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Showing posts from 2011

Davidson, A Public Faith: A Book Review

I try and read at least one church history book a year.  Every time I do it always amazes me how different the perspective of a different historian can be.  Ivor Davidson is head of St Andrew's divinty school at the moment although he used to be at Otago in NZ.  Davidson's book is part of an 8 part Monarch History of the Church, so this book covers 312-600AD (actually we get well into the 600s by the end of the book) and so is a nice medium between one volume church histories and a more detailed study on one characer or controversy.  I picked this up in the bargain bin at my local Christian bookstore and have been glad I did.  On the strength of this one I'll be looking out for the others in the series. 

Dr Norman's Atheist Christmas Sermon

Continuing my irregular series on great preachers who are not preachers see here atheist Dr Russell Norman, new co-leader of the NZ Green party, with a powerful and emotive economic exposition of the Christmas story (HT Hamish and Stu).  Notice how he seemlessly moves from story to meaning to application.

previous posts in this series have featured JK Rowling and Stephen Colbert

and while we are on the subject, if you don't yet know about Carey Baptist College's provocative new leadership blog, it has a guest post on the Green Party's recent electoral gains and what it might mean for the church.

let me know what you think :-)

brick-a-brack 13/12/11

Keener again, this time talking about miracles (HT JB)

Marc Cortez wants someone to write his sermons for him and that's OK

Greg Peters questions the rise of "retreats" and what it says about how churches look after people

Aditya Chakrabortty denounces British Bancrocracy and pairs Rowan Williams with Bill Nighy

And it appears the cliche of Americans being overpaid, oversexed and over here is true, at least of one rather enthusiatic sperm donor (yet of coure the first thing the Herald does is point out his alleged Christianity).

Santa Punched Arius

Well, yesterday (Dec 6) was St Nicholas day, and our Anglican and Catholic friends have been very excited this year to remember that St Nicholas, who eventually transmogrified into Santa Claus, is remembered not just for giving money to poor people but for punching the heretic Arius in the face during the first council of Nicea (325 AD).  I cannot agree that Christians should celebrate the day by punching a heretic themselves nor do I think "H-Slapping" (heretic slapping) should become the norm for theological debate.  But then after all I am a recalcitrant Baptist who scorns the veneration of saints as rank idolatry.

 " KER - POWWW! "

The first hymn

The Cyber Hymnal records that the first hymn written in English for public worship was penned by Isaac Watts at the ripe old age of 14 . . .

In a lengthy dis­cuss­ion with his fa­ther, Watts ar­gued that sing­ing on­ly the Psalms in church made them miss much im­port­ant New Test­a­ment truth. Once his con­gre­ga­tion was con­vinced of what Isaac was say­ing, he be­gan turn­ing out a new hymn a week. But this one is the ve­ry first, mak­ing the words Pre­pare new hon­ors for His name, and songs be­fore un­known es­pe­cial­ly mean­ing­ful. This hymn al­so re­veals Watts’ amaz­ing breadth of bib­lical know­ledge (he was on­ly a teen­ag­er at the time); there are al­lu­sions to ma­ny Script­ure pass­ag­es.And the following is what resulted

Behold the glories of the Lamb
Amidst His Father’s throne.
Prepare new honors for His name,
And songs before unknown.

Let elders worship at His feet,
The Church adore around,
With vials full of odors sweet,
And harps of sweeter sound.

Those are t…

Cake or Death

Hi lovely and much neglected blog readers.  It's been a bit crazy here in meatspace and so cyberspace has had to be a little neglected, as I plough through my blog reader from the last few months, I'll be sharing some highlights with you.  Alex Baker is a cartoonist who works out of the UK and features in the Baptist Times over there.  You can go to his website here.  I liked both these cartoons, for very different reasons,

this one rang true:

this one is puntastic:

Paddling Slogans

Just posting this for my own later reference, but don't let that stop you from commenting. ;-)

Jenson frequently gestures to the ambiguity or confusion of certain slogans, not simply to their “use” or “abuse”. This ambiguity is sometimes terminal (as seems to be the case for sola Scriptura).Slogans, we are told, are a necessary shorthand that emerges over time to signify a complex of propositions and practises. Despite the word’s stigma, slogans have a positive function. The problem with slogans is that they tend to develop a certain independence as they age, becoming untethered and paddling to foreign shores.
From Steve Wright's review of a Jenson book on Lutheran Slogans

Subdugating Women With The Bible (again)

Someone has caused a stir by parroting the typical nonsense you hear from more hard line complementarians,

Claude Mariottini takes exception as does Darrell Pursiful.

