Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Quote of the Day: Olsen on Inerrancy

When I deny inerrancy I am not necessarily denying anything many inerrantists believe.  It may be, and I think is the case, that I am only denying that the word “inerrancy” is the most helpful or accurate term for what they and I believe in common.
 Go here for the full article, well worth a read, HT Chris T.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sex in the City of God

Gerald Hiestand a fellow of the Society for the Advancement of Ecclesial Theology writes, 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 always been one of the ways of maintaining that holiness
  • Being God's people involves us in a complex network of relationships, as with all human relationships, sexual conduct must be regulated in order to keep those relationships in harmony
  • Being God's people makes us a diaspora in the world, to maintain our unique identity in the world means resisting conformity to the world's patterns in all areas of life, including sexuality
  • Especially in light of our increasingly permissive society God's people stand in need of a distinctive, gospel centred and persuasive sexual ethics that works not as a barrier to but as an apologia for the church
  • The church's public image (protestant and catholic) has been destroyed in recent decades by sexual scandal, there is an urgent need to get our house in order if we are to have a credible moral witness
  • The "gay" debate is dividing churches and yet most pastors cannot give a properly theological rationale for either position, the debate is currently characterised by people not listening to each other, anyone who cares about the church needs to be engaged in this

Any other thoughts?

Quote of The Day: Dewi Hughes on Ethnicity

Ethnic identity is not something that ‘minorities’ or ‘indigenous peoples’ etc have but something that we all have. 

Don't see the relevance?  Read the rest.  It won't take long, and you may even learn something.

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 brings us nicely back to the end times where it is worth considering your sins on this helpful chart before it is too late, or imagining a different scenario altogether.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

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.

Free Books!!

Some blogs offer you a book as a prize if you comment and link to them, not this one.  Here are three free books, free to you with no obligation!
  1. Bulkeley, Not Only a Father. (Biblical Theology) HT Tim
  2. Walker, The Undefended Life.  (Leadership) HT Paul
  3. Various, 23 Essays Exploring the Truth of Christianity. (Apologetics) HT M&M

Friday, August 27, 2010

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

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

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 not pose much problem) and Paul did not mean he was there except by the fact that the Corinthians knew his decision on the matter and he wanted them to behave as if he was there giving his full apostolic weight to his opinion.  I'm sure most people who use the expression "with you in spirit" do not mean that they will actually be there, but instead mean that they will be thinking of you and praying for you and want you to know and feel their support in that time.  Which is nothing like worthless at all. 

look what the cat dragged in

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Why Theology Matters

Just came across this video, I'm probably the last one on the planet to see it, but it ties in nicely with my blog manifesto, so I had to share it.  Enjoy.

Monday, August 23, 2010

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?

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. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

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 "meta-apocalypse" as it "tells the story of Jesus telling the story of Israel by [apocalyptic] means" (p394).  For me this makes great sense and is a helpful way of steering between outright and uncontrolled allegory and the previously mentioned exegetical deadends.  Wright doesn't at this point mention a particular parable, I'm sure there'll be plenty in the next book, but the one that springs to mind to illustrate this is Mark 4:30-32 (pars. Matt 13:31-2, Luke 13:18-19).
And He said: "How can we illustrate the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use to describe it? It's like a mustard seed that, when sown in the soil, is smaller than all the seeds on the ground. And when sown, it comes up and grows taller than all the vegetables, and produces large branches, so that the birds of the sky can nest in its shade."   (HCSB)
To me there was no way anyone who had read the Hebrew Scriptures would not see in this an impossible to miss reference to Israel's story, in particular Israel's final vindication.  Don't see it?  Try reading Ezek 17 where the image of a tree sheltering birds is used as a parable of the hoped for restoration of Israel.  Or Ezek 31 where the same image is used to describe the extent and power of world dominating pagan empires.  Or even Dan 4:9-16 where the image is used to describe the reign of a world dominating pagan emperor.  (cf also Psalm 104)  Suffice to say, by preaching first, "the Kingdom of God is near," and then saying in a parable, "all the birds of the sky will nest in its shade," Jesus is signalling that the kingdom he is preaching is the fulfillment of the Jewish hope for Israel's restoration and that it will be a force that will grow to dominate the whole world.  The seemingly small beginning of Jesus and his raggedy disciples is going to eventually rival the greatest of empires.  The humble mustard tree (see pic above) is thus dangerously political and eschatological imagery with a clear meaning that should not be reduced to a single principle or a sentimental "heavenly thought."  By evoking such imagery Jesus is tapping into a deep well of deferred national hope and culturally embedded theological interpretation of history.

