Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Monday, September 27, 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:

Friday, September 24, 2010

Christian Preaching from the Old Testament #2(a)

Because Xenos has gained a few new readers in recent months I thought I would link to a couple of posts from earlier in the year relevant to this discussion.  Enjoy. 

But Vengeance IS Good News: A Reply to David Ker
NT Hermeneutics: A Matter of Faith

Zwingli Persecutor of Baptists

Henry Clay Vedder in 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, having firmly refused to retract, but rather having expressed their determination to preach the gospel and rebaptize converts if released, were sentenced to death [by drowning].

For these persecutions Zwingli stand condemned before the bar of history.  As the burning of Servetus has left an eternal stain upon the good name of Calvin, in spite of all attempts to explain away his responsibility for the dark deed, so the drowing of Mantz is a damning blot on Zwingli's career as a reformer.  All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten the hand that has been stained with the blood of one of Christ's martyrs.  If Zwingli did not take an active part in the condemnation of Mantz, if he did not fully approve of the savage measures of the council, he did approve of the suppression of Anabaptists by civil power.  There is no record of protest of his, by voice or pen against [these] barbarous cruelties . . . he stood by, like Saul at the stoning of Stephen, approving by silence all that was done.

Any reform which hangs on to the constantinian prerogative to murder those who don't agree with you is only half baked.  The reformers who used the civil authority to do their murdering for them are even more guilty than if they had done the deed themselves, having allowed those under their pastoral care to commit such disgusting perversions of the gospel of Christ.  Zwingli eventually died, not for Christ as those noble Anabaptists did, but fighting the petty wars of a city state, in doing so he proved beyond doubt where his true allegiance lay.  May God have mercy on his soul.

New Technology Coming Soon!!!!!!!

Had to share this! HT

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Christian Preaching from the Old Testament #2


[This is the second 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. (Part 1 here)]

The Bridge Paradigm 

In their ministry expositors serve as builders of bridges as they endeavour to span the gulf between the Word of God and the concerns of men and women. [1]

The ‘Principlizing Bridge Paradigm’ is perhaps the most common hermeneutical approach taught and applied in evangelical preaching, although it is frequently nuanced and seldom named.[2]  Two important evangelical convictions drive this model.  Firstly the need to respect the literal objective meaning of the text as it would have been understood by its author and original audience, for this is the only defence against a purely subjective interpretation;[3] secondly the need to relate the text to the modern world, for we do not preach in order to understand history or literature but to hear God’s word to us today.[4]   These two convictions leave us with a chasm that needs to be crossed from an original historical meaning of a text from a different time, culture, language, and geography to a contemporary Christian congregation wanting to hear God’s voice.[5]  This crossing can be accomplished by an extraction from the original text of a theological principle which can then be re-applied to the new situation.  So this theological principle then ‘functions as a bridge spanning the river of differences.’[6]

Fig 1. The Principlizing Bridge Paradigm[7]


It is surprising (for evangelicals) to note that the development of the Bridge Paradigm can be traced back to Freidrich Schleiermacher; the founding father of both modern hermeneutics and liberal protestant theology.[8]  Significantly, he reoriented hermeneutics to be driven by the desire to seek understanding, rather than validate a prior understanding.[9]  Two particular strands of his thought are relevant here:  One, the difference between understanding and application, and two, the analogical nature of religious experience.[10] Thus, for Schleiermacher, it is a matter of scientific method to understand the text as its author did[11] before extracting principles from that text to apply to one’s own religious experience which is analogous to the authors.[12]  Schleiermacher, when using these principles in his work, concluded that the OT was in fact a pagan non-Christian document, not suitable for preaching.[13]  Logically this will be our conclusion if we consider original historical meaning to be the only definitive criteria for interpretation.  For the OT ‘was not in the first instance a document of the Christian faith at all, but of the faith of Israel’[14] and, ‘One cannot foist a later Christian meaning on a passage that was supposed to have a distinctive religious sense in guiding the Jewish people of old.’[15] 

The Bridge Paradigm easily appropriates the NT for modern preaching, because the authors of the NT were Christians and writing to Christians.  In fact many passages of the NT invite such an approach because they elucidate both application and the principle on which it is based.[16]  In the OT the authors were ancient Israelites[17] who write in an array of different literary styles most of which do not invite us to extract theological principles because those principles, while sometimes arguably present are seldom explicitly articulated.[18]  For Schleiermacher the religious ‘river’ between the testaments could not be crossed, preaching from the OT could only be Israelite preaching.    For us there appears to be a contradiction between the Christian desire to preach from the OT and the desire to work within the assumptions of the Bridge Paradigm.


[1] Haddon Robinson, Biblical Preaching , Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001, 54
[2] Shepherd, William H., “A rickety bridge: Biblical Preaching in Crisis,”  Anglican Theological Review  (Spring 1998, 80:2) 186-7
[3] And so became increasingly important for Evangelicals in the last century as they struggled against liberal theology and higher criticism and is now seen as a vital bulwark against the uncontrolled subjectivism of post-modernism.  J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays, Grasping God’s Word: A hands-on approach to reading, interpreting, and applying the Bible, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), 175-180; Osborne, The Hermeneutical Spiral, 24
[4] Duvall and Hays, Grasping God’s Word, 213-214; Osborne, The Hermeneutical Spiral, 410-11
[5] Osborne, The Hermeneutical Spiral,  25
[6] Duvall and Hays, Grasping God’s Word, 21
[7] Duvall and Hays, Grasping God’s Word, 24
[8] Anthony Thiselton, Thiselton on hermeneutics: collected works with new essays, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006), 20; McGrath 101
[9] Thiselton, Thiselton on hermeneutics, 18-19.  His desire to make the Christian faith tenable in the light of modern knowledge manifested itself in the application of the passage rather than the understanding of its original meaning.
[10] It should be noted that these were not so simple or so blunt, and Schleiermacher’s thought is far more subtle and complex than this, but nonetheless these trains of thought are demonstrably (though not exhaustively) his legacy.
[11] John W. Wright, Telling God’s Story: Narrative Preaching for Christian Formation,(Downers Grove: IVP, 2007), 22-3
[12] Osborne, The Hermeneutical Spiral,  468
[13] Bright, The Authority of the Old Testament, 64; WK 36
[14] Bright, The Authority of the Old Testament, 53
[15] Fitzmyer, The One Who is to Come, ix
[16] E.g. John 13, the historical action of Jesus washing his disciple feet illustrated the principle of servant leadership. The exception to this is Revelation which is apocalyptic narrative, and therefore essentially in code!
[17] As opposed to modern day Jews, or Israelis.
[18] Cf. Duvall and Hays, Grasping God’s Word, 348

bits and bobs



    Wednesday, September 22, 2010

    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 other perceived problems translate into a general neglect of the OT as a source for preaching and, when it is used, uncertainty in the appropriate way to do so.[2]  Three problems confront any Christian wanting to preach from the OT: how to relate the OT and NT, how to correctly exegete the OT, and how to discover the contemporary relevance of any particular OT passage.[3] 

    However, evangelicals are rightly restrained from following Marcion’s lead, primarily by the NT itself.  Verses such as Luke 24:44 and John 5:40 show Jesus clearly stating that the OT is in some significant sense about him.[4]  Numerous passages in Acts reveal that apostolic preaching repeatedly argued that Christ fulfilled the OT.[5]  The gospels, epistles and Revelation are laced through with OT quotations and allusions to the OT scripture.[6]  In addition to this, the historical record clearly shows that the primary source for the theological reflection of the early church on Jesus Christ was the OT.[7]  So by using the OT as a source for preaching we are following Christ, the Apostles, the authors of the NT and the Early Church Fathers.

    Part of the problem arises in the fact that Christ and his early followers drew upon a deep and established tradition of scriptural interpretation that modern scholars only have limited access to and the ordinary Christian has no understanding of.[8]  Not only so, but many of the hermeneutical devices employed quite satisfactorily in the 1st century appear dishonest and unscientific in the 21st.[9]  If the early church relied on Second Temple era hermeneutics to make Christian sense of the OT should present day preachers use the same methods or can modern hermeneutics also find that the OT speaks of Christ?


