Are you looking for the coolest new church in your city? A church like this is soon to open near you…
[Note: concern has been expressed that this post may be misinterpreted as being a serious church site. It is meant to be satire (rather unsubtle satire, I thought) aiming at the ‘evangelical industrial complex’ and the narcissistic corruption of late modern evangelical Christianity. It’s my view that late modern evangelicalism has been so corrupted by certain philosophical presuppositions (and the design and purpose of social media) that many have become oblivious to the spiritual toxicity of self-promotion, narcissism and false notions regarding success and effectiveness].
In light of J.I. Packer’s passing I thought I’d write an article expressing the closeness of my relationship with him. There are many social media posts now that he has passed, so I thought I’d join the general outpouring of somewhat self-referential gratitude for the man.
Packer was the loveliest and most intelligent theologian of our age whom I’ve never met. I would see him smile and lecture from afar. He would gaze upon me as part of the crowd, and I’m certain that he had no idea who I was. In hindsight I think Packer missed the opportunity of close and lasting friendship with me because I never took any of his classes. I’ve gained much from his books. I long for the day when his theological principles have an actual impact upon late modern organised Anglicanism. Most of all, I’m grateful for the uncluttered utter simplicity of Packer’s personal relationship with me.
While I was at Regent College I had a chance to do a one on one class with Eugene Peterson on Dante’s Commedia. It was my first time reading the poem and I’ve gone on to read it many times since. The look on his face indicated to me that he thought I was a bit of a clueless idiot. That look on his face has stayed with me throughout the whole of my ordained ministry. It was like this photo, but without the smile.
Recently I was reminded of the video ‘My name is John Daker’ and it got me thinking… Initially, I was a bit baffled by the medley of two songs, one a classic Christian hymn celebrating the resurrection and the other a 1950s hit song by Dean Martin celebrating romantic love. However, I now think John Daker was making a profound (though subtle) theological point in crafting his performance into a parable.
As Origen states (echoing St. Ignatius of Antioch), ‘my eros has been crucified’. However, it is because of the resurrection and ascension of Jesus and Pentecost that our eros may be redeemed and gathered up into agape and thus be directed towards the Lord in worship (a total repudiation of Nygren’s thesis in ‘Eros and Agape’ (with a h/t to Dante) doubtless both these works influence this parable). In our ‘now and not-yet’ reality none of us can give clear expression to this truth. We forget, falter and get things wrong (sometimes even embarrassing ourselves). The key is to persist under the grace of God and in the power of the Holy Spirit in allowing the resurrection power of Christ to sanctify all our loves. One of the key virtues in this spiritual warfare is the virtue of perseverance. This virtue is called to battle especially when it appears that what we are doing is futile, ridiculous or failing. As John Daker indicates through the clever use of his eyebrows, he gets all of this perfectly. Also, by recording his parable and stating his name at the outset he indicates that this ‘treasure’ is held in jars of clay and must be joyously incorporated into our witness. ‘God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness’.