Random Thoughts on Peace and Non-Violence

Random Thoughts on Peace and Non-Violence

Like a lot of people, today has been an odd day with lots of thoughts floating my skull. It started last night though I knew nothing of the Las Vegas tragedy until this morning. For me, my thoughts started with Thomas Cahill’s book Sailing The Wine-Dark Seas: Why the Greeks Matter which I was reading. In this book, Cahill notes that one of the most cherished philosophical foundation of Western culture is that war is a natural part of life. As Heraclitus (535-475 BC) once said, “War is the father of all, the king of all.” Plato (427-347 BC) would echo this saying years later with his statement that war is a necessity  “always existing by nature.” Armed with this philosophical foundation, the Greeks developed a fighting style that could help them conquer the known world under the leadership of Alexander the Great. The Romans would later build on this foundation of war, gifting the Western world with the knowledge on how to kill people with great efficiency – as WW1, WW2, the Cold War, nuclear arms, and the like attest. This morning on the way to work I found myself at a stop light staring at a “peace” sign made up of rifles with the phrase “There’s no peace without guns” next to it. As I sat there, I couldn’t help but think about the sadness of this saying… though it may make perfect sense to some, it seems counter to the way of Jesus of Nazareth who told his followers to turn the other cheek (Mt 5:38-40), love and bless those who hate them (Mt 5:43-48, Lk...
Symbols of the Confederacy or Jesus?

Symbols of the Confederacy or Jesus?

There is a lot of talk these days about the symbols of the Confederacy. As a southern born and raised follower of Jesus, I thought I would add my voice to the conversation. As dangerous as that might be… When talking about symbols of any kind, we must understand two very important things about them. The first is that understanding that symbols are more than the material used to create them. They bring to the surface a full range of emotions because of what they represent. As I write in my recent book, The Here and Not Yet: Symbols are powerful. They can bring a tear to an eye, give hope to the hopeless and inspire people to go beyond themselves. They can also summon up anger, grief and rage in a blink of an eye. Symbols in and of themselves are nothing; hardly worth the cloth or paper they are made on. Yet to us humans, the right symbol could cause us to do things that we would never do on our own. Just think about the soldiers who risked their lives to raise the United States flag on Iwo Jima during War World II. On the surface their actions were crazy and not worth the blood and sweat that it took. Yet, because they raised a symbol and not just a piece of cloth, their blood and sweat was worth it. Or to use another example, think about the symbol of two pieces of wood laid on top of each other in the shape of the letter “t”. The cross. In some parts of the world, the...
Peace and Reconciliation: Looking Not To Our Own Interests…

Peace and Reconciliation: Looking Not To Our Own Interests…

Last week I attended the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit for the first time. Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, spoke on Thursday about fighting on behalf of those on the edge of society. Immaculée Ilibagiza, a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, spoke the following day about the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation. That evening, Friday, August 11th, waves of hate flowed out of hades on to the streets of Charlottesville. In the days that followed that initial onslaught, the hatred continued to build as the goo of evil slimed the United States of America. While some political leaders spoke out against the hatred of the neo-Nazi and white supremacy groups, our president remained largely silent. And when he did speak, he ultimately spoke up on behalf of those deep within the wave of hate. Though I knew we as a nation were still working towards full racial reconciliation, I must admit that I didn’t realize how far behind we really were. Perhaps my status as a white male has clouded my vision…perhaps I wanted to believe that we were further along the path…perhaps…perhaps…. The one thing I know for sure is that the way of the Creator is one of peace and reconciliation. Hatred, racism, ethnocentrism, and nationalism has no place in the kingdom of God. In pledging our allegiance to Jesus, we have renounce not only Satan and the forces of evil, but also our nationalist and racial claims. We are now members of a new Kingdom under a new King whose citizens span the globe and the course of history....
Experiencing the Kingdom through Environmental Stewardship

