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Showing posts from August, 2010

Sex in the City of God

Gerald Hiestand a fellow of the Society for the Advancement of Ecclesial Theologywrites, regarding his book Raising Purity, "As a pastor striving to write robust eccleisal theology, a book on dating seems a bit off topic."  I have a review copy waiting on my desk, so I can't tell you if it is any good or not yet, stay tuned.  However, his story rang bells for me, because my thesis on Paul's approach to prostitution in 1 Cor 6:12-20, where I had to spend a whole year thinking about sex in the ancient world (among other things), started as an examination of Paul's use of the "body of Christ" as a metaphor for the church.  My entire 40,000 word masters thesis is in fact a (necessary) digression before I could approach the topic I was really interested in.  So why is there such a connection between sexual ethics and ecclesiology, and should it be so surprising?  Some ideas:
Being God's people means being holy to/for God, appropriate sexual conduct has a…

drifting in on the tide

Happy birthday to Jim West, whose 50th birthday apparently means the end is drawing nigh, at least by all the end times speculation that it has sparked, so get your rapture pak ready.  But Jim needs to know that 50 is probably the new 40, at least according to Don Miller.  KVB offers some funding advice ostensibly for PhDs but it should work for just about anything and some great Petersen quotes

Richard Beck has some thoughts about Bible translations and would probably like IVP's biblical theology blog, which is back on track and well worth a look, not least linking to Peter Leithart on mission and a review of this children's Bible which I bought and mostly like - although it over interprets sometimes, e.g. the snake in the garden is Satan, but has the best introduction of any children's book I've ever read, like ever.  Tall Skinny Kiwi also talks about "mission shaped mission" while Marc Cortez muses on Volf's eschatological theology of work.  Which br…

Finally, A Thesis Title

Drumroll please . . .

After much struggle and debate I have finally got a title for my thesis which I intend to submit for examination next week:

Sex, Slogans, and Σώματα:  Discovering Paul's Theological Ethic in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Should sell like hot cakes.

Quote of The Day: Happiness

Happiness is the sense of peace and joy that stems from knowledge of and union with the one who created us and who loves us infinitely. We will attain it fully in heaven, but we can achieve it to a significant extent beforehand by battling our desire to remain independent of God, ignoring the voices that label religion boring and unnecessary, and better acquainting ourselves with truth through study and prayer.By Mary Anne Marks from this interview, HT Marc

Every Kiwi that moves to Australia increases the IQ of both countries

More proof of that old adage.

Metaphor and Reality

Try not to get them confused! (cartoon from ASBO Jesus)

Rick Warren vs Elisha and Paul

I haven't read this book myself, but I saw over someone's shoulder yesterday that in The Purpose Driven Life Rick Warren writes this:
You have heard people say, "I can't make it to the meeting tonight, but I'll be with you in spirit."  Do you know what that means?  Nothing, it's worthless! As long as you're on earth, your spirit can only be where your body is.  If your body isn't there then neither are you. (p105)Which makes me wonder what Rick would make of 2 Kings 5, where Elisha's heart/spirit (לִבִּ֣י) follows Gehazi as he commits his crime and so consequently is cursed with leprosy.  Or more pertinently, of Paul in 1 Cor 5:4 where says he will be with the Corinthians in spirit (πνεύματος) when they assemble to deal with the incestuous man.  Of course Elisha did not mean that he was there but only that he was aware of what was happening (Elisha could work out the intentions of enemy kings from a distance, so his own bumbling servant would …

look what the cat dragged in

John Byron wonders about a paradigm shift in peer review for scholarship Jason Goroncy tells a tragic tale about pastoral ministryElizabeth McNamer digs up biblical women (HT Jim West)Edinburgh University has a blog on Christian Origins with some very respectable contributorsJames McGrath gives us all some tips on evaluating sources Tom Wright pontificates on the humanity of JesusJim West helps us to be more accurate about Jesus' speed and timing in RevelationMarc Cortez is giving away a big book on RomansMaggie Dawn shares a video on the 21st century enlightenmentSomeone is cleaning up the streets of Britain (HT Jim West)

Best Book Review Conclusion Ever!

Of course, it would be scurrilous (and ad hominem) to point out the irony of professional, hence interested, literary critics arguing for the political utility of their discipline because it exposes the hidden interests of others. It would not in any case invalidate their analysis. However, one does wish to flag the question of at what point this methodology balances hermeneutical suspicion toward other persons, structures, and systems with interpretative charity and self-criticism. This question is pregnant at several points in an otherwise fine volume.
- Michael J. Lakey in his review of  Roland Boer and Jorunn Økland, eds. Marxist Feminist Criticism of the Bible, Sheffield, 2008.

