Jun 26, 2007
Jun 23, 2007
Jun 16, 2007
TEXAS CHRISTIAN UNIVERISTY
FORT WORTH, TEXAS
The Living God and the Living Wage: A theology of human dignity and independence
BRITE DIVINITY SCHOOL
LIVING WAGE CAMPAIGN
June 16, 2007
RODNEY ALPHONSO THOMAS JR.
“And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the story about the bush, how God said to him, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”? He is God not of the dead, but of the living [.]”
Jesus Christ, Our Lord
Oftentimes in Texas political dialogue, we hear candidates use the phrase, “the sanctity of life.” To claim that all life is sacrosanct means that human life, in our experience, points the community to an Ultimate Reality that guides our being, thinking, and doing. The recognition of a Higher Power requires that community work for the common good as an assurance that life remains sacred in the eyes of the individual and public. A living wage at Texas Christian University would be an example of such an assurance; it would make a statement to the TCU community as well as the city of Fort Worth and the state of Texas that TCU affirms the sanctity of life as well as values independence and freedom.
The notion that all of life is sacred is grounded in the general recognition that the entirety of creation, including every human person originated from a Creator. In particular from the Christian religious perspective, all of humanity is created in the image of God, the imago Dei. This means that every person is endowed with innate, God-given attributes such as intelligence and freedom, and above all, life itself. While we are all dependent upon God for all that we are, God’s gift of freedom allows for each individual to function freely in relationship with her/his community. God is love and freedom is necessary for the highest quality of relationship with God as well as with others. If the life of freedom and independence are freely given by God, any encroachment of these gifts is a violation of human rights. Christian liberty within a community is one of many values in Scripture. The apostle Paul told the church at Thessalonica, “But we urge you, beloved, to do so more and more, to aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we directed you, so that you may behave properly towards outsiders and be dependent on no one” (1st Thessalonians 4:10-12).
As a community of faith, Texas Christian University should adopt a living wage policy because it best reflects the value, independence, that our community’s professed religious tradition endorses. TCU, as an institution, however, has members of its community who follow a plurality of religious tradition. We also have a number of faculty members who are adherents to Judaism and Islam. While these traditions do not share the same experience and history as the “C” in TCU, the concept of independence is not a foreign idea to Islamic and Jewish life. In Judaism, the twelfth-century legal scholar Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon noted that the highest form of charity was the kind that gave the recipient independence. His conclusion was derived from his interpretation of Leviticus 25:35, which says, “If any of your kin fall into difficulty and become dependent on you, you shall support them.” A living wage at TCU would share the same aim as Maimonide’s scale of charity, or the tzedekah. In Muslim life, generosity is required as one of the five pillars of Islam, Zakat. The giving of the alms is “for the poor and the needy, and those who collect them, and those whose hearts are to be reconciled, and to free the captives and the debtors”; it is an obligation that is useful to stabilize society and purify the faithful from becoming greedy. It is this spirit of charity that a living wage at Texas Christian University would set an example for the Fort Worth community to act justly towards those who have become dependent on society, particularly the impoverished.
BLACK AND WOMANIST THEOLOGY
SERMON entitled: “SAME TRADITION, NEW CONVERSATION”
GOSPEL SELECTION: Mark 7: 3-13 (NRSV).
NEW TESTAMENT SELECTION: Galatians 1:11-16 (KJV); Hebrews 13:7-8 (KJV).
In his letter to the Galatians, the apostle Paul in this passage is making a confession, in both senses of this term. He is confessing his sin, his mistake of loving the tradition he was a part of more than God. He also confesses his belief that Christ had chosen him to reveal God’s salvation to the nations. Jesus, in Mark 7, condemns the religious leadership because they had disobeyed God’s law in order to avoid helping their aging parents. When we look at the term “tradition,” the Greek word is [entole], which is synonymous with both tradition and ordinance. When the teachers of the law asked, “What is God’s greatest law, or what ordinance did their religious tradition center around, Jesus responded with the Jewish Shema, a prayer found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (NIV); in addition, Jesus, using his religious authority as a rabbi, amended the Shema to include Leviticus 19:18.
4 Hear, O
18 " 'Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.
Jesus Christ’s ordinance serves as Black Christianity’s creed that perfectly expresses our view of redemption, which reflects God’s plan for our salvation. J. Deotis Roberts says that “We have before us an eternal gospel, communicated through scripture, tradition, and witness of the Spirit in Christian life through the ages. […] He continues—“The black Christian is concerned about the relation between faith and life. His or her “ultimate concern” has to do with life-and-death situations.”p.3 of L&R The elimination of the web of sin and oppression that reigns in this world should be the goal of every person who adheres to the Jesus tradition; Love God, Love others, Nothing else matters.