In a similar vein but with a more positive aproach Rachel Held Evans lists ten biblical reasons for women to be in leadership.

All of which reminds me of an insightful and creative post (even if I do say so myself) from last year on this very topic.  If you missed it, now you have another chance.

Ladies First: Genesis 3 and Gender Roles

Let me know what you think! :-)

Does God Cause Spontaneous Combustion?

The first recorded case of spontaneous combustion in Ireland has provoked retired professor of pathology Mike Green into some theological speculation, saying he doubted spontaneous combustion could be explained by divine intervention on rather surprising grounds.
I think if the heavens were striking in cases of spontaneous combustion then there would be a lot more cases. I go for the practical, the mundane explanation.Apparently God can't be doing it because it doesn't happen often enough. Only things that happen infrequently need mundane practical explanations.

Confused yet? :-)

Brick-a-Brack 230911

Take note oh teachers of theology! your sins will find you out! (thanks Alex)
John Byron ponders the way we translate slavery in the Bible Paul Windsor critiques short term mission, and it aint pretty Reuben Munn wonders who his enemy is when he preachesRichard Fellows has an idea as to why the Corinthians got themselves into so much troubleJohn Hobbins reminds us not to be too kind, or somethingLet me know what you think :-)

Words and Music: Kate Tempest

For those of your interested in the spoken word as performance, here is some really powerful Shakespe inspired poetry by Kate Tempest which was posted on Billy Braggs FB page.

"What we came after" by Kate Tempest from RSC Sound & Fury on Vimeo.

She is new to me but apparently fronts a really interesting band The Sound of Rum, if the idea of a north London girl rapping left wing politics over trip hop and Jazz beats doesn't inspire you, then you probably haven't heard it yet.

Let me know what you think :-)

Confessions of a Lapsed Charismatic

I reckon my charismatic credentials are pretty solid, i have hung out with all stripes of charismatics from crazy independent pentecostal revivalists to charismatic high church Anglicans, and I liked them all and learned form them all.  I am a firm believer in speaking in tongues, guidance and inspiration, and God's power to heal.  But when I came to NZ I subconsciously moved out of the charismatic stream i had been inhabiting and became much more middle of the road.   Now it is time to confess

I love 1 Cor 12 but the work of the Holy Spirit is about so much more than giving gifts to particular Christians - what about Rom 8, John 14 &16, Gal 5, etc, etc?An emphasis on gifting is often at the expense of an emphasis on character, the gifts of the Spirit get prefered over the fruit.The pressure in charismatic circles for something to happen means that people are tempted to manipulate God or others in order to validate their ministry.Those who do not or cannot operate in the gifts …

Brick-a-Brack 030911

This prophesy is true, although about 5 years late ;-) (HT Marc)

I’m going to stick my neck out and say that I think I know what the biggest theological debate of the next twenty years is going to be about. It doesn’t sound very exciting – and certainly not as likely to make headlines as hell, or penal substitution, or the roles of men and women, or the various other theological hot potatoes that the last decade has seen chucked around – but fundamentally, it is the issue that drives all the others. It is the question of the doctrine of Scripture: how we read, understand and apply the Bible.Of course as I was told by my theology teachers in entry level hermeneutics - all Christian theological debate is really a debate about hermeneutics.  One reason why this blog spends so much time on it! (plus it is really interesting!)

These resources are very useful (HT Mark and James)
German Bible Society Bibles OnlineEvery Word in the NT in Order of Frequency
And this lady is brilliant! (…

Politics and Theology in the New Testament

John Byron writes a characteristically wise and informed blog post urging scholars to maintain balance in their political interpretations of the NT.  He raises the issue of how,

It has become quite popular over the last few decades for New Testament scholars to bash ancient Rome and suggest that when first century Christian writers use terms like gospel, Lord, savior, kingdom, etc, that these authors are deliberately critiquing Rome and its emperors. Some modern scholars have pushed this interpretation so far that the New Testament looks less like a theological book and more like a political manifesto. 
But to what extent are politics and theology seperate things?  I know in the USA they have a constitutional separation between church and state, but we international observers notice how big (even exagerated) a role theology still plays in US politics.  But would Romans or Jews of the first century really have distinguished between politics and theology?  When your Emporer is also…

Van Hecke on Metaphor

This is a nice concise definition of the way metaphors work:
Metaphor is considered not so much as a way in which people speak but rather as a way in which people think.  We use metaphors in our language because, to a large extent, we think metaphorically.  The essence of metaphor, according to cognitive linguistics, is that we make use of our knowledge of one conceptual domain (the source) in order to gain new understanding of a second, non-related domaim (the target).Pierre van Hecke, "Conceptual Blending" in Metaphor in the Hebrew Bible, pp 218-19  cited in Dearman, Hosea, NICOT, p11

Monday Morning Quotes: Jesus, Israel and Election,

In terms of the open questions of the Old Testament and the apocalyptic promises, and the existential experience of Israel in exile and alienation, Jesus is revealed as the one who fulfills these promises. This of course can be described superficially as a proof from prophecy. But what is meant is that the person and history of Jesus have been manifested and understood as open to the future of God in a way which was characteristic of the distinctive existence of Israel among all the nations.  Moltmann, The Crucified God, Fortress 1993, p99 Election needs to be seen as a doctrine of mission, not a calculus for the arithmetic of salvation. If we are to speak of being chosen, of being among God's elect, it is to say that, like Abraham, we are chosen for the sake of God's plan that the nations of the world come to enjoy the blessing of Abraham.Chris Wright, The Mission of God's People, 2010, p72

The Death of Postmodernism

Thanks to Tony Jones for pointing to a very useful article on the death of postmodernism and what is to come after.

The death of postmodernism, 

For a while, as communism began to collapse, the supremacy of western capitalism seemed best challenged by deploying the ironic tactics of postmodernism. Over time, though, a new difficulty was created: because postmodernism attacks everything, a mood of confusion and uncertainty began to grow and flourish until, in recent years, it became ubiquitous. A lack of confidence in the tenets, skills and aesthetics of literature permeated the culture and few felt secure or able or skilled enough or politically permitted to distinguish or recognise the schlock from the not. And so, sure enough, in the absence of any aesthetic criteria, it became more and more useful to assess the value of works according to the profits they yielded [. . .]
In other words, increasingly, artistic success has become about nothing except money; and, increasingl…

Was Paul a Trinitarian?

Eddie Fearon and Daniel Kirk have been reflecting on the Theological Interpretation of Scripture Colloquium that I also attended this weekend past, although neither of them found my paper worthy of mention ;-) but like the Murphy's i'm not bitter.  Kirk shares the following exchange,
In a side conversation with one of the presenters (whose paper I very much appreciated and whose overall position on theological interpretation I find quite congenial), I made a brief case for why Christian hermeneutics should be Christological rather than Trinitarian.
He sees these working together. And I get that. But in trying to situate my point I asked, “Was Paul a Trinitarian?” He said, “Yes.” End of conversation.
That’s a small picture of where a biblical scholar can’t say what a theologian presumes, and why scholarship’s Bible will continue to be an enigma to the church. Beyond whether scholars are approaching their exegetical task as Christians, theologians (and church people) o…

The Social Location of the Preacher and the Blame Game

Since coming to NZ I have heard a common refrain despairing at the poverty of preaching in NZ, how preachers willfully abuse the scriptures and fail to feed their hungry people on the word of God instead feeding them a toxic mix of homespun advice, pop psychology and gratutuitous proof texting. 

As a foreigner i would confidently guess that the percentage of good preachers to bad ones here is probably the same as anywhere else in the world, though i'm not sure i have sufficient experience to know for sure.  But for sure the percentage of those NZ academics ready and willing to decry the state of preaching is sky high.  The accusation is always that the preacher does not respect The Word, that they are too busy pushing their "leadership" agenda to properly minister the scriptures, or that they just don't spend enough time in preparation - all of which may be quite true.

But like all of God's creatures the preacher is a product of their environment, most particular…

Paul’s Unconventional Sexual Ethic

This paper is what I presented at the recent Laidlaw-Carey/Otago sponsored colloquium on theological interpretation.  If you've already read my thesis, there is nothing new here, but if you haven't will give you a skeletal version of my last chapter.  Enjoy!
The Problem
In warning the Corinthians against πορνεία, sexual immorality, Paul does not appeal to OT law or the ruling of the Jerusalem council (Acts 15:20, 29)[1]instead he gives a stricter indictment against prostitution than anything found in the OT.[2] David Horrell argues that Paul’s argument here is based on the “presumption” that sex with a prostitute is illicit, while sex with a spouse, believing or not, is permitted.He claims that, “while Paul uses arguments about holiness and bodily union with Christ to support and promote his sexual ethics, the substantive ethical convictions themselves are not derived from these arguments but are already assumed.”[3]
In Horrell’s reading Paul is using the theological indicative o…

The so-called "Slogans" of 1 Corinthians: 6:12: 1 Cor 6:12

1 Cor 6:12, A Corinthian slogan or Paul’s own words?
(12) Πάντα μοι ἔξεστιν ἀλλʼ οὐ πάντα συμφέρει· πάντα μοι ἔξεστιν ἀλλʼ οὐκ ἐγὼ ἐξουσιασθήσομαι ὑπό τινος.
(12) Everything is permitted to me, but not everything is for the good. Everything is permitted to me, but I will not be ruled by anything. 

The consensus view is that the phrase "everything is permitted to me" is a citation of a Corinthian slogan.  Some translators go even further than merely putting the phrase in inverted commas and insert “you say” or words to that effect into the text.[1]  Brian Dodd traces this tradition back to Johannes Weiss and finds Weiss’ argument, based on what Paul didn’t write rather than on what he did, unconvincing, given the frequency with which Paul does signal his citations.[2]   Fitzmyer takes exception to Dodd’s thesis but does not tackle the issue of Paul’s failure to indicate a citation.  For Fitzmyer the statement cannot be Paul’s own words because it is “proverbial” and because of …

Evangelicals Mourn Stott

John Stott has gone on to glory, well deserved.  He will be missed by an evangelicalism that is increasingly polarised, fractured and antagonistic as an irenic, gracious and trustworthy voice.

Other reflections include

Marc Cortez:  his emphasis on the centrality of Jesus Christ and his atoning life, death, and resurrection had the greatest impact on me.

Michael Gorman: I came to admire John Stott early on for his deep commitment to both the Great Commission and the Great Commandment, an admiration that has become a constitutive part of my own spiritual and theological personality.

Tim Bulkely: Through scholarships, a library fund and the preaching initiatives John Stott will continue to impact wider and wider circles of humanity.

[Update] Paul Windsor shares his top ten Stott books with notes on how they have influenced him

Abstract for TI Colloquium

I am presenting a paper at a colloquium on theological interpretation this month. I put myself in for this last year, knowing full well that I would regret it but having committed to do it have to do something.  This should hopefully be a reworking of the last chapter of my MTh thesis but I have been away from the material so long I'm worried even I'm not going to be convinced by my arguments!  I'm going to get started on the paper in the next few days, be keen to hear any initial reaction or questions to the abstract.  This will be my first proper presentation at an academic colloquium and there are some fairly heavy weight contributors so it will be inspiring and perhaps intimidating.  It will hopefully also result in a book so will be a first publication for me so I will try not to screw it up!

Paul’s Unconventional Sexual Ethics: A Theological Reading of 1 Cor 6:12-20


David Horrell argues that Paul’s argument in 1 Cor 6:12 – 7:16 is based on the “presumption” …

The so-called "Slogans" of 1 Corinthians: Introduction

I will begin our discussion of slogans in 1 Corinthians by looking at 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 and revisiting some of my work from my MTh thesis.  Then I plan to address every every possible instance of Corinthian slogans in 1 Corinthians paying attention to the resulting exegetical and theological ramifications of the argument.  Let me know what you think, :-)
Jay Smith defines a Corinthian slogan as,
[A] motto (or similar expression that captures the spirit, purpose, or guiding principles) of a particular group or point of view at Corinth, or at least a motto that Paul was using to represent their position or attitudes.[1]
Smith rightly warns that there is a risk in not attributing slogans, that the interpreter might mistake the Corinthians’ words for Paul’s.[2]  What also needs to be acknowledged is the risk of mistaking Paul’s words for the Corinthians’.   Although there is a range of nuances to the way such slogans might be derived and operate the basic question is whether or not thos…

Blog renewal

I realise Xenos has been a bit flat this year, in fact it lost its way a while ago when I made my bid to enter the Biblioblog top 50 relying on sheer volume of posts to drag me into the ranks.  It is now time for Xenos to shake off its chequered past, to lose its pretensions of grandeur and to embrace its humble blogness.  Gone are the manifesto and overtly pious tag line, the blog roll is much reduced, and I hope this trimming will result in a sleeker more efficent blogging experience for us all.

