Saturday, June 26, 2010


In contrast to the "holy war" tradition of the Old Testament, in which Israelites were at times commanded to kill enemies, Jesus taught, "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. " (Luke 6:27-28)

Note that loving our enemies, according to Jesus, entails doing them good. It is important that we understand this because there's a long and sad Church tradition, dating back to Augustine, that divorces one's loving disposition toward an enemy from one's actions. This allowed Christians to torture and kill their enemies while claiming to love them.

In reality, Jesus doesn't leave open this possibility. Just as God demonstrates his love toward us by acting in self-sacrificial ways to bless us, so we are to demonstrate our love toward even our enemies by acting in self-sacrificial ways toward them - to "bless them." By "love your enemies," Jesus meas we must do good to them. ...

Notice this: there are no exception clauses found anywhere in the New Testament's teaching about loving and doing good to enemies. Indeed, Jesus' emphasis on the indiscriminate nature of the love rules out any possible exceptions. The sun doesn't decide on whom it will and will not shine. The rain doesn't decide on whom it will and will not fall. So too, Kingdom people are forbidden to decide who will and will not receive the love and good deeds we're commanded to give.
-Gregory Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Religion, pages 97-98, 100

Imagine what the world might look like if more Christians started taking the teachings of Christ more seriously...

Sunday, June 20, 2010


A few random items that may be of interest...

1. Is BP entirely to blame for the oil spill catastrophe? Yes, but there's a larger picture to consider before implementing solutions.

2. I normally want nothing to do with people who invoke natural disasters as warnings (or punishments) from God, but in this case there's something to be said for the idea of God acting out of a sense of good taste.

3. Interesting essay on the South African political scene. The tribalism that defines so much of life in sub-Saharan Africa is foreign enough to the Western mindset that we tend to underestimate its effect on African politics.

4. Finally, this gem originally posted on Craigslist. The story seems just enough over the top that I wonder whether it really happened as told, but the homophobia depicted in it is very much a reality, and as such the author's points deserve to be heard.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Blind Spots

The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.
-Leo Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is Within You

Tolstoy's observation likely garners a hearty "Amen!" from just about everyone who comes across it; we can all think of people who simply refuse to acknowledge any facts that contradict what they have already decided must be true. Many of us could no doubt brainstorm a long list of ways in which the above applies to most of the evangelicals we have known. Those evangelicals, in turn, would probably present us with a similarly lengthy list.

Left or right, libertarian or socialist, Christian or atheist, and so on - it's simply human nature for us to reach conclusions on certain issues and then consider the matter settled. Even those who have moved beyond Stage Three in their personal development need to guard against short-sightedness. The best any of us can do is honestly acknowledge our own limitations and strive to remain open to new information, all the while extending the same grace to our opponents that we hope to receive when we are proven wrong.