Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Richard Rohr's View of the Universal Christ

by Robert C. Frank

Popular Christian writer Richard Rohr’s new book has the title, The Universal Christ and greatly expands our understanding of Christianity. Christian tradition, perhaps unintentionally, tends to focus Christianity at the foot of the cross. In his book, however, Rohr sees the presence of Christ everywhere and considers Christ to be part of God’s creation in which we are God’s assistants. 

 At one point, in theological language, he says,(1) “If we see the Eternal Christ Mystery as the symbolic Alpha Point for the beginning of what we call “time,” we can see that history and evolution indeed have an intelligence, a plan, and a trajectory from the very start. The Risen Christ, who appears in the middle of history, assures us that God is leading us somewhere good and positive, all crucifixions to the contrary. God has been leading us since the beginning of time, but now God includes us in the process of unfolding (Romans 8:28–30).” 

 While Rohr uses a different approach and different language, his writing provides support for the book Christ’s Team, which is also about the role of Jesus Christ in God’s creation. The Prologue to Christ’s Team includes the statement, “Christian tradition emphasizes the role of Jesus Christ as redeemer, but human history has verified that he also came to teach humans how to work together and care for each other. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, his followers have become a Team dedicated to carrying on creation, improving human life, and managing our planet.” The book emphasizes that as God’s assistants, we are aided by science in our effort.

 1. Rohr, Richard. The Universal Christ (p. 95). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition, 2019

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Christ's Team Was Designed for Christian Outreach in an Evolving World

 by Robert C. Frank

The Holy Bible, the major book of Christianity, is actually a library of books used by pastors for sermon topics in their churches. It contains over a thousand pages of stories of wisdom and conflict. Christian organizations sometimes hand it to new members to introduce them to Christianity but due to its great length and complexity, it is poorly designed for Christian outreach. Even when studied by theologians and Bible scholars, it often leaves the reader with many unanswered questions.

A book designed to be handed to people who have minimal or no Christian background should be short and well-focused on the basic principles and practices of the followers of Jesus. It should also be written in the everyday language of the people who will be reading it and not sprinkled with words from the ancient language of the church.

Christ’s Team was specifically designed for Christian outreach in an evolving world. It is a short summary of the basic principles and practices of Christianity, written in common secular language, and laid out in a simple and logical manner. It also includes brief statements about how science has aided the spread of Christianity.  In addition, it contains answers provided by human history to some questions not treated in the Bible, such as, “What impact did the teaching of Jesus during his life have on the history of civilization?” After reading the book, Dr. George L. Murphy, author of  Toward A Christian View of A Scientific World  wrote, “I think the book should be helpful especially for the increasing number of people who don't know much about the faith and are unfamiliar with the traditional language.” 

Saturday, July 13, 2019

The Role of Christianity in the Moon Landing

by Robert C. Frank

We Christians tend to lock God in a book, when God intended the book to open our eyes to learn how to live better lives. The Bible contains a letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to his friends in Corinth in which he told them about his understanding of the life of Jesus and he compared unified followers of Jesus to the parts of the human body that are all different but work together in a coordinated manner (1 Cor 12). He was describing teamwork in the 21st century.

Today, as we view the discussion on TV of the preparation for the journey to the moon in 1969, we realize that it took a huge team of human beings with different capabilities working together in a coordinated manner to make it possible for a few astronauts to land on the moon. There were thousands of people involved in designing and testing rockets, capsules, and communication systems. Years earlier there were even parents raising children not knowing that they would be the astronauts.

Often without realizing it, Christians, in their churches, have been teaching human teamwork for over two thousand years. A large percentage of the people living in the U.S. have been taught the principles of Christianity and thus have learned teamwork. Perhaps God used the moon landing miracle to get our attention and remind us that we can solve most of our problems by working together in teamwork. Just imagine all the wonderful things that could be accomplished on earth today if everyone worked together in a coordinated manner like the members of the large team that made the moon landing possible. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

The Bible and God's Continuing Creation

by Robert C. Frank

My wife and I read parts of our Bible each morning when we have our devotions. It seems important for all of us to remember that our Bibles didn’t suddenly pop up on our bookshelves. God, through the Holy Spirit, created the Bible over a long period of time with the assistance of many human beings.

