more about this sight

"you're packing a suitcase for a place that you've never been...a place that has to be believed to be seen"...'Walk On' by U2

WATERSHED: A voice in the wilderness. DARYL UNDERWOOD.

 

The concept of Centerpoint Christianity briefly stated is:

Christianity from the centerpoint outward.

Christianity from the climax forward.

This blog constitutes concepts for a new view of Christianity that begins with what is foundational and moves forward from that point. It is based on the assumption that we are being pulled towards something unseen and pushed from a place that once was.

What Centerpoint Christianity attempts to do is bypass some of the constraints imposed by metanarratives by using the life of Christ and particularly the climactic actions of Christ as beginning points.

It supports the conviction that God is essentially timeless. From this beginning point we endeavor to move outward from the definitive moment of the parousia (visitation) of Christ and forward to the future which functions as a type of magnet to "what can be--and is coming".

When we begin at the life of Christ and move outward as from the centerpoint of a web, rather than in a linear timeline of history, another wide picture emerges.


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« Borg at Harvard | Main | What's 'Wright'? »
Tuesday
May132008

"Worlds apart"

“Worlds apart”

We often hear people say that phrase, “world’s apart”, and know they are referring to two cultures or times or worldviews that are so different that they have difficulty understanding one another in even the most simplistic ways.

In this way we in modern times are worlds apart from the times of Jesus. Most of us never even pause to think about the implications of this. What scripture they had in Palestine at the time of Christ was independent long scrolls that might be gathered together, we can almost picture a bell jar. The longest when unrolled might extend 24 feet or more.

These writings which make up the books of the law and the prophets were hand written and guarded for the eyes of a few privileged people. Of course there are no printing presses at this time in history so the number of copies is very “limited editions”. This was true until the time of the protestant reformation. No one was reading scripture and “applying it” to their lives like we do today. They didn’t lift verses to memorize or prove doctrines they may have developed. To use scripture in that way was foreign to them and never entered their mind. To be Jewish was to live in the way of Torah. They would recite the Schema and perhaps other pieces of the book but most of their life and hope was involved with looking for deliverance from the oppressive outsiders that held them in captivity. This was their understanding of God. He must be moved to set the captives free and the captives were most assuredly the peasant class, the more elite had become cooperative with Rome and had therefore become tributary domination systems under the supreme domination system of Rome.

Scribes were not glorified administrative assistants taking dictation but trusted learned men who had been given access, knowledge, actually keys to the books of God. This was something enjoyed by only a few in the time of Jesus. When Jesus confronts the “Scribes and the Pharisees” he is clearly confronting the accommodation they were involved in. They were the “middle men” that helped Rome keep the peasants’ dependant, poor and docile. They were not troublesome to Jesus because they were legalistic, they were agitating due to their penchant for accommodation to the ruling classes which resulted in oppression from their privileged position. Their role was to keep the people in line, the rabble as they called them, down, but not out. They were masters at squeezing without squashing...if squashing was needed the boot of Rome could and often would do that in a most public and violent form.

Access to the books of the Old Testament was extremely limited. The peasant class was dependant for any word from God from these elite people of position that used their knowledge to their advantage. Most peasants learned about the word of God mostly through oral tradition. And Jesus was most assuredly born a peasant. We read “you have heard it said in scripture” and we scour, literally comb all the books, looking for a sign or clue as to what Jesus was referring to oblivious to this. The truth is what was known was the oral tradition of the “law and the prophets”. Scripture never had this modernity’s approach as an option even in its wildest imagination. We are unaware that much of “the writings”, the third part of the Jewish Scriptures hadn’t been declared yet.

When we hear Jesus speak Psalm 22 on the cross we think he may have read it in devotions that morning. Nothing could be more imaginative than that. He didn’t even have such a book. The truth is Jesus was a peasant in that world with little pedigree. He would relate to oppression of the poor because 90% of the population was poor, with no welfare system. When given the privilege of reading scripture in the small synagogue of Nazareth he didn’t find Isaiah 61 it found Him. There weren’t even chapter and verse…just a long scroll.

His father was a “tekton”, an economically strapped builder who may have been part of the huge task of building Herod’s temple just 4 miles north of Galilee. As a boy Jesus may have seen him trek day in and day out to build a shrine to that “fox” Herod, actually translated “skunk”. More than likely he was worked hard for a meagerly subsistence while Herod ate and drank in opulent luxury. His father Joseph was a good man ruled by a notoriously bad man. To imagine that this didn’t leave some mark on Jesus life is to deny any humanness in the man.

The peasant’s class access to scripture was severely limited in comparison to us. We are worlds apart both in economic status, information sharing, and way of life. The average life span during Jesus time was 30 years. We can take a short ride to the bookstore and find a plethora of information, with a few strokes of the key pad we have access to more information than could ever be read, seen, or imagined. I see people on their way to Sunday morning service Bible in hand, separated by chapters, verses, notes and such and wonder what they would think if they knew. We are worlds apart.

To not let this impact our understanding of the story is incredulous. But many sheltered from these truths never even think about them. Some of the loose translations we see in scripture that sometimes cause us great concern are just the natural result of the imprecise way they were available. It isn’t that no one cared so much as the task is too great. The Bible was drawn together for a purpose that is far different from what we have understood it to be. For this reason narrative theology and informed guessing can open our eyes to a “new view” of Jesus and His task in His time. Once we see we are worlds apart we might actually be able to see what we hadn’t imagined before.

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