Of course, it would be scurrilous (and ad hominem) to point out the irony of using the word "pregnant" in the concluding sentence of a review of a book on Marxist Feminist criticism, so of course I will do no such thing!  :-D

Why is church so boring?

thanks to ASBO Jesus for the pic Honestly, how do we manage to turn the good news about God reconciling the world to himself in Jesus Christ into such a yawn fest?  And no, the answer is not more screens and louder bands and more wax in the pastor's hair.  The answer is to stop the "show."   Church is not about music, or a great preacher, or presentation, or the service.  Church is the people of God worshipping God in Spirit and in truth, as opposed to the people of God watching some dude on a stage.

Apocalyptic Parables

I know it is really trendy to whinge about N.T. Wright at the moment, but I really enjoy reading him and will usually find something interesting every few pages. If we can legitimately have (and we can) indigenous, feminist, post-colonial, queer, and postmodern readings of scripture, I don't see why some jolly Anglican bishop shouldn't get to put forth his own with out everyone getting in a tizzy because he isn't reformed enough (but Paul didn't MEAN that mummy!) or because he believes in the resurrection (but it's not HISTORICAL mummy!) or doesn't want to ordain gays (but it's not TOLERANT mummy!).  Honestly, get a grip, he's just some dude with a beard.  I digress.

 pic from here An "aha" moment for me today was Wright's (NTPG) definition of Jesus' parables as apocalyptic, as against "earthly stories with heavenly meanings" or "stories making only one point" (p393).  He suggests that Mark's gospel is a "met…

Baptism Quote

for you Jesus Christ came into the world
for you he lived and showed God's love
for you he suffered death on the Cross
for you he triumphed over death
rising to newness of life
for you he prays at God's right hand
     all this for you
     before you could know anything of it
In your baptism
the word of scripture is fulfilled:
"We love, because God first loved us."
Methodist Worship Book, UK, 1999
I really like how it presents baptism as an act of our love for God only in the overwhelming context of God's prior love for us.  But part of me wants to insert somewhere: "but not just for you."

Education, Debating, And Other Tidbits

James McGrath and Marc Cortez discuss exams versus otherways of testing students.  My question would be, is the point that students know theology, or that they can do theology?  Maggi Dawn didn't get what she needed from her theological education, she had to start blogging for that.  Where I work, we have very few exams, mostly assignment based assesment, and are using more and more online interaction in assesment and delivery.

Paul Windsor gives Fox news a good spanking. While Jim West observes that Hitchens gets a spanking from John Haldane, I especially liked this bit if only because it tied in so nicely with my blog post of Lev 24, perhaps he read it before the debate?  The dissapointing thing is that most of it goes way over Hitchen's head and he just keeps pushing the same old tired wheelbarrow.  Poor thing. Seriously, this is why I avoid debates, no one ever listens.

Meanwhile Ben Myers just asks us to be nice to theologians, after all, they are human (sort of) too, and…

On Being Baptist

I love this venn diagram by Alex Baker,

But there are other reasons for being Baptist, like
congregational discernment of the mind of Christ - OK, in the west we do struggle not to turn this into democracy with all the attendent political fallout, but I'd rather shoot for the stars of Rom 12:1-8 than settle for the beaurocrats making decisions for the local congregation.a commitment to New Testament Christianity - OK, you've gotta be careful not to look at the early church with rose tinted specs, and you have to realise that as the world changes so will the way the church presents the gospel to that world, but honestly I'm not interested in imitating the reformers or the fathers any more than as far as they imitated Christ.  And if that is my goal then I might as well start with Christ first.  I'm grateful for church history, its legacy and lessons, but the church of today honours the church of yesterday, not by imitating them, but by doing with equal vigour and determi…

Another bumper day on the web

Marc Cortez gives a salutary lesson in statistics, as it seems rumours of the Web's demise have been greatly over exageratedCynthia Neilsen on the dehumanization of slaves in the USASteve Douglas writes to a friend struggling with faithJim West shares a Michael Crichton quote on reading the newsAli tries to work out how to argue against homosexuality without being a jerkthe Biblical World on the women in Paul's lifeand don't miss the majestic plastic bag, i have a song about this, but i won't sing it for you today cos i have lost my voice :-(

Lev 24:10-23, Blasphemy, the Lex Talionis and the Imago Dei

So there I am, minding my own business, reading through Leviticus with my lady wife one evening, when suddenly I realise, with great anger, that the person responsible for paragraphing my Bible (in this instance an ESV) has started a new paragraph complete with section heading in the middle of a narrative unit.  What a wally.  But then again, you could understand why someone might think v17 starts a new subject on account of the fact it moves from the topic of blasphemy to lex talionis (the law of retaliation).  The section starts in verse 10 with the introduction of a new character:

 pic from here That is him in the middle, the offspring of a Danite woman and an Egyptian man.  It seems like he was visiting his mum (maybe he had had a row with dad?) and then, perhaps because someone made an unkind remark about his parentage, and then got into a fight and whilst he was fighting blasphemed (v11).  So the Israelites, who until that point had been enjoying watching a good fight, put him in …

A Warm Welcome!

