Monday, May 28, 2007

More Jake

Baby Train

Amberly has informed us that the contractions have started. We are on call to take care of the Morgan and Dru has already called in her "emergency" day for tomorrow. Hopefully we will meet a new youngn' come morning. It wouldn't hurt to pray.

Note: Dru is actually boiling water as I type...Home births are perplexing and amazing!

Update: We are still waiting and it is now 11:00 am. Morgan and I are watching Emperor's New Groove at the moment. It's a good one. I'll keep you posted.

Update Updated: Bouncing Boy at 3:34 p.m. 9.5 pounds. Amberly stated and I quote, "He has a very large head." Both Mom and baby are doing well, but continued prayers are certainly appreciated. Still waiting on the official name. Oh yeah, just got done watching Cinderella. It's a classic.

Update Updated Update: URGENT PRAYER!!! Athen(?), the new youngn', is in the hospital. Little man was taken this morning to be treated for lack of oxygen. He was having a hard time breathing. They still don't know exactly what is wrong. For those of you wondering, no, this has nothing to do with the home birth...odds are this would have happened anyway. Keep them in your prayers. All involved need sleep and need the piece of mind to get that much needed rest. Mom, aka Amberly, is doing just fine.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

my new haircut

has everyone had the chance to check out my new groovy haircut? I must admit that it's not as hot as my normal "samson hair" as ryan calls it, but one has to get his money's worth out of a cut right?

anyways, if you haven't seen the new look you should come by and check me out.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Relational Ethics Part 10

The Pragmatic Task
The goal of this final task is the embodiment of Scripture imperatives in the lives of the Christian community. “Without this living embodiment of the Word, none of the above deliberation matters.” Indeed, the purpose of communal interpretation of Scripture is so that the community may “fulfill their ends of worshipping and living faithfully before the Triune God.”

We as a church must remove the bonds of absolute, objective truth that has successfully held us captive. This can be done by embracing a bottom-up relational ethic of love viewed through the focal images of community, cross, and new creation. The witness of the Triune God lays the foundational groundwork for this relational ethic to be employed. Our interpretive goal as a community is to utilize the fourfold task of description, synthesis, hermeneutics, and pragmatism to faithfully follow in the footsteps of our fellow brothers and sisters who have gone before us in Christ. Our communities must always seek to pass the fruit test found in Matthew 7: 18, 20 where our Lord says, “A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit…Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” This is not possible if we are following a rigid, objective rule with no cares of subjectivity. It seems that the most plausible and responsible way to live out a faithful existence for Christ is to adopt a post-modern, biblical, relational ethic.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Relational Ethics Part 9

The Synthetic Task
Hays implores us to believe that “the task of discerning some coherence in the canon is both necessary and possible.” By discerning a common coherence we move from the descriptive task to the synthetic task. Hays suggests that “no single principle can account for the unity of the New Testament writings”, but rather we should rely on three focal images that provide the interpretive framework “that links and illumines the individual writings.” Community, cross, and new creation are the three focal images Hays suggests. With the addition of binding love, these focal images seem more than adequate to aid in the synthetic, interpretive task.

The Hermeneutical Task
After moving through the descriptive and synthetic tasks we come to the hermeneutical task. This task forces us to begin to relate the text to our situation. Needless to say, this task can be daunting at times. “How do we appropriate the New Testament’s message as a word addressed to us?” Imagination is the key to unlocking this Pandora’s Box. “Whenever we appeal to the authority of the New Testament, we are necessarily engaged in metaphor-making, placing our community’s life imaginatively within the world articulated by the texts.” Our goal is to work out “a life of faithfulness to God through responsive and creative reappropriation of the New Testament in a world far removed from the world of the original writers and readers.”

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Relational Ethics Part 8

The Task of New Testament Ethics
How do we arrive at a faithful communal reading of Scripture with relational, ethical truth in mind? Richard B. Hays suggests that the task of New Testament ethics is fourfold. He states, “…New Testament ethics is multiplex; it requires us to engage in four overlapping critical operations that we may designate as the descriptive, the synthetic, the hermeneutical, and the pragmatic tasks.” Following these guidelines of interpretation will better equip us to christologically “pattern our lives in Jesus Christ.” Of course, the prerequisite for all of this is that it be done in a communal setting with like minded individuals seeking to follow the will of God.

The Descriptive Task
As Hays describes, this task is “fundamentally exegetical in character.” We must take the witnesses as separate books, first individually recognizing their themes and patterns without “prematurely harmonizing them.” The descriptive task also requires “attention to the developmental history of moral teaching traditions within the canon.” We must not stop there. It is also necessary to reconstruct a description of the “symbolic world” of the New Testament communities. Hays sites the Gospel of John as a good example. He states, “The Gospel of John…may have relatively little explicit ethical teaching, but its story of a “man from heaven” who comes to reveal God’s truth to an unbelieving world is fraught with ethical implications for the community that accepts the message and finds itself rejected by the world.”

