Showing posts from 2006

The Presentation of God in the Book of Revelation

The Presentation of God in the Book of Revelation
Prof. Thomas F. Johnson
George Fox University

[This "paper" is part of a larger project I am working on - the presentation of the character of God in the Bible. There is a lot of diversity in the Bible's presentation of who God is and what God does. It cannot all be easily reconciled. We should expect this, given the long time frame over which the biblical documents were written and the various viewpoints represented by their writers. Revelation was written by and for a Christian community undergoing intense suffering in the Roman province of Asia, probably at the end of the first century A.D. They, through their author, the prophet John (probably not an apostle), represent God in a way that supports their need for a divine deliverer who will vindicate them and judge their enemies, if not in this life, then in the life to come. Revelation is nothing like the book portrayed in recent best-selling popular fiction. For an analy…

UAL Flight 232 7-19-89

United Airlines
Flight 232 – 7/19/89

Apricot chicken
or seafood newburg,
the flight attendant asks.
I choose the chicken,
Iowa boy
no shoreline to the farm.
But this bird can't fly either
and I come home to rest
among the corn.

Lettuce - a poem


she says
contains a natural sedative
inducing salad sleep
in cal'rie wary dieters.
I keep to burgers
wide awake
until I die.

Norton Ford

Sacrament - a poem


I see a sacrament
in bread and wine
and cheese and chocolate
and good strong beer,
all vehicles of godly grace
which bring me cheer
and join my soul
to some most holy place.

The Presence - Part II

The Sense of the Presence

I know that the authority for the truthfulness of what I am saying here is shaky. It may seem to you completely insubstantial. You do not sense this Presence, and I am saying that I do, and you cannot know whether I am telling the truth, am mistaken, or am just nuts. Yes, it is what it is. I am testifying to my own experience as faithfully as I can. I do not know whether you can connect with it. I hope you will think about it, because it is a very good thing, perhaps, you may feel, too good to be true, just so much wishful thinking.

I respect that, but I can tell you that it doesn’t seem like wishful thinking. When I engage in wishful thinking, there is a kind of emptiness to it, a sense of fantasy, like thoughts that have no foundation, mere hypotheses not yet tested by experience. It might be fun, but I know that it is a game, a game I am generating. The Presence, though, comes to me, initiates Itself, confronts me, “plays” me.

This very moment, at 5:33 AM, …

The Presence - Part I

The Presence

I have the sense that our lives are surrounded at all times by a personal, benevolent, loving Presence, a Presence that is pure, right, or true and that sees and knows. I can no more deny the reality of this Presence than I can the reality of my own existence. The sense of it is just as real.

I got up at 3:45 this morning to write this. I felt that I wanted to get up, that I was free to, that it would be good to record this observation, this sense I was experiencing and that is really the truth about what I always experience or feel.

This Presence leaves me with many questions, but there is a sense of joy that we get to have questions and that asking them is also all right. It is a good and natural thing, not to know and, therefore, to ask. But the not knowing is itself also just fine. One can rest in not knowing.

How It is for me

I say that I sense this, but I am also saying that I think that it is true for everyone in the world, all humans. Not that everyone senses it, or th…

TJ's Brief Bio - Thanksgiving 2007

This is my 11th and last year working at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon. I have had a variety of roles: interim president (97-98), dean of the seminary (97-01), professor of biblical theology (97-present), and a teacher in several departments (graduate and undergraduate): seminary, business, religion, and education. I am a generalist and someone who likes change and challenge.

By Myers-Briggs type (a tool I have found very helpful) I am an INFJ. The N (intuitive) and the J (need for closure and decision) are quite strong. The I (introversion) and the F (feeling as a way to make decisions) less so, as I sometimes test as a T (thinking as a dominant decision-making style), and my E (extraversion) has been getting stronger over the years.

A few years ago I did the Gallup organization's StrengthsFinder, which tests, out of 34 areas of possible personality strength, the five you are highest in. My top five are: Activator, Maximizer, Strategic, Relator, and Learner. You can fin…

Sailboat Dream

September 10, 1994

It is four something A.M., and this is what I remember of the dream I just had.

Michele and I were on a small sail boat on a lake in - was it? - a foreign country. We were sailing for a while with somewhat favorable winds; really, it was almost a cross wind. We approached an inlet where a river with a swift current was flowing out of the lake. I remember that we were wearing dress clothes, not appropriate for sailing. The boat started to head down the fast-moving river, but I realized that we could not keep following it, though it made the sailing easy! So I beached the small boat on a bank of the river.

We turned it around, and I knew that I would have to tack the small, narrow boat back and forth somewhat against the wind, and against the current of the river for a ways, before we could get back to where we had started. Where was that?

As we started back, it was later in the afternoon than I liked. Was it getting darker, stormier? I did not know whe…