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Showing posts from September, 2010

too busy to blog

at the moment, but here are some pictures to sustain you in the meantime . . . 
some post apocalyptic post from here:

some hermeneutical help from here:

and from my own home and with my own two hands some brand new cavie babies:

Zwingli Persecutor of Baptists

Henry Clay Vedderin his Short History (pp138-40) shows uncharacteristic understatement in his assesment of Zwingli and his treatement of the Anabaptists:

It would be a painful and useless task to detail the cruelties that followed [the torture of Belthazar Hubmair by Zwingli and his followers].  No persecution was ever more gratuitous and unfounded . . . They were condemned for Anabaptism and for nothing else . . . The Zwinglians found that having once undertaken to supress what they declared to be heresy by force, more stringent remedies than fines and imprisonments were needed.  In short if persecution is to be efficient and not ridiculous, there is no halting-place this side of the sword and stake . . . Felix Mantz, who had been released for a time and had renewed his labours at Schaffhausen and Basel, was rearrested on December 3, found guitly of the heinous crime of Anabaptism, and on January 5 was sentenced to death by drowning.

About two years later Jacob Faulk and Henry Rieman,…

Christian Preaching from the Old Testament #2

bits and bobs

TSK points us to a new blog bassed on Phil 4:8, if you find Xenos too wordy or drab for you, you'll love this oneJW unrolls a map of how Israeli settlement of Palestine is progressing at the expense of any chance for peaceSD shares his linguistic expertise with us on the subject of Matt 5:12And ASBO Jesus has a litttle something for the cynical among us (like me!)

Christian Preaching from the Old Testament #1

[This is the first in a serialisation and slight revision of an old essay of mine, in the hope of getting some interaction from others and also making it more accessible.]
Hebrew Scripture for Christian Preaching
One of the Early Church’s most famous heretics, Marcion, decided that the God of the Old Testament and the God revealed in Christ were incompatible.  In what was arguably the first attempt to create a Christian canon of scripture, he sought to dispose of the OT entirely and purge OT references from the New Testament.[1]  Notwithstanding Marcion’s many other theological quirks, his objection to the OT is perhaps something we can still relate to.  It is still not uncommon to hear a Christian today describe themselves as a ‘New Testament Christian’ as opposed to an ‘Old Testament Christian.’  Apart from the apparent dichotomy of legalism and grace between the testaments there are also ethical issues raised by the text: genocide, incest and misogyny, among others.   These and oth…

The relationship between Luke and John's Gospels.

Jim highlights an intriguing and pithy article on the suggestion that Luke's gospel made use of a Johanine oral tradition and used it over and against the Markan tradition.  Strong stuff.  I once asked a Luke scholar about the relationship and she told me forthrightly that it was a Johanine scholar's problem, not hers.  I thought at the time that was a little presumptious and I think this article shows rather nicely that the boot could well need to be on the other scholar's foot after all!

Unity is bad for Human Health

Whilst sitting in on a lecture on Gen 11, I was struck by Tim's remarks concerning the way human unity is always bad for someone.  Unity is always at the expense of someone, usually a minority.  For example in Iraq, Sudan and Burma conflict is occuring primarily because some factions are trying to bring unity to a geographical area where other resident factions exist which want to maintain their diversity (or bring a different sort of unity).

In NZ there is a popular polemic against difference that suggests everyone in NZ is simply Kiwi, but of course what they mean is that those in ethnic minorities should simply confrom to the majority (pakeha/european).  In conversation with a Maori Christian leader I was told that the churches are always saying to Maori that we should be one in Christ, but the Maori response is "one what?"  Because the implicit message they receive is that to have unity they need to become european.  And yet Christ's prayer in John 17 was for the…

Masturbation 1: What Not To Say

Jim asks whether or not masturbation is a sin.  Which is a good question, even in these days when objective right and wrong are so unpopular. Before the topic can be approached in its own right, a few misunderstandings need to be laid to rest.

First, "the sin of Onan" was not masturbation but coitus interuptus, a form of natural birth control.  His sin was not pleasuring himself, or using birth control, but failing to do right by his dead brother and continue the family line (Gen 38:8-10).  Thus we exhaust all possible references to masturbation in the Bible.