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Relational Ethics Part 7

Absolute Objective Truth is Equivalent to the Law
The modernist idea of an absolute objective moral law without a subjective relationship to a moral law giver is equivalent to following the Old Covenant Law. It is evident in the Pauline epistles of the New Testament that loving relationship with the Triune God is central to living a Godly life. Paul says, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” Apart from our relationship with the Triune God we would not be able to adhere to an arbitrary objective code. By reframing the ethical dilemma in light of relationship we find ourselves in a position to follow the moral code through an ethic of love. So Paul tells us that we are able to overcome, “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.” It is precisely the addition of the phrase, “and things like these” that clues us into the fact that Paul is not operating in the realm of objective lists but rather is working from a position of relationship. He admonishes the Galatians to follow the example of Christ who, “has set us free” so that we will not have to “submit again to a yoke of slavery” which is the law.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Relational Ethics Part 6

Empowerment by the Spirit
1 Thessalonians 1:5 tells us that the gospel message has been spread not only by word but also by the power and witness of the Holy Spirit. Paul states, “For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit.” So it is by the power of the Holy Spirit that we are able to accept Christ and His message.

Trinitarian Ethical Love
The triune God not only bears witness to relational ethics, but He also invites us into relationship with Him to participate and live within that ethical love. “Unconditional, self-giving love, that is central to who the Triune God is, also becomes the motive behind drawing other persons into this relationship of love with the Triune God.” Galatians 5:22 tells us that love is the first fruit of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love…” “Love is the specific pattern of life by which grace forms the new reality of the believer.” All of our conduct and habits are shaped through the lens of love through God’s grace. “God’s grace is a power within the believers reproducing its own character.” Thus we find that we are given the power of love from the Father, through the Son, by the Holy Spirit that accomplishes a new work in us making us new creatures in relationship with the Triune God.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Off to India

"We live in a beautiful world. Yeah we do. Yeah we do." -Coldplay

As I stated in a previous post, I am going to have the opportunity to see more of this beautiful world this coming January. There are many cross-cultural opportunities here in this small town of Wilmore. Dru and I have had the wonderful opportunity to meet and befriend Leslie. We've had dinner several times and are hoping to get together one more time before he heads to India (Home) for the summer. I feel truly blessed to think that I am going to be able to visit his country this coming January. The only down side is that it is only going to be for two weeks.

Here's the deal though, in order for me to be able to go, I am going to need all of your help. Funds are a bit tight when you're in seminary full time. (Especially if your wife is the only on with a full time job and you're just moochin' of her the whole time.) The cost of the trip will be somewhere around $2,500 plus the cost of tuition for the 3 hour course that goes along with it. This brings the grand total to around $4,000. I know it sounded like a lot the first time I heard it too!

So, most of you that read this will be receiving a well typed letter in the future from your truly. It should explain all of the details. I know that we will be staying at an orphanage while we are there. We will be working with children, and some of us will have an opportunity to teach some divinity courses for the small seminary associated with the orphanage.

Pray for us. Pray that we are all able to raise the funds and that God blesses this trip. I can't hardly wait.

P.S.-Check Leslie's page. I have him linked in two places. His story fascinates me.

Relational Ethics Part 5

Trinity Bears Relational Witness

From the Father
The Trinitarian testimony in the New Testament also gives ample footing for arguing for a relational ethic. Jesus repeatedly gives credit to His Father for both His power and His teaching. It is perhaps no more evident than in Matthew 11:25a-27 where Jesus states, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” So we see that it is through the giving of the Father that the work of Christ is established. Thus we find Jesus urging us to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” This perfection is empowered by the one who has been perfect from the beginning. We can therefore follow in the footsteps of perfection only through our relationship to the Father through Christ.

High Christological Ethic
We have already stated that New Testament ethics, in a post-modern context, should be driven relationally. We, as a community, approach the text grounded in the reality of Christ, His birth, life, death, resurrection, and proceed to embody its teachings. Willi Marxsen speaks of Jesus as the “inside out turner.” It is clear to Marxsen that the voices represented in the New Testament have been profoundly changed by the union of Christ and themselves. He states, “It is now clear that we can never ignore the people who are talking. These people turned inside out are people to whom something has happened through the work of Jesus. And what happened to them is nothing less than what is supposed to happen through them. Thus Christian ethics is an aspect of Christology.” So we find that New Testament ethics is by nature Christological. It is through the saving relationship of Jesus in our lives that we in turn become intrinsically motivated to follow the Father’s will. Jesus also acts as our ultimate ethical witness, and through Him with the help of the Spirit we truly can say, “Not what I will, but what you will.”

Monday, May 14, 2007

Relational Ethics Part 4

Notion of Universality Rejected
The modern paradigm would have us believe that the lists spoken of earlier are non-negotiable. Hence, their unapologetic use of the term absolute truth. This absolute truth is spoken of outside of the bounds of relationship and therefore falls into the category of top-down ethics. Stephen Fowl and L. Gregory Jones seem right to say, “We reject the notion of universality only insofar as someone claims that there are rules, principles, claims, values and the like that are detached from particular traditions and/or that all people must accept simply by virtue of being human. Even the process of specifying the universal implications of moral rules is inextricably tied to the descriptions that particular traditions offer.” They go on to say, “This is not to say that moral rules are unimportant in an account of ethics. Contrary to a comprehensive pluralism’s presumption, however, the importance of moral rules is not independent of the formation of character in socially-embodied traditions. Moral rules embody the wisdom of a tradition over time. They are thus contextualized within the friendships and practices of particular communities. The obligations specified by those rules are the obligations required by the exercise of the virtues of character. Moral rules are in principle open to revision because new situations and the particular discriminations made by people of practical wisdom may lead either to reformulations of the rule or to the formulation of new rules.”

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Relational Ethics Part 3

Top-Down or Bottom-Up
Typically when one hears the term ethics, one is immediately filled with a vision of a list. There are two sides to this list. The left side has a white background with black letters. Each sentence begins with the same bold, italicized, upper case letters. They say, “THOU SHALT.” On the opposite side of the page we find that the background has shifted from white to black and the sentence type is now in white so that it is more legible. Each sentence on this side of the page, still bold, italicized, and upper case letters, says, “THOU SHALT NOT.” Unfortunately, modernity has been a catalyst for driving us into a world filled with absolutes and knowledge of black and whites. “We tend to think of ethics as moral argument or rules. We live in a culture of experts, in which there are professional ethicists who are expert in the construction of arguments and the analysis of rules.” Thus our lives and particularly our churches are filled with lists upon lists of do’s and don’ts. Our congregations are essentially led by top down ethics where the pastor is seen as the expert. “There is, however, a way of looking at ethics from the bottom up, in which it is perfectly proper form of ethical directive to say, for example to a child, ‘We do not do that.’ Probably the response from the child, and perhaps also from the professional ethicist, will be ‘Why not?’ Very often that is an important question to ask, but there are other occasions when it may be more productive to ask a different question: Who are ‘we’? The question ‘Why?’ calls for an explanation; ‘Who?’ invites understanding.” In saying this, Meeks is making an argument for the appropriation of bottom up, post-modern, ethics as opposed to top-down, modern, ethics.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Relational Ethics Part 2

Ethos Breeds Character
It is fitting to note that our English word for ethics originally derives from the Greek word ethos. This term literally means character. It is rightfully said that one’s ethos, or “habits”, leads to right character. One of the goals of the New Testament writers was to grow and nurture “communities of character” grounded in the reality of Christ. As Wayne A. Meeks states, “Groups as well as individuals have character. Character signifies identity, and it implies specifically moral character. Character takes shape, moreover, within a social process.” We know that the people of the New Testament were deeply concerned with living moral upstanding lives. Philippians 4:8 states, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Here, we find Paul encouraging the brothers and sisters in Philippi to set their minds on things that are pure for the purpose of living their lives in such a manner. Clifford Geertz tells us that, “A people’s ethos is the tone, character, and quality of their life, its moral and aesthetic style and mood; it is the underlying attitude toward themselves and their world that life reflects. Their world view is their picture of the way things in sheer actuality are, their concept of nature, of self, of society.” The question we must first answer is what type of ethics were the early Christians using? Was it “top down ethics” or “bottom up ethics?”

Friday, May 11, 2007

Relational Ethics Part 1

I recently received a paper back from my New Testament class. To say the least I was very pleased with the grade of A-. I didn't think that this was a very good paper. I felt like I got in over my head with the scope of this subject. It was too much information for a ten page paper. I think that the topic is very pertinent for our day and age and certainly deserves conversation times. I would do some significant revising if I were to ever turn this paper in again, but I have way too much to do before finals next week to worry about that now. I originally titled this paper Relational Ethics for Post-Modern Times but would simplify it to Relational Ethics if I had a chance to do it over. Honestly, I think I was rewarded with a good grade simply because of the choice of topic and the fact that I attempted, emphasis on attempted, to tackle a vast subject. Anyway, I'm not complaining. So without further adieu here is the first page of the paper.

Relational Ethics for Post-Modern Times

We live in complicated times. Many scholars believe we are on the cusp of a new era. An era that is moving us passed the epistemological modern age into the hermeneutical post-modern age. Because of these drastic changes we find ourselves immersed in a more pluralistic society where the common phrase is, “Whatever works for you is fine, and whatever works for me is fine. Our individual actions have no affect on one another.” But it seems quite evidently clear that this post-modern system of existing is virtually bankrupt. A society, or more poignantly a community, without an identity is doomed to fail. There is no better time for the people of God to re-introduce a proven communal existence found in the pages of the Bible. Unfortunately, the modern church has appropriated epistemological constructs and forced Scripture to fit inside of those molds. Our goal as faithful Christians is to release the bonds of oppressive absolute, objective truth and to free the people of God to enjoy the relational life of the Trinity. While researching this topic, I found that the content was far to great to fit into the space allotted for this assignment. Because of the space and time constraints I will simply attempt to show that using the Biblical example of the Triune God as backdrop for communal living and communal love, relational ethics should be grounded in Trinitarian love which is fueled by images of community, cross, and new creation. It seems to me that this is a far more accurate witness to the original intent of Scripture.

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Ukulele

This is Jake Shimabukuro. Awesome!

Going to India

It's official... Ryan and I will be going to India this coming January. More to come.

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