…Roger Olsen creates a god who scares me.
Archive for August, 2007
There’s a great post over at ‘Conn’-versation which, in part, discusses William J. Webb’s book ‘Slaves, Women and Homosexuals‘. Webb’s book has been something of a controversial book in recent times due mainly to the new ground he attempts to break in the area of hermeneutics. It’s worthwhile to go over and check out both the post and the stream of comments discussing the ideas of the book – notably Tim Keller chips in with some food for thought on the issue. My opinion (albeit brief) is there amongst the comments too just in case you’re wondering.
Nope, its not Peter or Phillip but rather the intriguing Michael Jensen who writes just about the most interesting blog on the web. Michael is a stack-load more clever than myself, or most people for that matter, and his grasp of literature, both theological and secular is amazing. He draws on all of this in each of his posts and manages to produce fresh insights into fascinating topics without really being drawn too much into the regular mish mash that does the rounds in the Christian blogsphere (issues like the Emerging Church, the atonement wars, missional church, and basically all the other stuff I write about!).
Today he’s having a look at the issue of the unity of Scripture. Having studied under Graeme Goldsworthy at Moore College, he’s well placed and informed to talk about this subject. And its a subject that I think has not only been neglected in the modern evangelical church in terms of its implications on hermeneutics but its also a subject that I think is fundamental for any budding bible teacher to get their head around. For me, where you land up on the unity of Scripture issue will often determine where you land up on the gospel and just how central it is to salvation and living. Have a look at Michael’s thoughts.
I’ve posted over at Emergent Africa a post entitled: ‘A Place for Exclusion?‘. I’ve basically opened the floor to the community who blog there and read there to offer their perspectives on whether or not the concept of ‘exclusion’ is compatible with the emerging conversation. This post was born out of a discussion thread at Emergent Africa that I had with one of the bloggers there. Feel free to go across there, have a look and join in the discussion (Reading the previous discussion might help you understand the issues – I know its a bit long, but I think its worth reading).
Ben Witherington has some interesting insights drawn from the hermeneutic of the church father John Chrysostom (my number 1 ancient hero of the faith). He takes a look at Chrysostom’s view of the relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Having written and researched on Chrysostom in the past I’m becoming more and more convinced that he held a theological and hermeneutical framework very similar to the contemporary practitioners of Reformed Biblical Theology. A web-page dedicated to the life and writings of John Chrysostom can be found here.
“Come now let us reason together,” says the LORD. – Isaiah 1:18a (NIV)
Three Interprestations of this verse follow:
Calvinist – God is saying ‘be reasonable and see it my way!’
Arminian – God is saying ‘let’s reason together so that BOTH of us contribute to this issue.’
Emergent – God is saying ‘ let’s go to Starbucks and talk over coffee.’
On Thursday last week we we’re given the opportunity at college to sit and listen to two lectures by Bishop Frank Retief who is the current presiding bishop of my denomination, the Church of England in South Africa (CESA). Bishop Frank took the two periods to simply encourage us to do evangelism. It was great to sit and listen at the feet of the man who was once called ‘The Billy Graham of South Africa’ in a newspaper article. It reminded me about the absolute importance and centrality of active Gospel proclamation.
In conversations about missional church and the emerging church it has become apparent to me that often Gospel proclamation is given a rather low position in the general day to day activities of this new kind of Christian. Its often unfairly caricatured as simply providing fire insurance against a wrath-filled God or the advertising of an escape ticket (admit one person). This is a worrying trend. If certain voices in the EC are going to adopt this line they may be in danger of losing the central thrust of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We can love and bless our communities until we’re blue in the face but we would have done those same communities a HUGE disservice if we haven’t told them that God is a holy God who judges sin, and that only in Christ can they be forgiven of their sin and shielded from the wrath of God so they might have relationship with him.
My prayer is that Gospel proclamation will never become a lost art amongst those who choose to align themselves with Jesus Christ.
Are you in Cape Town? I so come and join the staff and students of the Bible Institute of South Africa for a variety of activities starting with buffet breakfast at 9am on Saturday, 1st September 2007 – the day will wrap up at about 3pm.
