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Showing posts from March, 2013

Pastors: Making it up as you go along

Last year I read through Eugene Peterson's book The Pastor in about two days. It was a really good read and I read it too fast. But as I went I took notes of places I would revisit. Which I intend to do over a series of blog posts this year. It is a very worthwhile book, especially for pastors, but probably for others as well. The only complaint is that Peterson is an extraordinarily talented individual and I think some of the more outrageous things he did very successfully are probably beyond the reach of many of us mere mortals. Sometimes you think, that is fine for your Eugene, but I am not Eugene Peterson and my congregation/body/family/brain would not let me get away with that!

The first quote that really struck me was this


The vocation of pastor has been replaced by the strategies of religious entrepreneurs with business plans. Any kind of continuity with pastors in times past is virtually non-existent. We are a generation that feels as if it is having to start out from scr…

Concluding that Paul is Sarcastic

Mystic or Sarcastic? Visions and Revelations in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10. Part 7

Having made the switch, and admitted that if he boasted in visions he would do so truthfully (implying that the SA were not being truthful) he then describes the thorn in his flesh necessitated by the visions he has not shared and a subsequent revelation of Christ’s power and grace. It is this revelation of Christ's power made perfect in Paul's own bodily weakness that resonates well with the somatic emphasis of the earlier letter to the Corinthians. It is in Paul's body that Christ is glorified and experienced, even and especially in bodily weakness, and it is in suffering for the gospel that Paul's apostolic credentials are asserted. This final spiritual insight contrasts dramatically with the meaningless and vague vision of vs1-4, here is a message of grace that Paul can share, and has in fact been providing inspiration to Christians for the last 2000 year or so.

Summary of suggested readin…

2 Cor 12:5-7: The Switch

Mystic or Sarcastic? Visions and Revelations in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10. Part 6

The sticking point for many scholars with the idea that 12:1-4 is not Paul's own vision, including the ones I have run this idea past, has been vs5-7 where Paul is clearly talking about himself. However, as we've already noted, attributing the previous vision to Paul is not without its problems because Paul once again distances himself from the vision account, which he had already done so by his unusual (unique in extant literature) use of the third person.






vs 5a "on behalf of such a man I will boast" i.e. I will ‘boast’ about a man like that [and I just have]
 v5b "but on my own behalf I will not boast except of my own weaknesses" - once again denying that he would boast about himself in such a way, is this deception, sarcasm or the truth? Instead he asserts that he will  only boast about his own weaknesses.
Then in vs6 he admits he could boast about himself because he has h…

Google Reader Dies and the Little Fishes Cry

I know I am late to the party on the one. I am not the most faithful blogger these days as three kids and a more than full-time job mean i just can't take the time I used to to follow and write blogs. But that is OK because Google Reader reads all the blogs for me So imagine my surprise when for the first time in ages i log into reader only to find out it is being taken away from me. Now it is hardly the end of the world, there are other blog reading sites and life will go on, but it is a shock and as I do a quick trawl to see what other people are saying about it two things stick out

1. I use a lot of google stuff, but if they can retire something anytime they want whether or not I am still using it, do I still want to. Google drive, mail and blogger are all an essential part of my internet life but can I rely on them to not get unplugged sometime regardless of the convenience to myself. After all, I do not pay for these things, Google provides all the coding and storage space fo…

Theology Essay Title Generator

This little beauty is doing the rounds on facebook at the moment, unattributed but possible by someone called Rich Wyld? Either way, sure to save some students a lot of time and brain racking!

Theology in the Context of World Christianity: A Book Review

Theology in the Context of World Christianity:  how the global church is influencing the way we think about and discuss theology Timothy C. Tennent Zondervan 2007
Best quote so far:
Why do theological students in the west continue to spend countless hours learning about the writings of a few well-known, now deceased, German theologians whose global devotees are actually quite small, yet completely ignore over one billion living, breathing Muslims who represent one of the most formidable challenges to the Christian gospel today? This is an excellent book. I say that only being 3 chapters in, but each chapter is so interesting I intend to give them a blog post each. Mainly because I need space to disagree. It is rare to find a book that though I frequently disagree with the conclusions because the method and question posing is so good and the subject so interesting I enjoy it all the same. It is written as a text book, but does not take liberties with the captive audience that textbo…

Should Christians be Vegetarians?

Many of you may never have considered this topic but for others it is a source of sleep deprivation. Here is a quick sketch of the issues.



1. Meat eating starts in the Biblical story in Genesis 9:3 as part of the Noahic Covenant. So while all descendants of Noah (that probably includes you) have been given birds, land animals and fish to eat by God we are also aware that in our prelapsarian state and even some time after humanity was vegetarian.

2. Moving from a theology from above to one from below we would never suggest that lions or eagles or sharks are wrong to eat their prey and we surely as creatures just fit into that food chain as well as apex predators (which would make mosquitoes super-apex predators!)



3. Fundamental to the new covenant is the removal of restrictions on foods that previously served as boundaries of ethno-religious communities and the replacement with the sanctifying action of thankgiving or "saying grace" (1 Tim 4:4). So we must be very hesitant t…

Would Paul Mock?

Mystic or Sarcastic? Visions and Revelations in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10. Part 5

So is it really possible that Paul, as I have argued, is mocking an opponent rather than recounting his own vision? Even scholars who consider this to be Paul's own vision recognise there is some humour at work here. e.g. “By his faintly humorous tone he is ridiculing his opponents’ attempts to achieve acceptance in Corinth by claims to paranormal experience” (Barnett, NICNT, p562).

But would such mockery be understood by Paul's audience? “For every poet who sought to entertain audiences with sober and earnest perspectives on the world, it seems that there was always another just as happy to ridicule or ironize traditional pieties, or to test the limits of decorum, all in the service of drawing laughter from an audience. Such poets acheived their comic gaols through a variety of methods . . . but one of the most pervasive an enduring practices . . . was to compose poetry that mocked, abused, or othe…

Paul's Vision?

Mystic or Sarcastic? Visions and Revelations in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10. Part 4
We arrive now at Paul's recounting of the vision, which is accomplished in a few short verses, 2 Cor 12:2-4. "Due to it's brevity the text is a rather unusual representative of the "heavenly travel" genre." (Okland, p96) It fits the rhetorical form of Aretalogy, a tribute to great man or deity, a form which could also lend itself equally well to ironic mockery.

3rd Person

Paul starts the account of the vision by moving into the third person and introducing a "man in Christ" whom he knew fourteen years ago, or who had a vision fourteen years ago. The scholarly consensus is that Paul switches to the third person in order to talk about himself. There is no consensus as to why he did this. Perhaps it was out of humility or a desire to distance himself from the grandeur of the vision. Bultmann suggests that "Paul's responsible "I" did not participate [in th…

Is that really necessary?

Mystic or Sarcastic? Visions and Revelations in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10. Part 3
Paul introduces his vision narrative by writing
It is necessary to boast; nothing is to be gained by it,
but I will go on to visions and revelations in the Lord.
- 2 Cor 12:1 This introduction is peculiar. Paul who has in the past exhorted the Corinthians to do only what is beneficial (e.g. 1 Cor 6:12) is here doing something which he has prejudged as non-beneficial. Martin dubs this an "opening irony" (Word, p391) and that we should not take it literally as it is “most likely a polemical statement against his opponents, who have boasted to aid their own cause.” (p395). The problems with this verse do not end here. The expression "visions and revelations in the Lord" is also curious, Barnett suggests that "this expression is offhand, and perhaps dismissive in intent.” (NICNT, p558). Others have remarked that it sounds like a stock phrase or slogan of the false apostles. It certainly…

Boasting and Roasting

Mystic or Sarcastic? Visions and Revelations in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10. Part 2
The visions and revelations passage is part of a larger section of ch. 10-13 where Paul is defending his ministry against "Super Apostles" who, Paul wants us to understand, are boasting of their status as Jews and as receivers of mystical revelations and are using their elevated status to undermine Paul’s authority and the stability of the church. Despite the discussion of Hebrew status and visions the overarching and inescapable theme of the section is suffering and service as an Apostle of Christ.

In approaching 12:1-10 we should note Paul makes a number of commitments that delineate his own intention in this section.
10:12-18, not boast beyond proper limits . . . let him who boasts boast in the Lord.
11:12-15, cut the ground from under those . . . false apostles . . . their end will be what their actions deserve
11:16-17, Let no one take me for a fool. But if you do then receive me just as you wo…