Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Great Commission

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20)

At noontime meal Bro. Juniper spoke about the Jesus Sutra and before long the discussion revolved around mission and culture, or how the Gospel is 'shaded' by the culture of those who "Go therefore..." Shaded in the sense that the missionary 'sells' his culture as part of the 'deal' and so the new convert mistakes 'being born again in Christ' with 'being born again in Western culture.'

A different 'shading' would be what the new converts bring to their new religion. How does an Inuit relate to the image of sheep and shepherds? Or the image of bread to a Micronesian who would consider the banana the staple of life. So often what takes place is replacing the unfamiliar with the familiar in hopes of preserving the message.

Here is what Martin Palmer said in his speech on the Jesus Sutra:

"These astonishing sutras show us a Church from Persia to India to Tibet, which had fused its teachings with local traditions and from which radical new ideas of what it meant to be Christian had emerged. Let me just read you two pieces from these early Sutras.

In the Sutra, which we believe is modelled on the Milindapanha, which comes from the Gandharian area of present day Afghanistan and Pakistan, there is the belief in karma. Karma is of course the accumulated consequences of your actions which cause rebirth. At death, if you have still karma, then you must be reborn in order to try and get rid of it. The Sutra of Cause, Effect and Salvation take karma and reincarnation as the existentialist crisis, which Christ has come to solve. It knows nothing of Western beliefs about life after death, which we naturally expect to find it reflected in Christian texts. The Vedic world and Buddhist world believes in karma and reincarnation and thus the sutra addresses this:

'So it was that He existed before existing in His mother's womb. But to change your karma, you must exist in this physical world. A person can only change his karma residue by being born again into this world.

There was no other way to free us from sins but for Him to enter this world. So He came and suffered a life of rejection and pain before returning.'

Christ, in other words, has the answer to karma.

In the Sutra of Jesus Christ we find this radical reinterpretation of the Ten Commandments:

'The first and most important is to honour God. The second is to honour the Emperor. The third is to honour your parents. The fourth covenant is that anybody who understands the precepts should know to be kind and considerate to everything and to do no evil to anything that lives.

The fifth covenant is that any living thing should not only not take the life of another living being, but should also teach others to do likewise.'

From there on the commandments are the same."


Anonymous said...

I love Bono's comments on Karma:
Bono: You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It's clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I'm absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that "as you reap, so you will sow" stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I've done a lot of stupid stuff.

You can find the entire interview at

Thank you for your thoughts this morning. Nikki V.

Bro. Bartleby said...

Sister Nikki, Thank you for your (and Bono's) comments. Keeping karma in mind for a second, and grace, and cycles, and if you can imagine U2's "The Joshua Tree" and the lyrics and the photos that were taken here in the Mojave desert, and the cycle of life continues for "the tree" as seen here:

Shalom, Br. Bartleby

John said...

How do you know that "jesus" said that?
Were you there when "jesus" said that?
Did you ever meet and speak to "jesus" and ask "jesus" to explain the ins and outs of "his" Wisdom Teaching?
Were you there when the church fathers (were there any church mothers?) consolidated the various Christian writings in to the "official" doctrine of the church?
Did you ask them why they chose some writings and left others out?
And why they heavily edited the ones that they did choose?
I would suggest that the "great commision" was invented by these very church fathers--none of whomever met "jesus"---as is the case with Paul and most/all of the others "writers" of the New Testament.

What do you really know about what may or may not have happened 2000 years ago--or yesterday afternoon for that matter?

Please check out:

Bro. Bartleby said...

These are matters of my faith. And faith [Latin fides "trust, belief"] is defined as belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. Much of life is about faith and one uses the mind to discern if a particular faith helps one to be a better person, if it elevates one to one's full potential, or as a Christian, if this faith elevates one onto the path of everlastingly becoming a creation in the image of God.

Of course if proof and evidence (as defined by science) were found for all that a religion speaks, then that religion would cease to be a religion and become mere fact.

"For those with faith, no explanation is necessary. For those without, no explanation is possible." –Thomas Aquinas

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