January 31, 2007

Folks have been asking me to post a picture of my new laptop. Here it is! It is less than 5 lbs, 12.1 inch screen. Plenty fast (Intel Duo 2 Core), has built-in media feature (Windows XP Media Edition, a DVD Burner, built in mic. and camera) and has 120 GB Hard Drive. Not bad for $1k! Thank you to everyone who contributed. The fact that it only took 2 weeks to raise the money for my laptop–something so un-essential and “fluffy”–makes me feel very much cared for. Thank you.

Jesus Walks Among Us

January 31, 2007

How does something like this happen?

Missio Dei Book of Prayer

January 31, 2007

A new development on the Missio Dei Book of Prayer…

As you may know, I’m creating a “universal” version of the Book of Prayer (for lack of a better term) that isn’t specific to Missio Dei and the Cedar Riverside. InterVarsity Press is currently deliberating on whether or not to publish this version (which I’m calling the New Monastic Breviary). I’ve proposed the breviary in addition to chapters about the appeal of classic monasticism, as well as emerging approaches to new monasticism. An appendix will include various new monastic rules of faith.

The only re-envisioned approach to fixed-hour prayer currently “on the market” for evangelicals is Phyllis Tickle’s the Divine Hours (a multi-volume set that offers morning and evening prayers throughout the calendar year). As worthy as her work is, something more accessible and mobile is needed (in my humble opinion). This is why monastics, especially mendicants, started publishing breviaries—single volume books of prayer that could be carried easily. The New Monastic Breviary grew out of Missio Dei’s desire to incorporate fixed hour prayers into our life in a way that is captivated by the mendicant monastic spirit, but reflects an emerging missional impulse.

My hope is that many communities will take the time to develop breviaries for their own communities. But for those who don’t want to go that route, we offer the New Monastic Breviary. If IVP agrees to the proposal, then you’ll be able to buy it on Either way, we want to share our prayers with other communities and individuals who’d like to pray along with us.

That is why I’m currently working on creating an RSS feed that will give you the day’s morning and evening prayers (on a 28 day cycle).

It is my hope and prayer that such an offering will help cultivate the discipline of fixed-hour prayer in our generation.

Church and State pt 3: Subject to the Governing Authorities (a Christian Anarchist’s second look at Romans 13)

January 30, 2007

Today, I’ll continue my examination of Romans 13. In particular, I will unpack Romans 13:1-2. In following posts, I will offer my general understanding of Romans 13, as well as the ministry implications of that understanding.

Romans 13:1-2 (NRSV)

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

Romans 13:1-2 (TNIV)

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

I admit, at face value these passages seem to kick the crap out of the Christian Anarchist tradition. This is why many Christian Anarchists have rejected the works of Paul and have opted. But I love Paul and affirm the Scripture-ness of his writings. If I were intellectually dishonest, I’d go for the argument that Paul is merely being ironic. I’m not convinced of that. My instincts as a quasi-academic, and as a practioner, is that Paul is trying to say someting very important in this passage, and that it shouldn’t be dismissed. Nor should it be argued around. So, what’s a Christian Anarchist to do?

How one answers four questions seems to determine how one understands the message of Romans 13:

  1. What does “subject” mean in this passage?
  2. What manner of authority do governing authorities have?
  3. Who are these “governing authorities?”
  4. What does it mean that they have been “instituted/established” by God?

Let me address these one at a time:

Q: What does it mean to be subject?

I’d argue that we need to think of “being subject” along the same line as “turn the other cheek.” Context here is key. As Jacques Ellul reminds us (from his book Anarchy and Christianity):

…Paul goes on to teach at length about love: love among Christians in teh church (12:3-8), love for all people (12:9-13), and love for enemies (not avenging oneself, but blessing those who persecute), with a further exhortation to live peaceably with all (12:14-21). The passage on the authorities comes next. Then all the commandments are summed up in the commandment of love and of doing no wrong to others (13:8-10). In ch. 14 some details are offered as to the practices of love…

I find it almost impossible to believe that when Paul was writing chapters 12 and 13 (I remind you that the distinction between these two chapters is artificial) that he wasn’t thinking of Jesus’ teachings about love of enemy. It is our love of our enemies that allows us to authentically turn the other cheek. And so it is also our love of our enemies (and our recognition that we are Children of the One who is Lord over everything) that we can be subject to their orders. Not out of recognition of their authority. But out of love for them and our recognition of God’s authority (more on that later).

Q: What manner of authority do governing authorities have?

In a sense, they have no authority. God has all the authority. What power the state has isn’t God-sanctioned. Instead, it is allowed and “kept-in-line” by the One to Whom all Powers are Subject. In other words, the authority of Rome isn’t sanctioned by God so much as it is de facto authority restrained and used by God. As Jacques Ellul has written: “Power is indeed from God, but all power is overcome in Christ.” In my next post on the series, I’ll explore how this understanding of the authority of Rome affects one’s reading of the rest of Romans 13.

Q: Who are these governing authorities?

