[文摘] 耶穌說:「讓小孩子到我這裡來!」這間教會卻…

Source Link:

  1. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/17/marvin-winans-unwed-mothers-child-born-out-of-wedlock-bless-_n_4116915.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009
  2. http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/story/23715251/single-mom-son-born-out-of-wedlock-snubbed-by-winans-church?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=9424236
  3. INTERVIEW: Pastor Marvin Winans carjacked and robbed in Detroit

美國底特律的知名黑人教會「完美教會」(Perfecting Church)有個嚴格的制度:不會為非婚生的小孩給予公開祝福。這傷了一位擁有2歲小孩的黑人單親媽媽的心。

定下這個制度的「完美教會」主任牧師馬文.懷南斯(Marvin Winans),是美國非常有名的福音派望族「懷南斯氏」的一員。福音歌手出身的他和「完美教會」的專業詩班合唱團出了好幾張唱片,成為美國流行樂界的福音曲風(gospel genre)的代表作品之一。

「完美教會」日前正準備為2歲以下的的嬰幼兒舉行獻身祝福的儀式,用意是祈求神的恩典引導祝福孩子身心靈的成長。單親媽媽夏綠蒂.葛瑞絲(Charity Grace)想為孩子申請,卻在教會的女幹事這一關就被擋了下來。原因是:2歲的約書亞.葛瑞絲(Joshua Grace)是一位私生子。

夏綠蒂.葛瑞絲說:「我想要兒子的價值觀和道德信念能建立在上帝的真道上,卻迎來一生中從未遇過的奇恥大辱。」

聽聞此事的牧長感嘆,耶穌真正的事工地點並非在舞台上,而是在人群中。懷南斯牧師和他的同工卻沒有注意到。耶穌曾說,「讓小孩子到我這裡來,不要禁止他們;因為在神國度裡的,正是這樣的人。」說完,就按手在他們身上祝福。

更神奇的是,這個被拒絕的孩子與耶穌是同一個猶太名字。他叫做約書亞,這是「耶穌」這個希臘文名字對應的希伯來文/亞蘭文,也是在耶穌時代人們真正稱呼他的方式:Yeshua,意為「耶和華拯救」。

按著肉體說,耶穌也是一個非婚生的孩子。他的母親馬利亞在正式許配給未婚夫約瑟之前,就(從聖靈)懷了耶穌。

根據《紐約時報》針對2011年全年所做的統計,美國每年有36%的新生兒是「非婚生的孩子」(babies born out of wedlock)。

教宗方濟在今年五月時一次公開發言中提及,天主教會應該不吝給予那些非婚生的孩子祝福,正因為他們的母親勇敢地拒絕墮胎,而選擇將完整的生命賦予她們的孩子:

“’Look at this girl who had had the courage to carry her pregnancy to term. … « 

有人帶著小孩子來見耶穌,要耶穌摸他們,門徒便責備那些人。耶穌看見就惱怒,對門徒說:「讓小孩子到我這裡來,不要禁止他們;因為在神國的,正是這樣的人。我實在告訴你們,凡要承受神國的,若不像小孩子,斷不能進去。」於是抱著小孩子,給他們按手,為他們祝福。(馬可福音 10:13-16)

People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them. (Mark, 10:13-16)

聖經上還說道:

不可忘記用愛心接待客旅;因為曾有接待客旅的,不知不覺就接待了天使。(希伯來書 13:2)

若連客旅都是如此,自己的鄰舍和會友不是更應當成為我們擁抱的對象嗎?可惜的是,葛瑞絲現在已經帶著孩子離開了「完美教會」。那些因著道德規條而將教會大門向某些人關上的人,會不會不知不覺間,也將耶穌和天使排除在外了呢?

