Saturday, 28 April 2012

The Holy Spirit as the Gift of the Love of God for God to us

Brad at Resident Theology drew my attention today to this quote from Augustine's On the Trinity:

There is no gift of God more excellent than this. It alone distinguishes the sons of the eternal kingdom and the sons of eternal perdition. Other gifts, too, are given by the Holy Spirit; but without love they profit nothing. Unless, therefore, the Holy Spirit is so far imparted to each, as to make him one who loves God and his neighbor, he is not removed from the left hand to the right. Nor is the Spirit specially called the Gift, unless on account of love.

Love, therefore, which is of God and is God, is specially the Holy Spirit, by whom the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, by which love the whole Trinity dwells in us. And therefore most rightly is the Holy Spirit, although He is God, called also the gift of God. And by that gift what else can properly be understood except love, which brings to God, and without which any other gift of God whatsoever does not bring to God? 

This more or less explains in greater depth the thoughts I had here, when I wrote about how the love between the Father and the Son lives in us.  

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Affective Theology and a Pot of Nard

Just come across Ron Frost's post on Affective Theology here.

Last night I led a homegroup discussion (for the first time) on John 12, focusing mainly on how, actually, Judas makes a good point about the expensive pot of perfume poured over Jesus' feet so extravagantly.  Not only the poor, but also the money raised from selling the nard could have gone on better travel arrangements for Jesus' ministry team, more snazzy resources, publishing a religious tract, or even, thinking sensibly, a small pension for Mary when she gets really old.

We got talking about how Mary's love for Christ was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and how she so (to the point of offensiveness) overflows with love for Christ that simply trying to be a better person and kind and nice are way, way, way behind her.  She is in supernatural territory, where her love is the Holy Spirit loving through her; her own natural love could not ever have reached such heights of...

Ah, yes, but here is where things went a little awry.  Am I saying that the human will is incapable of loving God as he ought to be loved?  What of responsibility and moral duty?  It was agreed that I was probably in very grave danger with my airy-fairy (I hate to say it, but that's what was said) talk of God moving us in the affections by his love rather than us strengthening our will to love him and become better Christians.  

It was all very amicable though.  Went out for a drink with the vicar later, and we discussed it.  Am really glad I did, because otherwise I would have gone to bed really wondering if I had got all this grace-stuff wrong.  

One last point: why is it that those who worry that a theology of grace will lead to orgies are the least hedonistic people there are, and why are those who worry about a theology of works the least likely to be caught up in legalistic disciplines? 

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Paul, Zizek and Badiou - via Ben Myers blog

Just browsing through Ben Myers excellent blog, Faith and Theology, and I came across these quotes:

“In terms of recent theory, … the insistence on the superiority of Christianity (a very Hegelian claim) is peculiar to Badiou and Slavoj Žižek. Such a position clearly flies in the face of liberal pluralism; either you accept the truth that can be extracted from the Christian legacy, or you are wrong…. The doyens of difference start to hear alarm bells at this point. In my view Badiou’s defense of this argument is unassailable: what is at stake in reclaiming the truth of the Christian legacy is the very status of the universal itself; it is not a question of asserting the superiority of a closed coterie of true believers, for the Christian claim is precisely what challenges the closed community.”

—Liam A. O’Donnell, “St. Paul: Apostle, Militant, Communist,” Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy 2:1-2 (2006), p. 347.

“The fundamental question is that of knowing precisely what it means for there to be a single God…. Here Paul confronts – but also renews the terms of – the formidable question of the One. His genuinely revolutionary conviction is thatthe sign of the One is the ‘for all’, or the ‘without exception’. That there is but a single God must be understood not as a philosophical speculation concerning substance or the supreme being, but on the basis of a structure of address. The One is that which inscribes no difference in the subjects to which it addresses itself. The One is only insofar as it is for all…. Monotheism can be understood only by taking into consideration the whole of humanity. Unless addressed to all, the One crumbles and disappears.”

—Alain Badiou, Saint Paul (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003), p. 76.

The Rapture: History and Influence in America

Swiped from Arni Zachariassen at I Think I Believe, I found this documentary on the so-called rapture really interesting.

Vimeo - The Rapture: History and Influence in America

By Derrick Sims and Craig Luttrel as part of a Masters theology class in the US.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Stanley Hauerwas and the Politics of the Cross

Stanley Hauerwas writes a piece for ABC Religion and Ethics, see here.

He gave them a new way to deal with offenders - by forgiving them. He gave them a new way to deal with violence - by suffering. He gave them a new way to deal with money - by sharing it. He gave them a new way to deal with problems of leadership - by drawing on the gift of every member, even the most humble. He gave them a new way to deal with a corrupt society - by building a new order, not making the old. He gave them a new pattern of relationships between man and woman, between parent and child, between master and slave, in which was made concrete a radical new vision of what it means to be a human person. He gave them a new attitude toward the state and toward the "enemy nation."
That is the politics begun in Christ. That is the "good news" - that we have been freed from the presumed necessities that we inflict on ourselves in the name of "peace," a peace that too often turns out to be an order established and continued through violence. 
Is it any wonder that Jesus was despised and rejected?