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Showing posts from 2016

An Alternative to Secret Santa

For a few years now the adults in my family-in-law have not bought each other presents but have indulged in a Secret Santa so secret that no one know who they are getting a present for. Everyone buys a gift and then they are distributed randomly. Last year I decided to codify and develop the rules for this game in order to make it more methodical and to eliminate the ability of couples to work together to get the gift they wanted.

This is good fun. Takes about an hour and is usually a source of much hilarity and mirth. Last year we tried these rules for the first time and it was a great success, for everyone except me. I had bought a truly awful booby prize (a giant second hand soft toy Santa) and delighted in seeing someone else open it with horror and revulsion but with almost the last stroke of the game I ended up holding it much to everyone else's amusement.

Robinson Rules for Secret Santa Distribution Game, version 1

Three Christmas Blogs

At this time of year, when for the 10th, 20th, 50th, time in your ministry you are trying to find something fresh and orthodox to say about Christmas reading blogs can be a real boon. Here are three good thoughts, all of which could become your best Christmas sermon yet . . .

The (Real) War of Christmas

A Reluctant Evangelist Journeys with a Magi 

Making the Nativity a Bit More Terrifying with the Help of Revelation 12

Bonus feature: And of course people still don't really care that Jesus was not born in a stable of an inn, or anywhere near an inn really.  Which is why despite this being known for decades now, every church will still have a nativity in a stable. Except perhaps where Ian Paul has been preaching?

6 Principles for Christian Political Engagement

I don't know how I haven't come across it before but the Lausanne publication, Global Analysis, looks to be a very useful Evangelical publication with high quality content you wont find anywhere else. I mustn't spend my day trawling through back issues, as tempting as that may be, but may I recommend to you a helpful article on Christians facing political crisis in Brazil over the possibly-corrupt impeachment of a possibly-corrupt president? The six principles, which are enlarged upon in detail in the article, are equally applicable to other contexts, they are:

Knowing how to behave is more important than knowing what position to adoptCultivate Christian political reticenceDistinguish the different debatesAvoid dichotomous thinking and recognize the many possible positionsGo beyond simplistic moralism in the Christian perspective on corruptionDistinguish between an ideal and the carrier of that ideal I recommend reading the whole thing.

Rearranging the Deck Chairs on the Titanic

Often it has been said, and sometimes by me, that most "successful" church plants in the West in recent times have simply been transfer growth in action. Church growth through siphoning people out of older churches into the new ones. Result: some large churches growing, while many others struggled to compete, and overall the church shrinks. The whole thing is equivalent to rearranging the deck chairs as the Titanic sinks, it may make some people happy and more comfortable but it is doing nothing to address the fundamental crisis. Ian Paul uncovers some unpublished research from the UK that pushes back against this assumption. Well worth a read.

Let me know what you think :-)

No God, No Science: Michael Hanby

This may be old news for some, but thought this was both an interesting autobiographical account of an academic journey and also a really fascinating and important project. Enjoy

Michael Hanby's book is on Amazon and kindle, if I ever get round to reading it, I'll let you know!

Orthodox Christianity and the Original Manuscripts

Shane Pruit has been sharing his wisdom about out of context scripture use. It is a reasonably useful piece, although perhaps more helpful in critique than construction (but then the latter is always much harder to do). However he begins with a most extraordinary statement:
Orthodox Christianity believes that in the Scriptures in their original manuscripts are without error and fault. Which just blows the mind. Clearly Shane is making a value statement here, "orthodox Christianity" is a judgement as to what Shane finds orthodox rather than a historical or sociological claim, but even so what are these original manuscripts he speaks of? Certainly, when dealing with a letter from Paul, e.g., we can posit at some point there was just one original version. But what do we do with Genesis, Job, Isaiah, or the Gospels all of which were composed over time, combining various sources, being edited and added to by different folk depending on the needs of the day and the Holy Spirit? Wh…

The false link between suicide and mental illness

One characteristic of human society is the tendency to keep doing something over and over again despite it not working. One example would be our approach to incarcerating criminals to punish them instead of rehabilitating them, compounding their trauma and making it harder for them to live productive law-abiding lives when they get out. But this is the "common-sense" approach, the intuitive human response to the failings of others, punish them and they wont dare do it again. It has never worked, ever, but let's keep doing it. Secular society is screwed because it cannot comprehend that its vision is blurred by sin and therefore knee-jerk, common sense solutions are usually destructive and counter-productive.

