- ABROMEIT, Hans-Jürgen. Das Geheimnis Christi: Dietrich Bonhoeffers erfahrungsbezogene Christologie. Neukirchener Beiträge zur systemaschen Theologie 8. Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1991.
- BEINTKER, Michael. “Kontingenz und Gegenständlichkeit: Zu Bonhoeffers Barth-Kritik in ‘Akt und Sein.’” In Krisis und Gnade: Gesammelte Studien zu Karl Barth, edited by Stefan Holtmann and Peter Zocher, 29–54. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2013.
- BENKTSON, Benkt-Erik. Christus Und Die Religion: Der Religionsbegriff Bei Barth, Bonhoeffer Und Tillich. Arbeiten Zur Theologie, II/9. Stuttgart: Calwer, 1967.
- BETHGE, Eberhard. Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography. Edited by Victoria J. Barnett. Revised. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1967.
- BOOMGAARDEN, Jürgen. Das Verständnis der Wirklichkeit: Dietrich Bonhoeffers systematische Theologie und ihr philosophischer Hintergrund in “Akt und Sein.” Gütersloh: Chr. Kaiser/Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 1999.
- BURTNESS, James H. “As Though God Were Not Given: Barth, Bonhoeffer, and the Finitum Capax Infiniti.” Dialog 19, no. 4 (1980): 249–55.
- DEJONGE, Michael P. Bonhoeffer’s Theological Formation: Berlin, Barth, and Protestant Theology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.
- EICHINGER, Franz. “Zwischen Transzendentalphilosophie und Ontologie: Zur kritisch-systematischen Standortbestimmung der Theologie beim frühen Bonhoeffer.” In Vernunftfähiger – vernunftbedürftiger Glaube: Festschrift zum 60. Geburtstag von Johann Reikerstorfer-, edited by Kurt Appel, Wolfgang Treitler, and Peter Zeillinger, 65–86. Religion – Kultur – Recht 3. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2005.
- FEIL, Ernst. The Theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Translated by Martin Rumscheidt. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2007.
- GODSEY, John D. “Barth and Bonhoeffer: The Basic Difference.” Quarterly Review 7, no. 1 (1987): 9–27.
- ———. The Theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster, 1960.
- GREEN, Clifford J. Bonhoeffer: A Theology of Sociality. Revised. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999.
- ———. “Trinity and Christology in Bonhoeffer and Barth.” Union Seminary Quarterly Review 60, no. 1–2 (2006): 1–22.
- GREGGS, Tom. Theology Against Religion: Constructive Dialogues with Bonhoeffer and Barth. London; New York: T&T Clark, 2011.
- ———. “The Influence of Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Karl Barth.” In Engaging Bonhoeffer: The Impact and Influence and Impact of Bonhoeffer’s Life and Thought, edited by Matthew Kirkpatrick. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2016.
- KAMPHUIS, Barend. Boven En Beneden: Het Uitgangspunt van de Christologie En de Problematiek van de Openbaring Nagegaan Aan de Hand van de Ontwikkelingen Bij Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer En Wolfhart Pannenberg. Kampen: Kok, 1999.
- KARTTUNEN, Tomi. Die Polyphonie Der Wirklichkeit: Erkenntnistheorie Und Ontologie in Der Theologie Dietrich Bonhoeffers. University of Joensuu Publications in Theology 11. Joensuu: University of Joensuu, 2004.
- KRÖTKE, Wolf. Barmen – Barth – Bonhoeffer: Beiträge Zu Einer Zeitgemäßen Christozentrischen Theologie. Unio Und Confessio 26. Bielefeld: Luther-Verlag, 2009.
- LEHMANN, Paul L. “The Concreteness of Theology: Reflections on the Conversation between Barth and Bonhoeffer.” In Footnotes to a Theology: The Karl Barth Colloquium of 1972, edited by Martin Rumscheidt, 53–76. Canada: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1974.
- MARSH, Charles. Reclaiming Dietrich Bonhoeffer: The Promise of His Theology. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.
