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I teach theology. That means….

I’m sure every profession comes with its own stereotypes. Professors are absent-minded, construction workers are crude, garbage collectors stink, and doctors have bad hand-writing. We all have our burdens to bear.

As a theology professor at a seminary, I’m fascinated by the stereotypes that come with the job. Like many good stereotypes, some come with at least a grain of truth. That’s what makes them sting so much. Others say more about the people who use and believe them. Either way, theology stereotypes are fascinating.

So, instead of fighting these stereotypes, I’ve chosen to embrace them. All of them. Let me know if I’ve missed any.

I teach theology. That means…

  • …half the time I don’t even know where my Bible is, let alone read it.
  • …I think reading a verse in context means finding it in my favorite systematic theology book.
  • …I get paid to start fights.
  • …deep down I wish I had a cool-sounding German name.
  • …my only friends have all been dead for 1000 years.
  • …I’m right. Always.
  • …I enjoy sucking all the mystery out of life.
  • …real people confuse me.
  • …I’m not even sure what “exegesis” is.
  • …I spend most of my time thinking up alien categories to impose on the text.
  • …I’m not even sure what ministry is.
  • …I’m not truly happy until I’ve confused someone.
  • …I think the fruit of the spirit is arrogance, strife, certainty, intelligence, perseverance (in study), loneliness, literacy, irrelevance, and stubbornness.
  • …my favorite books are…never mind, you wouldn’t understand them anyway.
  • …I’ve been trained to speak unintelligibly whenever possible.
  • …no one likes me but I’m so bad with people that I don’t notice.
  • …I think anyone who disagrees with me is a pagan, heretic, unbeliever, Cowboys fan, or some combination of the above.
  • …I confuse belief with knowledge and speculation with reality.
  • …if you saw how I dressed you’d swear I was colorblind.

[Thanks to those of you who offered suggestions for this list via Facebook or Twitter. And, feel free to suggest more!]

Flotsam and jetsam (10/20)

Good Reads

  • Church Matters: According to Mary DeMuth, many have stopped going to church because they think any time you hang out with other Christians, you’re doing “church.” She disagrees.

Other Info

 Just for Fun     

  • And, I know you’ve been anxiously waiting for Jedi Turtles.

 

Life and Death: Twin Moons Circling the Same Planet.

[I wrote this as a guest post for Matt Mikalatos’ blog The Burning Hearts Revolution. Matt is running a series of guest posts to celebrate the release of his new book Night of the Living Dead Christian, a fabulous book that I’ll be reviewing soon. If you’d like to comment on the content of this post, please head over to Matt’s blog and join the conversation there. As usual, though, I’m open to comments about the writing and presentation in this piece. So, if you have thoughts along those lines, go ahead and leave them in the comments here. Thanks.]

Hungry.

It’s been too long. I feel weak. Dizzy. Can’t think.

There. Down there. A woman. She’ll do. She has to.

Drop behind her. Cloak flapping in the wind. Didn’t make too much noise. Perfect.

Grab her shoulder. Push her head to the side. Savor the smell.

It’s time. Bite. Pierce the tender skin. Let the hot blood flow. Taste life. Feel it.

My strength returns. My mind clears. For the first time in days, my cold flesh feels warm again. I’m still dead. Nothing can change that. But, now I get to be dead for another day. She took care of that with her unwilling gift.

Blood is life.

Everything was so good just a few seconds ago. The concert was amazing and I haven’t had a girls’ night out in so long. A quiet walk home under the full moon seemed like the perfect ending to a lovely, summer evening.

Now something has changed. I can’t pin it down, but it’s not right. I’ve got that tingling feeling on the back of my neck that you get when you think someone is staring at you. But, there’s no one here. I’m probably being irrational. Maybe I shouldn’t have walked home alone.

What’s that? It sounds like a flag flapping in a stiff breeze. That’s odd. There’s no wind.

Someone’s grabbed me! I have to struggle, fight, scream, get away, anything. But, I can’t. Something’s wrong. I’m getting weak, dizzy. I can’t think clearly. Everything’s fading. Where am I? What’s going on? What’s happening to me?

I’m on the ground. How did I get here? A few bright red drops hit the ground in front of my eyes. Blood? My blood? I must….

Blood is death.

——————————–

One substance, two very different results. Life and death. Twin moons circling the same planet.

That’s how the Bible views blood. On the one hand, blood is what keeps us alive and allows us to be what God intended. In Eden, God created blood, and it was good. But, sin and evil entered the world and shattered God’s good creation. And, blood came to mean something else. Still the source of life, it also became the symbol of death.

You can see this most clearly in the biblical sacrifices. If you stop and think about it for a moment, sacrifices are weird. Imagine that you’re an Israelite and you’ve just sinned. What should you do? Why, go lop the head off some poor, innocent lamb, of course. That’s a great system. At least it is for the human; I’m sure the lamb sees things differently.

The point of the sacrifice, though, wasn’t to take out Israel’s problems on some innocent animal. That would be weird. No, the sacrifices demonstrated the devastating connection between sin and death. With clocklike regularity, the Israelites brought their animals to the priests and shed blood as a reminder of the fact that they lived east of Eden, in the brokenness of sin, in bondage to death. As Paul says later, “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 3:23). And, every time the Israelites brought forward their sin sacrifices, they reminded themselves of this truth.

At the same time, though, the blood brought a promise of life. Israel always knew that somehow it was only by shedding blood that forgiveness and life would be restored to God’s people. God promised he would forgive and cleanse his people when they brought their sacrifices to him.

But why? What is the connection between blood and death on the one hand and the promise of forgiveness and life on the other? The Old Testament never says. The Israelites just take it on faith that God will be faithful and will do what he promises.