Experiencing the Kingdom through Environmental Stewardship

It is a sad but true reality that many of the followers of Jesus do not take care of the creation the Creator King made. Instead, they quote selected Bible verses, chosen to support their view that what they do to the environment (biological and geological) does not matter. After all, it is all going to burn anyway. Or so goes the standard view of a lot of Christianity today. In stark opposition to this view is the concept of Kingdom Theology which declares that the rule and reign of the King over every area of life and everything, created or uncreated, invisible or visible. Time itself began with the Creator King declaring that everything was good. The dirt was good; the animals of the land, sea and sky were good; the trees, grass, and plants that covered earth was good. Everything that was made or would be made was good. This declaration of the King of Kings has never been revoked. It is a fact that God made this planet and all other planets across the galaxies of the vast skies, simply because he wanted to. He found joy in creating things that no eye, animal or human, would ever see. And he declared it all good. Things did change when Adam and Eve decided to try to rule things themselves, as we have seen. Despite the entrance of sin, evil and death into the creation, the essence of creation remained good. Sadly, as the years rolled by, the creation was ground down by sin and evil. Things that were beautiful became deadly; elements that were to bring...
Confusion Over Kingdom Theology

Confusion Over Kingdom Theology

In my upcoming book (The Here and Not Yet: What is Kingdom Theology and why does it matter?) I define Kingdom Theology as a way of life that acknowledges that through the person of Jesus, the new age of life broke into human history and provided humanity with a new way to live life, while also acknowledging that the rule of evil, sin and death is still actively resisting the leadership change (i.e. enacted inaugurated eschatology). We are only six days into 2017 and already there has been two news articles written about Kingdom Theology. And unfortunately, they both miss the mark on defining Kingdom Theology. The first article (Jan 1st at PJ Media) directly defined “Kingdom Theology” as the desire use government power to create the God’s kingdom “here on earth.” The author then proceed to tell his readers that this view was incorrect. Rather the modern Christian shouldn’t “try to force” the kingdom to come down to earth “before the right season has come.”  In doing so, the author not only reduced the kingdom of God to a political nation, but they also embraced a delayed eschatology worldview (i.e. God’s kingdom is in the future somewhere and Christians just have to wait until it comes). The second article (Jan 3rd at Religion & Politics) talked about an “attitude shift about Kingdom theology” in which the kingdom of God changed from being a “religiously pure…and established after a period of apocalyptic upheaval to a vision of communities of mutual concern that support diverse forms of human flourishing in the here-and-now.” In other words, this article defined Kingdom Theology...
The Here and Not Yet: Book Update

The Here and Not Yet: Book Update

As it’s been a while since I’ve talked about it, I figured I own you all a quick update on my upcoming book, The Here and Not Yet: What is Kingdom Theology and why does it matter? The publication of the book has been pushed out a bit as the Vineyard International Publishing folks asked me to shorten the length a bit. Accordingly I am currently working on editing down the material (a process made slower by having to work on school papers). I have, thankfully, received some great feedback on the manuscript with two awesome theologians giving me suggestions to make it better (Dr. Peter Fitch @ St. Stephen University and Dr. Derek Morphew @ Vineyard Institute). A few local pastors have also written recommendations for the material. These I have posted below to whet your appetite for the book. What I love about Josh’s book is the way he melds powerful truth with an easy reading style. This makes the theology accessible to all without losing any of the impact of what it means to live “in the now, but not yet”. Historical truth, accurate theology and practical application makes this a handbook for people who want to “do” Christianity. –Kevin Thienes, Pastor of Prayer Ministries, Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Boise. Josh’s The Here and Not Yet is an absolutely outstanding work on the theology of the kingdom and corresponding practices. Not only does he lay the necessary biblical-theological framework, Josh demonstrates how the kingdom applies in every area of life. I highly recommend this to fellow pastors and churches alike! –Luke T. Geraty, Lead Pastor of...