What Heresy Is (A Post for Rachel Held Evans)

This blogger called Rachel a heretic. But he’s wrong.

Yesterday, I accused C. Michael Patton of holding a heretical view of the Trinity. He does. He thinks that the Trinity is a “functional hierarchy,” which contravenes the historic creedal belief that the persons of the Trinity are co-equal in all respects. It probably also makes him a modalist, or at least a dynamic monarchianist, since he overemphasizes the role of each member of the Trinity, and thus emphasizes the oneness over the threeness of the Godhead. (I imagine that he would disagree with me on the modalism charge.)

My friend, Rachel Held Evans, saw the post, and liked it. But she also tweeted,

I guess “heretical” is what you’d call a “trigger word” for Rachel.

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On Retiring a Sermon

Unlike a lot of you, I don’t have to prepare a sermon each week. In fact, I only have to prepare two or three a year. And I’ve usually got one that’s my go-to sermon. When I’m asked to preach on a particular topic or text, I prepare something original. When I’m not, I go to the go-to.

I realize this is a luxury. I’ve gotten to deliver this sermon in many venues over many months. I know the jokes that work. I don’t need to use notes. I have the scripture text memorized. I have completely internalized the message, and I am confident in its delivery.

The sermon I’ve been living with the last couple years is based on Mark 9:2-10, in which Jesus is transfigured. I think I found a particularly interesting exegetical hook, in that Mark records Peter’s odd statement — “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us build three shelters, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” — and there is no response from Jesus. In fact, Mark records a rare omniscient narrator comment: “He said this because they were so afraid that they didn’t know what to say.”

The hook is that Peter expresses the very human desire to hang on to the intense spiritual moment that he was having — he wanted to institutionalize it, even if only for a few more moments. Even more interesting is that Jesus doesn’t respond. In fact, it’s the only time in all four Gospels in which Jesus doesn’t respond when directly spoken to.

This Sunday, I will give this sermon for the last time.

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It’s Probably True, Even If Jesus Didn’t Say It [Questions That Haunt]

Questions That Haunt Christianity

This week, Andrew asked us to consider the claims of divinity that are attributed to Jesus in the Fourth Gospel:

In the Gospel of John, Jesus makes many confident self-proclamations (conservative Evangelical’s favorite verses which seemingly demonstrates the exclusivity of Jesus). Now, I’m sure that claiming to be God in 1st century Judiasm is a really big deal; however, how is it that none of these self-proclamations make it into any of the synoptic gospels? Is it possible that Jesus never made these self-proclamations? If not, how does this effect our understanding of Trinitarian theology in the gospel accounts?

There’s been a very robust conversation about this post, and I encourage you to read it. In the 1,000 words I afford myself on these responses, I simply cannot reprise all of those arguments.

First, in case you are new to this kind of question, here’s the background. Most reputable scholars think this about the four Gospels:

  • Mark came first, probably in the late 50s or early 60s.
  • Matthew and Luke were both written in the mid- to late-60s. They both use Mark as a source, a source that scholars refer to as “Q,” and their own source material.
  • John comes much later — probably in the mid-90s — and uses mostly unique material.

Here’s how the four Gospels look in somewhat twisted mind of Paul Soupiset, as I asked him to make a Venn Diagram of the overlaps for the next Animate course:

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Why I Won’t Be Viewing Kevin Ware’s Injury

Yesterday, I was sitting in the steam room at the gym, minding my own business, enjoying some silence, when the naked guy next to me says, “So, did you see that basketball player’s broken leg? It was gruesome.”

“No,” I replied, “I’ve been avoiding it.”

“Well, all the talk on the radio today is about the sound. Supposedly a lot of people in the arena could hear the snap, and they can’t get the sound out of their heads.”

Then he got up and left the steam room, leaving me alone to ponder the sound of breaking bone.

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