Monday, March 18, 2019

Come and join us

Marshall McLuhan is famous for his quip "the medium is the message."

Here's an example of how that plays out in church land:

Church is a circus; that's what we are told. Come and explore!

What?

Face Painting, Balloon Art, Jumping Castles...!

And this would represent the work of our saviour?

Why not: join our course on 'life and its answers', or 'are we about dirt or love', or...check the New Age papers for ways of attracting people who want to deal with life questions...

Join our group of parents with disabled children...parents who've lost children...parents who's children are addicted...there are any number of opportunities to reach out!

Or, like the 'new age' philosphy groups;

'Love Life: a philosophy that will grow with you'.

Then teach the 'philosphy' of life that the Bible gives us; from Genesis to Revelation.

As it is, the sign will attract people who want to be entertained by trivilities...nothing like Paul on Mars Hill.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Worst thing said by a minister.

When my father died, my wife insisted in having our clergy-person visit. He was not my choice, but he's the one who turned up.

And what did I get? A lesson on the Kubler-Ross 'stages of grief'. Nothing like what I wanted, nothing to do with scripture, nothing to do with the life of faith.

I was disgusted, disappointed, upset by it and disenchanted.

How to read

Dr Rosaria Butterfield makes an obvious point about the way (some...most?) evangelicals read the Bible: verse at a time, or a few verses at a time.

At my church we sometimes read just a couple of verses. This is because that's all the teacher wants to talk about, but this misunderstands why we read the bible together. Because we love to!

I'd much prefer if we read: a Psalm, a gospel reading, another NT reading and another OT reading, plus call to worship and benediction that were taken from scripture. That would feel like church, and feel like Christian.

I much prefer reading books of the Bible like literature: in great slabs, or very slowly to absorb it, or just quickly to get an overall feel for the 'shape' of a book. But slowly, verse at a time?

Hardly.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Fathers and children

A lot of rhetoric about looking after children is about hitting them (miss understanding of Proverbs 13:24). But here it is in the New Testament:

Compare some scriptures about fathers and children: What father gives his son a stone? (Matt 7:9); and how are we to care for our children? (Eph 6:4); (Col 3:21). And an example of it: 1 Thess 2:11.

Further on the Proverbs passage from Thomas Haller:
Through a closer examination of the Hebrew word for “rod” (shebet) one can see that in the Hebrew dictionary it has various meanings, a stick for walking, writing, fighting, ruling, and punishment. The word “shebet” is most frequently used when referring to shepherds who are tending their flocks. The Shepherds used the stick to fight off prey and to gently guide wandering sheep, not to beat them. Please remember that these verses come from a book of poetry. Writers of poetry use familiar words of the day to represent concepts that the people to whom they are writing can create an image of what they are writing about. The image that we are to extract from these verses in Proverbs is one of creating a culture of accountability. The point that God is making is that we as parents are to hold our children accountable for their choices and actions.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Cooking it up

Brenton Cook, in his somewhat OK article Hume's Guillotine makes some interesting comments which, to my mind, betray a misunderstanding of the doctrine of Creation.

A few quotes:


Ex. 1 Divine Command
Ex. 1
The Divine Command Theory at work? The problem is that this does not go to the heart of the matter. Murder is not 'wrong' becuase God says so. God tells us it is wrong because in a fallen state we are not able to live out our 'image-ness' and be in harmony with God who is love. It is not part of basic reality (shown in the Trinity) that one murders another. This is inconsistent with the first ontological step. That God (in three persons) is love and is always, without beginning or end. To murder is to turn your back on how God is and thus how we truly are, under the besmirching of sin. It is to participate in 'not-God-ness'.

Ex. 2 Begin with the Personal
Ex. 2
As I alluded above, Christianity almost begins with the personal basis of reality. I say almost because that is rather abstractly philosophical. The Christian begins with God in three persons who is love. The loving relational basis of reality!


Ex. 3 Paternal Command Theory

Ex. 3 
Only a Calvinist would choose this illustration! Read the extract, then read Philippians; try 3:7-16.
Our relationship with God is completely different from the reflexive Calvinist talks about commands, not love! Compare some scriptures about fathers and children: What father gives his son a stone? (Matt 7:9); and how are we to care for our children? (Eph 6:4); (Col 3:21). And an example of it: 1 Thess 2:11. Simple; we are not to anger or exasperate them. Nothing like the first stop of Calvinism.  For a biblical approach to the example in Extract 3, see my remarks above.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Philosphical apologetics

A starting point for the subject:

Hume's A Treatise of Human Nature (1739) book III, part I, section I
In every system of morality, which I have hitherto met with, I have always remarked, that the author proceeds for some time in the ordinary way of reasoning, and establishes the being of a God, or makes observations concerning human affairs; when of a sudden I am surprised to find, that instead of the usual copulations of propositions, is, and is not, I meet with no proposition that is not connected with an ought, or an ought not. This change is imperceptible; but is, however, of the last consequence. For as this ought, or ought not, expresses some new relation or affirmation, 'tis necessary that it should be observed and explained; and at the same time that a reason should be given, for what seems altogether inconceivable, how this new relation can be a deduction from others, which are entirely different from it. But as authors do not commonly use this precaution, I shall presume to recommend it to the readers; and am persuaded, that this small attention would subvert all the vulgar systems of morality, and let us see, that the distinction of vice and virtue is not founded merely on the relations of objects, nor is perceived by reason.
If you don't get it, leave a comment and I'll enlarge a little on it.