Some Great Body Theology

bodytheology

Some in the early church took a very tragic turn when it comes to the body.  To explore this regrettable turn, check out Reading Renunciation: Asceticism and Scripture in Early Christianity by Elizabeth Clark.

A more wholesome and healthy theology of the body is described by Rubem Alves.

the body

It is like a garden, where flowers and fruits grow.

The smile grows there,

generosity,

compassion,

the will to struggle,

hope;

the desire to plant gardens,

to bear children,

to hold hands and stroll,

to know . . .

And its ever-rising waters overflow, they run out of it, and the dry desert becomes a watered oasis. That’s the way it is:  in this body . . .

Have your ever thought about this? that at Christmas what is celebrated is our body, as something that God desires?

the body. . . it is a welcoming lap.

The ear that hears the lament in silence, without anything said

The magical capacity to hear someone’s tears, far away, never seen, and to weep also.

My body overflows and fertilizes the world.

(Believe in the Resurrection of the Body, pp. 7-8)

Freedom of Religion For Those You Despise (A Big Thank You To Roger Williams)

 

roger williams

If you want to look for an amazing person in early American colonial history look no further than Roger Williams. Williams responded negatively to those who demanded Rhode Island quit providing refuge for Quakers, despite despising the Quakers himself and despite the economic benefit offered by other colonies  if Rhode Island kicked the Quakers to the curb. (Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty, John M. Barry)

Hard to believe anybody could despise Quakers.  Modern Quakers are so – so nice and Christian.  

Roger Williams didn’t care much for the confident certainty of Quakers who mocked all established Christian theologies, but especially that of the Puritans.  Puritans were mocked by Quakers for their doubt.  (Barry)

Williams rejected Quaker assertions that “their emotionalism, their responses to the movement of a spirit within, their extreme and disruptive behavior all emanated from God. Such an assertion, he argued, was not proof.  Proof could come only from intellectual rigor, from, as Williams said, his ‘Reason, or some Testimony of unquestionable Witnesses satisfying my Reason, or some heavenly inspired Scripture or Writing which my Reason tells me came from God.'” (Barry)

Massachusetts considered Quakers to be an “infection” and deported them to England.

Any ship commander who knowingly landed a Quaker would be fined 100 pounds.  Anyone who imported any Quaker writings would be fined 5 pounds.  Any Quaker discovered in the colony would receive twenty stripes with a corded whip and then be imprisoned, and while a prisoner their windows would be boarded up to prevent their communicating with anyone.  Any Massachusetts resident who voiced a Quaker opinion would be fined 40 shillings; if upon correction he or she defended the opinion the fine rose to 4.3 pounds.  (Barry)

Let me repeat.  Roger Williams despised Quakers too, but he knew that freedom of religion meant freedom of religion for all, including those he despised.

The seeds Williams planted in Rhode Island on the importance of religious freedom took deep root.   Rhode Island believed in freedom as a principle.  “It outlawed slavery-an extraordinary action, likely the first in the world. . .”  (Barry)

A big thank you to Roger Williams!

The Body’s Desire For Liberty: A Final Arbiter of Scripture

 

onesimus our brother

In 1833 circuit-riding evangelist Charles Colcock preached a sermon to a slave congregation.  Colcock preached on the Epistle to Philemon and when he insisted on fidelity and obedience as Christian virtues in servants, and upon the authority of the apostle Paul, condemned the practice of running away, one-half of the congregation rose up and walked out.  “After dismission, there was no small stir among them; some solemnly declared that there was no such Epistle in the Bible; others, that it was not the Gospel; others, that [Colcock] preached to please the masters; others, that they did not care if they never heard [Colcock] preach again!”

Allen Dwight Callahan, professor of New Testament at the Seminario Teologico Batista de Nordeste in Bahia, Brazil, observes that the slaves who rose up and left used their own moving flesh as a “countertext of insistent revelation.”  In Callahan’s estimation, the slaves offer the true emblem of freedom.  “They trusted the body’s desire for liberty as the final arbiter of Scripture . . .”  (Onesimus Our Brother:  Reading Religion, Race, and Culture in Philemon, Matthew V. Johnson, James A. Noel, and Demetrius K. Williams, Editors)

All sources for theology are problematic, including Scripture.  That is why the slaves rose up and left.  That is why the body’s desire for liberty can be a final arbiter of Scripture.

Baptist Forbids Bible In Worship – Baptist History You Are Not Going To Believe

Bible

With all the big talk about the Bible by a lot of modern Baptists, about how it is errant and infallible, you are going to find this Baptist history hard to believe.

John Smyth (1570 – 1612) is considered by some historians as the founder of the Baptist denomination.

Smyth insisted that true worship was from the heart and that any form of reading from a book in worship was an invention of sinful man. This rejection of liturgy remains strong among many Baptists still today. Prayer, singing and preaching had to be completely spontaneous. He went so far with this mentality that he would not allow the reading of the Bible during worship on the grounds that a translation was “…the worke of a mans witt…& therefore not to be brought into the worship of God to be read.” This idea stemmed from the belief that worship should be ordered by the Spirit. (Wikipedia)

Wow, a Baptist refusing to allow the Bible to be read during worship.  I bet you wouldn’t have imagined that one in a million years.

Smyth was right in his assertion that a translation is “the work of a mans witt” but so is everything that happens in worship.  If only modern fundamentalist Baptists were so honest about the limits of translation.  Where Smyth was wrong was his equation of true worship with solely the heart.  The heart is important for worship, as is the Spirit, but worship also involves the mind and the five senses.  And let us not forget the relationship between worship and peace and justice.

Beware of those defining anything with regard to Christianity with the adjective “true.”

Fortunately, John Smyth was a defender of religious liberty.  Beware of religious people who are not defenders of religious liberty.