- MAYER, Rainer. Christuswirklichkeit: Grundlagen, Entwicklungen Und Konsequenzen Der Theologie Dietrich Bonhoeffers. Arbeiten Zur Theologie, II/15. Stuttgart: Calwer, 1969.
- PANGRITZ, Andreas. “Dietrich Bonhoeffer: ‘Within, Not Outside, the Barthian Movement.’” In Bonhoeffer’s Intellectual Formation: Theology and Philosophy in His Thought, edited by Peter Frick, 29:245–82. Religion in Philosophy and Theology. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008.
- ———. Karl Barth in the Theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000.
- PUFFER, Matthew. “Dietrich Bonhoeffer in the Theology of Karl Barth.” In Karl Barth in Conversation, edited by W. Travis McMaken and David W. Congdon, 46–62. Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2014.
- REUTER, Hans-Richard. “Editor’s Afterword to the German Edition.” In Act and Being: Transcendental Philosophy and Ontology in Systematic Theology, 162–83. DBWE 2. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996.
- SHERMAN, Franklin. “Act and Being.” In The Place of Bonhoeffer: Problems and Possibilities in His Thought, edited by Martin E. Marty, 83–111. New York: Association Press, 1962.
- TIETZ-STEIDING, Christiane. Bonhoeffers Kritik Der Verkrümmten Vernunft: Eine Erkenntnistheoretische Untersuchung. Beiträge Zur Historischen Theologie 12. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1999.
- WITVLIET, J. Theo. “Bonhoeffer’s Dialoog Met Karl Barth.” Kerk En Theologie 16 (1965): 301–21.
- WOELFEL, James W. Bonhoeffer’s Theology: Classical and Revolutionary. Nashville: Abingdon, 1970.
- WÜSTENBERG, Ralf K. “Philosophical Influences on Bonhoeffer’s ‘Religionless Christianity.’” In Bonhoeffer and Continental Thought: Cruciform Philosophy, edited by Brian Gregor and Jens Zimmermann, 137–55. Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Religion. Bloomington, IN: Indiana Univ Press, 2009.
(The following post originally appeared on May 08, 2011.)
In our current context of wealth and poverty existing side by side in a milieu of materialistic consumerism, the Christian gospel of denying ourselves and making much of God is being abandoned for the American gospel of denying others and making much of ourselves.
American Christians have become content to live a baptized version of the American dream, a hollow faith that is about maximizing your earthly portfolio once your salvation is secured.
My main contention is that Christians in the United States should lower their standards of living to what is necessary for human flourishing and give their excess resources beyond this standard to the poor. In doing so, they will remain faithful to Scripture and discover a more satisfactory way of life.
Isn’t That Asceticism?
At this point some may claim that I am trying to advocate for a form of asceticism. Continue reading “Christians and Wealth”
(A chapel message in a Christian school.)
There are a few things you should know about me:
- I am a student at a Christian seminary.
- Before that, I went to a Christian college.
- Before that, I went to a Christian high school, and a Christian middle school.
- Before that, I was home-schooled, and I grew up in a Christian home.
Oh, also: I’m the world’s worst sports fan.
I’m serious. The students in my youth group give me a hard time about it. Every week, they’re like, “Josh, did you see the game?!” “Josh, are you going to watch the game?”
And I’m like, “Game? What game? I don’t even know which sport’s season it is!”
World’s. worst. sports fan. I’m telling you.
The one redeeming quality about my sports fandom is that I’ve stuck with one team through thick and thin: the University of Michigan Wolverines. Go Blue!
Now, I know that the rivalry between the Wolverines and the Ohio State Buckeyes is but a pale imitation of the rivalry between Alabama and Auburn down here. But up North, this rivalry was and is a big deal.
And it was really interesting, back when I was in middle school and high school, to observe what would happen each year in November when the Wolverines and the Buckeyes went at it.
I’m from Toledo, OH, which is on the border with Michigan, so the fan split was about 50/50 – Wolverines on one side, Buckeyes on the other.
And each year, on the day after the big game, you could tell who the true fans were…
It was the people still cheering for the team that lost.
Why not the winning fans? Weren’t they just as legit?
Well, maybe. Perhaps they were legitimate, lifelong fans. But, on the other hand, they could just be cheering for the winning team because they won, right?
