Monday, October 13, 2008

temptations of exile

In follow-up to Sunday's message on temptation in exile, in which the interaction was phenomenal. I love wikichurch...especially on days like Sunday when I feared it would be too acadamic and "talking head."

The Scriptures are clear that "no temptation has seized us except what is common to all humans" , and that with the common temptation God will provide a (common?specific?) way out. (1 Cor 10:13-15)

But within these overall common temptations;
there are characteristic and unique temptations in different times and seasons.

If ever there was a unique time and season in church history; in Western culture--and our personal lives....

..this is that time.

We might coin such a time, season and place as


For an honest example of one of our own saints (a Celtic one) journals from exile," read some blog posts here.

On the church/culture level:

“post-Christendom is the culture that emerges as the Christian faith loses coherence within a society that has been definitively shaped by the Christian story and as the institutions that have developed to express Christian convictions are in decline.” (Murray, Post-Christendom, 19).

Here we are.

On the good news of the economic crisis/opportunity/exile, read Len:
...Given the meltdown in the US economy, and the reverberations throughout the world, one wonders at our current location. This morning on CBC on the way to breakfast I caught part of an interview with Margaret Atwood on her new book, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth. Margaret is a respected Canadian author who has always had a fascination with debt. It began, she relates, when she prayed the Lord’s Prayer as a child. She noticed that some versions of the prayer asked for forgiveness from sin, others from debt. It turns out that this theme is common in the great faiths. What great faith could really claim to be comprehensive in human affairs that says nothing about economics in human communities?

What really caught me today, however, was how we are all in the same boat. On the one hand a millionaire may stare in the face of the credit crunch and wonder if he can access the resources he needs for his business; on the other hand those of us with ordinary mortgages wonder if they will be sustainable by 2009.

The result of all this uncertainty: fear. And that is where the resources of the Gospel become relevant.
Len Hjalmarson

How about that...wemight as well be relevant for once!

Sunday we suggested that three probable temptations of a person or church in exile are
(click underlined words for more)

Under this last category, we asked ourselve to fill in the blank with the biblical answer:

"The antichrist spirit denies that Jesus Christ is ___________"

Of course, the answer is not the usual assumed answer("divine" or "God") but:


See 1 John 2 and 4: it's all there:
"This is antichrist: denial (not that Jesus was/is God),
but that he CAME IN THE FLESH."

Any god that does not incarnate is not God.

Matter matters.

How are we seduced by the antichrist spirit or worldview, especially in exile?

Any time we in essence deny Jesus "came in the flesh" and was really/very human.

We looked at a chilling portion of Eugene Peterson's "Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places"
And we can be trained to recognize the antichrists as the men and women who tell us that Jesus wasn't human the way we are — "how could he be? He is God! ... recognize that for all their fancy talk about Christ, for all their superspiritualities, such people are just that, antichrists" ...

"The antichrist option has always been a convenient loophole for not loving actual, named people." (p.324)
"Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places" )

We also glanced at Mike Frost's outline in the book "Exiles"
click here to read our friend Len Hjalmarson's helpful review of this important book..

..unless you don't WANT to cultivate the four delighfully dangerous disciplines we need, if we are to resist the temptations/testations of exile:

• DANGEROUS MEMORIES reaching back to Abraham and Sarah. Israel was tempted to substitute more reasonable and respectable memories rather than embrace the ambiguity and embarrassment of such messy heroes.

• DANGEROUS CRITICISM that mocks the deadly Empire. We need two kinds of critique. First, we need an ongoing religious critique of the tamed gods of the Empire (commercialized Christianity). Second, we need the political critique of entrenched power, wherever we find it.

• DANGEROUS PROMISES that imagine a shift of power in the world. The kingdom of God will come. The poem of Isa.54:1-3 is first despairing, but then affirms a wild and outrageous hope.

• DANGEROUS SONGS that predict unexpected newness of life. We sing a new song and affirm a reality we have not fully experienced. Worship is a political statement.

(Frost, based on Bruggeman)


  1. That take on worship as a political statement, can that be expanded or where can I find more info?


  2. SJ

    i would say reading Shane Claiborne "Jesus for President" excerpts online

    Bruggeman's "Prophetic Imagination"

    "Jesus is Lord" was so political for the early church as it mean "Caesar is not." and could cost your life.
    Our faith today should subvert empire and thus be political....though not in a Falwell Right Wing way.

    See this comment:


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