    [1] John Bright,, The Authority of the Old Testament, (Carlisle: Paternoster, 1997), 16, 60-62; F.F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture, (Glasgow: Chapter House, 1988), 134-144
    [2] Steven Mathewson, The art of Preaching Old Testament Narrative, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002) 13, 23-4; Walter Kaiser, Preaching and teaching oorm the Old Testament: A Guide for the Church, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003), 10; Graeme Goldsworthy, Preaching The Whole Bible as Christian Scripture, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000), VII, XII; SG 15-6; Sidney Greidanus, Preaching Christ from the Old Testament: A Contemporary Hermeneutical Method, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), 15-16, provides statistical data on the subject, un-named denominational statistics show <20% of Sunday sermons are on OT passages and a preaching journal reports <10% of submission are on an OT text.
    [3] Martens, Elmer A., ‘Preaching from the Old Testament: A Bibliographic Essay’ Direction  (April 1982 Vol11 no 2, 30-39), 1.  http://www.directionjournal.org/article/?433 (accessed 16/04/08)
    [4] David Peterson, Christ and His People in the Book of Isaiah, (Leicester: IVP, 2003), 12; N.T. Wright, Scripture and the Authority of God, 32
    [5] Peterson, Christ and His People in the Book of Isaiah, 23; e.g. Acts 2:16-39, 8:30-35. 13:16-41, 17:2-3. 
    [6] Grant R. Osborne, The Hermeneutical Spiral: a comprehensive introduction to Biblical interpretation, (Downers Grove: IVP, 1991), 323, ‘There are approximately three hundred quotes and literally thousands of allusions.’
    [7] See Donald Juel, Messianic Exegesis: Christological Interpretation of the Old testament in Early Christianity; Wright, Scripture and the Authority of God, 35-6
    [8] See Joseph A. Fitzmyer, The One Who is to Come, (Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2007); and G.K. Beale and D.A. Carson (eds), Commentary on the New Testament use of the Old testament, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007), XXV
    [9] See Peter Enns, Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the problem of the Old Testament, (Grand Rapids:Baker, 2005), 158-160; Of course the operative word here is ‘appear’, but the method of NT writers in their use of the OT is still a topic of considerable debate and requiring knowledge of Second Temple Judaism far beyond most pastors, see Osborne, The Hermeneutical Spiral, 332

    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! 

    Tuesday, September 21, 2010

    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 unity of his church and in Acts 2, 13, Eph 2-4 and Rev 5, (among many others) we are confronted with a vision of a church where in difference and diversity there is unity around Christ. 

    And as if that wasn't enough, today we had a Kenyan missionary to NZ speaking and who told us that using other languages and singing the odd song from a different culture wasn't enough but he wanted the church to be interested in the "way" he wanted to worship as an African and that once a year they should let him lead worship.  So I had this vision of him stood up front of his Kiwi church exhorting them to be temporarily more African which I just couldn't see going well.

    My hunch is that true multicultural church needs to follow the model of Antioch (Acts 13) and have multicultural leadership.  Are there any churches out there today that are truly managing to be multicultural?  If so what do they look like and how do they do it?

    Round up

    Monday, September 20, 2010

    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 responses can become attached to formerly neutral stimuli by pairing them with masturbation."  Simply put, you run a severe risk of developing a sexual orientation towards shopping trolleys (or whatever else you might be thinking of).  This may have the consequence of inhibiting normal sexual expression at a later date and/or of making visits to the supermarket an uncomfortable experience.

    Third, advice about masturbation is usually given to young men who also suffer from another issue related to their adolescant sex drive: "nocturnal emmissions," AKA wet dreams.  Accordingly I have a heard a youth pastor teach that boys should avoid masturbation, which makes them lustful, and instead enjoy their wet dreams, which, while may be every bit as lustful, they cannot be held responsible for because they are only dreaming.  However this in no way spares boys from their lustful desires but merely makes them prey to their subconscious which is likely even more depraved than their waking imaginations.

    And so the question becomes, given that all the above are dead ends, how should we begin to construct a Christian ethic regarding masturbation?  What do you think?

    Saturday, September 18, 2010

    weekend reading

    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, while the spirit of all continues unchanged.  It appears to Baptists, on the other hand, to be clearly taught in Scripture that the New Dispensation, though a fulfilling and completion of the Old, is radically different from it.  Under the Old Dispensation a child was an heir of promise according to the flesh, but under the New Dispensation natural birth does not make him a member of the kingdom of God; he must be born from above, born of the Spirit.  The church has for its foundation principle a personal relation of each soul to Christ, and not a bond of blood; a child might be born a Jew, but he must be born again to be a Christian.  (Short History, 26)

