Podcast Episode 1: (RE)GROUNDING Part 1 - 'Moving the Curtain'
(RE)GROUNDING CLASS, Part 1: moving the curtain
IN TONIGHT’S (RE)GROUNDING CLASS, we’ll talk about Revelation, utilizing John 1.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. 9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people[c] did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son[d] from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
Full Transcript: (the time stamps are off by about 30 seconds, sorry, I’m still figuring all this stuff out.)
(00:00:28): Well, hello, everyone who is tuning into our ReGrounding course, I’m just going to give things a few minutes, so that the people who are joining us will be able to do so. I realized that I’m about a minute early and, hopefully that won’t be an issue. So, we will have, people dropping by, for their class, some, some of them in and out of the class. and I hope it will be a worthwhile experience for you as we consider some of the major themes that are taught in the Christian faith. And so whether you come from a place of belief or you don’t, or you’re not sure right now, or you’re regrouping after a difficult religious experience or you’re exploring things for, the first time, but in an open way, or if you’re really skeptical, I understand all of those emotions and I’m just really glad that you’re willing to take an hour out of your schedule to do this.
(00:01:45): I’m really grateful for that. And to that end, I’m going to use my hourglass. You see it behind me, my friend Alex bought that for me. And, he was joking that it was a way to get pastoral appointments done in one hour that people have until the sand runs out, to get their problems dealt with, which I thought was pretty funny. but tonight we are going to go until that hour glass is free of sand, at least the top portion. So I’m going to spin it round and then we’ll get started. So there we go. There we go. All right. And, so, I wanted to, begin by just sort of explaining why it is that we’re doing this and then what we’re doing exactly. the, the, the reason that I wanted to do a class called ReGrounding is because I think due to the pandemic and due to a difficult political season and due to all of the things that have been stirring up in people during this difficult time, I think that it seems like the ground has given way. There are a lot of fissures in relationships. There
(00:03:00): Are a lot of, people that are, for a whole host of reasons at enmity with one another. I think that the bonds of our affection have been strained. And I think that the teachings and personality of Jesus of Nazareth has the ability that they have the ability to, to bond us back together and to give us some common ground and common roots
(00:03:32): That can really help us and sustain us in the long haul. And so I’m really interested in rooting all of us, including myself in conceptions that are greater than we are. And so that’s what the class is all about tonight. And I hope that it will be helpful for you, not just intellectually, but emotionally. I hope it helps you to feel differently. In other words, because Christianity is, is not just a head trip, it’s not just about having errant ideas, corrected. It’s also about the rectitude of the heart. And so I’m hoping that some part of you will be reached tonight, by what’s communicated.
(00:04:12): A few housekeeping details: I’m going to speak tonight for about 35 to 40 minutes after that we’ll do Q&A, in order for me to see your questions you’ll need to type them up in the comments, or you can private message me and I’ll get them and try to address them. If we have too many, I might not be able to address all of them, but I do encourage you to write your questions at the end and I’ll do my best.
(00:04:41): And, additionally, I’ll be using a single Bible passage tonight from John chapter 1 using the ESV version, and it should be typed up, I believe in the description for the class. And so you can follow along there. One thing simply to resist, I realized that some people, it was funny, some people were saying, “Ethan, this is really risky and sort of dumb that you’re doing this online because you know how people act online, they get very angry and, and, ascerbic. And, and why are you doing that?”
(00:05:12): I trust that you won’t [do that], I want this to be sort of a Green Zone. That term was used during the Iraq war. Green zones were the place where no warfare was occurring. so I’m not interested. I don’t have the bandwidth to deal with drama and fighting. So, I trust that that won’t happen as we, together kind of collaborate about these, massive conceptions and truths.
(00:05:34): so I just ask, I ask that you would not act out your animus toward me, as much as I would normally love it. and, last but not least this class, which will be going on, six weeks will be cumulative. That is to say, it will, it will build. And if you miss one of the classes, that’s fine, but if you wouldn’t like to watch it, even after missed it, I will have it on my Facebook page. And we’ll also have it on the church’s Facebook page. And so you can catch up if you want to. Okay. So, so that’s it. So tonight what we’re doing is essentially beginning to talk about systematic theology as it relates to deep personal experience. So I really believe in it put a lot of stock in the fact that Christianity works best whenever it involves the whole person.
(00:06:27): So not just our ideas, but also our psychology and our emotional lives. And when that all comes together onto the personality of Jesus, of Nazareth, there’s, it’s like magic. Something really beautiful begins to happen. And I trust that as we study tonight and think about great things that you’ll have both an intellectual as well as an emotional experience, at least that’s my, that’s my goal. and, the first thing that we’re going to talk about in this systematic theology class, and that simply means big themes from scripture, as now, as they relate to us personally, the first thing we’re going to talk about is revelation. And by revelation, I do not mean the rated R book that resides at the end of the Bible. I’m talking about the idea that God, that the infinite might disclose something about God’s own self to us.
(00:07:26): The Christianity is predicated on this idea that some things about God are intuitive, that we just sort of get them as hunches. But the main thing about God needs more than intuition. It needs God to part the curtain, to evidence something that we couldn’t naturally Intuit just by looking at nature or our own personal histories, or even the history of the world. And so what I’d like to talk about tonight is the core, the nuclear core of revelation, and how we can know certain things and even experience certain things because of that divine revelation. So I’m going to be using a text tonight from the Bible, in the Bible, you have various biographies that were written about Jesus of Nazareth each from a slightly different angle. And I’m going to be reading out of John’s gospel. John is, the, the last of the biographies, at least categorically in the new Testament.