. . . to readers of Zwinglius Redivivus, and thanks to Jim for his kind words. Above is a picture of a hongi, a sharing of breath that recognises our common humanity.  They are not possible to perform over the internet.

The intro he refers to is on the right over there >>>

Please take a moment to look around and why not add me to your feed reader and see if you like it, after all you can always delete me again if I turn out not to be your cup of tea?

Blogs of note

An incredibly helpful comment on modern translations of the apocrypha.A Chesterton quote on things that people think are in the Bible but aren't.John Scott on what we are learning (or should be learning) from mission among unreached people groups.Dewi Hughes on ethnic identity and land in Wales and Kenya, not to mention nonviolence.The church is called out of its consumerism.Shauna Niequist kicks the princess out of church.And Don expounds the benifits of reading, while John just goes for learning, full stop.

Hurtado on Why S/Paul Persecuted Christians

In pp6-7 of his review essay of James Dunn's new book, Did the First Christians Worship Jesus?, Larry Hurtado gives a concise and convincing argument for what Saul of Tarsus (later to be Paul) found objectionable in Christian belief and praxis:
More directly to the question about why Paul opposed Jewish believers, nowhere in Paul’s letters or Acts do we find a statement that Paul’s persecution of them was on account of their supposedly lax (or non-Pharisaic) Torah-observance, their association with Gentiles, or their critique of the Temple. Instead, Acts depicts Paul as proceeding against “all who call upon [Jesus’] name” (9:14), as “opposing the name of Jesus” (26:9), and as seeking “to make them blaspheme” (i.e., probably pronouncing a curse upon Jesus, 26:11).

Moreover, nowhere does Paul say that his conversion was basically a capitulation to accepting a more relaxed Torah-observance, a more negative attitude toward the Temple, or more relaxed associations with Gentiles. Instead…

Gen 1:27 and the Gendering of God

You hear people saying all sorts of stupid things about the Bible and if I blogged each one I would never stop blogging.  However a particularly choice example was the time I was told, with great enthusiasm, that Gen 1:27 tells us that God is both male and female, because God created male and female in his image.  (wait for it, that wasn't the most stupid bit) Because God is both male and female, but humans in his/her image are only male or female, when a man and woman have sex they bring those two aspects of God together and so when we have sex it is the closest we come to bearing the complete image of God!  I might forgive the person who said that, because they were single and so had no first hand experience that might dissuade them that coitus resulted in such a elevated state.  No I blame the supposed Bible teacher who told her that. 

Male and female fairy wrens, from here The verse reads:
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female …

Missional Church is not a New Thing

The idea that mission should not just be a ministry of the church, one of its offered services, but actually a fundamental and foundational aspect of its whole life is at the heart of the idea of missional church.  With its new title, and the coining of a new word, "missional," the missional church sounds like something cutting edge and new and trendy.  However, while such an idea and emphasis may seem new to those of us who grew up in a church environment when mission was what was done in some other country by a unique and slightly doubtful class of people known as missionaries, it actually represents the character of the earliest church: 
The single most striking thing about early Christianity is its speed of growth.  In AD 25 there is no such thing as Christianity . . . by AD 125 the Roman emporer has established an official policy in relation to the punishment of Christians; Polycarp has already been a Christian in Smyrna for half a century; Aristides is confronting the …

George Wieland on Messy Mission

A sermon on the relationship between church and mission, using Acts, by Dr George Wieland. Given at Manurewa Baptist church on 13/06/10.  A very engaging and accessible introduction to the idea that the church does not have a mission, but that God has a mission, which has a church.

Download from here, or listen to it here.

Sermon on Genesis 11:27-12:5, Galatians 3:6-9

pic from here A sermon by yours truly, can be listened to here.  About 30 mins long, preached on the 25th July at Manurewa Baptist Church.  Can also be downloaded from here.  Texts: Gen 11:27-12:5, Gal 3:6-9.

Key concepts: the identity of God's people, whakapapa, introductions, pregnancy, faith, the gospel

BTW for non NZ listeners whakapapa ("wh" sounds "f") is a Maori word/concept which denotes ancestry, lineage, stories of identity and history.  See here for more details.

