Category Archives: Jesus Christ

Was Jesus a racist? Some say “Yes”.

Did the Syrophoenician woman in Mark 7 teach Jesus not to be racist? | Psephizo

This story in Mark’s gospel is one of the oddest in the Gospels. On a plain, literal reading Jesus comes over as a racist and some progressive types  (maybe re- not pro-) reckon the lady taught Jesus a lesson on racism and CRT. Mary should have done that!!

Here Ian Paul discusses it at length and points out the shortcomings of a progressive reading. Similar and equally fallacious accusations are made about Jesus knocking the Jews in John’s gospel. Jesus was a Jew  (unless you are a Nazi) and he was criticising Jewish authorities not Jews.

The passage from Mark 7 is a tricky one and Jesus appears downright rude and discriminatory.

24 From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, 
25 but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. 
26 Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 
27 He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” 
28 But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 
29 Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” 
30 So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Feeding food to dogs is essentially feeding Gentiles. Now was Jesus racist against Gentiles like most Jews, or what was he doing? Ian Paul discusses this well.

an insight from my daughter is that Jesus held up a mirror to society and reflected Jewish beliefs, hence his sharp comments. There is irony here, but a mirror hen would be polished copper or silver and not iron 🙂

I can imagine his hearers were confused and had questions, especially after hearing the girl was cured.

Recently the black Conservative commentator and Anglican ordinand, was called a house negro but a POC. Not very nice. And so I rephrase Mark 7 to a plantation!

24 From there he set out and went away to the region of South Carolina. He entered a large house on a plantation and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, 25 but a woman (one of the plantation housekeepers, a house negro) whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a housekeeper. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and give it to house negroes.” 28 But she answered him, “Sir, even the house negros eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” 30 So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Forget what I wrote and read what Ian wrote

Source: Did the Syrophoenician woman in Mark 7 teach Jesus not to be racist? | Psephizo

Was Jesus black? | Psephizo

I loath the old Sunday School pictures of Jesus portraying him as a white wimp in a nightie. I cannot stand Holman hunt’s painting either.

The Light of the World (painting) - Wikipedia

It’s far too sentimental.

Too often Jesus is/was portrayed as white ( and often wimpish) overlooking the fact that he was a middle easterner and thus had a dark complexion.  When living in Apartheid south Africa I enjoyed pointing out that Jesus wasn’t white and would have been classified in one of the varieties of nie-blanke. Not all aprecciated it!!

In this blog Ian Paul discusses contemporary views, especially in the light of BLM. He does it well but not all will like it – for the opposite reasons my comments on Jesus’ colour in South Africa were not liked. He is critical of those who wish to make Jesus out to be black. He was not and we may say God wisely chose Jesus to be an intermediate shade, thus representing all people of whatever ethnicity or colour.

Enough of me and read his blog;

Source: Was Jesus black? | Psephizo

Mere Ideology: The politicisation of C.S. Lewis

So often thinkers and activists of the past are co-opted for projects today which would make them turn in their graves.

C.S. Lewis | Biography, Books, Mere Christianity, Narnia, & Facts |  Britannica

Here Steve Hayes shows how the libertarian right of the USA are trying to co-opt C S Lewis for the weird right-wing semi-Trumpism.
In the USA many have tried to claim Lewis as a good conservative evangelical – when he was not – he was simply a sensible Anglican from a time when Anglicans were sensible!!

On a personal note I met Steve in Windhoek in 1969 while I was working for a mining company. At that time he was a radical Anglican priest who later got banned. He is now orthodox.

Study the post and consider how often we twist historical personages for our own ends

Notes from underground

I recently read a couple of articles that appear to me to be attempts to co-opt C.S. Lewis for the cause of American Libertarianism.

C. S. Lewis on Mere Liberty and the Evils of Statism, Part 1:

In comparison to contemporary ‘progressive’ Christians such as Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, Ronald Sider, and Brian McLaren, who clamor for the foolish and disastrous notion of achieving ‘social justice’ through gigantic government powers, was Lewis just ignorant or naive about modern realities, or was he aiming at a deeper and more significant purpose? (See Robert Higgs’s book refuting the ‘progressive’ myth in American history, Crisis and Leviathan, and his book on the disastrous ‘progressive’ state since 1930, Depression, War, and Cold War; see also Arthur A. Ekirch, Jr.’s The Decline of American Liberalism and The Civilian and the Military, and Jonathan Bean’s Race and Liberty in America.) In this article, I only…

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How should the Church respond to race? | Psephizo

Source: How should the Church respond to race? | Psephizo

On 22 April 2021 the Church of England published its report on racism in the Church of England – “From Lament to Action”. https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2021-04/FromLamentToAction-report.pdf

This came about in the wake of the protests headed by Black Lives Matter in Britain in 2020.

The report is critical of the Church of England over racism and has evinced various responses, favourable and unfavourable.