(00:08:27): It’s Matthew, Mark, Luke, and then John and John has his own unique take on Jesus. And it it’s simpatico with the others, but it’s in some ways deeper than the others, at least metaphysically. And he begins his gospel with this magnificent and poetic prologue, to really help us understand how he sees Jesus of Nazareth and what he hopes will be. we’ll become our perspective as well. And so I’m going to read from this very lengthy passage, and I hope that you’ll follow along, either in your own Bible, if you have one or online or something like that, or again, in the description of the class, which has the passage, I’m going to read it. This is from John chapter one in the beginning was the word. And the word was with God. And the word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
(00:09:21): All things were made through him. And without him was not anything made that was made in him, in him was life. And the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to bear witness about the light that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but he came to bear witness to the light. The true light, which gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world and the world was made through him yet. The world did not know him. He came to his own and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God and who were born, not of blood, nor the will of the flesh, nor the will of man, but of God.
(00:10:08): And the word became flesh and dwelt among us. And we have seen his glory glory as of the only son from the father full of grace and truth. John bore witness about him and cried out. This was he of whom. I said, he who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me for, for, from his fullness. We have all received grace upon grace for the law was given through Moses grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. The only God who is at the father’s side, he has made him known stop there. So I just read, one of the most famous passages from the Bible. And, and it’s known as a, a prologue to John’s gospel. And in it, he’s discussing this idea of what Christians call the incarnation. And the incarnation is simply this idea that there was an instance in time in which the eternal tunnel and the temporal bonded together in a single individual, they were braided together either and, and not violently, but peaceably.
(00:11:18): And that person was Jesus of Nazareth. That’s the big claim that John is making in his prologue. And this prologue is bottomless in terms of its profundity. It would take like a hundred years to grasp what this text is really trying to say. and I don’t have a hundred years. I have like, you know, 45 minutes with you. So I’m going to be, I’m going to be talking about four things that are part of this revelation, four things that are revealed about God in this man, this Mediterranean laborer, whom we know as Jesus of Nazareth. And, the first word that I think, should come to us as we consider this passage is the word “Genesis”. Genesis. Now you may know that Genesis is the first book of the Bible, and what’s interesting about, John’s prologue in which he describes using grande and poetic and rich language.
(00:12:23): That’s both Greek and Hebrew. I mean, it’s really interesting. what’s fascinating is he quotes Genesis. The first thing that he does is quote, Genesis. And now what does Genesis chapter 1 verse 1 say? It is the most famous verse in the Hebrew Bible. What does it say in the beginning? God created the heavens and the earth. What’s fascinating about that passage is it just simply assumes God’s existence, right from the start and says that he went about making physical retail, but John takes that verse and alters it. He says “In the beginning was the word”. So he goes before the making of heavens and earth, he starts his prologue, at least in terms of time before the creation of anything in the beginning, was not the heavens and the earth. “In the beginning” it was God and the word and the word who was God.
(00:13:22): Now we’ll get into that in a minute. but this is a, this is a really important idea, that, John is connecting Jesus of Nazareth to the eternal God. Now here’s why that’s interesting. I mean, it’s interesting for a variety of reasons, but here’s one of them. So Sigmund Freud in his last book, which was entitled Moses and monotheism, continued his ongoing critique of organized religion. Freud was not a fan of organized religion in any way. I actually think he was a rather cheap critic of religion. Nietzsche had had a different, and I think a deeper critique, I’m not convinced by it, but, but I, I find it more commendable than Freud’s. But one of the things that Freud did in his book, Moses and monotheism is he unpacked the seriousness of Judaism. he, he stepped away at least in part from his critic role and became a more serious thinker, acknowledging the genius of both paganism and Judaism.
(00:14:27): And here’s, some of what, Freud concluded. He thought that there was great genius behind paganism. That is the worship of different dominions within creation. He thought that was really intelligent because he said it relieved the self from the burden of the self. In other words, if you were a pagan, you weren’t worshiping yourself, you were worshiping strength. That was as it localized in some sort of good domain that was grander than the self. So he thought that was very good for people to be drawn out of the self and to worship something strong. And so what did the ancient pagans do? And even contemporary pagans, what do they do they see divinity as divinity is instantiated in creational forms or in domains like water, which you need for a society or you die, right? That’s why the Nile was worshiped, because it kept Egypt literally alive, or you worship the sun or you worship fertility or safety or strength or the military, or love or motherhood or authority or the state, right.
(00:15:32): But you have these various domains within the created sphere that are, deferred to worshiped and adored. and, Freud thought that there was no ability in that because it recognized that there was something of transcendent worth, something of the numinous in various aspects of the world or human experience, but here’s where Freud saw the problem. And I think he’s right within that kind of peg and construct is you have by necessity competition between those different domains in different spheres, take, for example, the ongoing tension between justice and mercy. So justice requires that people who do wrong pay for the wrongs that they do, mercy suggest that you should lead people off the hook. those two things are in contrast. And how do you, how do you find balance, between those two drives? So this is, this is what Freud saw as the problem with an ancient paganism is competition between the spheres and therefore a lack of coherence.
