Weekend Updates September 26, 2011

What a wild weekend!  Gotta take a breath today!

  • Friday I had a great lunch with a friend who always asks interesting questions – I always end up with new ideas after our lunches together
  • Friday night we got to hang out at a birthday party for one of the kids’ friends, it was a costume party at Pizza King.  I dressed up as the Invisible Man, but it didn’t seem to work because people kept seeing me. I’ll be returning that costume.
  • Then we headed over to Corvallis for a big Beaver tailgate party that was so fun too.  Great to hang out with people and the music is always great and loud. Just because the Beavers are having a lousy time of it, doesn’t mean the fans can’t have fun!
  • Saturday morning I coached Khobi’s soccer team to another win. We dominated this week, felt bad for the other team. Our team has active and involved Dads, it makes for confident little soccer players!
  • From the soccer game, LJ and I rushed over to Corvallis again for the Beavers game. They came close, but still ended up falling short…again. Fun time with cool friends again though and we had oreos shaped like footballs.
  • Saturday night I finished Martin Smith’s book Delirious. It tracks the albums of Delirious? and tells some of the background story. For me, it was so, so good. I grew up on Delirious and continue to love to worship with the songs they gave to the church!
  • Sunday’s first service was a tough one. It seemed that if something technical could go wrong, it went wrong today! Heather and the whole Grove Band did a great job pulling things together though – and it ended up being an amazing experience – people worshiped and God’s presence was felt. We do rely on technology, but we actually rely so much more on the Spirit of God!
  • There were just under 350 people at The Grove on Sunday! This weekend coming up is our two year anniversary and it is so exciting to see. And it’s not just about big groups of people in a room – it’s about the amazing stories of people’s lives changing and Jesus transforming them in The Grove! Every single person is so much a part of what The Grove is!
  • This weekend’s teaching was on belonging and believing in a pluralist world. We want to be a church that loves people, that is what sets us apart from the rest of the world, unconditional love for all!
  • Sunday afternoon had some friends over for the kids and they had a great time and it let me watch some football – GO BILLS! SUPERBOWL BOUND!

Irenaeus, Redemption & Divizination

This is an older paper from my master’s program that I had thought I had posted here before, but apparently hadn’t.  It’s sketchy theology, but it’s fun…and I think I might believe it.  A lot.


November 10, 2008

The Secondary Nature of the Atonement

            Born about 130 AD, Irenaeus was the first major theologian to confront heresy for the church.  His motivation was purely pastoral as he sought to protect his congregation from the heresy of the Gnostics by creating a theological system that was intellectually credible and still practical for everyday life.  This system of thought emphasized the aspiration of perfect union between God, as Creator, and all creation, including mankind.  According to Irenaeus, salvation history is the story of God and man growing towards a perfect union; a story which was highlighted by the life Jesus who was the perfect union of Creator and creation.  “For Irenaeus the Incarnation is the key to the entire history of salvation” (Danielou, 167).  God is glorified through the perfect union found in Jesus Christ and creation also fulfills its purpose when it is united to the divine God.  According to Irenaeus, the atoning work of the cross, then, becomes only a mere contribution to a single story of redemption that has been playing out since the dawn of creation.

In prehistory God existed in a united community of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.  An unfathomable mystery, the Creator God exists as three while existing as one (Deuteronomy 6:4); God is One while God is Trinity.  The nature of the Trinity expresses the characteristic of God as being fully and absolutely united as one.  When God creates man in His image, then, there must be a characteristic reflection of unity.  This is seen in Genesis 2:18, when God remarks, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (NAS)  Adam was not designed for solitary life, so God creates an additional human being to fulfill the design of unity in humanity.  This design for unity continues to spread as Jesus prays in the garden that believers  “may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us” (John 17:21, NAS).  The passionate desire of Jesus (who is fully God) is the unity of all those who follow the ways and teachings of God.

So as God is united and humans are designed for a parallel unity, the story of all creation converges to a uniting of God and creation.  The Old Testament serves as a period of accustomization for God and men, as they grow closer and closer together.  “For Irenaeus…the gulf between God and the world had to be filled in; but it was filled in not by intermediate ‘emanated’ beings [as presented in the Gnostic heresy] but by God’s own word and Spirit” (Smith, 24). The covenants of Adam, Noah, Moses and finally of Jesus Christ continue to point in this direction.  “In the Old Testament, not only does God habituate himself to man, but in addition, man adapts himself to God” (Danielou, 169).  Where the heresy of Irenaeus’ day sought to fill the gap between God and man with innumerable impersonable god-forces, the true nature of God is only served by God and man filling the gap between them with themselves (Smith 24).  God must, by His very nature of unity move towards unity with his creation.  Men also, by their characteristic of a desire for unity have an innate motivation towards their creator.

