AnnieKO'Connor


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The Pandorica and the Regeneration of the Universe

This is Part 3. Read Part 1 and Part 2.

When the TARDIS  is destroyed in the crack in space-time, the crack itself is satisfied. But something else starts to happen. The universe is unmade. Stars vanish.  History is undone. Young Amelia Pond ceases existing.

But, as with the crucifixion, this is not where the story ends. The Doctor understands that the Pandorica has healing powers. Indeed, it perfectly preserved Amy for 2,000 years, and completely restored her life when Amelia gave it a living example of her DNA. The Pandorica opens. Amy emerges. It’s light falls upon a destroyed Dalek, bringing new life to it as well.

So the Doctor realizes if the Pandorica could shed it’s light on every moment of the whole universe, the entire universe would be regenerated. And so he takes it into the heart of the exploding TARDIS, which is exploding in precisely every time and location.

God on the cross did not require an outside element in order to restore the universe. Rather his death on the cross is not only what satisfies the crack in the universe, it is his ultimate creative power as God that likewise regenerates the universe at the same time.

And so the world is remade, the crack of sin satisfied, and the universe exists unbroken. Christ is not only the hope that sin is being vanquished at every moment, but that life and light is being poured into the world across every moment. It is the promise of the New Heaven and the New Earth that will be completely realized when the moment of the crucifixion ends.

The resurrection of Christ is the first act of the New Creation.

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What is it to be one in Christ?

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

—Galatians 3:28 ESV

You are all one in Christ. There is no male and female.

But the bulletin reads:

The men’s group is meeting in the fireside room. The women’s group is meeting at the cafe down the street. The youth group is in the gymnasium. The singles’ group is on the college campus. The marrieds’ group is at the Thompson’s (members of the singles’ group will provide childcare in the church nursery.)

We will never know what it is to be one in Christ if we don’t practice it. The problem isn’t that the church week is chock full of demographic division groups. It’s that there is never a “one in Christ” group to which everyone is invited. You may say Sunday Morning is for that, but it is not. At least, if it is it fails by discouraging of intentional conversation across demographic divides.

The church needs to practice being one in Christ by meeting in small groups with people who are different from ourselves.


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A New Look at Sin

So often we talk about sin in light of our actions. Is doing such-and-such action a sin?

Limiting sin to actions, however, misses an important reality. Sin is not something that pops up whenever we make a bad choice; it is itself a presence in the universe that ought never to have been. Sin is the presence of evil in the world; sin is death and destruction, sin is injustice, sin is lack of mercy.

It may be easier (or better) to view sin as a thing in itself which becomes manifest within certain actions. We can participate in sin that already exists, but we cannot create new instances of sin. And part of that sin exists already within us; it influences our actions, it blinds our aspirations, it disparages our hope and faith and love.

To say all have sinned is to say all are subject to temptations, subject to limited views of ourselves, of others, and our capacities. We are all subject to this brokenness that influences toward hatred, toward cynicism, bitterness and despair.

When we view sin this way, Christ dying for our sin looks entirely new: His death was not only to pay for our actions, but to rid our lives of this force that breaks us down, batters us from the inside out, and causes desperation, injustice and destruction across the globe.


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Finding my other half

This post is part of Mutuality Week 2012, hosted by Rachel Held Evans.

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When I was at university, I longed to find a husband. I wanted the Christian ideal: marry out of college, have children, submit to my husband and receive God’s blessings for my obedience. I believed men and women have different roles: I wanted to submit to a godly man and have him be my leader.

There were two problems with this plan: I am not social, and I’m extremely bookish. Even if I hadn’t been juggling a stuffed schedule of credit overloaded semesters to complete both degrees in four years while working to pay for it, I wouldn’t have dated much because I am introverted and awkward. I hoped God would wash someone up on the shore of my life. It seemed to happen that way for my friends, and maybe it did, but it didn’t happen that way for me.

Like a lot the women graduating from my Christian university, I got two bachelor’s out of college, but neither of mine were men. (I know, you guys, I know. I just couldn’t help myself.)

Somewhere in the post-graduation shuffle, my world was flipped inside out. My two closest friends got married and moved to California. I got a job in a different city in my own state. These are only the highlights: several other events occurred in my life around that time and I found myself living a life I had not intended.

I had to learn to care for myself, something I never expected to do alone.

In my household, I am the breadwinner. I work outside the home. I am my spiritual leader. I decide what church to attend and how often. I do all the praying, all the learning, all the Bible study, all the theology. I am the leader.

This life shattered my understanding of gender roles. Complementarianism only works when there is more than one person. It requires the other to complement. But in my life there is no other, so how can I partake in a complementary role?

What I learned, though, and continue to learn, is that I do not need someone to complement me, to fill a role, to lead me, to teach me. I can be fierce and vulnerable. I can be curious and compassionate and knowledgeable. I can teach my friends and peers and coheirs with Christ, and they can teach me so many more things.

I finally found my other half, deep in my soul where I had feared to look.

What I take from the Genesis account of Adam and Eve is not that God wants me to submit to a man, but that God wants us to have full and wonderful lives in a paradise where we are not alone. That kingdom is already here and is coming. And I am an image bearer of its King, a compassionate man who submitted to his father and conquered evil through silence and death.