So it is with our response to suicide. To kill yourself must be the response of the weak minded and sick - so the thinking goes - so to combat rising suicide we treat individuals medically. Yet suicide is a perfectly rational response to a world as broken as ours and…

Why You Want to be "Left Behind"

Two different posts on the rapture came across my desk this morning, and I thought, surely I have blogged on this myself? But no, I have not. I must have preached on it at some point, because I can remember pontificating on this subject, but not here. Well in order to make good for the omission enjoy Rhett Snell and Doug Chaplin as they explain why being "raptured" or "taken" is not actually the Christian aspiration.

The Need for Humble Atheists (and Theists)

Read the rest of this helpful article by John Thamatil. (I'm not sure about his frequent, continual, undefined use of liberal - but never mind) HT
What binds many atheists together is an unshakable conviction that they know everything there is to know about religion, namely that it is irrational bondage to immutable doctrine. No amount of counterevidence can convince such atheists otherwise. What irony! But where do they come by this knowledge about religion? Their expertise seems to be derived by virtue of sheer sentience alone.

By contrast, if a theologian were to broadcast her convictions about molecular or evolutionary biology without some years of careful reading and study, she would be met with jeering laughter and summarily dismissed. Why then are uninformed atheists who have never read in theology exempt from similar derision? Sadly, every pedant believes himself entitled to his unearned convictions about religion.

The Addictive Power of End Times Speculation

The mighty Rhett Snell has picked up his blog again (I wonder how long he'll last this time), check out his theory on why people get so into annoyingly unbiblical end times nonsense.

I think that where codes-and-calendars end times theology is dangerous, is that it can give a sense of false growth. We read a theory online, or hear it from some bible teacher, and we come to think that we have mastered an area of our faith. A bit like levelling up in a computer game, or Popeye after he’s eaten some spinach. At worst, we begin to believe that we’ve taken a step that other Christians have not; that we’ve entered an elite class of Christianity.

Measuring Success or Faithfulness

[This is first in a series of posts reflecting on the last six years of pastoral ministry in a NZ Baptist church. I'm not looking for sympathy (seriously), or to whinge, I'm trying to reflect on real issues in our theory and practice of ministry.]

At one of my interviews for the role of pastor at the Bay I was asked, "How do you measure success, is it just numbers?" At the time I confidently declared, "Success is about being faithful to Jesus, the numbers don't mean anything." If I'm honest though, at the back of my mind was the firm belief that my ministry would be both faithful to Jesus and show numerical increase.

At the end of six years of ministry at the Bay the numbers are pretty bleak. Each of those years after the first we have seen a decrease in people attending Sunday services, the main yardstick used by our denomination. Baptisms have more or less equalled funerals, and new families have just about equalled those leaving, but each year t…

Wars and Rumours of Wars

I write in the morning after the USA 2016 Elections, which featured the historic election of Donald Trump. Apart from my personal interested as a resident of planet Earth at this time, it is interesting to note some of the apocalyptic language emerging in discussions of what this means. Even archaeologists are turning to the medium of prophecy. Hear the word of Tobias Stone,
So I feel it’s all inevitable. I don’t know what it will be, but we are entering a bad phase. It will be unpleasant for those living through it, maybe even will unravel into being hellish and beyond imagination. Humans will come out the other side, recover and move on.  Stone suggests that future historians will be able to draw clear lines from Brexit to Trump to the 3rd World War, or something equally bad. Mind you, just because historians can draw those lines doesn't mean they are here.

Then there is the word of Thom Hartman who is more interested in the domestic fallout than the fallout shelter. 
The last …

George Athas on the Tearing of the Temple Curtain

I've really been enjoying the blog of George Athas, OT lecturer at Moore in Sydney, he puts up brief but useful and challenging posts. He's doing some really interesting research as is obviously not afriad to slay the odd sacred cow. Fancy, for example, daring to suggest that Christian preachers have had it all wrong about the significance of the temple curtain being torn, I've been taught one meaning for this since I was knee high to a grasshopper, it's all about how Christ's death removed the barrier between God and humanity. George would beg to differ. Let me know what you think :-)

Hays on Figural Reading

I saw this posted on BW3's blog, and don't have time to watch it now so am putting it here for later. Should be good. Let me know what you think if you watch it.


Breaking news: Lot finally vindicated!

My earlier post about the story of Lot came down particularly hard on Lot for his callous attitude to his virgin daughters. However, it seems I may have fallen for a narrative trap and committed an injustice of my own. George Athas suggests an intriguing alternative in his article Has Lot lost the Plot?

It is free to view on Academia.edu so click on it, and don't forget to tell him I sent you. :-)
Let me know what you think.

I'm now a PhD candidate!

So, I am happy to announce that as of Feb 2017 I will be a PhD student at Otago University in Dunedin, NZ, working under the supervision of Prof Paul Trebilco. Paul is a highly respected NT scholar, probably best known for his work in Christianity in Ephesus/Asia Minor and early Christian self identification. My own research is (at present) going to be in the area of Mark's Gospel, Christology, narrative, and scriptural intertextuality.

My last stint as student was when this blog was birthed and it received a lot more attention when I wasn't trying to lead a church, so without making any promises I'm optimistic that this blog will find a new lease of life. A number of other blogs were reallly helpful in putting my PhD proposal together and while a scholar needs to consult articles and books, etc, blogs are often a wonderful source of concise information and cutting edge ideas that 90% of the academic world seem uninterested in. So, I'm also looking forward to engaging …

Baptist Ecclesiology: On the Way and in the Fray

If you are interested in such things don't miss Drs John Tucker and Andrew Picard's article.
When we gather together, Christ is present in our midst and we can expect to hear his voice in the gathered community by the Spirit. Secondly, the promised presence of the Lord Jesus in the gathered community sets the church free from all other lords or rulers. Final authority over a congregation rests not with a pope or creed (or senior pastor,
or elders or national gathering resolutions). Final authority rests with the risen Christ who is present as Lord in the midst of a congregation. These twin emphases form something of the Baptist dynamic, a Baptist way of being.

Diagnosing the Demonic

Do we really believe in the demonic anymore? Or can everything be treated with the right pills? What do we do with the fact that in Mark's gospel Jesus is a full blown exorcist but by John's gospel he seems to little interest in it? Was there more demonic activity in Jesus' time as a reaction to him? Is demon possession just what the ancients used to call mental illness? None of these questions are answered by this fascinating article, but read it anyway. Alternatively some of those questions are broached by an extraordinary panel of N.T. Wright, Richard Beck, Greg Boyd, Tony Jones and Tripp Fuller on this podcast (if you've got time to kill).

Let me know what you think :-)

Dark Satanic Book Mills

Well, of all the ways in which we dehumanise our fellow humans and alienate each other form the rewards of our labour can there be a more insidious and reprehensible form than the academic book mill? My mind had not conceived of such depravity till today.

The Centurion's Gay Lover?

Ian Paul goes into great detail debunking numerous myths and falsehoods surrounding the story of Jesus healing a Centurions servant in Luke 7:1-10/ Matt 8:5-13 and the way it is used in the church's debate around sexuality. Well worth a read.
The rhetorical move here, via the story in Luke 7, is that, far from the traditional reading of the NT where same-sex relations are rejected as incompatible with the kingdom, gay people don’t simply become acceptable in the kingdom; they become the archetypal members, in much the same way that Jesus holds children before the disciples as archetypes of kingdom membership. So rejecting this is not just a problem of rights; it is rejecting the central way that God pursues his kingdom purposes.

The Miracle of Thiselton's Theology

I now repent of all my unbelief and cynicism. If you need any further proof of supernatural intervention in human affairs it is this:

The man who required 1492 pages to write a commentary on 1 Corinthians.

Has managed to cover the entire Christian faith (and atheism!) in only 467 pages in his Systematic Theology.

Having read Thiselton on a few occasions I can relate to the reviewer who complained:
Thiselton tries to elucidate his subject using terms and concepts that are as difficult to understand as the original subject, if not more so. The chap is just too smart for most of us to follow and too hard working for most of us to keep up with. We rejoice if he has been triply blest now with the spiritual gift of brevity!

(seriously though, he is an amazing scholar and is always well worth reading)

12 Reasons for All Age Worship

I know 12 reasons sounds like a short sharp and succinct blog post, but it aint. Thaliakr will take you on a long and winding tour of the twelve reasons in the second longest blog post known to humankind. Still, there is lots of helpful reflection and practical suggestions in there.
Since my time as pastor of West Baptist (2008-2011), I’ve become a huge fan of all-age church, where everyone is all in together, and people of all ages are warmly invited to engage in what’s going on. I’m not talking about a place where the kids are allowed to be in the room but expected to be quiet and do colouring-in. At West Baptist, there’s no separate Sunday School, and everyone of every age is actively included and considered in how things are done, on Sundays and beyond. This system was already in place when I arrived. I was a bit sceptical at first, but now I reckon it’s fantastic – and truly possible for most communities.

Ben Myers Campaigns against Unnecessarily Slanted Words

This is funny, but also points to a genuine issue of modern communication: The felt need to ram home your point instead of trusting the reader to do the work of appropriating it for themselves.
The overuse of italics has, today, reached plague proportions. Writers sprinkle their sentences with italics merely because they would like you to notice these particular words. But if I am reading the sentence, how could I fail to notice those particular words? Why, author, do you need to give me such emphatic and overbearing guidance? I am already reading your sentence; I am already committed to it; I am already willing to hear what you have to say.

What I Think About the Orlando Shooting

Sometimes being a Baptist pastor can be uncomfortable as people hear other Baptist pastors saying things in the media and wonder if that is what you think too. The Baptists are a very broad church with divergent beliefs and practices across the globe. So if you are concerned about what I might be thinking, here is what I do think. I'm not speaking for anyone else here.

1. Every person who was killed was a precious child of God made in God's image. Every death was a terrible tragedy and waste. Our world is terribly broken by sin and needs a saviour.

2. For whatever motive, and it seems complicated, the killer targeted these people because they were part of the LGBT community, this is therefore a hate crime against LGBT people as well as an act of terrorism. Those who try and downplay this are badly mistaken. Regardless of your beliefs on personal sexual morality we should all be saying: this was not acceptable, we love and accept LGBT people as part of our society, we must keep…

Using the Trinity to Keep Women in their Place

While there are some reasonable (if ultimately unconvincing to me) arguments for the complementarian position there is no excuse for the sort of mummery where one tries to argue such a position from the Trinity. This novel doctrine is known as Eternal Functional Subordination (EFS). It is, to coin a technical phrase, arse-backwards (and this goes for any other attempt to prescribe human activity based on what the Trinity is like). Don't miss Darren Sumner as he takes those turkeys to task:

The EFS mode of reasoning is what Barth decried as human projection misidentified with divine revelation. Ware takes a human cultural construct and, mistaking it for revelation, reads it upward into the life of God by means of an analogia entis. When he in turn derives from this divine relation a proscription for human gender relations, the circle is complete and the exercise in natural theology is made infinitely more egregious. Ware first reads the authority-submission structure from creatur…

The Burden of Belief

I realise I am late to the party on this one, but a fascinating article (and further links for the time-rich) from the Guardian about a Canadian pastor who has embraced the title of atheist.
“I do not believe in a theistic, supernatural being called God,” says Gretta Vosper, the United Church of Canada minister who has led West Hill since 1997. “I don’t believe in what I think 99.99% of the world thinks you mean when you use that word.” Tor her, God is instead a metaphor for goodness and a life lived with compassion and justice. The ecclesiastical ruptures Gretta Vosper has and is causing are on thing, but her relative success in forming a community as an atheist pastor is also worth noting: 
Some, such as Eve Casavant, 44, recently started attending West Hill after hearing about Vosper among atheist circles. She was delighted to find the same sort of church she had been raised in, save the burden of belief. “It’s like that sense of community without the barriers,” she says. “It’s a…

The Big House - A parable of Colonisation

I posted earlier about the latent racism in New Zealand, especially (but not exclusively) against the Maori. Moana Maniapoto says the same kind of thing but, uh, better. Well she has the dubious advantage of being on the receiving end, rather than a spectator like muggins. Be sure to read the whole article.

Imagine you and your extended family lived in a big house. One day, a group of strangers knocks on the door and asks if they can move in. You welcome them. But more and more keep coming. So you and the visitors sort out a tenancy agreement, just to be on the safe side.

As more of their mates pile in, your family is forced into the basement.

By now, the visitors are in the majority. They paint, plumb, rewire and transform the house without checking with you. You wave the agreement in their faces. After all, no matter how much a tenant pimps the property, the landlord is still the owner. But the newbies talk about how, thanks to them, the house is so much nicer. More modern even. “Look…

The Curse of Ham

Every now and then a blog post comes along that is an education all in itself.

