Thursday, June 28, 2007
In fact, discipleship requires renunciation of anything that comes before Jesus. The disciple who loses saltiness becomes useless and is tossed out. The disciple has a purpose in the world, but uselessness makes the disciple's role expendable and results in God's displeasure.
How horrible to be thrown away by God when one could have been used by him. So consider the cost and have the resolve of a disciple who fully pursues God. Luke's call is to hear the warning and respond with faithfulness.
Bock, Luke BECNT, 1283, 1293
Friday, June 22, 2007
"He who does that which he sees, shall understand; he who is set upon understanding rather than doing, shall go on stumbling and mistaking and speaking foolishness." --George MacDonaldIt's a very good blog indeed, generally...link to left.
That, it seems to me, is precisely the bluff that is now being called by folks in emerging churches.
Friday, June 15, 2007
'The days are coming,' declares the LORD, 'when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety.'Now, first of all let's get the negative comments out of the way, for this film does fall short in a couple of areas. First, the scene of the birth of Christ is far too influenced by the traditional view: Joseph appears to have no connections in Bethlehem at all, being stuck in a kind of cave/stable with the cows and sheep, a shaft of light from The Star shines through hole in stable roof illuminating the scene, the three maji turn up right on cue - you know the thing. I suppose this is a valid view, but many scholars would place some of these details in the 'unlikely' category. Second, the supernatural interventions are played down too much. I admire the restraint and earthiness in the film, but I'm sorry, Zechariah is just not terrified enough in the Temple (!) and there is no attempt to portray the armies of heaven that appear to the shepherds (I was intensely disappointed about this!). Third, the narrative is telescoped to bring Herod's slaughter of the boys of Bethlehem directly into the timeframe of the birth of Christ. Consequently, the flight to Egypt occurs directly and there's no reference to Jesus' presentation in the Temple and Simeon and Anna, which I felt would be the perfect ending to the film, given its prophecy-laden beginning.
However, all that is but niggling. I loved this film. New Line (who produced the LOTR films) have done an excellent job of recreating 1st C Palestine. It's all there, the Temple looks magnificent enough to move any NT scholar (someone described Jerusalem as Minas-Tirith-impressive), Herod's paranoia and self-aggrandisement are palpable (with reference to his murdered sons and wife), the weight of his taxes upon the common people a constant theme, along with the fermenting rebellion in Galilee, crucified rebels and the rising Messianic expectation of the people. The massacre in Bethlehem is shocking. It's a triumph of story-telling in that the context seems so right, so earthy and human. This is even more the case in the characters of Mary and her family, and Joseph. The shame of being pregnant out of marriage is real in Nazareth - the penalty of Torah hangs over Mary and her family. The way in which Gabriel's visits to Mary then to Joseph forge strength in what is initially a failing relationship is a human detail I hadn't considered before. There are many things besides. This is a must-see, I think. It re-incarnates into the real world a story which has been pietized. Mary is just a young girl. An observant Jewish girl, but still just a young girl. Her family are desperately poor. And this is the place into which Messiah comes! For a start, watch the trailer. It will give you a feeling for it. A good feeling!
Thursday, June 14, 2007
REMARKABLE - A moving but scandalous story. Black Gold has extraordinary power, Daily Telegraph
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
I remain perplexed why there is not a significant denomination in England & Wales, that provides an alternative to the Anglican Church, for those who are Reformed and yet, maybe disillusioned with the compromise of Anglicanism, or for those who now see the limitations of Independence. In the late '60's/early'70s Dr. Martin Loyd-Jones called churches to leave compromised Liberal denominations and many left Presbyterian, Congregational and Baptist set ups to establish independent churches. It is interesting to draw a comparison with America and in particular the Presbyterians...
Is anyone able to explain to me why a Reformed denomination in England & Wales is yet to make a real impact? I know the Presbyterians in England & Wales are trying, but as yet have made little impression. I wonder why?
Thanks to Osprey for this thread. I have been pondering these questions for a good number of years from the point of view of Welsh evangelicalism. I think that Predikuesi offers helpful observations. However, the situation in Wales has been different to that in England. You had a national presbyterian denomination (which had grown out of the secession in Wales that gave birth to the Calvinistic Methodists) with a Reformed theology,its own ethos and vision for mission in Wales and beyond. The Presbyterian Church of Wales still has a number of evangelical ministers, but has demoted its original Confessional document for a far looser statement. It was still young in the grand scheme of things when affected by increasing liberalism during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Establishing a strong theological base for the denomination was a struggle. This contrasts with the States where strong Presbyterian training was around at Princeton etc. It seems to me that in the 60s and 70s, evangelical ministers (who had been trained under the influence of liberal views and had to battle against these in the denomination) abandoned the denomination and threw in their lot with other evangelicals. The EMW was formed (as I understand it) as the scaffolding (in the words of Hugh Morgan) to develop a new building, an evangelical denomination - but it never happened! The 6 million dollar question is why?! Did DMLJ have an exit strategy but not much beyond that? For these men sotieriology was the battleground, perhaps ecclesiology was a blind spot? Of course, there is a very immediate contrast when looking at Scotland. Despite secessions (you might say the Scottish Presbyterians are experts!) Presbyterianism is still held strongly. The particular history has ensured a theological committment not present in Wales. I agree that independency in Wales has not delivered the promise of the days of the EMW - it could be described as disarray! These are questions which are very sensitive, but need asking. For me, the important thing is to see a way to pick up the story again - a way forward.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Sunday, June 03, 2007
He burns at the centre of time, and sees the turn of the universe.
He is ancient, but he is forever.
In fact, one of the pupils had written underneath...
He burns at the centre of time, and sees the turn of the universe.
He is ancient, but he is forever.
when students (esp. evangelical students) talk about the message of the New Testament, they usually mean Paul. And when they mean Paul, what they mean is Romans and Galatians. Their understanding (or sometimes lack of undestanding) of these two epistles often becomes the centre of not only Paul, but of the entire New Testament. Hebrews, Matthew, Revelation, and Luke-Acts are all forced into a Pauline framework.
Christian Origins shows us the real diversity of the early church. You only have to compare the Johannine literature, Luke-Acts, and Paul to see that the saving significance of Jesus was expressed in different (I did not say contradictory) concepts, categories, and terms. Approaches to the law were diverse and pluriform as Christians struggled (in every sense of the word) to understand how the law-covenant was to be understood and followed in light of the coming Jesus/faith (cf. Gal. 3.23). A study of Christian Origins opens our eyes to the reality and goodness of diversity, so that Christians can learn to differentiate between convictions and commands, and discern between the major and the minor doctrines of Christian belief. I would also add that, despite this theological breadth to the early church, there was still unity within diversity, a unity apparent in the common kerygma of the early church. While there was diversity and complexity in the early church, it was never a free for all, and the desire to discern between true and false expressions of belief were part of the Christian movement from the very beginning. That leads us to New Testament Theology and rather than priviledging Paul to supra-canonical status (and Romans and Galatians and hyper-canonical), we should listen to each corpra on its own terms and to the issues to which they speak.
Saturday, June 02, 2007
In our youth work, I believe we have been influenced negatively by two movements. The first is ‘revivalism’. While I do not negate that God has used Billy Graham, one method he used has not assisted our youth work. ‘Revivalism’ has been influential in what I call the ‘ten-minute evangelistic talk’ model. Now, I contend that nowhere in the Bible is youth work condensed into a ‘ten-minute evangelistic talk’. I would argue a more biblical model is that of ‘catechesis’, where young people are systematically taught the great truths of Scripture. I therefore propose we need to go beyond a simple ‘seek the Lord Jesus and repent’. Of course, this is a vital part, but we need to go deeper. We are in a post-Christian society, where young people do not have the Christian categories, so we need to go back to basics and teach our beliefs about God, about people, what God has done in Christ, etc.
The second negative influence, I believe, is the ‘homogenous unit principle’ (HUP). his idea comes from the Church Growth movement, and posits that people come to faith easier surrounded by their own social group, as there is less of a wrench in aking the spiritual/social move to Christianity. We see its influence in all kinds of niche congregations, professionals, students, youth, etc., leading to certain groups prioritised over others. But when we look in the Bible in the Book of Acts, all God’s people are together (Pentecost reversing Babel, etc.) and are sent out to reach all. The HUP can be seen in how we run separate youth works for ‘church’ and ‘non church’ young people, and where young people come into the church for a club but have no contact with the wider church. We must expose all our young people to worship, to see baptism and communion, to the Word preached and to the wider all age fellowship. Now, maybe we need to think how to do this, but we can never teach in a segregated group.