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One of the things I have been thinking about is leadership in the style of Christ. As I read through Treading Lightly I saw a similarity between Australian Aboriginal styles of leadership with what I believe that the New Testament holds up as the ideal.

In the West we have largely found ourselves gravitating towards a hierarchical mode of leadership, and this is seen both in the extremes of the Catholic Hierarchy right over to the Congregationalism of groups such as Baptists. However I do not believe that this is the ideal that the New Testament has in mind, and from places such as 1 Cor 12, and Eph 4: 4-12 I would assert that the vision of leadership within the New Testament Church should be one of all the members leading out of their strength and area of expertise for the building up of the Church, the proclamation of the Gospel and the Glory of God. Leadership then is not a matter of a particular group or groups holding onto leadership as a form of power over the congregation, but rather it is a relinquishment of leadership once we travel outside of the area of expertise of a certain individual, and a humble taking up of leadership once we enter into the expertise of another.

This vision of leadership is shared by the Nhunggabarra peoples as described in Treading Lightly ((pp111-114)) Their community being made up of people with well defined roles saw this play out. As those in the community hunted, gathered, taught and all the other actions of their information economy. The leaders were generally those who had the most experience or training in the particular activity. The church itself is an information based economy as our society as a whole is transitioning towards.

If the New Testament ideal of shared leadership has been documented as having worked for a community such as the Nhunggaburra then what stops us from heading towards this ideal. I think there are a few reasons, for instance there’s tradition and people not liking change, another would be that those with power often do not like to relinquish it. There are most likely other reasons and the reasons I have given may not even be the primary ones leadership theory in both the church and society at large are not my area of expertise. My focus is on interpretation and application of Scripture for the benefit of the people of God.

Another year goes by
Another turning of the circle
I find myself questioning
I find myself wondering

Where does true faith lie
Amongst the scattered ruins of Christendom
How long must we dredge through these desolate places
Wandering hither and thither
Till we come again
Face to face with the incarnate Messiah
That babe in madonna’s arms

Who came to bring wholeness to the world
Yet here we lie
In fractured ruins
Amongst broken and dry bones
The abomination of desolation made our once hopeful dreams
Into the cords and bindings holding us captive to death

Come O Spirit breathe,
Breathe once again on these dry bones
Come out of her O Israel
Let us not be captive to this world
But let us be captive to the heart and Kingdom of God

“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn “The Gulag Archipelago”

As I have reflected upon the nature of totalitarianism and evil this past year I have found that Solzhenitsyn has landed on the truth, and so pieces such as The Atlantic’s “Nazis Are Just Like You and Me, Except They’re Nazis” are completely missing the boat. The depths of human depravity pierce our being, and what gives us licence to such depravity is our dehumanisation of the other. Such we have seen clearly in recent times from the Australian government’s treatment of asylum seekers. If we are to defeat “evil” then we must start with ourselves. “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God” (1 Pet 4:17, cf. Matt 7:3-5) To meet the dehumanisation of Nazi ideology with the in vogue dehumanisation of Nazis will only give permission for evil to be committed against them and as was seen in Nazi Germany the question then becomes “How Jewish” (or in this case Nazi) “does one have to be for it to be justifiable to attack them?” and this is not a road we can or want to go down.

Over the past year as I have tried to navigate through the supercharged political millieu my political stance has solidified as even more extreme 😃 cause that’s not toxic at all 😝 I now class myself as a Christian Anarchist. Those that I have talked with already about this are confused by the terminology (and maybe I myself am as well…) to try and make clear both in my mind and for others what I mean I have a few marks of a Christian Anarchist that I am pursuing:
  1. Separation of Church and State and the destruction of Sacralism and Christendom. (including an avoidance of state-like multinational entities)
  2. Simplicity
  3. Nonviolent resistance to evil
In my attempts to pursue these things some will have noticed that I have tried to distance myself from the use of Facebook, Google, and other such websites. I am in the process of expanding how much I can do with my own website. I have turned back to my bicycle as my main form of transport. As part of what I feel is a consistent congruence with this outlook I am also seeking to reduce the amount of waste that as an individual I generate and especially the use of plastics. I have a plan laid out for a plastic free bathroom experience, and I am slowly getting towards the same for the kitchen. I made a decision that as part of my celebration of Christmas this year with my family I will use the Japanese fabric wrapping art of Furoshiki to avoid the mountains of paper that have one use. I am probably wildly inconsistent, but I ask that you have patience with my madness, and thank you for such already displayed over the previous year, thank you.

