Thaddeus Williams

The Emotions of Jesus, Part 5: Authenticity

By Thaddeus Williams Jul. 8, 2015 9:00 a.m. Church Life, Culture, New Testament, Spiritual Formation

This series began by noting how we live in the Age of Feeling and Authenticity. We have come to see how Jesus can save us from it, how he can restore just sentiments like outrage, compassion, and joy. This leaves us with two hanging questions: First, how do we actually come to feel just sentiments the way Jesus did? Second, why Jesus’ feelings? Can’t we learn just sentiments from the emotional lives of Gandhi, or Mother Theresa, or Rosa Parks? Or from that friendly janitor, that magnanimous co-worker, or that self-giving mother? Or perhaps even from Homer’s Ulysses, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Aragorn, or J.K. Rowling’s Harry? Aren’t there a billion admirable feelers, real and fictional, who show us what life can look like beyond the confines of the modern fact box and the postmodern feeling box?

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The Emotions of Jesus, Part 4: Joy

By Thaddeus Williams Jun. 24, 2015 9:00 a.m. Biblical Exposition, Church Life, Culture, New Testament, Spiritual Formation, Theology

As we learn emotions from Jesus, not only does our blood start to boil (see Part 2) and our stomachs turn (see Part 3), he also shows our hearts how to beat with real joy. There is a stereotype floating around which says that Jesus and the faith he represents are about cold-hearted duty, doing the right thing at the expense of our happiness. There are enough grim-faced moralistic systems out that brandish the name of “Christianity” to keep the stereotype alive. But they have more in common with the philosophy of Immanuel Kant than with the kingdom of Jesus. The day after he stormed the Temple, Jesus returns to the same Temple courts to announce that his kingdom is like a big party, and everyone is invited; not a boarding school, not a boot camp, not a prison chain gang, but a party.

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The Emotions of Jesus, Part 3: Compassion

By Thaddeus Williams Jun. 15, 2015 9:00 a.m. Biblical Exposition, Church Life, Culture, New Testament, Spiritual Formation, Theology

If we peer underneath Jesus’ table-flipping rage at the Temple (explored in Part 2), we find a still deeper emotion to reflect. Matthew’s account tells us that immediately after protesting the poor-oppressing, God-mocking Temple system, “the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them" (Matthew 21:14). What a beautiful moment. In it we see that Jesus was outraged not in spite of His care for people but precisely because of it. The very people marginalized and trampled under the religious power structure are brought into the spotlight and elevated by Jesus. (He has a way of doing that.) He didn’t take anything from them or treat them like chumps in a captive market. He gave them vision and sound bodies. He treated them like the intrinsically valuable human beings they each were—and all for free.

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The Emotions of Jesus, Part 2: Outrage

By Thaddeus Williams Jun. 3, 2015 9:00 a.m. Biblical Exposition, Church Life, Culture, Ethics, Ministry and Leadership, New Testament, Spiritual Formation, Theology

To see and experience something of Jesus’ emotions, let us join eighty to a hundred thousand religious pilgrims on their trek to the sacred city to worship at the Jewish Temple. It is Passover week. In order to participate in the traditional Temple offerings, people need doves or pigeons. Since worshippers need these birds, they were sold at the Temple at a premium price. You could get a more economical bird outside the Temple courts or lug one from home through the hot desert. However, every bird used in Temple rituals had to pass the rigid purity standards of the Temple’s in-house animal inspectors. Only inflated Temple-sold birds had the guaranteed certification of the scrupulous inspectors. In this way, the house of prayer had become a classic case of what economists call a “captive market.

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The Emotions of Jesus, Part 1: The Age of Feeling

By Thaddeus Williams May. 28, 2015 9:00 a.m. Culture, Spiritual Formation

If Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and a mix of our ancestors from virtually any age of human history were crammed into a time machine and hurled into the twenty-first century, there is something normal to us that they would find totally bewildering. I am not referring to air and space travel, or the worldwide renown achieved by a cartoon mouse, or even technologies that put all human knowledge at our fingertips that we use to watch endless cat bloopers, bizarre as all of that would seem. I am referring instead to the sacred, unquestioned authority granted to feelings in our day. Western culture has been through a so-called ‘Age of Faith’ and an ‘Age of Reason.’ We live in what Princeton’s Robert George calls “the Age of Feeling.”[1]  Canadian Philosopher, Charles Taylor, prefers the moniker, “The Age of Authenticity,” to describe how staying true to your feelings, whatever they may be, has become the highest virtue of our day (unlike historic virtues in which certain feelings could and should be chastened).

 

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Idolatry Breaks Hearts: Exodus 20:3 and the Secret to Relational Sanity

By Thaddeus Williams Mar. 12, 2015 9:00 a.m. Church Life, Marriage and Family, Theology

I used to think that worship songs where you could swap out all the God references, with “baby” were evidence that God had been trivialized by a sappy, spiritualized romanticism in the church. There may be truth to that. But perhaps the interchangeability of “God” and “baby” in worship songs says less about worship songs and more about love songs, less about how the church man-sizes God (which does happen) and more about a much broader tendency in the church and culture-at-large to God-size our romantic partners ...

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Jarheads for Jesus?: 10 Reasons ‘Culture War’ is a Really Bad Metaphor (Part One)

By Thaddeus Williams Dec. 29, 2014 9:00 a.m. Apologetics, Church Life, Culture, Evangelism, Theology

I was raised in a church world in which “culture war” was a favorite metaphor of how the church relates to the nonchurch. We were God’s courageous moral infantry doing battle against those cunning cultists, those hateful homosexuals, those lying liberals, and those devilish Darwinists. If we listen with tuned ears to Christian radio, Christian literature, Christian blogs, and Christian conversations, it becomes clear: We Christians love the language of war. Over the last 30 years it has become our dominant metaphor for relating to culture; it saturates our vocabulary, shapes our politics, and soaks our worldview. But is culture war helpful? Is it biblical? Should we be jarheads for Jesus?

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