In light of the tragic events in Charleston last week the question we’ve been considering seems all the more relevant. A group of faithful Christians gathered in prayer and Bible study at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church last Wednesday evening in Charleston. They welcomed into their circle a young white man, 21 years old. They probably thought he was there to find some answers. But he was there on a mission.
When the hour was up, the young man pulled out a 45 caliber handgun and began shooting. According to reports, he shouted racial slurs and reloaded his handgun five times. In the end nine people were dead, families would be changed forever, and a city and state and nation would be plunged into grief.
The young man jumped into his car and fled the scene. The police captured him the next morning after his father, having recognized his son in the surveillance photographs, turned him in. He and his family were devastated by what his son had done.
Initial reports indicate that the young man wanted to incite some sort of race war. He wanted to set the world ablaze after several years of high-profile, racially-charged events in Ferguson, New York, and Baltimore.
How do you love an enemy in a situation like this? What does it mean to love the young man so troubled he thought it right to kill nine innocent worshipers on a Wednesday night? If you really want to be a follower of Jesus, then you have to take what he said seriously in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:43-45):
43 You have been taught to love your neighbor and hate your enemy.[e] 44 But I tell you this: love your enemies. Pray for those who torment you and persecute you— 45 in so doing, you become children of your Father in heaven.He, after all, loves each of us—good and evil, kind and cruel. He causes the sun to rise and shine on evil and good alike. He causes the rain to water the fields of the righteous and the fields of the sinner.
On Friday several members of the victim’s families had a chance to address the shooter directly. Through tears and cracked voices these amazing, salt-of-the-earth people offered the young man prayer and forgiveness. How could they so quickly speak a redemptive, healing word? I don’t know exactly. I believe, however, it was God’s work in them.
On Thursday the nation and the world woke up to unthinkable news; the young man bore witness to rage, racism, and hatred. On Friday these family members wanted to bear witness to something greater: God’s love and grace.
In a few weeks I have book coming out with InterVarsity Press. It is called Rediscovering Jesus: An Introduction to Biblical, Religious and Cultural Perspectives on Christ. I co-authored it along with Randy Richards and Rodney Reeves. Back in 2007 we co-authored a book of a similar title on Paul.
I was interested to see how Amazon.com described it. Here is the description:
Who is your Jesus? Matthew’s teacher? John’s Word made flesh? Hebrews’ great high priest? What if it turned out that your Jesus is a composite of your favorite selections from the New Testament buffet, garnished with some Hollywood and Americana? Rediscovering Jesus takes us on a gallery tour of biblical portraits of Jesus, from Matthew through Revelation. Our expert guides point out the background and highlights of each New Testament image of Jesus. Then we hit the streets to visit other houses of worship and their scriptures, examining the Jesus of the Book of Mormon and the Qur’an. Popping into a bookstore, we browse the latest on the Gnostic and the historical Jesus. Then we’re off on a walking tour of Jesus in America, followed by a film festival of Jesus movies. All along the way our tour guides describe and interpret, but also raise questions: How is this Jesus different from other portraits? If this were our only portrait of Jesus, what would our faith be like? Rediscovering Jesus is an enjoyable, informative and challenging look at how we encounter Jesus in Scripture and our culture. With ample sidebars exploring contexts and the “so what?” questions, it takes us beyond other surveys by probing how our understanding of Jesus can make a difference for faith and life. From the authors of Rediscovering Paul, this is a textbook introduction to Jesus that guides us in our pilgrimage toward seeing Jesus truly.
Not a bad description of the book. It is intended as a textbook for a sophomore class in college, but the way we’ve written it should make it accessible to interested lay people. It should be out later this summer. The release date is in August. If you’re interested it it, here a link to the amazon site:
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The announcement was made yesterday, Tuesday June 9, 2015, that Dr. Craig Evans will join the faculty of Houston Baptist University in January 2016. Here is the official announcement:
Craig has been a friend for a number of years, and I’m thrilled at the prospect of him being a part of our faculty. He will add a great deal of expertise to the School of Christian Thought at HBU. His current post is at Acadia Divinity School in Nova Scotia. He will find the Houston winters much more agreeable, but he will definitely have to get used to the heat! Welcome, Dr. Evans!
Recently I had the privilege of serving on a panel discussion at the Lanier Theological Library. The topic of the seminar was “Reading Backwards: the Old Testament in the New.”
Other panelists included
Richard Hays, Dean of Duke Divinity School/ Professor of New Testament
Lynn Cohick, Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College
Carey Newman, Director of Baylor University Press
Mark Lanier served as the moderator of the panel.
Here is a link to the video:
The audio on the file is hard to listen to at points. Still it is worth the effort!
Recently, I had an opportunity to be on a panel discussion with Simon Gathercole, Peter Davids, and David Chapman. The topic is “Jesus in the Canonical and Gnostic Gospels.” The seminar took place in the beautiful chapel at the Lanier Theological Library. Mark Lanier, the founder of the library, served as moderator or should I say cross-examiner.
Here is a link to the video: Jesus in the Canonical and Gnostic Gospels
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