A little clarification on Biblical Hermeneutics, Cultural Interpretation, and Same Sex Marriage

“A little clarification on Biblical Hermeneutics, Cultural Interpretation, and Same Sex Marriage”

In the past four weeks or so at “The Grove” at Jesus Center Community Center, in which we meet every Tuesday night at 7:00 pm, we’ve been exploring the Bible’s perspective on some of the most controversial topics such as transgender, gay marriage, same sex relations, etc. (Equally, we will be exploring what the Bible has to say on beauty, world hunger, hospitality, compassion, sympathy, mmigration, healthcare, teen pregnancy, abortion, adoption, environmental issues, politics, colonialism, neocolonialism, imperialism, etc.) in contemporary American culture.

In this brief post, I would like to clarify a few issues on the relationship between “Biblical Hermeneutics, Cultural Interpretation, and Same Sex Marriage.” Below, I provide an example of cultural and biblical (textual) hermeneutics:

1. Cultural hermeneutics: The assumption that the Bible talks about same sex marriages.

2. Biblical (Textual) hermeneutics: The Bible discusses sexual relations between people of the same sex and gender.

To “discuss” an issue does not necessarily entail that the Bible allows it or permits it. The logical question we should be asking is this: how does the Bible discuss sexual relations between two individuals of the same gender? What is the nature of the Bible’s viewpoint on the subject matter?

In other words, the idea of “same sex marriage” is not a bibilical notion (Note carefully: I did not say that the Bible condemns or approves same sex marriage. I’m clarifying that the language “same sex marriage” is not a direct reference in the Bible); when we argue that the Bible talks about same sex marriages, we are actually about taking a cultural phenomenon and practice and impose it on the biblical text.

By contrast, the idea of “sexual intercourse” and “sexual relations” is a biblical teaching. Once again, the most reasonable query should be: what does the Bible say exactly about “same sex intercourse or relations” ?

***In this short post, I am not talking about what is biblically forbidden and what is biblically allowed.

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“Rethinking about God theologically and biblically from the Haitian Context and Experience”

“Rethinking about God theologically and biblically from the Haitian Context and Experience”

If the good and gracious Lord grant me enough mercy and wisdom to see another day, in the next two years or so, I’m going to devote a substantial amount of time in research and writing to develop a new area (or strengthen) in Haitian Studies: Haitian Contextual Theology and Biblical Hermeneutics. I will be writing seven major articles on the subject matter.

1. The first article will explore the birth of Haitian Contextual Theology.

2. The second essay will study the sources of Haitian Contextual Theology.

3.The third article will investigate the doctrine of God in Haitian Folkloric Tradition.

4. The fourth essay will examine the concept of God in Haitian literary and intellectual tradition.

5. The fifth article will study Haitian contextual theological ethics and anthropology from the perspective of the Haitian Folkloric Tradition.

6. The sixth essay will construct creative ways and new models to do biblical exegesis from the Haitian cultural context, that is Haitian contextual biblical hermeneutics and interpretation.

7. The seventh and last essay will investigate the (use of ) Bible in the Haitian culture and experience.

Hopefully, these series of study will bring fresh ideas and new ways of thinking about the religious experience of the Haitian people and extend the contours of Haitian Studies. I also hope that my research will help to correct the seemingly shortcomings in contemporary scholarship on Haitian religion (s) that promotes a monolithic and homogeneous religious experience of the Haitian people.

New Article on African Theological Anthropology and Ubuntu Ethics!

Happy Monday, Friends!!!

The editor of the “Journal of Religion and Theology” emailed me this morning to inform me that my new article, “Toward a Black African Theological Anthropology and Ubuntu Ethics,” will be published next month. This is exciting news, folks!!!

This is actually my fourth published article for the year so far. If the good and sovereign Lord continues to show mercy and grace towards me, for the remaining academic year, I would like to publish three more articles on the intersection of theology, ethics, and culture.

