KENARCHY JOURNAL VOLUME 4
Roger Haydon Mitchell
Roger Haydon Mitchell, PhD, is a theologian and activist, an honorary researcher in the Lancaster University Centre for Alternatives to Social and Economic Inequalities, and political theologian with the Westminster Theological Centre.
Kenosis in Catastrophe
Anna Mercedes, Ph.D. is Professor of Theology at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University and adjunct faculty at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, all in Minnesota, USA. She is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and a member of the Christ Seminar with Westar Institute.
Kenosis has long been a controversial Christian theological topic for those concerned with the flourishing of oppressed or marginalized people. Feminist theologians in particular have asked: Is self-emptying a harmful ethic when starting from an oppressed stance? This article revisits the challenges of kenosis from a feminist perspective and advocates for kenosis, despite the risks of doing so, for people in marginalized and oppressed social positions, even and especially in the catastrophic conditions that have characterized the 2020s thus far in so much of the world. Even in catastrophe, kenosis may offer power for the self made new, power for communities restored to health, and power for divine incarnation ongoing in our suffering world.
Creation and Kenosis
Mark Corner has written both theology and political science books. He has taught in universities in England, The Czech Republic and Belgium. He is married to a Czech EU official. They have two sons, one dog, four cats and twenty hens and live in the centre of Brussels.
The article examines the doctrine of Creation. It begins with a view according to which God simply starts a process off which then develops of its own accord. It then moves on to the idea of Creation being a continuous activity of God. Augustine’s notion of a tune sung by God provides a beautiful illustration of the concept of continuous creation. God is singing us.
Augustine’s image suggests something else. It confronts us with the notion of creation ‘out of nothing,’ a world spun from within like a song. It makes the point that God’s work of continuous creation does not take place ‘outside’ Her, for there is nowhere that is ‘outside’ God.
These reflections strengthen the idea of God’s self-giving love which is at the heart of a kenotic theology. God does not make something and then leave it to fend for itself. She remains not only passionately committed to its welfare but is constantly in the process of making and sustaining it.
A further point is that space and time are themselves part of Creation rather than being some kind of backdrop for God’s creative activity. We are forced away from thinking of space and time as a pre-existent framework within which divine beings buzz up and down between heaven and earth. This may help us when we try to approach the specific question of a kenotic Christology. We must always begin our Christology with Jesus’ development on earth, not with a presumed backstory about his life in Heaven.
Discharged from the Law: Paulos, Anarchy and Spirit.
Exploring Romans 6-8 With Gershom Scholem and Walter Benjamin
David Benjamin Blower
David Benjamin Blower is a freelance writer, podcast producer, musician and poet. He has published several books of political theology and lives in Birmingham, UK.
This essay is a brief sketch on Paul’s writings about law and Spirit in the book of Romans. Christian theology has historically understood law as basically synonymous with Judaism, and Paul’s discourse on law is largely taken to be the reasoning of a superior religion over and against its failed or expired predecessor. In spite of the correctives of E. P. Sanders, it has been said that New Perspectives theologians are still describing some, albeit more nuanced, version of the same old picture. This has tended to reduce the complexity of the primitive messianic movement to a religion preoccupied with its supposed supremacy over another religion, all the while remaining quietist regarding the law of the Roman Imperium. We may wonder if this, in the weave of the world, hasn’t helped to create favourable conditions for the marriage of imperial Christendom and white supremacy.
It is proposed here that, in Romans 6-8, Paul describes all kinds of law as a self-defeating attempt to hold a broken world together by threat of violence. Messianic redemption is to be lived out in a field of social and political anarchy beyond this deadlock, unobliged to the powers and laws of the present age: a life held together, not by the violence of law-imposing hierarchies, but by pistis and pneuma; that is, by relationships good enough to trust, rooted in the divine presence in creation.
The Eucharist as Iconic Experience of Divine Love: Ancient – Future Orienteering with Julian of Norwich
Marisa J. Lapish
Marisa Lapish is a certified Spiritual Director through Sustainable Faith https://sustainablefaith.com, the Contemplative Practices Facilitator for the Institute for Religion, Peace, and Justice (IRPJ.org), and a graduate student at St. Stephen’s University, New Brunswick, Canada.
