Thought Leaders Series: 2017

The correct way to approach the Old Testament is to engage it as a collection of historical writings, commentaries, and views of Jewish thinkers of the Divine.

Treating it as ‘the word of God’ gives the notion of finality, thereby, hindering us from continuing the painstaking work of theology as these scholars themselves did in their time. It also presents the view that God has stopped working with, and through us today.

The New Testament consists of the accounts and correspondence of followers of Jesus. People who themselves were busy trying to make sense of all they had seen, heard, or were experiencing.

In fact, among Jewish thinkers in Roman occupied Palestine there was a real sense that the perpetuation of evil and injustice that they were experiencing will eventually lead to an end to human existence. For Jesus however, heaven had met earth, hence the call for ‘Repentance’, as he envisioned and articulated the possibility of God’s kingdom here on earth.

Like any revolutionary idea, this kingdom stood firmly against the existing structures and institutions. Its values will eventually overcome the existing structures through their kindness and love for all regardless of race, class, or gender.

It was a none-violent struggle, a battle of ideas, costing the lives of many. It would later be made mainstream. Curtailed and modified, so it fits with the old power structures of Rome. This is largely the version of Christianity practised today.

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http://www.healingsprings.org.uk

This Sunday @ Healingsprings fellowship

Renown Poet and Aphorist, Stanislaw Lec once posed the question:

Is it progress if a cannibal uses a fork?

This question sets the scene for my teaching on Atonement which I presented last week with the central question:

Did Jesus die to appease an Angry God, or did he die to demonstrate self-emptying (kenosis)?

I noted that sacrificial lamb idea was used by the early or primitive church as a metaphor for Jewish audiences who were already familiar with Temple worship and practices, to highlight Jesus’ death and resurrection. It was also used in shaping the minds of gentile converts who were already familiar with similar Temple rituals within their cultural contexts.

Unlike other deities, God neither seeks human or animal sacrifice for communion with humanity. Neither is God Angry and Unforgiving.

In the early days of Nation forming, the Jews replicated the idea of known institutions from other civilisations, but they incorporated their spiritual philosophy within such context – hence the first and subsequent Temples. We also see this pattern in their government – from rule by the prophets, to rule through a royal dynasty, and an organised army like the nations around them.

I argued further that Prophets like Amos challenged Temple worship much later in their trajectory, drawing them back to a time when all they had was the Tabernacle, while addressing issues around social justice and morality as means of ‘atonement’.

Furthermore, for the Atonement through death formula to stand, there has to be the doctrine of ‘Original Sin’ and an ‘Angry God’, however, Jesus never presented either of these positions to us. Instead, he continually showed us a loving Father who seeks relationship with his children – even before his death on the cross.

Jesus came to show us the Father. He demonstrated and modelled this in many instances, particularly in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

Therefore, I concluded that a God that seeks human sacrifice (let alone the innocent death of his son) is not different from the pagan gods, even if we take the view that God died for us through Jesus.

This teaching is erroneous, and leads to grave consequences in our understanding of Jesus’ ministry, and our view or perception of God.

If ever there was an Atonement, Jesus’ selfless living, ministry, non-violence stance against opposition, and death in innocence; enlightens our understanding of God. By this he bridges the gap, bringing us at One with God (Atonement). He came to show the Father!

Join us for the series: God was in Christ, as I delve further into the Doctrine of Atonement.

3pm – 4:30pm

The Parish Hall

St John’s Sidcup,

Church Road,

Sidcup,

Kent DA14 6BX

Reachout | Revive | Recover

http://www.healingsprings.org.uk

Thought Leaders Series: 2017

Did Jesus die to appease an Angry God, or did he die to demonstrate self-emptying (kenosis)?

By way of background, the sacrificial lamb idea was used in the early or primitive church as a metaphor for Jewish audiences who were already familiar with Temple worship and practices, to highlight Jesus’ death and resurrection. It was also used in shaping the minds of gentile converts who were already familiar with similar Temple rituals within their cultural contexts.

Unlike other deities, God neither seeks human or animal sacrifice for communion with humanity. In the early days of Nation forming, the Jews replicated the idea of known institutions from other civilisations, but they incorporated their own spiritual philosophy within such context – hence the first and subsequent Temples. We also see this in their government – from rule by the prophets, to rule through a royal dynasty, and an organised army like the nations around them.

In fact Prophets like Amos will challenge Temple worship much later in their trajectory, drawing them back to a time when all they had was the Tabernacle, while addressing issues around social justice or morality as means of ‘atonement’.

For the Atonement through death formula to stand, there has to be the doctrine of ‘Original Sin’ and an ‘Angry God’, however, Jesus never presented either of these positions to us. Instead, he continually showed us a loving Father who seeks relationship with his children – even before his death on the cross.

Jesus came to show us the Father. He demonstrated and modelled this in many instances, particularly in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

A God that seeks human sacrifice (let alone the innocent death of his son) is not different from the pagan gods, even if we take the view that God died for us through Jesus.

This teaching is erroneous, and leads to grave consequences in our understanding of Jesus’ ministry, and our view or perception of God.

Dear Friends, Jesus’ selfless living, ministry, non-violence stance against opposition, and death in innocence; enlightens our understanding of God. By this he bridges the gap, bringing us at One with God (Atonement). He came to show the Father!

May the words of our mouth, and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in your sight lord. Amen.

Reachout | Revive | Recover

http://www.healingsprings.org.uk

Today @ Healingsprings fellowship

A continuum is defined as something that changes in character gradually or in very slight stages without any clear dividing points.