Check out Esau McCaully on the Curse of Ham

From childhood, I had known about the curse of Ham. I knew that it meant I was supposed to be inferior. Thus, black slavery in the past and our present second-class status was a manifestation of the will of God . . .

For many at my seminary, a world in which black people struggle with questions of identity and worth and their place in the biblical narrative was as foreign to them as New England was to me. They did not realize how often Black Christians have to struggle and strive to prove to skeptical friends and family members that Christianity is a religion that has a place for black folk.

Beginning to read the Bible?

I was asked recently for some suggestions on how to get into reading the Bible from someone without a church background (or a personal faith that I know of). I quickly became aware that most internet resources are huge, not suitable for beginners and generally assume a rather conservative faith stance, not conducive to curious agnostic Bible readers. So I wrote a shortish email with a few points. Obviously I could have said more but I tried to keep it simple. My intention is to provoke curiosity rather than to achieve indoctrination. This was my response, let me know what you think.

Hi

The Bible can be confusing because it is not really a normal book. Some basic points help when you are trying to get into it.

1. It is not one book but 66 different books (by about 40 different authors)

2. These books have been arranged (roughly) to tell one big story, from the creation of the world (Genesis), to the saviour of the world, Jesus (gospels), to the end of the world as we know it and the ulti…

Andrew Judd and Racism in New Zealand

This fascinating and terribly titled video exposes what most Maori and many migrants have long known: White New Zealand is endemically racist. Now before you turn away in disgust at my unfair judgement, let me explain. White New Zealand is not racist because the people are mean and nasty. When we hear the word racist we think of horrible angry people blaming others for their misfortune and frothing a bit at the mouth. New Zealanders of all colours are the most generous and kind people you could hope to meet, of course there are always exceptions, but as a whole they are really not bad people, so to be told they are racist it is hurtful. If they saw someone in need, no matter the race they would help. If a neighbour moved in, no matter the race they would welcome them. If two people fall in love, no matter the race, they can be together. If someone does a good job (especially in sport), no matter the race, they deserve to be celebrated. I truly believe it and have seen it. So how can w…

When the Rock Star met the Bible Scholar

Fascinating little video here

I was struck, one, by Peterson's focus on the task in hand (not being distracted from his deadline by a world famous rock star's invitation. Surely an indication of how he has acheived so much in life, focus!

And two, by Bono's comment about the dishonesty of Christian art and worship music. Ouch!

Enjoy, let me know what you think,


The Secret Life of Bible Societies

Scot McKnight offers a fascinating precis of John Fea's book The Bible Cause. It is not for nothing that many countries ban the distribution of Bibles, it is a highly political act, but not just the distribution, a Bible society's decisions about what to include or exclude can have far reaching effects. Forget the Illuminati we should all be worrying about the agendas of the Bible societies.

Easter, that famous pagan festival, not.

We've probably all heard how the celebration of Easter is based on the pre Christian celebration of the goddess Oester, from who we got oestrogen, and that Christians just tacked on some cute stories about Jesus to fit in with it. Of course that is a rather revisionist approach to the Christian explanation which is that Easter is the Christian celebration of the passover, fulfilled as it was by Jesus in his death and resurrection. And it also rather neatly ignores the fact that Christianity did not start celebrating Easter in Europe (where it could conceivably have been borrowing the fertility rites of a fictive German goddess) but in the Middle East. But never mind. Anyway if you are interested, I thought this was a helpful article on the subject. Enjoy!

Going further with Hebrew

So last year I did the introduction and intermediate course in Hebrew with Laidlaw College. I had previously self taught myself enough Hebrew to engage with commentaries, do word studies, etc, but it was good to go systematically through a course with the aim to actually read something off the page. So like many Hebrew students I am left with the question, "what next". What I wanted was a list of easy-ish Hebrew texts I could work my way through, to help me practice what I had learned without becoming hopelessly discouraged by coming across passages I had no chance with. I found this list on a blog copied from a book. All I wanted was the list but if you want more assistance I suggest you buy the book.

I'm going to be working my way through the list which will hopefully result in me not forgetting all I learnt last year! I'll let you know how I get on. Are there any other lists like this that you are aware of? Dan Wallace provides this list of how to read through the…

Tanya Riches: A new (to me) blog!

A little while back on facebook I came across this gem of an article about citing people (even if they are female and/or Australian). I think Tanya is too soft on cheating scumbags who want to pass off other people's work as their own, but never mind, and otherwise she is spot on.

But the blog also includes theological music reviews and commentary on aboriginal rights among other things. So check Tanya out. I've added her to my feed reader.

Jospeh's Bones (Genesis 5:24-25)

I've been thinking this week about the bones of Joseph. There is a strange little bit at the end of the book of Genesis where Joseph tells his family that when the time comes for Israel to return to the land of Canaan he wants his bones taken with them (Gen 50:24-25). I've read it many times and not given it much thought. But this week I was struck by the fact that this is really strange.

Think about it for a second. Joseph has seen four generations of his children born in Egypt (50:23). He was given the highest non-hereditary office in the land of Egypt (41:41-3). He married into a high status family in Egypt (41:45). He became the saviour of Egypt and surrounding lands during a terrible famine (41:56-57). So in Egypt he has family, wealth, success, prestige and honour, everything that the world could offer. What better resting place could there be for his bones? Why would he want his bones taken back to Canaan, the land of his childhood where he was a spoilt brat hated by h…

NZATS conf and call for papers

If you love a good acronym, then this is the conference for you!
NZATS Conference

Keynote speakers will be Murray Rae, Tim Meadowcroft and Rebecca Dudley.

Conference Announcement And Call For Papers


New Zealand Association of Theological Schools (NZATS) and it’s member institutions are coming together for a combined conference in 2016.


– Aotearoa-New Zealand Association of Biblical Studies (ANZABS)


– Aotearoa-New Zealand Association of Mission Studies (ANZAMS)


– Systematic Theology Association of Aotearoa-New Zealand (STAANZ) and


– Religious History Association of Aotearoa-New Zealand (RHAANZ)


– Network for Pastoral/Practical Theology in Aotearoa New Zealand (NPPTANZ)


Conference organiser on behalf of NZATS: Dr Myk Habets (myk.habets@carey.ac.nz)


All scholars and students involved in theological education or Christian ministry are invited to attend.


The 2016 NZATS Combined Conference will be hosted by Carey Baptist College, 473 Great South Road, Auckland, NZ

Yes They Are The Same God

All the kerfuffle over that poor professor, it really is remarkable that intelligent people can find it so hard to understand.

Yes. Yahweh, Allah and the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ are all intending to refer to the same object - the creator and soveriegn of the Universe, the one true God.

Nick Norelli (PBUH) makes the usual mistake of thinking that just because someone is wrong about an aspect of the object they are therefore referring to a different object altogether.

Here's the thing, saying we mean the same God is not the same as saying that we are all correct in our beliefs about that one God just as the Flat Earth Society live on the same Earth that we all do they are just wrong on the subject of its basic shape. And thank God for that else we'd all be unable to pray to or talk about the Most High on account of the smallest imperfections in our theology.

Put this another way, some people think I am a really cool guy, other think I'm a complete moron. Whether they…

Where Does All Our Time Go?

Came across a fascinating (if slightly hyperbolic) article the other week. Well worth a read
If someone had designed a work regime perfectly suited to maintaining the power of finance capital, it’s hard to see how they could have done a better job. Real, productive workers are relentlessly squeezed and exploited. The remainder are divided between a terrorised stratum of the – universally reviled – unemployed and a larger stratum who are basically paid to do nothing, in positions designed to make them identify with the perspectives and sensibilities of the ruling class (managers, administrators, etc) – and particularly its financial avatars – but, at the same time, foster a simmering resentment against anyone whose work has clear and undeniable social value. Clearly, the system was never consciously designed. It emerged from almost a century of trial and error. But it is the only explanation for why, despite our technological capacities, we are not all working 3-4 hour days.
Let me kn…

The Honest Christian Worship Album

Though this was pretty funny, if also a little painfully accurate? (source)

Liberalism has Started to Eat Itself: Jacob Williams on Free Speech

So this is an interesting discussion affecting Oxford University at the moment.

Here's one side of the story


And here's another.

What do you think?

