Teens can wear T-Shirts to school saying: “Hail Satan” but the principal of one school in Nova Scotia, Canada bans a teen from wearing a T-shirt with “Life is wasted without Jesus”?!!! (plus a 5-day suspension) Wear is our society going? Is this T-shirt offensive? I don’t see how? Christians have been wearing T-shirts and pasting bumper stickers on cars for decades. Is it confused about our citizens’ Constitutional rights concerning freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association, or what? What’s next, banning people from pasting Christian bumper stickers on their cars?!
This is an excerpt from the National Post dated today, Friday, May 4, 2012:
For the past six months, a yellow T-shirt with the slogan “Life is Wasted Without Jesus” has been just another shirt in William Swinimer’s wardrobe.
Lately, the 19-year-old Nova Scotian has worn it every single day since the vice-principal at his high school told him he couldn’t, that it was considered offensive, that it spewed, in his own words, “hate talk.”
Instead of peeling the shirt off like they wanted him to, Mr. Swinimer continued to wear it — straight through a series of in-school suspensions and straight through the five-day at-home suspension he’s currently serving. (read rest in National Post…)
Here’s what our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Section 15, states about our individual equality and protection under the law:
15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability. (Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Section 15)
Where has our Constitutional rights gone to? It has been blatantly violated. I think it is people like this school principal at Forest Height Community School in Chester Basin, Nova Scotia is the one who needs a lesson on our rights and freedoms… not Mr Swinimer. We are living in a society that’s in utter confusion about what is freedom of religion, and we have put to shame those who fought and defended and died for our freedoms.
Just before Jesus breathed his last breath, he cried out: “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Did Jesus want to come down from the cross? Did he believe that God had forsaken him?
Jesus was quoting from Psalm 22:1 because he could relate with the pain the psalmist felt. I don’t wish to think that Jesus believed that God his father had forsaken or forgotten about him; nor would I want to think that he wanted to come down from the cross either. But in one’s moment of extreme pain and loneliness, can one’s feeling of pain be separated from one’s belief?
In Scot McKnight’s article in the December issue of Christianity Today [ HatTip: TC ] I think he is really onto something big here. He is bringing up an issue that is just on the cusp of really becoming a major issue within evangelical Christianity, especially amongst younger evangelicals. People are finding that they can resonate more with Jesus’ kingdom vision rather than Paul’s message of justification. For those who don’t think so, just wait and see. Today, there is a disconnect between our inability to connect Jesus’ language about the “kingdom of God” with Paul’s language of justification, says McKnight. What McKnight wants us to see is that the two can be reconciled.
This article has caused me to become more self-aware of the change in my own theology. In coming out of a Lutheran seminary two years ago. I have been more storied in the justice/kingdom language in the gospels of Jesus rather than the justification language of Paul’s epistles. As a result, I have been preaching more from the gospels–actually more than double the number of sermons on Paul’s epistles. Why? Perhaps I just feel more comfortable with Jesus’ kingdom of God, and less comfortable with Paul’s justification. I am an evangelical, but am I a typical evangelical? Perhaps…perhaps not. However, I think this may be representative of many recent seminary graduates, especially those coming out from more liberal seminaries where social justice is sometimes over-emphasized.
During my seminary days, I have heard far more sermons in chapel on the gospels of Jesus rather than on Paul’s epistles….in church too. What will be a consequence of this change? Our sermons will become more justice-oriented rather than justification-oriented. Perhaps this may have contributed to the mainline denominations emphasis on justice in their theology. . Perhaps I need to be re-storied in Paul’s language of justification rather than Jesus’ justice language on the kingdom of God? Where is the balance in my life? Perhaps this is why I’ve decided to take continue education classes at an evangelical seminary because I feel that I am missing out on an evangelical slant on Paul’s understanding of the gospel.
In our evangelical minds, we may like to think of ourselves as pro-justification and on the side of Paul, but our theology may actually be more in line with the justice of Jesus’ kingdom of God. Regarding gospelling, McKnight says in the video interview, that we have moved into a persuasive rhetoric, whereas, we used to use declarative rhetoric. Persuasive rhetoric is open to manipulation so we should be more declarative in our gospelling. [ video here…]
In your church, are you hearing more sermons based on the gospel text? Or on Paul’s epistles?
Dr. Craig A. Evans is the Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Acadia Divinity College of Acadia University (Nova Scotia, Canada). Dr. Evans believes that Jesus’ punishment at the hands of the Roman soldiers who mockingly ridiculed him as a “king of the Jews” was actually nothing out of the ordinary. In his opinion, in those days, political insurrectionist whose aim was to usurp the power of its territorial rules were routinely tried and convicted in court by regional governors, such as Pilate. Jesus was only one of many rebels across the expanse of the Empire who was found guilty of this type of crime against the State.
If anyone was found guilty of causing political insurrection and unrest, they would be handed over to the Roman soldiers who would in turn have their way with them. In a display of homage and jest, they would poke fun at them, dawn upon them a purple robe, construct them a crown of thorns, bow down to them, and hail them as a king of the Jews. Well, if this treatment of Jesus as a political insurrectionist was merely routine for Roman soldiers, then why do we pay so much attention to his punishment and crucifixion on the cross, especially during this time of Easter? Are we putting too much emphasis on Jesus’ suffering?
Dr. Evan’s most recent works include: Jesus, the Final Days: What Really Happened (By Craig A. Evans and N.T. Wright. Louisville: WKJ Press, 2009). Mark 1:1-8:26 (WBC volume 34a; Nashville: Thomas Nelson) is in preparation.