 While none of the original manuscripts written by the Apostles have been found, there are many copies of those writings that still exist. Their authenticity is affirmed by the fact that they agree so well with each other. Since there were so many writings, large groups of people called councils had to gather to decide which were truly inspired by God. Finally, in 397 AD, a group of these writings that were believed to be authentic were chosen to be included. They were called the canon of the Bible.

 However, it wasn’t until about 1450 AD that the first printed Bible was produced by Johannes Gutenberg. In the years since then, many humans, working together and aided by science and technology, developed methods for producing large numbers of Bibles in many languages and forms. Their availability encouraged humans to learn to read. As a result, the Bible has played an important role in the improvement of civilization in the world. 

  While God, through the Holy Spirit, created the Bible over a long period of time with the assistance of humans, it is important to remember that God is still with us. So as Christians it seems we should be exploring other ways that we can assist God in continuing the creation of civilization on earth.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Viewing Christianity Through New Lenses

by Robert C. Frank

Those who have had cataract surgery have witnessed one of the most dramatic miracles God carries out with the aid of science. As human beings become older, they develop cataracts in the lenses of their eyes and as a result their view of the world around them becomes grey and diffuse. With the aid of modern medical science, the lenses with cataracts can be easily replaced with artificial lenses by eye specialists. Then the person’s grey, cloudy view of the world suddenly becomes bright, sharp, colorful, and beautiful again. I know, I had it done in both eyes.

Over a long period of time our view of Christianity has gradually become grey and limited by the enormous number of traditions that have accumulated and dispersed our understanding. As a result, we can no longer see the beauty of the pure fundamentals of Christianity any more. 

When we were younger, my wife and I were invited to attend Roman Catholic Cursillo weekends. I have been a research physicist most of my adult life, so I was reluctant to go, but we both went anyway. I was surprised to find that Cursillo was a three day course in just the fundamentals of Christianity, and it was remarkable how beautiful the weekends were. We were so inspired we helped bring Via de Cristo, the Lutheran version of Cursillo, to our area. 

While the book, Christ’s Team, is not about Cursillo, it is a review of the fundamentals of Christianity and how they are aided by science in our current world. The cataract removal mentioned in the first paragraph is an example of the many ways that Christianity aided by science provides a more bright and beautiful view of the future.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Christ is Risen!

by Robert C. Frank

The spirit of Jesus Christ continues to be present throughout the entire world, providing assurance of God’s forgiveness and teaching everyone to love and care for each other. Christ’s Team, made up of servant leaders like him, is the largest team on earth. They continue to spread the good news worldwide using the superior communication facilities created with the aid of science and technology. 

On the night before he was crucified, Jesus gathered his followers in a room in Jerusalem to share some bread and wine. “While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread and after blessing it, broke it, and gave it to them and said, ‘Take: this is my body.’ Then he took a cup and after giving thanks, gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.(1)’” This event which is now called the Lord’s Supper was his way of alerting them that he was going to be crucified and his body and blood would be sacrificed for the sins of all people.

In our current world, Christian churches reenact this event not only during Holy Week, but on other occasions during the rest of the year. In modern medicine, functional organs are transplanted, and blood is transfused to save the lives of people who are ill. One way of understanding the Lord’s Supper is to think of it as having the spirit of Jesus transplanted into each of us through the consecrated bread and wine. It is thus helpful to remind ourselves afterward that the spirit of Jesus Christ lives within us.

1. Words as recorded in Mk 14:22-24 in the NRSV Bible. Slightly different words are recorded in Mt 26:26-28 and Lk 22:14-23