They could, in other words, just be bandwagon fans.
Bandwagon fans are the worst. Right?
I mean, you can’t trust them. Sure, they look like a die-hard fan now, when the team is doing well. But, when things get rough, when those wins stop coming, they disappear! On to the next team, at least as long as they keep on winning…
Bandwagon fans. Those people are the worst.
But, you know, if we’re honest with ourselves, we tend to ride a lot of bandwagons in life, and not just in sports.
We ride the bandwagon when it comes to:
- How we speak
- What we wear
- What we read
- What we listen to
- What we watch
- What we eat and drink
We ride bandwagons when it comes to our friends. Our hobbies.
And, if we’re really honest with ourselves, our faith.
We are Bandwagon Christians
Hear me out. Hear me out. I’m not saying that there are no genuine followers of Jesus Christ here.
What I am saying is that, to some extent, being a Christian is built into the very fabric of our lives. I am, after all, speaking here at a Christian school, which meets in a church!
And me? I’m no better. I’m a student at a Christian school, and always have been! I’ve been around Christians my entire life!
Now, is being around Christians a bad thing? Should we all stop going to church?
No! That’s not what I’m saying.
What I’m saying is that, if we’re not careful, following Jesus Christ will be just another thing we do to go with the flow, to follow the crowd.
Following Jesus will become just a matter of convenience, instead of devotion.
And, just like any bandwagon fan, the danger for us bandwagon Christians is that, when things get tough, we’ll be exposed for who we really are – followers of ourselves, instead of followers of Jesus.
Friends, we’re all, to some extent, bandwagon Christians.
And here’s the bad news:
Jesus Doesn’t Want Bandwagon Followers!
Turn with me, if you’ve got your Bible, to Luke, chapter 14. Verse 25.
Now, for a bit of context, Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem. You know, where he’s about to be tortured and killed. And he’s got this big ol’ crowd of people with him.
I want you to imagine that we – all of us – are in that group of people, following Jesus.
And Jesus is about to drop a truth-bomb on all of us, that he is not interested in bandwagon followers. He doesn’t want them.
What does he want? Let’s read to find out. Verse 25 begins:
25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them,26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.
Jesus doesn’t want bandwagon followers. Instead, he wants your ultimate loyalty.
See, he’s not urging us to get really angry at our family. And he’s not telling you to hate yourself or beat yourself up.
No, instead the word “hate” here emphasizes a decision to be made: who are you going to be loyal to, above all else?
In that culture, your family was your source of identity. You were supposed to be loyal to them, no matter what.
Is Jesus saying that families are bad? No. Not at all.
But he is saying that, for his followers, he needs to be even more important to them than whatever else they give their loyalty to.
So, what is that for you and I, today? Is it your family? Or is it your friends? Is it your popularity, or the way you look? Is it your athletic or musical ability?
Where do you find your identity? What gets your ultimate loyalty?
Is it Jesus? Or is it ______?
Jesus doesn’t want bandwagon followers; he wants your ultimate loyalty.
He also wants your life.
Let’s read verse 27:
27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
Jesus is saying that his followers are to live as if they’re condemned to die. Pick up your electric chair and follow Jesus!
Yes, it sounds gruesome. But think about it. If you were really condemned to be executed soon, how would you live differently?
You see, death has a weird way of revealing what’s really important to us. If you knew you were going to die soon, would you spend your time chasing after status, money, or fame?
I hope not.
Jesus wants us to live differently than the world around us. He wants us to live in a way that screams to the world “There is more to life than being powerful! There is more to life than being popular! There is more to life than being pretty!”
And, if we live that way, we might suffer for it. We might lose friends, money, and influence. We might even get ourselves killed.
But Jesus wants our loyalty, and he wants our lives.
OK, how do we get there?
The first step is to count the cost.
Let’s read verses 28-32:
28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’
31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.
If Jesus wants our loyalty and our lives, then it’s a good idea to stop and consider what we’re getting ourselves into before we claim to be his followers!
We need to count the cost, just like the tower-builder or the king going to war.
But, did you catch something else? We’re not just supposed to count the cost for no good reason. No! It’s supposed to teach us something.
