Thursday, June 30, 2011

Democracy in The Ukraine

Europe’s Ukrainian Test

We live in an moment where many states are being tested as to their commitment to democratic norms. Just such a moment is happening in the Ukraine.
What is interesting to note is how democratic norms have become the worldwide standard and all government are under the microscope as a result of the communications revolution.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Kingdom Solves the Human Problem - Intro

“The kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” - Jesus, Mark 1:15
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” - Jesus, Matthew 3:2
The most revolutionary idea ever proclaimed is that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. In Jesus Christ, precisely because Jesus is the Christ, a new, truly happy and heavenly quality of life is within reach. This new quality of life is available to anyone who will repent and place their faith in Jesus the Christ to lead them into this kingdom life with power in this life. The promise of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the life of the kingdom. Jesus Christ has the power and authority to supply those who believe with every thing necessary to enter into this  previously unavailable quality of life. 
This is a revolutionary treatise. My intention is singular. With the clarity God grants me, I intend to articulate the means by which the believer today, in this life, can enter into this newly available quality of life. It is because of the advent of Jesus Christ, His work on the cross, His teachings and His on-going powerful work that we can live a life that was unavailable prior to Jesus’ appearance on the human scene. 
The least in the kingdom is greater than the greatest prophet that lived prior to the moment that Jesus offered the kingdom (Matt. 11:11; Luke 16:16). To enter the kingdom even a little bit is a greater and more glorious life than the life of Moses. This is our faith, a faith of high expectations as a result of the advent of the Christ. 
To understand the revolutionary and transformational message of the gospel, we must understand the human problem and how the gospel solves this problem. In fact, we must understand the revolutionary nature of the gospel to understand the message of the bible. The gospel message is that kingdom solves the human predicament, the problem of humanity. This, indeed, is the great news. To help us understand the human problem and it’s solution, first, we will look at God’s illustration of the human problem in Genesis 1-6 and, then, we will contrast this picture of human life with the the new testament picture of a new humanity living in light of the presence of the kingdom as seen in  Acts 2 and Acts 4. Genesis presents the proverbial point A, the starting point where all humanity prior to Christ lives out human existence, and Acts 2 & 4 presents the proverbial “Point B”, the kingdom community immersed in the teachings and presence of Jesus Christ. It is only after we see these two points, the beginning of the journey and the end of the journey that we can begin to unfold, principle by principle and practice by practice, the process that takes us, the people of Jesus Christ, in this kingdom quality of life. 

Next: The Human Problem: Understanding Genesis 1-6

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Understanding Obama's Foreign Policy: Democratist - Book Review of Michael McFaul's "Advancing Democracy Abroad"

Book Review: “Advancing Democracy Abroad: Why We Should and How We Can” by Michael McFaul. � Democratist

I think McFaul's book "Advancing Democracy Abroad" and McFaul's approach certainly informs the Obama administration's foreign policy. McFaul defines his approach as "Wilsonian liberalism with a realist core".

This approach considers it to be in America's best interest to make alliances with democracies and shun alliances with autocrats. The realist part would be to maintain the current alliances but place far more effort toward the promotion of human rights and democracy in these countries. Thus, changing the dymanic of these relationships. The realist approach simply makes alliances with nations without regard to regime type.

Another aspect of a more liberal approach would be that the use of military force, except in extreme examples like the obligation to prevent genocide (i.e. libya), should be avoided in order to maintain consistency with the ideals of human rights. America must maintain its moral high ground. This idealism is something that America from Reagan to Bush so readily sacrificed.

We can easily see that the idealism of Wilsonian Liberalism, which I strongly support, has led autocrats to feel far less secure and democracy advocates in these nations to become far more emboldened under the backdrop of the Obama Administration. Thus, the Arab spring!!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Gender Oppression in Saudi Arabia

Sing Out, Hillary

I believe this is the THE issue of our time - women's rights. Gender equality under the law and in terms of economic opportunities touches so many areas from human trafficking to pornography.

Genesis teaches us that humanity has three fundamental problems the root of which is alienation from God. These issues are:
1. Material sustenance and poverty (sweat of brow)
2. Gender oppression (your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you)
3. Violence (Cain and Abel)

If we fight for a kingdom solution to these issues which are ever before the eyes of God, then our light shall break forth as the morning sun and the glory of the Lord will be our reward!!!!