God and Dog

This is really beautifully simple, fun and profound.  thanks to David McLeod-Jones in the NZ Baptist Magazine for pointing this out.

Greg Laurie Harvest Auckland 25th June 2011: A Review

OK, I have a feeling that getting into this is going to cop me similar flack to what I got from daring to critique Charles Stanley many moons ago.  And if it does that is OK but if you are going to flip out on me, at least do me a favour and read what I actually write!

The church I am part of took two buses to the Vector Arena on the weekend to attend Greg Laurie: Auckland Harvest.  I had initially been resistant to getting involved, but at an initial interest meeting they sold it to me on the basis of their own financial commitment (the harvest guys were putting in plenty of their own cash), the commitment to follow up (they clearly put a lot of effort into turning converts into disciples), and to church unity (they laid the whole thing about churches working togther on thick).  I also saw this as a good opportunity of the sort that we can't usually offer our people for evangelism, inviting people to a church event is one thing but free tickets to the Vector Arena is another.


brick-a-brack 20/06/11

Ramachandra gets stuck into the IMF

We have been intimidated for far too long by the pseudo-scientific pronouncements of economists and the lies of politicians. Banking is not so complex that we cannot understand how we are being conned.  Where are the Christians in economics and finance who dare to think “outside the box” and write the kind of books that Susan George writes, explaining to “ordinary” folk how not to be hood-winked by the games the rich play?
Steve ponders whether he is a skeptic or a faith blogger

I know that both the Defenders and the Disillusioned/Deconverted would consider me and the growing numbers of people like me to be living in an untenable state of cognitive dissonance. They would say I am the unreasonable, illusioned defender, denying the fruits of the doubts and disbelief I have uncovered and at times trumpeted.
John Byron points to some useful resources for Bible background

Geoff New levels an indictment against multimedia preaching

Michael Patto…

Sexy Church?

Ok I wouldn't normally click on any fb video with the word "sexy" in the title but this seemed like a genuinely interesting social experiment. It was eye-opening but not entirely surprising.

Documentary : Sexy Girls Have It Easy from Bright Hand Pictures on Vimeo.
Now I have not the remotest hope that anything I could do or say could change the fact that this is how our society works, and as a guy with two young daughters already obsessed with disney princesses I worry about how these social realities will affect and form my girls and their self understanding . . . whether they grow up to be "hot" or not. My question is how this social reality has affected the church? And I don't think it is just girls either, look around you at the people who are celebrated and encouraged at your fellowship, are many ugly, are many poorly dressed, or does God seem to only call the hip and good looking?

The truth is that those who do not fit the outside world's crite…

Why Are Stupid Christians News?

Now I know the media has a general bias against Christians, fair enough, but there is something sinister about the desire to publicise every stupid Christian group they can find.  This month we had the idiots from California and not long before it was the idiots from Florida.  Now I have no desire to defend such stupidity but why should it be international news?  Do they say of every madman, murderer and fraudster in the news who isn't a Christian, "and of course this man never went to church" as if that has anything to do with his madness?  Why then does peoples' idiocy, which would otherwise not be newsworthy, suddenly becomes worthy of international attention because they are a "pastor" in the USA?


Bill Maher on Christian Violence

There is so much going on in this one that I don't know where to begin.  As atheist rants go this is a pretty good sermon.  BTW for those of you who read this blog with your kids, some foul language follows if you press play.  Let me know what you think. (HT to TB on FB)

Resonant Reading

From the Sacred Sandwich
. . . we must of course guard agains over-exegesis.  Under-exegesis, though, is also risky, sometimes even more so .  Historical exegesis is not simply a matter of laying out the lexicographical meanings of words and sentences.  It involves exploring the resonances those words and sentences would have had in their contexts.  Like anthropologists learning a language and culture simultaneously, we have to be prepared to hear more in a word or phrase than could be caught by a dictionary equivalent.  A small saying can function like a spyglass through which one can glimpse a large and turbulent world.  To object to this exercise, whether through pedantry or positivism, is like protesting that houses, fields and ships cannot be contained within the physical body of a telescope.From NT Wright, JVG, xvii

Blowing in the wind: A parable

Bob Dylan recently came to NZ and put on a show, many of his oldest fans turned up to hear what they hoped would be a trip down memory lane, like listening to their old vinyl but with the added thrill of the man himself sitting there.  Instead they were shocked by the terrible racket being produced and dissapointed not to recognise more than a tiny handful of songs.  In disgust many fans walked out. 