截至目前,記者們仍然沒有得到懷南斯牧師和該教會對此事的任何聲明或回應。但我們可以確認的是,這位懷南斯牧師並非只有一帆風順的事奉經歷。他曾失去過朋友:他在流行樂界的好友惠尼.休士頓(Whitney Houston)2012年因憂鬱而用藥過量過世,就是懷南斯牧師主持那場安慰她家人親友的追思禮拜。

他曾失去過金錢:在經濟與治安條件都很差的底特律牧會,懷南斯牧師也曾在去年遭匪徒在市區加油站攔車搶劫。

但這些都比不上失去耶穌和神國裡的祝福。所以,我們不妨為著這個教會禱告,也為著自己禱告。

2013-10-19_00313

Publicités

撒馬利亞人的絕境與重生(邱慕天)

Source Link: http://anntw.com/awakening/news_center/show.php?itemid=38386

【台灣醒報記者邱慕天特稿】 以「好撒馬利亞人」傳說而聞名於世的撒馬利亞民族,近年居然驚傳滅族危機。只是當生理文化的僵固認同受到挑戰時,回歸心靈轉向的真理精神,或許會是這群上帝子民重生的契機。

「好撒馬利亞人」典故出自《聖經》路加福音中耶穌的一個比喻:一個猶太旅者遭遇強盜打劫、重傷「路倒」。陸續有擔任神職的猶太祭司和利未人路過,卻不聞不問。惟有一個撒馬利亞人途經時,立刻為他進行急救包紮送院,甚至買單支付傷者後續的醫療照護,完全不考慮雙方的民族成見與歷史仇恨。耶穌以此挑戰追隨者:這三人之中,誰才是這位猶太人真正的鄰舍、真正的同胞?

真正的撒馬利亞人

因著這樣的典故,此後多用「好撒馬利亞人」的隱喻,來美稱社會中的見義勇為者、善心的陌生人。可惜在這世風日下的時代,想當好心人卻遭「狗咬呂洞賓」的社會事件屢見不鮮,歐美多國的立法甚至必須設置「好撒馬利亞人法」的急難救助免責條款,以免在公民道德神經的萎縮下,「好撒馬利亞人」也從世上消失無蹤。

巧合的是,不僅具信仰意義的「好撒馬利亞人」正面臨絕種,居然現實中的撒馬利亞民族,也在近年驚傳滅族危機。根據統計資料,這個曾在近東文明史上佔有一席之地的民族,截至今時今日僅剩下766人尚存於世。

調查發現,主因並非任何的內戰外患,而是因為這個民族多個世紀以來一直恪守著不與外族通婚的宗族規範。像台灣許多外配移民的同時帶來了新文化,撒馬利亞人害怕外邦女子無法幫助他們的後代延續傳統。顯然,在他們自己人心目中,「好」撒馬利亞人的標準,在乎文化和血統。

然而,親族通婚導致許多先天基因殘疾,長期以來也為族群平均壽命和嬰孩存活率帶來極端負面的影響。


與猶太人的歷史糾葛

歷史上,撒馬利亞人與猶太人原先同為希伯來族,血緣可以上溯至「信心之父」亞伯拉罕,並且都以對耶和華上帝的一神信仰做為他們最核心的文化特徵。

然而公元前931年,王國的以色列一分為二。做為北國的以色列在動盪中勉強維持了兩百年的國祚,即遭北方的亞述帝國勢力併吞。亞述在北國的境內遂行人口洗牌,不但將許多以色列人擄往北方,還遷入亞述境內的民族,和以色列人混雜通婚。

他們混血的結晶,就是以色列境內最早的撒馬利亞人。

後來南國猶大的猶太人痛恨這些撒馬利亞人,認為他們在血統上和信仰上都已經不純潔了。歷史上猶太人雖也屢次遭逢亡國的顛沛,信仰敬虔的猶太人仍以錫安聖殿的敬拜神學和禁外族通婚的方式,維繫其民族認同。

只是諷刺的是,猶太正統運動結果是失敗的,至少就婚姻看來,猶太跨族通婚情況之普遍,使得用遺傳染色體研究判定猶太人的身分變成一項複雜的工程。反而是歷史上因著混血身份而誕生的撒馬利亞人,此後兩千多年卻堅持以最狹義的親族婚姻交配方式自我繁衍。