Then Jesus came.

And, we killed him, shedding his blood on the cross.

And the truth became clear.

We still see the dark side of blood. The betrayals, beatings, mockery, loneliness, pain, blood, and death. Could there be a clearer picture? The Messiah came, and we killed him.

But the blood of Christ means so much more. Jesus died so he could break the power of death. His death was not the pointless sacrifice of a tragic Shakespearean hero. It had purpose. Jesus died so that we might be reborn as those who have the gift of life.

Blood is death. Blood is life. On the cross, both are true.

“This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

Come and drink. An invitation to vampires everywhere.

[This post is part of our series on the Gospel. Please feel free to check out the posts and let me know what you think.]

Flotsam and jetsam (10/7).

HT 22 Words

Good Reads

  • A couple of interesting posts on church and technology. An online church is the anti-church, according to Michael Svigel, and we should avoid “virtual” churches at all costs. But, Nadia Bolz-Weber argues that we need to  LIsten to the Millennials. She doesn’t say that we should have virtual churches, but she does argue that we need to stop reacting and start listening to what these younger Christians are saying.
  • Matthew Barrett argues that he can be a Convicted Congregationalist and Still Evangelical. In other words, you can acknowledge the ecclesial diversity of evangelicalism without surrendering the conviction that one model of church government is the most biblical one.

Other Info

Just for Fun     

Flotsam and jetsam (9/29)

New cigarette warning label (HT 22 Words)

Good Reads

  • Consuming technology tends to consume us. Or, as Andy Unedited put it, “Technology tends to consume and absolute technology consumes absolutely.” (HT Tim Challies)
  • Fred Sanders takes a very good look at Oneness Pentecostalism, asking if it’s biblical, evangelical, or even Christian.
  • It’s Academic Job Time! So, Daniel Kirk has some good advice for those of you looking for jobs, and for those doing the searching.

Other Info

Just for Fun     

The Poverty Invisibility Cloak

HT The Daily What

 

A Smorgacopia of Augustine Lectures Online

Which is bigger: a smorgasbord or a cornucopia? I couldn’t decide, so I just smushed them together into one word. Either way, here’s a list of free, online lectures on various aspects of Augustine and his theology. I really haven’t listened to any of these, though I sampled a few, so I can’t guarantee their quality. But, they are from reputable sources.  So they should be good resources for anyone wanting to get more familiar with Augustine.

We’re celebrating Augustine week this week. So, if you know of any online lectures that need to be added to the list, please let us know in the comments.

Here are some individual lectures:

And, the Augustinian Institute from Villanova University offers some great resources on iTunes including:

  • The Darkest Enigma: Reconsidering the Self in Augustine’s Thought
  • The Hymn to the One in Augustine’s De Trinitate IV
  • Facing Wealth and Poverty: Defining Augustine’s Social Doctrine
  • Confession and the Contemplative Self in Augustine’s Early Works
  • Augustine, Exegesis, and Controversy
  • Giving Wings to Nicea: Olivier Du Roy and the Origins of Augustine’s Trinitarian Theology
  • Augustine on the Divided Self
  • The God of Augustine’s Anti-Manichean Works
  • Augustine and the Appeal to ‘Popular Belief’ in Theological Controversies
  • Augustine on the Incarnation as Criterion for Orthodoxy
.

Flotsam and jetsam (Labor Day edition)

I’m taking the day off today because it’s International Bacon Day! To celebrate, here’s a list of 8 essential bacon hacks. And, since it’s a holiday, here’s a completely random list of mostly worthless (but still fascinating) links). Don’t work too hard today. And, have some bacon.

  • Here are 18 Famous TV Roles Originally Played by Someone Else (Gilligan’s Island would have been completely different).

August’s Top Posts

Since my wife and I are both educators, August is always a crazy month. We usually figure that the summer actually ends around August 7. After that, it’s all about prepping lectures (me), creating lesson plans (her), setting up a new classroom (her), getting ready for parent meetings (her), and in-service training (her). (Do you get the impression that teaching second grade is harder than teaching in a graduate school?)

Nonetheless, August was a fun month on the blog. So, here are the 5 most-viewed posts from the last month.

  1. Bait-and-Switch Evangelism
  2. How to Destroy Your Own Research Paper in One Simple Step
  3. Age-Based Ministries Are Destroying the Church?
  4. Stop Blaming the Seminaries
  5. How Clear Is the Bible on Gender Roles?

A prayer for Sunday (Maximus the Confessor)

[Maximus the Confessor, one of the great theologians and heroes of the eastern church, died on August 13, 662, probably as a result of the torture and mutilation that he suffered for standing up for his theological convictions. (By the way, if you’re not aware, the title “Confessor” refers to someone who suffered for Christianity, but was never directly martyred.) Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any good examples of a prayer by Maximus to post here. (If anyone has suggestions, please pass them along.) So, instead, here’s one of my favorite excerpts from his writings.]

The world has many poor in spirit, but not in the right way; and many who mourn, but over money matters and loss of children; and many who are meek, but in the face of impure passions; and many who hunger and thirst, but to rob another’s goods and to profit unjustly. And there are many who are merciful, but to the body and to its comforts; and clean of heart, but out of vanity; and peacemakers, but who subject the soul to the flesh; and many who suffer persecution, but because they are disorderly; many who are reproached, but for shameful sins. Instead, only those are blessed who do and suffer these things for Christ and following his example. For what reason? “Because theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” and “they shall see God,” and so forth. So that it is not because they do and suffer these things that they are blessed (since those just mentioned do the same), but because they do and suffer them for Christ and following his example.

Maximus the Confessor, Four Hundred Chapters on Love, 47.