An example of the former is one on the implications for theological education by Prof Mike Higton of Durham https://mikehigton.org.uk/theological-education-in-from-lament-to-action/

Dr Ian Paul aka Psephizo has given a response which draws on opinions of BAME christians, some of which are very critical. These raise questions whether the recommended actions are wise or advisable. Ian in his conclusions also raises doubts about the recommended policy, which I share.

For myself I do reckon that some of the past of the church has been poor, especially the lack of welcome for Caribbean Christians 60 to 70 years ago. That was the time when landlords would put up notices saying “No coloured welcome”. Things have improved. I would also suggest that there is an unexpressed racism in our pews, which comes out at times. That is from my observations and hearing.

I reckon this report leans too far towards Critical Race Theory and agree with the strictures of Calvin Robinson (an ordinand) and  Joseph Diwakar, who is on the Archbishops’ Council.

Now read the article https://www.psephizo.com/life-ministry/how-should-the-church-respond-to-race/

April Fool’s Jesus? | Psephizo

As it’s April Fool’s Day , I guess some have tried a joke on others, or fallen for one.

Here Ian Paul presents Jesus as an April fool from God as Jesus and all he stands for is so contrary to everything else.

Or as Paul says, “The foolishness of god is wiser than human wisdom”.

The life of Brian never quite got it either!!

Source: What sort of fool is this Jesus? | Psephizo

Has the Church of England gone Creationist in Live Lent?

Surely the Church of England is far too liberal to think the earth is only 6000 years old.

Most would respond to that question by saying, “don’t be so daft!” After all in many ways the CofE is somewhat liberal both in belief and ethics. The church has many who have held fast to evolution; Gore, Temple and others in the 19th century, most theologians in the 20th century, and more recently theologians with scientific training – notably Arthur Peacocke, John Polkinghorne and Alister McGrath and many other lesser fry, like myself! If anything is the default position of the Church of England, it is one which accepts a 4.56 billion year old earth and life which has been evolving for the last 4 billion years. But against that about 5% vicars are Creationist. and lots of churchmembers are a bit confused. and not a few clergy!

So what is this article doing as part of the Church of England’s Lent Live?

It takes the NRSV translation of Romans 8 vs 19, 22-23, with an odd omission of verses 20 to 21, and then comments on the passage, claiming that 

” the whole creation has somehow been infected, and fallen under the influence of darkness.”

Now, that is just how Creationists argue from their ideas of a 6000 year old earth and no evolution, as they reckon when Adam bit the apple, God put a Curse on Creation, making it Fallen and thus death, illness and earthquakes began. 

Consider the image and brief article. The image just gives the biblical text but the article reflects on it.

Image

And so the reflection;

The reflection is very brief, as is needed for short thoughts for Lent, it is difficult to see how they find their comments in the extract from St Paul. It raises many questions on whether the article actually reflects Paul and his teachings in his letter to the Romans. And whether it has any Christian basis………………….

The second paragraph doesn’t refer to Romans but makes an extraordinary claim about the Gospel story;

“The Gospel story doesn’t merely talk about individual human sin and weakness, difficult enough although those things are. It goes on to claim that because of our collective selfishness and distance from God the whole creation has somehow been infected, and fallen under the influence of darkness.”

This totally baffles me as I cannot think on anywhere in Matthew, Mark, Luke or John which either says of implies this. At best, they may look to John with his “cosmos” as opposed to God, but there John normally uses “cosmos” to mean humanity in opposition to God and not the whole creation, as in John 3 vs16. In other words this statement is just wrong.

It does seem that the writer takes a particular interpretation of this passage from Romans as looking to the Fall of Genesis 3 – or rather that God inflicted a curse on the whole of creation because of Adam’s sin. That seems a bit harsh. It is NOT the teaching of almost all Anglican theologians, but is what Young Earth Creationists teach about the Fall and the curse, in which animal pain and suffering, and earthquakes and tsunamis were inflicted by God on creation AFTER Adam ate the apple! It seems rather harsh to curse the whole of creation for Adam’s deed.

This idea, though largely and correctly rejected today, has a long history going back to John Milton’s Paradise Lost, and has resulted in a misreading of creation in Genesis.

Further the quote from C S Lewis does not speak of creation but of human behaviour. Citing it here implies that Creation is enemy-occupied territory , whereas Lewis meant so much of human behaviour, which rang true in the war years.

How can one say “The Whole creation has somehow been infected and fallen under the power of darkness?”

Granted humans have made a mess of this planet but what infection is there in the rest of the Solar System. ; for example in Venus, Jupiter, or the Sun? The idea becomes even more absurd when we consider further stars and galaxies. On a starlit night just look out at stars and consider how we have infected the stars of the Great Bear or Orion – if we have! Or closer at home consider the beauty of Nature/Creation around you.

image

This kind of writing sounds all very good and spiritually challenging – until we ask how and when it all happened! If we do that, then we will see it as vague gnostic woffle, which is soothing to our feelings but not to our soul – or it is an argument for Young Earth Creationism, with its curse on the whole of creation.

