Sunday, August 7, 2022

Pelagius, Augustine and original sin.

I've recently come across a couple of really fascinating videos on YT. Fascinating as one who was educated as a Calvinist at Capernwray. Note, I don't think this teaching, from the 1980s, still occurs at Capernwray.

On Augustine and Calvin,

And was Pelagius really a naughty boy.

The idea of original sin popped up from time to time, and I recently read a comment on a video, which I can not now track down, where a self-proclaimed atheist decried the concept of 'original sin'.

I'm guessing that he objected to Adam's sin (rejection of God), being imputed to all his offspring.

I don't think this is the implication of Adam's error.

The risk of deflecting from godliness is given in Genesis 2:16, etc. So we have a tree that gives A&E the option before them: be with me or be against me. Against is an option, but there is a down-side.

In Genesis 3:4, the serpent gives half of the truth, but fails to say that the knowledge of good and evil: knowledge by participation in the converse of God (evil) cuts one off from life and brings death.

Death arrives not just in Adam and Eve, but in creation. The creation from the word of God is complete, and aligned with his glory. It's a world more than wonderful and God shares it with his creature-in-his-image to be the steward of it and make it the place for human habitation.

The creation is now fatally marred. Sin is in it and the whole is now no longer the thing of total beauty and peace and joy that he made. Horror has stepped in. It cannot be stopped by the creature who introduced it, Adam's very constitution has been marred and the marring continues to all of us. We see it in a degraded and degrading genome, we see it in all human interaction. 

We are not alienated from God by Adam's sin in us, but by the effect of Adam's rejection of God in the whole creation wherein he (and his offspring) were to be the image of God, drawing to each other's attention the wonder of the creator's generosity towards us.

Rejection of this places us all in a creation that is no fatally marred, misses the mark, falls short, and we can do nothing but also fall short. One rotten apple makes a barrel of rotten apples.

Nevertheless, the creator does an end run and will remake the creation: Revelation 21 (the New Jerusalem is the church, the bride of Christ).

So in a way, the doctrine of original sin is a great relief, ultimately, because it tells us that this is not who we really were made to be, that sin is unnatural, it is something gone wrong, and has brought from God a salvific response.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Heal the earth

One of the ministers at my church  (ministers are both paid and volunteer in our usage, we have about 20 of them, five or whom are paid) has a young son.

The young son was mentioned, with some parental approbation, as having prayed that 'our earth might heal'. Doubtlessly the indoctrination of the school and media.

Now, I'm not going to unload on the child, but I am concerned at his parent's grasp of things and the teaching and encouragement the young one has obtained.

For a start, the personification of 'earth' is striking. The earth is the place over which we, as in God's image, have dominion as caretakers. We are to 'subdue' it: make it right for people, I'd take that as. Not exploit, damage, destroy, as our detractors think it means. Care for it, make it a productive, beneficial delight, after the theme of the 'very good' evaluation of the Creator in Genesis 1.

The only healing the earth needs or will get, is by God's grace in the new creation, when all things will be made new.

Meanwhile, on a spiritual aspect, we need to attend to God's promise to Noah in Genesis 8:22.

Then, when we hear the prognostications of the wicked, remember Jeremiah 17:9, and cast our mind back to Matthew 7:15 and Deuteronomy 18:20-22.

Then, be always sceptical of those who make totalising scare predictions that will destroy the peace and enjoyment of the ordinary person and accumulate wealth and power to the few.

Finally, look at all the data, not the selection tendentiously presented by the common media.

Beware of 'social justice' tropes that are mere echoes of Marxist talking points.

The child's fear demonstrates the indoctrination of kids to the leftist fantasy that 'earth' needs healing, in a world that is feeding more people than ever before and as nations get richer are able to be more conservative of their natural environment for people's health and enjoyment, etc.

We must always be on the lookout in schools of people's duplicitous misuse of data to scare us into totalitarian poverty.

 

Indeed, Christians are already providing intellectual clarity here: The Cornwall Alliance is a prime example.


Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Run a tight ship

After the great expose of the inability of successive governments to govern: the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, churches lurched to their normal posture before government: simpering abjection.

The real posture should have been pointing the finger at the government and law enforcement for failing the community while pretending to outsource law enforcement to a bunch of hapless priests who were not supported by the authorities. It was all the authorities fault. No vigorous inspectorate policing institutions, no agressive pursuit of complaints, no putting accused before judges, no MPs speaking out in parliaments, no one believing children.