In Rome, the governing authority is Caesar. Everyone else down the hierarchy represents Caesar. This understanding of governance is foreign to most within the West, since we understand authority to come from the people. We (often mistakenly) believe that we actually share in power, and that we bestow that power to officials who act according to our collective will.

Within this text (we need to be careful that we don’t universalize this passage too much, as though it presents a doctrine of political engagement or Church and State), it seems likely that the authorities in view are both those who are a part of the Roman power structure who somehow embody spiritual powers (think Ephesians 6). Our task is to submit to the authorities while also resisting the “powers.” This is why nonviolent resistance is incredibly nifty, since it allows for one to submit and resist at the same time–submitting to the government and its agents while resisting the spiritual forces that empower them.

Q: What does it mean that they have been instituted/established by God?

Here (as one might expect) I agree with John Howard Yoder, who understands the term “instituted” (Greek: tasso) not as “establishing” or “instituting” but “ordering.” In other words, God orders the otherwise chaotic authorities by “keeping them in line.” In other words, this passage doesn’t establish or support the notion that God has formally ordained Caesar’s reign. Nor does it support the notion that God has ordained two institutions whose job it is to bring justice: the Church and the State.

God doesn’t sanction state authority. Instead, as Yoder argues, God brings governments in line. In other words, he “providentially and permissively lines them up with divine purposes” (Politics of Jesus, 202). In this sense, then, God is ordering Rome in much the same way he ordered any of the great imperial powers that he uses to accomplish his purposes. God’s use of Assyria to judge Israel doesn’t mean that God sanctioned Assyria, after all.

Paul’s reason, then, in calling the Church in Rome to submit to the authorities isn’t to give an endorsement of Rome. Nor is it to say to them “be good citizens.” Instead, they ought to submit (turn the other cheek) out of love for God and neighbor. They ought not rebel, instead they out to live a life of faithful nonviolence (though this leaves the door for nonviolent resitance open) within their city.

Jesus, Money, and Mike Tyson

January 30, 2007

Three interestingly inter-related quotes:

“When Jesus comes back, these crazy, greedy, capitalistic men are gonna kill him again.”–Mike Tyson

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”–Jesus of Nazareth

“Two feet can only walk one path” — Muslim African Proverb

Links for Your Perusal

January 29, 2007

Here’s a good article from the MN Daily that anyone who over-shares on their blog ought to read. I’ve definitely been guilty of that before. For extra credit, post the link anonymously on blogs that overindulge in personal information.

If you’re interested, I’ve updated the design of the Missio Dei website. I’ll be updated content this week. I’ve added a page called “West Bank Images.” Give me your honest feedback…is the faint image of Jesus in the header too cheesy?

I hate over-the-top spoof flicks. I hate teen spoof flicks even more. I’m glad that, as of the writing of this post, “Epic Movie” is getting a big fat zero percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. If you want to see a comedy, please stay home and rent Little Miss Sunshine instead.

Audio from Bethel Seminary Talk on “Embodying the Gospel in Post____ America”

January 29, 2007


This is the audio of a talk I gave today at Bethel Seminary’s Community Life Gathering…I think the talk went well. Enjoy.

Click here to download the audio.

Voting=Death to Kittens

January 28, 2007

I think I may have shared this a while ago, but when I stumbled upon it today in among my digital pics, I chuckled and thought I’d share it once again.

The only think I’d change about the picture is that I’d take out the word “republican.” Anytime anyone votes anywhere, kittens die. It is as simple as that. So, if you must vote, weigh the consequences of your vote very carefully.

Please use “Jesus Manifesto”

January 27, 2007

Jr Woodward started a post last week called the “Jesus Manifesto.” I’m glad he borrowed my phrase “Jesus Manifesto” for this series–and encourage you all to start using it too. At the very least it will help with book sales :)

Here’s the first two posts of his series:

The Jesus Manifesto: Good News for the Poor

The Jesus Manifesto: The Value of a Hug

Both posts are well worth a look!

A Talk at Bethel Seminary’s Community Life Gathering: Embodying the Gospel in a Post_____ Era

January 26, 2007

On Monday, January 29th, I’ll be speaking at Bethel Seminary’s Community Life Gathering. If you’re free, you’re more than welcome to stop on by. I’ll begin shortly after noon in the dining area.

I’ve been asked to talk about “the Post-Modern Church in the 21st Century.” Post-modernism has been talked to death, in my estimation. I’m not sure I have anything new to add on the “analysis of post-modern culture” front. I do, however, love talking about the church.

As I understand it, part of what it means to be the Church in a post_____ era is a move from abstracted universalized truths to specific embodied truth. The modern notion that one can abstract and universalize truth out of its particular context is a flawed notion. We must disentangle ourselves from our modernist past with it’s disembodied ideas of truth and reengage the world as the embodied presence of Christ. The church is what it does, and does what it is. We don’t DO mission. We are missional. We don’t DO apologetics. We are an apologetic. We don’t merely articulate the Gospel, we EMBODY the Gospel.

Most of my talk will be in laying out this idea of embodiment as a way of being faithful in the 21st Century, as well as to deconstruct the idea that doing church in post-modernity simply means repackaging the church or becoming liberals.

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