We’re supposed to count the cost, and to realize that we don’t have what it takes!
Otherwise, Jesus says, we’re going to get embarrassed if we try and rush into things on our own. We don’t have what it takes.
What a motivational chapel message this is turning out to be! Hate your family and hate yourself, because you don’t have what it takes! Amen?!
Let’s read one more verse, verse 33:
33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
Friends, it might not feel like it, but we’ve actually arrived at the good news. Remember, the bad news is that we’re all riding the bandwagon, and that Jesus doesn’t want bandwagon followers.
The good news is that Jesus died for bandwagon followers, like you and me.
Jesus rose again from the dead for bandwagon followers, like you and me.
And Jesus offers a new life to bandwagon followers, like you and me.
When our loyalty runs out, he remains faithful to us. When we fail, over and over again, to give our own lives meaning, he gives us the love, the purpose, and the meaning in life that we’re searching for.
When we come up short, Jesus carries us through.
Because no, we don’t have what it takes. But he does.
And he delights to give us what it takes to follow him into new, eternal life.
So, even though it’s incredibly hard to get off the bandwagon and pick up our cross, even though it’s really hard to give Jesus complete control over our lives, and to give him ultimate loyalty, above everything and everyone else, even though it’s the hardest, most difficult thing we will ever do,
Following Jesus is also the easiest, most joyful thing we will ever do.
It’s easier than living life on the bandwagon. Why?
Because you don’t have to lie anymore, pretending you’re a follower of Jesus when really you’re the one calling the shots.
You don’t have to exhaust yourself trying to give your own life meaning. It doesn’t all depend on you and your effort and your strength and your skills…
NO, it depends on your Heavenly Father, who created you.
It depends on Jesus Christ, who died and rose again for you.
It depends on the Holy Spirit, who strengthens and empowers you to live life God’s way.
So, what does jumping off the bandwagon to follow Jesus really look like?
Does it have to be this super-emotional, tear-filled conversion experience?
Well, maybe. But I think that, for most of us, it’s going to look a lot more boring.
Here’s why: we’re never going to become the people who pick up their crosses and renounce all they have, if we’re not becoming that kind of a person today.
That is, we need to pick up the little crosses each day. We need to say the small goodbyes to all we have each day.
What’s this look like? I think it looks like taking more risks for Jesus.
You know, it’s crazy. I think I’m more afraid of standing up to peer pressure than standing up to martyrdom!
It’s like, sure, I’ll take a bullet for you, Jesus. But please don’t make me call out my friend for that inappropriate joke,
Sure, I’ll go on that missions trip. But please don’t make me skip the game to go to church.
Sure, I’ll risk my life to spread the gospel. But please don’t make me risk my reputation by reaching out to that weirdo.
Are we willing to risk our popularity?
Are we willing to risk our athletic accomplishments?
Are we willing to risk our everyday comfort?
What risk is Jesus asking you to take for him right now, today?
Maybe it’s a conversation you need to have.
Maybe it’s an addiction or habit you need to break.
Maybe it’s a fear you need to let go of.
Maybe it’s admitting that, although you really are a Christian, you’ve been riding the bandwagon, and you need to get off.
Maybe it’s admitting that, although you look like a Christian, you’ve only been riding the bandwagon, and you really aren’t following Jesus at all.
That’s a very difficult thing to admit.
But I promise you, you’re better off admitting it now than hiding it for years.
Jesus knows who you really are. Jesus knows who we really are, all of us.
He doesn’t want bandwagon followers. He doesn’t want people who think they have what it takes to give their lives meaning.
But Jesus is waiting with open arms to catch us, if we’re willing to jump off the bandwagon and follow him.
Are we willing to take the leap? To take the risk?
The impetus for this study was a discussion question in Dr. Malysz’s Spring 2015 20th Century History and Doctrine course. On March 24, our third class period on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, our second question for discussion read as follows:
“What is religion for Bonhoeffer? What are its anthropological manifestations (in Bonhoeffer’s day)? In what ways is Bonhoeffer’s understanding of religion similar to, and different from, that of Barth?”
