Explorations in Theology

The series explores a theology that is human friendly! Jesus as the true human shows us who God is, and because of his consideration for us ('who are we, that God should make note of us?') defines who humanity was created to be. The nature of sin is to fall short of the glory of God. The glory of God as revealed in the truly human one - 'we beheld his glory full of grace and truth'. This volume is a foundation for the other volumes. And there are ZOOM groups available...
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John Wayne to the rescue

This one is a little hard to post as I do not wish it to be read as a critique on Christianity in the USA. If there is a critique it is on the Christianity that was exported, and continues to be exported, and if one looks closely at the label it will read ‘Made in Europe’.

I post it at this time also as I am convinced that there is a ‘feminine’ world that is arising, into which those who are of a new creation are invited into – males and females alike. Probably easier for those who are female to enter it, but it can only be entered regardless of gender through the doorway of repentance (mind shift).

I picked this review of from Scot McKnight’s site today:

https://www.christianitytoday.com/scot-mcknight/2020/july/what-to-call-20.html

Here then are a selection of quotes from the book:

For decades, the Religious Right had been kindling fear in the hearts of American Christians. It was a tried-and-true recipe for their own success. Communism, secular humanism, feminism, multilateralism, Islamic terrorism, and the erosion of religious freedom- evangelical leaders had rallied support by mobilizing followers to fight battles on which, the fate of the nation, and their own families, seemed to hinge. Leaders of the Religious Right had been amping up their rhetoric over the course of the Obama administration. The first African American president, the sea change in LGBTQ rights, the apparent erosion of religious freedom – coupled with looming demographic changes and the declining religious loyalty of their own children – heightened the sense of dread among white evangelicals.

Evangelicals were looking for a protector, an aggressive, heroic, manly man, someone who wasn’t restrained by political correctness or feminine virtues, someone who would break the rules for the right cause.
Evangelicals hadn’t betrayed their values. Donald Trump was the culmination of their half century-long pursuit of a militant Christian masculinity. He was the reincarnation of John Wayne, sitting tall in the saddle, a man who wasn’t afraid to resort to violence to bring order, who protected those deemed worthy of protection, who wouldn’t let political correctness get in the way of saying what had to be said or the norms of democratic society keep him from doing what needed to be done. Unencumbered by traditional Christian virtue, he was a warrior in the tradition (if not the actual physical form) of Mel Gibson’s William Wallace.

This Jesus was over half a century in the making. Inspired by images of heroic white manhood, evangelicals had fashioned a savior who would lead them into the battles of their own choosing. The new, rugged Christ transformed Christian manhood, and Christianity itself.

A Jesus in our making is always the danger. A masculine Jesus that enforces that “it’s a man’s world”. And the new creation is where there is ‘no male and female’. That is a radical world. Perhaps humanity is to carry the ability to understand that our universe is relational (Quantum Physics, not Newtonian) and that relationships are founded on, nurtured by, and develop through love… even love of the ‘enemy’.

Theology. Then there is ‘black theology’, ‘feminine theology’, ‘liberation theology’, ‘queer theology’ and a whole gamut besides. But the one simply labelled ‘theology’? Does not need an adjective as it true theology, so no need to add ‘white, middle class, male’. Adjectives!!

If the ‘Jesus in our image’ Gospel was essentially fabricated in Europe could it be possible that something is being undone here too?

9 thoughts on “John Wayne to the rescue

  1. I gotta say, I am utterly weary of what is often termed ‘toxic’ masculinity. Though an awful lot of it looks like regular masculinity from where I sit. Its exhausting. The unbelievable level of destruction and violence, arrogance, lack of respect for others – especially women, lack of care and respect for creation. The prancing and dancing around meant to impress. It is just utterly, unbelievably enervating. The whole planet is weary of this. No one can really take any more of it. I know there are great guys around (Martin, you are allowed to receive that for yourself). But its the constant noise of one-upmanship. The braying and bragging, the assertions of always being right, of always knowing the answer. Just shut up. Really. Please. Do us all a favor. Just be quiet. Rest it for awhile.

    Masculinity needs a revolution. Men need to be free of it as well as women. We all need a break from patriarchy (systematized and structured masculinity) as it is destroying the planet. Let’s pursue life instead. Let’s dance, celebrate, grow food, share what we have, laugh, care for children and the earth. Whatever brings and nurtures life – let’s commit to it. It will be so much nicer and much more fun.

    1. Sadly ‘regular’ as you write. And another hesitation in writing is not the ‘we can critique them’ but writing as a male concerning such things. I hope in writing to write with some evidence of ignorance – what do I know? However, I take encouragement from Jesus – male and Jewish. Can be read two ways: privilege, or he took those two elements to the cross. I follow the latter line, hence I see a connection between the toxic masculinity and most forms of Zionism (or when faith is not present I suspect that it will manifest as some form of apartheid / nationalism / anti-immigrants). The connection pushes me to no longer see the Risen Christ as male, nor Jewish. Those were human, from this earth defining labels and realities; but there is ‘no longer Jew nor Greek; nor male and female’.

      A theology still in process!! Meanwhile I am looking for something new to arise and a big key is the encouragement for ‘us’ to ‘shut up’.

