“We loathe this worthless food”

Last Sunday one of our Scripture readings was about the children of Israel complaining in the wilderness, whereupon they were attacked by fiery serpents until Moses healed them by lifting up a bronze serpent on a pole, which Jesus would later apply to Himself (Numbers 21:4-9; John 3:14-21).

I was struck by one of the Israelite’s whines:  “We loathe this worthless food” (Numbers 21:5).  They were talking about Manna!  The miraculous food that God supplied them day by day without their effort!  It was delicious!  “It was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey” (Exodus 16: 31).  And yet, even though this was an astounding miracle from a loving God, the people got tired of it.  They thought it was boring.  It became something to complain about.  “We loathe this worthless food.”

How often we–or, I should say, I–take our blessings for granted, to the point of thinking them worthless.  The only remedy, I suppose, is for fiery serpents to awake us to our need.  And for the Bronze Serpent to show us how that very sinfulness has been crucified and for the one who bore that sin in His body to heal us. [Read more...]

The worst book ever written about Jesus?

Gonzo archaeologist Simcha Jacobovici has published a new book:   The Lost Gospel: Decoding the Ancient Text that Reveals Jesus’ Marriage to Mary the Magdalene.  The reviewer in The Los Angeles Times, no less (not some conservative Christian), calls it “perhaps the worst book ever written about Jesus.”  From Anthony Le Donne:

Here are some of the claims that Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson make: (1) a 6th century text that never once refers to Jesus or Mary Magdalene is secretly about Jesus, Mary, and their children; (2) the character “Joseph” named in this text represents Jesus, Apollo, Helios, Mithras, and a Roman emperor simultaneously; (3) Mary Magdalene was not Jewish and was, moreover, a priestess of Artemis; (4) when Jesus refers to the Queen of Sheba (Matt 12:42), he is speaking of Mary in code; (5) Jesus — not a peasant, but a powerful figure in the world of Roman politics — was the victim of not one but two assassination attempts, both of which he survived; (6) the Roman general Germanicus was the second threat to Jesus, but a Roman prefect named Sejanus saved him, Mary, and their children; and (7) the wine of the Last Supper symbolized Mary’s menstrual blood. As you will see below, this is only a small sampling of this book’s originality.

[Read more...]

Childhood home of Jesus found?

An archaeologist may have discovered the house in Nazareth in which Jesus grew up.  He found a first-century house, upon which had been built a church, corresponding to ancient records about the Church of the Nutrition that was reportedly erected over the place where young Jesus and his family lived. [Read more...]

Note on the “justifying” series

I’ve been doing a series of posts about what I am getting from a book I am reading:  Living by Faith by Oswald Bayer. (For earlier posts on the subject, see this and this. and this.)  He makes the point that the term “justification” is not just a theological term.  Rather, it is a word and a concept that we use all the time, and that, in fact, is a major preoccupation, going deep into the human psychology:  We keep being accused and condemned,  so we continually have to “justify” ourselves, proving that we are right, insisting how good we are, getting defensive, accusing and condemning our critics in retaliation.  We want approval.  We want to be accepted.  We want to be considered good, including when we aren’t.

I think the comments have showed some misunderstanding.  I wanted to draw your attention to a comment I just made to that first post:  “It isn’t that this is a bad thing. We HAVE to do it, given who and what we are. The point is that this necessity of justifying points to our underlying need for what Christ does: Justify us freely.” [Read more...]

From justifying God to justifying existence

More (see my last post on the subject) from Living by Faith by Oswald Bayer. . .

Not only are we always judging, condemning/justifying ourselves and each other, we also judge, condemn/justify God.  Bayer has some interesting reflections on “theodicy,” the question of how or why God allows evil,  drawing on sources that I wasn’t familiar with.  But what most struck me was Bayer’s observation that when the idea of God fades away in some people’s minds, the problem of theodicy remains.  He describes a “secular theodicy.”  No longer, “why does God allow evil and suffering,” but “why does existence allow evil and suffering.”  In many ways, that latter question is harder to answer.  I am seeing that this is why so many people today believe that life is meaningless, absurd, pointless, and (in a tragic number of cases) not worth living.

I’m thinking that, as I read on, Bayer will show that justification by Christ on the Cross justifies God (in this sense) and justifies existence itself.

[Read more...]

Justifying ourselves

I am reading a book that is blowing me away:  Living by Faith by Oswald Bayer, the contemporary German theologian who is sort of the Lutheran answer to radical orthodoxy.  Instead of reading it all, then writing a formal review, I am so excited by this book that I thought I would write posts about what I am finding so interesting as I am reading through it.

Bayer begins by showing that the concept of “justification” is not an arcane theological concept.  Rather, it’s something we are preoccupied with all the time.  We are always engaged in trying to justify ourselves.  We are always maintaining that we are right, particularly when other people say that we are wrong.  At work, in our casual conversations, in our relationships with others, we are always defending ourselves, making excuses, scoring points, and seeking approval.  I mean, you see it in the comments on this and other blogs. [Read more...]


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