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A really wordy paraphrase of Ephesians 2:1-10

A Sermonic Midrash on Ephesians 2:1-10
Preached on Sunday, March 18 at Church of the Servant King in Portland, Oregon.

Hear, listen, understand, and know, brothers and sisters what state you used to be in. Do not forget the slavery you once labored under. Do not forget the bondage that once owned you, dominated you, and beat you down. Do not forget that you once loved your slavery to sin and death. Make no mistake about it, in your former life, the life that you lived to yourselves before Jesus intervened, in that life you were nothing less than dead. You were not simply sick, not simply weak, not simply incomplete—no, now for the first time we have come to know weakness, sickness, incompleteness and failure—rather you were dead. As dead as any lifeless corpse being returned to the earth. Yes, brothers and sisters, do not forget this fact. Dead is what you were. Nothing less than dead. Cold, lifeless, impotent, and completely and utterly helpless. You had no potential in you for life, for love, for hope, for change, peace, and a future. All of this was impossible. Your slavery was complete, utter, and unbreakable. Do not forget that you were dead in your sins, dead by your own transgressions, dead by the tyranny and power of the Devil, dead under the yoke of principalities and powers. In every way, shape and form you were dead to the fullest. And there was nothing to be done.

And you lived this way, this death, this complete and total slavery, this was what you lived in. You were tossed around by the patterns, currents, and trends of this world. There was not even a hint of freedom. Everything about your life, your living-in-death, was ruled. In those days, blind to it though you were, your whole existence was dominated by the Prince of this world. The great adversary, the one who stands behind and in all the powers that shape this world, the enemy of life, the great hater of creation, he was your ruler, down to the very core. And oh, brothers and sisters he is still at work. He still flexes his power over all those who are disobedient, who still cling to their living-in-death. He dominates, oppresses, and enslaves. And this was once your story. This was once the truest thing about you.

Indeed all of us used to live this way. Each and every one of us used to live in death, and, God forgive us, we loved it. It turned us on, it made us exited. It motivated us, it aroused us. It drove us to get rich, to get secure, to make names for ourselves, to pursue, possess and sleep with the people we thought most attractive. This living-in-death animated every inch of our being, determined every facet of our motivations. It suffused our senses, it taught us how to see everything perversely, to enjoy nothing rightly. It made us excited to twist things by our own power and to our own ends. This was our nature. We were the children of this reality, this living-in-death. Our essence was to enslave and be enslaved. Our full and fundamental orientation was towards wickedness and self-establishment. We were just like everyone else in this world. Like every battered woman and child, like every violent and vengeful man. Like every jealous brother, and every bitter sister. Like every resentful mother, and every negligent father. Like every fickle friend, and duplicitous companion. Like every murderous stranger, like every opportunistic thief. Like every helpless slave, like every tyrannical slavemaster. Like every terminally ill cancer patient, and every perfectly healthy millionaire. We were just like all of these. There was nothing different about us from the whole mass of enslaved and enslaving human beings. We were dead. We lived in death and that was the truest thing about us. And there was nothing that could change this.

But. Oh, brothers and sisters, but! Nevertheless, this, though it was the whole story from beginning to end, this was not all. In the midst of all this death, all this slavery, all this transgression, in the midst of the utter and undeniable reign of every power of death and sin and Satan, there came something new. Something impossible. Something that could never have been imagined to come.

But God! The one forgotten and abandoned by us. The one rejected, despised, and ignored above all. This One, this Love beyond all hatreds this mercy beyond all vengeance, this Life, this death-destroying Life: This came to us. In the very center of it all. Right in the midst of it. At the highest and lowest point of our living-in-death, this came to us. Overturning everything in its path this Love, the Love of God did something that had never been imagined, something utterly impossible according to every pattern and potentiality in this world: It made us alive.

