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One day, a theologian decided to challenge a street preacher. “Preacher,” he asked, “what must we do to be saved?”

“What is written in the Gospels?” the preacher replied. “What do you read there?”

The theologian answered answered: “It is through Jesus that we are saved. We must believe in Him.”

“You have answered correctly,” the preacher replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But the theologian wanted to justify himself, so he asked the preacher, “And who is this Jesus that we must believe in?”

In reply, the preacher said: “A man was walking downtown, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stole everything, even his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him to die. After he died, Jesus came to him, wearing a frayed loincloth and a crown of thorns. Blood dripped from his hands, feet, brow and side. He was beaten but not broken, and there was a fanatic gleam in his eyes when he raised his head to snarl,

“Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.”

Again, Jesus came to him, blond and blue-eyed with a sad smile and a pure white robe. He sat in the midst of quiet children and clean sheep and gently told the man,

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

A third time, Jesus came to him, almost unrecognizably: a young, Jewish man with traces of sawdust on his faded blue jeans. When he saw the man he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, tears falling down his face. Then he took the man up in his arms, and carried him to our Heavenly Father. “Look after him,” he said, “I have paid for any debt he may owe.”

“Which of these three do you think was a saviour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The theologian replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

The street preacher smiled, “Go and do likewise.”

((I wrote this for a heretical Christian blog that has since disappeared. I’m including it here so as not to lose it.))

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Go feed the hungry, heal the sick, care for the weak, and lift up the downtrodden. No, seriously, click here and spend a minute helping out.

Mawwiage

Tonight, for the second time in two weeks, and the second time since I asked my licence to minister as a priest to be revoked indefinitely, I’ve been asked if I can still legally celebrate weddings. The first time inquirer was a cousin, the second a dear friend. Even if I could still officiate legally, there’d be the problem that neither are in the parish I worked in nor the diocese I worked for, and my friend is not Christian- but I wish I could do this for them.

Reason to Doubt

I invite you to go and check out John B. Richardson’s new site,Reason to Doubt. It is not the easiest site in the world to navigate, but it is a worthwhile project to help with, and the thoughts involved are well worth reading.

Life goes on

I was uncomfortable and frightened about moving back to the city I grew up in after leaving ordained ministry. There are so many people here who know me as a Christian. How would they react when they find out I don’t believe any more?

Well, now that I’ve been back three months, I know that my fears were overblown. My friends are still my friends. My family is still my family. I am still me. Almost as if to drive this point home, I had an interesting encounter with some friends shortly before moving back.

My wife and I were in town to look for a place to move into, and we planned on visiting some old friends who heard we were moving back and wanted to catch up. Let’s call them Theresa and Steve.

I have known Theresa Continue Reading »

For Karl Rahner, salvation is a relationship between God and humans, though many of the details of this relationship can not be known by humans. According to Rahner, redemption was not needed because of sin (Weger 174). Humans were created with the incarnation of Christ as the goal (Theological 165). Salvation history is the history of a relationship between God and humans that was created by God, transformed by Christ, and is either accepted or rejected by humanity. There is a tension in Rahner’s soteriology between the freedom of God and the needs of creation, as well as between the freedom of humans and their absolute dependence on God. Rahner does not resolve these tensions, recognizing the limits of human knowledge.

To start discussing Karl Rahner’s soteriology, it can help to start by looking at Rahner’s Christology, and where Christ fits into Rahner’s Trinitarian theology. According to Rahner, biblical theology should be the source of Christology and dogmatic theology (Theological 154). Rahner opposes “the consignment of the Trinity to theological and spiritual irrelevance” and instead emphasizes the importance of looking at God as a triune God (Braaten 105). Both St. Augustine and St. Thomas after him taught that any of the three persons of the Trinity could have chosen to become incarnate (Gelpi 6). Rahner teaches otherwise, using the language of processions as it is used in St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica (147-151). “According to Rahner, the Word, and only the Word, could have become flesh because in the divine processions of the Trinity the Word, and not the Holy Spirit, is the real symbolic expression of the Father” (Gelpi 8). “The procession of the Son from the Father is, moreover, a reality connected necessarily with the divine self-knowledge, without which God’s absolute act of cognitional self-possession is impossible” (Gelpi 10). Christ is a concrete self-disclosure of God (Theological 100). The Trinity must be as it is for God to be who God is.

The consequence of the Word being an essential self-revelation of the first person of the Trinity is that “if the Father is to reveal himself to [humans] in time, this revelation must take place in and through the Word, who is the perfect symbolic expression of the Father” (Gelpi 11). The Word reveals the Father to humanity not only by what the Word says, but by Continue Reading »