Others though had followed Dylan's career a bit more closely and knew that he wasn't still rehearsing karaoke versions of his 60's material, some of them were still dissapointed with the performance, but others thrilled to find themselves in the presence of musical genius.

People who expect musicians to remain solidly stuck in the past, don't buy their later records but then complain when they don't know any songs at the concert strike me as being hopeless.  They are not fans of the musician at all but instead only fans of a recording, perhaps one that is tied to their…

brick-a-brack 05/10/11 Love Wins Special Edition

It is probably pretty obvious that I haven't had much time this year for reading or writing blogs, one day I'll tell you all about it.  But I really do appreciate you keeping me in your feedreaders, and promise (foolishly) that one day it will all be worth it . . . until then I give thanks for the creativity of others . . .
like Alex Baker . . .

. . . and Angus Wordsworth Duncan

. . . not to mention John Birch

And if you haven't yet read enough reviews of Love Wins you might like to check out my friend Rhett's review.  And BTW I have no opinion on the matter but I do wear glasses and try not to be too dogmatic about the ultimate fate of rabid Bible thumping fascists.

Mega Pastors' Management Philosophy ;-)

Quote of the Day: Peterson on Pastors

"Impatience is the besetting sin of pastors . . . sometimes you've got to read 300 pages before something happens"

From the following video interview of Eugene Peterson, well worth a watch for a number of reasons.

Thanks to Matt who shared this video with a different quote of the day.  Definately worth sharing.

Also a choice moment, when the interviewer asks how he could have turned down a chance to hang out with Bono in order to keep working on The Message Eugene replies, "Dean, it was Isaiah!"

brick-a-brack 23/03/11

Sacred Sandwich unveils their youth enfranchisement policy:

Al Mohler thinks single guys shouldn't be pastors (at least in the US)Marc Cortez has his feelings hurt by CalvinGary Hamel appears to be firing up his blog again:Management 1.0 was built to encourage reliability, predictability, discipline, alignment and control. These will always be important organizational virtues, but in most industries, getting better at these things won’t yield much of an upside.  That’s why our management systems need to be re-engineered around the goals of adaptability, innovation, engagement and accountability—which brings us back to the issue of leadership.
Cake or Death gets all whimsical in the face of war

Ancient Greek Poetry?

John Hobbins of Ancient Hebrew Poetry takes a break from Hebrew to give us a schooling in translating the NT.
Is it hard to translate the gospel of John? Not really. Its diction in the original is clean and terse. The author relies on a bundle of bright oppositions expressed through cascades of words that repeat. A faithful translator does well to mirror such in translation. Why do so many modern translations take away from the text by adding to it? Why set aside repetends and parallelisms in the source text if they can be reproduced? It boggles the mind.Interesting how the comments completely ingnore the issue of translation and get stuck into arguing about  universalism and evangelicalism, go figure.

Church is just a Funeral Society

Thanks to Pam for pointing out this excellent article from a Lutheran perspective on funeral societies, missional church, Bonhoeffer, and death. Some excerts below, you really need to read the whole thing though.

For centuries, Christian community, organized as a funeral society of a higher order, has played on the natural fear of mortality, even hyped that fear as a motive for Christian life “so that we can go to heaven when we die.” That was the “attraction.” But with humankind’s coming of age, the jig is up. Religion cannot prey on human weakness this way any longer. . .

If we are to continue in Christianity in this religionless new age, then, we are going to have reconceive our relationship to death and understand it once again as the Pauline power that overwhelms and corrupts the creation, which in turn waits in eager longing for the redemption of our bodies in the revelation of the glorious liberty of the children of God. . .

