Monday, December 22, 2014


From the 2009 Antioch Gathering..,

"Abandon false gospels and re-embrace the Gospel of the Kingdom. The Kingdom is an invisible but very real political space ruled by Jesus the King that encompasses the entire created world – except the human race which is given a choice under whose rule to live life, Mammon or Jesus (Matth 6:24). Those humans that join and populate the Kingdom are the ones that are saved by grace, say farewell to Mammon and decide to place themselves voluntarily under his kingship in loving obedience, not merely saying “Lord, Lord” but doing what their King says. The Kingdom is essentially the domain of God’s uncontested rule. As such it is a disposition, not a destination. “The gospel” was originally the news that there is a new king; the main message of Jesus was exactly that: he is our new King and we are all invited to live in the Kingdom, not any longer under the domain of darkness. This is the essence of the Gospel of the Kingdom. In the history of the Church three false while incomplete gospels have gradually replaced the Gospel of the Kingdom: a) the evangelistic gospel of “come ye and be saved”; b) the pastoral gospel of “come ye and be safe” by joining our church or group; and c) the gospel of the teachers and theologians that created doctrinal systems of truths that can be correct, but lifeless. It is of ultimate importance that The Gospel of The Kingdom is rescued from its historic obscurity and re-embraced and resonated by all that belong to Christ.

If the Kingdom of God is to come, ours has to go. The three kingdoms that most violently fight against the Kingdom of God is a) the kingdom of self, our own drivenness by selffish ambition, a career mindset and the idea “what is in it for me”; b) our primary identity in the “kingdoms of we”, groups, labels, organizations or denominations that displaces everything else, including the Kingdom of God, to a rank of secondary priority; and c) the kingdom of nationalism, tribalism and patriotism, where our sworn or felt allegiance to an ethnic group, a political expression or a political preference stands in the way of our primary citizenship in the Kingdom." 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Just Love?

... reading a lot about sex lately. Well, about sexuality. A lot.

Our congregation is grappling with questions about our response and attitude toward LGBT Christians. I'm grasping for whatever handholds
might help us negotiate this pass with grace, justice, and fidelity.

One volume that's come into my hands is Margaret Farley's Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics.

JL does not take Christian LGBT sex ethics as its sole or even primary focus. Instead Farley takes on sexuality broadly.

I found the first three chs quite helpful. Farley provides a very readable yet in depth introduction to the last century of discourse surrounding sexuality. She next provides a historical overview of sex from the preSocrarics to Freud and beyond. Chapter 3 views sexuality cross culturally (though with the colonial character of our gaze always in mind). This introductory helpfully offers, at the least, one way of coming to grips with questions surrounding sexuality.

One hundred fifty pages further into JL's constructive project, I find Farley less helpful and less than compelling.

It's not that I disagree with key components of her framework. In fact, I find it hard to imagine an adequate ethics   that does not include like Do no unjust harm, Free consent of partners, Mutualiy, Equality, Commitment, Fruitfulness, Social justice.

For Farley these components grow from the twin core assumptions of autonomy and relationality. Again, this core resonates with something in my gut about the appropriate starting point for sex ethics.

But... But that's where JL loses its persuasive and illuminating power for me. Farley fails to develop here, even in thumbnail scale, any justification for the basic-ness of autonomy and relationality, either on philosophical or theological grounds. In reading JL I'm left with the reasonable suspicion that my cultural prejudices are being valorized as ethically basic, that my 21st century, USAmerican, middle class gut is somehow tuned most basically to justice.

I wish and hope that's the case (at least in these terms), but I need some further explanation to show me why it might be. So far JL has not mustered this sort of argument. But we'll see what develops in the final hundred or so pages.

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