Jesus, God in the flesh came to us and loved us with an indestructible love. He let it all fall on him. Everything that makes up this whole world of living-in-death. He threw himself in the path of all of it. He flung himself across the path of each and every single person in this world. He threw himself into our prison, into our fortress of death and slavery holding nothing back, giving himself utterly and fully to death. He embraced our living-in-death without reserve. He took it all in, and let it have its way with him. He took it all in, so that he might have us, so that, unimaginably we might be with him. And that is the insane newness that has come to is. That is the divine madness that has irrupted into our world. That when we were dead beyond all hope, an infinite Love did the impossible. It made us alive. But not just alive, borthers and sisters, no. It made us alive together with him. The Love that has impossibly come among us is not content to restore us to our own lives. No, this Love, the Love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will do nothing less that make us alive together with Jesus, with God’s very self.

This is what we mean, brothers and sisters when we say that “by grace you have been saved.” When we say that, when we confess that, when we proclaim that, we remember and rejoice that this is what has been done. That we were dead—and nothing but dead—and now, impossibly, miraculously, madly, God has made us alive, not alone, or even together, but with Christ Jesus. God has done this.

And more than this, brothers and sisters, God has done something even more impossible, something even more mad. God was not content to simply raise us, for the first time to life, or even to make us to live in the presence of Jesus. No, God has done even more. God has seated us, brothers and sisters alongside Christ. His victory becomes our victory. His glory becomes our glory. His life becomes our life. His joy becomes our joy. His freedom becomes our freedom.

Why, brothers and sisters? Why has God lavished such unprecedented and underserved love, mercy, and glory onto us? What reason for this mad excessiveness could there be? What reason could God have to raise up emaciated child and vindictive murderer together and bring them into indescribable glory? Why did God do this? We know but one reason, because God wants to. The Love that God is desires to shower everyone he has made with immeasurable grace, with limitless kindness, with infinite forgiveness, with unending glory, with eternal joy. This is just what God wants to do, that is what the life of Jesus tells us, what it establishes, what it promises.

So do not be deceived, brothers and sisters. We are alive for one reason and one reason only. Because God has done this in and through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the faithful one. We are alive solely because God’s love has come upon us in the form of this One, this one who was faithful unto death. We had nothing to do with brining this about. Nothing of our own making, no potential within us, nothing we had contributed to this. It is nothing but God’s gift. No work we have done, no accomplishments we can claim contributed anything to this new life being given to us. We have nothing to boast about, nothing to claim, nothing to hold in our hands as if it were our own. No, we have nothing but empty hands in the face of what God has done in Jesus. God has made us alive and God alone has done that. We stand now with empty, open hands, hands which cannot grasp, cannot make, cannot seize, but can only ever remain open, stretched out to God in praise, lament, intercession, and joy, and to one another in welcome, embrace, forgiveness, and support.

And that is what God has now created us to be. He has made us what we are in Christ Jesus. Do not be deceived, brothers and sisters. Who you are now has nothing to do with any of that living-in-death that used to be true about you. It once was the only true thing about you, but now it is nothing but a lie. A false, powerless, defeated shadow. Do not imagine that it has anything more to do with who you are. Who you are now is who God has created you to be in Christ. In Christ God has created us to live towards God and towards each other with empty hands, with open arms. We are made, now, solely for praise and embrace. God has prepared this for us, brothers and sisters. He has set a way of life now before us, a life of empty, outstretched hands. A life where we can do nothing but move, reflexively from shouts of praise to God to unconditional embrace of all who cross our path.