Modern Samaritan Men worshiping during the Passover

基因研究確認,現存的撒馬利亞男性身上,幾乎都具有Haplogroup J的Y染色體特徵。若血緣基因是「純種」的指標,猶太人已萬無立場在撒馬利亞人面前自恃為聖民( »hagio-group »)。

堅持血統純正,代價已是如此之高,而撒馬利亞人還對敬拜上帝的神學,堅守自己獨特的文化遺傳。


信仰之爭 認同之爭

猶太人認為,正確敬拜上帝應當是在耶路撒冷。撒馬利亞人卻堅持北方納不勒司(Nablus)郡的基利心山,才是通天的至聖高地(sacred high place)。

自從三千年前所羅門王為上帝建造聖殿以來,猶太人宣稱耶路撒冷必將做為祂世世代代的居所。懷著彌賽亞盼望的猶太人,更堅信有一天上帝將榮耀再臨這座聖城。

撒馬利亞人反對這套神學。他們的聖經版本「撒馬利亞妥拉」(Samaritan Pentateuch)上清楚記載,耶和華指示摩西在「基利心山」(Mount Gerizim)築壇敬拜祂。

這條撒馬利亞妥拉獨有的誡命,在猶太教和基督教版本的摩西五經都看不到。然而因為最早的妥拉抄本已經不存在了,雙方都宣稱自己的版本才是當初摩西承自上帝的「原版」啟示。


超越國族的上帝子民

不論真相為何,撒馬利亞人已經千百年來都持守在基利心山周邊,建構社區和宗教生活。

《聖經》新約中,耶穌曾在井邊與一位撒馬利亞婦人談道,當時這位婦人就刻意挑起「聖地」的爭議,只是肉身血緣為猶太人的耶穌卻這樣回答她:「時候將到,你們拜父,也不在這山上、也不在耶路撒冷。時候將到,如今就是了,那真正拜父的,要用心靈和誠實拜祂。」

就像「好撒馬利亞人」的寓意一般,耶穌似乎在說,要成為上帝的兒女,與血統純淨、地點正確一點關係都沒有,那超越外在生理與文化標籤的心靈,才是將人引向救贖真道的關鍵。

近年由於滅種的危機,撒馬利亞社群終於開放了部分婚姻限制,引入了一批烏克蘭籍新娘。這難保不是一個絕境重生的契機。或許有一天,當他們能夠不再這麼執著於一種僵固的生理文化認同時,會發現自己反而可以更真實地做一位基督耶穌以及上帝眼中的「好撒馬利亞人」。

(本文同步刊載於台灣醒報 2012/1/13 國際專題)

[文摘] N.T. Wright’s Calvin January Series at Calvin College « How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels »

You can see the reports at here, here, here, here, and here.

Here are some highlights of those reports:

Some of the historic Christian creeds that emphasize the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus – to the point of excluding the rest of his life. As a result, many believers use a “truncated form of Christianity, however creedal it may be, as an escape from reality.”

Two Gospels have had the volume turned up way too loud, while the other two have been played too softly.

Orthodox Christianity “has not wanted Jesus to have a political message.” Christians have turned off parts of the gospel, like turning down the volume on a song. But the biblical gospels must be listened to in symphony, “like a musical score that demands to be played.” Heard in full sound, the gospels tell about the establishment of a theocracy, and portray what theocracy looks like with Jesus as king with « an entire agenda for renewed humanity ».

When God wants to reign, he doesn’t send in the tanks. He sends in the meek, the broken-hearted, the crushed in spirit. The church is not a spectator.

In describing the call of the Christian, Wright used the metaphor of a medieval stonemason shaping stones for Durham cathedral, where he served as bishop until 2010. Though the mason doesn’t know what the cathedral will look like, Wright said, he trusts the architect, believing that one day he will look up and find it in its place in the great west front.

