Saturday, October 03, 2015

confession, baptism, and the radical, far-reaching rethinking of everything

My last confession was two weeks ago, and these are my sins... I confess that I have an exclusive, hostile and elitist identity. (priest replies, Huh?). Drawing by rob goetze

This quote from Brian McLaren seems very fitting for this time:
John (the Baptist) defines the essential meaning himself: he proclaims not a baptism of conformity but a baptism of repentance, which means a radical, far-reaching rethinking of everything. If one was previously formed by a conventional Temple establishment identity, one rethinks that way of life. If one was previously formed by an Essenic antiestablishment identity, one rethinks that way of life. What might have been acceptable before – hating Gentiles, hating priests, hating the poor, hating the rich—now seems like a sin to be confessed. What might have been considered unacceptable before—reconciling with enemies, showing kindness to outcasts, putting the needs of people above religious rules—now seems like a good thing. That kind of repenting would determine the kinds of sins people would confess as they descended into the Jordan for baptism.

So for John, baptism is hardly a second-rate tribal rite comparable to sitting on Santa’s knee. It is the radical reversal of identities of exclusion and hostility. It is a defection from all exclusive, hostile, and elitist identitieswhether they be establishment or antiestablishment in nature. It is a sign that one is repenting of all hostile identities, knowing that those identities can only lead to violent cataclysm. By de-identifying with oppositional identities—by dying to them, one can identify with something new: the kingdom, reign, or commonwealth of God—which is a call not to separation and exclusion, but rather to solidarity and reconciliation, as we have seen again and again.
Brian D. McLaren, pp.183, 185, in Why did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World

What Brian says makes good sense to me. I want such a radical reversal, both in my own life and in the life of the church.

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