Monday, August 23, 2010
Clark Pinnock went on to be with the Lord. He was a tremendously important voice in evangelical theology, and a wonderful man as well. On my independently-hosted blog (BeingTC.com), I have written about 3 Lessons I Learned From Clark Pinnock since his passing, and about his Condition and Convictions when he made public his battle with alzheimer's.
Several others have written about Dr. Pinnock. Here is a short list:
T. J. Oord
James K. A. Smith
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Friday, April 2, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Greg Boyd is a fantastic teacher. He is as cerebral as it gets. How many American evangelical pastors do you know who regularly bring up quantum physics in their sermons? And Boyd's vita humbles Christian scholars living in even the highest of ivory towers. Princeton, Yale, over a dozen books (many best-sellers) are just a sampling. In fact, Boyd is so brilliant, he interrupts himself from writing books that will change Christian theology forever to write other books that will change Christian theology forever.
But Boyd's brilliance is not what makes him a fantastic teacher. Brilliance alone never made anyone a fantastic teacher. More often than not, geniuses like Boyd are terrible teachers. They are so 'in their own heads' they can't effectively communicate with us non-geniuses. They lack the capacity to translate complex and esoteric concepts into 'layman's terms'. This is precisely what makes Boyd a fantastic teacher. I've been reading and listening to Boyd for 10 years now, and to this day I am regularly floored by how easy he makes it look to teach a diverse crowd of church-goers and seekers theological truths the best of minds grapple with their entire lives. It is the true mark of a gifted teacher surrendered to the Spirit.
In particular, I find it amazing how pastor Greg (who my wife and I call "GB") can concentrate the most profound and central biblical truths into 'bite-sized' phrases packed with meaning that stick with me years after I first hear them. In this post, I'd like to present just 4 of these 'Boydisms' for your edification. Each one has served to deepen my faith in Jesus and I pray that they will have the same impact on you.
1. "Ascribing Unsurpassable Worth"
Granted, this one is a mouthful. But when you understand all that this phrase encapsulates, it seems a lot more compact. This phrase comes from a common teaching of Boyd's that because we believe Christ laid down his life by allowing himself to be crucified to redeem the world (including every human being), we also believe this act signifies the value God places on our lives collectively and individually. In essence, God thought you and I, Americans and Iraqis, worthy of his own Son's blood. And Jesus, knowing the cost, willingly went to the cross, demonstrating how valuable we are to him.
Boyd takes this truth and applies it in such a practical way, that I can't help but think of it daily. Boyd instructs us to apply this truth to our practice of faith by "ascribing unsurpassable worth" to all those we meet, whether they are friends or enemies.
In sermons, I have heard Boyd describe his practice of this principal in difficult situations. I have heard him describe encounters with belligerent and hateful individuals, and how in the moment he reminded himself that Christ died for that person, ascribing unsurpassable worth to his or her life. In that very moment he committed himself to "agreeing with God" that this person has unsurpassable worth.
I must confess that in the moment I do not always "agree with God" about the unsurpassable worth of individuals who hurt me or make themselves my enemies. I have to admit that Boyd's words haunt me as the Spirit convicts me saying: "As I have loved you, so should you love others."
I challenge you: the next time you are faced with a difficult situation: someone has made themselves your enemy, or hurt you. Zoom out from the intensity of the moment, and remind yourself that Christ ascribed unsurpassable worth to this person, and it is our calling as kingdom-people to "agree with God" about them.
2. "Calvary-like Love"
This phrase is so simple that it's hard to believe I've never heard any other preacher, teacher, author, or speaker use it. Boyd regularly uses this phrase to describe how followers of Christ are called to love others---including our enemies. He teaches that our love is to be self-sacrificial love, just as Christ's love was for us on the cross.
"We know love by this, that Christ laid down his life for us. Hence, we ought to lay down our lives for another."
- I Jn. 3.16
"If anyone is to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."
- Mt. 16.24; Mk. 8. 34; Lk. 9.23
In 2007, Greg Boyd's book, Myth of a Christian Nation was published. In it, he contrasts the way in which the kingdoms of the world (all empires, governments, nations, territories, etc.) exercise power with the way in which followers of Christ are called to exercise power. Boyd argues that the kingdom of God is altogether distinct from the kingdoms of the world and operates in fundamentally different ways.
Perhaps needless to say, scholars have been thinking, writing, debating this subject for centuries (and millennia). However, I think I'm correct in saying no other scholar has accurately and masterfully reduced their contrast to twin two-word phrases: "Power-over" and "Power-under."
With the phrase "power-over," Boyd teaches that all the kingdoms of the world throughout history and around the globe have all operated under the fundamental belief that justice, peace, order are created and sustained by exerting the kingdom's will over its subjects or its enemies. This is what one could call the power of the sword. Even if someone says, "No, democracies like the US use the rule of law." This too is an exercise of the State's will over that of its citizens.
Boyd contrasts "power-over" with "power-under." With this phrase, he describes the power by which followers of Christ are called to reflect the kingdom of God. By committing to non-participation in the cyclical violence of this world's kingdoms---that only begets more violence, we exercise "power-under." By serving with the love of Christ the least in our society---those rejected, dehumanized, cast out---we expose the evil powers that fuel oppression and exploitation. This is also exercising "power-under." When we are weak, God is strong. God's power is perfected in our weakness.
4. "Get your Life from God"
Like vampires, we emotionally, spiritually feed on something else for our life, our strength. We human beings need something outside ourselves to define us---a source of identity, something that ascribes worth to us. This void in our souls leads us to find all manner of life-sources.
Many people spend their lives trying to amass wealth because they derive their life from the amount of money they have in the bank. Many others spend their lives trying to find someone who will love them romantically because they derive their life from being desirable to another. The list of sources from which human beings derive life is endless. Even Christians can fall victim to this trap when they find themselves getting their life from the rightness of their doctrine or their legalistic adherence to moral codes. These too are meaningless.
With this simple phrase, Boyd reminds us that scripture loudly declares Jesus Christ is the one true source of life. All other sources are poison. He reminds Christians (including me) to guard our hearts against deriving worth, significance, value from the things of this world. The apostle Paul explains it in this way,
"But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead."
- Phil. 3.7-11