Jesus is Lord of the Bible Too

Continuing to reflect on differences between Christianity and Islam (for background see previous post) I've been struck by the fact that although Christians often say that they "start with the Bible" they really don't.  At least, most of them don't, and those that do are usually a little unhinged.  This is because the Christian faith starts for most of us with an encounter of Christ through his Spirit and/or through his community and/or through his word.  We are not called as Christians primarily to submit to a book, however inspired, but to submit to Christ.  It is not that Muslims submit to a book, per se, but their submission to Allah is controlled and completed by their adherence to the Q'ran.  That is because the Q'ran was written to codify a religion, in Muslim belief dictated by the angel Gabriel to Mohammed.  In many ways while there might have been muslims, there was no religion of Islam until the Q'ran was written to codify it (I realise tha…

More good stuff

Bart Simpson Swears on the Bible

Conversation in the staff room at lunch today reminded me of a certain Simpsons episode where Bart and Milhouse go through the Bible (KJV) to find swear words that they can use with impunity (because they are in the Bible).  The list they come up with has five words:
HellDumbAssWhoreLeviticusThe scene is really funny, especially when Bart and Milhouse argue over the status of Leviticus as a "swear," unfortunately I couldn't find a video of it, only this sound clip.  Does anyone know if there is a clip of this anywhere, or will i have to buy the box set?

So, what do you read the Bible to find?

[By the way, never google "dumb, ass, whore," there are some areas of interent land where only Interpol should go.  Thankfully no pictures were displayed!]

Why Muslims don't get Christian Hermeneutics

I was in the audience for a debate between a Christian and a Muslim about whether or not God was a Trinity yesterday.  It has given me heaps to reflect on, it was a fascinating event to witness on many levels.  Hopefully this is the first of a series of reflections coming out of that event.  One fascinating insight, that I perhaps should have forseen but didn't, was how much of the debate boiled down to hermeneutics (how you interpret scripture).

Muslim Scripture
One human author
Untranslated - Arabic
A religious textbook
Intended to found a religion

Christian Scripture
40 human authors (or there abouts)
Translated from original languages - Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek
An eclectic library of documents loosely arranged in a narrative sequence
A library collected by religious groups (Jews and Christians) who found those texts representative of their already established religions

Without an articulation of these essential differences between our very conceptions of what co…

More blogging goodies

ASBO Jesus is back!

Thinking about burnout, Paul Windsor draws warning from Chris Carter's behaviour, while Jim West points us to a helpful essay on the subject, unfortunately (for me) it is in German! Fortunately for you I will be blogging through a book on the subject in English shortly.

Richard Beck continues to blog about his civil rights tourism, this time going to Birmingham, Alabama.

And now is your chance to learn about the Mandeans, the followers of John the Baptist, in this beautiful photo essay. (HT McGrath)

Jason quotes Stringfellow on masturbation, that topic on which the church is so silent on, all sorts of silly myths spring up instead.  I'm not sure that Stringfellow is quite the answer, but really, when sexually stimilating images are the media wallpaper of our society this is a topic that needs addressing.  At least he makes a start.

Posts Worthy of Note

After an arid weekend, Monday brings signs of new life in the biblioblogosphere:

CARNIVAL!!!!! And for the first time, yours truly gets a mention. :-)Larry Hurtado on debunking the mysogynist interpretation of Mark 16:8.Mike Bird brings a book about Palestinian Christians to our notice.Richard Beck gives some thoughts on visting the museum where MLKjr got shot.And Douglas Mangum lets his goat go in Leviticus.

Sailhamer: The Adding of Laws in the Pentateuch

Well, Sailhamer may write long introductions, but he sure knows hows to get you hooked.  When considering the composition of the three legal codes of the Pentateuch he argues that the Mosaic law was added to the Sinai covenant as a consequence of Israel's transgressions. (p42)  So the structure of Exodus-Leviticus looks a little like this:
Sinai Covenant, Ex 19-31, original covenant >>>Golden calf incident, Ex 32-33, priestly indiscretion >>>
Priestly Code, Ex 35- Lev16, extra laws >>>Goat idols, Lev 17:1-9, popular indiscretion >>> Holiness code, Lev17-25, extra lawsAll of which serves to agree with Gal 3:19, where Paul states:  "What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions . . ." (NIV)  For Sailhamer the giving of the law is thus an act of God's grace (not a punishment) because it is God's remedy for the Israel's  breaking of the covenant (p48). All of which is really interesting, but it …

I'm just going to tell you about Jesus, while you attempt to rob my shop

Yes it really happened, in Florida, a shop manager stopped a robbery by telling the would be robber about Jesus and that he needed to go to church and get prayed for.  It was even caught on video.Don't do this at home kids.  Just give them the money, if you really feel it is a moment to fulfill the great commission then just drop a tract in the cash bag, but whatever you do, just give the man with the gun the money. OK?