Indeed, the Victoria Police actively covered up abuse and protected the abusers and church officials. Disgusting lot.

So, the churches now pretend the government was right, and they have 'safe church'  programs; creating an instant double bind that the 'safest' place in the community is not, so we have to have a safety program.

I'll all for conducting ministry with integrity and openly.

We don't need 'safe church' systems, but we do need systems of Ministry Integrity. These would screen all ministers and helpers, volunteers and staff, obtain relevant government checks on criminal records, and have orderly and  open recruitment and validation processes.

  • Ministry Application Questionnaire
  • Annual Program Approval for each specific ministry activity
  • Code of Conduct
  • 5 yearly training, or refresher in Integrity Practices, general health and safety, including immediate first aid (fainting, burns, lacerations, CPR, epi-pens), fire-reaction and evacuation/protection drills.

Records need to be kept of qualifications, attendances, etc. of course, but at general gatherings only of serving staff and volunteers.

Monday, July 4, 2022

In translation

I had the opportunity recently to read a church program from a Chinese church.

It was one of the best church programs that I'd encountered, after I found its translation into English.

Sundays were the day of both general connection and study. We meet to sing and pray together and share some testimonies of thankfulness or (wise) observation from our week. The pastor or an elder then gives a talk from the scriptures or related to the scriptures.

These follow the general framework of four sessions over the year, with breaks for Easter, Pentecost, Trinity and Christmas when activity is focused on the subject of those seasons.

The four seasons are devoted to: Old Testament, New Testament, Themes (i.e. systematics), and Society. Society is about apologetics and the analysis of ungodly views of life and the world.

The talks are of a general nature: encouraging, informative and practical.

Then one can stay for lunch, or not.

After lunch there is a two hour Bible class. This is optional but it is run by a qualified teacher with the aim of giving a 'theology diploma' level of education in the Bible over a four year cycle. Lent season, running from Candlemas to Easter is always an overview of the Bible, teaching its background and general 'story' of reality. This is run every year, so some may skip it in subsequent years. The following three seasons of the year work through:

Year 1: Pentateuch, History, Minor Prophets 1

Year 2: Wisdom, Major Prophets 1, Major Prophets 2

Year 3: John, Minor Prophets 2, Acts,

Year 4: Synoptics, Paul, General Epistles & Revelation

 The cycle really ends at Advent when seasonal topics are considered.

In the afternoon another option is a Christian Education program. This is about apologetics, gospel conversations, and church history, It runs after Easter and up to Advent in two session each year.

Each week there are Disciple groups. These might be 'home studies' or 'Bible study' groups. They are about prayer, reading through and discussing the Bible in step with the Sunday general teaching program and prayer and personal discussion.

The church has a 're-group' once a year as a weekend away, which includes reflection on church life and learning, and an 'equipping' weekend at their premises, usually around Pentecost for some intensive teaching.

Seems pretty good to me!

The outreach program I'll cover in a future post.

Friday, July 1, 2022

Angels

I sometimes wonder if a strange encounter with an old woman was an encounter with an angel.

I had just started treatment for a potentially fatal disease. Wife and I went to a local coffee shop for a coffee. I know my wife was more worried than I was at my condition. As we sat down an elderly woman, a stranger and one I'd not seen before locally came in and made directly for us. My recollection (this was 4 years ago) is that my wife, J, struck up a conversation with her and mentioned my diagnoses. The old lady stood by our table and prayed briefly and cheerfully (if that's a good description), then moved on...then I didn't see her again.

Now, it could have been that I didn't notice what she did, but my view was of the exit to the cafe...it appears that she...just vanished.

Could be an angel, because I know from the scriptures that they travel in ones and twos; and of course, groups of 10 million! It would have really been a big deal if a group showed up!

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Yahweh the scale balancer?

In his video on 'transgenderism' (sic) Mr Pints with Aquinas said (from transcript...thanks to Mr YouTube):

Monday, June 13, 2022

Peter Kreeft

In a commencement address he gave very recently, Peter Kreeft ended with this:

"God did not put you in this world to be successful he put you in this world to be faithful."

Perhaps one of the most encouraging words I've heard in a long time.