One of the more peculiar objections that John Piper raises against Wright’s understanding of Paul’s ‘gospel’ is that the announcement that Jesus is Lord ‘is an absolutely terrifying message to a sinner who has spent all his life ignoring or blaspheming the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ’ (Piper, The Future of Justification, 86-87). It is, therefore, not good news at all.
Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola have recently issued A Magna Carta of Restoring the Supremacy of Jesus Christ, a.k.a. A Jesus Manifesto for the 21st Century Church. They argue in the preamble that Christianity is nothing more, nothing less than Christ, but that in the church today there is a serious danger of the person of Jesus being marginalized in the interests of fashionable political causes, labelled variously ‘justice’, ‘the kingdom of God’, ‘values’, and ‘leadership principles’.
Mike Morrell prompted me initially to respond to Kevin Beck’s This Book Will Change Your World, and has now posted some thought-provoking comments. Since they mainly have to do with the thesis of Re: Mission, a new post seems in order. His basic argument, if I have understood him correctly, is that while there is something appealing to the postmodern about the emphasis on the narrative particularity of biblical truth, there is still something that “points to a certain cosmic or larger scope of inclusion of all humanity in the blessings of God, not just a subset called ‘the people of God’ ”.
In ‘Postmodern illusions and performances’, the fourth essay in A Future for Africa, Emmanuel Katongole argues that postmodernism is unlikely to prove the blessing for Africa that many had hoped. He accepts that it continues to have some usefulness as an intellectual style that casts suspicions on ‘classical notions of truth, reason, identity, and objectivity; of the idea of universal progress or emancipation, of single frameworks, grand narratives, or ultimate grounds of explanation’ (Eagleton).
William Cheriegate asked me to expand on the following remark in my post on Transmillennialism – not least for the benefit of those who ‘grew up in the midst of a conquering American “christian” empire’:
To my mind, the Bible has lower expectations about the nature of the impact of the people of God on the world around it.
I read Kevin Beck’s This Book Will Change Your World in response to some gentle and persistent prompting from Mike Morrell. As Mike observes, there are some interesting similarities and some distinct differences between Kevin’s exposition of Transmillenialism and the thesis of The Coming of the Son of Man and of Re: Mission.
In the first essay, ‘Remembering Idi Amin’, Katongole explores his own childhood memories of Idi Amin in an attempt to understand how the present condition of Africa has been shaped by memories of colonial and post-colonial brutality. He notices that his ‘happy’ memories of the early period of Amin’s rule are much more vivid than his memories of the troubles that ensued and concludes from this that a ‘constructive conversation about memory… must move beyond a focus on recollections in our mind, to an examination of concrete habits and patterns of life’ (10).
I have started reading Emmanuel Katongole’s A Future for Africa: Critical Essays in Christian Social Imagination as preparation for the Amahoro conference in Johannesburg in a couple of weeks. Katongole is a Catholic priest from Uganda who is now associate professor of theology at Duke Divinity School and co-director of its Center of Reconciliation.
Mike Morrell has articulated a good question about the thesis of The Coming of the Son of Man and Re: Mission. It comes down to this: Given the metaphorical potential of biblical language, what keeps us from deflating all apparently final language to historical proportions? Or more crudely: Why not ‘go the full preterist route’?