I, like the apostle Paul, have a confession to make. I, too, was guilty of loving my religious tradition, the Baptist tradition more than people. I used to believe that the Baptist church was the only pure
I have had many conversations with postmodern, or Emergent Christians. They do not view Christianity as a religion filled with doctrine and rules; they only follow the Jesus tradition: Loving God, and Loving others, nothing else matter. Doctrine divides, and Jesus unites (as our Disciple sisters and brothers say, No Creed but Christ!) They would not live or die over battles having to do with worship styles; Jesus is all that matters. In the Black church tradition, we could learn from their approach. Jesus Christ, God’s revelation to humanity, and the Divine Yes to life and liberation who the Triune God revealed through His birth, his ministry which culminated at his crucifixion, his resurrection and ascension by placing him at the center of our tradition.
The emerging approach does present some problems to the Black church tradition. The emergent Christians I have encountered admit that the Emergent conversation (it’s not a united movement) has not gained popularity among African Americans. I believe that this is the case because the Black church’s one consistent affirmation: God is a God of liberation and that liberation involves the community and not just individual pursuits for God. Secondarily, I believe that we have become too attached to our religious institutions because in modern times, organization, rather than relationships, were prioritized. If we go back to the Galatians text, Paul admits that he had a change in conversation from his past; conversation, in Paul’s day, meant both his words and his actions. Hebrews 13:7-8 (KJV) says,
“Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”
Human tradition may die with humanity, but the Resurrected Messiah and his tradition are forever. We, as the African American Christian community, need to change the way we converse with the world without changing the Jesus Tradition: Love God, Love Others, Nothing Else matters.
I believe we must first start with the Black traditional view of the Triune God. The Christian Trinity is a God For Us, God With Us, and God in Us. God is for our freedom from the bondage of sin and wishes to liberate our wills in order that we may serve God. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died on the cross not only as a condemnation of human wickedness, but as an example of God’s ability to sympathize with human beings, even in death. Jesus Christ, Immanuel, God is with us in the good times and bad. The Spirit of Christ redeems and sanctifies us for God’s glory and plan for redemption. The Holy Spirit, God residing in us, fosters holiness and communion among the saints to achieve God’s ordained salvation. Christians serve the Trinity, a social God, a God that fellowships with Godself and with humanity; and the Triune God calls every Christian to social transformation.
Second, like the emergent Christians, we must emphasize Missional Christianity, or making Christian missions and evangelism a lifestyle. We must make decisions, as a community of faith, to find ministers who will reach out to those who are seeking God. We have to become seeker-sensible; otherwise we risk losing the church’s cultural relevance. This means we must trust the Holy Spirit to discern the various gifts that God gives us and members of our community; we need to allow the young painter, the rapper, and actress room to express themselves within the bounds of the church. The Black tradition and the Emergent conversation can work together because of our emphasis on helping the poor, lifting up the oppressed.
Lastly, we must always keep the Jesus tradition as the subject of our conversation: Love God, Love Others, Nothing else matters.
The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others by Scot McKnight
Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures by Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger
Sites to visit:
SEMINARIANS INTERACTING SERMON
“God’s Original Intent”
It was in a constitutional law course as an undergrad that I came across the term, “original intent.” Original intent is the theory of constitutional interpretation that seeks to find our Founders’ primary objectives at the creation of our republic. John 1 is a biblical passage about God’s original intent for humankind at foundations of the world and how He accomplished His task. “In the beginning was the Word” John the Evangelist declares. The literal Greek for “the beginning”, or arche, (ar-kay) in this passage, when translated, means the commencement and the primary rule. When we look for God’s original intent, we will find redemption, relationship, and restoration.
First, the Creator chose His Son, Jesus Christ as redeemer for the whole creation. God intends for all of humanity to receive redemption through Jesus Christ (1st Timothy 2:4).
The Son was with the Father at the beginning of creation because, God who is all knowing, knew that we as humankind, were capable of breaking our bonds with the Creator. In Genesis, God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness.” John Wesley commented on this passage found in Genesis 1:26-28
“The three persons of the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, consult about it, and concur in it; because [humankind], when [it was] made, was to be dedicated and devoted to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. That [humanity] was made in God's image, and after his likeness […]”
The three persons in the Godhead have only one will because there is only One God; and that will is redemption through Christ. The second purpose why the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit made us in their image was that God desired relationship. 1st John 4:8 says that God is love. He encompasses all love: Love for self, love for others, and love for God. God’s way of loving Himself, and others, which is the world, is His Son. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten son for whosoever believes in him shall not perish be receive eternal life.” (John 3:16) God is an intelligent spirit who draws us into intimate relationship with Him and others.
The last part of God’s intention that we find in Christian Scripture and tradition is the full restoration of our humanity. Though this passage emphasizes Christ’s divinity, it tells us something about our humanity. God dwelled with humankind at the very beginning. Yet human sinfulness, the darkness that