Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Beauty from the Dust

So, I think the theme from this song follows up well from our theme last week: (those guitar players out there make sure to watch the whole thing as he explains how to play all of his fancy chords!)

I discovered "Gungor/The Michael Gungor Band" a few years ago and have eagerly gobbled up all of their albums. I find it rare that a "Christian band" has such a blend of creativity and ability.
In case you doubt his ability on the guitar:

And in case you are curious enough to listen to a little more:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

God in the dark?

Those of us who are Christians and regularly read the New Testament are used to the imagery of light. We are familiar with statements like "I am the light of the world" (Jn 8:12) and "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all" (1 Jn 1:5), etc...

However, last spring I was going through the covenant passages and ran across an interesting description of what happened when God made His covenant with Abraham:

Genesis 15:12, 17-18 (ESV)
12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him... 17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram...

At the time I found this imagery of darkness striking and intriguing but didn't think too much about it until just recently as I read through the book of Exodus where I found more darkness associated with the presence of God. As Moses is up on Mt Sinai receiving the Law we see this:
Exodus 20:21 (ESV)
21 The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.

And Deuteronomy's description of these events is very similar:
Deuteronomy 4:11 (ESV)
11 And you came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, while the mountain burned with fire to the heart of heaven, wrapped in darkness, cloud, and gloom.

And when Solomon dedicated the newly built temple:
1 Kings 8:12 (ESV) [also: 2 Chr. 6:1]
12 Then Solomon said, "The Lord has said that he would dwell in thick darkness...

We also see a fair amount of darkness language associated with God in the Psalms. This is just one of numerous instances:
Psalms 18:9-11 (ESV)
9 He bowed the heavens and came down; thick darkness was under his feet. 10 He rode on a cherub and flew; he came swiftly on the wings of the wind. 11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him, thick clouds dark with water.

Now, of course there is also a whole lot of light language used to describe God... in fact, as we would suspect, there is much more light language than there is darkness language but I find these scriptures fascinating.

What is your initial reaction to associating darkness with God?
What do these darkness scriptures say to you about who God is?
Any other examples?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fairness vs Justice

How often do you hear people say things like, "... but that's not fair..."?

People often appeal to some sort of sense of fairness; in many cases I think that this is good and appropriate, but sometimes it clearly is not.

Sometimes people also appeal to fairness as if it's some sort of Christian/theological virtue. But when you actually think about it, I don't think there's much of a case to be made for fairness if you look in the scriptures.

The reason why this comes to mind for me is that I recently ran across this quote in an article written by N. T. Wright:
"Justice never means 'treating everybody the same way' [ie. fairness], but 'treating people appropriately', which involves making distinctions between different people and situations." (This was written in the context of the homosexual debate within the Anglican Church; if you care you can read the whole article here).

A quick search found that, in the entire Bible (ESV), only Dt. 25:15 used the word "fair" (there were other usages of "fair", like "fair weather" but that's not what we're talking about), and 2 usages of "fairness" in 2 Cor. 8:13-14.

Compare these 3 usages of fair/fairness to 139 hits for "justice"! (There were 212 hits for "just" but I was to lazy to sift through alternate usages of that word... ie. "these things happened JUST as the LORD said", etc...).

What do you think:
Is God fair?
Is God just?
How are these two concepts similar/dissimilar?
What do you think of Wright's definition of justice?
What might be some the results, theologically speaking, of saying that God is fair vs saying that God is just?

Friday, September 10, 2010

New Stephen R. Lawhead novel

So, as a big Stephen R. Lawhead fan, I'm pretty pumped that he has just come out with the first book in a brand new series. The book is, The Skin Map; the series is the Bright Empires Trilogy.

Also, I was surprised that they put out a "book trailer" for this new book. Check it out!

The trailer's a bit cheesy... but kinda cool. So far the reviews on have been pretty strong too!