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    • G. Richard Wheatcroft
    • Author of several reviews for TCPC, Dick Wheatcroft is Rector emeritus of St. Francis Church, Houston, TX, and board member of Nevertheless, a publication of the Texas Church Review. He was also a member of TCPC's original Advisory Committee.

Easter is the Celebration of the Justice and Compassion of God

Most Christians are familiar with the stories in the Gospels and many verses in the Epistles declaring that the Lord is risen. Many people believe the stories of the resurrection of Jesus are historically true. Others have difficulty believing they are true in that sense but understand them as metaphors pointing to the truth. Either way, whether you believe or understand, the issue is what do these stories mean? We can begin our search for the meaning of the stories by knowing that New Testament scholar John Dominic Crossan has stressed: "Never, ever separate the life from the death and resurrection of Jesus. Ever. Not the life from the death, not the death from the resurrection."

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Jesus Did Not Die for Us, Jesus Lived and Died for Us

In the April 1995 issue of Theology Today, theologian Murray Joseph Haar lamented what he regarded as a "rampant" sickness within the American church. He wrote, "The symptoms of this illness sound like this: 'Jesus died for my sins, His pain my gain, He died to set us free, Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away my sins, I have decided to accept Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior." With words like these, many Christians proclaim and define their faith in the efficacy of Jesus' death on their behalf. I contend that these words of faith indicate precisely the nature of the sickness at the heart of American Christianity." He calls the sickness, a "rampant, individualistic, self-serving redemptionsm." (1)The sickness continues today. The common understanding and frequent statement of many Christians is that "Jesus died for us." Standing alone, that is a distortion of the Christian faith, for it separates the life of Jesus from his death. A dramatic depiction of this separation is seen in Mel Gibson's film The Passion of The Christ. In the film the passion of Christ was almost entirely limited to his death. There was no understanding that his death was the consequence and fulfillment of the passion of his life.

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Honest to God

The common belief in God is usually called theism or more precisely supernatural theism. It is the concept that God is a Being in heaven who created the world and from time to time intervenes in the world to assert his will. In her book The History of God, Karen Armstrong states that this concept of God is evident in the history of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It is this concept of God which the atheist authors of the five books deny. It is my contention that Christians should also be atheists about such a concept of God. If I were asked by a pollster if I believed in God I would, as an ordained clergyman, say No!

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A Subversive Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer is a universal Christian prayer. It is said in every corporate worship service worldwide and is used in the personal devotions of millions of people. Recently, I began to be aware that the prayer is so familiar I was saying it without thinking what it meant, and I wondered if other people have the same experience. The result of my thinking and wondering is this article.

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Building Community With Our Differences

One of features marking the renaissance of Jesus studies is the centrality of the social world of Jesus. Because meanings are embedded in a social world, if we are to understand and appreciate what Jesus said and did, his message and activity need to be located in his social world.

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The Kingdom of God: A Domination Free Order

In The Gospel According to Mark, the earliest of the four Gospels, the first words Jesus spoke when he began his mission and ministry in Galilee were, “The time has come: the Kingdom of God is upon you; repent and believe the Gospel.” (Mk. 1:14 NEB) The consensus of biblical scholarship is that the Kingdom of God is the central focus of the message and ministry of Jesus.

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