This word best describes the trajectory of the church. Hence the feeling of unease whenever I hear people making reference to a ‘golden era of Christianity’. As such Christians pray earnestly for a ‘revival’, romanticising over how the church use to be.

However, this view only highlights minor aspects of Christian history. In fact once the faith became institutionalised through pressure from the Roman authorities it took a completely different trajectory. By and large church history in Europe and the New World was plagued by wars, oppression, racism, patriarchy, greed, exploitation, dictatorship, control, corruption, nepotism, imperialism, elitism and manipulation. All the stuff Jesus stood firmly against.

Although church attendance was very high, Christians were deeply involved in slavery and much later colonialism and its derivatives.

To this end I will be treating the doctrine of Atonement. During the course of my talk I will examine the mainstream idea, ‘the Wrath of God’, which leads to the need for a sacrifice to appease God, against the Moral Theory which highlights that Jesus’ life, ministry and self-emptying even unto death reveals God to us, thereby, Atoning for the gulf of understanding between God and humanity.

In other words, did Jesus die to appease an angry God, or did he die as a moral example of selfless love, and through that revealing the Father?

Join us for the series: God was in Christ.

3pm – 4:30pm

The Parish Hall

St John’s Sidcup,

Church Road,

Sidcup,

Kent DA14 6BX

Reachout | Revive | Recover

http://www.healingsprings.org.uk

Today @ Healingsprings fellowship

For the Jewish authorities, the embarrassment, excruciating pain, and suffering that hallmark’s crucifixion was meant to bring the activities of a fringe group, following a little known Rabbi called Jesus to an end.

For the followers of Jesus, his arrest and subsequent death would have meant that their messianic hopes had been dashed. God had not shown up to vindicate their leader, and only hope against the scourge of the Roman authorities, and the oppression of their corrupt and short sighted religious leaders.

Jesus had died only because he was “a friend of sinners”. For the Jewish leaders, he was messing up their religious and philosophical foundations. Sinners should be Exiled from the community, in other instances, killed.

But who were these sinners? Those within their community that didn’t measure up to their incredibly high standards. The lepers, widows, orphans, poor, Samaritans, divorced, and those in debt. Even amongst these people, not all believed in Jesus. A lot had given up all hopes, hence the reason why they chose Barabbas instead of Jesus. The wealthy and those from nobility were righteous. To a very large extent this is still the case. The time and setting might have changed, but the mind set is still the same.

His followers were lost completely unsure of their future until his appearance at various locations, following his resurrection.

To this end, I will be exploring Jesus’ Crucifixion with a view to recapture it’s essence, and strengthen us as we anticipate his Second Coming.

Join us for the series: God was in Christ.

3pm – 4:30pm

The Parish Hall

St John’s Sidcup,

Church Road,

Sidcup,

Kent DA14 6BX

Reachout | Revive | Recover

http://www.healingsprings.org.uk

Today @ Healingsprings fellowship

Parables were not unique to Jesus. They are part of an oral tradition for teaching universal truths in the ancient Middle East. In fact some of the parables in the gospels were known parables that were expanded by Jesus, providing radically new meaning. Hence Jesus’ audience note that he spoke like, ‘one with authority’ (Matthew 7:29), emphasising that he was breaking known conventions.

Contrary to the notion that Jesus used parables because they were easy for his mostly uneducated audience to understand, we now know that Ezra et al’s reform meant that all Jews had a basic education through the instruments of the local Rabbis and synagogues from the age of 5. We also know that their curriculum covered what we now refer to as the Old Testament, as well as other classical texts and Jewish commentaries.

In using parables Jesus was keeping with Rabbinic tradition. Interestingly Matthew saw Jesus’ use of Parables as further evidence of his messianic credentials (Matthew 13:35), with reference to Ps 78:2.

Parables form about 30% of Jesus’ recorded teaching, as such they are crucial in understanding the ‘mind of Christ’ – 1 Cor. 2:16. And in deciding Jesus position on matters that are not explicitly covered in the Texts, especially modern challenges.

Join us this Sunday as we explore Jesus’ Parables within the series: God was in Christ.

3pm – 4:30pm

The Parish Hall

St John’s Sidcup,

Church Road,

Sidcup,

Kent DA14 6BX

Reachout | Revive | Recover

http://www.healingsprings.org.uk

Today @ Healingsprings fellowship

In terms of influence the Jews were only a footnote in history compared to other civilisations like Egypt, Greece, Ethiopia, Hittite, Assyria, Babylon, and Persia.

In fact Jewish racial laws and customs would not have even allowed them to trade, or exert much cultural or political influence over their neighbours, let alone the known World. Neither were they ever known for their conquest or military might.

Furthermore, theologians and historians argue that Jesus’ ministry spanned only between two to three years. Even his cousin, (John the Baptist) was more widely known and respected than Jesus.

So, how did Jesus a little known carpenter, who started his ministry around the age of thirty, who was largely seen as an agitator, who was so unpopular so much so that the people opted for the release of Barrabas when they had the choice. How did Jesus go on to leave such a legacy?

Dear friends, the lazy answer will be through God’s providence, however, the same could be said for the success of the French Revolution or even the Arab Spring.

Join us this Sunday as we explore some of the core Teachings of Jesus within my series: God was in Christ.

3pm – 4:30pm

The Parish Hall

St John’s Sidcup,

Church Road,

Sidcup,

Kent DA14 6BX

Reachout | Revive | Recover

http://www.healingsprings.org.uk