Subway Prophet

…and the words of the prophets were written on the subway walls…

A Parable

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There are I think two ways in which this blog can go. The first is that I present my musings on my experiences in general as based on my life in seminary and my experiences in my classes themselves deriving some spiritual meaning from that. The second way is to present spiritual musings on my actual class material bringing the high concepts from the classroom into my own life. This second, for me, would be rather redundant seeing as I have discovered that the life of a seminarian is made up of short papers which are a reflection on the material in one page. While these are interesting, in their own way, they are not exactly the sort of thing which makes for interesting blog posts for subway walls or anywhere else. Therefore, the majority of my posts, I think, will and should be of the former sort where I allow my classroom education to inform and mold my experiences and interactions, viewing these theologically.

All this being said, however, it is of the latter sort out of which this post comes. For our readings in Church History, we are learning about one of the church fathers named, Irenaeus who lived in the early 3rd Century (200s). He wrote a fascinating work called, Against Heresies in which he argued, surprising, against heresies-namely those called Gnosticism and Marcionism. In his first book of AHhe presents this beautiful parable which I will paraphrase for you: Imagine that there is a mosaic of a King which is created out of many jewels all placed together. Someone comes along after the artist and destroys the picture, rearranging all of the stones so that now, instead of a King, they represent a fox. Now this man shows people this ugly picture of a fox and convinces them that it is in fact the picture of the King. The people having not seen the King for themselves believe the man and thus are led astray.

For Irenaeus, this story depicts what was happening by the Gnostics when they used the Christian scriptures to support their own heretical understandings of the world deceiving people into thinking that they had the correct, “knowledge” or “gnosis” in Greek. I want to make the connection however, with what is happening in our society today with some “Christian pastors” who have taken the scriptures and so manipulated them and distorted them so that their ugly fox-Jesus commands them to commit heinous actions like burning the sacred books of another religion in a perverted sense of evangelism. Sadly, these actions are not new. In fact, they have been used all too frequently in the Middle East where some people took their mosaic of fox-Muhammad and convinced men to board planes and fly into the World Trade Centers killing thousands of Americans.
Here I think, Irenaeus’ lesson holds true for us today. The way he pushed back against those heretical teachers was to show them the picture of the King, Jesus the Christ, the risen Lord, the one who reveals who God is, the one who died for us and thus set us free. By giving them this picture, Irenaeus helped his readers to recognize an ugly distortion of a gospel from the true and beautiful gospel which is the good news of Jesus. My prayer today and for this week as we come closer to the anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington that we can remember the true mosaic, the true Lord and allow that picture to give us the hope we need to transcend the anger and the fear and the frustrations which so often allow others to distort our views and distort our lives.
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Author: subway prophet

I am a husband, father, and Provisional Elder in the United Methodist Church currently appointed to Memorial UMC in Fernandina Beach, FL. I am a proud graduate of Duke Divinity School and Florida Southern College as well as member of the Wesley Study Centre and St. Johns College in Durham, UK. All posts are my own opinions at the time they are posted and I reserve the ability to change my mind and opinions as I continue to listen to the Holy Spirit and read Scripture with those around me.

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