God Must Have Preferred the Roman Empire [Questions That Haunt]

Questions That Haunt Christianity

This week’s Question That Haunts comes from Judy:

I grew up in the church, though I don’t go any more. I’ve always wondered, of all times and all places, why Jesus? Why first century Palestine? I mean, if God was going to incarnate himself in just one human beings of all the billions of human beings who’ve lived, why a first century peasant carpenter. I remember Sunday school teachers giving us some answers for this when I was a kid, but I always found them unsatisfying. Do Christians believe there was something uniquely special about that time and place?

Thanks, Judy, for this question, just in time for Christmas.

It’s interesting that the comments from the original post immediately went to the question of incarnation. But that’s not really Judy’s question. (It is, however, the question of the latest #progGOD ChallengeWhy an Incarnation?) Judy’s question is theological, but it’s not a question about why there’s an incarnation, it’s a question of why God preferred that time and place for the all-important incarnation of himself. Here’s my take.

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Is Rob a Christian? [Questions That Haunt]

Questions That Haunt Christianity

Rob gave us a great Question that Haunts Christianity that has generated hundreds of comments:

Hey Tony. I will try to make this short… I was raised in the church, became a youth leader in my early 20s, then a worship pastor/elder, then a staff deacon at a large church. Almost three years ago, my family and I walked away, with no plans on returning to “the church.” I don’t intellectually assent to any of the things that orthodox Christians are supposed to (i.e. the Trinity, the physical resurrection of Jesus, etc.). I don’t read my Bible very often. I never pray. But, I cannot escape the cultural influence that Christianity has had upon me, and it’s very difficult for me to think outside of that framework. I also try to embody the trajectory of Jesus’ life (the way of love) in my life every day. And, I think that his way is – universally – the best way to live. Do I still have “the right” to call myself a Christian?

Rob, I appreciate your participation in the comments of the original post, and even that you let me off the hook on your own blog. Your question is the most personal one that I’ve tackled thus far, and here’s why:

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When St. Nicholas Slapped a Heretic

Possible footage from the Council of Nicaea

In 325, the Emperor Constantine convened the world’s Christian bishops to a conclave in Nicaea, where they debated the Arian controversy. The assembled bishops debated the ousiases of Jesus, God the Father, the Holy Spirit, etc. Well, one of the bishops, Nikolaos of Myra, got so pissed at Arius as he prattled on about how the Trinity was bunk, that he got up and slapped him!

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Best Advent Hymns

In seminary, I took a class from then-provost-now-president Richard Mouw. He began every class with a meditation on and then singing of a hymn, which he prefaced with the statement that much of the best theology of the history of the church is archived in our hymnody. (I could add that some of the church’s worst theology is also catalogued there.)

Sure, “A Mighty Fortress” is good, if you’re into that kind of thing. And there’s a plethora of Easter hymns that joyously proclaim resurrection. But I’ve always thought that the hymns of Advent are the most theologically articulate and nuanced in the corpus of hymnody.

That was reaffirmed to me last night when, breaking from the tradition of not singing cover songs, we at Solomon’s Porch sang “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” in which we find this beautiful verse:

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