God has prepared this path for us, brothers and sisters. For all ages God has destined us for this in Christ. To be set free from the living-in-death that was once our fate unto being alive with Christ, open to God, embracing all others in love. This is what God has made us to be. And that, now, is the only thing that is true about us. Brothers and sisters, do not fall back into the things that are no longer true, tempting though they may appear. We know that these things are death altogether. Brothers and sisters, remember, confess, proclaim, and enact the truth this day. The truth that God has made us alive with Christ, has enthroned us with Christ, has set us free from every slavery, from every domination, from every power of death and sin and hell. The truth that who we are is not who we were, but only who God in Christ has now and is continuing to make us to be. Open your hands and open your hearts to receive that truth, the one and only thing that is now true. That we are not who we were, that the world is not what it was, that nothing will ever be that way again, that the old age is passing away and the only thing that is something is a New Creation. Hear, brothers and sisters and believe that again. Turn again, with me, pray, praise, love, serve, repent, forgive, open, appeal, give, suffer, and rejoice together. For nothing will ever be that old way again. We are now what God has made us to be. That, and that alone is true.

37 Comments

  1. That there’s just what I was talking about with Kait! I knew you could preach brother H. Now, if you command devils and they flee, if you will lay your hands on the sick and they recover, if you will touch the blind and they see, then I reckon y’all can take a breather from the consternation over the manifold variations of der vorgriff and such in your earlier post below and head out into the highways and byways and compel folks into the Kingdom! Apocalyptic or otherwise you got the gift H and no mistake!

    Hey and check this out from Blind Willis Johnson: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MdI2xPHw_k

    Soul of a Man.

    Won’t somebody tell me,
    answer if you can
    I 
Want somebody tell me,
    what is the soul of a man

    
I’m going to ask the question, answer if you can
    

If anybody here can tell me, what is the soul of a man?

    I’ve traveled in different countries, I’ve traveled foreign lands
    
I’ve found nobody to tell me, what is the soul of a man

    

I saw a crowd stand talking, I came up right on time
    
Were hearing the doctor and the lawyer,
    say a man ain’t nothing but his mind
I

    I read the bible often, I tries to read it right
    

As far as I can understand, a man is more than his mind
    
When Christ stood in the temple, the people stood amazed
    
Was showing the doctors and the lawyers,
    how to raise a body from the grave.

    Can you see Roger F and me singing this, you Kait and Nate tag team preaching, and the Holy Ghost dancing on sinners heads like tongues of fire! Hell I might even get saved again myself! (One really needs to be born-again on a regular basis). Keep looking up and listen for the shout brother and watch for those “signs-a-following,” obliged. 


    Friday, March 23, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Permalink
  2. Halden wrote:

    Thanks for commenting, brother. I hate it when people go nuts commenting on the “provactive” and “theological” posts, but never notice the ones that really matter, the ones I really pour myself into, like this one. Rock on, DanI. I can’t wait to get your Ikon from Christian.

    Friday, March 23, 2012 at 10:01 pm | Permalink
  3. Mshedden wrote:

    Thanks for this enjoyable post.
    Send me your thoughts on the Hunger Games movie if you check it out this weekend. I thought it was pretty good.

    Friday, March 23, 2012 at 11:00 pm | Permalink
  4. Halden wrote:

    I’m gonna see it Sunday night. I really hope it isn’t too tame.

    Friday, March 23, 2012 at 11:01 pm | Permalink
  5. Mshedden wrote:

    It isn’t tame but it also isn’t graphic. I thought it was the right amount of intense. Sometime you should get audio when you preach. I really think sermons gain a lot from being heard.

    Friday, March 23, 2012 at 11:10 pm | Permalink
  6. Evan wrote:

    Speaking for myself, at least, my lack of comments on posts like this doesn’t mean that I don’t notice them. I think certain sorts of posts are just more given to discussion, others to quiet reception. So take heart!