Wright also didn’t shy away from challenging his Calvin audience, as when he said that “swathes of evangelicals are more anxious to protect a theory of scripture than to hear what the scripture actually says.” And at a Q&A with students in which he discussed current beliefs about the afterlife, Wright shared his opinions about dispensationalism, a Christian ideology at odds with much of his own project, calling it “extremely worrying” that what began as the literature of the oppressed is now in the United States being wielded by the powerful. “That’s your problem, not mine,” he said.

In one of the reports above I read a heartfelt confession worthy of quotation in paragraphs through which you learn more about where Tom Wright is coming from:

The voice behind the echoes

“I had a dream the other night, a powerful and interesting dream. And the really frustrating thing about it is that I can’t remember what it was about.” That’s how Wright begins Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense.

He describes longings common in every culture and era, voices that echo in our imagination yet elude us in reality. We dream of justice, a world put to rights so that all enjoy hope and prosperity. We hunger for spirituality and deep relationships. We delight in beauty. Yet in trying to find these things that we know must exist, “we’re like moths trying to fly to the moon.”

Too often, instead of living a “full, rich, glad human existence,” we give up on the echoes. “Made for spirituality, we wallow in introspection. Made for joy, we settle for pleasure. Made for justice, we clamour for vengeance. Made for relationship, we insist on our own way. Made for beauty, we are satisfied with sentiment,” Wright says.

It’s only in the story of Jesus that we “recognize the voice whose echoes we have heard.” Wright’s big picture view of Christianity, as revealed in the Old and New Testaments, shows how God acts in human history to make all things new. The Incarnation is a divine rescue mission from evil, death, and the powers and principalities that corrupt God’s good creation.

[省思] Do we please God by merely confessing, “I am the righteousness of God in Christ”?

Confessing Your Righteousness Pleases God

Every time you confess, “I am the righteousness of God in Christ”, God the Father is pleased. When you confess that you are the righteousness of God in Christ, it reminds Him of what His Son has done for you to become righteous.

Also, by making you righteous, God is showing Himself righteous — “to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus”. (Romans 3:26)

Each time Jesus hears you confess, “I am the righteousness of God in Christ,” it brings much pleasure to His heart too, because you are laying hold of what He suffered and died to give you.

The Holy Spirit, who now indwells you to convict you of righteousness (John 16:10), also rejoices when you confess, “I am the righteousness of God in Christ.” He is pleased when you flow with Him.

The delight of the Godhead is not the only thing you gain when you declare, “I am the righteousness of God in Christ.” The Bible tells us that when you “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness… all these things shall be added to you”. (Matthew 6:33)

Whether it is food, clothing or other necessities in life, “all these things” will be added to you. They will not just be given to you, but added to you as your inheritance when you seek first His righteousness.

You don’t need to use your faith for every single need in life. You just need to use your faith for one thing — to believe that you are the righteousness of God in Christ, and it will cause all the blessings you seek to come after you and overtake you!

Thought For The Day
Use your faith to simply believe that you are the righteousness of God in Christ, and the blessings you seek will come after you and overtake you! (read original article)

The above teaching is given by Joseph Prince, the leading pastor of New Creation Church, arguably today’s largest megachurch in Singapore. But after watching several of his sermon clips online, I have found that his teaching problematic. Not in the sense of being necessarily apostatic as we may detect at many other megachurch pulpits, but it is indeed dangerously unbalanced in the sense that it can lead to a crippled version of faith — it is not apostolic.

First of all, to say that we are the righteousness of God in Christ presumes that we are in Christ. No doubt here, the emphasis and focus here is Christ, rather than you/we/I — but the impression that Pastor Prince gave us is an unduly shift from the Christocentric emphasis to an anthropocentric one: to say « I am/we are » and « we make God happy ».

To retain our focus, what does it mean to be in Christ needs to be expounded.

