Explorations in Theology

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Thoughts for the week

Baptism and Mortgages

A couple of thoughts. Thoughts for the week / day? Maybe I could be on to something here with a whole new way of communicating that means everyone logs on and I become famous… Now there’s a thought.

I was in communication with someone this week and as I was praying for them I saw a strange image. Strange in that taken literally I would find what I saw somewhat hard to defend biblically.

We are all aware of the teaching on baptism, and how it acts as a door closing on what had gone before. Believers baptism (my roots) and I also see it for children of believers acting as a door closing to exiting – in other words they are ‘in’ unless they count themselves out – I do think I have some Pauline authority on that one with 1 Cor. 7. Now to what I saw.

I saw this person who I believe has a calling to develop ‘schools of wisdom’ (a play on ‘schools of the prophets’) where those that are developed can both initiate business models and consult into the business realm… and I saw the process beginning by baptising the people being trained, baptising them out of the church! Hold it… don’t throw stones at me yet… for I am not defending it literally. But once we are ‘in’ church it can be really soon that we learn a new language, embrace a new culture, to such an extent that we no longer are able to communicate. Our gospel is incarnational – and not simply ‘fleshed out’ but fleshed in a way that ‘I hear you speak my language’.

So no new doctrinal perspective on baptism coming forth… but a very big invite is being given in this season to have unhelpful packaging that has been placed on (incarcerated) the gospel washed away. This process is under way and involves having our eyes open to see people (I read today someone write that we need to ‘see the human in people…’ must have been reading my book for where else could they have gained that understanding… and then the person went on to say ‘and even the divine in them’… how come I had not written that I ask); eyes to see people and to relate without a judgemental framework, not even a right / wrong framework but a life-defining framework.

A while back I was asked if I was having ‘a Peter conversion experience’. [Plug: read Humanising the Divine, and all will be revealed.] A scenario where ‘do not call unclean…’ what you formerly considered was unclean. Such a conversion has implications. In this process I have been doing some Bible reading, kind of digging into how our hermeneutic has to inform us, but inform us the other side of hearing the stories of where God is at work.

So a little insight in to where I am headed. The Bible pretty much condemns money lending with interest (in history this was a bad sin, the sin of ‘usury’). Those clever people, the Jews, actually profited from this by realising that there did not seem to be a ban on lending with interest to us Gentiles (I even remember ‘The Merchant of Venice’ by Shakespeare and Shylock the money lender from my school days), so they found a nice niche business area before all of the Gentiles got freed up to discover this was the way to ‘earn’ money. Many Christians do not seem to have an issue with taking out a loan, or a mortgage… The hermeneutic applied?

A. Money lending with interest is condemned in the Bible and therefore wrong.
B. Mortgage is a loan with interest.
C. Mortgages are evil.

No that is not the hermeneutic applied.

A. Money lending with interest is condemned in the Bible.
B. Mortgages are not in the same category as what the Bible condemns.
C. Therefore we cannot directly use A as a critique of B.

A might inform B but does not condemn all believers with mortgages to burn forever (and of course we would need to work hard on that to turn Jesus’ words about AD70 and the localised situation of Jerusalem under siege, and the historic context of ‘wars and rumours of wars’ to be referring to something beyond that… but another post another day for that, after all my new famous-making ‘thought for the week’ column will need regular content.)

