Chapter 1: The Cultural Conjunction of 'Messiah' and 'Complex'
by Scott Cherry—
Society craves icons, or heroes. And why is that? Russell Brand can mock this craving all he wants, but I doubt he is above it. Could it be that we actually need great people and exemplars in the world? Could it be that a kind of hero-recognition code has been ‘pre-installed’ into our collective psyche that even spawns some of them? I mean, not that it would be unjustified—there are an awful lot of disturbing maladies and crises in the world. Who does not (openly or secretly) yearn for a Superman or a Wonder Woman, or a whole team of heroes like the Avengers? And isn’t that why the recent Marvel Avengers series and other superhero movies have been so wildly successful and seem never stop being popular? (The glaring thing, of course, is that the world’s problems are too big and too numerous even for them.) We are desperate for great Humanitarians and lots of ordinary ones too. We rightly crave them and we should all want to become one. Humanity is in no position to disparage people who want to do great good for the world and have the means to do it. On the other hand, an actualized “messiah complex’ can produce a dangerous kind of person if not tempered by love, humility, compassion, etc. Not everybody is qualified to be a “messiah”. Actually very few.
Why Muhammad was wrong
by Marty Smithhart—
I once had a Muslim Imam tell me that “Jews don’t believe that.” You cannot rely on Jews to teach you what is right. I mean, it is perfectly clear in the scripture, Jesus did not rely on the Jewish leaders of his time to teach him the truth. It was ALWAYS Jesus teaching the truth. The truth is found in the scripture, Old (Tanakh) and New Testaments.
When I became a Christian in my 30s, one of the questions I used to ask myself is this: Is the Bible really that confusing? I asked that question because there is no doubt there are all kinds of views of Christianity, who God is, Islam’s view of God (Allah) and Judaism’s view of Hashem, etc. One thing that really captivated me when I first began to compare and contrast Christianity (the scriptures) with modern Judaism is this point: The scriptures, both Old and New Testament, were written before the Talmudic sages wrote. The Christian texts were written before Talmudic Judaism began codification. Therefore, if you want to know what the Bible says from its earliest point of view before Talmudic Judaism and its sages, you must use the Christian New Testament. All other views came after the Christian New Testament except to say the New Testament speaks of the darkness which had consumed the nation of Israel in Jesus’ earthly minister and that is visible in the New Testament. Talmudic Judaism, I fondly call Judaism 2.0 and Islam is Judaism 3.0. It is Christianity that is 1.0 - the original scriptures. And Jesus is the master teacher, greater than any Talmudic sage or the Prophet Muhammad. As Matthew wrote in the Gospel, someone greater has come and Matthew speaks of Jesus—the greater teacher. And with the Spirit, as Jesus says, he (the Spirit) will teach us all things. Praise the Lord!
A Concise Review of Avengers, Star Movies, and Super Heroes
by Jen Foster—
I haven’t seen Game of Thrones and don’t intend to. I have seen most of the recent comic book spin-offs (thanks to Scottie) and find them… tepid and dry. Star Wars is distractingly eastern religion for dummies and Star Trek nauseates with its holier-than-thou scientism, environmentalism and multiculturalism. So, I muse on the obsession with fantasy from afar.
It seems that our current inclination toward larger than life characters, epic battles and superhuman elements may stem from western culture’s luxurious self-indulgent, self-protective effeminacy. We have so well insulated ourselves from pain, hardship, challenges and meaningful struggle that we have also insulated ourselves from adrenaline-producing excitement, sweaty palms clasped before God, and faith-filled risk taking.
It’s a shame, really. Our petty busyness is all too often about making my life, and my family’s life, more satisfying, more peaceful, more safe, more comfortable, more healthy, more more more more. How about trying this for a change?...See if we can’t intentionally pursue the eternal instead. Keep an eye towards new life after death, structure the day’s activities around worshiping and enjoying the Almighty. Find time to talk with the Divine. Plan short-term and long-term goals for serving the King of kings. Sing and dance like David before the Lord God. Find those soul-mates who turn our eyes to Jesus and off our selves.
I speak from experience. When Heaven and Christ and the majesty of God becomes dull and far away and unrelated to our lives now, then we seek after lesser stimuli. We binge watch TV, we become experience junkies, we fire our endorphins with glam and glitter. Of course, it’s all temporary. Sooner, rather than later, we need another boost, another hit, another tickle. But, when we are enthralled with the Ultimate Reality, then fictional fantasies become a modest, mildly amusing break from the strain and pressures of the fight of faith. Believe me, the True Story – the One Story – the Biggest Story is the most exciting, energizing and rewarding story. And we don’t watch this story, we live it.
(Yep, that's all of it this time.)
Is it Israel or the Messiah?
Congratulations on your graduation from UM-Dearborn! I'm proud of you but I also will miss you. Thanks for engaging me in so many deep and intelligent discussions over your 4 years here, most of which were about the Bible or the Qur'an. As you already know, this is part 2 of my exposition of the Servant in Isaiah 52 and 53. In part 1 I did a word-search overview of "Servant" in the entire book of Isaiah excluding chapter 52:13 - 53:12 to save it for later. So now, since I skipped that section before, I will focus only on the identity of the Servant in Isaiah 52:13 - 53:12. For convenience I have pasted the whole passage with my embedded comments below.
Everybody needs this coverage—even men.
by Sarah MacDonald—
Why are people so disrespectful? She didn’t understand why people couldn’t mind their own business and leave her alone. She was just trying to tend to her garden, and she didn’t need a bunch of people staring at her. People could be so self-centered. Just because she covered her head didn’t mean she was any less of a person. People would ask her why. Why? Why was her head covered? Submission! Tradition! They didn’t really care why, they were just judgmental, she thought. She would never act like they did. She was better than that.