Other activities include:
• Guest speaker Carol Arnold “The Liberation of a Resentful Wife”
• Guest speaker Gary Gilley “This little Church went to Market”
• Hear BI’s own Barbershop quartet
• Miss breakfast? Relax and enjoy tea and cake in the garden
• Take a guided campus tour
• Fly a simulation MAF plane from Ysterplaat to CT International
• View Missions & Christian organisation displays
• Buy great books by Christian authors at amazing prices
• Try student’s cuisine from various countries
• Meet the faculty and students from around the world
• Children’s entertainment with fun and games
• Play in the Volleyball tournament
- Your family
- Your youth group
- Your church leadership
- Your missions committee
- Your school mates
- Your choir
- Your sports teams
To book breakfast (R25.00 per person) – contact:
Kathy or Mary-Anne (021) 788 – 4116
I’m adding one more author to ‘…daylight‘ and that is my best mate Mark Belligan who’s opted to give up on his own blog and move his thoughts over here (these guys want me to do all the donkey work and they just get to write posts at their leisure without worrying about up keep). I’ll let Mark introduce himself:
I’m currently completing my Masters is Architecture in beautiful Durban, South Africa. I am going to die one day…but that will not be the end-thats because God sent me a way out-his name is Jesus. When he died on the cross all of God’s anger at my sin was poured onto Jesus! So when Jesus was raised, i was raised too… I spend everyday trying to live that out so that i can be a light to those around me…i fail everyday, and by God’s grace i get up the next morning. I am completely fallen, and completely saved.
So even though I’m gonna be an architect, I’m gonna be in full time ministry too..i just won’t be getting paid for it. I join Odette in saying that running your own blog is just too difficult…but i am super keen to be writing for …daylight…
I read Isaiah chapters 1 – 5 this morning and after seeing God’s condemnation of Israel, the people he had carefully nurtured from day one who rejected and maligned his word, I was left with the need to pray to God a very simple little prayer – and it went like this:
“Lord please let me be found amongst the righteous when you return.”
“I can’t believe in a God who will send people to hell just because they didn’t make a decision for Jesus.“
Ever heard argumentation along those lines? I think its perhaps one of the most common reasons that people cite for not embracing Christianity. Now previously my initial response would be to try and use some sort of philosophical approach to debunk the argument and show that God is perfectly just in sending people to hell because they didn’t accept Jesus.
I wouldn’t do that now for one simple reason: The Bible NEVER says that people are being sent to hell because they never made a decision for Jesus. I’ve heard pastors say that when you get to heaven God is not going to ask you whether you were good or bad but rather, ‘What did you do with my Son?’ Now whilst I understand their point its not really biblical. If any question at all, God would surely ask this question ‘Why have you made yourself king in my place?’ That, according to Romans 1-3 is the only reason why God is sending people to hell – Jesus hasn’t even entered the fray yet.
People are going to hell because they refuse to submit to the Lordship of their very own creator and sustainer. Jesus is the rescuer – by refusing his rescue we simply leave ourselves in that state of rebellion. Now I know this still leaves hard questions – like whether or not its fair on those people who never get a chance to hear the message of a rescuing Jesus, and that is a difficult question which needs a thoughtful, humble and gracious response. But, those questions aside, at least the biblical view of why people go to hell is clear. They have ignored God as King. So we can’t accuse God of sending us to hell because we didn’t ‘make a decision’ for Jesus when we ourselves refuse to submit to his Lordship.
With so much dispute going on about the validity of systematic theology in contemporary theology an unlikely source has sprung to the defence of the Reformed doctrine of ‘the Depravity of Humanity‘. Opponents of this doctrine will have a difficult time at refuting such clear evidence presented on such a grand scale.
Researchers scanning through the myriads of groups that have been spawned on the social networking site, Facebook, recently stumbled across a group entitled, ‘If this group Reaches 150,000 members I will name my son Batman‘. Upon probing a little further they discovered a discussion thread posted on the group entitled, ‘YOU ARE ALL SO STUPID‘, at the time of print the thread contained 326 posts by 154 different people. In this thread the initial author, a JOn Bennet, claims that the entire group is a hoax and that the group author has no intention of naming his son ‘Batman’ even if the group reaches 150,000 members. What follows this initial comment is a barrage of people, who clearly suffer with serious problems of boredom and anger management, ranting with the most colourful of langauge about what a “%&##!!#$!” JOn Bennet is. Researches who scanned the thread concluded that the only word that adequately described this sort of behaviour was the word ‘depravity’.
Reformed theologians around the world delighted in this finding as at vindicates a doctrine that has long been treasured by this particular tradition. One pastor remarked in celebration that he was going to start a group entitled, ‘If 150,000 people join this group I’ll name my son Calvin’
Forget Harry Potter and his magic – here’s a good reason why you shouldn’t steal artifacts from the tombs of dead Pharaohs.
According to some Roman Catholic apologists the doctrine of Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) has been completely ineffective in developing the sort of authority necessary to keep the church unified. To prove their case they point to the ‘fact’ that there are now 33,000 splintered denominations to show for it. James White on the other hand thinks this is perhaps a bit of a dishonest claim. Have a look and see what I mean – you might be surprised by the ‘facts’.
In Mark 10:33-34 Jesus predicts his death. Up to this point though in the narrative of Mark he hasn’t mentioned that the Gentiles are going to ‘mock him and spit on him’ and ultimately kill him. The mocking and spitting seems to be drawing on Isaiah 50:6 and it seems that Jesus is marrying the two concepts of ‘Son of Man’ and ‘Suffering Servant’ (something I think that NT Wright fails to do in his overarching view of atonement, the christus victor view – but that’s another blog post altogether).