Surely on this one, Wright is not wrong?   :-)

Friday, August 20, 2010

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 Jason Goroncy wants us to save the internet, but why should we bother?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

On Being Baptist

I love this venn diagram by Alex Baker,

But there are other reasons for being Baptist, like
  1. 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.
  2. 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 determination what they did, submitting themselves to the teachings of Christ and his apostles.
  3. we don't baptise babies - how can a sign of repentance, conversion, and wilingness to die to self be performed for a baby?  Honestly, of all the confusing things to do, you don't come to Christ through having something "done" to you. If baptism of infants works, why don't we just run round throwing water over everyone, they'll thank us one day, won't they?  
  4. James William McClendon

So, what's your excuse? ;-)

Another bumper day on the web

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

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 custody until Moses could tell them what God wanted them to do (v12).  So far so good, the Lord then speaks to Moses explaining the method for dealing with blasphemers and also pointing out that the same rule applied to both aliens and citizens, one rule for all (v13-17).  But then God seems to go off on a tangent,
'If anyone takes the life of a human being, he must be put to death. Anyone who takes the life of someone's animal must make restitution—life for life. If anyone injures his neighbour, whatever he has done must be done to him: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. As he has injured the other, so he is to be injured. Whoever kills an animal must make restitution, but whoever kills a man must be put to death. You are to have the same law for the alien and the native-born. I am the LORD your God.'  Lev 24:17-22
Which you might think started a new subject, except for the fact it cannot, because the story that started with the introduction of the half-Israelite half-Eygyptian blasphemer is yet to finish, and does in fact finish in the next verse, where his story ends with his violent death (v23).  So what is the connection between blasphemy and the lex talionis, so that the author would place the two together like that?  (if indeed they needed to "placed" together in the first place)

What occurred to me as I pondered this was whether or not this might relate to Gen 9:6, where we have another lex talionis (kind of), that "whoever sheds the blood of a human, by a human shall that person's blood be shed; for in his own image God made humankind." (NRSV)  Isn't the justification for this lex talionis that murder equates in someway to blasphemy against the image of God in one's fellow human?  In which case the link between blasphemy and murder has already been made.  In Lev 24:10-23, that link is simply made in another direction, possibly predicated on Gen 9:6.  The punishment for blasphemy is death, and murder is itself a form of blasphemy, so it is simple move to go from talking about blasphemy (of the name) to murder (of the image bearer).  However the law is careful to differentiate between the life of an animal and the life of a human, because the animal does not bear the image (v18, 21; animal rights activists take note!).  On the other hand it is equally careful to remove differentiation between citizen and alien in this matter, all human life is equally sacred, it is not dependent on nationality (v16, 22). 

Ok, so here are some questions:
1) How come all the conservative Christians that want the death penalty for murder don't campaign equally vigorously for the death penalty for blasphemy?
2) Those of you who don't support the death penalty for murder, what does that say about your valuing of the human life that was taken?
3) Matt 5:38-42 anyone?

Friday, August 13, 2010

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?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Blogs of note

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, he refers to the cognitive effect as a “revelation of God’s Son” (Gal. 1:15-16), and in Philip. 3:1-11 he contrasts his former Torah-centric life with his present fervent devotion to Jesus. The Damascus Road experience did not convince Paul primarily to approve a relaxed halakha, but to change his view of Jesus. In my view, that also suggests a lot about what he had previously found objectionable in Jewish believers.
It was therefore the way in which the Christians used and revered the name of Jesus that made them offensive to Saul, and it was Saul's encounter with that Jesus on the Damascus road that resulted in his change of heart towards the Christians and his acceptance and consequent advocacy of their beliefs and praxis (to put it mildly).

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

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 he created them.
The point of course, is that God created them in his own image and he also created them male and female.  The point is not that male and female make up different aspects of God's image, but that BOTH male and female bear God's image equally.

In fact the male and female is not what makes us "in God's image" at all, but in actual fact gives us something in common with the animals.  Hence the Hebrew, zachar unekevah (זָכָר וְּנְקֵבָה), are the same words that you would use to refer to male and female animals.  And this is why, for Christians, sex, although a good gift from God, has nothing to do with being more or less close to God because eternal life does not involve marriage or procreation (Mark 12:25).  Being male and female is a consequence of the need to go forth and multiply, not of being made in God's image.  Consequently those who are single/celibate are no less bearers of the image of God than those who are married.  Finally it needs to be pointed out that if God were both male an female he would be an hermaphrodite.  No offence to hermaphrodites, but God has no body so for him/her to have any sexual organs, let alone both sets, is not possible.  God only gets called "him" or "her" because English has no gender neutral personal pronoun, which is pretty inconvenient, just ask an hermaphrodite.