  2. The men that annoy me most are the straw men put up by secular feminism

    (Lights fuse, stands back)

    1. Very valid… so not standing back too far!!! (Note to self make sure I do not catch fire.) There is certainly that element in the big story, but as I am on a journey at the moment I see what I see, and am putting a temporal lens on it – something is coming to the forefront at this point of time.
      For me, there has been a process of hearing. I have discovered it is very difficult to hear when in the stronger position. I first was hit by this when reading some 30 years ago Gustavo Guttierez’s theology where he advocated that the ‘poor’ (the unheard, the invisible) had a greater ability to read the Scriptures. I found that hard… those who had studied, read had the advantage. He of course had studied and read so I assume he was not rubbishing that, but the challenge remained for me. I have never been very good at listening nor learning – my CV contains a line that says ‘he [I] often pontificate on things he knows very little about’. OUCH.
      I appreciate the truth within what you write. There are so many perspectives as the way forward is not held by one person. It still remains that I think we are at a turning point in history. I am also very provoked to try to see God in situations that are far from perfect – protest movements for example. We have been accustomed to seeing God at work and present in the (imperfect) church but want other movements to be held to a higher account. Some of that journey has been ‘forced’ on me through encountering the fulfilments of prophetic words through situations that were ‘outside’ of where God works. Not claiming the same level of inspiration but the breakout of the Spirit among the Gentiles has become something of a paradigm. It was ‘illegal’, ‘out of time sequence’, and in danger of minimising what had gone before, how God had led people to that time.

    2. thanks Martin for taking the trouble to post a serious and generous response to a slightly tongue in cheek comment.

      I too see the prophetic tradition as the counterweight to the kingly tradition. Let’s face it most biblical prophets didn’t fare too well at the hands of their rulers and so I agree with your view of the valid prophetic voice of the liberation theologians. I struggled to get through Guitierrez, but cut my own teeth on Kraybill, Yoder and Wink

      Maybe one test for prophecy would be to see how it is treated by the power structures of its day. Prophecy that is welcome may not be prophecy at all. Or is that too strong?

      Anyway, so far, so agreed

      I think where I might depart from you slightly today is that the feminine / racial identity / climate tropes have moved from fringe protest to the heart of the culture where they have found a home in government, the media and even at the head of big corporations. (for example I would see Trump as a radical reaction AGAINST this current cultural trajectory rather than a continuation of the male heierarchy).

      Maybe the corporate adoption of the gender/race/climate themes is not enough in itself to discredit their prophetic credibility, but it is certainly enough to cause me concern at the movement. You are much more likely to be stoned today in the west for advocating marriage as being between one man and one woman than you are for promoting women in leadership.

      And therein (I think) lies the root of my ‘straw man’ comment. The radical worldview prefers to hold that the system is set against their progressive agenda but I just don’t think that’s the case anymore. The pendulum has well and truly swung.

      anyway, more food for thought. Thanks as always for your provocative encouragement

      Nigel

  3. Hi Nigel. You have truly hit a few nails on the head. And so much of it comes down to world-views (and personal biases). I recently wrote a preface to a book and it was headed ‘A personal Bio / Bias?’. There was bio in there – this is who I am, this is who has influenced me en route. I am pretty stubborn, not too smart, so maybe my bio is really a disclosure of the biases that I carry. I have no doubt I am biased!!!

    I see so much that is rising (shorthand ‘the liberal agenda’) as having God in it. That is a bias. I (trying to defend myself?) have moved over the years as I have witnessed God fulfil prophecies that were fulfilled in detail and I could not see it till months later as I never anticipated they would be fulfilled in that way. My conversion has been SLOW. Now I am nearly 65 (wow, how did that happen) I have to acknowledge that I am probably pretty set in the direction I am headed. Not assuming that is because of wisdom and insight, probably stubbornness, so ever hopeful that the Lord is in there somewhere in spite of me.

    Stoned for promoting marriage as only legitimate between a man and a woman: you hit it right on. (And to be up front – and no surprise – I am in process of a review of that.) If on one side of the issue the other side is persecuting us: both ‘sides’ say this. At the beginning of the year I was very provoked by Joshua’s encounter with God: are you for us or for our enemy? I ask – are you for me or for the Calvinist? Are you for me or for the Dispensationalist? ETC…. Of course I already know the answer: FOR YOU MARTIN.

    Are you for me or for my enemy? I am slowly coming to terms with – WRONG QUESTION MARTIN!

    Working through all of this… Help us Lord. Though I deeply suspect that the COVID reset is a provocation to keep moving forward.

  4. I just would like to comment that I don’t find issues of gender, race, class or creation (climate) as fringe issues. I believe they are central to the biblical witness.

  5. its is my observation that the justice arena is a free flow feminine environment, in part because they can just show up, engage, be who they are, act, love, fight.

    Ive asked the question numerous times of individuals in non christian serving environments: ‘ are there so many more women than men in this work because there is nobody the say they cannot’? “yes thats definitely one of the reasons”!

    I would say, that the free form flow of the feminine is an intensely inclusive place, i feel that it is their gift to the world at this time and in coming seasons, that the previously marginalised, discriminated flip side jesus style gift to the world is INCLUSIVITY ” come and join us, stand with us, stand together, no them or they, only us”
    Its powerful mate, again and again i feel we have to look to those who are ‘ahead’ and it is so often those who fought and stagnated in the places of most resistance, enabling many to flow, be, do, become in a created place of least resistance.

    Could something be undone here in Europe… i believe it already is. As i say, we just need to look to those who are ahead.

    .

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