What I’m interested in though is the specific mention of the Gentiles – why the mention? My initial thoughts are that in the Old Testament Israel’s rebellion and sin was punished by the historical invasions of Gentile nations. I wonder if Mark wants us to pick up on this? Previously in redemptive history Gentiles were used by God to punish sin. Is it not a hint in the text of Mark that Jesus is going to the cross so that sin might be punished and so we have this mention of Gentiles who will, in the langauge of Isaiah, mock and kill the suffering servant? (Has anyone read Peter Bolt’s book The Cross from a Distance – does he pick up on this in that book?)
Driving 30 minutes to college every morning means that I get to listen to a stack of audio sermons. I’m something of an eclectic Bible teacher so I try and listen to as many good preachers as possible and pick up as many good traits from them as possible. In all this listening I’ve noticed a particular tool that is used by many preachers – the tool of hyperbole – slightly over-exaggerating a truth in order to make a point. I’ve been scratching my head recently as to the ethics of using hyperbole in bible teaching – is it really valid or is it misleading. Does it also perhaps create Christians with extreme views on certain issues.
Here’s one example: I’ve heard more than one good preacher make the statement that the bible never uses the term ‘calling’ when talking about people going into the ministry. Now I understand what the preacher is getting at – he wants to stamp out the view that you have to have some sort of strong subjective feeling about ministry before you can enter into it – a view that the New Testament clearly doesn’t teach (if you disagree with me on that then write about it on your own blog – its not the issue here). BUT the New Testament does actually use the word in 1 Corinthians 7:17 of a man’s position (including his profession) in life – that would cover ministry, suggesting than that God DOES call people into the ministry (and every other profession on earth). Does that mean we are to seek out that special calling through some inner subjective feeling – of course not. Yet at the same time it isn’t entirely correct to say that the bible NEVER uses the word calling in that way – that’s hyperbole.
Question is: Is it ethical?
“…as it is clear from ch. 6, his (Isaiah) whole pattern of thought has been affected by the tremendous contrast between the greatness of God and the corruption of humanity. But caught up with this contrast is the amazing paradox that if humanity will lay aside its pretensions to deity, the true God will raise us to fellowship with himself (57:15). These two thoughts form the heart of the book’s theology” p.31
John Oswalt on the theology of Isaiah (The Book of Isaiah Chapters 1-39 NICOT)
I’ve been studying Romans at college this semester, it has honestly been the most challenging and engaging course i have done in my Theologocial training. Today we looked at Romans 2:1-29, and again i was struck by how badly this book has been preached in many churches today. Paul’s argument is a monumental polemic for the fairness of God’s judgement. One of the questions that so many of the commentators ask is who Paul has in mind in v1. The Gentiles? The Jews? Or is he addressing the moral pagan? Yet, the identity of Paul’s hypothetical opponent in this diatribe and chapter falls into perspective in v5: ALL store up wrath for themselves, and judgement will be revealed at the coming of Jesus Christ.
But what has really struck me is Paul’s emphasis on works, by our works shall God determine who finally enters his Kingdom (v6). This is a critical point and i found it surprising that Wright in his commentary does not pick up on the NPP agenda at this point (ie following a works-righteousness theology) but rather follows Moo very closely. So in his resulting illustration of the two groups we are left scratching our heads as Paul seems to allude to a works-righteousness theology as he seems to contrast a group who will receive glory (v7, 10) and who will be judged (v8-9)…if not for v5 which programs this whole section. Which is why Paul can say that God shows no favouritism; because even if you look like v7 and 10 its really not enough! Why? because of v5 we can never meet those standards! Which is why a new righteousness needs to be revealed (3:21ff). (He goes on to blow the Jewish worldview to pieces in v12-29 by showing their historical hypocracy and how they are still in state of judgement). And yet our works are such an integral part to our salvation; as the evidence of it. This i think is something that we as evangelicals will leave out so easily because we have reduced the Gospel to something that it is not. We have confused the message of the Gospel with the mechanics of the Gospel. And so we have concluded that the Gospel is justification by faith alone. This is the heart of the Gospel as how the Gospel works but in itself is not the Gospel. The Gospel is the message of the Messiah, King Jesus, come to reveal the Kingdom of God. This includes the great Judgment day as integral to the Gospel message. Which makes the Gospel much bigger than we tend to preach it!
This can be a massive paradigm shift for anyone who has not realised this and has incredible pastoral and envagelistic implications. But the key to preaching or teaching this text is to use Paul’s own polemical device keeping as the sting in the tail as it were in v16. The secrets of men will be judged. It does not matter what you look like on the outside (yet it does) because God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ!