The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

New Worlds Here

with 5 comments

Here’s a remarkable story that is so relevant to the religious scene today in the USA. It’s from Lawrence, the able writer of a blog from England called Disclosing New Worlds. I’ve listed it in my links as New Worlds (my tiny buttons wouldn’t hold all three words!)

After watching Bonhoeffer on PBS Monday night, Lawrence’s story seems even more important to me. Here’s an excerpt. Click here for the whole thing.

A theologian by training, I was born and brought up in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia). As a deeply committed young Christian, I spent 2 years as a detective in the Rhodesian Special Branch during the Independence Chimurenga in the late 1970s, specialising in political and military intelligence. It was not until pursuing doctoral studies in South African political theology in Cambridge form 1987 onwards that I came face to face with all that this had meant. During the long journey to reappropriate my faith, I had to come to terms with the fact that my society, friends, family, church, and even the God with whom I communed daily had not prevented me from being involved in something radically unchristlike, all the time believing it to be my Christian duty!
I came to learn that Christians believe in different Christs. The Jesus who blesses white supremacy, repression and torture, colonialism and the haves at the expense of the have-nots is a different Jesus from the one whose gospel was Good News to the poor, the dispossessed, the oppressed and the marginalised. It is not just that Christians have to discover how to communicate Jesus to those who have nothing to do with him: they have also to discover for themselves who the true Jesus is in the midst of competing Christs, and in so doing, learn who their God is.
I was fortunate to study missiology under David Bosch in South Africa, and New Testament under James Dunn in Durham. My supervisor in Cambridge, Chris Rowland, taught me the subversive power of biblical texts (both for good an ill) and the necessity of taking sides with those on the margins truly to understand the liberative power of the Gospel. But it is Walter Brueggemann who has put into words what I had experienced for myself in reading the Bible: the power of the texts lies in their ability to disclose a new world – not some other world to which we can escape, but this world, disclosed as filled with God’s presence and saving activity.

If there truly is a “necessity of taking sides with those on the margins,” how does it affect us here, now?

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Written by Monte

April 26, 2006 at 2:28 pm

Posted in Bible, Iraq

5 Responses

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  1. Thank you, Lawrence – these words of yours/Brueggeman’s really move me, and strike me as a key to coming to grips with the despair that some have mentioned above:

    But it is Walter Brueggemann who has put into words what I had experienced for myself in reading the Bible: the power of the texts lies in their ability to disclose a new world – not some other world to which we can escape, but this world, disclosed as filled with God’s presence and saving activity.

    Though Jesus sometimes wept over this world, I suspect he was able to see it differently than we often do – seeing it “filled with God’s presence and saving activity.” As people all over it hear God’s voice and side “with those on the margins,” God surely provides triumph that we often do not see.


    May 2, 2006 at 10:20 am

  2. Monte
    Thanks for letting me know you’d used this. Glad you could – and even more about what it was you wanted to illustrate! I see you use WordPress. Is that a free programme, or do you ahve to buy it? I like what you’re doing here. Let me know of you get any traffic from my blog.



    May 2, 2006 at 4:35 am

  3. Check this out for a hopeful but mysterious view:
    The Divided Loyalties of Resident Aliens
    Strange Lands Your Home, Your Home a Strange Land


    April 29, 2006 at 1:20 pm

  4. I’m with you, Georgann. Head in the sand because it’s all too much.

    If we are to love our neighbor, and people say the whole world is our neighbor, well, that’s crazy-making!

    So what do we do with all this, except acknowledge the God as the only one who is capable of loving the whole world. If we try to take it all in and try to solve it all ourselves, we just can’t–we are finite.

    But prayer, yes! And acting as God leads.


    April 28, 2006 at 3:30 pm

  5. I don’t know. It truly is a puzzle. I saw this morning on the Today Show about Darfur (it is part of Sudan) where another genocide is taking place. Two guys were telling about it, and how we have the opportunity to prevent another Rwanda. They want the UN to encourage the African Union troops to go in, because they said that that when the African troops go in, things really do settle down.

    They talked about how overloaded we all are with disasters and emergencies all over the world, plus all that is going on here in the States, but they didn’t know how to get us (or anyone in the world) to care unless they just kept telling us. I know I am certainly overloaded. I rarely catch the news, except for the occasional blips from the Today Show. The news is generally discouraging and depressing, so I just don’t watch. (Sticking my head in the sand, I know!) But I don’t handle it well.

    Not long ago, as I have been reading through 1 Peter, I came upon this verse from 3:11 “he must seek peace and pursue it.” I wondered what that could mean for me in the worldwide scheme of things. All I know to do is pray to the God of the universe, who “changes times and seasons; He sets kings up and deposes them.” (Daniel 2:21)The God who “has not ignored the suffering of the needy. He has not turned and walked away. He has listened to their cries for help.” (Psalm 22:24)He cares passionately, and I will just keep praying for His intervention. I am sure our prayers matter more than I can imagine.

    I did consider sending that Joan Chittister article to the Today Show. Maybe they’d consider having her on, with a new point of view towards peace.


    April 28, 2006 at 9:34 am

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