Wednesday, March 31, 2010

After You Believe II

“Liberation theology, as it was then known, wasn’t any longer an abstract exercise, a seemingly exciting, flaky, and slightly dangerous sub-branch of systematic theology created to keep left-wing students from getting bored with the study of ancient dogmas. It was about churches, themselves poor and living among the poor, that were working out from day to day what it meant to call Jesus Lord and to make that lordship a living reality in their wider communities.”

--N.T. Wright, After You Believe, Page 235

“Rodney Stark’s book The Rise Of Christianity is his description of how Christians in ancient Turkey would react when their town was struck by plague. The rich, the well-to-do, and particularly the doctors would gather up family and possessions and leave town. They would flee to the hills, to fresher and less polluted air, or to friends or family in towns some distance away. But the Christians often among the poorest, and many of them slaves would stay and nurse people, including those who were neither Christians, nor their own family members, nor in any other way obviously connected to them. Sometimes such people got well again; not all diseases were necessarily fatal. Sometimes Christians would themselves catch the disease and die from it. But the point was made, graphically and unmistakably: this was a different way to be human. Nobody had ever thought of living like that before. Why were they doing it? And the Christians, called upon to explain the habits of the heart which made it ‘natural’ to do such things, would talk about Jesus, and about the God they had discovered through Jesus the God whose very nature was and is self-giving love. Stark suggests that this kind of behavior was one of many contributory reasons for the rapid spread of Christianity, despite the best efforts of efficient Roman persecutors, leading up to the time when, by the start of the fourth century, nearly half the empire was Christian and the emperors decided it was better to join what seemed to be the winning side.”

--N.T. Wright, After You Believe, Page 237

“The church has been divided between those who cultivate their own personal holiness but do nothing about working for justice in the world and those who are passionate for justice but regard personal holiness as an unnecessary distraction from that task. This division has been solidified by the church’s unfortunate habit of adopting from our surrounding culture the unhelpful packages of ‘left wing’ and ‘right wing’ prejudices, the former speaking of ‘justice’ and meaning ‘libertarianism’ and the latter speaking of ‘holiness’ and meaning ‘dualism.’ All this must be firmly pushed to one side. What we need is integration.”

--N.T. Wright, After You Believe, Page 247

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