Second, the advice given to Jim by his pastor and advice I have heard given elsewhere, that as long as you masturbate "without lust," i.e. not thinking about someone, is crazy talk.  I once heard a youth pastor tell her flock that as long as you thought about something non-sexual while doing it it was OK, and so she recommended thinking of shopping trolleys!  This ignores the possibility that, "Sexual res…

Vedder on Infant Baptism

No, not Eddie Vedder, Henry Clay Vedder(1853-1935) whose book is currently providing me with some light and entertaining reading.  His arrogance and bombast is really quite charming as long as you remember he is writing over a century ago. He proceeds with the assurance of someone who is preaching to the choir and sometimes makes some painfully half baked remarks.  Sometimes, however, he gets it spot on:

No scholar pretends that the baptism of infants is taught in the Scriptures; they are absolutely silent on the subject; yet from this silence certain inferences have been made.  It is sometimes assumed that a continuity of life unites the Old Dispensation and the New.  As children were by birth heirs of the promises through Abraham, so they are assumed to be by birth heirs of promise through Christ.  In this view the New Dispensation is organically one with the Old; baptism merely replaces circumcision, the church replaces the synagogue and temple, the ministry replaces the priesthood,…

Pain Confuses Our Ethics

Earlier this year a Massey University survey showed that Kiwis considered assisted suicide more acceptable if the patient is in severe pain.  Which makes no sense unless pain is the ultimate evil in our society, which would presumably make pleasure the ultimate good.  Here's why, unless we have an irrational aversion to pain, this is an example of poor ethical thinking:
If a person is in pain they will be less rational with regard to considering their death, therefore their opinion should be given less weight not more.Most people who suffer extreme pain will do almost anything to make it stop, in such circumstances a decision to die is actually a decision to stop the pain, not a calculated and rational decision to end their life.If a painful human life can be legally disposed of but one void of pain should be preserved we are essentially valuing human life based on how much pleasure those lives are capable of?  That would mean those who hedonistically pursue their own gratification…

Theological Method 101: Analogy is a One Way Street

1. Theological language must use analogy.  We can only comprehend the unknown in terms of the known. 

2. Theological analogy only works in one direction.  If I should say "God is my rock" (2 Sam 22:3), I am suggesting that certain characteristics of a rock (perhaps dependability, solidity, immovability, etc) correspond with similar characteristics of God.  I can look at a large rock, a known object, and get some sense of what God is in some ways like.

3. There are no rules as to which characteristics of the rock I should attribute to God, although sometimes a particular text will give us some guidance, e.g. in 2 Sam 22:3 it is as a place of refuge that God is like a rock.  However, by using other anologies I will notice areas of overlap and difference which will help me, usually intuitively, to understand what characteristics the analogy is intended to convey.  For example, if God is my rock but also my shepherd (Psalm 23) or a mother bird (Deut 32:11), I know that the cold …

Don't Read, Preach!

Reading a manuscript to the people can never, with any justice, be termed preaching.... In the delivery of the sermon there can be no exception in favor of the mere reader. How can he whose eyes are fixed upon the paper before him, who performs the mechanical task of reciting the very words inscribed upon it, have the inflections, the emphasis, the look, the gesture, the flexibility, the fire, or oratorical actions? Mere reading, then, should be sternly banished from the pulpit, except in those rare cases in which the didactic purpose supersedes the rhetorical, and exact verbal accuracy is more essential than eloquence.Robert Lewis Dabney (I presume?) quoted in this worthwhile blog post(HT).

As an alternative to book burning

Tall Skinny Kiwi is hosting a blog the Q'ran day to mark 9/11 and as an alternative to all the hoo-haa over you know who saying he'd do you know what.  I'd love to participate, but haven't had enough notice this being something of an epically  busy weekend.  Besides, it really it is the Yanks who should be pulling out all the stops on this one as atonement for having media outlets that give massive free publicity to such slack jawed morons.  If you ignored them, they might not go away, but they would not be able to upset more than their immediate neighbours.

