ADVENTurous theology.

mjkimpan  —  November 29, 2012 — 23 Comments


yesterday, my mildly progressive friend tony jones posed a question on his THEOBLOGY blog :: why an incarnation?

just in time for advent, tony asked his readers to describe ‘what the Incarnation tells us about God, human beings, creation, the Cosmos, the End Times, Heaven, Hell, salvation, or anything else… from a Progressive Christian perspective.’

no big deal.


i’ve written a bit on my thoughts of the incarnation, and our mission as folks who follow jesus to live as allies of the incarnation.

i contend the act of the incarnation was the movement of the divine toward humanity; from the holy toward the common; from the pure to the unclean; from word to flesh.

fellow TJ reader rob davis writes ::

“The incarnation” is not an historical event that happened. Incarnation is what happens when we love – ourselves, one another and all of “Creation.” In this sense, the entire universe is birthed from and shot through with divinity…

What if the most radically Christian thing that we can do is simply be?

he concludes, ‘Incarnation happens. Are we paying attention?’

so often the process of our faith journey is enveloped in language around doing and believing the ‘right’ things.

our desire to bring about the unity for which jesus prayed has historically lent itself to a demand for uniformity in belief and behavior.

anyone dancing outside the sandboxes we’re most comfortable playing in are considered ‘misguided,’ ‘unorthodox,’ or even ‘lost’.

perhaps the incarnation teaches us that the divisions between us/them || clean/unclean || holy/common || in/out || sacred/profane || grace/law || et cetera are things of the past?

it’s worth talking about.

yet in order to even begin to hold these conversations from a truly christian perspective – to join with what the holy spirit of God is doing among people of (and without) faith – i am convinced an intentional desire for understanding God’s departure from division and his commitment to reconciliation is needed.

even for jesus, as brian mclaren recently pointed out,

‘it is permissible to say, ‘The Scriptures say…but I say otherwise,’ if the otherwise takes us in the direction of greater compassion, kindness, nonviolence, and reconciliation.’

in the midst of a world at the boiling point of religious tensions and hostility, a conversation such as this is desperately needed. particularly in light of a globally hostile religious climate which begs for a better way forward… a way to move beyond and rise above the cycle of violence between faiths before we find ourselves immersed in what mclaren has previously called a last-tango, nuclear-biochemical kamikaze crusade jihad.

that not-so distant reality is, for those paying attention, close enough to taste. what does the incarnation have to say in this regard?

could it be that an embodiment of the incarnation in our acceptance of the Other is exactly what God meant to teach us in his act of the word becoming flesh? yet this has habitually been an aversion to ‘us’ throughout our religious history.

as i’ve written previously here and here and elsewhere our refusal to repent of intolerance of the Other is precisely what jesus and his gospel invite us to repent of.

what about you? what do you think?

  • http://www.mjkimpan.com/ michael j. kimpan

    and for those interested in the word search – here’s your list ::

    advent
    cosmos
    divine
    fidelity
    gentile
    grace
    heaven
    humanity
    inclusive
    jesus
    kingdom
    love
    peacemaker
    reconciliation
    redemption
    shellfish
    solidarity
    them
    theology
    unclean
    veil
    YHVH

  • @tmilesmarker

    Jesus had the authority to say ‘You have heard it said but I say’ but we do not enjoy such liberty UNLESS we are correcting a misinterpretation of the text as were those on the hillside that day. The Pharisees were twisting God’s word to their own advantage. We better be careful if we attempt to replicate the Messiah’s practice of setting the record straight.

    • http://www.mjkimpan.com/ michael j. kimpan

      thanks, tom. i agree we need to tread cautiously in our interpretations of scripture, particularly when challenging the status quo.

      as i pointed out in an earlier post (http://www.mjkimpan.com/tricky/) which you’d commented on, there are more than just a handful of passages that we (re)interpret based on our current cultural context (for instance, who would say that women should remain SILENT in church meetings, or that slavery is acceptable or that long hair on a man is degrading?).

      i think it would behoove us to move toward a humility that ‘we might be wrong’ – both those who are challenging the current understanding of select passages, and those who are holding to a traditional interpretation. we run into trouble (in the past and the present) when we make audacious claims about our infallible understanding.

  • @tmilesmarker

    Countless times I have called on my congregations over the last 23 years to copy the Berean approach and NOT take my word as gospel. There is a need today for someone (and maybe that someone is you and maybe that someone is me) to stand and say “Ya think maybe you guys got this kinda screwed up?” That’s my best Eugene Peterson impression. Worked on it all morning ;) I realize of course this sounds like I just reversed myself from my last comment but not if you read carefully between the lnes. I guess my point is whoever dares to try better know his or her stuff first.

    • http://www.mjkimpan.com/ michael j. kimpan

      nice impression. ;) as i hinted at in today’s post (‘heretics.’) when we paint ourselves into a corner by holding so tightly to doctrines we may have gotten wrong, we run the risk of repeating atrocities which have nothing to do with jesus and his gospel.

      regardless of which approach we take (traditional or adventurous), it would behoove us to hold our positions with the humble acknowledgment that ‘we might be wrong.’

      as always, thanks for reading and commenting, tom!

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