Archive for the ‘Bishops’ Category
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The scripture in Luke 5:33-39 (& parallels) is not just about table fellowship, else the similar teaching about repairing an old garment with a piece from new would make no sense. This is about the Kingdom of God, the primary element in Jesus’ teaching, (over 100 references in the gospels). There is in UK & USA today a lot of ‘New Wine’ worshipping – which is good; but, too often it is done in an ‘old wine’ context – which is bad.
Jesus inaugurates the ‘New Covenant’ kingdom, (the ‘new wine’ and new garment), against (in contradistinction to) the existing political-religious frameworks, including, especially, Judaism. Human kingdoms always want to expand, to become empire. That was the failure of the early church, most especially in the West. When ‘the empire’, in the person of Constantine, converted, the church did a deal. It answered the question, ‘is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor or not?’ with, “Yes, as long as we get to share”
Jesus was offered empire; and rejected it. The kingdom of God is both larger and more particular. But Evangelicals chasing power – both spiritual and political – have continued to buy in to Satan’s myth. It’s no way to save the world. And it certainly isn’t God’s way – The Cross proves it.
The old wineskins of empire with their filthy garments cannot sustain the full truth of God’s Good News in Jesus. We must get rid of that filth and clothe ourselves in garments (& beliefs) that are fit for the kingdom (Ephesians 4, Colossians 3). Get rid of any notion of nationalism, (be careful even of patriotism: it can take us into dangerous places) and exceptionalism, and live for God’s kingdom, clothed in his righteousness, so that all will see that we Christians truly are ‘children of God’.
Reflecting on Jeremiah 23:1-8 in his book ‘The Good Shepherd’, Kenneth E. Bailey writes, ‘Jeremiah emphasizes that failures on the part of the leadeship of the community of faith are very serious and that those failures will not be overlooked’.
Do our Christian leaders believe that, in this age of forgiving grace, their failure of leadership will be ‘overlooked’? Interfaith dialogue and calls to prayer focus on the evils done in the name of Islam. Imams dissociate themselves from the actions of e.g. IS. (Daesh), but when their protestations are heard they are often not believed. Bishops, Imams and Rabbis, together with priests and representatives of other religions stand together and call for freedom of religion, as they should.
Christians have a duty, and Christian leaders a duty to lead, to speak out against injustice, against racism and discrimination, whether the objects of injustice are Christians or not. In the scheme of things Palestine may seem a minor matter to our ‘shepherds’: is it so for God?
How often do we hear our preachers, teachers, leaders speaking out about the causes of extremism? When do we see those leaders speaking truth to power and calling out on the history and policies that lead to hate, fear, and marginalisation? For Zedekiah we have Bush – Blair – Obama – Cameron, and now Trump. Where is our ‘Jeremiah’, a prophetic leading voice inveighing against the imperialist-colonialist sins that have led us to this point?
There is plenty of work, including in the Muslim community, challenging extremist theologies, the practices of IS, al Nusra, etc. Their challenge arises from a conviction that, whatever the sectarian system, it is not and never was truly Islam. They say, “That’s not Islam”, and, when we Christians are faced with the same problem, as with white supremacists who claim to act Biblically, we too say, “That’s not Christianity”.
So, where is the challenge to Zionist Judaism? Where in UK and USA are the Christian leaders, where are the Rabbis and our ‘bishops’? Why are they not showing that Zionism is a recent, secular and extreme invention that has little if anything to to with historic Judaism. And why, when Zionism, in both its forms, provokes or is directly responsible for the persecution of Christians, do our leaders remain silent? Worse, why do they compete to be ‘good christian zionists’? Zedekiah suffered in hope. Our hope is in Christ, but will the ‘Son of Righteousness’ overlook the neglect of those appointed shepherds of his flock?
This is not a plea for them to be punished, but that they repent …