Thursday, May 31, 2012

Blips on the Gaydar

A few more posts on the issue,

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Future of Israel in the Bible

Laidlaw college has recently hosted a dialogue/debate on the the subject and kindly provided the videos,

This is Richard Neville, who argues the Bible teaches that the nation of Israel will be restored, he focuses on Ezekiel and a little on the NT understanding.

And this is Stephen Sizer, who argues against Christian Zionism and for a more inclusive understanding of the who "god's people" are. He starts off by focusing on the Left Behind video game, but does get to the Bible soon enough.

Let me know what you think. :-)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

brick-a-brack 240512

Yes this really is NT Wright doing a version of Yesterday that he co-wrote with Francis Collins called Genesis. You cannot make this stuff up.

And while we are feeling musical, you should note Dale Campbell has released his third EP of good old church songs.

Jonathan Martin has some thoughts about the size of his johnson/church (but annoyingly his blog doesn't allow comments! how silly.
You would think by now that in a world as stupid as our own, we would have learned long ago that whatever is bigger or more popular is by no means best. If you don’t believe this, then please explain to me the phenomena of the Kardahsians, Jersey Shore, and Nickelback. And yet it would be equally faulty to assume that something is somehow more pure, holy or “deeper” because it is smaller.

Paul Windsor shares his 27 year journey to his doctorate, "The Role of Intrigue in the Communication with Sceptics"

And Hoffman, Casey and Fischer put Mythicists (those who don't believe Jesus of Nazareth was a real historical person) firmly in their place. (Warning it is not pretty) HT Nick


Queer Suicide in NZ

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread, but here goes. A new video has been released to promote LGBT equality in New Zealand. It carries the charming title WTF, which according to project director Sam Shore, "it can mean anything you want." But of course viewing this brief video leaves you in no doubt that the F-bomb is what is intended, which is interesting because in my experience that word suggests and promotes sexual violence and disrespect like few others. But I'm sure that is just me being a prude.

So here is my problem, if this is an anti-bullying campaign then I have no problem with it, but the video's argument is constructed in a rather disconcerting way. Firstly we are told NZ has one of the highest rates of suicide in the world, this is kind of true, we come in at 29th on the WHO list, behind countries like Japan, Switzerland, North Korea and South Africa. Then we are told that in NZ there were 558 suicides last year. I can't verify this the govt website only has stats for 2010 at present but it sounds like the right ball park. We are then immediately informed that LGBT are four time more likely to attempt suicide than others. So what is implied is that LGBT people are committing suicide left right and center and because of NZ's inequality towards LGBT our suicide rate is super high. Now even one suicide due to bullying would be enough to take action, but why present the data in such a confusing and manipulative way?

So here are my questions:
1. What is the breakdown for likely causes of those 558 suicides, sexuality, poverty, substance abuse, family breakup or something else? If we are concerned about suicide then lets be concerned about suicide not use it as a guilt trip for other issues.

2. The reason for the high correlation between LGBT and attempted suicide (notice I'm only using the video's words there) is assumed to be bullying and I've no doubt there will be anecdotal evidence to support this, but is it also possible that the correlation exists for other reasons. Without proper data and unbiased research it is impossible to say. So is anyone doing that research?

3. In my experience with bullying (both personal and professional) the problem is usually not with the victim (e.g. because they are gay, Christian, fat, etc) but with the the bully who themselves suffer from low self esteem and have usually been victims of discrimination and relational violence themselves.So who is working with the bullies?

4. Does the high level of sexualisation among our youth of whatever orientation lead to depression, anxiety, suicide and bullying because young people lacking the emotional and spiritual resources to cope with their sexuality are being forced to make decisions and define themselves according to the social constructs promoted by the mass media before they are ready? And again how would anyone know if it was?

Please, let me know what you think.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Baptists and Voting

Two good posts on the issue from

Steve Holmes

In England, at that time, voting in parliamentary elections was restricted to about 5% of the male population – all landowners, of course. For a church to take this symbol of cultural privilege and, in prophetic parody, put it in the hands of every member, of every social class, women as well as men, was a piece of genius. A poor woman voting on the call of a pastor was a profoundly powerful visible sign of the Kingdom.

and Tim Bulkely

I am (still) a Baptist precisely because of the congregational and Christ-centeredness of Baptist life. The picture of “voting on everything” simply misunderstands. In an ideal church meeting (which does not exist, see Genesis 3) we would vote on nothing. The Church (the local gathered community of Jesus followers) would pray, discuss, argue, debate, and finally recognise, which way the Spirit is blowing and follow.