(00:16:39): And he said that the genius of Judaism was that it was monotheistic in a particular way. So the monotheism that impressed him was the sense of unity and coherence. He said, yes, you have all of these various spheres of human experience and of natural experience that are greater than humanity. That ought to draw a person out of the self that ought to liberate them from the, the boundedness of the self. But because, but Judaism said, all of them have to have some sort of golden thread of coherence. They have to have some sort of coherence. So we live in a chaotic world, w w without, without unity and Freud thought that that was actually likely that, that we, we probably do, but he said Judaism was trying, was trying to say that everything, everything in being had to have a solid connection and contact with, with everything else in such a way that you have coherence.
(00:17:40): And more than that, he said, the genius of Judaism was that this common source or this golden thread was distinguishable from the material world. And he said that was different than paganism because in paganism, when the King, who was often thought to be an instantiation of heaven died, there was something of God that died, right? Whenever the, the, the, the, rivers were pulling alluded whenever infertility fit, whenever infertility, is, an issue, there is something of heaven that is at stake. What’s fascinating about Judaism. As you have a distinction between the golden thread of all reality, the great source of being and that, which is a localized and temporal. And so you can have a King, but that King will never, ever be divine at best in Judaism. The King will reflect temporarily, the, the, some, something of the divine nature, but it’s only a temporal reflection.
(00:18:43): And in fact does not represent the fullness of deity. And that’s why, idolatry was a problem within a Jewish framework, because if you were an idolater, you were taking one particular domain and highlighting it above all others, and worshiping only it while neglecting everything else. And so you were like worshiping one of the fractals of divinity, but also you were localizing that divinity in a statue or form. And so Judaism was unique in the ancient world because it stood against any sort of physical construct of, or localization of the transcendent or numinous powers. So Judaism was different in that way. And, moreover, Freud made a lot of the fact that when God communicates God’s name to Moses, he doesn’t really give him a name. He doesn’t say rah, right? It doesn’t say all, he doesn’t say Asherah. He says, I am that I am, which is really not a name, but what that’s suggesting, and that name is that God can only be likened to God’s self, right?
(00:19:49): I am that I am, he’s comparing himself to himself. He’s not giving a, him a metaphor. I’m like a tower. I’m like a rock. I’m like a mountain. I’m like a river. I’m like the sun instead, he’s saying I’m so Holy other and transcendent. And beyond, beyond newness, beyond all things that were created, that I can’t even metaphorized myself. If you want to know the core essence of who I am. and so, that actually leads to Freud’s critique of Judaism, to some extent that the God of Judaism within Freud’s understanding and conceptualization, however we want to critique. It says that God is there for a God of infinite distance, because he can’t be concretized within time and space. What’s interesting too, is in his book society and its discontents, which I find a fascinating and, a deeply interesting book is that, he, in the book lays out the problem of, of Western society and says that, Western society.
(00:20:54): And I’m sure this is not just, don’t just true Western society, but he said, Western society creates all these, mores and Folkways and, and sort of written and unwritten rules about how to function in society, because they’re trying to instantiate the patterns of heaven. They’re trying to make God right. They’re trying to make God by making all these laws so that people function well within society. But he said, the problem with that construct is that people are so overburdened by the construction of laws that they have created, to make God nearer in some sense, to instantiate him legally, if not physically, that people are crushed by the requirements and demands of those laws and therefore people bifurcate, right? So people act one way in, in society while dying on the inside or acting out terribly against all their core principles. and so, Freud at the end of the book, cries out essentially saying, there’s no answer, like there’s no answer because you need laws and structure to create a healthy society and to create, good and wholesome expectations so that society continues to flourish.
(00:22:03): But the problem is that once it does start to flourish, it by necessity creates all sorts of internal conflict because the inner it oriented itself rages against the, the construct of society. And then he concludes on the last page. The only hope that we have is if the spirit of error, Aspen, he didn’t mean erotic love there. The spirit of arrows or the spirit of love would draw near and heal us and Freud being an atheist, at least what we think he’s an atheist, set a remarkable thing. I agree with him, the only hope would that tension of the bifurcated self due to the demand of the law is that the spirit of love we’re to draw near. And what I would like to say to you is that that is exactly what the incarnation is. John begins his gospel by saying a great revelation is taking place.
(00:23:02): Something is about to be revealed that is older than the heavens and the earth. And in fact is more significant than the heavens and the earth. So in his conception of Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus is a new Genesis through him, comes new creation, a new start and a new bonding, a new bonding between the eternal and the temporal. And so Freud’s concern about Judaism that it made too much transcendence, the God who was distant now in Jesus of Nazareth, that same deity has an meshed himself in his created world, not as a statue to be worshiped, but as a human being, to be worshiped. So we see an ultimate bonding of creator and creation in Jesus of Nazareth. That’s the first aspect of Christian revelation that we have a new Genesis happening, a new beginning, and this, character in this person of Jesus.
(00:24:03): So that’s the first word Genesis. The second word regarding what is revealed his word word. The second word is word. That was a bit redundant, wasn’t it? Yeah. so the text says, in the beginning was the word and the word was with God. And the word was, God. Now I understand, especially if you are new to this particular language, that, that sounds weird. That sounds strange. And sort of hype or hyper metaphysical. well, let me, let me sort of unpack it if I, if I might, what this is saying is that there was a union of some mysterious sort, in God’s nature between different persons and this Christ figure was as it Turnell as the father and attached to the father and get distinguishable from the father. And yet John was not a polytheist believing in multiple deities.
(00:25:11): He believed that there was a great union there, but also differentiation. So right from the start, he is saying that this Jesus of Nazareth who really lived and drank, you know, water and, drank wine at parties and hung out with hoodlums. this person was not just a person. He wasn’t just like us only nicer or like us, but inclined toward piety, or more consistent or more earnest. He, he was those things, but he was more than those things. So right from the start, he wants us to know that the identity of this person is wrapped up in God. and, and that’s why he doesn’t use the word Jesus. At first, he describes him as the word now in Greek it’s logos, logos, what does that mean? Logos is something like spoken wisdom or articulated intelligence. In fact, I like that a lot and articulated intelligence and the, the concept of articulated intelligence. Isn’t a new idea in Judaism. In fact, people in that particular faith believe that the ground of being, or God or the infinite creates heaven and earth through language, speaks it into existence, articulates it into existence. And so the thought that things can be improved or things can be made through, articulating something true in the midst of chaos is core to Judaism. But what’s scandalous about this text and what certainly no Jew before John would have said is that, that same impulse, that same
(00:27:04): Of articulated speech that causes creation, articulated intelligence, that it becomes flesh. It embeds itself within history. Doesn’t just affect history from afar, but in meshes itself with history. And so the hunch of God, right? For Freud, it was always a hunch. The hunch becomes history. And in fact, scandalously historical Christianity, is a historically rooted religion. Therefore we don’t believe in just timeless truths. I mean, we believe that there are some timeless truths, but that’s not like
(00:27:41): Our anchor, the anchor is that something odd and
(00:27:49): Bizarre and beautiful and mysterious and bottomless
(00:27:53): And, and S
(00:27:57): Something that causes great speculation really did happen. In fact, some of the other authors in the new Testament are,
(00:28:06): So persuaded that they’re wanting to persuade us that that’s the case. you have Peter who very late in his life wrote a little letter. It’s called second Peter, how creative, right. Peter wrote a letter called second, Peter, actually, it’s this name? We gave it. And he said, look, when we were with you, we didn’t just make up a bunch of stuff. Like we saw things and we want you to know what those things were. he wrote that right before he was going to be killed by Nero. You know? So it wasn’t like he was getting a lot of money or girls through making that proclamation. No, he was in danger of his life by making it St. Paul says the same thing. He’s a historicist in first Corinthians 15. He says, look, if this Jesus figure wasn’t raised from the dead, then I’m out of a job and I should just die.
(00:28:48): And the rest of us have no hope. So, I mean, it’s quite a thing to say, but he hinges everything upon the historicity of this action, this blending together of heaven and earth, it’s something happened. And this is why the bulk of the Christian creed. So if you go to church and you read either the nice seen creed or the Apostle’s creed, the bulk of them, the big middle chunk is all about this man. Jesus, the creed says that he was God from God, light, from light, very God of very God begotten not made. And then it lists all this stuff that he did. And so Christianity is a historicist religion in that it hinges upon the word, this sort of a morphous conception becoming less a morphous and less just a conception, but something wedded to the frameworks that we’re all used. So this is Christianity’s wild claim.
(00:29:43): If you want to know, God, you have to know a Mediterranean peasant day laborer because that’s gone on to quote Paul in the new Testament. This is the image of the invisible God. This is the big revelation that God is not a book. That God is not a philosophy. That God is not just a hunch. God is certainly not wish fulfillment. That what God is, is the Palestinian Jew of the first century. This is the big revelation that your husband, that the biggest revelation, the clearest picture, the open window that we get regarding God, the curtain pulled back shows not a burning shrub in Egypt, not a whirlwind to job, not manna from heaven, not the Torah. in fact, it was the wise articulation of God that was typewritten in human skin who lived in a real place with a real zip code and a real weeping mother and a dad who taught him how to build things.
(00:30:37): that, that is God. and, and so when Christians think about revelation, when we, we start with Jesus, we don’t start reading the Bible in Genesis, actually. And reading then from Genesis on, no, we start with Jesus and read backwards and forwards. So we read back to Genesis Ford revelation, but we start with Jesus. Why? Because we believe that he is the image of the invisible God. He was the word made flesh, the ultimate revelation. and, Martin Luther has a great, equip about this. He says that. And of course he, he loves, overspeak and boldness he’s a German. He can’t help it. I didn’t just, I didn’t say that just now. but he says that Jesus Christ is a big fat God and Jesus Christ is a big fat God, what does that mean? That Jesus Christ fills up all the space of divinity.
(00:31:33): He is not just one little like tool in the hand of God to get work done. No, no, no. in him the fullness of deity, dwelt bodily, that’s what the new Testament says that he was God or to quote Lutheran and other place. There is no little God hiding behind Christ. that Christ rep not only represents, but embodies the fullness of God. And that’s why when he was born, his mother had this, miracle occur where this agent from heaven, this, this grand being visited her and said that his legal name will be Jesus, but his title, like his title name will be Emmanuel, which means God with us. So that’s, that’s the idea of revelation is that it, it has to do with skin and bones and blood pressure and antagonized man who was really brutally treated by the world. but that’s God that’s.
