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Showing posts from June, 2012

Failure to Launch the Calvinist Rocket

Fred Sanders, Wesleyan theologian, is interviewed by John Starke and it is interesting reading, I particularly enjoyed this bit, which I think is a fair and, frankly, knockout critique of Calvinism. (HT Marc)


What kept you from making the leap to Calvinism?

Well, I do consider it a kind of leap, and the place to leap off of would be Romans 9. I have felt the attraction of that reading. You would have to run all the way to the end of Paul's line of argument there about the election of Israel and their role in salvation history, which in context are all historical arguments, and then decide that it applies to individual people, to all individual people, from before creation. That is, the exegetical key to the Calvinist view is that the overall drift of Paul's argument demands that the theological points involved should be transposed into a higher order. I don't mean that's how all Calvinists get to their conclusions, I mean that's where I would make the …

Free Will

The SBC are having a bit of a fidget about the Calvinist insurgence in their ranks, but we Christians are good at talking about free will without stopping to consider what it actually is - after all it is obvious, until you start to think about it. Here are two philosophers from the faculty of Florida State University (one of whom I studied philosophy with at high school) having a gentle conversation about free will for your edification.
Randolph Clarke & Stephen Kearns from Philosophy TV on Vimeo.

The video is from Philosophy TV

Let me know what you think

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Steve Douglas on inerrancyAn updated free MA in Biblical studies, which looks very good if you don't need accreditation or feedback.Christian Ethicist and Pediatrician John Wyatt on what is a human being, covering of course topics like abortion. [video deleted cos it played everytime the home page started!] A nice case study in (mis)interpretation, unfortunately dislocated from the preceding correspondence, but we can still work out roughly what was said, a bit like 1 Corinthians. A FB status that made me smile,

Shoot Me Now: The End Has Come

No thanks to Rachel Held Evans for alerting me to this most disturbing and blasphemous development. Time to hide in the basement with lots of canned food cos this sort of thing can only mean the end is not far away.

Zondervan, you have finally lost all connection with what is sane and proper.

Hopefully there is an illustration of Prov 26:11 with a cute puppy licking up it's own vomit, which is pretty much what I would rather do that own a copy of this abomination.

For all Bible verses that mention dogs, click below

Thompson on Preaching

Matthew Montonini kindly pointed to some videos of Bible scholar Marrianne Meye Thompson gives us some handy hints on preaching. Enjoy!

Sermons that stick

LJO Thompson - A Memorable Sermon from Ogilvie Institute on Vimeo.

Sermons that are wise

LJO Thompson - Wise Preaching from Ogilvie Institute on Vimeo.

Jesus was a Jedi master

LJO Thompson - Challenges in Preaching John's Gospel from Ogilvie Institute on Vimeo.

More videos if you click on the link to Ogilvie inst,
Let me know what you think, :-)

The Bible Idol

I've been waiting for a while to use John Birch's cartoon,

To me it sums up the great danger evangelical Christians face with their love of scripture which can so easily become idolatry. How? Well one way this happens is summarised nicely by William Witt (HT):
There is a danger of focusing on the texts as documents, and forgetting that the Scriptures are not self-referential. They speak of a reality beyond themselves, namely, God’s creation and redemption of the world and humanity in Jesus Christ. The purpose of exegesis is not only to decipher the grammatical meaning of the text or to find precedents for permissible or impermissible behavior, but to allow oneself to be formed and transformed by the reality to which the Scriptures refer so that one can find oneself within the Bible’s story of creation and redemption. The only sermon I've ever really managed to upset someone with (as far as I know) was when I suggested that it was possible to have too high a view o…

Porter on Gal 3:38

Stanley Porter's blog gives this teaser of a forthcoming essay,

I see Gal 3:28 (within the context of Gal 3:26-29) as confronting three major pillars of the oppressive Roman socio-economic system—ethnicity, slavery, and gender. Paul pulls the rug out from beneath some of these major fixtures within Roman society. Romans saw themselves as privileged as opposed to foreigners. Slaves were the backbone of the economy. Women were not people but property within a rigid and hierarchical family structure. Paul essentially dissolves all of these within the Christian community.

I see further support for this position in a number of other passages. For example, even though Paul recognizes that races exist—hence his strong statements about his being a Jew and the role of ethnic Israel (see Romans 9-11 among others)—he does not believe that race privileges people within the church.