I am a recent addition to the baptist denomination and this issue, problematic though it is is the very reason I went baptist as opposed to the other options that presented themselves. I'm going to be a panelist soon at a Carey Baptist College leadership day on the topic, so I'll save my own thoughts till after that. But I do have to admit that as an idealist on this issue, the on the ground practicality of it is not so straight forward.

Let me know what you think :-)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Gay Sex and Marriage

Well since Obama "came out" in support of Gay marriage blogs have been abuzz with the urge to let everyone else know what their opinion is on the matter. I thought the world would be a better place if I too shared my opinion on this important but controversial topic. firstly I agree that whatever your personal beliefs everyone just needs to get a grip and realise that with the US and western society in general this is just the way it is going to go, the laws are just staring to catch up with public opinion the "battle" was lost or won a long time ago. I also agree that this discussion has never really been had mainly because anyone who has ever approached the issue allready had their minds made up and has felt free to arrange the evidence to fit their case. I agree the Old Testament law doesn't clear things up for Christians either way and that people will say just about anything to make their case. I don't agree this is comparable to the issue of slavery but that wont stop others making that unhelpful comparison. I wish more people would listen to Jennifer Knapp just as I wish more would listen to Erik Raymond. I agree that Christians are not called to culture war and that it takes two to tango. And I agree that if Christians are acting out of fear on this issue or any other then their grasp of the gospel is very poor indeed.

Most of all I agree with Bob Hyatt about the only way forward where everyone is happy. Which is good because it saves me having to explain it all to you and I can just go to bed now. A snippet:

The State needs to get out of the “marriage” business. It should recognize that as long as it uses that term, and continues to privilege certain types of relationships over others this issue is going to divide us as a nation, and is only going to become more and more contentious. We need to move towards the system used in many European countries where the State issues nothing but civil unions to anyone who wants them, and then those who desire it may seek a marriage from the Church. When I pastored in the Netherlands, this was the system- you got a civil union certificate at the courthouse and then a Marriage ceremony at the church. This division largely negated the culture war aspect, and allowed those churches who objected to same sex marriage on biblical grounds to not only opt out, but to be able to continue to teach their biblical view of marriage, uncontradicted by the State.

Having presented the solution I now just have one passing question to conservative America, how come you get so uptight about legislating social morality (e.g. health care, welfare system, etc) but so rabid about legislating sexual morality? What should the goverment be more interested in, that people are healthy and fed or that they aren't putting their ding dongs in the wrong orifice? Just a question.

God the Gardener

I'm currently enjoying preparing a sermon on Gen 2:4-17, although I have no idea how I am going to cut it down to size, there is just so much theological meat in there. I've been enjoying the company of Bruggemann, Walton, and Hamilton as I go. Hamilton has a very useful section at the end of each chapter where he deals with the chapter's appropriation in the New Testament but with Gen 2 he focuses solely on the issues of female subordination. But to my mind God's depiction as the archetypal gardener in Gen 2:8 (complete with hand crafted garden gnome!) resonates with and informs texts like Luke 13:8-9, 19-19 and John 15:1-8, and what about John 20:15? (!)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Idolatry of Church Growth

This Idol is from Peru,
 I know the western church has many idols, but I am frequently confronted by one which seems to be too easily and uncritically erected where Jesus belongs. That is the idol of church growth. When the bottom line of your church is growth, when your church exists primarily to grow (whether that is through church planting, multiple congregations, multi campuses or multiple services or just a really big auditorium) then it is inevitable that eventually you will find yourself doing what works to promote growth rather than what God is really asking you to do, and by that stage you wont even realise it.

Does the Body of Christ need to go on a diet?
The bottom line of any Christian church should be faithfulness to Jesus. Pastors and the people they lead need to get over the idea that they are here to do something or acheive something for God's benefit. God doesn't need you. The bottom line of church, the sine qua non of Christianity, is not to do something but to be what Christ has made us; is not to acheive something but to receive what Christ has given us. Our focus on technique and "leadership" takes us away from the source, for "neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow." Churches that are faithful to being and receiving will likely see growth, but when it happens they will know it is God's work and not their own and they will know that what is being built is a living temple and not a tower of babel that God will have to knock down at some point. Even if they don't see growth they have still fulfilled their purpose, "to declare the praises of him who has called us out of darkness into his wonderful light."