(00:32:40): And so, okay. Those are the two first words Genesis, right? And the word, and the next word is pain. That’s part of the revelation pain. It’s interesting in John’s prologue, which is all about the word becoming flesh and light and all this beautiful imagery. He talks about pain. He mentions it, hints at it and also mentions it very clearly that the light shines in the darkness. So there’s darkness and the light shining in it. And he came to his own, but his own
(00:33:11): Did not receive him. Now,
(00:33:16): What this means is that the great revelation goes to the ground zero of human experience. The great revelation has to do with somebody whose heart was cloven into who was deeply hurt, who was hurt along the way.
(00:33:38): who, who wasn’t aloof to the pain. There’s a very famous painting by Salvador Dali. And I’ve done a teaching on it before, called St. John on the cross, which displays, the crucifixion of Jesus. but he’s hanging above the earth on a cross, but there are no nails and there’s no blood and the cross doesn’t touch the ground. And so we have an architectural crucifixion in which you have a Christ that feels no pain, essentially. the incarnation isn’t like,
(00:34:08): I like that. It’s a, it’s a splintering act. It’s a, it’s a fracturing act. It’s a deeply painful act.
(00:34:18): There’s this beautiful line in O Holy night, a line that we never sing cause it’s in like the 18th verse of it. but it’s, he knows our need to our weaknesses, no stranger, that he was a person who hurdles.
(00:34:32): and that means that this is God who heard a lot.
(00:34:37): So, a little story from my youth and it happened a long time ago, so it doesn’t affect me anymore, but I thought maybe you could relate to it. when I was in seventh grade, I, I was not nearly yeah.
(00:34:48): As, as popular as I am now, not popular now either, but,
(00:34:53): I, I was picked on quite a bit. And, and there was this, this bullies, I think, I mean, he was a skinny runt of a guy. I think I could have taken him actually, but I didn’t have enough esteem to like do that. And he hated me for some reason. I never understood why, but, there was a moment, in which I was walking down the hall and he grabbed the side of my head and slammed it into the corner of a brick wall. And it actually split open,
(00:35:19): my year. And, and yeah, my, the left side of my face and I was
(00:35:26): Bleeding profusely, but I was knocked out when I came to just, you know, a minute later I stumbled into the class. and I, I remember I sat there. I was sort of delirious and I was sitting there just dripping blood all over myself. And, and the thing that got me though later that I realized is nobody said anything. I mean, for minutes and minutes until the teacher noticed it and then freaked and then ran to the nurse and I got stitches and I, you know, it was, it was quite something, but I remember that Sunday sitting there with my face, like all broken up and cut up. And, the minister was actually preaching from Isaiah 53. I remember this because I felt it in my face when he was reading it. And it was about Isaiah, this really old Haggard prophet.
(00:36:17): And he was looking into the future. He had some foresight and he saw that someday God would visit people and help them that he would do that through pain. And he said, Isaiah said about this future, God, man, surely he bore our infirmities and he carried our sorrows. And what I loved about that in that moment is that I was in touch with my own infirmities and my sorrows that I was the kid with the cut open face and the stitches in his ear. And I was the kid that nobody liked. And I was the one who, who had a lot of sorrow in my heart. And I couldn’t talk to people about it, but I was understood like somebody understood me. Somebody felt that I was, you know, worthwhile. Somebody felt that, that same kind of rejection and hurt on a grander scale, but they knew what it was like to be me.
(00:37:16): And that, meant a great deal to me, especially knowing that it wasn’t just a man, but it was a man in whom heaven had a home. And therefore heaven was interested. Haven’t cared to there’s this line from Francis Bufford and he has an English theologian. And, a lot of what he writes is pretty helpful. And this is what he says about pain. When I pray, I’m not praying to a philosophically complicated absentee creator. I’m not trying to envisage the impossible to imagine domain beyond the universe. I do not picture Kings Thrones, crystal pavements, or any of the possible cosmological updating of these things. I look across not up. I look into the world, not away from it. When I pray, I see a face, a human face among other faces. It is a face and an angry crowd, a crowd and Gorge by the confidence that it is doing the right thing, that it is being virtuous. The man in the middle of the crowd looks tired and frightened and battered by the passions around him. But he is the crowds focused and center the center of everything. In fact, because if you are a Christian, you do not believe that the characteristic action of God, of, of the God, of everything is to mold the course of the universe powerfully from a far for a Christian. The most essential thing that God does is to be that man in that crowd, a man on his way to our common catastrophe.
(00:38:47): Well, that’s what I’m saying, that there is no revelation without
(00:38:50): That word pain it’s core, absolutely core. Okay.
(00:38:56): And so the, and then there’s a fourth word that I want to focus on tonight and really explains the nature of revelation. And this is the most counterintuitive bit
(00:39:06): Grace. Now, if you
(00:39:08): Go to grace Anglican, you know that I talk about this, but that’s because the Bible does and emphasizes this so highly from him. The text says we’ve received grace upon grace. The law came through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ that mentions grace four times actually in the prologue. So what is grace? Well, it’s a little complicated, but basically it is the, the beautiful marriage of certain ideas. And those ideas are love, forgiveness and favor all at the same time, those things that we all eat
(00:39:41): Before that Enlive in us, that they’re given, they’re not earned, they’re not struggled for they’re given. And I think we all
(00:39:53): I’ll ask for it, but I don’t think there’s a lot of grace in the world right now. I think there’s a lot of vengeance. I think there’s a lot of anger. I think there’s a lot of digging through people’s past in order to find something incriminating. I don’t think anything is forgotten or forgiven very easily. So I have a friend who’s a jock. And, and I was when I was a young priest, I went to a party with him and we were there with lots of people from the diocese and my friend and I, I had a mentor in college.