Since the theme of “union in Christ” is so predominant in both Johannine and Pauline theology, it should be rightly said that we are the righteousness of God when and only when we are in Christ. God is pleased only when He sees the righteousness and obedience of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ (cf. Mat 3:17), not us- unworthy sinners apart from His saving grace (per John Calvin [1]).


[1] See DAVID GIBSON, “A Mirror for God and for Us: Christology and Exegesis in Calvin’s Doctrine of Election”, International Journal of Systematic Theology Volume 11 Number 4 October 2009, p.452: “In his discussion of ‘as the Father has loved me, so I have loved you’ (15:9), Calvin is adamant that the Father’s love for the Son ‘must be referred to us, because Christ declares that the Father loves him as the Head of the church – a thing extremely necessary for us’. Calvin uses two images to describe what this love of the Father means: Christ is ‘the pledge (pignus) of the divine love’, and ‘in him, as in a mirror (speculo), we may behold God’s fatherly love towards us all, since he is not loved separately, or for his own private advantage, but that he may unite us along with himself to the Father’.13 Calvin’s description of this love is sharply focused on the economy – it is a love of the Son, but it is a love with benefits for us.”

 

Moreover, the Bible does not teach us that we can please God by declaring our righteousness, imputed or whatsoever. On the contrary, the Bible does say that we please God by 1) Serving Christ with an attitude of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14;17-18), 2) Worshiping God acceptably with reverence and awe (Heb 12:28), 3) Doing good and sharing with others (Heb 13:16), and 4) Presenting ourselves as a living sacrifice (Rom 12:1).

These are always in my sermons. To skip these important in-between steps is not preaching the whole counsel of God.

Next, to say that you are in Christ presumes that we first deny ourselves and curse our old ego to dead and that  we follow His commandments (1 Jn 2:3-4; 5:2-3). It demands true repentance and radical transformation! And this is what God demands! God holds dear our sorrowful spirit (Ps. 51:17) by giving His Holy Spirit as our Counselor. Only in this way we are freed from our guilt and are enabled to do good things.

That is to say, we please God by participating in and joining this union with Christ (that entails sacrifice and renouncing our sinful past as well as broken humanity), not by the mere declaring or confessing of it (cf. Mat 7:21).

In this way, a theology of grace will not corrupt/collapse into a theology of complacency.


Book Review: The Politics of Jesus : Rediscovering the True Revolutionary Nature of Jesus’ Teachings and How They Have Been Corrupted

Cover of "The Politics of Jesus : Redisco...
Cover via Amazon

Obery M. Hendricks, Jr.,The Politics of Jesus : Rediscovering the True Revolutionary Nature of Jesus’ Teachings and How They Have Been Corrupted. NY: Doubleday Religion, 2006

Summarizing comments based on some Amazon reviewers’ commnents):

This volume is divided into two parts: 1) the construction of a viable framework for understanding Jesus‘ immediate political and social message; 2) the measurement of Ronald Reagan’s and George W. Bush’s conduct in light of that framework (bad…despite his desire to be prophetic, it does not distinguish itself from the plethora of previous published anti-Bush books This part should be avoided when reading today).

For the first part, it also sounds like the well accepted principles of “liberation theology”: God asks us to dedicate ourselves to 1) struggling to with the dispossessed, the forgotten, the disabled, and the impoverished, and to 2) bringing the world in line with a vision of love, liberation, and justice (Mic 6:8).

But more insightful here is Obery M. Hendricks, Jr.’s proposition that “the Jewish roots of Jesus influenced Jesus’ political confrontations with Rome”. Jesus was as concerned about an individual’s citizenship on earth as an individual’s citizenship in heaven. Whenever he talks about the Kingdom of God, he is firmly rooted in his Jewish heritage. His parables and prayer are loaded with implicit political overtones in its Hebraic ways. Jesus was political and wanted to initiate a Kingdom community that is based on the Hebrew notions of justice, righteousness, and love. Early Christians got this message when they proclaimed Jesus their Lord.

This is the political Jesus that today’s Christian Right doesn’t want to admit.