To further reveal the authentic goal for creation (to be united with God), all creation was originated with immense potential.  All creation was declared good, but not perfect.  It was whole and complete, but not as majestic as it could possibly be.  In order to mature into full unity, mankind had to have free will and the ability to choose growth or not.  Mankind was created “free to choose and God’s purpose brings man from childhood in Adam to maturity in Christ” (Osborn).  Even Jesus “continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom” (Luke 2:40), because of His close relationship to God through the Scriptures.  Creation was given potential so that it could mature through instruction and relationship to the incarnate Word of God.

Creation was not made to sin.  Jesus’ material body was not simply made to atone for the sin of men.  “For if the flesh were not in a position to be saved, the Word of God would in no wise have become flesh. And if the blood of the righteous were not to be inquired after, the Lord would certainly not have had blood” (Irenaeus V.14.1).  Jesus’ incarnation was primarily intended to display the perfect unity of invisible, spiritual God and material creation.  While the Gnostics did not think this was possible because of their belief in the evil nature of all material, Irenaeus did not see salvation as being possible without full unity of God with the material creation; Christ had to live a human life.  In Jesus’ life we see the perfection of God’s design for creation.  When sin slithered into creation, it was like a wall was created in the storyline of God and men.  Perfect unity now had to hurdle this wall in order to reach the goal that God had for His creation.  The atoning work of the cross merely overcomes sin; the cross only jumps this one hurdle.  To see the cross as the high point of all salvation history completely disregards the beautiful union that is the incarnation of Jesus Christ.  The purpose of Christ must be more than death, it must be life; both His own and the life that is found in Him.  “More than a mere ‘reconciliation’ in the sense of putting off of wrath; the expression implies…a readmission in some degree to the privileged position held by Adam as a companion of God.” (Smith 30)  In fact, without a full union of spiritual and material, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is ineligible to atone for the sin that has corrupted.

Much more than just a holding pattern before the event of the cross, the life and teachings of Jesus were instructional for growth and unity.  Holy living is found in the life of Jesus Christ, through which He completely did away with disobedience (Flew, 136).  While his death and resurrection provide an absolutely necessary element to ultimate unity with God, it only works to make the growth possible.  His atoning sacrifice is a path, but it is not the treasure that the path leads to.  While the path is needed to move closer to the treasure, one does not simply celebrate the path and remain there forever.  Unity with God is the treasure that is offered through the cross.  This unity is perfected, though, in the real life of Jesus Christ here on this earth.  Christ is salvation because of the union of flesh and divinity; “For He would not have been one truly possessing flesh and blood, by which He redeemed us, unless He had summed up in Himself the ancient formation of Adam” (Irenaeus V.1.2).  To focus merely on the atonement at the price of the unity that is seen in the incarnation is a grave mistake that denies the divine purpose of creation.

Irenaeus argued with specific regard to the Gnostic heresy, whose main thrusts were a radical dualism, which separated the humanity and divinity of Christ, and a novel view of the creation narrative.  In order to resonate with Adam, Christ had to be human and have a particularly close union with God the Father, just like Adam.  Since Christ was fully God and fully man, He was inseparable from the creation narrative.  “For the Lord, taking dust from the earth, molded man; and it was upon his behalf that all the dispensation of the Lord’s advent took place. He had Himself, therefore, flesh and blood, recapitulating in Himself not a certain other, but that original handiwork of the Father, seeking out that thing which had perished” (Irenaeus V.14.1).  Thus, the biblical account of creation must be held to also hold any effect from the life and death of Christ.

For Irenaeus nothing was more important than helping people live the Christian faith in a manner that was faithful to Jesus Christ and to the God ordained purpose of all creation.  “Perfection is the goal of the human development, the beatific vision when man is finally fit to look upon the face of God” (Flew, 137).  Full growth and development of believers burned in Irenaeus’ pastoral heart.  He desperately sought to strengthen believers, so that they would not be swayed from the truth by the Gnostic heresy that was gaining momentum in his time.  Irenaeus worked diligently to develop a strong theological system that would stand against the heresy of his day and bring people to an understanding of God that would promote unity among God’s people and ultimately with God Himself.  The cross itself was not sufficient if the unity of God and creation was not perfected in Jesus Christ.

Works Cited

HOLY BIBLE.  1995.  New American Standard Edition.  LaHabra, CA.,  Lockman Foundation.

DANIELOU, JEAN A. 1973.  A History of Early Christian Doctrine Volume II: Gospel Message and Hellenistic Culture.  Philadelphia, Westminster Press.

FLEW, R.N. The Idea of Perfection in Christian Theology.  New York, Humanities Press.

IRENAEUS. n.d. Against Heresieshttp://www.ccel.org/ccel/shaff/anf01.toc.html.  Last accessed November 10, 2008.

OSBORN, ERIC. 1981.  The Beginning of Christian Philosophy.  New York, Cambridge University Press.