(00:40:23): and, and, and,
(00:40:27): this person was very important to both of us. They weren’t at the party, but we, we were talking about our mentor and how much he meant to us and, and what a profound impact he had. And then somebody at the party overheard us talking. And
(00:40:43): I came
(00:40:45): Up to us rather casually and said, are you talking about this person?
(00:40:49): And we said,
(00:40:51): Yeah. And he said, any motion to us to come closer. Like he had something fragrant in his mouth. He wanted to whisper to us about this person. And he said, well, what you don’t know is that this person did this, this and this and this, and, and highlighted all of these scandals.
(00:41:13): We heard it all and, left pretty shaken, not because we expect people to be perfect, but just shaken by the fact that our mentor could have been, you know, that devastated, but also wondering why this man had to tell us about these CD secrets And do so with a, with a smile and a smirk. And my friend, the big jock actually on the drive home started to stop.
(00:41:45): And he said, yeah,
(00:41:46): Ethan, you know, we talk in church all the time about forgiveness and forgive and forget, and sins being blotted out. He said, I don’t think we believe that at all.
(00:41:56): I mean, are we have a really forgiven or are we just trash? And we’ll always be regarded that way. it’s a hard question. But
(00:42:13): What I’ve come to realize is that the heart of everything is not affirmation our age. We’re going to talk about this later. Our age loves the notion of affirmation, just affirm everybody and everything they think and do, or at least many things that they think and do that the cure is somehow just blanket affirmation. Other people find that the cure is accusation, that you’re just supposed to critique people constantly. And that will change them. I believe in neither accusation nor affirmation. I believe in absolution, that is grace, which acknowledges problems as problems.
(00:42:48): But doesn’t think that the person who has problems is gross and disgusting and revolting and horrible,
(00:42:55): But instead the love goes to that place. And so this person, this Jesus of Nazareth was the man with the golden eyes of compassion who ran toward
(00:43:07): The problem and not away from
(00:43:09): It and ran toward the problem not to make it right
(00:43:11): Worse. That’s a heal it. Yeah.
(00:43:14): And so I have this story, it’s a true story from Brennan Manning, who was one of my favorite authors, he’s a forehead. Well, he was a former Catholic priest that he got married. and then he, he recently died. I mean, he was always a mess. I kinda like him though, because of that, I like
(00:43:32): and he, discovered in the midst of his recovery from alcoholism that, his treasured friend and sponsor from alcoholics anonymous named Joe B some of you know, in AA, they don’t give the full, last name, just the initial Joby who had 20 years of sobriety under his belt back slid into very heavy drinking and lost his job in his house and his family, and was then living on the street in Tampa, Florida. And so when Brennan found this out, he was scouring the city looking for his friend, but he couldn’t find Joby anywhere. Well, one day, Brennan saw this man out of the corner of his eye that looked just like Joe wearing tattered, salvo clothing, shaking from alcoholic withdrawal and begging on a street corner. And he came up to him and said, Joe, I finally found you, but he realized that beggar wasn’t Joe, after all a near look alike, but not his friend. So Brennan got down on his knees and he kissed the beggars shaking hands and embrace them. And this bag has started to cry.
(00:44:38): And then a few days later, Brennan found this letter in his mailbox.
(00:44:45): It said, or it read
(00:44:47): Dear Brennan. You will never know what you did for me. Your old sponsor two weeks ago in Tampa, you didn’t see me, but I saw you. I was 20 yards away looking through a storefront window. When I saw you kneel down and kiss that old Wynonna’s hands, you wiped away from my eyes, the blank stare of the walking dead. When I saw that you cared, I mean, really cared. My heart began to grow wings, small wings, feeble wings, but wings, you breathe life into me. I need you to know that I had a bottle of cheap wine. In my hand. I dropped it in the trash. I haven’t had a drink since Brandon, if you ever should wonder who Joby is, remember, I’m someone, you know, very well. I’m every man you meet I’m every woman, you mean Brennan Miu. Well, wherever I go now sober by the grace of God one day at a time, I will thank him for you.
(00:45:51): Well, that’s grace,
(00:45:53): That’s grace, and we aim for it. I ask for it all the time. and I talk about it a lot because I think it’s the great revelation. I think it’s the cure
(00:46:05): Or, and
(00:46:09): This is the heart of the revelation that I want to discuss with you. the Christianity, says that the heavens are not antagonized
(00:46:22): Or antagonistic, that in Jesus, there can be a bonding, not just between heaven and earth in him,
(00:46:33): But between us and God, there can be a beautiful reconciliation in which we are forgiven
(00:46:41): And how old and made well and even made eternal. But
(00:46:47): God came near and we understand God principally through Jesus, that he is the prism through which we see the heavens and understand them. So, that’s my little talk for tonight on revelation and the four words that, express it, which are Genesis
(00:47:10): Word pain and grace.
(00:47:13): I hope that something I said reached some part of you. And now that I’m done talking, we have a little bit of time for Q and a. And so if you want to write a question, I think I can,
(00:47:25): I see them in, in my, comment
(00:47:30): Section. And so if you, wish to,
(00:47:36): One, I’d love to hear from you. And if not, I can ramble on incoherently. I’m very good at that as somebody,
(00:47:45): You know, I mean, I tried out some coherence, but I don’t know, is it working?
