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Showing posts from March, 2009

Brevard Child's theology of the Bible

Just came across this excellent and concise theology of scripture from an interview with the late Brevard Childs:

"The divine and human dimensions of Scripture can never be separated as if there were a kernel and a husk, but the heart of the Bible lies in the mystery of how a fully time-conditioned writing, written by fragile human authors, can continually become the means of hearing the very Word of God, fresh and powerful, to recipients open to faithful response."

I think I might have to put that up on my study wall...

Ian Mobsby on Post-Christendom church

Ian Mobsby was this week Carey college's after lunch speaker. He seemed like areally good bloke with a fascinating story. He was talking alot about the change from Christendom, that is where the world in which we live is essentially a Christian one, to post-Christendom, where Christian are on the margins of a secularised society. His main thing seemed to be that church were clinging to traditional ways of doing church which had worked during Christendom but were now not applicable. He was surprisingly non-judgemental but just quite matter of fact in how he felt 'traditional' churches needed to change.

He advocated moving from:
Traditional ways of doing church to ones which are designed to engage with our communities.
A pastor model where the onus is looking after people who are in church to a missionary model where the focus is on reaching those in the community.
Shallow communities to ones that went deep.
Emphasising doctrine and head knowledge to emphasising praxis and ri…

A couple of thoughts on the Temple in 1 Chronicles

So, I am reading through Chronicles this month and have (as tends to happen) spotted some things I hadn't seen before. here's a couple around the theme of the Temple:

1 Chronicles 17. David decides to build a 'house' (i.e. temple) for God because he feels it is wrong that he lives in 'a house of cedar, but the ark of the covenant lives in a tent.' But God stops him and instead promises to build a 'house' (i.e. family line) that will last forever. This is one more example of how this God, in contrast to the other gods of the ancient world, needs nothing from human hands but yet gives abundantly, not in return for favours done, but because it is God's pleasure/will to show love.

1 Chronicles 21:28-22:1. God's wrath comes against Israel for Davids sin in taking a census of all the fighting males. I've not yet figured out exactly what the problem was, but that is a question for later. God's wrath here takes the form of a 'pestilence&…

NT Wright on the desctruction of Jerusalem in Paul's thought

Continuing the futurist/preterist discussion started by Sarah B, here is a pertinent quote from Tom Wright who argues that the destruction of Jerusalem was the imminent apocalyptic event that Paul was aware of and that the second coming of Christ and renewal of creation was something much further away on Paul's eschatalogical horizon.

"[T]here are some passages in Paul which are often taken to refer to this final apocalypse, but which Paul probably did not intend that way. When he speaks of God's wrath coming 'at last' upon the inahabitants of Judea (1 Thessalonians 2.16) he is probably not thinking of the great moment he describes in chapter 4, but of an interim judgement, warned of by Jesus himself, on the city and on the people that had rejected their messiah. Indeed, when he grieves over his fellow Jews in Romans 9-11, I think part at least of that grief is conditioned by his awareness that they are living under the shadow of impending national disaster. Lik…

Situation for Christians in Pakistan Worsening

A Christian leader from Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province told Barnabas Fund last week how the Taliban are trying to enforce their interpretation of Islam on the whole nation. “That is why the religious minorities fear for their safety and their future,” he said. He described how Christians, desperate to blend in for safety’s sake, are beginning to dress like Muslims and the Christian men to grow beards so that they look like Muslims.

Parts of the North West Frontier Province, which borders Afghanistan, are now almo st ungovernable, as a wide range of militant Islamic groups are currently engaged in violent insurrections. Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, pleads: “Please pray at this time for the Christian minority in Pakistan, especially those in the North West Frontier Province, where the Taliban are gaining increasing power and enforcing an extreme version of sharia (Islamic law). Sharia is inherently biased against non-Muslims and also prescribes …

What's wrong with the songs we sing?

For many in the west church life in the 80s and 90s was marred by what is often called the 'worship wars.' Clashes between generations over what was appropriate content for worship in church, usually, but not necessarily, between those who wanted to sing traditional hymns and those who wanted guitars and 'choruses'. By and large I think these days people have realised how destructive such behaviour is and take a more relaxed attitude towards things, almost anything goes... And if you don't like it go down the road to another church that does it your way.

But here is a complaint from academic John Stackhouse about a certain contemporary Christian songwriter's worship songs.

Two of his points I think are perhaps nit picking: the lack of rhyming and the mixing of metaphors. In contemporary song rhyme is not essential and even many of the great hymn writers of yesteryear were not shy of forcing the odd rhyme from two words that really didn't. More to the poi…

The Gospel for Eunuchs: A Sermon on Acts 8:26-40

Here is in rough outline the flow of thought from the sermon I preached this morning.

A man is returning home from coming to worship at Jerusalem, he is an official in charge of the treasuries of Ethiopia and as a sign of his prestige rides in a chariot. Philip, following the instructions of an Angel and the prompting of the Spirit runs over to the chariot and hears the man reading from Isaiah.

Why Isaiah?
The official is also a Eunuch. As a foreigner there would have been some restrictions on his worship at the Temple, but as a Eunuch he would have been considered ritually unclean (Deut 23:1, Lev 21:20) and it is unlikely he would even have been allowed into the Temple. And yet something about Judaism has attracted and convinced the Ethiopian eunuch to be a worshipper of Yahweh. Who knows, perhaps it was the attraction of a God who, in contrast to most other ancient deities, was neither sexual himself nor demanded sexual acts as part of his worship; perhaps it has some connection wi…

"The Nitty Gritty" on Paul, Salvation and the rest of the Bible no. 1

Phil Baiden has raised some pertinent questions in regard to what I posted here concerning current trends in Pauline scholarship and my own (provisional) take on them. I am going to respond to Phil's questions in reverse order, and over two posts.

can you tell me what an objective, forensic view of salvation is?
Firstly it is worth saying that not all objective views are forensic, and neither are all forensic views objective. But in protestant christianity they tend to go together.

An objective view of salvation is usually contrasted to a participatory view, i.e. objective views focus on us as objects of salvation who are largely passive where as a participatory view would focus more on how both God's initiative and our response are necessary. A subjective view by contrast would see all the onus on us to acheive our salvation (which would be Biblically untenable).

All scriptural language in regard to the atonement is by necessity analogical (see here), that is the reality of …

Getting Your Message Across

Today I walked past a poster in a bus stop. It was promoting Telecoms new global roaming packages. Now I walk past this bus stop twice a day and I can promise you no one sitting in the middle of penrose industrial estate waiting to catch a bus will be choosing a mobile phone plab on the basis of its international roaming - they would be far more interested in free texts each month or novelty ring tones. That advert was in the wrong place and talking to the wrong people.

I was watching on TV Paul Merton in India the other night and he encountered a group called 'the god-busters.' This was a travelling group of atheists who went around trying to convince people that belief in god(s) was superstitious nonsense. Expecting Dawkins like lectures on the irrationality of God, and how evolution proves the non-existence of God and other such lines of attack, I was surprised to see them pushing needles through their skin and using them to pull an SUV down the road. Rather than using…