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Paul Makes me Groan: A Sermon

Don't be deceived by the photo, this guy is seriously interesting

Thanks to Ben Myers for pointing out this brilliant sermon from Luke Powery which is the most confusing and yet wonderful pot-pourri of african american preaching, theological jargon, wise cracks and pop cultural references all of which somehows form a marvelously compelling meditation on Romans 8. It is the sort of sermon you'll want to listen to again, even if you are as cynical and hard bitten as me!

Monday, May 14, 2012

The lighter side

Marc Cortez shared how to survive a robot apocalypse, which is strange cos I am pretty sure he is an evil robot himself (it is the glowing red eyes that do it).

Help for theology students on avoiding the Patristic Fathers and phrases to avoid putting in your essays.

But best of the lot was Ben Myer's first hand reflections on the unique mindset of those funny Ozzies.

Israel/Palestine in the blogs

Tearfund recently hosted Stephen Sizer for a tour of New Zealand and have been rather surprised by the amount of hostility generated, even to the point that some people have ceased their sponsorship of children because of their disgust.

Mark Keown heard him speak and shares his own reflections on the subject. Tearfund NZ's education manager, Frank Richie, is interviewed by Stephen Sizer on the controversy. While from another land entirely, Vinoth Ramachandra asks why the West has forsaken Middle Eastern Christians? On the other hand James McGrath is just offering and requesting travel tips for visitors to the Holy Land.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Rush is right, Traditional Marriage is under Threat

This man is onto something,

here's the proof,

Let me know what you think, if you can contain your righteous indignation.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Love God with all your mind?

There has been a bit of theme about thinking faith around the houses recently and it resonates with some things I am experiencing at the moment. There is a always a danger that faith (which if it is to be Christian faith needs to involve the whole person) becomes overly cerebral and all in the head but not the heart (I know it is a cliche, but it is often true), but that risk does not excuse us from needing to love God with all our mind (e.g. Matt 22:37). It is a basic biblical command that means we cannot leave our brains at the door of the church when we go to worship. If your church doesn't allow you to ask awkward questions, doubt, or think about things then you are not at a biblical church, it doesn't matter what else they preach.

Marc Cortez has been reflecting on his encounters of the philosphical kind,

You don’t truly realize how “fuzzy” your understanding of something is until you’ve had dinner with a few analytic philosophers. They’re relentless. Questioning, probing, analyzing. They’ll find concepts you didn’t even know you had and then press you to clarify exactly what that concept means and how it relates to your other concepts. It’s kind of like a mental enema. Uncomfortable and messy, but helpful in the end.

Lesley has reviewed a book about thinking Christianly,

If all truth really is God’s truth, then we must not live fragmented lives leading to Christian schizophrenia. We cannot mindlessly absorb the hidden worldviews of our culture and still expect to have the courage and conviction to fulfill our mission as the people of God.

Simon Walker introduces us to his friend who

believes that all truth is God's truth and that Christians need to be learners and thinkers who help critique and transform culture.
The temptation can be for Christians to think they are saved because they know all the right answers to the questions, but the truth is we are saved because God has had mercy on a bunch of confused people who still have a long way to go. So anyone who thinks they have nothing more to learn, or can't be questioned seem to believe they have already reached perfection, but now we only see in part, as through a glass darkly. If we have any wisdom at all it will prevent us from claiming to see 20/20.

Let me know what you think,  :-)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Why we need more dreadlocks in church

Who is that guy? Well if you are Kiwi you'd already know (probably) that he is Justin Duckworth, bishop elect of Wellington. The Anglicans are very pleased, all my social activist friends are pleased as punch, and Kiwi's on the whole like that fact that finally here is a real Christian example, someone who loves the poor and doesn't live to line his pockets or win pompous intra-mural debates, and because he has dreads he really is interesting and hip. The problems will come of course when 1) all these people with dreadlocks start coming into Anglican churches and no one knows what to do with them, and 2) when Justin starts suggesting that other people might like to love the poor and needy too instead of just watching him do it. But problems are just ministry opportunities and the more dreadlocks we have in church the better, maybe the Anglican church can remember and then remind the rest of us that Christianity is supposed to be a countercultural force. Off you go Justin,
In our last 25 years of ministry, Jenny and I have connected with those who have borne the brunt of our cultural obsession with greed. I feel the need to question the church and society about that. Because the church and society should be judged on how they look after the weakest, and most marginalised people – whether they’re old, young or children. We need to remind our church and society that ultimately, it’s fragile and vulnerable people who will be our yardstick
Well said.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Revelation Blogs

Paul Windsor is confronting his fear and preparing a sermon series on Revelation, he might be interested to know about Richard Ostler's blog, Seven Subversive Letters, (HT Mark Goodacre) it is just a shame about the headache inducing decor. But just don't tell Gavin Rumney who hates Revelation intensely and frankly doesn't need any more material to moan about.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Intelligent Puddles, Early Religion and Fine Tuning

James McGrath's blog really is a mighty blog. He is single handedly responsible for sending over 80 readers to this weeks carnival. If you can keep up with the volume of posts (which now I work full time I struggle to do) and can filter out the obsessive Dr Who references you will always find somethiing interesting. He shares this image with a quote from Douglas Adams of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Fame,

Which elicited a great deal of discussion. Despite the protests of one commenter, Adams did intend this analogy to critique the biblical idea that this world was made for humanity to live in. A fuller extract of the speech the quote is from is very interesting and worth reading, before he gets to the puddle analogy Adams argues that early tool making man would look at the world and see a world made for his existence. He continues,

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Problem of Paul's Thorn Solved

Sometimes no annotation is necessary, from this guy.

Dale Campbell and Graeme Finlay talk back on Theistic Evolution

Dale Campbell of Fruitful Faith blogging fame and Dr Graeme Finlay on radio Rhema are interviewed/talk-backed on their "progressive views." Worth checking out not least because Graeme is a working research scientist and Dale is a really nice guy (for an American).

Carnival still alive and well

Well the good news is that even though the biblioblogger top 50 and the carnival have gone their seperate ways that as far as I can tell the carnival is still very healthy. There was a notable increase on submissions to the carnival compared to the other occassion I did it and on the day of its launch it garnered a mean 500 hits (mean for my little blog anyway). What is interesting to me is how few of the biblioblog top 50 blogs had anything to contribute to the carnival. While Jim Linville has taken a decidedly minimalist approach to the carnival, it seems to have enough momentum of its own to be managing quite nicely. Having enjoyed this most recent experience I have decided to play my part and put a page up linking to the carnival wherever it appears and over time linking to any previous carnivals I can find. They are a lot of work but they are a good way for your blog to get some exposure and also to help other blogs find new readers, plus there is always some fun to be had.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

April Fool's Biblical Studies Carnival

Answer a fool according to his folly . . .
Don't answer a fool according to his folly . . .
See if I care, just come along to the fool's carnival and join the fun.

This carnival is sponsored by Simon Cowell's Bishop's Got Talent. (allegedly)

First up is Archaeology which has continued to be dominated by the hoo-haa over the talpiot tombs, exactly what is coming out of that fishes head? or what words do those lines spell out?

It aint Jonah coming out of the fish's head you dimwit! It's a ciggy!

Of course Mark Goodacre has been at the forefront and has worn out several keyboards blogging through the controversy commenting on ABC's Nightline, writing top ten lists, discussing Robert Cargil's objections, documentaing the mutating fish man, documenting the mutating fish vase, reading between the lines, talking about names, getting accused of slander, and shooting a barn door in frustration.

But don't worry, because rising to the accused's defense like noble litigous ducks from the water is a brace of Jims, one West, one Davilla.

Not to be outdone Robert Cargill has actually broken a nail while typing so furiously about the whole kersmozzle. He really just doesn't see the name of Jonah, or a nun (I wonder if blogging on the Talpiot tombs is habit forming?), or that proper scholarly procedure is being followed, and so he decries the corporate takeover of archaeology, and boldy points out the devious trickery pokery going on.

John Byron finds the whole thing a bit fishy but April de Conick goes against the biblioblogger consensus just to show that we are not all folowing the same script.


With all that going on it is a wonder there is wonder there was room for anything else in Biblioblogdom. For The bit (mostly) in Hebrew the dominance of posts on Gensis continues but at least this month it has gone multimedia, Tim Bulkley contemplates the audience for Genesis (Hobbins responds)(he is also now doing 5 minute Bible as Facebook videos) while Marc Cortez, John Walton and Tremper Longman 3 discuss what Genesis 1-2 really means (with videos too!) while J. K. Gayle checks out the evolution of both Adam and Eve in English translations.

Claude Mariottini teaches us all about goat demons, because I know you were wondering, while the always profane Roland Boer leads us deeper into the Bible, dancing hand in hand with Augustine and shares his latest project for a study of biblical buttocks.

But the prophets also get a look in, Duane Smith wonders what YHWH was Suggesting in Isaiah 7:10-11. While Deane Galbraith gets a funny feeling looking at a medieval depiction of Ezekiel. and John Hobbins raises the bar marginally with a discussion of the correct way to say Habakkuk.


In the Ancient Near East William Osborne directs us to resources for learning Akadian and Duane Smith points out the Syrian Digital Library of Cuniform, but I thought the Sexy Donkey Omens from Ninevah and Assur were more abnormally interesting! Judith Weingarten also has post on Egyptian cat mummies (let's just hope Jim Linville can contain his enthusiasm. The Jim known as West has also been wanting his mummy.


The Greek bit has been generating some blog heat this month.

85% of Biblical Studies PhD students cannot spot what is wrong with this picture
(pic from Sacred Sandwich)
Helen Ingram is sharing her PhD on Jesus the magician, while Glenn Peoples takes on Richard Carrier regarding Jesus' resurrection although Thomas Verenna is still pretty keen on the idea that even Bart Ehrman's Jesus didn't exist at all, I think. More helpfully, Loren Rosson has a great post on the criterion of embarassment while Robert Myles looks at Matthew's authorship in modern commentaries.

On the Pauline front Richard Fellows, who is probably the same person as Wayne Rooney and Gordon Ramsey argues that Elymas/Bar-Jesus probably took his names from Elam and Jesus respectively and then suggests that Saul wasn't always Saul and took the name "Paul", meaning "small" as a Christian agnomen. Darrell Pursiful squeezes the New Perspective on Paul into 1000 words while Larry Hurtado takes issue with NT Wright's reading of Romans 9-11 and Nijay Gupta considers whether the Christ hymn of Philippians has Gen 1-3 as its background, oh there we go again going on about Genesis, do we even need 66 books in the Bible?!

The fairer sex have also been featuring as an NT topic, Women of the passion by Rachel Held Evans and Women and Paul by John Byron were interesting but my favourite post on the whole thing was this insightful critique of men in ministry. (not strictly BS but it seemed relevant).


On the subject of Second Temple Judaism John Byron posts on Cain and Abel's reception and Jim Davilla has an indepth discussion of a Der Speigal article on the Samaritans.


Early Christianity sees some action as John Dickson explains the early Christian reputation for charity in a video ,Gavin Rumney blogs Marcion, and John Hobbins examines Judaism and Christianity in antiquity.



AKMA discusses the importance of understanding your evidence in exegesis and of being critical about your criticism.Tim Bulkely offers help for any distance student who want a great big library in their own home.

Craig Keener has been talking about miracles but that has made James Crossley feel like a racist which is maybe why he acts out by calling a bunch of "mainstream" dudes homophobes, this has generated some heat from Michael Bird, Jim West, Peter Kirk. Loren Rosson puts in his 2 cents.   More irenic but less entertaining discussion of the Bible and homosexuality can be found on John Byron's blog. Crossley probably also wouldn't like Vinoth Ramachandra's post on rescuing creation talk, but I thought it was interesting. Larry Hurtado lays into institutions that fire faculty over minor doctrinal points.  Jason Silverman makes an impassioned plea for the "secular" and "faith" scholars to get along and appreciate the creative tension - which was nice.

Fresh Meat

The blogosphere rang with excitement at two new websites in April, both of which are happy to deprive you of your hard earned cash:
The secret diaries of Bart Ehrman (aw bless he tried to make it all grown up by calling it "CIA"!).
And Danny Zacharias wants to help you with your greek skills and bible software.


Thanks for joining the carnival this month, if you liked it or found it useful why not feedread me or at least pop back from time to time to visit. Eitherway, have a nice life.

PS. If I missed anyone out, that is your problem for not nominating a post so don't come crying to me. Next carnival to be held at Political Jesus.