    Saturday, March 24, 2012 at 5:19 am | Permalink
  7. Amen Mshedden! Why not COTSK pod casts? and some youtube videos (what are they hiding over there?). If that community of yours is going to increase it’s market share in Portlandia H, y’all are going to need a much better market strategy with some real franchise potential (maybe just dial down the ‘suffering, serving, and repenting’ a bit?). Looking fwd to your review of ‘Hunger Games.’ I read the first book (because my 16 yr old grand daughter was into it) but I was not too impressed. Usually any challenge or critique offered by blockbuster movies to the american culture industry are as trenchant as efficacious as the challenge and critique that evangelical mega-churches offer to americanist theo-ideologies of power, wealth, and privilege. Still, it was the 1965 movie Doctor Zhivago that got me to start re-thinking my commitment to communism. obliged.

    p.s., as to why you get more more response from ‘provocative theological posts,‘ look to Blind Willie in my comment above for part of the answer (do y’all really think I just post these things randomly without any actual point?):

    

“As far as I can understand, a man is more than his mind
    
When Christ stood in the temple, the people stood amazed
    
He was showing the doctors and the lawyers,

    how to raise a body from the grave.”

    We can futz around and around with our theological ideas H, and maybe it even helps us to *think* we are in control of things sometimes. But every now and again someone (Jesus, the devil? or maybe just our illiterate 2 year old child?) tips the scrabble board over and all our clever word combinations going flying into chaos again. I am an ardent reader and follower of the writings and wisdom of Gamaliel and Hillel the Elder, but It’s Jesus I am counting on to raise me, my loved ones, and every sister and brother from the grave, and I can’t do a damn thing about that, but be “amazed.” Obliged Halden the Elder.

    Saturday, March 24, 2012 at 10:08 am | Permalink
  8. Nate Kerr wrote:

    This is, indeed, the work of theology.

    Saturday, March 24, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Permalink
  9. Kait wrote:

    Indeed.

    Saturday, March 24, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Permalink
  10. Agreed. I’m often reticent to tell you that I like posts like these, Halden, because I assume you’ll take me as insincere. I do like this.

    Saturday, March 24, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Permalink
  11. Halden wrote:

    Brad, I do not now, nor have I ever thought you insincere. If I have given you reason to think that I apologize.

    Saturday, March 24, 2012 at 9:26 pm | Permalink
  12. I am going to go with a kierkegaardian response to why there would be lack of response to these sorts of posts. Either they are boring or meaningful – full stop.

    Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 11:18 am | Permalink
  13. dan wrote:

    Unlike that last post on idolatry and participation, right? I can’t tell why folks (on all sides) get all excited by that non-sense (to borrow some of Wittgenstein’s thinking). Seriously, as far as I can tell it doesn’t actually make a single bit of difference if one is for or against what Halden wrote about in that post.

    Also, Nate, I’m not sure that this is the work of theology. Manipulating symbols… creating pretty formulas, rearranging letters on a page or a screen, god forbid that that be “the work” of theology.

    Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Permalink
  14. Kait wrote:

    Dan, it is clearly stated at the beginning of this post that this was a sermon delivered at Halden’s church. Does that change the tone of your last paragraph?

    Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Permalink
  15. I won’t speak for Dan but I have no idea how knowing that would possibly change the tone of what he intended. I have some sympathy for sermon writing as many of my sermons and most of my endings feel terribly lame but that does excuse them from being lame. That is something I need to deal with and not have someone else have more understanding about.
    (not entirely sure why I italicized where I did)

    Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Permalink
  16. Kait wrote:

    Your comment was totally confusing to me minus the first sentence. So I will respond to that. I think the act of reading and praying through Scripture, writing a sermon through which one attempts to faithfully bear witness to Jesus Christ by preaching the Word to a gathering of people who believe in the death and resurrection of this Jesus Christ is a very essential part of the work of theology. But then again, you and I have dramatically different convictions about what the work of theology means and entails, so I don’t expect this comment to be satisfying to you by any means. Hopefully I am proven wrong.

    Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Permalink
  17. Kait wrote:

    This comment didn’t attach properly but it was intended for David Driedger.

    Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Permalink
  18. What I hear you saying Kait is that a sermon will have a particular ‘in-house’ appeal; that somehow because everyone gathered shares a particular base of convictions then the content can be tailored in a particular way to be meaningful to them. If that is a correct reading of what you wrote then I do disagree with you. My point is that a sermon does not get a ‘pass’ for that reason (though it will take its context and audience in mind of course).
    This week I struggled with preaching on the New Covenant in Jer 31 in which knowledge of God will inscribed directly on the wills of people . . . a little ironic, no? I decided to try and help my congregation see how our education, our language and our ideas, have values and agendas embedded within them and so teaching even at its best can be compromised from the get go. For examples I used the construction of gender and spoke of revisionist history that denies First Nations people their experience. It still felt a little on the lame side (which I needed to own). But after the service I was approached by a visitor who was . . . a transvestite First Nations person! We have a wonderful conversation about her experiences and struggles. If there has been proof of some transcendent God that was a close as it comes.

    Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Permalink
  19. dan wrote:

    Kait,

    It doesn’t “change the tone” to the extent that a sermon still limits “the work of theology” to the domain of the disembodied word (spoken or written, it doesn’t really matter). Christian theologians need to get over their infatuation with words or “the Word”. They don’t matter all that much… only to the extent that they impact actions… beyond that, not at all.

    Besides, a theology that is to be a Christian theology is about embodiment and cruciform embodiment at that (at least that’s how I understand it). There can be no Christian theology, no matter how pretty the words, apart from action.

    Everything else is either bullshit (like the post on idolatry) or propaganda (like this sermon). Of course, both serve their purposes (and, don’t get me wrong, this is a great sermon) but to suggest that this is the work of theology is a bit disheartening. Theology is always more than propaganda no matter how stimulating or inspiring that propaganda is. It’s more like propagande par le fait.

    (PS — Halden, my intention isn’t to offend, I’m hoping we’ve had enough exchanges over the years that I can speak bluntly — my “tone” — without you losing sight of the fact that I respect you… and others who have popped up around here over the years.)

    Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Permalink
  20. Kait wrote:

    Dan, I totally affirm everything you said here in terms of the essential need for an embodied word and the corrupt obsession and infatuation with a disembodied word. God, I can’t tell you how much I agree with that and hope that my life increasingly bears witness to that conviction even though it will always fall so incredibly short of it.

    I guess the reason I think this is *the work* of theology is that I read this sermon as I walked out of a meeting as a chaplain on Friday as I work in the area of mental illness. I continually sit and dwell in the darkness with people as I look into the face of their suffering. I feel the constant weight of it and there is often nothing I can say by way of response. Indeed, all I do some days is quite literally sit on the floor with them in silence. It feels like this is the final word. But I read this sermon and I am reminded that this is not the final word. Though the darkness remains, and quite intensely, there is still hope. And that hope is all I’m interested in. And let me tell you, I think almost everything these days I hear in the realm of theology is bullshit after I’ve sat on the floor in silence for a while. I’m not claiming any piety or profound sense of enlightenment here, just simply trying to communicate that I resonate with the content of what you said here more than you can know.

    Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Permalink
  21. Ok, one more thing about Blind Willie Johnson and then I’ll shut up. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-4jTbrLtUk please, give that a look. “Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground.” You have probably heard it before, and I think the images chosen are significant but can also be superfluous, but it’s worth another listen. Now if you have never been to a place beyond words, caused by either profound joy and astonishing beauty or else the unspeakable anguish of soul deadening pain, then that song by Willie may not mean much to you (but remember it anyway for the future). There are no words to this song and I won’t try to clutter it up with my usual ramblings. But, let me just add this; some genius picked this song to go aboard the unmanned voyager spacecraft that was launched in 1977 to be representative of who human beings on earth are, and that space ship is still heading into outer space. I marvel at the idea that maybe 100,000 light years from now in a galaxy far far away some alien sisters and brothers will be listening to this song by Blind Willie and they will know something about who we are, something more than all our philosophy/theology or dictionaries and thesaurus’s could tell them about us.