The opening notes shatter my reverie.
If this is living
If this is worship
Then what do I do in finding Christ at the bottom
The bottom of a stranger’s beer
In the eyes of a stoner in the gutter
Where is the rending of the heart for the broken world?
Where are our open eyes to call forth God’s Kingdom?
Where do we submit ourselves to join with Christ
In dying to bring Kingdom life into the world?

Shall we do theology in the safety of our Armchairs, or in the coal mines of Wigan Pier? Last time I read a Theology that purported to be a Theology on Wigan Pier it was merely an Armchair Theology with bones thrown to the Pierites, a neatened, tidied up Wigan Pier with the smells of working class spiritualities swept under the rug, there is a reality a necessity that we don’t often grasp hold of if we’re well to do, and yet because we’ve dotted our t’s and crossed our i’s it seems perfectly natural to us that we will inherit the Kingdom of God. This has been some thoughts of an Armchair Theologian confronted by some of the realities of Pierite Spiritualities.

We live and we die
waiting for the justice of God,
Our hearts rent open,
bleeding,
We try pressing bloodstained bandages
to the festering wounds of the world.

This stark, desolate utopia
once called the Kingdom of God
Now naked having deposed her King
Perhaps thinking that medicine supplied
might work without him.

Where are the believing ones, O God.
Where are those being transformed,
Those not glorying in their brokenness
but selfishly flinging themselves into the arms
The arms of the one who makes us whole in his brokenness
Where are the cracks in our own facade
Why do we still hold these fragile masks of joy so close to our faces
So tightly, these fragile lies
These lying personas with cracks through which reality presses
Presses to make the truth known
Yet we keep them to hide ourselves
The tighter we hold them
The deeper the cracks fracture and reality presses through

That silent whisper in Incarnation,
thundering into the loud roar of atonement.
That the light shines in darkness,
that darkness which will not overtake it.
Those words on the broken dying man’s lips,
It is finished.

God wants men and women fully alive, and fully themselves on His mission, and so we must rebuff on the one hand the patriarchal systems, including the so called “Biblical” complementarianism, but on the other hand we must also rebuff third wave feminism which does not empower women but casts them as the perpetual victim of men, or even in some cases desires to tear down patriarchal systems to set up a matriarchy in its place. I propose instead a radical egalitarianism. Paul has this in mind when he uses the body metaphor in 1 Cor 12, and also in Gal 3:28, in fact I also believe that a careful and meditative reading of Ephesians 2:11-22 mitigates against any identity group (whether on the basis of gender, race, etc) from setting itself up either as a so called ruling class, or as a perpetual victim class.

Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος. οὗτος ἦν ἐν ἀρχῇ πρὸς τὸν θεόν. πάντα διʼ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ χωρὶς αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο οὐδὲ ἕν. ὃ γέγονεν ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν, καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἦν τὸ φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων καὶ τὸ φῶς ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ φαίνει, καὶ ἡ σκοτία αὐτὸ οὐ κατέλαβεν. — NA28
In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was fully god. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things came into being, and nothing came into being apart from him. In him is life, and that life is the light of all peoples. The light in darkness shines, and the darkness cannot contain it. — My translation
In the very beginning the living expression was already there. And the “Living Expression” was with God, yet fully God. They were together—face to face, in the very beginning. And through his creative inspiration this “Living Expression” made all things, for nothing has existence apart from him! Life came into being because of him, for his life is light for all humanity. And this Living Expression is the Light that bursts through gloom—the Light that darkness could not diminish! — The Passion Translation.