He also attacks the very institution of slavery without calling for a slave revolt, by making the ins…

The choice between fiction and safety

I totally get where these peeps are coming from, although I try not to do this when my kids or wife are around, because, well, they are worth putting the book down and appreciating . . . most of the time.
You’re making a choice: essentially what you’re saying (or what I’m saying) is that sometimes you’re more interested in fiction than in reality and you don’t care who knows it. You’re saying, I’m willing to chuck most or probably all of my dignity, and some measure of my personal safety, and your personal safety, because it’s more important to me to keep reading this book I’m reading than it is to look where I’m going.
On this particular day she insisted I stir the gravy NOW, a request which seemed highly unreasonable to a ten-year-old engrossed in the mishaps and scrapes of the adult Anne of Green Gables and her brood of six children. I harrumphed my way to the stove, …

Evangelical Calvinists are . . .

If you've ever wondered what an evangelical Calvinist might look like and why or if they are better than the common or garden variety, if you are one or if you might like to be one then this book is for you, thanks to Jason Goroncy for typing this out, more discussion on his blog. some of those essays actually look quite interesting, at least if you think that bastion of the half-baked reformation is worth rescuing from his contemporary disciples . . .

Congratulations to Myk Habets and Bobby Grow on the bringing to birth of Evangelical Calvinism: Essays Resourcing the Continuing Reformation of the Church. It’s good to see this baby come full term. The Table of Contents reads:
Prologue: Union in Christ: A Declaration for the Church. Andrew Purves and Mark Achtemeier
1: Theologia Reformata et Semper Reformanda. Towards a Definition of Evangelical Calvinism. Myk Habets and Bobby Grow
Part 1:Prolegomena – Historical Theology
2: The Phylogeny of Calvin’s Progeny: A Prolus…

Keller getting the OT wrong

Tim Keller makes a careful and patient explanation of how we should pick and choose from the OT laws.
The problem is the whole ceremonial/moral law divide is nonsense. The OT laws are not arranged into moral and ceremonial categories, no such division could have existed in the minds of its original audience and no indication is ever given in the text as to such categories. The only way to make such categorisations is to impose totally arbitrary criteria. Admittedly Keller's criteria has the appearance of being less than arbitrary,

One way to respond to the charge of inconsistency may be to ask a counter-question—“Are you asking me to deny the very heart of my Christian beliefs?” If you are asked, “Why do you say that?” you could respond, “If I believe Jesus is the the resurrected Son of God, I can’t follow all the ‘clean laws’ of diet and practice, and I can’t offer animal sacrifices. All that would be to deny the power of Christ’s death on the cross. And so those who really…

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The Biblical studies carnival which contains post from MAY is now up and is themed loosely around time travel and South ParkThe is a new blog for the young restless and reformed in the English URCMark Goodacre tells a Roman joke about JesusDoug Chaplin who i am pleased to see is blogging again is being sarcastic about the historical JesusWhile Richard Fellows will get you thinking about Galatians and the Antioch incidentAnd this is a beautiful example of what happens when creativity is allowed to be itself and not conform to some tepid commercial ideal

Cain's Offering

As I've mentioned already I'm currently preaching on the early chapters of Genesis, it has been really good getting into these theologically rich narratives and I have been wishing I had made it a longer series, there is so much that comes out of these chapters once you start digging. And note to other pastors who avoid this book, I have had heaps of good feedback from diverse sections of the congregation on this one, stop being scared and preach Genesis! This week I am preparing to preach on the story of Cain and Abel (Gen 4:1-16) and I was surprised to find that my "friends" all think the text is ambiguous as to why Cain's offering is not appreciated by God, Bruggemann just thinks God is being capricious (p56), Walton exhorts us to being noncommittal on the issue while Hamilton describes all the interpretive reasons he has come across as being "fanciful"! (p224) Which is a little embarrassing because I have always thought the was text quite clear.


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James McGrath shares this little chesnut:

Mike Aubrey discusses tense and aspect and how they relate to time in Greek grammar.John Byron discusses Philemon and the role letter carriers had in antiquity. Darrell Pursiful points us to three fascinating posts about that liberal Bible critic John CalvinAnd Frank Ritchie shares this cracking version of Robert Plant singing Satan your kingdom must come down,

Faith needs Heart Surgery: A Sermon

Another cracking sermon from Luke Powery, this one has very different tone and is perhaps more accessible than the last one I linked to. Good stuff, so much to take from this exegetically, theologically and homiletically! I particularly love his powerful and consistent use of metaphor, this is not some guy telling you what to think but a preacher opening your mind to ideas that even he doesn't fully understand yet.