    Now maybe this is a bit of what DanO is getting at? (or maybe working through my post on his blog has caused in him a revulsion to language in general?). But don’t we sometimes need to hear these kinds of words? Especially in the context of this sermon spoken within Halden’s community or Kait’s ministry with the suffering or even DanO’s work with the Homeless? We can’t live on wordless blues hymn’s alone, and when it comes to carrying the cross, well, sometimes we have to start with the smaller ones and work our way up to the ‘life sized‘ crosses. But it ain’t ever our job to pick out other peoples crosses for them, only to help them carry them. I’m going to start drinking now, goodnight and obliged.

    (p.s. I am assuming that any extraterrestrials are already in a perfect relationship with God, and that they know by now that we are the same motherfu#%kers that killed God’s son Jesus. But at least now they will know something of our own suffering and sorrow, and that we are not a species of completely worthless skanky bastards, thanks to Willie that is, an old blind black man turned away by a white hospital who died sick and broke and living in the ruin of his burned down house in Beaumont Texas–I kinda hope that the guys at NASA didn’t include that info with the record, let’s give ET a chance to know us better first).

    Obliged,

    Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Permalink
  22. Halden wrote:

    I’m not offended, but I am a little saddened, by what you say. Do you really think I wrote this without wanting it to be something that led to, and called forth action?

    Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Permalink
  23. dan wrote:

    Of course all propaganda is a call to action of some sort. I’m more responding to Nate’s ongoing assertion that this is the work of theology. In any war effort, propaganda is only one part of the picture, an important one, sure, but far from the most important one.

    Monday, March 26, 2012 at 7:59 am | Permalink
  24. Ry Siggelkow wrote:

    I think you have too much invested in what the work of theology is supposed to do or even what it *intends* to do, Dan. It’s as if you think that the work of theology has a high calling that it can never live up to. But the work of theology isn’t the work of the gospel. It isn’t liberation. Rather it speaks of the work of the gospel–despite itself and despite us. Even discipleship and our action is not the work of the gospel.

    And certainly *theology* cannot be that work. Of course theology is propaganda in itself! Of course it doesn’t do anything productive. But this is not because it isn’t action–for action itself is more often than not unproductive of anything good and is often thoroughly propagandistic.

    Monday, March 26, 2012 at 8:24 am | Permalink
  25. dan wrote:

    Ry,

    I completely disagree with you. In my opinion, you offer a terribly truncated understanding of theology — one that far too easily permits the theologian to align him- or herself with and incorporate him- or herself into contemporary structures of Sin and Death. No wonder theologians, and those interested in theology, find it so easy to string together pretty sentences while pursuing life trajectories that are completely contrary to the model trajectory established for Jesus followers in Phil 2.

    If your definition of theology is a proper definition, then I suggest that we abandon it altogether.

    Monday, March 26, 2012 at 9:13 am | Permalink
  26. Ry Siggelkow wrote:

    Of course you disagree with me. If we continue to think that theology can in itself do the gospel’s work of liberation then yes we *must* abandon it. Otherwise it is *always* and at every point propaganda.

    Monday, March 26, 2012 at 9:22 am | Permalink
  27. Ry Siggelkow wrote:

    This is not a way to *permit* the theologian to align with the structures of this world. It is a way to *confess* that the theologian is in fact aligned with the structures of this world. It’s a confession of sin.

    Monday, March 26, 2012 at 9:29 am | Permalink
  28. dan wrote:

    My point is more that theology is a doing. Christian theology is first and foremost acting in a manner that is life-giving to others (which means also acting in a manner that resists that which is death-dealing to others). That (contra Nate) is the work of theology.

    Your understanding of theology appears to be stuck in the domain of the (unfortunately mostly lifeless) word. Theology is life-giving action (in the same way that Jesus is the truth).

    That said, perhaps you can tell me how your understanding of theology avoids the pitfalls that I think are inherent to it?

