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Posts Tagged ‘Peter’

The heat and burning of fire comprise an inconveniently common motif in the biblical literature. Some of the best and worst things that happen are mediated by that flame which destroys or purifies.

The Petrine literature, with its tilt towards apocalyptic and its extreme sobriety, is particularly fond of such imagery. Peter is convinced, like the prophets Isaiah and Zechariah before him, that fire can be a very good thing indeed. Good, even very good, but always unpleasant for the time of its burning:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed

The remarkable conceptual medley that makes of such an opening doxology the very stuff of life as it is worked out in the non-idyllic life of Christian believers, joins the Lord’s keeping of his newborn children to the reality that their faith will even within God’s own design be tested by fire. Close inspection suggests that Peter is not confused or undisciplined in his merger of two motifs that lesser souls might choose to keep remote one from another. Rather, he has understood that protective divine love is purposeful, determined, and resolute. It is not, however, cuddly.

C.S. Lewis, in his The Problem of Pain, taught us to anticipate that a God who genuinely loves humankind will not settle for the object of his affections wallowing or stagnating in its decrepit and mediocre stagnation. He will love it until it becomes something better.

So comes fire.

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The alienation of knowledge from loving action in the life of human beings and human communities is hardly a modern problem. Yet the systematic divorce of ‘mind and heart’ or ‘heart and head’ arguably is.

Only a post-Descartian distinction of the knowing being from the object of his or her knowledge could become the breeding ground for the dualism the has become received truth for generations of Bible readers who promptly project such epistemological nonsense back onto its pages. (more…)

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It is easy to wonder about the logical thread that purports to string together a chain of human virtues in consecutive fashion. It looks like artifice, like all form and no function, like empty words. (more…)

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It is difficult to take the measure of rubble.

One cannot tell where one wall ended and another began. To guess the function of the buildings that are now this pile of stone is the stuff of speculation. One can only wonder who lived here, who died, who loved, who screamed, who longed for something better than this mountain of rock and dust. (more…)

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