    Just when infant baptism began is uncertain; scholars have disputed long over the question without arriving at any decisive proof . . . It is tolerably certain, however, that by the time of Tertullian the practice was common, though by no means universal.  We know, for example, that Augustine, though the son of the godly Monica, was not baptised in infancy, but on personal profession of faith at age thirty-three.  Gregory of Nazianzum and Chrysostom are two others.  Similar cases were frequent without a doubt, though from this time on they became more rare, untill after the sixth century the practice of infant baptism was universal, or nearly so.  Nothing in the history of the church did so much as this departure from apostolic precedent to prepare  the way for the papacy.  It introduced into the church a multitude whose hearts were unchanged by the Spirit of God, who were worldy in aims and in life, and who sought for the worldy advancement of the church that thus their own power and importance might be magnified.  This consumation was doubtless aided and hastened by the rapid contemporary growth of the church in numbers and its increase in worldly prosperity. (Short History, 50)

    There now, wasn't that fun?  :-)

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    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 at the expense of others are worth more as human beings than those who sacrificially choose to suffer in the service of others.
    A second issue arising from the study is the idea that having an incurable disease means you should be helped to die.  Why does the fact that you are possibly going to die a little sooner than the rest of us mere mortals mean we should help you make it even quicker?  Surely your life has been shortened enough?  But I digress.

    Unless we are willing to say that human life is devalued by the existence of pain, which I am not, then pain should not be a criteria for whether or not you help someone to kill themselves.  I think this could well be a case of confusing our own aversion to anything that interupts our pursuit of pleasure with compassion for the suffering.  Or am I wrong? 

    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 uncaring nature of rocks is not to be attributed to God because other biblical analogies would contradict this.

    4. In no way can I then suggest that I can discern information about rocks by looking at God, just because "God is my rock."  I cannot look directly at God, hence the need to use analogy to describe what God is like.  But even if I could the analogy is only intended to work in one direction, it is not made to inform me about rocks but about God, the assumption of the analogy is that rocks are known and God is not. Just because "God is my rock" it does not mean a rock is divine or merciful. 

    5. This may all seem very obvious but you would be surprised how often peope who should know better try to drive the analogy train down the street the wrong way.  This post will provide a handy link next time I need to point such misdemeanors out.

    Let me know what you think. :-)

    Food for thought

    Sunday, September 12, 2010

    blogging the Q'ran/ Koran/ Qua'ran/ etc.

    A bunch of links here, an assortment of juicy bits here, and one johnny-no-mates here.
    Peace and grace to you all.

    Saturday, September 11, 2010

    NT Wright on being "Literal"

    This is well worth sharing, not least for the first 30 seconds where Wright explains the difference between literal and metaphorical, and concrete and abstract.



    Hat Tip

    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.
     

    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.

    Friday, September 10, 2010

    Sermon on 2 Kings 5, "Don't Put a Price on God's Grace"

    A sermon by yours truly can be listened to here, or downloaded from here.  About 40 mins long, preached at Greenlane Christian Centre on the 5th September.

    Keywords: Naaman, Gehazi, Elisha, God, Grace, Jesus Christ, manners, compassion for others

    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.

    Thursday, September 9, 2010

    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
    Let me know what you think, :-)

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010

    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 ethical initiative taking in those narratives either.

    On the other hand, in two significant narrative sections women take the initiative in highly unorthodox ways, and yet, within the world view of Genesis, are richly rewarded.  The first story is that of Lot's daughters, to our modern minds a tale of depravity and incest, but in Genesis actually the story of how Lot's daughters take the initiative when their father is too scared and useless to find them husbands and ensure the survival of the family by nay means necessary.  Their reward is that their offspring become two great nations, the Moabites and the Ammonites, the women are vindicated by history (Gen 19:30-38).  The second story is of Judah and Tamar, where in a scarcely less sordid episode Judah's daughter in law has to disguise herself as a prostitute in order to seduce him and preserve the family line.  She is rewarded by success and the recognition that her actions were righteous (Gen 38, not to mention Matt 1:3).  None of this is to suggest that women's place is only in preserving the family line, i.e. breeding, but in Genesis that is pretty much all anyone, male or female, cares about.  The point is that women take the initiative throughout Genesis, sometimes it results in bad and sometimes in good, just like it does with the men.

    If anything, Gen 3 actually shows the Eve taking some responsibilty and admitting being deceived (3:13), whereas Adam just tries to blame both Eve and God for putting Eve in the garden with him (3:12).