David Horsfall – The relevance of the singleness and childlessness of Jesus
What does Jesus Christ have to do with relationships in contemporary culture? In 21st century Britain the significance of one’s relationship status, the self-creation of one’s sexuality and the campaign for freedom of relationship expression are at the forefront of cultural discussions. Whether it be legislation for fault-free divorce, campaigns for Gender-Recognition Certificates, the plurality of sexual expression terminology or simply the status update on a Facebook profile, at a personal and public level relationships, sexual identity and sexual expression are significant social markers. Jesus Christ offers an example of one who redefines the dominant sexual expression and relational institutions of his culture in light of the mission of God. He relativises the cultural and religious hegemony of marriage and procreation and institutes the relational patterning of singleness for any and all which was previously almost unheard of. He subverts the major societal institution of the household in his creation of the church family marked by member’s shared desire and practice to do the will of God. Reflection upon this aspect of Christology can inform the church’s message and practice in light of contemporary cultural discussions.
Despite this being only a brief sketch of Jesus’ life and teaching, a challenge is clearly presented to the contemporary church that. It must guard against being centred around either the recently dominant nuclear family or around the prevalent cultural prioritisation of sexual expression. Both, rather, are to be viewed through the lens of the coming Kingdom. Three initial reflections and suggestions are that 1) the church needs to reimagine what it means to be one’s primary family, 2) the church needs to cast a vision of sexual intimacy that removes it from the pedestal of a being a basic human need, 3) the vocations of marriage and singleness need to be presented as equally viable roads of discipleship.
Firstly, for the church to be reimagined as a spiritual family, this requires both married couples to orientate outwards to the spiritual family and single people to prioritise relationships within the church family, not autonomy from them. Rather than the church being understood as an institution comprising various nuclear families and numerous single people, the scriptural language of adelphoi, brothers and sisters, needs resurrecting. The church is not to be a family united not due to the social ease of connecting with people in a similar life-stage to oneself, but by a shared desire to do the will of God. Practically, the home needs to be reworked not as a haven, a place solely of leisure, but as the context for hospitality and mission. A place where boundaries between biological families and singles are broken down not created. Thus, the home and the lives of these two groups are to have blurry edges, multiple points of intersection, shared commitments and responsibilities. This is not merely about asking single people to babysit, or to help with decorating, or married couples offering marriage preparation courses, but about singles and married sharing the journey of discipleship together in close proximity….
Barbara Pymm – The significance of Christ in John chapter 6
This essay investigates the meaning and consequences of Jesus Christ for the twenty first century. I will explore this theme theologically through a study of John 6 with a particular focus on verses 25-40. John has written his gospel so that we ‘might believe that Jesus is the Christ’ and have eternal life and John 6 contains some of the most significant and timeless teaching from the mouth of Jesus himself. It answers key theological questions such as ‘Who is Jesus?’ and ‘How can we be right with God and have eternal life?’
We have observed in this passage answers to key theological questions equally relevant to us today. The crowd are wondering, who is this man? They ask the ultimate religious question; how can I meet God’s requirements? What does he want of me?
Jesus explains how we can know him through believing he is the one sent by God to satisfy our spiritual hunger. The image of hunger is one to which everyone can relate, as is equally the solution of bread. This is a message for those who have everything and those who have nothing; the need is the same. By declaring he is the bread of life, Jesus is offering to meet the needs of every human heartin the world. In this he is reversing the effects of the Fall. We can be reassured that we are eternally secure, never ever to be driven away.
Jesus asks us the same question as he asked this crowd. Will we believe he is sent from God and receive him as bread from heaven? He challenges us as to our motives. Will we simply follow him to have our physical needs met? We face a daily challenge to see beyond the transient material world and keep our focus on our relationship with God, enjoying his presence and opening our hearts to him. Jesus says to us today, ‘Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life.’ Which will we choose?
Andre Adefope – Jesus Christ and Postmodern Epistemology
There are those who assert that the person and work of Christ is not culturally relevant to post-modern societies that are prevalent in the West. This is based on the assumption that the relativism post-modernity fosters, which prohibits people accepting an overarching narrative and objective truth, means the way they search for truth opposes Jesus Christ and the truth he reveals. However, this essay argues that those influenced by post-modernity and the traits of relativism are simply searching for truth in a specific way, using approaches that emphasise experience and encounter primarily, which do not need to be viewed as incongruous with Christianity. This is because the Bible demonstrates that Jesus Christ’s person and work can indeed be experienced through the Holy Spirit and through the community Christ creates, and this allows Christianity to embrace post-modernity epistemology. Therefore, this essays aims to demonstrate that Jesus Christ and the truth he reveals is still significant within modern cultural epistemology when the post-modern worldview is properly understood and appreciated.
This essay is not arguing that Jesus Christ, his person, work and message, needs to be re-interpreted in order to fit post-modern cultures. Nor is it saying that his claims about objective truth and meaning need to be minimised. Rather, it is asserting that the Christian faith makes room for truth and meaning to be gained through experience and encounter to some degree, and Jesus sends the Spirit and created the Church, and both of these elements led to experience and encounter with him and his claims.
No cultural paradigm will align with Christian teaching completely, but the conflicts they create should not overshadow the opportunity they present either. Epistemology within post-modernity cultures drives people to seek empirical knowledge, and is open to the possibility of God. In the Christian faith; the wisdom literature, the Holy Spirit and the Church not only embrace but encourage experience in people’s search for truth. Jesus Christ is significant to culture today, especially to the ones in the West influenced by post-modernity, because their prevalent epistemology is compatible with the truth he offers and how people gain it.