SMITH, JOSEPH P. St. Irenaeus: Proof of the Apostolic Preaching.  New York, Newman Press.

Godin, Linchpin

Seth Godin is a really inspiring writer for those who have an entrepreneurial spirit, and in this book, Linchpin, he looks at the new way the work world is working and the need for employees to make themselves indispensable and make a meaningful contribution to their employment and to the world.

Godin is a master at connecting short snippets, so I’ll just give a bunch of those below.  His books more inspire the reader to some action steps, which is true in Linchpin especially for me.

  • p.1, “A genius looks at something that others are stuck on and gets the world unstuck…No one is a genius all the time. Einstein had trouble finding his house when he walked home from work every day. But all of us are geniuses sometimes.”
  • p.2, “I couldn’t have written this book ten years ago, because ten years ago, our economy wanted you to fit in, it paid you well to fit in, and it took care of you if you fit in. Now, like it or not, the world wants something different from you. We need to think hard about what reality looks like now.”
  • p.8, “Artists are people with a genius for finding a new answer, a new connection, or a new way of getting things done.”
  • p.25, The Hierarchy of Value: Lift<Hunt<Grow<Produce<Sell<Connect<Create
  • p.47, “Being good at school is a fine skill if you intend to do school forever. For the rest of us, being good at school is a little like being good at Frisbee. It’s nice, but it’s not relevant unless your career involves homework assignments, looking through textbooks for answers that are already known to your supervisors, complying with instructions and then, in high pressure settings, regurgitating those facts with limited processing on your part. Or, in the latter case, if your job involves throwing 165 grams of round plastic as far as you can.”
  • p.47, What They Should Teach in School, “Only two things: 1. Solve interesting problems; 2. Lead.”
  • p.59, On Marrissa Mayer, “She solves problems that people haven’t predicted, sees things people haven’t seen, and connects people who need to be connected.”
  • p.107, “Why do creative ventures threaten our mental health…Why is there writer’s block but no chemical engineering block? Artistry, it seems, always leads to anguish.”
  • p.216, “Wal-Mart wins because it’s cheap and close. Everyone else who wins must do it by being generous.”
  • p.218, “Linchpins do two things for the organization. They exert emotional labor and they make a map.”
  • p.219, “Unique creativity requires domain knowledge, a position of trust, and the generosity to actually contribute.”
  • p.229, “Don’t ask your boss to run interference, cover for you, or take the blame. Instead, create moments where your boss can happily take credit. Once that cycle begins, you can be sure it will continue.”

Peterson, Eat This Book

I’ve been taking my reading a lot slower this summer.  So slow that I haven’t finished a book since like June or July.  I have like 5 of them on the go, and I’ve been doing some other projects that take focus, so the reading goes to the side.  Oh, and I actually took a vacation!

So, Eat This Book by Eugene Peterson was a sweet book for me to read.  The first section is about the Bible itself, and its narrative role in our lives.  Then Peterson goes into the prayerful method of reading Scripture called lectio divina.  Finally, the book ends with his reflections on translation and how he ended up translating the Bible into The Message version.  This section feels like Peterson is sitting down with a coffee and just sharing his thoughts and feelings unfiltered – it’s plain amazing.

Here’s some interesting material:

  • p.2, “Hagah is a word that our Hebrew ancestors used frequently for reading the kind of writing that deals with our souls. But ‘meditate’ is far too tame a word for what is being signified…hagah means that a person ‘is lost in his religion’.
  • p.6, “Barth insists that we do not read this book and the subsequent writings that are shaped by it in order to find out how to get God into our lives, get him to participate in our lives. No. We open this book and find that page after page it takes us off guard, surprises us, and draws us into its reality, pulls us into participation with God on his terms.”
  • p.39, “Farmers characteristically work hard, but there is too much work to do to be in a hurry. On a farm everything is connected both inplace and in time. Nothing is done that isn’t connected to something else; if you get in a hurry, break the rhythms of the land and the seasons and the weather, things fall apart.”
  • p.54, “Among those for whom Scripture is a passion, reading commentaries has always seemed to me analogous to the gathering of football fans in the local bar after the game, replaying in endless detail the game they have just watched, arguing (maybe even fighting) over observations and opinion, and lacing the discourse with gossip about the players.”
  • p. 67, “as we cultivate a participatory mind-set in relation to our Bibles, we need a complete renovation of our imaginations. We are accustomed to thinking of the biblical world as smaller than the secular world. Tell-tale phrases give us away. We talk of ‘making the Bible relevant to the world,’ as if the world is the fundamental reality and the Bible something that is going to help it or fix it. We talk of ‘fitting the Bible into our lives’ or ‘making room in our day for the Bible,’ as if the Bible is something that we can add on to or squeeze into our already full lives.”
  • p.160, “Mystery is everywhere. The Holy is pervasive.”