This paper explores Julian of Norwich’s experience of divine love through her understanding of “poynte,” culminating in her mystical revelation of the blood of Jesus. In the medieval context of plague, war, and hopelessness, Julian experiences the blood of Jesus on the cross present in the Eucharist as a place of safety and joy, something which can speak to the contemporary reader during this time of pandemic, racial strife, and global pessimism. First, the stage is set by historically examining the socio-cultural milieu of fourteenth-century England, mystical spirituality, and sacramental practice of the Eucharist in the medieval Church. Next, the image of blood as it relates to Julian Norwich’s idea of time expressed as “poynte” in her Showings is presented to illuminate the transformation of suffering into God’s great love which upends all social and religious barriers to unify people in neighborly love. Contemporary implications are made for viewing the Eucharist as icon of remembrance through which Christ is experienced in his suffering at a kingdom table of divine love for a world that suffers and bleeds. Julian of Norwich presents visions of healing, restoration, and theosis where all of humanity’s wounds are healed by Jesus’ bloody wounds. In a Eucharistic preview of the festal banquet of kingdom shalom, Julian’s vision of divine love as a place of safety and joy inform a present Eucharistic table where all are welcome for Jesus is present with his suffering ones and iconically in the faces of his wounded children gathered around the table.
False Doctrine, False God, False Economy: Scarcity and Abundance in the Song of Solomon
Spencer Paul Thompson
Spencer Thompson PhD is an economist in the Scottish Government. His academic research has explored the potential of cooperatives as an alternative model of business.
Mainstream economics is predicated on the notion that scarcity is intrinsic to the world. Heterodox approaches, however, treat abundance as the proper starting point of analysis. I argue that this is an essentially theological disagreement which is central to the discourse of the Bible. The paper begins by tracing the history of each side of the disagreement, which I respectively designate the scarcity doctrine and the abundance perspective. With reference to the history of money, the paper upholds the abundance perspective, arguing that the scarcity doctrine tends to create the very ‘economic problem’ which it purports to solve. The Biblical expression of the disagreement is then examined through a case study from the Song of Solomon. Viewing this passage from the abundance perspective implies a subversive reading of the text, in which the exploitative economy of Solomon is personified as a false god of scarcity. The female Lover’s alternative economy is motivated by Love, which the paper suggests should also motivate an alternative economics.
A Gospel of Exclusion? Implications of Employing Nehemiah as Exemplar in American Political Rhetoric
Michael Huffman has served as a pastor, teacher, and mentor of Christian youth in various capacities throughout his adult life. He looks forward to his new vocation as Coordinator of the Center of Theological Development in Antalya, Turkey.
Nehemiah and his wall appeared at key junctures in American political rhetoric over the past several years, most notably by Rev. Franklin Graham and Rev. Robert Jeffress in 2016 during Donald Trump’s first campaign for the presidency. Nehemiah was presented as an exemplar for faithful Christian political involvement. This article challenges this use of Nehemiah as such by critically examining his political aims vis a vis those to which Christians are called in the New Testament. It uses Ezra and Nehemiah’s absolute prohibition of exogamous marriage as a window into their overall political posture toward the residents of the land of Israel at the time of their return from exile. Despite their claims, Ezra and Nehemiah did not have a basis in their scriptural tradition for this prohibition. Their willingness to go beyond the stipulations present in Israel’s sacred texts reveals a special concern, made urgent by the exile, for maintaining the ethnic separateness of its surviving remnant. This goal, though understandable given the circumstances of the exile, nevertheless disagrees starkly with authentically Christian discipleship as it is taught in the New Testament. Both Ezra-Nehemiah and the New Testament appropriate Israel’s sacred texts in creative ways. However, while the New Testament interprets Israel’s story as climaxing in the inclusion of the gentiles among God’s elect people, Ezra-Nehemiah narrows the perimeters of Israel’s social possibilities even beyond what was stipulated even in the Torah.
Book Review: Pluriform Love: An Open and Relational Theology of Well-being by Thomas J Oord
Carol Kingston Smith
Carol Kingston-Smith is a doctoral researcher at the University of Exeter investigating a Christian ecospirituality for our times. She’s an independent writer and speaker and has contributed to ministry training for the last 14 years. She lives near Tewkesbury.
Book Review: Facing Apocalypse: Climate, Democracy and Other Last Chances by Catherine Keller
Sam Tomlin is a Salvation Army officer in Liverpool where he has been with his wife and three children for the last six years. He helps to lead a multi-cultural congregation which has a focus on welcoming people who have sought asylum in the UK, people experiencing homelessness or those who are lonely.
Book Review : Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture – An Agrarian Reading of the Bible by Ellen F. Davis
Mike D Winter
Mike Winter PhD, formerly a researcher in Agricultural Biosciences, Mike’s more recent work explores how re-imagining our understanding of God can help us reconnect with land and nature.