Romans 8 vs19-23 is a baffling passage and many, and perhaps most, commentators see it as an allusion to Gen 3 and the Fall permeating all creation. If so, they need to see Paul’s theology they present here is nonsensical as the Universe in 13 billion years old and Adam’s scrumping did not affect the universe!! Unless of course, you are a Creationist and endorse a curse and a young earth!!

The idea or FACT of an ancient universe is not new, and goes back well over two centuries. By 1800 astronomers and geologists had demonstrated that both universe and earth were – then reckoned only to be millions of years old. With all the fossils it was clear that life was ancient too and thus the idea held by some theologians that the Creation was not what God intended it to be was way off the mark. To suggest that humans are to blame is simply absurd! Though that is the reading of John Milton in Paradise Lost.

Humans have stuffed up Planet Earth, but not in that sense. Too many theological writers are careless about this and one bishop recently wrote “the whole creation, in its original unfallen state….” meaning that the creation as we now experience is now fallen and originally was not. The bishop should have said when the creation transitioned from “unfallen” to “fallen”. This kind of poor thinking tends to make Christianity incredible.

This understanding of Romans 8 vs 19-23 Turns on the meaning of the greek word ktisis used here, which is commonly translated as “Creation”. Ktisis has a variety of meanings as brought out in any decent Greek lexicon. It can mean the whole creation or simply the mass of humanity. The latter makes better sense in Romans 8, as it does in Mark 16 vs15 (longer ending) If these are words of Jesus , did he mean the whole creation and to preach the gospel in the vicinity of Sirius or Betelgeuse? I don’t think so, do you? Otherwise you’ll preach to dogs and cats and birds and bees. He means to every human as we find in the Post-resurrection commands as presented by Matthew and Luke. (see Day 28 for a reflection on Matthew 28)

For details read;

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2017/03/18/mis-reading-romans-chapter-8/

This reading is common today with our very justified concern for the environment today. There is no question about humany’s environmental damage to this earth , which I have held since reading Silent Spring in the 1960s. This has happened in so many different ways; Pollution, species loss, climate change and damage from careless mining , development, including fishing and farming.

This contribution for LIVELENT was, I think, written to make us care more for the environment, and we need to.

It is vital to care for creation (what have you done for creation today?) but misreading Paul is not the way to argue for it.

Were Joseph and Mary ‘poor’? no, they were comfortable!! | Psephizo

So often we are told that Jesus was born into a poverty-stricken family.

There’s only one snag.

They weren’t.

By the standards of their day Joseph and Mary were moderately well off but no more. But by our standards they were poor and Jesus should have had a 50-50 chance of living until he was five.

Here Ian Paul challenges the romanticising of the Holy family as poor

They possibly lived in a house like this

Jesus' House? 1st-Century Structure May Be Where He Grew Up | Live Science

It’s a good read.

Source: Were Joseph and Mary ‘poor’? | Psephizo

You can postpone Christmas until September!

Christmas 2020 is somewhat truncated  – at least in all the trappings like parties and sale shopping.

But help is at hand Dr Ian Paul emphasises that Jesus was not born on 25th December, so perhaps the best thing to do is to postpone Christmas until September.

Ian has written a good article and especially so for those who think we Christians nicked Christmas from Saturnalia

Happy Christmas.

And above all, whenever you read this consider that baby born in Bethlehem and who he is

Source: When was Jesus really born? (spoiler: not in December!) | Psephizo

More nativity debunking ; Three surprises for Christmas | Psephizo

The way the nativity as presented is so often cloying and almost reduced to a fairy story.

Here this blog by Dr Ian Paul does his usual stuff, by wrenching us away from Christian slush and making us consider what actually happened and why it is important today.

The three things are;

The shepherds who were unpoor

The swaddling clothes – a first century babygro

The women – Mary was not alone as there were several women (probably relatives), so Joseph could get some sleep!!

Yes Jesus was real, born in areal time in a real place and is important for us today

Source: Three surprises for Christmas | Psephizo

Jesus wasn’t born in a stable—and that makes all the difference | Psephizo

Jesus wasn’t born in a stable—and that makes all the difference | Psephizo

That’s true, Jesus was not born in a stable, there no three kings on scooters.

This 2020 cartoon is as accurate as most popular renditions

No photo description available.

In previous years I’ve given my own version, partially cribbed from Ian’s previous articles.

However as Ian Paul knows and understands the New Testament far better than I , I simply re-blog his 2020 version of “Jesus was not born in a stable”.

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/away-with-the-manger/

This is not scepticism nor deconstruction, but simply trying to sort out where Jesus was born and in what type of building from the best historical evidence. This has been known for years but ignored.

It may even disturb the sensitive!!

Anyway, read Ian and see there was no stable!!

Source: Jesus wasn’t born in a stable—and that makes all the difference | Psephizo

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Source: Jesus wasn’t born in a stable—and that makes all the difference | Psephizo