God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?

The Madman, Friedrich Nietzsche

The words of a group of Muslim students on campus might be ascribed to pure chance, the evolution of language, and mistranslations. But “Have you read the last testament of God” immediately opened with two possible interpretations when I saw the poster. On a mainly Christianised university campus, it’s a nice slogan to start a conversation. After the first and second testament, or the old and new testament, their was a last testament, the Koran. Or else, it could be interpreted as the testament of God, God’s will. Those are the last wishes of a dead God.
And Christians can also do this. They talk about the Bible as the final word of God. An unchanging document that needs to be followed to the letter. It’s like following the testament of a dead man, to the letter, since he is no longer available to talk about possible interpretations, or to continue to develop these words.
Maybe it’s not funny then how the exact same people who read the Bible as if it was a testament, as the last words that God ever spoke, as the testament of a dead God, tend to resurrect this God by forcing it into the realm of the supernatural experience. This way we tend to end up with a God who spoke his last will, his last testament, 1400, or 1900, or 2300 years ago, but at times gets resurrected to speak a new final word to the receiver, words that may not be questioned, interpreted, or worked out in relationship with the other.
It would seem like any talk of a “final word” of God causes from its inception that this God is fated to die. To become silent. Subsequently, attempts at resurrecting God in the supernatural experience, when absolutised as the new final word of God, has, apart from the same problems, the added problem that new gods have the tendency to appear using the names of an existing god.
How else should we read the words of a creator God than by engaging, interpreting, criticising, reinterpreting, and listening to the noise, attempting to hear the continuing voice of God?

The words of a group of Muslim students on campus might be ascribed to pure chance, the evolution of language, and mistranslations. But “Have you read the last testament of God” immediately opened with two possible interpretations when I saw the poster. On a mainly Christianised university campus, it’s a nice slogan to start a conversation. After the first and second testament, or the old and new testament, their was a last testament, the Qur’an. Or else, it could be interpreted as the testament of God, God’s will. Those are the last wishes of a dead God.

And Christians can also do this. They talk about the Bible as the final word of God. An unchanging document that needs to be followed to the letter. It’s like following the testament of a dead man, to the letter, since he is no longer available to talk about possible interpretations, or to continue to develop these words.

Maybe it’s not funny then how the exact same people who read the Bible as if it was a testament, as the last words that God ever spoke, as the testament of a dead God, tend to resurrect this God by forcing it into the realm of the supernatural experience. This way we tend to end up with a God who spoke his last will, his last testament, 1400, or 1900, or 2300 years ago, but at times gets resurrected to speak a new final word to the receiver, words that may not be questioned, interpreted, or worked out in relationship with the other.

It would seem like any talk of a “final word” of God causes from its inception that this God is fated to die. To become silent. Subsequently, attempts at resurrecting God in the supernatural experience, when absolutised as the new final word of God, has, apart from the same problems, the added problem that new gods have the tendency to appear using the names of an existing god.

How else should we read the words of a creator God than by engaging, interpreting, criticizing, reinterpreting, and listening to the noise, attempting to hear the continuing voice of God?

interfaith dialogue

July 31, 2008

Haven’t done much blogging the past few days. I’m learning TYPO3 and building our church website using the Web Empowered Church, you might want to check it out if you want to build a church website.

Just saw this video. Want to get any idea how NOT to do interfaith dialogue or evangelism or anything similar? This is a definite no-no!

My dad did some posts on Max Warren’s ““Seven Rules for Dialogue Between Christians and non-Christians.” You can find the eight posts here. I wrote some thoughts on something David Bosch wrote on dialogue here.

There is a new god on the block. We have made offers to Odin, as well as some other gods, should we offer to this new god of the Romans, Christ, as well? This is the question posed by an advisor to the king, early in the movie Beowulf. Set in Denmark, 507 AD, I think this is a very good portrayal of religion, and the perceptions regarding Christianity in this time.

Paul (as well as some others) started spreading Christianity throughout the Roman empire, Luke tell us the story in Acts, how the message of Jesus spread from a few followers in Jerusalem, to Rome, the capital of the Roman empire. It’s really a literary strategy as well, Acts 1:8 show this, first Jerusalem, then Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth, meaning Rome. If the message spread to the capitol, then it has spread to all the known world. The book Acts then show how what was said in 1:8 happens.

And Christianity became very successful, and then even the emperor got converted, and then he forced all his people to get converted, and then he started taking the gospel to the nations, to his enemies, by force, by sword and spear. And Christ has become the god of the Romans, and yes, maybe “g”od is the right word. So, should we pray to Christ as well? Asks the advisor. No is the answer he gets, gods won’t help us.

Beowulf gets on the scene, becomes king, and beautifully it is shown how Christianity has gained a foothold later on in the movie, when he is older. Well, since time has passed, and Christianity was spreading in this time, this seems to be quite historical. Whether this new god helped them, the movie do not seem to answer, what exactly the role of Christianity, and also of the symbol of the cross, is, is difficult to know (is it only coincidence that Beowulf boat’s mast fall in the shape of a cross when it is burning at the end? Maybe, but seeing how prominent the cross features in the movie, I wonder.). It seems like Christianity isn’t making any difference though, not in there culture, and not with there daemons.

In this time when Christmas is celebrated, it might be good to ask ourselves what we are celebrating. Is this simply a western festival, to the westerners god? And who will Odin then be in our story? The eastern gods? Maybe that of Islam? It might be a time to ask ourselves whether the war between some western countries and the middle east isn’t becoming to seem like a war between “our god and theirs”, a religious war? And do we pray to God as just another of our gods (which might include many things) to see which one will work?

If you look carefully, Beowulf might be more than fantasy, more than myth, more than great animations. There might be some religious critique in there as well. Maybe I’m seeing things which isn’t there, maybe it’s just random, but maybe it raises some serious questions.

Well, a blessed Christmas to all, to westerners, to those from Eastern countries as well. To all who celebrate the fact that in some way which we still struggle to understand, Jesus was born, the one who was proclaimed King, who was proclaimed God, the human through whom we got to see God, and may we guard against just another “Western god”.