1 Thessalonians: Introduction

1-thessaloniansSo I thought I’d work through 1 & 2 Thessalonians. For a couple of reasons.

First, I’ve never studied these books. Ever. And yet they’re not long. They’re even about the right length for a 13-week Bible class. So is someone hiding something? Why don’t we ever cover these books?

Second, 1 Thessalonians may be the oldest NT book. There’s a good case for 1 Cor, which we cover all the time, but for some reason, 1 Thes never gets any attention. Why not? Why is this a step-child of our adult Bible class curricula?

Third, some scholars question the Pauline authorship of 2 Thes — which seems surprising. What’s the deal?

Fourth, 2 Thes has this passage on “the lawless one,” sometimes tied to the Anti-Christ or one of the monsters in the Revelation — and yet we never preach or teach about this passage. That just has to be interesting — and may be the reason we never cover these epistles in Bible class. I don’t know …

Fifth, there’s the whole Rapture thing based on 1 Thes 4:17. So there are some truly interesting passages in these two short letters. Continue reading

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The Church and Race: Ron Highfield

Raceandchurch

Background

Two open letters addressing racial injustice were recently published in the Christian Chronicle:

These were accompanied by an article including interviews with some of the authors.

The letters were, of course, inspired by the current controversy regarding the Black Lives Matter movement.

Ron Highfield

Ron Highfield is a professor of religion at Pepperdine University. He’s working on a book about Christianity and social justice. Today, he posted an article making a couple of points that fit well with the current theme, although not specifically about race: “Is Social Justice Ministry a Substitute Gospel?”

Highfield is no rightwing, legalist opposed to social justice. In fact, he has quite a strong history in social justice. And he’s quite the thinker. Some of his work has been extensively reviewed by Scot McKnight at Jesus Creed. Smart theologians read Highfield.

Regarding social justice, Highfield suggests that there are three ways we might do it. Continue reading

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The Church and Race: Confession

Raceandchurch

Background

Two open letters addressing racial injustice were recently published in the Christian Chronicle:

These were accompanied by an article including interviews with some of the authors.

The letters were, of course, inspired by the current controversy regarding the Black Lives Matter movement.

Blue Like Jazz

On the other hand, I can think of one thing we can do today to improve race relations. Donald Miller tells this remarkable (true) story in Blue Like Jazz — Continue reading

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The Church and Race: Objections

Raceandchurch

Background

Two open letters addressing racial injustice were recently published in the Christian Chronicle:

These were accompanied by an article including interviews with some of the authors.

The letters were, of course, inspired by the current controversy regarding the Black Lives Matter movement.

Objections

There is a rebuttal argument, of course. Let’s consider it briefly: Because the church loves its neighbors, and because the victims of illegal police shootings are our neighbors, shouldn’t we do something to help protect them from illegal police violence?

Of course.

Shouldn’t we then do what we can now, rather than waiting the decades it would take to clean up the church’s internal racism?

No. Because the solution is Jesus, and we have no credibility to make that claim until we’ve allowed Jesus to defeat our own racism. Continue reading

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The Church and Race: Thinking Theologically

Raceandchurch

Background

Two open letters addressing racial injustice were recently published in the Christian Chronicle:

These were accompanied by an article including interviews with some of the authors.

The letters were, of course, inspired by the current controversy regarding the Black Lives Matter movement.

A little theology

As stated by James Davison Hunter,

The proclivity toward domination and toward the politicization of everything leads Christianity today to bizarre turns; turns that, in my view, transform much of the Christian public witness into the very opposite of the witness Christianity is supposed to offer. A vision of the new city commons [in which the church participates] … leads to a postpolitical view of power. It is not likely to happen, but it may be that the healthiest course of action for Christians, on this count, is to be silent for a season and learn how to enact their faith in public through acts of shalom rather than to try again to represent it publicly through law, policy, and political mobilization. This would not mean civic privatism [permanent withdrawal from the public square] but rather a season to learn how to engage the world in public differently and better.

To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World (Kindle Locations 3876-3882). Kindle Edition. (Emphasis in original.) Continue reading

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The Church and Race: The Sins of Our Ancestors

Raceandchurch

Background

Two open letters addressing racial injustice were recently published in the Christian Chronicle:

These were accompanied by an article including interviews with some of the authors.

The letters were, of course, inspired by the current controversy regarding the Black Lives Matter movement.

Before discussing such a controversial issue, I thought it might be helpful to deal with some over-arching concerns. Continue reading

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The Church and Race: Imagine

Raceandchurch

Background

Two open letters addressing racial injustice were recently published in the Christian Chronicle:

These were accompanied by an article including interviews with some of the authors.

The letters were, of course, inspired by the current controversy regarding the Black Lives Matter movement.

Imagine

Imagine that the members of the church were so well schooled in matters of God and race that they considered racial division within the Kingdom unthinkable – even revolting. And imagine that our revulsion at racism were to become routine teaching – because converts to Jesus have to be taught to no longer be racists just as they must be taught other Christian ethics. That is, imagine that “to be a Christian” came to mean, among other things, “to no longer tolerate racial division of any kind.” Continue reading

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