7 thoughts on “Thoughts for the week

  1. I think I see why the idea of baptising people out of the church could be important although counter intuitive – it is a powerful and provocative revelation!. Church holds so much baggage and has such negative connotations in the eyes of the world. It is at worst seen as a place of dire judgement and at best irrelevant or outdated (by most people in the western world anyway). I know that there are really great churches that are working towards being places of justice and reaching out to the poor and marginalised but there are others which level judgement at the world. There is little movement towards addressing or including the most marginalised of all (the LGBTQ community/ies) though even in the best churches. They are either ignored or there is a doubling down and condemnation by the some churches/ministries which will achieve precisely nothing fruitful in that group of people. A call for ‘holiness’ is fine but that can only be inspired and nurtured by the Holy Spirit at at a personal level not imposed on anyone else. I know you have been addressing the Transgender issue through the open evenings – it is complex and messy. Perhaps a commissioning to leave the church and actually seek people out without the jargon and language/culture of ‘church’ is precisely what’s needed. I don’t know much about the business realm – it’s not my thing but the other issue is what I feel God is speaking to me about. I’m sure it is equally valid for both areas. I’m sure I’ve missed some of the nuance of what you are saying but this came to mind. Thank you for this very interesting thought of the day/week.

    1. Thanks Joanna. Provocative… but that seems to be the activity of God when my religious boundaries are challenged… at least I covered my back with ‘not literal’!!!

  2. I wonder if the two thoughts are actually very far apart at all…

    We know a little history, the seeding of banking came as I recall from the “Holy Roman Empire”…or at least the branches (which are a current way to describe LOCAL banking institutions, at least here in the USA) as it went forth to fund some of the crusades…as far as we know some of the earliest forms of credit were issued in order to build temples…both pagan and otherwise.

    it seems you cannot go very far from the church if you need a bank or even credit…credo…the creeds…

    Usery is probably one of the original forms of credit…”I’ll get you out of your trouble for X-amount but I need X + y amount in return…I’ll credit you the “y” until you pay it all back”

    Perhaps God was against the vine usury because he know what kind of branches it would produce…Jesus seemed to take offense at seeing the place of prayer for ALL NATIONS turned into a market place of money changing…

    Turning over the tables was probably the most prophetic act he did.

    At least in this context.

    Maybe being baptized OUT of that system is not all that bad.

    1. Mark… poetically written. Systems… we do seem to be able to perfect them – other than I need another word than ‘perfect’!

  3. Hey Martin, Just dropped by to say “Hello”. I am here in Central America launching Forerunner Living and Learning Communities (Wisdom Schools). I think we talked about some of this the last time you were in Kitchener, (Ontario – Canada)

    If I was going to be baptized out of anything, it would be “organized religion” (church as we know it). “The Body of Christ” on the other hand are my people…..I am sure you have been around that mountain a few times, but here is a new twist for you to think about.

    Some of ‘My Peeps” don’t confess Christ…in fact they are doing as much to build the Kingdom of God as many believers but they are agnostic. I was confused by this as most Christian would/should be. So I inquired, how should I understand what I am experiencing and this is what I believe…..Here is what God (I believe) said: “Some people know my voice but don’t know my name”. I took this to mean that they are following the Holy Spirit even though they don’t acknowledge Christ as Savior. He may be Lord ..but He is not Savior for some. Christ has 2 titles – Lord and Savior something that isn’t often given much “thinking” when talking about the Kingdom of God. Some people see him as Savior others as Savior and Lord and still others as Lord (they follow Him) but do not yet see Him as Savior. Hope this doesn’t start a fire fight….Nice to see you’re still doing it. Hope you are doing well!!


    Paul Weigel
    The Forerunner Project Inc.
    (website was hacked recently – may need some help)

    1. Hey Paul – great to hear from you. Wow… the years have gone quickly since being with you. GREAT to hear from you, and your comment. I HOPE it does start a fire, or at least release some fresh oxygen into the fire.

  4. Maybe mortgages are part of having to live in a fallen world, because there is no other one? Given the recent COP26 focus there are many other everyday situations rendered inevitable within our societies that could also come into this category (can you realistically manage to buy food without adding to a mountain of single-use plastic packaging?) that might be described as corporate or institutional sin that envelops us all, that we cannot individually avoid.
    I’m very taken with Paul’s “know my voice but don’t know my name.” That which passes for “the language of Zion” is so utterly incomprehensible outside church that I’m quite sure it has little impact in many areas, and can in fact be a complete turn-off. God, on the other hand, is not obliged to speak it.

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