Sunday, May 29, 2016

Let's help everyone

Another event at church today: our 'May appeal' was for $ for an opthamological effort in Bangladesh.

I wonder about it...what I wonder is, why?

Really: is this our mission, or is our mission the proclamation of the gospel? Its a genuine question. Do we dribble our tiny amounts of money to such things, or do we dribble them instead to real Christian mission?

I'd much prefer our few dollars go to a fund to support ministry in a church that cannot self-sustain at the moment (rural or urban/suburban), or build an endowment fund for ministry training...or something like that.

If we need to help people with vision problems, lobby the government to use its overseas aid for such things, or found a public charity for it, but don't use these to crowd out gifts for mission.

I look at my work, which involved giving public money to NGO service organisations.

I was at a breakfast for my soccer club a few years ago and when my work came up, the organiser (the breakfast was a business fund raiser) drew me aside to say that they could help my work...I wondered how. Over the past few years I have administered the disbursement of billions of dollars. Get that? BILLIONS, and this guy wanted to flick a few thousand my way. No point.

Similarly with sight in Bangladesh: let's motivate the Australian aid program in this direction, not the scraps of money we can raise to use for mission!

Bad relationship

It was announced at church this morning that one of our pastors had peremptorily left...due appears a suspicion of involvement in an adulterous relationship outside our church.

The trouble was, sufficient information was provided to the congregation to destroy the pastor's reputation and future opportunities for employment in a church organisation.

It was more like a public stoning than a judgement free, merciful action to help the person recover their dignity and address any behaviour that they needed to address.

Far better to say that the pastor left for personal reasons. No detail, no explanation, no fuel for reputational fire.

I was under-impressed.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Moral revolutionaries

Al Mohler writes in a recent article: that the 'moral revolutionaries' have 'won', and they demand absolute surrender.

Of course! The 'moral revolutionaries' are not revolutionaries, but represent a reversion to pre-Christian practices. The recent decades in the USA (Mohler's home) have been marked by the fruits of previous generations of evangelisitic work, producing a culture that is marked to some extent by the fruit of the spirit; but also tainted, as all cultures must be, by the mark of the devil.

Sans continued evangelistic effort and moral reflection (the fruits of the Spirit), the second order results of Christian influence will naturally wane, and do so quickly. This should be no surprise.

What will also happen is those doctrines of government, public order and social behaviour that have been influcence by Christianity will also wane.

I see that the actual tolerance, libery, and presumption of innocence that Christian cultures have produced in the (Anglo) West over centuries will transform into an amoral tyranny more characteristic of Ancient Rome than anything we know today.

Thursday, May 12, 2016


I'm reading through the Psalms in the NRSV at the moment. Unhappy. The word that other versions translate 'blessed' is translated 'happy'. Happy?!

Happy is, the train was on time, the ice-cream is good, my haircut looks good. Happy is nothing like or to do with 'blessed': the favour of God.

Ye gods!

While I don't like the AV, it is unsurpassed for grandure of language. The NRSV reverses out of this at a rate of knots.

Sunday, May 8, 2016


At the recent houseparty ('camp' in Baptist argot) that one of my children enjoyed, I was pleased that the topic of theodicy was touched upon.

That is, how can there be evil when God is good: is he not powerful enough to overcome it, or is he not good?

Leaving aside the moral epistemological question of God not being good (then how is good defined: the 'earthworm' rule: it feels good to me?), the summary sheet used a couple of approaches, boiling down to the 'it'll be better later' view twinned with the so-called 'free will' defence.

Elements of both are true, but I think that the whole question is mis-founded. We usually allow ourselves to be trapped into using categories that come from elsewhere that de-personalise the question and envisage a philosphical god, not the real God.

In the Bible, from Genesis 2 on, its an entirely personal question; and the person in question is, of course 'God'. The personal aspect is that 'evil' or 'good' in themselves do not exist; rather, they are the result of relational congress: either the relationship is conditioned by love (of God primarily: God being love, but in all relationships), or it is not. If it is not, it is unaligned with the life of God, if it is, it is.

What we call 'evil' arises from rejection of God's fellowship (and it is not an 'absence' of something, as Augustine held, or a 'thing' as others have insisted, in idealist fashion); and has from day 6 (or soon after). The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is like a wedding ring: if you don't want to be with me, toss the ring; I'm not imposing on you; thus, if you don't want to continue in relationship with me (God), then eat of the tree: this is a free relationship of persons (but differs from the absolutist 'free will' defence in that it is not primarily about will in a universe of choice, but a decision in a known context between known people), and in that respect, of equals. 'Knowing' evil is, for Adam and Eve, participating in it; knowing it existentially. That's what they chose; they chose to participate in 'not-related-to-God, or 'evil' in rejecting God from their locus of conscious interest, and because of its creation-wide consequences there is no going back, until the new creation; and it is that which is required to undo the universal effects of the breach between creature and creator chosen not as general 'free will' but by an act of rejection of relationship.

We all suffer because we are unavoidably in a world alienated from God: we cannot escape (but through Christ). Those who question God as being the author of this state of affairs are typically those who would reject him; and so are hypocritical in their complaint.

The rest of the answer is in the Bible...the arc of salvation from fall to resurrection.