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 emporer Hadrian with the news that there are four races in the world, Barbarians, Greek, Jews and Christians; and a young pagan called Justin is begininng the philisophical quest which will take him through the greatest of the pagan thinkers and lead him, still unsatisfied, to Christ.
(N.T Wright, NTPG, p359)
After pointing out the blindingly obvious but often overlooked fact of the early church's incredible expansion and what this tells us about early Christian praxis, Wright goes on to confront the fallacy that the early church grew so rapidly because the pagan world was such fertile soil for it.  Having established that for both the pagan and the Jew becoming a Christian would be a difficult, dangerous, and counterintuitive thing to do, he then aks,
Why then did early Christianity spread? Because early Chistians believed that what they had found to be true was true for the whole world.  The impetus to mission sprang from the very heart of early Christian conviction.  If we know anything about early Christian praxis . . . it is that the early Chistians engaged in mission, both to Jews and Gentiles . . . This missionary activity was not an addendum to a faith that was basically 'about' something else. 
(N.T Wright, NTPG, p360)
If Wright is right about this (no pun intended), then is a missing ingredient from our churches' conviction that what is true for us is also true for everyone else?  Have we secretly, or perhaps not so secretly, bought into the lie that everyone gets to have their own private version of the truth and that that is OK?  Are the churches in the West not doing mission because they and their constituents no longer believe they know the truth or that the truth is worth knowing?

Monday, August 9, 2010

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.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

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

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.

Friday, August 6, 2010

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 that the Q'ran was received over time, but the essence of what I say is, I hope, correct.  If it is not please correct me).

But because Christianity, while "a religion of the book," is first and formost a religion of a person: Jesus the Christ, it is more than possible to be a Christian without knowing or having access to the Bible.  Indeed, many Christians throughout history and even today had and have no access to the scriptures.  The New Testament was collected subsequent to the emergence of Christianity, and most of the documents it contains are not self consciously intended as scripture.  The works that comprise the New Testament were collected and recognised only on the basis of their adherence to an unwritten "rule of faith," that is the oral testimnoy and teaching of the apostolic and sub-apostolic church about Christ.

So here is another fundamental contrast in Islamic and Christian approaches to their scriptures.  For the Muslim Mohammed was the receiver of the the Q'ran, and consequently the greatest and seal of all the prophets.  But Christ did not give Christians the Bible, it was written about him, to testify to him.  Mohammed's authority came from the Q'ran as Allah's dictated word.  But, in Christian belief, Jesus does not derive his authority from the scripture but the other way round.  Scripture is only authorative as and in that it testifies to Christ.  This is important and true, for Christians, not just of the New Testament, but of the Old also.  For when Christ talks of fulfilling scripture, or the NT describes ways in which he does, it is not meant that the OT has prescribed who and what Jesus must do to be the Christ, but rather it describes the one who is to come, whose reality gives shape to all creation and the whole story of God's salvation.

And here we, the Christians, might start an argument for Jesus' divinity (and from there the Trinity), because it is the very shape of scripture that testifies that Jesus was not just a man who happened to fit the necessary mould to be the Christ, but that the whole of God's work of salvation, starting with God's promises to Abraham, has been moulded around Jesus Christ, predicated on his reality.  Jesus Christ did not come into being to complete the plan.  The plan came into being to express the reality of Jesus Christ.

Let me know what you think :-)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

More good stuff

So much good stuff landing online at the moment, check out:

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:
  • Hell
  • Dumb
  • Ass
  • Whore
  • Leviticus
The 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!]

Deepak Chopra gets caught in his own tangled web of relativism

He's the guy on the left, and something of a new age guru type, in case you haven't heard of him. We can all say things we regret in the heat of the moment, but I think this is fair to share because the fact he doesn't get the joke demonstrates that he cannot apply his own logic to his own beliefs.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

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 constitutes scripture Muslims and Christians will find it impossible to meaningfully discuss the issues that arise from those scriptures.  That said, I could not fault my Muslim cousins for their hermeneutics yesterday because there are plenty of (misguided) Christians who treat the Bible as if it were the Q'ran.  At least the Muslim has the excuse that the Bible is not his or her holy scriptures!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

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.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Posts Worthy of Note

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

Sunday, August 1, 2010

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:
  1. Sinai Covenant, Ex 19-31, original covenant >>>
  2. Golden calf incident, Ex 32-33, priestly indiscretion >>>
  3. Priestly Code, Ex 35- Lev16, extra laws >>>
  4. Goat idols, Lev 17:1-9, popular indiscretion >>>
  5. Holiness code, Lev17-25, extra laws
All 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 does ignore lots of larger narrative interuptions to the law codes and puts a lot of weight on the goat idols/demons which in Leviticus seem like more of an aside that a central interpretive signpost.  That said, Sailhamer is just sketching his arguments at the moment so he may well address these issues later in the book.

Personally, as a father of young children, I like this scheme because it is true to life.  At home we do not create new rules till the kids' behaviour demands it. In our house, as in Sailhamer's scheme, rules are purely pedagogical. The default setting is freedom and grace. However, the jury is out at this stage over whether or not this really works as an explanation of the laws in Exodus-Leviticus.

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?