Abstract

“This essay studies the moral values and practical relevance of the South African concept of Ubuntu in the process of rethinking Black African theological ethics and Black African theological anthropology. Toward this goal, we examine the works of three prominent African theologians: Laurenti Magesa, a diocesan priest from Tanzania, John S. Mbiti, an Anglican priest from Kenya, and Bénézet Bujo, a Catholic priest from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The aim of this comparative analysis is to highlight the importance and implications of Black theological anthropology and ethics to the social and moral life of the individual and the community. This study also aims at articulating a model that is theologically sound, human- sensitive and enriching, and emancipatory. We shall investigate in their ethico-theological writings the intersection of theism, personhood, community, and Ubuntu as an African humanism. The selected African thinkers give the impression that the African perspective on humanity, the social life, and the moral life is more promising, liberating, and dignifying than the Western vision on these issues.

The theological anthropology and ethics of Magesa, Mbiti, and Bujo strongly promote interconnected human relations and interactional social dynamics that are based on the Ubuntu moral ethics. This essay suggests that Black African theological anthropology and theological ethics have a strong foundation on the Ubuntu moral virtues and ethical principles that promotes human flourishing and a life in solidarity within the framework of the community and a symbiotic relationship between God, the community, and the individual.

Keywords: African theological anthropology, African theological ethics, Ubuntu ethics, Black theology, African traditional religion.”

How to Pray in this hour of War!

How to Pray in this hour of War!

At this hour of war and retaliation, I hope and pray my (Evangelical) Christian brothers and sisters will not abandon the pacifist teachings of Christ for the sake of patriotic zeal and triumphal nationalism. Followers of Jesus are called agents of peace and reconciliation (Matthew 5:9; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21).

Also, when you do corporate prayer tomorrow morning (Sunday worship) at your church, do not be partial in your fervent prayer to “just” pray to God to protect “our (American) troops.” You must now understand that the biblical God does not have a military army in this world; his army is certainly not the American military forces nor the ones in Syria or in any Western country. Your prayer is not or should not be for the American Troops to win the war; this attitude toward life will be an abomination to the God of peace and love.

The kingdom of God is the church, that is the people of God who are commanded daily to be protagonists of peace and agents of reconciliation in this world, not promoters and defenders of war, military crime, or human suffering. Jesus, the Head of that Kingdom (the church), is the Prince of Peace.

Therefore, you should equally pray for God to protect the people of Syria and the Syrian troops, and eventually, for peace and unity among the nations. The Biblical God is the sovereign and cosmic Lord of the nations; He is not an American deity!

(Medical) Mission Trip to Haiti: July 17-26, 2018

Haiti Mission Trip in July 2018: Port-Margot and Cap-Haitien
Date: July 17-26, 2018

This trip is open to anyone who has a big heart to serve and empower people, and make a difference in the lives of the Haitian people in Haiti.

If you’re interested to go to Haiti with my team (Hope for Today Outreach in partnership with New Beginning International Ministries) for a (medical) mission trip, let’s make it happen.

Activities to do in Haiti:

1. 4 day medical clinic
2. Leadership Conference for Women
3. Leadership Conference for Men
4. Activities for young people and children
5. Prayer Walk
6. Distribution of Food and Clothing
7. Distribution of School Supplies

For more information, contact me at customers@hopefortodayoutreach.org or celucienjoseph@gmail.com

**** We are collecting school supplies for children and families in need in Haiti, please send us an email if you would like to make a donation. Or if there’s anything else you would like to donate toward this (medical) trip, do not hesitate to contact us.

“Becoming a (Christian) People of Action, Compassion, Unity, and Love” (Ephesians 4:7-16)

“Becoming a (Christian) People of Action, Compassion, Unity, and Love” (Ephesians 4:7-16)

An Excerpt of my Sunday Morning Sermon (to be preached on Sunday, April 8, 2018)

Jesus Center Community Church

“If you’re a Christian or an Evangelical Christian and you were taught that to become a Christian, you must embrace a set of distinctive theological truths, your Christianity is probably inadequate and not biblical. Below is an example of the probable things you were taught in the church you grew up in:

Historic Christianity is the belief in a body of theological doctrines and truths such as the categorical confession that (1) God is one and Trinity, (2) the virgin birth and deity of Jesus Christ, (3) the Bible as the inspired and infallible Word of God, (4) (5) the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, (6) the second coming of Jesus Christ, (7) salvation is by grace alone, and (7) salvation is in Christ alone. Many Christians and Evangelical Christians in America embrace these theological beliefs and substitute biblical ethical demands with cultural values and political ideologies. Consequently, these individuals serve God only with their intellect, but betray him in their action.

The separation between the biblical call to theological belief and biblical call to a Christ-centered life is a serious problem in many contemporary Christian circles, Evangelical churches, and schools and institutions in America that train men and women for the ministry. To express this another way, your pastor or youth minister probably taught you something like this: “If you receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you will go to heaven and escape hell. That’s all you need to be saved and become a Christian.” Friends: this is a convenient faith, a microwave Christianity. This form of Christianity that emphasizes “orthodox beliefs” concurrently undermines the “ethical virtues and practical demands” of biblical Christianity. This is not healthy for the spiritual life of the believer nor is it constructive to the life of faith of the people of God. This “soft Christianity” does not transform culture, but it is transformed by the culture (See Ephesians 4:14). This form of Christianity is subservient to the culture, and it is not a faith that believes in service, civic participation, and self-sacrifice toward the common good and human flourishing.

Moreover, this “soft Christianity” is not an optimistic faith one can count on when facing existential troubles and the harsh life in this world at risk, nor is it meaningful for the believer’s uneasy interactions with others. No wonder American Evangelical Christianity is in deep trouble today because of its failure to understand the correlation between theological confession and biblical ethics. (My assumption is that contemporary (some) American Evangelicals are too busy honoring cultural heroes and political superstars to live in the way of Christ and to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15)). Theology and ethics are not divorced in the biblical understanding of religion and the practical life and experience of the people of God; the people of God cannot have one and neglect the other; in other words, faith and works are inseparable in the biblical notion of the living (Christian) faith. Biblical Christianity is not mere “intellectual assent,” it is a way of life (See Ephesians 4:15-6).

Biblical Christianity, that is a “thick faith,” establishes a set of demands, values, and imperatives that govern the life and interactions of the people of God and followers of Christ; they include the following: to intentionally pursue justice (i.e. legal, racial, economic, environmental) and truth (“speaking the truth in love”: Eph. 4:15), to be ministers of reconciliation, agents of peace and unity, to hate injustice and evil, to care for the poor, the orphan, and the widow, to visit the prisoner, the feed the hunger, to heal the sick, to welcome the stranger and the immigrant, to show compassion and kindness to sojourner, to love your enemy, and to imitate the life of Christ. These are non-negotiable moral virtues of biblical Christianity. The underlying aim of the Christian life, according to Paul, is to “Until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).

The people of God must embody the ethical values of biblical religion and pattern their life after the biblical God who gives and forgives unconditionally, shows grace and compassion without restraint, and loves indiscriminately. This biblical God is against empires, the capital exploitation of the poor and the workers, and unjust treatment of the vulnerable. The people of God in the twenty-first century culture is called to love justice and make Christian ethics as a practical witness in a world at risk. As Paul urges the Jewish and Gentile Christians at Ephesus:

“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14).

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You are cordially invited to come worship with us this Sunday, April 8. Worship service at Jesus Center Community Church starts at 10:00 AM. Come 15 minutes early to have breakfast with us as well as to socialize and fellowship.

If you’re looking for a good, friendly, and relational church, and a Christ-centered and teaching congregation, with other believers, you will grow socially, intellectually, and spiritually, and be encouraged in serving, loving, and connecting with Jesus and one another.”

http://www.jesuscentercc.com