You've reached the shared blog of Michael Mckay and Todd Frederick. Two friends who have worked together in ministry and labored in similar educational endeavors. Please join us as we consider the interaction of Christianity with modern culture...

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Strangeness of Good Friday

Good Friday is a strange holiday; we celebrate the political execution of a man who lived 2,000 years ago. Stranger still, is the belief that he rose again 3 days later. If I were to ask you, "Why did Jesus die?", I would most likely hear the response, "Jesus died for the sins of the world." This is a very true and biblical statement, and one that I believe. But if we were to ask any of the witnesses of Jesus' death 2,000 years ago the same question, they would give us a different response. They would say that Jesus was dying for political reasons. Jesus' claim to be "King of the Jews" was the official Roman statement concerning why he died. Here is an important distinction to make: On the theological level we believe that Jesus died for the sins of the World, but on the historical level we see that Jesus was not crucified for this claim. Jesus died as a person who was claiming to be King, and not the kind of King that was meeting the common expectations of the day. He died as an enemy of the state - an insurrectionist of sorts.

In 1989 Ted Bundy was executed for his crimes. Outside the prison there were people with signs which read, "Burn Bundy, Burn." They were excited about his death, because justice was finally being met. Although Jesus' and Bundy's lives are completely opposite in character (one healed the sick, fed the hungry and preached salvation, while the other took life, fed his own appetites and saw no need for his or other's salvation), their deaths are similar in that they both died for crimes against the state, and both had people rejoicing/mocking as they were publicly executed. In the eyes of the Jewish and Roman leaders, Jesus was no more or less than the political insurrectionists who died on either side of him.

I have opened up too many threads of thought with this post to chase them all down, but I do think there is one thought that is particularly sobering for me. The shame of the cross is often not fully realized by me, because of my immediate theological response to why Jesus died. The shame of the cross is felt more fully when I compare it to the shame which a criminal faces when they are executed by their own people for crimes against the state. Jesus' death was extremely humiliating and unjust, and yet appreciating the historical contours of his death moves me to appreciate the depths of the theological answer as well: Jesus suffered and died for the sins of the World.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sermon Development: Psalm 15

Here's a pencast focusing on sermon development based on the textual structure of Psalm 15. I'm enjoying this immensely, maybe even too much.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Biblical Studies Nerd

I think most of you are former students who experienced the agony of Hermeneutics and/or Homiletics classes with either Michael or myself. Expanding on yesterday's pencast experiment,
Psalm 15 phrasing
brought to you by Livescribe
here is a review of phrasing in the pencast format. It runs about twelve minutes... I suppose this is the kind of thing a Biblical studies nerd does when turned loose on technology...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Experimental Blog/Sermon Delivery


This links to a 'pencast' that I created using a Livescribe smart pen. It runs fifteen minutes. If you have the time and the interest, I would appreciate your feedback. It's also for a class, so the more the merrier.

I'm specifically interested in a couple of things: would you listen to this kind of thing more often? Does it effectively communicate the idea of a Biblical passage? Better or worse than attending a live sermon? Your thoughts are greatly appreciated, though if you like it, expect more of them on the blog... :)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The concept of "Perfection"

I have had the privilege of reading about and teaching on the concept of "worldview" for the past eleven years. It is one of those concepts that is extremely practical because it relates to all areas of our life. There are several questions that can be used to bring the content of our worldview from assumption to conscious thought: What is real? Is there a God and what is he/she/it like? How do you define right/wrong? etc. I have been challenged by several authors over the last few years to add a new question: What is wrong with the world? As I have opportunity to listen to people's answers, I have heard several options: poverty, ignorance, sin and religion. Recently I was struck by the fact that if everyone thinks something is wrong with the world (even though they cannot define that problem clearly), then that means that everyone also has a concept of "perfection". If this were not true, then why would we look at the world and say, "that is not the way it should be." Why do we believe the world should be "better"? Why do we think that things are wrong? Why don't we just accept political situations (war), human situations (child abuse) and social situations (poverty)as just "normal" - the way things are?
I wonder if there is an argument for the existence of god in this observation. Perhaps god has hard-wired human beings with the concept of perfection. We may not be able to define what that looks like clearly or what the problem is that is keeping perfection marred (that is why we need special revelation), but we still have this nagging assumption that the world is not as it should be. Rene Descartes (1596-1650/philosopher, mathematician, generally "big brained" guy) argued for the existence of God based on the fact that since he could think of a perfect being, there must be a perfect being. I have always found his argument border-line absurd. I only say "border-line" because Descartes is smarter than I will ever be, so I give him the benefit of the doubt. But I wonder if this is what he was arguing. Since humans have the concept in them of "perfection", then there must be someone who gave them this idea, because otherwise where would they get it?
This argument will only get us to theism (little 'g' god) and not to the God of the Bible as Descartes attempted; but that does not diminish that fact that humans seem to be hard-wired with a concept of "perfection", and that needs to be explained. I wonder how non-theistic worldviews argue for their sense that all is not "right" in the world? I also am trying to find weaknesses with this argument, so if you have any fire away.