The main problem with complementarianism is when we look at Christ, we see that submission and leadership are identical. If men are called by the example of Christ to lead, then they will lead by serving and submitting; if women are called to submit, they are called to be Christ to the world, to lead God’s children home.

I am not an egalitarian because complementarianism is wrong, but because the roles complementarianism claims are different are not different roles. They are identical. They are not only equal, as the complementarian points out, but they are the same.


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Good News: You’re Going to Hell

Belief is not a cognitive activity. Going back to the problem of the a priori we find the basis of belief: it is fundamentally a pre-cognitive process. All metaphysical beliefs that defy falsifiability or verifiability not only cannot be argued about for the very same reason, but they also create the premises on which the rest of discussion is based.

This is what Christian apologetics fails to acknowledge.

Christians find themselves evangelizing to people whose premises are fundamentally different and cannot be argued. When someone believes a priori that there is no hell, no God, no sin not only are they within the same cognitive territory and acting with the same intellectual responsibility as those who believe a priori that there is a hell, a God and sin, their a priori’s cannot be argued away with a system of logic based on wholly different premises.

The church has tended to respond by attempting to first change the premises of the non-believer through argument and through the Bible. In order to spread the good news, the church finds it must first spread the bad news: you ARE a sinner, hell DOES exists and God WILL send you there.

When the church attempts to present the gospel by presenting these premises to the nonbeliever, they have already failed in the task of evangelism: Evangelism is fundamentally being the messenger of good news.

Take for example:

If you called me up to tell me my sister is alive and well, I would say “Did something bad happen? What’s wrong? Is everything OK?” In essence, you have brought me bad news.

If, however, I knew my sister to be alive and well, and I had just spoken with her, and my experience confirmed my belief, your news would be met with a simple “OK…?” Presume you did not find my response satisfying, and thus you proceeded to inform me that my sister was terribly ill or had been in an accident. I would still know my sister to be well and find your insistence that she was not to be cruel and manipulative, even if you followed it by declaring the good news that she is alive and well.

If, instead, I knew my sister to have been in a car accident, and I hadn’t heard anything, your news would bring great rejoicing.

The same news has a very different effect on the hearer, and can be good or bad depending on what their previous knowledge is.

Much of evangelism falls in the second category, though some falls into the first. In both cases the attempt disqualifies itself as evangelism. When the church claims it is evangelizing, it is not.

Do you think evangelism is fundamentally a failure of the church? Or do you think the practice has merit?


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Beauty and the Existence of God

Arguments for the existence of God are abundant and largely inconclusive. Their coherence is encouraging to theists, but their apologetic value is limited. In my post the problem of the a priori I discussed what I see as the futility of philosophy, and many of the arguments for the existence of God (or the nonexistence, for that matter) are subject to this same futility.

This is not, I believe, reason for despair.

When I think of my own belief in the existence of God, I am not overwhelmed with my inability to prove it. On the contrary, all my efforts to shirk my belief in God have failed due to an inability on my part not to believe in God.

My inability has struck me as strange on several occasions. But during recent reading about the nature of art, I was struck by an analogy that gave me some clarity.

I believe that beauty exists. I cannot prove it. There are no arguments for its existence that indicate that belief in it is rational, necessary, practical or moral. And yet I believe that beauty exists. When I see it, I cannot deny it. I recognize it in art, in nature, in people, and though I cannot prove it I continue to seek it, to long for it, to devote my energies toward it.

My belief in the existence of God is the same. I am not worried by my inability to prove He exists. But when I see Him, I recognize it (though far less often than I could). At times I long for him, to seek him and devote my energies toward him. And when I hear arguments against the existence of God, it is like hearing arguments against the existence of beauty; How could any logic outweigh my experience of beauty?

So why doesn’t everyone see God where I do? I don’t know. And belief in God necessitates nothing about his relationship to humans, nor his character or nature.

Can we prove the existence of beauty? Is non-rational belief in beauty a hindrance to rationality?

Let me know what you think.


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Dismissing Platonic Ideals

Gnostic sentiments around the first century spread a belief that adherence to and indulgence in the physical realm was inherently evil. The ideal was to separate as thoroughly from the physical realm as possible in order to exist in the spiritual, which was inherently good. Such thought gave rise to Docetism, Christian gnostics who held that Jesus simply appeared to be human, but was not really. They outright dismissed the idea that a good man could be made of flesh and bones. Dismissing his corporeality was also helpful in dealing with claims of his resurrection, because he could not have truly died.

Such distinctions between flesh and spiritual seem to me, oversimplified. I am intensely mesmerized by the mystery of dialectical opposition that seems to hang, throughout the universe, balanced in perfect tension, and uncompromising.

Humans are not merely phenomenal, they are noumenal. I do not believe it is divided half and half, but that humans are completely both at the same time. I believe Jesus is fully human and fully God. I believe I am fully a sinner and fully made righteous by God. I believe art is fully subjective and fully objective. These things are possible because the phenomenal and noumenal are not so distinct as we imagine.

Perhaps this too is an oversimplification. I’m sure many would argue such. It is not something I have explored enough to truly hash out in apologetic form (but plan to explore it here). I admit (perhaps I will regret this) that I simply like it. I like the mystery of the inexplicable and the possibility that the human desire for exclusive definition is not an accurate or complete representation of reality.

How much of philosophy is empirically verifiable anyway? As much as I’m not a Gnostic, I’m not a Logical Positivist either.