Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

Anger Issues

Monday, August 19th, 2019

A fine sermon yesterday from our Associate Rector reminded us that Jesus was angry a lot. He wasn’t content with injustice, and hypocrisy and avoidable suffering.

This fact reminds us, too, that anger can be a good thing when it prods us to act and try to correct wrongs and help people.

This kind of righteous indignation might be termed, “social anger.” But “personal anger” directed at people we know or encounter may not be so valuable. Indeed, it can be toxic. As Jesus observed, anger can be the equivalent of murder!

The Rev. Adrian Dannhauser mentioned in her sermon that studies indicate people get “mildly or moderately” angry as often as several times a day. Using social media with its likes and dislikes is no doubt a modern factor in encouraging people to get mad.

In any case–while we are right to fight for justice–on a personal level, it’s much better for our souls to stay cool. —J. Douglas Ousley


Conspiracy Theories

Monday, October 30th, 2017

As political conspiracy theories fly about in the political sphere, it’s interesting to note that such theories have not fared well in the realm of Bible studies.

One theory that goes back to early times and is revived every few years is the notion that the disciples stole the body of Jesus, buried it secretly, and then pretended that they saw him alive. Another theory had him surviving the crucifixion and then pretending he was resurrected.

There are massive amounts of evidence why such conspiracies are unlikely. For example, if Jesus never died, what happened to him after Easter? Wouldn’t he have lived a normal life on earth–instead of “ascending” into Heaven, as the Bible teaches? And if the disciples had hidden his body, their deception would surely have been discovered by local authorities who were anxious to prove that Jesus was not the Messiah risen from the dead.

Another fanciful theory, for which there isn’t a shred of contemporary evidence, is that Jesus was secretly married to Mary Magdalene.

There’s nothing like a secret plot to spur the human imagination. Happily, for Christians, the evidence is strong that Christ was who he said he was. —J. Douglas Ousley

 


Words Fail

Monday, July 31st, 2017

Even the bleep-friendly media have been shocked by the language emanating recently from the White House. One such speaker terms his vocabulary, “colorful.” Christians are appalled; non-puritanical unbelievers are upset or, at best, amused.

Many appropriate Scripture verses suggest themselves. Jesus: “Let your yes be a plain yes, and your no no.” (Mt. 5.37) “Speak the truth in love.” (Eph. 4.15)

But the only verses that seem relevant to the current administration seem the many passages about conflict and brother being set against brother (Lk 12.53, etc).

Meanwhile, beyond all the White House psycho-drama, there are “wars, and rumors of wars.” (Mt. 24.6)–J. Douglas Ousley


Jesus Lives

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

Last night, an overflow gathering of the Men’s and Women’s Groups at Incarnation discussed the Historical Jesus–that is, what we know of the actual man, Jesus of Nazareth, who lived at the beginning of the first century, A.D.

My associate and I discussed a recent book by Reza Aslan entitled, Zealot. I emphatically do NOT recommend the book, which rehashes old claims that Jesus was a political rebel who never intended to preach a theological message, much less leave behind a church.

For me, the most interesting aspect of the evening was the fact that our parishioners didn’t seem at all disturbed by the skeptical claims of Aslan’s book. It’s clear that in New York City, at least, the faithful aren’t upset by the attempts to undermine their views of Jesus.

Why is this? Perhaps laypeople have been so often disappointed by “experts” that they no longer rely automatically on their opinions. If one expert says Y today, another expert will say Z tomorrow. Laypeople realize that after 200 years of biblical criticism, the number of Christians still grows daily.

Meanwhile, after the meeting, as I walked to a restaurant for dinner, I glimpsed a glorious sunset. For me, this was an adequate rebuke of skepticism–and one that holds, whatever scholars say about the historical Jesus. —J. Douglas Ousley


The Good Book

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

As many in the English-speaking world celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible–the most re-printed English translation even today, it is fitting that a reference to Scripture (Mt. 13.12) appeared as the headline on the two New York tabloids yesterday. The Bible is part of our culture–one of many reasons that it should be studied in the most secular schools.

“The Rich Get Richer” referred to the recent lottery win by some financial tycoons. They apparently plan to give some of the mega-millions away, which wouldn’t disappoint the source of the Scripture, who also said that the poor in spirit would be blessed–but who also said that in the fullness of time, “the rich would be sent empty away.” —J. Douglas Ousley