Having taken Malysz’s Fall 2014 seminar on Karl Barth, I was intrigued by the question. We only spent a few minutes on the topic in class, focusing on how Bonhoeffer’s definition of religion focuses on a “necessary God of the gaps,” but I wrote down the following questions for further consideration:
- Is there a tension in how Barth and Bonhoeffer describe “religion,” or an underlying harmony?
- Barth speaks of boundary, Bonhoeffer of finding God at the center. Are they getting at the same thing?
- What is the relationship between Barth’s “No-God” and Bonhoeffer’s God as “stopgap”?
It has been over a year since that class discussion, but these questions are still on my mind. I’m convinced that Barth’s and Bonhoeffer’s theological critiques of religion can provide resources for the Church today.
In addition to that class discussion question, Tom Greggs‘ Theology Against Religion: Constructive Dialogues with Bonhoeffer and Barth [affiliate links throughout] has been an enormous catalyst for this project.
After graduating from Beeson in December, I plan to pursue a Ph.D. in historical/systematic theology. If all goes well, I’d like to expand my Barth/Bonhoeffer project this semester into a doctoral project – perhaps focusing on the relationship between Barth’s “No-God” and Bonhoeffer’s “God-as-stopgap,” or on the relationship between Barth’s and Bonhoeffer’s theological interpretation[s] of Scripture and their theological critiques of religion.
My Reading List
- BARTH, Karl. On Religion: The Revelation of God as the Sublimation of Religion.Translated by Garrett Green. New York: T&T Clark, 2007.
- —. The Epistle to the Romans. Translated by Edwyn C. Hoskyns. Oxford: OUP, 1968.
- BONHOEFFER, Dietrich. Letters and Papers from Prison. Translated by Isabel Best, Lisa E. Dahill, Reinhard Krauss and Nancy Lukens. Edited by John W. de Gruchy. DBWE Vol. 8. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2009.
- —. “The Center of the Earth (Gen. 2:8-17)” In Creation and Fall: A Theological Exposition of Genesis 1-3, translated by Douglas Stephen Bax, edited by John W. de Gruchy, 80-93. DBWE Vol. 3. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1997.
- —. “7. Inaugural Lecture: The Anthropological Question in Contemporary Philosophy and Theology.” In Barcelona, Berlin, New York: 1928-1931, translated by Douglas W. Stott, edited by Clifford J. Green, 389-408. DBWE Vol. 10. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2008.
- DEJONGE, Michael P. Bonhoeffer’s Theological Formation: Berlin, Barth, and Protestant Theology. Oxford: OUP, 2012.
- FEIL, Ernst. “Part Three: Religionless Christianity in a World Come of Age.” Chapters 4-5 in The Theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, translated by Martin Rumscheidt, 99-202. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1985.
- GREEN, Clifford J. “The Prison Letters and the Theology of Sociality.” Chapter 6 in Bonhoeffer: A Theology of Sociality. Revised Edition, 247-300. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999.
- GREGGS, Tom. Theology Against Religion: Constructive Dialogues with Bonhoeffer and Barth. New York: T&T Clark, 2011.
- MCCORMACK, Bruce L. Karl Barth’s Critically Realistic Dialectical Theology. Oxford: Clarendon, 1995.
- PANGRITZ, Andreas. Karl Barth in the Theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Translated by Barbara Rumscheidt and Martin Rumscheidt. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000.
- SLOT, Edward van ‘t. Negativism of Revelation?: Bonhoeffer and Barth on Faith and Actualism. Dogmatik in der Moderne 12. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2015.
- WÜSTENBERG, Ralf K. A Theology of Life: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Religionless Christianity. Translated by Doug Stott. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998.
- —. “Philosophical Influences on Bonhoeffer’s ‘Religionless Christianity.’” In Bonhoeffer and Continental Thought: Cruciform Philosophy, edited by Brian Gregor and Jens Zimmermann, 137-55. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2009.
If you’re interested in Barth and Bonhoeffer, I’m interested in starting up a conversation! Based on what I’ve written above, do you:
Have any suggestions on how to improve this reading list?