The handful of strident, fire-and-brimstone …

Olsen Defines Fundamentalism

Words are slippery characters, but I think Olsen's definition of fundamentalism as he applies it to other Christians is very helpful:
Today fundamentalism seems to be defined two ways: 1) by a certain ethos or attitude with regard to doctrinal differences, and 2) by the doctrine and practice of “biblical separation” which really means “secondary separation.” First, fundamentalism appears whenever Christians elevate what have usually been considered secondary doctrinal matters to the status of litmus tests of authentic Christian faith; second, it appears whenever Christians refuse to have Christian fellowship with those who they believe are tainted by secularism or liberalism.
From this comment on this post.

Narrative Context and Character Formation

Thanks to David J on Facebook!  From here.

Worship Wars in The Cafeteria of Life

Thanks to DP for pointing to this provocative "rant from a loser in the worship wars", well worth a read and uncannily appropriate given the Sacred Sandwich cartooon for today:

Why Evolution Is Bad For Humanity

Thanks to Phil on Facebook, dedicated to Jim West.
"Time is the only thing between cats and opposable thumbs . . . "

Christchurch Earthquake Liturgy

I have wanted to blog meaningfully about the earthquake, but found myself inadequate, preparing for this Sunday's service has been hard enough, but unlike a blog post I have no choice about doing that. Three posts about the earthquake that I believe are meaningful and am not ashamed to be leaning on in my own preparation for tomorrow:
Frank Rees: The God of the TsunamiPaul Windsor: Christchurch ComfortDoug Chaplin: Praying in and after the Christchurch Disaster

Christchurch Earthquake: Worse This Time

Half a year after the last one Christchurch has been hit again.  This time there has been considerable loss of life, although again it is noticable how living in a developed country improves your chances in such events. Love and prayers to all in Christchurch.  Those who want to donate should go to the Red Cross or the Salvation Army.  Go here to see before and after pics of the city's cathedral.

A group of new pastors I'm in touch with have been discussing what we will preach on this Sunday in light of the event.  My texts for this Sunday,
1 Kings 19:9-18 (for the children's talk)Luke 13:1-9 (for the grown up's talk)

Three Tips for Church Leaders

Thanks again to Sarah on FB :-)
If the previous post got you down, here is some hope.  

Tamaki, Cultwatch and the Herald

Once again Brian Tamaki, New Zealand's highest profile and possible richest church leader is in the news.  This time it is a Herald editorial, blasting Cultwatch for categorising Brian Tamaki as a cultist because he has denied the bodily resurrection of Christ.  The writer of the editorial appears to be under the impression that this then places Tamaki in the same camp as Lloyd Geering and other liberalising theologians in their rejection of orthodox Christian doctrine in the name of embracing the fruits of secular modernity.  Said editor displays a complete failure to grasp that this is not "Bishop" Tamaki bowing to the reason of the modern age but his out of control ego propelling him to reinvent Christianity in a way that serves his own ends more efficiently.  I would, however, agree with the nameless Herald editor that Cultwatch has been a bit slow on this one, it is not doctinal unorthodoxy that makes a cult but the systematic manipulation of the vulnerable.  True f…

The connection between cell phone radiation and eternal damnation

:-)  Thanks to Sarah on FB.

The Arminian Creed(?)

This tongue in cheek creed comes from an hilarious order of service from a (otherwise unimaginative) calvinist website, (HT Justin)
“I believe in God who once was Almighty, but sovereignly chose not to be sovereign; and in Jesus, my personal Lord and Saviour, Who loves me and has a wonderful plan for my life, Who came into my heart when I asked him to, and is now seated at the right ventricle of my belief in Him, Who walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way, and tells me I am His own, Who shall come again with secrecy to rapture us out of here, Whose Kingdom shall last one thousand years; And in the Holy Ghost, who did some weird stuff at Pentecost, but doesn’t do much more anymore except speak secretly to the hearts of individual believers. And I believe in this local, independent, and powerless church, insofar as it is in line with my personal interpretation of the Bible and does stuff! like; in one believer’s baptism for the public proof of my decision for…

Two posts on worship

pic from Sacred Sandwich
I am very excited about Marc's new series on lessons from the Dark Ages for church worship.

And Roger Olsen poses an interesting question about a perplexing correlation between different churches' worship styles and their theology.

