A very important and rare perspective:
If you are following the news, you are well aware of the Wheaton professor who has been put on leave pending a review of her theological position. I won’t comment on the controversy directly as some details are still forthcoming. What I will offer are quotes (both made long before the present controversy) by two theologians followed by my own reflections.
Miroslav Volf: “…all Christians don’t worship the same God, and all Muslims don’t worship the same God. But I think that Muslims and Christians who embrace the normative traditions of their faith refer to the same object, to the same Being, when they pray, when they worship, when they talk about God. The referent is the same. The description of God is partly different.”
Timothy George: “Is the Father of Jesus the God of Muhammad? The answer is surely Yes and No. Yes, in the sense that the Father of Jesus is the only God there is. … Christians and Muslims can together affirm many important truths about this great God—his oneness, eternity, power, majesty. … But the answer is also No, for Muslim theology rejects the divinity of Christ and the personhood of the Holy Spirit—both essential components of the Christian understanding of God. … Apart from the Incarnation and the Trinity, it is possible to know that God is, but not who God is.”
My thoughts: Trinitarianism doesn’t make God “partly different” contra Miroslav Volf. Timothy George’s statement is irenic and clarifies the seminal issue. Yes, we are called to love. Jesus made that eminently clear. But a call to love is not a call to blur crucial theological realities. Volf likes to use the description of “sufficiently similar” when it comes to Christian and Muslim’s view of God. This strikes me as special pleading.
Much food for thought here:
HT: John Fea’s blog, The Way of Improvement Leads Home
When it comes to writing history, Robert Caro is a giant among men. This past year, Caro released the fourth installment of his projected five-volume biography of the 36th president of the United States, Lyndon Baines Johnson. Caro has devoted nearly 40 years researching and writing The Years of Lyndon Johnson, and he does not appear to be letting up anytime soon. Caro’s life ambition crystallized in his mid-thirties – to write the definitive biography of LBJ, a biography that would truly stand the test of time. This goal has propelled Caro vocationally throughout the lion’s share of his life and now sustains him into his sunset years.
Caro’s The Years of Lyndon Johnson has served to percolate increased interest in the 36th president and to position its author as an internationally recognized biographer. Yet, as interesting as Caro’s ever expanding biography of Johnson is, a public intrigue with Caro himself has also piqued. Indeed, Caro is a fascinating figure; we might even say a cultural icon.
Caro is eccentrically devoted to his life’s work. His lifestyle and work ethic resemble a 21st century sweatshop, albeit civilized. For decades he has slavishly worked seven days a week, rarely breaking his routine even for holidays. He enjoys no professional help, no research assistant or transcriptionist. Caro foregoes modern conveniences such as a personal computer, preferring to draft his manuscript in longhand. He dresses in a suit every day, only to work in solitude in his Manhattan office. Caro’s office is a Byzantine gamut, littered with copious notes, stacked files, marked books, and walls covered with charts and graphs. Eyewitnesses testify that Caro’s work environment more resembles a war room than a writing den.
Caro’s life-long effort to unearth Johnson’s life in pedantic detail is impressive enough, but not altogether satisfying for the accomplished author. Rather, Caro aspires to know the mind and heart of Johnson; not merely Johnson’s actions, but what propelled his actions. Thus, Caro has coupled with his assiduous research a practice of imbibing Johnson’s way of life. Over the years, Caro has relocated his family in order to spend extensive time in Texas, Washington and even Vietnam. All of this has been in an effort to feel what Johnson felt, see what he saw, and know what he knew. Herein lies Caro’s genius. He is driven by a desire not merely to master the facts of Johnson’s life, but to know the very essence of the man.
As followers of Christ, perhaps we can learn something about discipleship from Robert Caro. When we weigh Caro’s devotion to Johnson in the scales of our pursuit of Christ, we may be found wanting. Caro has settled for nothing less than a deep and personal knowledge of his subject, LBJ. Too many Christians settle for a superficial knowledge of Christ that fosters a superficial commitment to Him.
But, we need not look to Caro to be chastened. We can simply look to the Apostle Paul, who aspired to know Jesus, writing, “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord… that I may know him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Phil 3:8,10).
Our eccentric commitment may never be classified alongside Robert Caro’s in the world’s eyes, but knowing Jesus – and laboring to make him known – will prove unmatched in personal benefit and eternal consequence.
HT: www.jasonkallen.com, April 5, 2013
Wise review of Zealot: the Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan:
THERE IS LOTS OF TALK ABOUT CHRISTIANITY.
LOTS OF TALK ABOUT THE CHRISTIAN FAITH.
LOTS OF TALK ABOUT WHAT CHRISTIANS BELIEVE.
LOTS OF TALK ABOUT WHAT CHRISTIANS DON’T BELIEVE.
LOTS OF TALK ABOUT LIVING THE CHRISTIAN LIFE.
LOTS OF TALK ABOUT THE CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW.
LOTS OF TALK ABOUT HOW JESUS CAN FIX YOUR MARRIAGE.
LOTS OF TALK ABOUT EVERYTHING, EXCEPT…
NOT ENOUGH TALK ABOUT JESUS HIMSELF.
WHO IS HE?
WHY IS HE UNIQUE?
WHAT MAKES HIM SO COMPELLING?
WHAT DOES IT MEAN THAT ONLY HE IS KING?
Many are aware of the famous reply of Mr. Beaver in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
It is easy in our culture to migrate to an Aslan who retains his roar, but has really been declawed and left toothless.
John fell over like a dead man at the revelation of Jesus Christ (Rev. 1:17). Yes, Jesus picks him up and says to not be afraid, but John’s awe over Jesus is something which is missing in our today’s chummy Christianity.
Athanasius (On the Incarnation) on how the incarnation of Jesus was just enough divine revelation to keep our heads from exploding!
“The Lord did not come to make a display. He came to heal and to teach suffering men. For one who wanted to make a display the thing would have been just to appear and dazzle the beholders. But for Him Who came to heal and to teach the way was not merely to dwell here, but to put Himself at the disposal of those who needed Him, and to be manifested according as they could bear it, not vitiating the value of the Divine appearing by exceeding their capacity to receive it.”