    Monday, March 26, 2012 at 9:29 am | Permalink
  29. dan wrote:

    Posted at the same time… confession, as you seem to understand it, isn’t good enough. I’ll take repentance (which means an altered life) over confessions (repeated ad nauseum) any day.

    Monday, March 26, 2012 at 9:30 am | Permalink
  30. dan wrote:

    Additionally: why waste so much time and energy on something that is not (as you say) the gospel’s work of liberation? Why not just get on with that work?

    Monday, March 26, 2012 at 9:33 am | Permalink
  31. Ry Siggelkow wrote:

    I am not so sure that the gospel’s work of liberation is really properly called “our work.” Certainly we are to participate in what God is now doing to liberate the world from slavery and death. But this liberation is never a result of “our work”; it is God’s work.

    There is a certain sense in which theology must be abandoned not because it is always propagandistic but precisely because it tends to think of itself and its work all too highly, as if reflection is a mode of faithful action, and as if thinking and speaking is a mode of faithful discipleship. Theology must be abandoned because theology is not itself the work of discipleship but is rather only a mere thinking and a mere speaking of what God has done in Jesus Christ and of how we are now commanded to live and act in light of this event and in light of what God is now doing in the world. And often this thinking is bad–not because of a lack of training (but perhaps because of a lack of being and living with those for whom the gospel brings liberation)–but because we cannot grasp or adequately express (and yet we continue to try to grasp after) what God has done in Jesus Christ.

    I am not sure what you think our theology is “stuck” in or what you mean by lifeless word. For is not all theology “stuck” in precisely this predicament? Is not theology itself to be not done not in the mode of self-justification but of self-exposing, of self-revealing, precisely so that we are *judged* in the face of it? Is this not the work of theology? To speak judgment on and so to humble the rich and haughty (including and especially the Christian and the professional theologian!) and to proclaim liberation for prisoners of the the death and slavery of this world?

    Monday, March 26, 2012 at 10:14 am | Permalink
  32. dan wrote:

    Whether it’s “God’s work” or “our work” is somewhat adiaphora as long as it gets done (I sort of anticipated this response which is why I don’t call it “our work” but refer to it is “that work” — regardless of who actually claims ultimate or final ownership over the work, the point is that we can make the effort to participate within it). Whether God works through us, or despite us, or whatever, let’s still at least try to get going with it, no?

    To clarify my comment, then, I think you are “stuck” with the word because you limit your definition of theology to the realms of “mere thinking” and “mere speaking” whereas I extend it to the domain of actions that we take in relation to others (I say that this word is “unfortunately mostly lifeless” because I don’t see much connection between the things people say and think and the things they do). This gets theology out of the predicament you posit. Theology is what we embody — regardless of what we think or say or write.

    But I’m somewhat confused. You speak about the need to abandon theology but you also seem to argue for a kind of theology (a thinking and speaking about the work of the gospel, judgement on the rich, liberation for captives, and so on). I take it that you are not advocating that this kind of theology be abandoned. So, what sort of abandonment are you speaking about here?

    Monday, March 26, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Permalink
  33. Nate Kerr wrote:

    This is the work of theology.

    Monday, March 26, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Permalink
  34. dan wrote:

    Good call! What can I say? When Jesus gets drunk and moonlights online as Daniel Imburgia, one can only put one’s hands over one’s mouth and repent.

    (But my “revulsion to language” started well before Daniel’s post on my blog — which you all should read — I asked Daniel to post, in part, because I thought he was my best option for not giving up on language.)

    Monday, March 26, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Permalink
  35. TITWOT – put it on a bracelet Nate.

    Monday, March 26, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Permalink
  36. roger flyer wrote:

    I’m sorry, but that’s funny david.

    Thursday, March 29, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Permalink
  37. The thought came into my head before I realized how awesome the acronym was.

    Friday, March 30, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

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