(00:48:06): Did I answer every theological question you’ve ever had? Am I that good? I don’t think, Well, let me say this. why I think this message is so important is because, everybody that you know is loved. we live in a time right now where you have to have the right convictions or the right track record or the, the
(00:48:37): Political affiliations, or, or you have to reject certain things and accept other things. And if you don’t, you’re not part of like the right group.
(00:48:47): and so,
(00:48:53): Jesus actually seems to think that we all have the same problem that our, that our nature is beautiful and twisted and that he loves the, the devastation that we are. And, and, and therefore everybody has the same need, which is for grace. And so that’s a very unifying conception. So was the author. We have questions. I’m very excited about this. Okay. So, Christie Thompson has asked, was the authors named Brennan Manning? yes, but it’s Brennan with two ends, not brand Brendan. Yeah. and his book, all his grace is the last book that he ever wrote. it’s not a biography written by him and an editor. the editor, it was a substantial contributor to the work because, Brendan Manning was dying of all sorts of complications due to his alcoholism. And so I think he had a lot of help there.
(00:49:46): but he’s worth reading like every author, you know, not perfect, but he’s great. and Kathleen, Sweeney, Dr. Kathleen has asked a question. How do you know that you were experiencing Jesus as opposed to your own thoughts? well, it’s a great question. And, because we do believe that this same person of Jesus of Nazareth has a personality and, and it comes through the Holy spirit, which we’ll talk about later, but his personality will have reverberations in our own life. And I think, how, you know, if you are being moved by something of his sacred substance, is if what you are moved to do or be, or seems like it jives with the testimony of him in scripture. So if it, if it seems that it flows within the teachings of Jesus and within his personality, that is very clearly displayed in the new Testament.
(00:50:42): I think that you’re on some solid ground, but in order to do that because we are a historic historicist faith, we need to be very, very tied to the document that unveils his personality. And so, knowing scripture is really key and scripture is wonderful because it’s so comforting and so terribly offensive all at the same time. And it’s really good that it’s offensive by the way, because if we had written it, we would make it completely curtailed to our personalities and never say anything that would contradict us. And therefore we would create all sorts of mayhem and pathology in the world. So it’s actually wonderful that scripture is what it is. and so stay true to the heartbeat of the text and you’ll stay true to the, to the heartbeat of the Christ with him. That’s what I would say.
(00:51:27): and, this is great. yeah. Oh my gosh. It’s Emily Peterson. What a wonderful human being. I mean, she’s just great. And now she has a new last name and I will try to call her, yeah, here we go. Hi, how do we show and encourage others that the belonging they seek is in him and not an earthly things? Well, it’s a great question that there isn’t, there is an ultimate belonging that we find in Christ because he’s the, he’s, he’s the one that, bonds us back together with our source. But what happens in life is that, people create sort of surrogate, almost lovers in a way, I mean, because what happens within, people and things that they deify is a great bonding. And, and so here’s, what’s very difficult. So this is difficult to parse out, but I’m going to try is that very often God, in the created world gives you lots of things that reflect the eternal beauty of God, right?
(00:52:32): There is something when you stare out at the Pacific, there’s something, numinous about it. And there’s something healing about it right there. In other words, there’s something of God and the fractals of God that are reflected in that experience. And, and yet the ocean isn’t gone, right? So there’s nothing wrong with loving it and even sensing your source and being connected to it. but it actually isn’t enough. And here’s why it’s not enough the ocean as good as it is the grand Canyon, as good as it is the, your husband, your wife, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your fiance, your shrink, your lawyer here, or your professor, all your mentors, all of your authors, Bernay Brown, you know, Joan Didion, all these people as wonderful as they are. They cannot give you what only the core of revelation can give you. So the grand Canyon good, but it’s not gracious.
(00:53:27): The grand Canyon cannot tell you that your sins are forgiven. That you’re loved eternally, that you are a beautiful in the sight of God through the, through the lovely sacrifice of Christ, only, in Jesus, do you have the core, which is redemption? So in the other things you can attach to the God of God’s creative nature and power and, and something about his eternal quality, but the only place that you’re going to go defined the reunification of, of a God who says to you through blood, sweat, and tears. I love you as you are, and not as you should be, because you’re never going to be as you should be this side of the Jordan. And more than that, I not only absolve you, I hold you close. I’m never letting you go come hell or high water I’m with utility.
(00:54:18): And that’s only found in the good news of the gospel that is announced through Jesus of Nazareth, that’s found nowhere else. And so, so when I meet all sorts of, the neopagan friends or more agnostic friends who say, look, you, can I find a great deal of what if you believe in it? You know, I don’t know how I would call it God, but I sorta call it God. And I find God in the woods, or I find God when I’m, when I have romantic interludes with my spouse, or I find God and, and, in my art or my sculpting, or, I don’t disagree with them. I’m not saying there isn’t something of eternity in the moment. I don’t disagree at all. What I’m saying is that there is something, that you need, that’s more than just the numinous or the transcendence that can be, conceptualized, a reflective and creation.
(00:55:08): You need the, the, the great Redeemer who says, I love you to hell and back, and that’s only found in Christ. And so I would say if somebody says, I find God in those other things, I would say, that’s wonderful. I agree. I agree. w w but what do you, what do you make this and S and say something that Jesus has offered that is unique and just leave it there and you have to wait for the right moment. Not every moment is the right moment. Right. so, Emily, I’m not sure if that helps at all, but that’s what I would say right now. And you’re just a dear person, and I miss you all the time. I have a few more minutes before, my hourglass is that, isn’t that cool by the way? I really liked it.
