Archive for December 8, 2006

Signs of Spiritual Enlightenment

Gordon Atkinson at Real Live Preacher posted these signs of spiritual enlightenment back in November. I know many folks have already read this, but it was interesting enough that I wanted to link to it even now. Here they are for those of you too busy to click the link:

  • The embracing of paradox
  • The love of mystery in the presence of unanswered questions
  • The acceptance of your small place in reality
  • The willingness to engage in spiritual exercises without knowing how they will work or even what it would mean for them to work
  • The increase of love, grace, forgiveness, and patience visible in your life

Part of me wonders if these are true signs of spiritual enlightenment or if they are signs he has interpreted as enlightenment in his own life. I can say that I share some of these traits, but I haven’t necessarily considered them signs of spiritual enlightenment. Befuddlement…perhaps.  Hopefully we can embrace a blessed befuddlement as a kind of grace that we can receive.  I’ve heard theologians talk about the simplicity beyond complexity, and I think blessed befuddlement can be that simplicity that we should strive toward.  Is this the goal? Maybe the true end of our search is realizing that creation is so darn complex that we just have to shake our heads and smile a perplexed smile of amazement.

December 8, 2006 at 3:00 pm Leave a comment

Jenson: Sin and Righteousness

“Throughout Scripture, the central moral and historical category is ‘righteousness.’ Since Israel’s God is invested in Israel’s community, her righteousness consists in faithfulness in that community; thus righteousness in Israel’s Bible is the vigor of the entire network of communal relations within which participants divine and human live…Scripture’s many words for sin are mere contraries of ‘righteousness’ and denote one or another betrayal of community (pp. 71-72).”

How often do we portray sin and righteousness in this way? So often, it seems to me, sin and righteousness are defined by participating in or refraining from particular acts. For instance, some traditions forbid dancing and drinking alcohol as sins. I think these can be sins, but only in the sense in which Jenson here defines sin. Only as authentic community with God and neighbor are compromised are these sin. We can easily see alcoholism as a sin. Dancing? Maybe if it is dehumanizing in some sense. So, let’s start to define sin and righteousness communally, and maybe we’ll make some strides in our conversations about sin.

December 8, 2006 at 1:41 pm Leave a comment

Advent with Robert Jenson

Robert W. Jenson - Systematic Theology For Advent, I am reading Robert W. Jenson’s Systematic Theology. What better way to prepare for our Lord’s arrival! So far, I am floored by Jenson’s breadth, depth, and at times…clarity. He is a terrific writer and the only reason there aren’t more of these crystalline moments is my own lack of breadth and depth theologically and philosophically. There is something powerful about reading first rate theology such as this as you prepare week-in and week-out to preach to a congregation hungry for God. It seems to me that our quest to communicate the mystery of faith is aided insofar as we are willing to passionately pursue answers to our own questions about the faith. That’s why I read folks like Jenson. He’s willing to face the tough questions. For instance, like Pannenberg, he believes Feuerbach’s assertion that “God” is simply human interest writ large is an important assertion to interact with and question. I’m about half-way through this now, and I look forward to delving further into the mystery of our Triune God.

December 8, 2006 at 1:28 pm Leave a comment


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