Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2012

Christmas Greetings

I know it has been a lean year for my long suffering blog readers, but as a sign i still love you, and that the rivers of xenos have not yet run dry, here is some traditional Christmas excess, two sumptuous carols from the UK, where my thoughts often turn to distant family and friends in the northern hemisphere at this time of year as I put on my suntan lotion and check we've got our boogie boards for the beach ;-)



 Enjoy!

Human Will Power is Not Enough

Today there was a wonderful convergence between the lectionary readings and my own circumstances. In ministry one of the most useful character traits is stubbornness and resolve, the ability to keep doing what is right regardless of the opposition or discouragement. It doesn't really matter how talented you are or enthusiastic if you will give up when the going gets tough. The pastors that make a real difference are more than a flash in the pan, they go the long haul and take the licks. But simply being stubborn, or even optimistic is not enough.

brick-a-brack 131212

My poor neglected blog friends, here are some tasty treats to keep you sweet, till i get some time and space to do you some home baking of my own.

Vinoth tells 20th C. history from a different perspectiveLesley warns against testimony without apologeticsMargaret Barker speaks on the advantages and calling of an independent scholarMark looks at the differences in the Christmas stories between Luke and MattLarry dismisses the idea of a secretive early ChristianityLoren examines the scholarly subject of assholes
enjoy! and let me know what you think. :-)

Theological Ministry: An Oxymoron?

Not according to Sarah Coakely
You have to also learn how not to drop your theological insights in a crisis. Because the theological will actually inform the decisions that you’re making, and it’s part of the tragic disjunction that we tend to think, “Oh, systematic theology -- I did that in seminary. It’s not going to have any implications for whether I refer this person to the hospital [or] how this person’s background of abuse might be healed in some shape or form.” We tend to assume that systematic theology doesn’t help us with those things. And that, I think, is a fundamental mistake.
and Roger Olsen

Anyone who truly comforts the afflicted among God’s people and also afflicts the comfortable in the right way. Notice my qualifiers: “truly” and “in the right way.” They are there for a reason. Not all “comfort” is ministry, nor is all “affliction” ministry. That’s where theology comes in. It is necessary to the tasks of comfort and affliction if these are to be carried out with…

Luke 14:28-33: A new interpretation?

I'm preaching on Luke 14:25-35 this coming Sunday and my companions as I preach through Luke have been the commentaries by Green and Marshall. (I find usually reading more than a couple of commentaries for the purpose of preaching a waste of time). However on the subject of the two parables in Luke 14:28-33 I find them both unconvincing and have subsequently come up with my own interpretation. It probably isn't new or unique, but it seems so satisfactory to me I am surprised neither Marshall nor Green even mention the possibility. I'd appreciate your thoughts, whether you think my alternative reading has any merit, and whether you know any other commentators who have suggested something similar.



What they say

Jesus is talking about the need to hate our families and take up our crosses to be his disciples. He then tells two parables, one about understanding the need to estimate the cost of a building project before starting it to avoid ridicule and one about the need to surr…

America through the eyes of others

Images like these have a powerful effect on my perception of the USA (both borrowed from James).





It is funny, because so many of my favorite musicians, authors, bloggers and theologians are American. But the overriding mental image I have of the USA is governed by the reactionary racist greedy obnoxious and unbelievably imbecilic. There is something in the idea that it takes 10 positives to overcome a negative, but the idea that a pastor feels OK to put something like that on his notice board must cancel or someone wears a t-shirt like that (and it looks official - is it really?) counts for more than one negativity point. Vinoth Ramachandra puts it so well,


Democracy in the US is now largely a sham. The US Supreme Court has interpreted the US Constitution in a way that removes all restrictions on campaign spending. What this amounts to is that rich American individuals and corporations can buy presidents and congressmen. The support of a billionaire now counts vastly more than th…

Hurtado on Jesus and the Syro-Phoenician Woman

pic from sacred sandwich Hurtado writes,
Since the assigned lection a few Sundays ago on Jesus and the Syro-Phoenician woman (Mark 7:24-30), I’ve intended to comment on what appears to me a surprisingly widespread mis-reading of the passage.  Essentially, the “dogs” (who Jesus says here must wait till after the “children” have eaten before they can be fed) are taken with an extremely pejorative connotation as feral mongrels, and the scene is read as if Jesus is pictured insulting the woman and treating her with contempt.  Read the rest, you'll be glad you did, first on the how we should understand the dogs in question (not to mention the connection to the gentile mission), and second as to how the parable connects with the woman's own life. This was a real ah-ha! moment for me. Those two posts justified wading through the other 100 worthless posts clogging up my reader. ;-)

For a totally different discussion of Moses' use of canine imagery and women try this old Xe…

The Doctrine of Errancy

Andrew Wilson throws down a bold and extraordinary challenge to the critics of inerrancy. As one such critic, I'm grateful for the provocation. I know there are more subtle, nuanced and persuasive views of inerrancy out there but Wilson gives a good grass roots sketch of the motivation for the doctrine. He starts like this,

There are a bunch of reasons for [holding to inerrancy]: theological (what would it say about God if his word was incorrect?), anthropological (isn’t the idea of the pot telling the potter that he got it wrong somewhat problematic?), even Christological (Scripture is affirmed as both divine and human, like Christ, and to use the latter to argue for the flawed nature of the former could pose substantial problems for our view of Jesus - which is evident when you find people saying that Jesus, in his humanity, made a mistake about the historicity of Adam). To which I would rather briskly reply,
it is not God's words that contain errors it is our Bibles …

Has Bulkeley Really Retired?