(00:56:05): Okay. Well, what I’m going to, talk about, next week to give you a little bit of a preview. And if there’s another question that pops up, I’ll try to do my best, but next week, I’m going to talk about, essentially God in the rehab that is to say, what is the core, human problem that causes a very well-intentioned and, sweet and, really lovely people to self-sabotage. So what is the drive that creates self-sabotage in, people and, really AIDS them in ruining their lives. And how is that understood? And, and to some degree, how’s it remedied, but next week, we’re really gonna focus on the core human problem from the book of Romans. And, because Paul, according to Hannah ardent, the, the great, metaphysicist but also philosopher, says that a Saint Paul has the most insightful comment about human nature.
(00:57:09): That’s ever been written in Romans three. So we’re going to listen to Hannah and we’re going to on Vale, the, profound and, majestically, haunting vision of St. Paul and, that we’ll get to redemption. So anyway, well, Kyle Sutton, my dear brother. Oh my gosh. I got all those. I got more questions. Okay. I’m going to try this. Okay. And this is Alison from Kyle’s computer. Why do you think it’s so hard to forgive other people? I, well, there’s a million reasons. It’s a wonderful question. I would say that, for me, it’s a chiefly because I have yet to really discover the fullness of forgiveness for me. I mean, that’s just me, I’m not saying that to you at all, or anybody that, you know, but for me, I find that when I am least likely to offer anybody the olive branch it’s because I have yet to discover the I’m as love design as I really am.
(00:58:04): I mean, because we don’t believe in forgiveness. I mean, that’s why Gary Hartford or the great Lutherans scholar says that a sanctification is for the most part, coping with justification over a lifetime. Now those are very theologically loaded words. But what that means is I need to hear that I’m loved and forgiven and treasured every day. because I don’t believe it. I don’t believe it. I mean, I live in a quid pro quo world. So to you where everything is a deal, everything is sort of an exchange and everything is a, you know, a, a justice thing where I do this and that yield certain results. It’s all karma. And so I have to get used to and cope with the message of grace. That’s what you need to go to a church that proclaims the gospel week in and week out without moralizing.
(00:58:45): That’s a hugely important. And the more that I, that I realized that I just had it happen this week, I was able to extend it all branch, even though I didn’t want to at first, but, the, the impulse to forgive became, overwhelmingly powerful. but for me, I need to know that I’m forgiven and loved, and then I can extend it. David arrows, who was just a remarkable human being with a remarkable son, I might add, how do you forgive those who don’t think they need to be forgiven? Don’t recognize that they’ve wronged you or realize that they did, but they don’t care. Oh my God. yeah, let me just try, to, to answer that a wonderful question. I’m not sure I’ve mastered the craft because I have people that, that, go to sleep without caring that they really injured me.
(00:59:28): They don’t care at all. not that I know of. Maybe it haunts them, but I have no evidence of that. Are we still called to forgive them? I think so. Yes. But, how do you do it? Well, the first thing I find now, this is a little counterintuitive. I have to have a trusted friend with whom I can tell that friend how much I hate that person. I mean, I’m just being honest. You have to say how much you resent the person who made your life a living hell, you have to have somebody that you can expiate with and say, this is driving me crazy. I just can’t stand this person. I want to throw them into an active volcano. I want to have a vaporizer gun and completely destroy them. And not just destroyed that maybe I want to destroy all their work.
(01:00:04): I want to publicly shame them in some way, but sort of SBA. And that’s a confessional act actually. And then go to God. So, so don’t stifle. It don’t hide. It don’t borrow it. Don’t don’t act like it’s not real because it is real. You do feel those things. That’s why the Psalms are filled with violence. the solemn sacred scripture is filled with prayers that are deeply violent, about people expressing their rage to heaven. but there is something beautiful that happens when you express your rage to a trusted friend and, to God, or confess to God as you’re confessing to your friend or however you want to conceptualize it. after that, after it’s, it’s given voice, you bring it to heaven vertically, and you say, and heaven have mercy upon me, a sinner. But, but what many people do is they’re sort of shamed into containment.
(01:00:53): they take all of their deepest, darkest animals, and they want to shame it. I should have the mind of Christ. So I’m going to press it down, press it down, press it down and act like it doesn’t exist or, or muscle through muscling through will only help you if your house is on fire. Yes. If your house is on fire, you need to muscle through and get the kids out of the house, but you can’t muscle through matters of the heart. You have to express them, with a trusted, loving person who will then pray for you. And, and after things are zoomed and confessed and prayed for, they can, I believe with a light of love, lose some of their, dominance. and I’ve actually seen it happen. I have seen it happen and I myself have vianet even had it happen.
(01:01:35): I’ve I’ve said this before, but I’m driven by a great deal of anxiety. I always have them. However, I have to tell you, in the last, especially 10 years, that anxiety has diminished about 80%. And a lot of that had to do with resentment and all sorts of on dealt with feelings, but because they’ve been, by God’s grace dealt with and subsumed and love, I’m I’m, I don’t lose sleep anymore and that’s not nothing. So I hope that helps a little bit. I hope this was helpful for all of you. Love you, and hopefully we’ll see you next week side aura.