Then Charlottesville, now Sutherland Springs. In contemporary America. Islamabad. Cairo. Worshippers gathered together are met with unprovoked lethal violence. And we mourn. We mourn as fellow humans, we grieve as fellow believers, we mourn as a world-wide church. We grieve as those who hope in the resurrection of the dead assured by our anointed King and Savior Jesus who will come again to establish righteousness and equity through judgment ...
Why should Christians care about citizenship and politics? After all, didn’t Jesus say that his kingdom was not from this world? (John 18:36) Didn’t the apostle Paul write that our citizenship in in heaven? (Philippians 3:20) God may have instituted civil authorities and empowered their coercive judgments (Romans 13:1) but that doesn’t mean we need to like that brood of vipers, anymore than we suppose Paul was a fan of emperor Nero. Some theologians (rightly worried about the easy assimilation of comfortable Christianity to unquestioning patriotism) have for some time now advanced the view that a Christian’s identity is determined by belonging to the one global church of Jesus Christ and not at all by local loyalties of citizenship. How else are we to understand our spiritual fraternity and equal standing before God? Earthly political citizenship, by contrast, as distributed solely by geography of birth or forced migration, clearly marks some as winners and some as losers in the paths to flourishing ...
Readers of this blog may be interested in the short article I have written over at Reformation 21. The gist of my claim is that the person of Jesus Christ shapes our primary ethical response to torture and our attitude to its perpetration by our authorities. Person, that is, over procedure, particularly over fear based consequentialist reasoning that might allow in extremis the ends of security to justify the means of torture. I very minimally offer that the health of our moral imaginations as Christian citizens is attested to in our habits of corporate prayer.
So we eat. We are dependent on many and ultimately God for the grace of our continued diets. We say grace at mealtimes in recognition of that dependence. For all that, many of us don’t consider that theology has much to do with meals and eating.
Of course, if you are going to use a lens of food and hospitality to teach theology, you’d better be ready to feed your students. The beginning of semester means a marathon Welsh cake baking session in the Draycott home. In our January intensive Interterm, I get to welcome the whole class to our home for a session of teaching. In regular semester the larger classes don’t allow this. But hospitality then becomes an experiential learning project for the students. Throughout the semester, in groups they will have eaten a meal together and deliberately fasted and prayed together.
I teach my Theology II undergraduate survey course through the lens of a theology of food and hospitality. Over a few posts I’ll share a number of elements that constitute the overall logic of the class. First, here, I share the formal shape of the class and how I see it fitting with our key concerns as a university. I shall later comment on my textbook choices and other resources that explore the theme. Also to come will be an account of how I frame what the task of theology is for my students through this lens, along with the measure of what I think can be achieved in a class.
‘Missional ethics’ speaks of the missionary dimensions of the life of the people of God and the ethical features of mission. The connection between mission and ethics is fundamental for how we perceive our common life in the Spirit.