One could be forgiven for thinking that rumours of Tim Bulkeley's retirement have been greatly exaggerated.  For only seconds ago it seem I was serenading him on the occasion of his escape from the workforce and yet in the space of a few short jiffies he is appearing on television under an unconvincing pseudonym and launching a book in a radical new interactive medium.

The video goes like this,

But he didn't feel it covered it properly so he released this too,




And his book looks like this if you buy it from Amazon:



But go here and you can change what it looks like by covering it in comments, I have already added a few but I like what Tim has written so much I can only be sycophantic and not give any helpful critique. :-(

But the most important thing is to enjoy that nice calming deep blue that adorns the cover, because that was my contribution to the book - colour consultant. Without my input it might have been beige *shudder*.


So that is the evidence your honour, one can o…

Worship, huh! What is it good for?

Worship . . . 

Was the worship good at church this week?

Before you answer that the band was in tune, or that the worship leader's hair was messy, or that they sang your favourite song, or that there wasn't enough hymns, or the prayers were too long, or that you felt the Spirit, stop. You are confused. Worship isn't good if you liked it. Worship isn't for your benefit, sorry. Worship is supposed to be for God.

So did God like the worship this week? Was it reverent? (Heb 12:28) Were you silent before him? (Ecc 5:1-2)  Did you set things right with your brother beforehand? (Matt 5:23-24) Was it an expression of the wisdom of God in his saving plan to bless all the nations? (Isaiah 56:5-7, Rev 7:9-11)

Or did you try and use it as a church growth tool, to attract the masses with the show, forgetting that our job is to worship, and Christ is the one who will build his church? (Matt 16:13-18)

Did the worship reflect the character and kindness of God: was it inclusive, lovi…

Your Politics Are Wrong

The great irony of modern political division into left and right is that both sides' moral philosophy is undermined by their economic philosophy and vice versa.

The left desire economic fairness and to assist those in the lower socio economic strata to be empowered and enfranchised in the wider society through the reconnection of the worker with the wealth their labour generates and the redistribution of wealth from historic inequalities. At the same time the left are usually associated with a push to liberalise public morality and give full rein to those moral forces that cause the most damage to the vulnerable in society, legalisation/normalisation of prostitution, lowering ages of sexual consent, normalisation of abortion, undermining of marriage and the traditional family unit, etc, and thus allow historic inequalities to be perpetuated and amplified in the social dysfunction of today.

On the other hand, the morally conservative right, who tend to champion and even attempt to …

Interpret first ask questions later.

I thought this was a good example of the way our human brains struggle not to interpret what should be bare facts.




Even when we know there is a trick somewhere and where it is likely to be our stubborn brains struggle to see what is there under our noses.

How much more so with those sacred texts which we think we know so well? That is why the art of good exegesis is about slowing down our reading and noticing everything whether our brains think it is relevant at first glance or not.

Quote of the Day: Jonathan Martin on Communion

The more I hear stories of people like me coming awake to the hard, tangible grace available at that table, the more I’m convinced this is part of something bigger that the Spirit of God is doing in the world in these ambiguous times. I am convinced that the remedy for our ambiguity is not in the certitude of the preacher, but in the mystery of His presence at the table. I’m convinced that the remedy for our wholesale adaptation of celebrity culture is in the celebration of His sacrifice. I’m convinced that the only way to keep from putting too much weight down on the power of persuasive preaching is to demonstrate tangibly in practice that there is power in the blood. Read the rest here.

Lovely Spam

I am currently experiencing something of a spam storm in my comments, but blogger seems to be doing a wonderful job keeping them out so that they only appear in my feed reader and not on the blog. This one was especially nice to receive,
Mаgnificent goods from you, man. Ӏ haνe understanԁ уour stuff preνіous to and yοu're just extremely excellent. I really like what you'νе acquired here, certainly liκе what you're saying and the way in which you say it. You make it enjoyable and you still take care of to keep it sensible. I can not wait to read far more from you. This is actually a terrific web site. Now why don't any of you ever post a nice comment like that?

Dad Life

And on the same theme as the last post, but less high brow, if you haven't yet enjoyed this . . . enjoy!

Hurtado on God as Father

It is father's day tomorrow here in NZ, so here is a little quote from Larry Hurtado's book God in New Testament Theology, (2010, p41).

. . . the God of the NT is "Father" to and for believers, to whom they look for care and comfort and to whom they entrust themselves. This paternal metaphor, however, is not presented in the NT as promoting maleness or as deriving from or giving some transcendent basis for paternity or patriarchy. Sadly patriarchal attitudes have been all too often a feature of Christian tradition, but NT references to "the Father" never function to give divine validity to or privilege these or other forms of maleness. Instead, in the NT, "God" is presented as "Father" of believers primarily and directly on account of Jesus. It is Jesus' relationship to "God" as his own "Father" that is the paradigm and basis for believers to speak of and approach "God" using this epithet. That is, for C…

brick-a-brack 280812: Footprints Edition

Many of you will have seen truncated versions of these cartoons floating around facebook, well Xenos brings you the full versions so that you do not miss out, and because you were too lazy to search chainsawsuit.com for them yourself!



Also Carl Trueman accurately critiques those belligerent complementarians over at the GC, (and he is a complementarian). (HT Marc)


Check out David Instone Brewer's visual sermon resource, this is a very generous sharing of his labours, as anyone who has done it knows, good pictures are the most time consuming things to find for sermons. (HT Tim)

NZ Baptist Research and Historical Society have started a recordings page of talks from their dinners, Brain Smith gives a very helpful introduction to Baptist Ecclesiology inpsired by McClendon and Hauerwas. And finally for those who  enjoy making arguments from silence, try this one for size, although as a Toyota driver I find it very offensive: