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Showing posts from February, 2012

What Pastors Should Really Be Doing

Well a couple of interesting posts recently on the subject,

Pastors should spend less time in cafes drinking coffee from Carey Leadership Blog and

7 Things the Church Expects from the Seminary. Which should actually be titled 7 Things the church expects its pastors to be able to do. To which I say, good luck with that.

Lots of things I'd like to respond to in them but today I don't have the energy. Instead I'll give you 4 things pastors (and anyone else) should base their ministry on based on Mark 1:9-13 the start of Jesus' ministry.

9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” 12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was wit…

What do Adam and Satan have in common?

Whilst doing some reading on a completely different subject I was struck by the similarity between the issues with Adam we were discussing earlier and another biblical character, namely Satan. In Satan's case the transformation is even more profound.

If in Adam's case he barely gets another mention after Genesis, Satan does at least get a mention in a few different OT books, 1 Chron, Job and Zechariah.  But the situation is complicated, like Adam's, by the fact his name is also a noun, "accuser."  Satan's role in the gospels as Jesus' tempter is congruent with OT behaviour, but he seems to take on a less ambiguous role, no longer merely an accuser but God's enemy whose works are to be undone. In the NT Satan is presented more as being in diometric opposition to God, rather than just stirring up trouble for human beings as in the OT.Unlike Adam, the promotion of Satan (who is now also identified as or conflated with "the Devil", a Greek word -…

Theology of Hospitality

I'm preaching on Acts 16:11-15 this morning, and although I think the main point of the passage is Paul's multiple boundary crossing acceptance of Lydia, it's got me thinking too about hospitality - a notable subtheme of Luke/Acts.  here is a quick sketch of a biblical theology of hospitality, I'm sure more could be added, please do so in the comments!

Creation - In the biblical account of creation God is portrayed as the divine host making a home for all earth's creatures and providing them with food.

Israel - In the desert God hosts his people on their pilgrimage, providing water, bread and meat.  At the same time he teaches them to host him, by providing a tabernacle and sacrifices they play host to God.

Incarnation - Jesus' first act is to be a guest of someone else, and throughout his ministry as an itinerant preacher he is dependent on the hospitality of others, his gratuitous "guesting" brings him criticism (friend of sinners) but was a central pa…

Adam and Paul

This post on Jesus Creed is mind blowing, although it is really just a summary discussion of some of Peter Enns book, The Evolution of Adam.

The basic points are:
Nothing in the OT gives Adam the importance protestant theology doesNothing in the OT suggests that Adam's sin is imparted to his offspringPaul's emphasis on Adam is an innovation in terms of the OT resulting from his encounter with ChristI would add to those points that Adam is mentioned in only 3 of Paul's letter (Rom, 1 Cor, 1 Tim) and only twice in the NT outside of Paul.  Both those occurences are in terms of genealogy rather than assertions of hereditary sin (Luke 3:38, Jude 14) . He gets a total of 9 mentions in the NT. By contrast Abraham is mentioned over 70 times in the NT, in all four gospels and across both Pauline and catholic epistles.

Now I think those points are more or less irrefutable, but of course the implications are not so clear.  I know Enns' thesis is really about whether or not Christi…

The Jerk Factory

This article by Richard Beck is doing the rounds again, and there are some classic quotes there. Here's a great bit:
"Christianity" has essentially become a mechanism for allowing millions of people to replace being a decent human being with something else, an endorsed "spiritual" substitute. For example, rather than being a decent human being the following is a list of some commonly acceptable substitutes:
Going to churchWorshipPrayingSpiritual disciplines (e.g., fasting)Bible studyVoting RepublicanGoing on spiritual retreatsReading religious booksArguing with evolutionistsSending your child to a Christian school or providing education at homeUsing religious languageAvoiding R-rated moviesNot reading Harry Potter.The point is that one can fill a life full of spiritual activities without ever, actually, trying to become a more decent human being. Much of this activity can actually distract one from becoming a more decent human being. In fact, some of the…

Things I Know Nothing About: A Theology Student's Song

I wrote this a few years ago when I was a student and thought some of my readers might enjoy it.


If you like it then you might want to like my Jonathan Robinson (Music) page on Facebook and keep up with my other musical offerings as they appear.

A short thought on Euodia and Syntyche

Larry Hurtado makes some interesting observations this morning about women in Acts, but even before I checked my blog reader (!) I had been reading Philippians and among other things was struck by the Euodia and Syntyche bit (Phil 4:2-3).
I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord.  Yes, and I ask you, loyal Syzygus, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.No I don't think I've noticed this passage coming up in the complementarian/egalitarian debate (perhaps I just didn't notice), but it seems to me highly relevant.  Firstly, in pleading with the two women Paul is hardly assuming either their submission or his inherent gender based authority. Secondly in saying they contended at his side (along with Clement and others) he is presumable referring either to their joining with him in preaching and evangelism or the…

Cover Version Redaction Criticism

So the first time I encountered this song was in a youtube clip shared on facebook by my friend Dale.  It is most notable for the extremely creative way 5 people (Walk off the Earth) are playing just one guitar simultaneously.  I have seen and even particpated in 2 people playingone guitar but five is pretty special.  As far as I know that was a first?  The girl is playing diads on the top, the long haired dude is playing the melody around her, and the guy next to him plays the bass line on the low E (top) string. Of the remaining two, fresh face plays percussion and hat+beard strum the strings above the nut. It is a cool song, but the unusual mode of delivery tends to overshadow the song. 
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Then Nick Norelli linked to this video, by an a cappella group called Pentatonix.  This is another nice arrangement, with impressive beat boxing and gorgeous harmonies.  Notable consistency between the versions is the lyrics and bass line, the lyrics pass between a male and female singer a…

The Egalitarian Debate: Finding Truth in the Story

A friend recently sent me a position paper from Redeemer Presbyterian Church of Tim Keller fame on the subject of women in (church) leadership, or what you might call the complementarian/egalitarian debate. To their credit Redeemer are certainly on the "soft" side of complementarianism, they do much to mitigate the potentially caustic effects of the doctrine and I imagine many women would be able to be part of and serve in one of their churches without noticing much, if at all, their complementarian position.  That said, I still don't buy it. 

I don't know how systematically I will be able to work throught a response to the paper, I'd love to do it but my day job these days leaves much less time for blogging than my old one did.  The paper itself has a number of deeply problematic arguments which I'd love to deal to (just so you can see how clever I am of course).  The point I want to make quickly now is simply this that egalitarians (at least the biblical on…

A Waitangi Communion

It is Waitangi day today, so yesterday (Sunday) I wrote some communion responses (Lord's supper/ eucharist).  Obviously these are posted too late for anyone to use this year, but who knows what people will be searching for in 2013 and beyond?  :-)

(BTW because my church family are not used to liturgy I make it very clear that what we are doing is praying and reading scripture.  All scripture quotes have been adapted from the NIV.  Congregational responses in italics. Feel free to use or adapt this material for your own context.)

A Waitangi Communion



God of the nations, Thank you for bringing us to New Zealand.In Maori, European, Asian, Pacific, Indian, African and all races represented in our country, we recognise your provision and grace, the answered prayers of many for a safe and prosperous place to live.

Is Segregated Worship the Spirit's Desire?

OK maybe that title was a little too provocative, I am not talking about racial segregation but gender and age segregation. With regard to gender James Jordan of Biblical Horizons seems to think so,
The simple fact is that for 2000 years, the Holy Spirit moved the church to have men and women sitting separately during divine worship. This is because in heaven there is neither marrying nor giving in marriage. There is neither male nor female, bond nor free, child nor parent. Hence, ascended worship, taking place seated in the heavenlies, involves an affirmation of God’s Family and a setting aside of the earthly family. As a matter of fact, if you want God to give you a healthy family, let Him take it apart and put it back together each week, for that is how God always glorifies and empowers His people .HT Richard Walker But with regard to age he does not.  Jordan also argues that liturgy and singing psalms are the best way to include children and youth in the life of the church,
O…