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Middle East’s Slow-Motion Revolution - The Church Needs a Revolution Too

The Middle East’s Slow-Motion Revolution - Prince El Hassan bin Talal - Project Syndicate

I think when the whole blog and emergent thing started people thought, we were on the verge of a great move forward in the church BUT this has not happened as far as I can tell.

Nonetheless, a dramatic change in theology (hopefully toward a coherent kingdom theology that understands what it really means that Jesus is the promised Christ) and discipleship practices is needed to revolutionize the church.

I believe more that ever that the church is to be a new social order as expressed in Acts 2 and 4. These early pictures of possibility have been hijacked by a theology of other worldliness that seems to hope for Christ to come in the future more than a celebration of the revolution that already happened. It seems to me we feel our death will be more liberating than Christ's death. Christians still live in bondage and yet they are the only free people on earth.

Our new freedom is to be expressed in a lifestyle of simplicity and generosity, and, yet, we lack the distinction that living in a kingdom social order prescribes. Are we able to say as the early church did that there were none who lacked? Do we live in a social context of daily interdependence in the church? A new definition of family? Are we immersed in the presence of God as a people?
Instead, we wait.

Today, the Arab world is struggling to find its voice and its ideology. So too, the people of Christ remain locked out of the kingdom by a lack of imagination and courage.
peace, brad

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Notes on: The New Social Order Called the Church

The following are my notes/abstract on my intro to a Section on Kingdom Theology in Discipleship 101. 
POINT: If we see the goal of the Gospel as an observable Morally Beautiful Community (an earthly expression of the kingdom in this age), then we submit all discipleship and mission to this goal. The root cause is spiritual and the outcome is a new social order called the church. 
Key idea: A person must see the observable problem of violence, man’s inhumanity to man, marital strife and poverty as the problem and the kingdom as the answer to this observable problem. Therefore, if the kingdom has come, then the solution to this observable problem is being displayed in the church. Human society in its common state is the problem and the church in it’s glory in this age is the solution. 

I will used the simplest of illustrations to explain the main point of this chapter to understand the true extent of the goodness of the good news. The illustration is a simple arrow going from the proverbial point “A” to point “B”. The principle is that we must begin with the end in site, We must know where we are and where God intends to bring us here in life in this age. The proclamation that the kingdom of heaven is within our reach is stating that humanity is at a place of great need and the kingdom of heaven meets this great need. Humanity, all human beings, have a problem and the kingdom of heaven is the solution to this problem. 
How we define this problem will determine how good we see the good news. How we define this problem will determine what problem we have faith for the Gospel to solve.
A Description of the Goal. 
The biblical description of the end to which we aim to arrive at is most clearly and practically depicted in Acts 2 and Acts 4. I will begin the passage with the conclusion of Peter’s sermon. 
Acts2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.”
37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” 40 And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” 41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. 42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
 43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Acts 4:32 And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. 34 For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales 35 and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.
36 Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement), 37 and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
Thesis: The Church, the eschatological expression of the in braking of the kingdom, is a community with a radically distinct social order. The church is to be a clear and distinct expression of a new social order. This social order directly and distinctly solves the fundamental human problems of alienation from God and alienation from one another. The church as the community of the Christ vividly presents to the world a clear solution to the problem of wealth inequality and greed as the outcome of the rule and reign of the Christ in the life of the believers. 

Friday, June 03, 2011

Food and the G8

Food for Revolution by Harold James - Project Syndicate

One thing I am beginning to study is global food prices and their effect on the poor. This article makes a great point that food price instability has historically been the greatest source of revolutions in recent history. The revolutions in France in 1789 and Russian in 1917 were triggered by food shortages. The current Arab spring finds its immediate spark in rising food prices. Globalization and changes in monetary policy have a very inelastic relationship with food prices. Therefore, it is the responsibility of policy makers who set financial and monetary policies on a macro level to keep food availability and food prices in different regions of the globe at the forefront of their thinking when they make these policy decisions.

As Christians, it is our responsibility to keep the welfare of the poor at the forefront of our thinking and activities. It is time for us to become more knowledgable of these issues in order to advocate for the poor of the world.