Ajith Fernando on Suffering for Christ

In a world where physical health, appearance, and convenience have gained almost idolatrous prominence, God may be calling Christians to demonstrate the glory of the gospel by being joyful and content while enduring pain and hardship. People who are unfulfilled after pursuing things that do not satisfy may be astonished to see Christians who are joyful and content after depriving themselves for the gospel. This may be a new way to demonstrate the glory of the gospel to this hedonistic culture.
The whole article is well worth a read.

The Power of Blogging

I've really enjoyed the interaction on this post.  It's what I always hoped blogging would be like, I share a thought from my home in New Zealand and get intelligent critical and friendly discussion of it from a New Testament scholar in the States who I've never otherwise met and an old Lancaster Uni friend who is concluding theological studies at Cambridge and entering Anglican ministry in the UK. 

BTW to all my readers who never comment, I blog for interaction, please don't be shy. Let me know what you think.  In doing so you will help me think better, blog better, and maybe even be a better person!  On the other hand if all you do is read what I write you run the risk of turning me into one of those hideous narcissistic bloggers who live only to pontificate in a strange world of their own creating :-D.

Ivy Beckwith on The Act of Becoming a Christian

Developing Christians - people who love God and desire to live in the way of Jesus - is not primarily a cognitive endevour . . . but for hundreds of years the church has treated it as such.  The act of becoming a Christian is the actual practising of being a Christian, over and over again.  One does not become Christian by sitting in a room in a church hearing a Bible story.  This is part of it, yes, but one becomes Christian by being immmersed in God's story everywhere it is told, living with God's people, and repeating the symbolic acts of the church, as well as repeating acts of loving neighbour and denying oneself, over and over again.  This form of education . . . cannot be regulated to a few hours a week spent learning inside the walls of a church.
Ivy Beckwith, Formational Children's Ministry, Baker 2010, p19

Burning the Q'ran, a theological T-shirt for you, a worship test, etc

[Pic by ASBO Jesus] Well I really didn't want to weigh in on all the hullaballoo about that unregenerate fundamentalist moron Terry Jones, because all I'll do is get angry and be rude, and I try to keep blogging a positive experience.  James does better and suggests a positive alternative to burning books, while Jim just goes on and on (but he's dead right, apart from the first link, which is just wrong on so many levels).

In Europe, however, this

is just one of a number of fasinating Christian T-shirts exegeted by TSK, well worth studying them all.

And in the UK, Alex proposes a new way of testing if people in your church are really paying attention or just going through the motions:

Other posts worthy of note
Richard Beck thinks nudity might be the best way to fight pornographyJim West makes a pithy case for Biblical Historical Minimalism (I'm not convinced, but I'm listening) Clayboy wonders what to call the Old Testament, a problem I've also experiencedAnd NZ…

The 7 Cities of Revelation

For those of us reading Revelation this week here is a map showing the location of the 7 cities the letter is written to (their names are in yellow with red dots).  They are all in modern day Turkey.

Scholar Craig Koester has a neat little website which allows you to tour around each city and see photographs of the archaeological sites.  Or you can actually go there with this tour company that specialises in "sacred destinations." 

[Map from here, but I copied it here to spare you the crazy stuff.]

Ladies First? Genesis 3 and Gender Roles

I once heard a young woman tell me, "women shouldn't take the initiative in relationships because it was Eve who took the initiative in Eden and caused the fall."  I think her point was, not that women shouldn't take the initiative because they were responsble for the fall, but that the fall proved that women were never meant to take the initiative.  From there it seems a short step to this kind of thinking,

It is fair to say that there are a number of women in Genesis who take the initiative with negative results and in ways that disobey God.   Apart from Eve, the examples of Sarai telling Abram to impregnate Hagar (Gen 16) and Potiphar's wife attempting to seduce Joseph (Gen 39) come to mind.  However, in none of those examples is there any indication that the problem with their actions is that they are women.  In each instance those actions are simply expressions of sin regardless of gender.  Adam, Abram, and Potiphar, hardly serve as shining examples of ethic…