Approaching Emmaus

Location: Santa Barbara

Friday, November 14, 2008

A thought bourne of my Christian History class and a bit too much caffene

The early church in the Roman empire was predominantly lower class. For example, Collistus was a slave, but eventually became the Bishop of Rome. There are many reasons why Christianity may have been mostly poor--not least of which is that there happened to be more poor people than rich! But what is especially interesting is the lack of rich people at the top. Even the Bishop of Rome was a slave.

I think this had a lot to do with the fact that Christianity was not recognized as an official Roman religion, and still had a lot of persecution. The rich have more to lose, so they maybe aren't willing to risk their possessions to secure their souls. Or if they are, they just want to be reeallly quiet about it. Being a bishop is too dangerous.

Of course after Constantine made Christianity an officially recognized religion, all of that changed. After that, you see the bishoprics and other higher levels completely dominated by upper class. This is not inherently bad, but you have to wonder how many of those people at the top really just wanted more prestige and worldly possessions and power.

I think bishops deserve honor and respect. But I was just thinking about how interesting it would be if that honor was upside down. When the bishop visits a parish and we have a picnic, the bishop is not allowed to eat the fancy desserts. He is made to sit at the table that is wobbly. He doesn't get the comfortable chair. What if the bishop was not treated, but expected to fast? Just an interesting thought. Christ was humbled and subjected to poor treatment, so perhaps the Bishops should participate in that honor by sharing that humility, or should I say, humiliation.

The Bishop salary would be less than that of a priests. The standard would be to provide that the Bishop has small inconveniences in everything he does, things that the normal people do not have to endure. But all done in a way that is respectful of the office and ultimately honorific of the man.

Then again, probably I've just had too much sugar-enriched espresso.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Religious Pluralism

I recently found a bunch of theological lectures freely available for download in mp3 format from The Christian Institute. I listened to a lecture on Nihilism by Lesslie Newbigin which was fantastic, and today I listened to a lecture by Jock Magregor about Pluralism, which was very interesting. I am interested in Religious Pluralism a lot. I see it as the greatest challenge to Christianity today. It is heresy, and it seems like church after church is following our culture and falling into it. Anyway, here is a little excerpt of the lecture that I found particularly interesting:


"The principle of egalitarianism cannot reasonably be extended into the area of beliefs--because to say that all ideas can be equally true is to deny the principle of non-contradiction and to end up into absolute insanity... To say every idea that just floats in the door is equally true.

"Similarly with the idea of freedom. People somehow think that to consider another person's religious beliefs wrong is somehow to limit that persons freedom. They make this jump, you see.

"'Well if you don't think that person's view is right, somehow this has got an implicit coerciveness in it.' Now, this is not logical at all, but people try to press this point.

"You see this in the homosexual debate for instance. Where homophobia is defined not just as the abuse and vilification of homosexuals, but merely to state that you think homosexuality is wrong is now being seen as inherently oppressive and discriminating, in and of itself. You see how they press this idea of freedom. That the gay lobby argues that gay's should be free from even people thinking that what they are doing is wrong.

"Of course to believe that another person is wrong is not inherently coercive, nor does it limit their freedom at all. That person is quite free in their conscience to hold whatever beliefs they wish, right or wrong.

"Advocating exclusivism rather than pluralism does not deny people's freedom or or the equality of people before the lord in the least."

-Jock Magregor, The Challenge of Religious Pluralism, 1995 Autumn Lectures - Modern Isms

Friday, September 14, 2007

Beginning the Journey

Two thousand years ago two men left Jerusalem and headed for a small village called Emmaus. While they walked they spoke of the Messiah. On the way, a mysterious man unlocked for them the secret meanings and prophesies of the Old Testament as they concerned the coming of the Messiah, and how they fit the life of one particular man.

Even as they walked, their eyes were opened, but it was not until they reached Emmaus that they saw the man before them was Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah.

I want to see Jesus, so I am beginning a journey to Emmaus. I too will speak of the Messiah--I will reflect on the scriptures. And perhaps a Holy traveler will accompany me along the journey, unlocking secret meanings and prophesies of the Old Testament. May my eyes begin to open as I approach Emmaus.