Wednesday, December 28, 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. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Quote of the day: Mariottini on the end of the world

[P]eople who are worried about the end of the world are people who are not prepared for the end of the world.

In the meantime please leave a comment about how you would prepare for the end of the world, I'll start you off with after the rapture pet care.   ;-)

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 :-)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

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).

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Quote of the Day: Davidson on Ordinary Christians in History

[T]he assumptions, arguments, and acheivements of the famous few must never be treated as the only history that matters.  In every age, it is through the faith and witness of the vast innumerable ranks of ordinary Christians that the gospel has been lived and encountered.
Ivor Davidson, A Public Faith, p8

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

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! "

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

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 the prayers of the saints,
And these the hymns they raise;
Jesus is kind to our complaints,
He loves to hear our praise.

Eternal Father, who shall look
Into Thy secret will?
Who but the Son should take that Book
And open every seal?

He shall fulfill Thy great decrees,
The Son deserves it well;
Lo, in His hand the sovereign keys
Of Heav’n, and death, and hell!

Now to the Lamb that once was slain
Be endless blessings paid;
Salvation, glory, joy remain
Forever on Thy head.

Thou hast redeemed our souls with blood,
Hast set the prisoner free;
Hast made us kings and priests to God,
And we shall reign with Thee.

The worlds of nature and of grace
Are put beneath Thy power;
Then shorten these delaying days,
And bring the promised hour.

Obviously the main muse for the hymn comes from the book Apocalypse of John.  Watts went on to be a very serious non-conformist theologian and preacher as well as penning nearly 800 hymns.  Of course, my favourite Watts hymn is entitled "Blest is the man whose bowels move." I kid you not, and the second verse is even better than the first line!

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: