weekend by Dr. April Maskiewicz, who teaches biology at Point Loma Nazarene University. I first got to know April in 2010 when BioLogos and PLNU began hosting week-long summer workshops for high school biology teachers from Christian schools. Watching April teach and interact with the teachers in the program impressed upon me how rare it is to encounter people who understand and communicate well about evolutionary biology. April does both and more: Because she herself has had to wrestle with how to reconcile evolution and Christian faith, she cares deeply about—and is gifted at—addressing the objections her students raise about evolution.
April begins her talk with a personal introduction: “I’m an evangelical Christian, and by that I mean I view the Bible as God’s revelation and Jesus as my savior, and I’m a biologist that embraces evolution, that all life on earth shares a common ancestor, including humans.” “The Bible was written by men with Daddy issues,” says atheist scholar. John Dickson responds. INTERVIEWS | Tess HolgateMonday 2 May 2016 Jonah was *not* swallowed by a fish, there was *never* an exodus, and Moses *never* existed, according to atheist and biblical scholar Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou (a Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Religion in the Theology and Religion department at Exeter University) who appeared on The Weekly on Wednesday evening, making outrageous claims about the Bible. Eternity asked historian John Dickson to respond to some of her comments. Stavrakopoulou claimed that Jonah was not swallowed by a fish, there was never an exodus, and that there’s no evidence for Moses being a historical figure.
Should Christians be troubled by her claim that there is no evidence for these events and people? Um, no! If there’s one thing the media has taught us over the last ten years or so it’s that almost nothing that gets aired to the general public represents what mainstream scholars really believe. Is this how you would describe the New Testament? Do you see this woman?: a preaching commentary on rape culture, Bathsheba, and the use of grace.
Happy is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Happy is he who sees a married woman from far off, commands her to be brought to him, rapes her, and sends her home. Happy is he who kills the husband of the woman he wants and who, when called out by the prophet of God, begs forgiveness. Happy is he who has the wealth to host a dinner and neglect hospitality to the son of God. Happy is he who sneers at a sinner. Happy is he who takes his family to the zoo and, when the child falls into the gorilla pen, the mother is blamed. Happy is he who rapes an unconscious girl but, because he is such a promising athlete, is given only six months in jail. Happy is he who spews hatred, division, and judgment, and for it is chosen as a presidential nominee.
Happy is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. God saw them. Except perhaps the unconscious girl he raped. We miss what is called rape culture, a way of living where we blame victims for their own suffering. ‘Memo to J.C.’ | Jason Goroncy. When you were down here JC and walked this earth, You were a pretty decent sort of bloke, Although you never owned nothing, but the clothes on your back, And you were always walking round, broke. But you could talk to people, and you didn’t have to judge, You didn’t mind helping the down and out But these fellows preaching now in your Holy name, Just what are they on about?
Didn’t you tell these fellows to do other things, Besides all that preaching and praying? Well, listen, JC, there’s things ought to be said, And I might as well get on with the saying. Didn’t you tell them ‘don’t judge your fellow man’ And ‘love ye one another’ And ‘not put your faith in worldly goods’. Well, you should see the goods that they got, brother! They got great big buildings and works of art, And millions of dollars in real estate, They got no time to care about human beings, They forgot what you told ‘em, mate; Things like, ‘Whatever ye do to the least of my brothers, This ye do also unto me’. Like this: