Regarding Christianity and the death penalty, I propose an experiment. Open a public microphone in every church in the US and invite anyone that feels convinced of its truth to state to the rest of the church this one unqualified sentence: “I have committed no sin worthy of death.”
About three years ago, pondering I Cor. 6 about judging angels, over the space of a few days this is what I worked out. It was a curious process, one in which I distinctly felt that insight was being given to me that was not my own.
One of my principal difficulties with the Church of Christ is in their normative hermeneutic of 1st century practice. By that I mean that the practices of the first century are to be continued without change as immutable Law of God, world without end, amen. This quickly devolves, and I think without much possibility of exception, into a rigid, legalistic quibble just as we see it today, as if propagation of the form will somehow reproduce the same results. It cannot possibly do so.
After writing on the immigration theme, I find myself increasingly preoccupied with the knowledge we have of the hungry, the cold, the naked: how disparately, how inequitably, we live and think nothing of it! In particular I John 3:16ff returns again, as it has for years when I consider this topic.
In a recent conversation regarding immigration with one I know to be Christian, I mentioned that the local paper had run an article about a discussion whether one could love one’s neighbor and deport him. The response startled me: “For him to be my neighbor he must be near me, and he isn’t supposed to be near me.”
I received an invitation to a breakfast laid on by a Christian business group; the title of the presentation is “How to Lead a High Performance, Kingdom Building Company.”
Perhaps this would better be titled ‘Evangelical vs. Post-evangelical community.’ Anyway, awaking this morning I found myself reflecting on two distinct community styles that I see emerging today.
It occurred to me tonight that in the traditional evangelical focus on Paul a specific confrontation is lost: Paul is not recorded as specifically seeking out the outcasts of society, the tax collectors, prostitutes, and so forth. I’ve no doubt that he did in fact talk to them, but since that is not explicitly stated as it was with Jesus it is easier to miss that point and focus on the theological or pastoral aspects. We generally prefer it that way; we can deal more with people like us.
In reading St. Justin’s First Apology, I was startled to find this reference; the bold phrase is what I wish to point out. This is followed by a further description of the practice of the community.
In 2001, with the calling of a new rector and subsequent personal dialog with him for the first few months, I thought there was a real opportunity to form a Christian community within the context of an existing Anglican parish.