Jesus Clears the Temple and CRT is Incompatable with Christianity
It turns out that worshiping together matters to Christ, and we need to think clearly about our new, dominant cultural worldview.
In this Issue:
Jesus cleanses the Temple and teaches us two things about worship.
Is it possible for Critial Theory or Critical Race Theory to be compatible with Chrisanity?
A great new book on Wokeism and a Christian response.
The video link to my sermon on The Gospel of John 2:1-12.
This past Sunday we went through John 2:13-23, the story of Jesus cleansing the Temple. As the Passover approached, Jesus took his disciples to Jerusalem to observe it along with thousands upon thousands of other Jewish pilgrims. As Jesus enters the Temple he sees the money changers and merchants doing business in the Court of the Gentiles, fashions his own whip, and begins the work of clearing the Temple courts for worship. As he does, he tells them that his Father’s house is supposed to be a house of prayer for all the nations, not a den of robbers.
Jesus has plenty of reasons to be angry. Primarily, the worship of Gentile believers was being treated with contempt and made nearly impossible by their court (their sanctuary) being turned into an open-air mall. The money traders and merchants were not only making an exorbitant profit off of pilgrims, they were doing it in the only Temple Court assigned to Gentiles. Their place of worship was crowded out.
When the Jewish religious leaders press Jesus and demand a sign for his authority to do these kinds of things, he points them to the sign of his eventual resurrection. But he does so in a way that causes them confusion. He says that they will destroy “this temple” and that he would raise it “in three days.” They think he is talking about Herod’s Temple Complex. He is talking about the “temple of his body.”
This series of events presents an interesting, even surprising, set of priorities shown by Jesus.
Have you ever said, or has someone you know, said that they don’t need to go to church to be a Christian? They can follow Jesus all on their own, or out in nature, or when they listen to worship music or podcasts in their car by themselves, thank you very much.
If Jesus believed this was true, this story of cleansing the Temple is exactly the place where he could have made that clear. Afterall, the next thing Jesus teaches us is that he is the temple of God on earth, now. Who needs a physical Temple or space for worship? Jesus could have walked into Temple, saw that many were not able to worship, and said, “This is fine. I’m here, now. You don’t need to gather together for worship and sacrifice.”
But he did not do that. Jesus pressed two priorities on us simultaneously: the act of physically gathering together for worship is important (important enough to make his own whip to make the point), and, we need to be clear that we are worshiping Jesus, and Jesus alone.
Is it time you went back to church? Are you crystal clear on who you worship?
What in the World…
One of the most important and contentious issues in our culture, and especially among Christian pastors and denominations, is Critical Theory and its offshoots like Critical Race Theory. A lot of ink is being spilled defining the topic, debating the topic, and trying to make sense of whether it is compatible with orthodox Christian theology. I expect much of what we discuss here will interact with CT/CRT and its implications.
But one question that acts like our interpretive guide (as a follower of Jesus Christ) is, “Does it cohere with the gospel of Jesus Christ?” The question is critical and massive. It will take time to flesh it out, and it requires that we have a good understanding of both CT/CRT and the gospel.
One recent article that does some of that work for us is, “Critical Race Theory: Plundering the Egyptians or Worshiping Ba’al?” by Bruce Ashford. After outlining four reasons why CT/CRT should be rejected (especially by the Christian faith), he concludes,
“As with any ideology, the discerning person can gain valuable insights from CRT. CRT rightly recognizes that oppression is evil, that individual sins and prejudices often coalesce in our society to warp and misdirect cultural institutions and associations, and that we should all work to bring healing and redirection to the injustices embedded in our culture. Yet precisely because CRT’s narrative conflicts with scripture’s overarching narrative, we should reject any temptation to buy into it as a system of thought.
Some hold that CRT offers a useful tool that has emerged from non-Christian social commentary and that we ought to “plunder the Egyptians” to make good use of it. On the contrary, because CRT rejects so much of the Bible’s view of human nature, sin, and God’s goal for his creation, perhaps it is better to say that Christians embracing CRT are bowing before the false god Ba’al, who cannot bring justice, healing, or salvation.”
I think he is right. We will continue to wrestle with this issue and see if I am right.
What I’m Reading
I have spent the better part of the last 12-14 months reading everything I can in order to understand the shifts that are taking place in our culture. I have remarked that the turmoil of 2020 did not create any new problems – it brought long-boiling problems to the surface. I still think that is true.
The book I am reading now is a very thoughtful, well-written and accessible work on part of the now-dominant worldview sometimes called, “Wokeism”. I hope to get some form of review out soon.
Awake, not Woke: A Christian Response to the Cult of Progressive Ideology, by Noelle Mering.
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