Time To Lose All That God Talk

John has been wondering about a recent CofE move to change the baptismal liturgy to something a little more accessible to those illiterate oiks who have never read the Bible, know no Bible stories, and have the theological eduation of a bean sprout.  But the problem is more widespread, if we are going to appeal to the lowest common denominator of each and every gathering we should remember that there may be someone there who doesn't believe in God at all, even in the most watered down wishy washy new age way imaginable.

Because of this all church liturgy, sermons and songs should avoid things that someone in the room might not know about and should instead revolve around sports results, discussing the weather, and gentle exhortations to drive a little closer to the speed limit, recycle anything that isn't too much trouble, and be nice to people unless you are having a bad day.  At all costs no sense of curiosity, wonder, challenge, or discovery should be risked otherwise someo…

God Changes The Past All The Time

Roger Olsen has an interesting post wondering why calvinists don't think it limits God if he cannot change the past.  But both Olsen and his calvinist sparring partners are wrong, God changes the past all the time, it is just no one ever notices because he changes our memories too! 

However, there are some tell tale signs that this goes on more than we realise.  For example, thousands of years ago when Moses wrote Genesis the world had only taken 6 days to make, but today if you examine the planet and its surrounding environs you can see it took around 40 Billion years to make.  Or if you read ancient documents you would see that the Sun used to rise up in the sky and go down at night, but today it is Earth which rolls around the Sun.  The only possible explanation is that what used to be really was then, but then it got changed retrospectively and now we are living with a new version of the past.  QED.

Of course the nice thing about having a changeable past is that when we argue …

The Ruthless Monk Discovers Buffy

She does, and she likes it, read her theological review of watching 7 seasons of Buffy here.  She starts like this,
It's all Netflix's fault. Since both Criminal Minds and Burn Notice were on hiatus a few months ago,  I decided to give Buffy the Vampire Slayer a try. I ended up spending two months of my life obsessively watching the entire 7 seasons of what I now consider to be one of the most insightful and well-written shows ever made.  Anyone who can get past the creepy monsters, (and there were a few that even made me hide my eyes) and commit to reliving high school with the kids from Sunnydale, will be rewarded with an epic modern-day parable about good vs. evil, sacrifice, and redemption. It's also really, really funny.

Why I Love Old People

You never know what they might do.  All those years of experience and frustration can come out in the most interesting ways.  This video shows an English grandmother bashing the daylights out of a gang of six jewlery store robbers while everyone else hides out the way.

The Cutting Edge of the Church

A year or so ago one of NZ's top surgeons came to speak at Carey Baptist College.  A staunch and thoughtful Christian, he was asked by the interviewer at one stage, "what is it that future church leaders in this room can do to support people like you in their work?"  He looked genuinely shocked by the question, "I have always felt that pastors were far more intereted in how I could support their ministry than in helping me in mine." 

I preached an experimental message yesterday evening on Eph 4:1-14.  It was a pretty simple message really, that Jesus has given apostles, prophets, pastors and teachers to the church to edify the church to do God's work in the world.  Or put another way, it is not the job of the church to support the ministry of the pastors, but the job of the pastors to support the ministry of the church.  It is not the minister, or the youth pastor, or whoever else happens to be on stage on a Sunday meeting that is the cutting edge of the c…

Jonathan Robinson on Educational Preaching

If you have been missing my posting, sorry about that moving house and starting a new pastoral role have rather limited my time for blogging (not to mention the phone company messing up our internet connection), but over at Kiwi-Made Preaching you can see (and comment on!) a provactive and thoughful post by your's truly. Normal service at Xenos may or may not resume shortly. ;-)

brick-a-brack 12/01/11

Think you are being persecuted? (From Alex)

Sufi comics have launched their free ebook of 40 sufi comics, as I mentioned before, this is a good introduction to a different side of IslamAn essay on Gerhard von Rad, OT scholarship, Jesus, and resistance to the Nazis, HT John ByronBruce Winter lectures on the Pastoral Epistles and Hebrews, HT AliSteve Douglas and friends launch a new podcast "Ad Hoc Christianity" with a dicsussion of doubt and faith This guy thinks he is a manly preacher and the rest of us are sissys, but he can't even bring himself to say toilet:  HT Loren Rosson

This is more than a little whimsical, which of course makes it true art.  HT Doug Chaplin

And finally, thanks to Calum for sharing this but not sharing that,