Joy in Submission

Painting of Jesus Washing Peter's Feet by Ford Madox Brown

Painting of Jesus Washing Peter’s Feet by Ford Madox Brown

“Some things are so important”, wrote Søren Kierkegaard,  “that they cannot be communicated directly.” Joy in submission is one of those things. How would Kierkegaard attempt to indirectly explain this issue? I do not know. But I am willing to attempt an impossible task of thinking in Kierkegaardian manner as I address how serving is reigning in God’s kingdom. The concept I named, ‘Joy in Submission’.

We were made to reign. We were made to reign through serving. We were made to serve. The objects to which we serve define who we are. Some objects bring intrinsic joy and life when served. Others bring despair and death. Those that bring despair and death often promise intrinsic joy and life but deliver despair and death. Fame, sex, and money are objects that often promise intrinsic joy and life. When they serve us, they do deliver what they promised. But when we serve them, they bring despair and death.

Submission, in God’s kingdom, brings intrinsic joy and life. Submission is serving. Serving is reigning. Thus reigning is submission. Submission is a way of life. It is a way of life worth living. A life worth living is a passionate life. A passionate life glorifies God by enjoying Him now and forever. Enjoying God now and forever is a passionate living that rejoices in serving God through serving others. Serving others is submission. Continue reading

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Kierkegaard: Subjectivity is Truth

Kierkegaard“The subjective thinker is not a man of science, but an artist. Existing is an art. The subjective thinker is aesthetic enough to give his life aesthetic content, ethical enough to regulate it, and dialectical enough to penetrate it with thought.”(1974, 314)

“What is truth?” asked Pontius Pilate. “Subjectivity is truth,”(1987, 203) answered Søren Kierkegaard. For so long I misunderstood Kierkegaard. My love-hate-relationship with this brilliant Danish thinker underwent an existentialistic crisis. Re-reading Kierkegaard’s works in their proper historical background made me realise how I misunderstood him. My “hate” in my love-hate-relationship with him was based on misunderstanding. This article attempts to explore one of the Kierkegaardian ideas, namely subjectivity, which I once misunderstood.

Kierkegaard’s works can easily be misunderstood if not read within their proper context. Two clear examples are:  “Objectively, there is no truth”(1941, 201) and “It is subjectivity that Christianity is concerned with, and it is only in subjectivity that its truth exists, if it exists at all; Objectively, Christianity has absolutely no existence”(ibid. 116). Prima facie it seems that Kierkegaard is denying the objectiveness of truth and Christianity. This article aim to show that this is not the case. It argues that a relativistic understanding of subjectivity in Kierkegaard’s writings, which streamed existentialistic restoration of primitive Christianity from Danish State Church’s Christendom, would be misunderstanding his whole project all together.

Kierkegaard basic rejection of objectivity could be summed up in one  of his sentences; “objective thought has no relation to the existing subject”(1941, 112).  Holding on of objective truths of Christianity does not make an existing individual a genuine Christian. Majority of Danes, in Kierkegaard’s time, did that. The problem was what they believed did not affect them as existing individuals. Their daily lives were undistinguished from pagans.  The Hegelian systematic and objective Christianity did not affect existing individuals daily life. It did not generate passion for Danes to fully commit themselves to. Kierkegaard’s project was purely to address this issue. For him, “Christianity is spirit, spirit is inwardness, inwardness is subjectivity, subjectivity is essentially passion, and in its maximum an infinite personal, passionate interest in one’s eternal happiness.” (1974, 33) Continue reading

The Nietzschean Sinner

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo MiniThe Sinner, in my re-modification of Nietzschean Parable of the Madman*, ran up to the place called Golgotha, and cried incessantly: “I seek Life! I seek Life!” As many of those who did not believe in the accuracy of a mocking but ironically true description placed above the head of a Nazarene hanged on the Roman cross, ‘This is Jesus the King of the Jews’, laughed at the insanity of the Sinner’s words.

“Where is Life?” the Sinner cried; “I will tell you. We have killed Him – you and I. Death have finally and victoriously won. Hope is lost. It stung and killed Life at the cross. Men forever lost. Wretched men that we are! Who will rescue us from this perishable body of death?”

“O Sinner”, the Eschatological Hope replied,” Do not fall into despair. The death of Life at the cross was the death of Death. It was impossible for Life to be held by Death. The resurrection of Life was the confirmation that you O Sinner and the Church, who are found in Life, would also put on the imperishable body of life. Life has already but not yet rescued His Church. Death was swallowed up in victory by Life.”

“Rejoice and sing praise to Life, O Sinner,” said the Eschatological Hope, ” You and the true Church of God ought to rejoice with this new song: ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’”

“For the death of Life was the death of death.” the Eschatological Hope affirmed, “Rejoice O you who are in Life. Rejoice. Death has no dominion over you. It’s lordship ended at the death and resurrection of Christ, your true and everlasting Lord and God.”

*Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Gay Science (1882, 1887) tran. Walter Kaufmann (1974) New York: Vintage, 1974 p. 181-82)

Explosive Joy & Divine Romance

Gandolfi Allegory of JusticePeace and salvation, Yahweh is King (Isa. 52:7-8). This was and is a victorious proclamation that Yahweh’s kingdom has come on earth as it is in heaven. The God of Israel has return to His people. Here comes the inauguration of the eschatological era. It is the dawn of the new creation. The time of restoration of the fallen world has come. “Behold, your God”, proclaims those who herald this evangelion to God’s people who are anxiously waiting to hear the good news. Waiting to hear that  the time of God’s dominion on earth as it is in heaven has come.

Where this evangelion is proclaimed, there there is an explosive joy among God’s people. This explosive joy is rooted in Christ Jesus. He is not only the bringer of the evangelion but also the evangelion itself. He is the bringer of God’s kingdom in heaven to earth and He is the everlasting King in that joyous divine rule that will wipe away God’s people tears, bring end to morning, suffering, pain and death. He is also the true fountain of the living infinitely and imperishable joy itself.

The Church is called to heralding this evangelion. She is sent to herald God’s redemptive drama. She is sent to behold Christ Jesus as the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the fallen world and as the Lion of Judah, who has triumphed over darkness.

The Church is the last Eve. She is kept pure. She is without stain or wrinkle. For Her last Adam is keeping Her holy and blameless. Her mission, heralding and living in this divine romance, is a reaction. Just like laughter, it is not an action.

This mission is a reaction towards an overwhelming and compelling divine love. She is overwhelmed and compelled to be like Him, and to act like Him. She is overwhelmed and compelled to be holy, loving, patient and kind. She overwhelmed and compelled to protect the weak, to persevere in the darkness, to rejoice in truth, to welcome the outcasts, to heal the wounded and to bring hope in despair. The divine love compels Her to rekindle heaven on earth.

A Minor Divergence: Is Genesis 1 Creatio Ex Nihilo?

Genesis

Does Genesis 1 explicitly (or implicitly) convey the idea of creatio ex nihilo? Paul Copan and William Lane Craig, holding the traditional understanding, believe it does. This article examined carefully the case presented in their co-authored work Creation out of Nothing: A Biblical, Philosophical, And Scientific Exploration (2004). My aim is to test, by fairly balancing the considerations of the core arguments in their apologia, and judge whether that which is contended is true.

Creation out of Nothing is a book filled with nothing but beneficial information. Copan and Craig’s defense for creatio ex nihilo is not only persuasive but also sound when it comes to the areas of philosophy and science (2004:147-266). Their biblical defenses from all passages but Genesis 1 are both strong and cogent (ibid. 71-91). It is only in Genesis 1 where our ways part, like summer and winter. This difference ought not overshadow the large, if not almost all, parts of what I am in total agreement with Copan and Craig. Continue reading

Eschatological Solution to the Problem of Pain and Suffering

Pain Pauls blog

The problem of pain and suffering is without doubt the most troubling paradox for Christians. How could a loving, maximally powerful and caring God allow his children to go through extreme and seemly meaningless pain and suffering? In times of suffering many Christians do, and correctly so I may add, find it difficult to imagine that God cares about their struggles. God appears to be as cold as ice itself and far from them as east is to the west. At those moments they rightly identify with Ivan Karamazov’s cry: “It’s not that I don’t accept God, you must understand, it’s the world created by Him I don’t and cannot accept”, in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s fictional novel, The Brothers Karamazov (Dostoevsky 2007, 257)

Early Christians underwent various trials and persecutions. Many paid their faithfulness with their own blood. What was it that made them stand tall and proud through such hard times? What was it that made them triumphantly walk into the valley of death without doubting the sovereignty of their loving God? As I explored their writings, I discovered one of their reasons. Their eschatological hope was what keep them going. It was their hope for the future glory at the second advent of their Lord and God. Their understanding of this future glory brought them hope. They considered all their present suffering not worthy compared to the joy and glory prepared for them (Rom. 8:18). Continue reading

The Message of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11

Rapture of Saint PaulIs there hope for Christians who have passed away? Will they participate in the eschatological hope, the parousia of the second advent of King Jesus? How ought the living Christians live their lives as they awaited the returning of their Lord and God? These were roughly the questions Paul attempted to address in his first epistle to the Church in Thessalonica (4:13-5:11). In the previous articles I went through different interpretations and the current debate surrounding Paul’s message, as I attempt to explore Paul’s answers to these questions:

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