MY BRIEF TESTIMONY

BRIEF 5 min. PERSONAL TESTIMONY - BARRY BALLARD

On a warm summer day in Washington D.C., I sat in a small movie theater listening to a re-broadcast of a Billy graham crusade that had been previously given elsewhere. I was attending with a Christian group who ministered on the air force based where I was stationed, "Andrews Air Force Base". At the conclusion of the presentation, there was an invitation given to receive Christ and counselors were standing up front to pray with those who came forward. The house lights went up and I went forward and prayed to receive Jesus Christ into my life. This was not the moment of my true conversion, this was "preparation-of-heart", part one.

On a humid pitch-black night in 1969, my plane touched down on the Saigon airfield that was currently under rocket attack. Black-out conditions were in effect and we were rushed to trucks and then transported to our barracks and its inclusive bunker for protection. I was assigned an m16 rifle, two clips of ammo, and given a helmet and flack-vest. I spent my first night in Saigon standing in the bunker, wondering "why?" I was even here. I understood none of it, except that supposedly it had to do with communism and we were protecting democracy. But, I just felt abandoned to the most bizarre and remote assignment I could imagine. I worked "support", so I do not want to give the false impression that I was "combat"; but I did serve some time in the jungle. Only one man died in our group during the year I was there; and he told me beforehand that he wanted to die and never return home. He had received his divorce papers in the mail about a week before my arrival. He was shot down in a helicopter "one" day before he was to return home. My one year in Saigon was a lesson in the deterioration of the human spirit and soul. Eventually, I also learned to hate myself and "living" and could care less about what might lie ahead. I was returning to the states with a crushed human soul, devoid of all optimism. This was "preparation-of-heart", part two.

On a humid gray-dusk-like-evening, I found myself, in 1970, driving through the main gate of Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth, Texas. I soon settled into my tasks of working in the 7th bomb wing headquarters, in support roles again as usual. I also served on the honor guard for special occasions for fallen veterans funerals, or award ceremonies. Even though my personal psyche was "wasted“; I was considered an admirable employee and respected for my abilities. My inner life however was an absolute disaster that I did not "share" with anyone. Strangely enough; I was visited by representatives of the "Navigators"; the same Christian organization that had approached me in Washington D.C. I began attending bible studies two nights a week and felt a little better about life by receiving this follow-up. I'll call this "preparation-of-heart", part three.

During my term of service at Carswell, I met my wife to be, Beverly, who invited me to her church in River Oaks, "Trinity Baptist Church". They had a young pastor, John Hatch, who was just finishing his doctorate at Southwestern and the atmosphere attracted me. It was in 1973, “4” years after that initial "preparation-of-heart"; that I made an honest commitment to Jesus Christ and immediately followed that with baptism.

From there, the road did not get any smoother, but my “soul” began a healing process that eventually went from healing to true "Wonder and Discovery". The first thing that was revealed to me was my spiritual gift, which is "Teaching". While at Trinity, I ended up writing three commentaries: James, Colossians, and Philippians. All three helped me grow in my commitment to Jesus Christ.

True conversion was preceded by three moments of "preparation-of-the-heart" in my case. Over a four year stretch of time, God never gave up on me. I think the strength of my testimony must be given to the strength of God's loving patience; to lead me along the final path that would secure my faith. Thank You.

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lectures on jurgen moltmann

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Sunday, June 15, 2014

BULTMANN: PHENOMENOLOGY OF CHRISTIANITY

click link:  http://www.mediafire.com/listen/0ytpmri03jyrh5u/bultpm.mp3

A TRUE PHENOMENOLOGY OF CHRISTIANITY FROM 1953:
Bultmann; much in the same manner as Levinas (but well ahead of his time), tells us that the self is confronted by both: a historical situation and text of existential importance. For Levinas, the text was the Torah and Talmud. For Bultmann, the text is exclusively the New Testament, and especially the gospel narratives (with a preference for John).
And both Levinas and Bultmann addressed the problem of a “kerygma-of-saying” that was enclosed in an “enclosure-of-said”. Bultmann calls this the “enclosure-of-myth”. Now; Bultmann precedes Levinas by about 8 years, so we should recognize just how ground-breaking Bultmann’s offering was and still remains today.

The “myth-of-the-said” that tries to enclose kerygma is composed primarily of Jewish apocalyptic and Greek Gnosticism. We need to extract the kerygma from this inauthentic enclosure and acquire the existential significance of New Testament narrative in its originary proclamation-state. Our task therefore includes this extraction coupled with the ongoing development of the self’s “self-understanding”.

The “psyche” makes its contribution by passing through the triad of: anxiety – faith – and eschatological-existence. The tension of “security vs anxiety” interrogates the self to open itself to the intangible love of god and openness to the future. This eschatological stance must be repeated again and again for every new situation; a continual negation of “egoism”.

The transition to the notion of the “true” passes through the relational-threshold of the “act-of-god”. For Bultmann, this means working through a triad: first; we internally posit the idea of “self-as-other”, where the love-of-god creates a self-acceptance equal to a self that is “other” than it already “is”; “self” becomes “eschatological-self”. Second; we pass through “dialogue with others where the “gnosis of revelation” is unveiled in the encounter with other selves that are also perceived eschatologically. And thirdly; the content of “kerygma” is articulated, as that within the Christ-event that is hidden under the mythical narrative. This means articulating the cross and resurrection as kerygma.

This threshold moment marks the self’s transition to cognition and the conceptual articulation of the cross and resurrection into an intelligible posited “word-of-reconciliation”. Essentially we are to posit the “saving-efficacy” of the cross as “intelligible” and available for proclamation and differentiation in actuality. For Bultmann, the cross is really all of the content we need. Resurrection simply stands for “faith” in the saving-efficacy of the cross. “Physical resurrection narratives” are later additions to the primitive text according to Bultmann.

“Praxis” means taking up the triad of: 1. taking up the stance of “being-for-another”; plus 2. Uniting that stance with the impelling “question-about-god” to form 3. A realized objectivity of the dialectical involvement of the kerygma in actuality. It will include using the existing lexical content of one’s tradition and its specific philosophy; but critiquing that philosophy with the “right” of an eschatological understanding of human existence.

What we can all learn here is how; after 61 years; a manuscript like this can take on new meaning in light of further offerings by post-moderns like Levinas and Derrida. 5 stars; and truly a transformative document.

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