Heavenly Participation

A great book I warmly recommend: Heavenly Participation, by Hans Boersma. I am reading it for a second time now – just to make sure I suggest what Boersma has to say.

“Postmodernity is little more than modernity coming home to roost. Both, I believe, are predicated on the abandonment of a premodern sacramental mindset in which the realities of this-worldly existence pointed to greater, eternal realities in which they sacramentally shared. Once modernity abandoned a participatory or sacramental view of reality, the created order became unmoored from its origin in God, and the material cosmos began its precarious drift on the flux of nihilistic waves.” Hans Boersema, Heavenly Participation: the weaving of a sacramental tapestry (Grand Rapids, 2011), p. 2.

Boersma proposes a rather radical realignment of theology – a realignment with how the church from the first till the 17th century ‘did’ theology. I love it.

Reading the Psalms in a Christian Way

In our church in Arnhem and Nijmegen I have started a series of sermons on the Psalms of the Lectionary. I have made it my goal to read the Psalms ‘through the eyes of Jesus’. As the Psalms were to a large extent the “prayer book’ of Israel, Jesus must have prayed them all. How would he have understood these prayers, given his knowledge of the history of Israel and his own self-understanding?

The Early Church (until ca. 1700AD!) in general interpreted Old Testament texts in four different ways. Many Churches still do this!

Each passage in Scripture was assumed to have four meanings:
Literal: What the passage says about past events
Allegorical: What the passage can tell us about Christ
Moral: What the passage can teach us about how to live
Anagogical: What the passage tells us about our ultimate fate

An example of this is the crossing of the Red Sea.
It was literal because Moses and Israel actually crossed it.
It was spiritual because it represents our baptism and new life.
It was moral because we cross-over life’s difficulties (Egypt) into our personal earthly blessings (Promised Land).
It was eschatological because we look forward to the final crossing-over from death to eternal life in heaven.

The exegetes of the church were seldom rigid in trying to extract these four means from every text, but it was always in the back of their mind.

I think that the question of how Jesus understood the Psalms in regard to himself, fits very well in this scheme of interpretation of the Early Church.

Sadly, the Church has almost completely ‘delegated’ the task of exegesis to Academia. This is a great loss for the Church, as Academia per definition only looks at the literal meaning of text. And the Church has to a large extent, it seems, allowed Academia to dictate that the only real meaning, is this (supposed) literal meaning. This has made the Od Testament a historical book for many Christians, instead of the living Word of God that it was for Jesus, the Apostles and all exegetes in the Early Church.

Augustine and his Critics: for sale

Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430) is arguably the most controversial Christian thinker in history. His positions on philosophical and theological concerns have been the subjects of intense scrutiny and criticism from his lifetime to the present. Augustine and his Critics (270 pages) gathers twelve specialists’ responses to modern criticisms of his thought, covering: personal and religious freedom; the self and God; sexuality, gender and the body; spirituality; asceticism; cultural studies; and politics.
Stimulating and insightful, the collection offers forceful arguments for neglected historical, philosophical and theological perspectives which are behind some of Augustine’s most unpopular convictions.

I haver the book available for 10 euro. We can work out how to get the book to you.

For sale: Reading the Old Testament

This is a very useful book for anyone who wants to understand the exegesis of the Early Church (well, until ca. 1700AD). A must read and only €8.50  excluding postage.

The contemporary church dismisses Christianity’s foundational Scriptures at its own peril. However, the teachings of the Old Testament are less and less at the center of congregational preaching and conversation. The early church fathers–visionaries such as Augustine, Origen, and Tertullian–embraced the Hebrew Scriptures, allowing the Old Testament to play a central role in the formation of their beliefs. As today’s Christians struggle to relate to concepts such as the Jewish law and the prophets, pastors and laypersons benefit from looking through the lenses of these thoughtful pioneers. This latest volume in the Evangelical Ressourcement series helps the Old Covenant to come alive.

For sale: Augustine’s Intellectual Conversion (Brian Dobell)

I will send you this book for Euro 12.50 in The Netherlands, including postage.  Outside The Netherlands, Euro 17.50 including postage.  Worth it!  

This book examines Augustine’s intellectual conversion from Platonism to Christianity, as described at Confessions 7.9.13–21.27. It is widely assumed that this occurred in the summer of 386, shortly before Augustine’s volitional conversion in the garden at Milan. Brian Dobell argues, however, that Augustine’s intellectual conversion did not occur until the mid-390s, and develops this claim by comparing Confessions 7.9.13–21.27 with a number of important passages and themes from Augustine’s early writings. He thus invites the reader to consider anew the problem of Augustine’s conversion in 386: was it to Platonism or Christianity? His original and important study will be of interest to a wide range of readers in the history of philosophy and the history of theology.

For Sale: Cambridge History of Christianity (#1 and 2)

Four parts (reprint, original is part 1 and 2). The first two volumes of Cambridge History of Christianity series: Origins to Constantine and Constantine to ca. 600. These books provide a comprehensive overview of the essential events, persons, places and issues involved in the emergence of the Christian religion in the Mediterranean world in the first six centuries.

Expensive on Amazon! Here only 30 euro (including postage, Netherlands only) and internationally 25 euro (excluding postage).

For sale: How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind

I enjoy so many books of which I have two copies. This one was never read by me – so almost brand new. (I read my own copy – and Thomas Oden is a good read!

I mail it to you for 10 euro excl postage.

“Africa has played a decisive role in the formation of Christian culture from its infancy. Some of the most decisive intellectual achievements of Christianity were explored and understood in Africa before they were in Europe. If this is so, why is Christianity so often perceived in Africa as a Western colonial import?”

Our Christian mess

We all come across Christians for whom the Christian faith seems so easy. You just believe A, B and C, and voila! And you only have to do this and that.

Sure, I believe A, B and C, but then, you review some of your views all the time. And I have to do this and that, but hey, here the real problem begins.  Our best intentions seem too often be thwarted by our worst behaviour.

Being a Christian means using the brain all the time, and at the same time coping with your own ignorance. It is about accepting that we depend on the grace of God, and nothing else. We do not love God and our neighbour as we should, and we always seem to love ourselves too much.

But we strive for better. Always to be thrown on our back again, and we get up again by the grace of God.

How Jewish was Church leadership?

I have a little theory. Maybe you can help me. It is the following idea.  Given the fact that the first generation of Christians was mostly from Jewish background, and all leaders of those communities were also Jewish, and given the fact that the initial growth of the church was mainly amongst Jewish people, and that leadership has a tendency to perpetuate itself:
 
Is it reasonable to expect that even into the third century, most of the bishops of the church had Jewish roots? Have studies been done in this issue? What do you think?

How Jewish was Church leadership?

I have a little theory. Maybe you can help me. It is the following idea.  Given the fact that the first generation of Christians was mostly from Jewish background, and all leaders of those communities were also Jewish, and given the fact that the initial growth of the church was mainly amongst Jewish people, and that leadership has a tendency to perpetuate itself:
 
Is it reasonable to expect that even into the third century, most of the bishops of the church had Jewish roots? Have studies been done in this issue? What do you think?

discussion1

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