Theological Theses (41)
i. Secular humanism arises as much if not more out of its roots in Christianity than it does as an outside critique of Christianity, eg. hospitals, universities, socialism.
ii. Many of the most pertinent secular critiques of Christianity are actually critiques of degradations of Christianity and so function as internal (not external) correctives sub contrario.
iii. Exclusivist and colonial framings of Christianity deny the crucified Nazarene and his opening Christianity to the world, to the cosmos.
iv. Prayer is everything that is the case. It is joining Christ’s conversation with God.
v. The cry of the poor is the cry of the cross.
vi. Trinitarian theology is first of all a language, a way of talking about Jesus of Nazareth as Son of God.
vii. It misspeaks when it becomes a discourse about itself.
viii. One of the most dangerous errors in Christianity is supersessionism, the notion that Christianity somehow supersedes (replaces, is better than, improves upon) Judaism.
ix. Such supersessionism repeats itself in the superseding of indigenous peoples. In this sense some kinds of Zionism are reverse supersessionism into the national politics of modern Israel.
x. The irony is that in many instances even those nations who have received the faith through colonialism have through endurance and wisdom claimed the faith and become the best teachers and maintainers of it. eg. African-American Christianity, the Christian faith of the Marshallese, etc.
xi. Some of the most clear Christian virtues appear among communities most oppressed by Christianity. eg. the queer reclamation of Christianity.
xii. Human first then Christian.
xiii. Humans are a part of, not above, creation.
xiii. The unity of the church is a dream.
xiv. Sometimes also it isn't.
xv. Everything will be saved. It will be made God[‘s].
xvi. National borders are a fiction. They have no reality.
xvii. The Eucharist is non-fiction. It is real.
xviii. Baptism is a beautiful, wonderful beginning and there are also other ways to start.
xix. Scripture is the source and norm of the faith and it is also, on another level, to be handled quite like Homer’s The Odyssey. Except when it isn’t.
xx. Moderns struggle to commit to worship because they don’t see the point of it. Part of worship is a release from having “a point.”
xxi. Christianity has long taught that pride is a sin, and humility a virtue. It has only recently learned through feminist critique a concern that self-abnegation has its own dangers. Calls to repentance need account for this.
xxii. Confession and forgiveness are good if they free. They harm if they tether guilt.
xxiii. We should not say that Jesus’ death did something in God in the sense of satisfaction. We can say Jesus’ dying was a result of his fidelity to God facing the world as it is/was, and did something in God because in it God took death into Godself.
xxiv. Classism is the strongest captor of the faith and although ignored by the church is attended much by Paul in the epistles and Jesus in the gospels and so also the prophets.
xxv. Lex orendi lex credendi, liturgy is its own best catechesis, abusus non tollit proprium usus, but also I hear where you are coming from.
xxvi. The church is well-served listening to subject-area experts rather than Christian prognosticators on subject-areas, eg. adrienne maree brown is better than most everything from a church growth consultant.
xxvii. The church hates its own best friend: an-archy.
xxviii. Nobody knows what to do with the Spirit and of course that’s the best description.
xxix. The church is as the church does. This is not a tautology.
xxx. How in the world did it become a mantra the church should not be political? God gathered a nation, the eschatological promise is a vision of a city, Jesus spoken of a kingdom.
xxxi. We know the answer to this? Shifting Christianity out of the political and to the subjective life of the individual is the best way to incapacitate it.
xxxii. Christianity is weakness, the subaltern, vulnerability, foolishness. This is why power perceives it as threat, and fascism attempts to co-opt it.
xxxiii. The emergence of the Anthropocene and Capitolocene flips everything regarding the Great Commission. That last sentence of Matthew has been complicated ever since a redactor attached it, but we are now at a stage where no one can honestly claim to know whether it’s a good thing to continue attempting to “go therefore…”
xxxiv. But if you do go, remember human first, then Christian.
xxxv. The classic creed is an excellent guide especially if amended to include Israel and the life of Jesus.
xxxvi. Paul seriously gets a bad rap.
xxxvii. The whole trope of the First Testament being described as violent seriously impoverishes our biblical theology. The early church had only this text and did not dismiss it in such fashion.
xxxviii. We meet God in our reading of that text. We also meet each other and the world. More radically God may only be in the text, which is to say so are we.
xxxix. It’s not a myth, collective wish fulfillment, a fantastic story to tell ourselves to orient our lives. But this is in no way to be confused with fundamentalism.
xl. And that’s because truth is complicated.
xli. And also a person.
Clint, I see you are drawing in part from the oft-overlooked Dane NFS Grundtvig. As editor of the publication Church and Life (https://www.churchandlife.org), which comes out of that Danish American Lutheran tradition, I am wondering if I might have permission to reprint this.
I think your counting got off with two xiii theses. I didn't catch that because of a close reading, but because I wanted to comment on the xiii thesis that the unity of the church is a dream. So if I do have permission to reprint, should I correct the numbering or simply note it? (I think the latter since it's already published here. But I put the question to you.)
As for my comment, the lower casing of "church" in this thesis (xiii) and most of the other ones that use the term seems to be equivalent to "Christianity." The capitalized "Church" is the communion of saints, unified as the Body of Christ, and is that a dream? As I write this, I realize that "union" and "unity" are not equivalent. The terms "communion" and "community" are not the same. So, now I'm with you. Unity may be a dream, but union is the reality. For me, the terms "Body of Christ" and "communion of saints" do not merely refer to believers that make up Christianity.
Bridget Lois Jensen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Another great post capturing lots of rich current discussion from many arenas in one post. I may use this for a future Workshop with my congregation. Also: a other good addition to the Creed is “was befriended by Mary Madalene.” Thank you for this, Clint!