Have any suggestions on who might be interested in supervising doctoral work in this area?
If so, let me know in the comments!
I’ve been dragging my heels on learning Markdown for awhile now.
If you don’t know, Markdown is:
lightweight markup language with plain text formatting syntax designed so that it can be converted to HTML and many other formats using a tool by the same name. Markdown is often used to format readme files, for writing messages in online discussion forums, and to create rich text using a plain text editor. [Source: Wikipedia]
That is, get the benefits of HTML and/or rich text, without [as steep of] a learning curve!
I plan to start implementing Markdown in my workflow for this blog, and also for Rookie Anglican.
Like so many other feast days – scheduled, as they are, on the days of the namesakes’ deaths – the feast day of St. James the Apostle is a strong rebuke to our aspirations. To our aspirations as human beings, and especially to our aspirations as ministers of Christ’s Church.
James & John: Fishermen No More?
You see, James started off as a mere fisherman. An admirable one, to be sure, because he and his brother John answered Jesus’ call in Mark 1. They left behind their father, their family, and – they grew to hope! – their family’s fishing profession.
James was off on a new adventure, hopeful and headstrong. So much so that, along with his brother John, he earned the nickname “Son of Thunder”! Coming from the Son of Man, that’s no small compliment!
But their headstrong passion proved to be a weakness as well. In Luke 9, after getting rejected in Samaria, the Sons of Thunder offer to call fire down from heaven to consume the Samaritan village! This earns them a stern rebuke from Jesus.
And, even more famously, they approached Jesus with the following request in Mark 10:37:
Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.
Princes? Or Fishermen?
Now, their request is, in effect: “O King Jesus, would you please make us princes?”
And, granted, this is Apocryphal, but I imagine Jesus putting his arms around them and saying the following:
“Princes? Princes?! Boys, if I had wanted princes, I would have called princes! But, I don’t need princes!
No, no, no. What I need are new fishermen! And that’s why I’ve called you!”
You see, James had been hoping for a new position. And instead he received his old profession – transformed!
James was no longer to be a mere fisherman, but a fisher of men.
And not even just a fisher of men like Jeremiah 16 spoke of – for there the fishermen and hunters are instruments of judgment and exile.
No! Instead, James was to go fishing with, go fishing for Jesus, to bring people back from exile.
Now, undoubtedly, this is a step up from fishing for literal fish.
Or is it?
Not necessarily. At least, not in the world’s eyes.
The Death of St. James the Apostle
Here’s Jesus’ actual answer to the “prince” request:
Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
And they said to him, “We are able.”
And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
Now, granted, this isn’t one of the assigned lectionary passages for today, but I’d like us to look at the beginning of Acts 12:
About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also.
Swept aside, in just one verse! I doubt that sort of an abrupt, violent end awaited most of the fishermen working for Zebedee’s family business.
Was it worth it?
Was it worth it? Did James receive any sort of a promotion, after all?
Of course, we know the right answer. But do we live it out?
Are we thankful, are we satisfied with our roles as servants within Christ’s Church?
Are we willing to be “just” fishermen, even if it costs us our ambitions? Even if it costs us our lives?
By God’s grace, I hope so.
By God’s grace, may we – with the Apostle James – be able to confess the final words of Psalm 34 with open eyes, and open hearts. Perhaps it will help to imagine the following words on the dying Apostle’s lips:
Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
He keeps all his bones;
not one of them is broken.
Affliction will slay the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.
Have you ever wondered what’s going on during a liturgical service of Holy Communion? So many moving parts! And what’s the deal with shaking hands in the middle?
You’re not alone.
Thankfully, a relatively simple overall structure unifies the many moving parts.
The Overall Structure:
Most services of Holy Communion – including those throughout the Anglican tradition – depict a fourfold journey of the Church
- from the world, into the eternal presence of God through
- Word and
- Sacrament, and
- back into the world again
(Note: Amazon links are affiliate links throughout)
This macro-structure of the Eucharist finds a biblical precedent in Jesus’s exposition of the Scriptures (Word) before making himself known to two disciples in the breaking of the bread (Sacrament) at Emmaus (Luke 24:13-34).