Introduction

The Passion Translation first came on my radar as a curiosity, in my searching for Bibles that exhibit a readability the concept of how the Passion Translation is currently being released as individual volumes (with from my understanding a New Testament volume to come out when the remaining epistles are also published [a final collection of Paul’s letters 1,2 Thess, Titus, and Philemon, and the book of Revelation]) The Passion Translation bills itself as a translation “To bring words that go right through the human soul, past the defenses of our mind, and go right into our spirit. There is a language of the heart that must express the passion of this love-theology. That’s why The Passion Translation is an important addition to peoples’ devotional and spiritual life with Christ.” And this is where the crux of my issue with this translation lies, I firmly believe that it fails to do this, I have chosen the opening verses of John because I believe that this is a prime example of where this breaks down.

Translational issues in this passage

The novelty of translating λογος as “Living Expression” makes the reading clunky and the footnote explaining the translational choice for this while informative of the milieu into which John wrote only further brings the reader out of the text rather than communicating the heart of God to the reader. The footnote reads as follows; “The Greek is Logos, which has a rich and varied background in both Greek philosophy and Judaism. The Greeks equated Logos with the highest principle of cosmic order. God’s Logos in the Old Testament is his powerful self-expression in creation, revelation, and redemption. In the New Testament we have this new unique view of God given to us by John, which signifies the presence of God himself in the flesh. Some have translated this rich term as “Word.” It could also be translated “Message” or “Blueprint.” Jesus Christ is the eternal Word, the creative Word, and the Word made visible. He is the divine self-expression of all that God is, contains, and reveals in incarnated flesh. Just as we express ourselves in words, God has perfectly expressed himself in Christ.” This footnote interestingly follows one that comments on the nature of the opening of John being revered and used as a hymn in the early church/Johannine community, if this is the case then we should opt for a simpler and smoother translation.
The next issue is the insertion of “through his creative inspiration…” the footnote does not shed light on why this idea has been imported into the text and neither the alternative translation nor the translation of the Aramaic translation of John provided lend credence to this. This is a complaint that I have found often in reviews of other portions of TPT.

Aramaic priority?

One of the things that comes up in the FAQ on the TPT website is the utilisation of the Aramaic in the translation. Reasons for this utilisation boil down to;
  • The use of Aramaic in portions of the Old Testament
  • The assertion of Aramaic as the common tongue in the Holy Land in the first Century
  • Especially in connection with Jesus
implicit in this answer is the now dropped assertion that the Aramaic New Testament portions utilised are closer to the original documents, there is no evidence for this, and while it is good that such an assertion has been dropped we’re left wondering why the Aramaic matters. There has been recent research that suggests that Jesus was likely polylingual and at least bilingual in both Aramaic and Greek, if not Aramaic, Greek, and Hebrew. Given his time spent in Alexandria (one of the centres of Greek Judaism) Jesus’ trade as a carpenter and his ability to discourse with the Roman soldiers I think this is likely. And if Jesus knew Greek, and the earliest extant manuscripts of the New Testament we have are in Greek until we have an Aramaic document that precedes the New Testament in antiquity it is merely an assumption and not a fact and shouldn’t be relied upon.
Further as is evidenced here and complained about elsewhere there are times when the TPT will ignore both the Greek and Aramaic and go off into lala land for no good reason. Supposedly this is what we mean by “go right through the human soul, past the defenses of our mind, and go right into our spirit.” I sense that there is a deep distrust of the work of the Holy Spirit in enlightening the Scriptures and working them into our bones, and I believe that this is covered over with the smoke screen of meeting our “emotions” or “heart” for a Charismatically oriented translation there isn’t a trust in the Spirit to “guide us into all truth”