Monday, June 18, 2018

Body Love

Followers of Jesus were baptised into one body.

Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many (1 Cor 12:14).
The members of the body of Jesus are dependent on each other.
Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body (1 Cor 12:15).
The hand cannot say to the foot, your pain does not affect me, so I do not care about it.
If one part suffers, every part suffers with it (1 Cor 12:26).
If the foot is suffering, every member of the body should be feeling its pain.

The eye who has a professional salary, cannot say to the hand that has lost its income, your suffering does not affect me.

This is why John said,

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person (1 John 3:17)?
In one member of a body of believers has worldly wealth, and another is suffering in poverty, the love that Jesus requires is missing.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters (1 John 3:16)?
If love is working, there will be caring and sharing with one another. People will not be able to stay in poverty for long.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Luxury Prophets

Jesus said that prophets who are splendidly clothed and live in luxury are in the houses of kings and political leaders (Luke 7:25). Leaders like to have these prophets around because they build up their power and authority.

Most are not in the king's house physically, but to many are there spiritually.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Liberated

In Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he describes what Jesus has done for us. Those who have been buried with him in baptism and raised with him, have been given full life in him. While we were dead in our sin and controlled by our sinful nature, he did the following for us.

  • He forgave all our sins.
  • The ordinances that held us captive were cancelled by the cross.
  • The spiritual rulers and powers that controlled us were stripped of their power.
(Colossians 2:13-15).

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Community and Culture

In an article called Will Loss of Religious Liberty Doom Evangelicalism? George Yancy has some interesting comments.

Evangelicals have gotten used to being the most powerful religious group in our society. That is not going to be the case for the foreseeable future, if ever again...

So beyond politics, it is also important that we think about protecting ourselves by building up our community. If there are fewer of us, but those of us who are left are more committed, then we can make demands on each other that will strengthen our larger community. Groups that do not have majority group power do well to have a strong notion of community so that their subculture can thrive.

What are some of the implications of building up our vision of being a Christian community inside a larger secular society? We can develop a powerful in-group loyalty that allows us to help each other. We can develop supportive economic structures that serve our subculture. We can focus on socializing our children to be ready for the struggles of a post-Christian world. These are only some of the important ways having a community mindset can provide us with the social means to persist in a society that wants to remove us from the public square.

It can be as a community that we can renew a focus on reaching out to the marginalized. A powerful group tends to ignore those who struggle in our society. In a society where we no longer have majority group power, we can humbly use our in-group loyalty to work together so that we can better minister to those society left behind. Such efforts not only enlarge our community by bringing some of the marginalized into our community but also provides a powerful witness of love for the least of these.

Ultimately, it is going to be these acts of love and a true demonstration of the values we say we hold to help us deal with the threat to our religious liberty. Since the threat comes from a change of cultural values, we can begin to neutralize it by impacting the culture. And the best way to impact the culture is to have a Christian community where we are encouraged to live with integrity, transparency and to love those around us. Building the right type of Christian community is vital for what we need today.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Misleading Models

In Debunking Economics, Steve Keen gives two reasons why mainstream economists did not see the global financial crisis coming.

  • The economic models of these economists assume that economies always move towards equilibrium. External shocks may push an economy away from equilibrium for a short time, but it will quickly adjust back towards equilibrium. A long-term economic depression cannot exist in these models, because they are always trending back to equilibrium.

    Keen quotes Robert Solow.

    I start from the presumption that we want macroeconomics to account for the occasional aggregative pathologies that beset modern capitalist economies, like recession, intervals of stagnation, inflation, ‘stagflation’... A model that rules out pathologies by definition is unlikely to help (p. 259).
    Keen also quotes Minsky
    Can ‘It’—a great Depression—happen again: And if ‘It’ can happen, why didn’t it occur in the years since World War II? These are questions that naturally follow from both the historical record and the comparative success of the past thirty-five years. To answer these question, it is necessary to have an economic theory, which makes a great depression one of the possible states in which our type of capitalist economy can find itself (p. 381).
    Mainstream economists could not foresee the global financial crisis because their models could not forecast a crisis.

  • The models of the mainstream economists did not include debt. They assume that money is neutral and does not affect the real economy. Likewise, debt is left out of their models, because they assume that it just shifts purchasing power from one person to another. They assume that debt does not affect the real economy.

    Keen quotes Paul Krugman as confirmation.
    Given both the prominence of debt in popular discussion of economic difficulties and the long tradition of invoking debt as a key factor in major economic contractions, one might have expected debt to be at the heart of most mainstream macroeconomic models—especially the analysis at the hear of monetary and fiscal policy. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, however it is quite common to abstract altogether from this feature of the economy (p.321).
    Unfortunately, by leaving debt out of their models, they could not explain or foresee the effects of debt deflation.


Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Cross and Power

Brian Zahnd writes that we need to understand how the preacher of the Sermon on the Mount ends up condemned by the Sanhedrin and executed by the Roman Empire.

Jesus was not preaching his sermons and working his miracles as “random acts of kindness” but as announcements and enactments of the arrival of the kingdom of God. By the kingdom of God we mean the government of God, the politics of God, the alternative arrangement of the world that comes from God. In his practice of radical hospitality Jesus was announcing the arrival of a new way of arranging human society. Jesus was proclaiming to the principalities and powers (the very rich, the very powerful, the very religious, the institutions they represent, and the malevolent spirits that energize it all) that their time was up because the alternative from heaven was now within reach.

Jesus called upon all who heard him to rethink everything (repent) and believe that a radical rearrangement of the world was good news. But...
The empire always strikes back.

The principalities and powers had a vested interest in keeping the world as it had always been arranged — an arrangement that benefits the elite. So Caiaphas (the very religious), Herod (the very rich), and Pilate (the very powerful) colluded together to execute this Galilean disrupter who threatened their preferred social order. A mere five days after arriving in Jerusalem, Jesus is betrayed, arrested, tried, condemned, spit upon, beaten, scourged, and crucified.

Monday, June 04, 2018

Prophets and Power

When prophets become puppets of political power and war,
lies justify murder and violence.

If a ruler listens to lies,
all his officials become wicked (Prov 29:12).
When the prophets of a nation believe a lie,
evil is at the door.

A prophet can be a trumpet that sounds a clear call to a nation (1 Cor 14:8).
A prophet who is a trump-pet leads the people astray.

Bullies rarely generate peace.

Too many prophets trust the power of a gun more than the power of the Holy Spirit.

A prophet carrying a gun will corrupt God's word with violence and war.

Ministry of the Prophet.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Debunking Economics

I have just read Debunking Economics by Steve Keen, an Australian economist. He is no slug, because he is one of the few economists who warned of the GFC before it happened.

In this book, he goes through the development of economics and exposes all the false assumptions and illogical foundations that plague neoclassical economics.

It is many years since I formally studied economics, so I had forgotten how bad the experience was. Reading this book reminded of how frustrating it is working with assumptions about economic and personal behaviour that are totally unrealistic. No wonder economic predictions are usually wrong and that policy recommendations fail to achieve the results they promised.

Everyone studying economics formally should read this book.