Also, it follows the early Church’s example of devoting themselves “to the apostles’ teaching [Word] and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread [Sacrament] and the prayers” (Acts 2:42).
The Moving Parts of Holy Eucharist: Rite Two (1979 BCP)
The opening Acclamation states the entire journey’s destination: the Kingdom of the Triune God (Schmemann, 29).
Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And blessed be his kingdom, now and for ever. Amen.
The Processional, though not mandated in the 1979BCP, begins the enactment of the journey: following Christ, represented by the processional cross, God’s people enter God’s presence. They are only able to approach the altar by virtue of the sufficient sacrifice of Christ himself. On their own, they are impure and unfit for worship (Rom. 3:23). Through the Collect for Purity, then, the people ask for the Holy Spirit’s cleansing to enable proper worship.
After singing praises to a holy and merciful God (Ps 5:11), and being gathered together in prayer (Matt 18:20) by the Collect of the Day, the people are ready to hear the Word of God, first read aloud in the Lessons, and then proclaimed and exposited in the Sermon (1 Tim 4:13).
The Church then responds to God’s Word by confessing the Nicene Creed as a summary of its faith in both God and His Word. If heard correctly, God’s Word should bring concern for God’s world, for which the community then intercedes in the Prayers of the People (1 Tim 2:1).
Before the Liturgy of the Word of God leads to the Liturgy of the Holy Communion, the people must heed two warnings.
Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.
Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you all your sins
through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen you in all
goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you in
eternal life. Amen.
Second, they heed Christ’s warning in Matthew 5:23-24, to reconcile with one another before coming to worship, by exchanging the Peace – for Christ’s peace is both vertical (with God) and horizontal (with others).
The peace of the Lord be always with you.
And also with you.
The transition now complete, the Liturgy of Holy Communion begins with the Offertory, in which God’s people offer Him their very selves, symbolized by the bread, wine, and money as the fruits of human labor.
Then comes the Great Thanksgiving to God, in which, at the phrase “lift up your hears” (sursum corda), the anaphora takes place as the Church itself is lifted up, as an offering, into the heavenly sanctuary (Chan, 142). Along with the angels in heaven, the Church praises God for His holiness in the Sanctus (“Holy”; Isa 6:3; Rev 4:8), and welcomes Christ’s presence in the Eucharist through the Benedictus qui venit (“Blessed is he who comes”; Ps 118:26; Matt 21:9; 23:39).
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.
The redemptive acts of God, which enable the anaphora, are remembered (anamnesis) throughout the following Prayer of Consecration, culminating in the Words of Institution, in which the celebrant remembers and re-presents Christ’s words at the Last Supper (Matt 26:26-28 parr.).
On the night he was handed over to suffering and death, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread; and when he had given thanks to you, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take, eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.”
After supper he took the cup of wine; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and said, “Drink this, all of you: This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me.”
The Church then proclaims the great mystery which it is in the process of enacting: a celebration of Christ’s resurrection after his death and before his second coming.
Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.
The celebrant then offers (oblation) the gifts of bread and wine to God, and invokes (epiclesis) the Holy Spirit to sanctify both the gifts and the people – that they may rightfully receive the Sacrament in anticipation of God’s eschatological kingdom – a kingdom which is the focus of the subsequent Lord’s Prayer (Matt 6:9-13).
The celebrant then breaks the bread, declares Christ’s redemptive role as the Church’s Passover (Exod 12; 1 Cor 5:7b), and invites the people to partake of his Body and Blood.
[Alleluia.] Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us;
Therefore let us keep the feast. [Alleluia.]
The Gifts of God for the People of God.
In the Post-Communion Prayer, the people thank God for his provision and ask for His blessing as they are sent back out into the world – a blessing which they then receive in the celebrant’s benediction (Luke 24:50; John 14:12), before being sent out into the world to serve Christ (Matt 28:16-20).
Almighty and everliving God,
we thank you for feeding us with the spiritual food
of the most precious Body and Blood
of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ;
and for assuring us in these holy mysteries
that we are living members of the Body of your Son,
and heirs of your eternal kingdom.
And now, Father, send us out
to do the work you have given us to do,
to love and serve you
as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord.