Bauckham on "Deliberate Hindsight"

"If God crucified introduces radical novelty into the identity of God, wherein lies the consistency of identity? The first point to make is . . . that Jewish monotheism did not characterize the uniqueness of God in such a way as to make the early Christian inclusion of Jesus in the unique identity of God inconceivable . . . However, this - so to speak - negative consistency was clearly not sufficient for the early Christians . . . they developed their fresh understanding of the Christological identity of God through creative exegesis of the Hebrew Scriptures . . . Precisely at points where they appreciate most fully the new identity of God in Jesus, they are engaged in exegesis, the process of bringing the texts of the Hebrew Scriptures and the history of Jesus into mutually interpretive interplay. We misunderstand this process if we see it as an attempt, by reading Christology back into the texts, to pretend that actually nothing at all was unexpected . . . With deliberate hinds…

Scholarly Bunfight Brewing Over Peter

If you like a good scrap between Bible scholars (and I do!) you should get in at the start of emerging hostilities between Larry Hurtado and Robert Gundry. They are both top rank NT scholars (IMHO) but come from very different approaches.
Larry started it in this scathing review of Robert's latest book about the apostle Peter.
For readers of any persuasion, however, the thesis advanced in Gundry’s book will come as something of a shock. Gundry insists that, just like Judas Iscariot, the Peter of the Gospel of Matthew is presented in a very negative light as a total and final failure. Other scholars might hesitate to defend such a view, given that it appears that no one previously in the 1900 years of reading of Matthew has advocated it.
While Robert has riposted on Scot McKnight's blog with a equally scathing attack on Larry's review.
In every instance of my argument, observes Hurtado, I have “to urge an interpretation, an inference” (emphasis original) rather than some…

Call for Posts and Free ANE Resources

Tim Bulkeley is looking for posts for this month's biblical studies carnival, drop him a line if you want to nominate a post.

Tim has also has a chapter in a new SBL publication, THE BOOK OF THE TWELVE AND THE NEW FORM CRITICISM, Mark J. Boda, Michael H. Floyd, and Colin M. Toffelmire (eds), which is, amazingly, available for free download! Not only that but they have a whole series of impressive tomes on the ANE available for free download.

SBL are to be commended for such a commitment to open source scholarship and genuine "publication."

Chicken Theology

This came through the post on Facebook, thanks to G.E. Cockrell (a coincidence? IDK). Some deeply insightful analysis here:




Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? (Theological Version)

Rick Warren: The chicken was purpose driven.

Pelagius: Because the chicken was able to.

John Piper: God decreed the event to maximize his glory. OR . . . it was an act of Christian hedonism. The chicken realized that his greatest joy would only be found on the other side.

Irenaeus: The glory of God is the chicken fully alive.

C.S. Lewis: If a chicken finds itself with a desire that nothing on this side can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that it was created for the other side.

Billy Graham: The chicken was surrendering all.

Pluralist: The chicken took one of many equally valid roads.

Universalist: All chickens cross the road.

Martin Luther: The chicken was fleeing the Antichrist who had stolen the Gospel with his papist lies.

Tim LaHaye: The chicken didn’t want to be left behind.

James White: I reject chicke…

PhD Scholarships with Torrance and Wright

So personally, being overseen by both Alan Torrance and NT Wright sounds terrifyingly intimidating, but if that floats your boat there is still time to apply. The University of St Andrews and the Templeton Foundation are funding six doctoral scholarships to cover all fees for doctoral research undertaken in the Logos Institute for Analytic and Exegetical Theology in St Andrews. This is open to overseas, European and UK students.
Studentships will be awarded to doctoral research in the following general subject-areas:1. The relationship of God to time/history;
2. The Christian doctrine of forgiveness - its grounds, nature and implications;
3. Personhood: divine and human;
4. Human uniqueness and the question of human purpose.

Barclay on Grace

Barclay's 2015 book on grace, Paul and the Gift, has been gathering momentum as a push back against the New Perspectives' (alleged) minimisation of the radical nature of Paul's view of God's grace. There is a nice interview in  CT about it, which also presses him to apply (albeit too briefly) his view of grace to churches today:
That’s why some of the most exciting churches today are not necessarily the big ones, but rather the small, multicultural, urban churches where you discover that different ethnicities and languages don’t count before God. Our education, our age, our job, the kind of music we listen to, the books we read—these do not ultimately define us. What defines us is who we are in Christ. We all are on the same level together and are therefore able to form countercultural relationships despite our differences. And that opens up the possibility for hugely creative Christian communities.