To him, to you, and to the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
Let us go forth in the name of Christ.
Thanks be to God.
Yesterday, I asked you to join the Church if you, like me, are frustrated with the Church. The strongest critiques of religion come from within, not without, the Christian community. Plus, your frustrations are likely shared by many others within the Church!
However, it’s not enough to point the finger at others from your pew, instead of doing so from the public square. Yes, that’s a good first step, but another one is necessary.
You – and I – need to be willing to take ownership for the Church’s failures.
…and by “club” I of course mean “Church”!
What am I getting at? Am I calling the Church a mere “club”?
No. Although, unfortunately, it often feels that way, doesn’t it?
- A club full of hypocrisy, idolatry, indifference, and platitudes.
- A club full of power-plays, fear-mongering, and Bible-thumping.
- A club full of saints too afraid to admit that they are sinners.
Perhaps you’re sick of this “club,” and you’re ready to leave, if you haven’t left already.
I’m asking you to stay. To come back. To join for the first time.
Because the Church must be composed of people who realize the Church’s shortcomings and failures.
Otherwise, it is just a club.
I’m asking you to stay, because most leaders within the Church share your frustrations.
Because the strongest critiques of religion come from within, not without, the Christian community.
And because, as I’ll talk about tomorrow, you’re part of the problems. And so am I.
So, let’s work toward solving them together. Within the Church.
As I prepare for my final semester at Beeson Divinity School, it strikes me just how well I was prepared for my seminary education by my undergraduate professors at Cedarville University.
All things considered, my time at CU exposed me to the riches of biblical and theological studies, and it left me hungry for more.
College gave me a love for Christ’s gospel and Christ’s Church – which has only increased since I arrived at Beeson.
Plus, I met my wife there! 🙂
And yet, college also left a bad taste in my mouth.
See, in the year before I graduated, some crazy things went down at my alma mater.
- It all started with some sketchy White Papers getting sprung on the faculty right before contract renewal.
- Then, it led to the secret summer firing of a professor.
- I reacted on my blog.
- Christianity Today picked it up. As well as a local newspaper.
- The same day the Christianity Today piece ran, the President “resigned.”
- So did the Vice President of Student Life.
- You know what? It’s a long story, just read it here if you’re interested.
I’d like to think we made a bit of a difference – perhaps in slowing things down enough to let professors find jobs elsewhere before they got fired. Heck, we even made it into The New York Times. (Although, I will say: I’m embarrassed of the picture they chose for the article.)
However, in the long run, we failed.
Cedarville is now a much different place than when I arrived. What’s more, I became so entangled in the mess that I arrived to seminary with some burn wounds – from a prophetic fire that burnt a bit too hot.
I’m thankful for my time at Cedarville, however.
God has been healing those wounds. Beeson Divinity School and Anglicanism have both been balms to my spirit. And, with the healing has come the realization that I would not be who I am today were it not for my four years in Cedarville, Ohio.
Many of the lessons I learned there were sealed with blood, sweat, and tears – as it were. However, those kinds of lessons are often the most important and enduring.
By God’s grace, I hope to carry forward into my future ministry a combination of prophetic fire and patient faithfulness in the face of injustice and suffering.
Here’s the thing, though: I’m worried about the other members of the “Cedarville Diaspora.”
“Cedarville ex-pats”? Take your pick of terms.
No, not so much the professors who were pushed out. They’ve miraculously landed on their feet, and I’ve witnessed God’s powerful work of redemption through them in their current careers and ministries.
No, I’m talking about the alumni who got burned by fundamentalism and may have already thrown out the Christian baby with the fundamentalist bathwater. Or perhaps they’re seriously considering doing so.
See, God has blessed me with a wonderful seminary and church community in which to grow and heal after Cedarville. Without those things, I don’t know where I’d be after the awful ending to my Christian college experience.
Others, however, may be feeling very lonely and angry right now.
If that’s you, or if you know someone to whom this applies, would you let me know if there’s any way I can help you?
I’ll gladly listen to you vent. I’d love to pray for you specifically, and perhaps to share what I’ve found helpful along the journey.