Sunday, November 27, 2016


Stunning sermon today on worship: and it ain't just singing songs. Mention was made of Romans 12, of course, but most of the work was in Hebrews 8:1-6. Worth pondering: our meeting together is to prepare us for our worship: living Christianly in the world. The meeting itself is to encourage, build up, teach, etc. Our songs are to each other.

It is pagan to think that songs are to God! Much to the surprise of the pagans themselves (as exemplified in Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, for example).

Our manifesto says it all:

Monday, November 21, 2016

No cigar

Why 'no cigar' for the definition of 'post-modernism'?

It starts from the treatment of 'pre-modernism'.

The speaker used a partly apt astronomical analogy to help the audience grasp the spectrum (if there is one) from 'pre-modern' through 'modern' to 'post-modern'

He characterised the pre-modern world as one where the sky was considered to be a dome and the stars holes poked in that dome and letting light in.

I detect here the influence of the tendentious hermeneutic which tells us that Genesis 1 betrays some sort of primitive 'world view' where the sky was conceived as a type of dome. So, we can laugh that aside. It also fails to acknowledge the influence of acceptance of Genesis 1 at face value as one of the driving forces of the formation (and thus, the success) of modern science. Genesis 1 overturns animism, polytheism and the various other 'spookims' that prevented intellectual exploration of the physical world. It also challenges the crippling idealism and essentialism of ancient philosophy. Modernism unfortunately did not dismantle these flaws.

If there is a pre-modern view, then it would be one un-influenced by the biblical teaching of Creation and uncritically melds fantasy supernaturalism, superstition, and hierarchical social structures; based themselves on the aforementioned fantasy supernaturalism and superstition. Nothing to do with a false history of serious astronomy.

This is reminiscent of the Rip Van Winkle fallacy of flat-earth belief whereas it has been known by serious thinkers from ancient times that the earth was probably a globe. Indeed, there are robust allusions to such in the Bible itself. Isaiah has one.

When the analogy got to Modernism it referred to external certainties, which I agree is a major component of modernism; in short, there are objective independent truths that can be discovered, understood and instrumentalised in everyday life.

As it moved to  post-modernism, it returned to shaky ground. The central plank of the post-modernist platform is the absence of a critical basis for distinguishing between positions. Everything from moral epistemology to instructions for using a toaster are (it seems) up to the subject. There is no object worth talking about (except when a post-modernist relies on the certainties of aeronautical engineering for air travel, I suppose), but only 'discourse' to be analysed, typically to demonstrate its failure to meet the standards, ironically, of post-modernism. If it doesn't then, just before the critique collapses in an echo of logical-postivist self-refutation, it is subject to the sneering disdain of post-modernist ontological removal.

However, we were told that the central plank was (confusingly and inaccurately) Stephen Hawking's 'discovery' of the Big Bang. Once again, a theologian signifying (perhaps unwittingly) his commitment to a naturalist world in idealist rejection of the world described in the Bible.

So, plenty to discuss, in our 'guided discussion', but I don't know that such discussion would have been welcomed.

Ironically, the Bible Project video he showed relied on the world described in the Bible, on the implication that there is only one ontologically unified world ('universe'), rather than the split world of 'contemporary discourse/modern science' over here, and (is it pre-modern?) detached biblical spiritual-ethical world over there...confusing us as to which world is really real, and is the one we are in.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

YouTube sermon

For a change I went to the 'youth' service this evening. The speaker didn't call it a sermon, but a guided discussion (shades of Brookfield).

Was good!

He used a video from The Bible Project, also at YouTube. He showed the heaven and earth video in the 'guided discussion'.

Reminded me of a professional seminar I attended recently that used about half a dozen apt YouTube videos in a two hour session: made a great seminar then, and was effective at church as well.

But, discussion? In the typical speaker-audience format doesn't even work that well in professional seminar, so it is unsurprising that it would be just 'guided' and no 'discussion' with a bunch of younger people. I'm also sure he didn't want me to derail his view of the definition of 'post-modernism' as part of discussion. He was close, but no cigar.

Nevertheless, the idea was great: discussion good (back to Brookfield, above).

Another great website he mentioned was TopVerse website. My favourite translation not there, but good site nevertheless.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Now, let's talk "worldviews"

I, and probably you too, have heard of 'Christian world view'. Sometimes in the plural.

It sounds as though there is a worldviews supermarket somewhere, and one can take the one one likes; or even mix and match the more congenial bits from a number of these offerings.

Not so, methinks.

There is no 'Christian world view'. But there is the world as created, in all its physical, metaphysical and spiritual dimensions. Either we live in that world, or we don't. Of course, there are various responses to the world that is (and the God who is, and who is personal), with varying degrees of congruence with the world that is, and none of our responses are completely congruent with the one world that is (as Hilary Putnam might say, but for different reasons to me). Maybe it is these that are 'worldviews'. But this means, that with varying degrees of congruence with the one world that is, some worldviews are 'righter' than others.

We must always seek to test our concept of the world with the Word of God, or we are only testing it with our own bellies.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Accountability: another shot

At the home group, prior to which my previous 'accountability' blog was posted, I put my case.
 Pretty much in terms of that post.

I was told, with resignation on their part, that 'it was just semantics'. The retreat of the unhappy vanquished! But, let's not forget, words have meanings, meanings produce thoughts, and thoughts lead to behaviour. The point is meaning-thought-behaviour. And with 'accountability', it is unscriptural.

I was told of a church where there were voluntary 'accountability' groups to support each other. mean encourage? I pointed out that we could not 'contract in' to a practice that was basically unbiblical.

Later, as we were talking about Mark's gospel, I flicked through it for a passage to read, and came across Mark 7:9. That was enough.

Now, let's all use mindfulness

Mindfulness is the phrase of the moment. Even in some Christian circles. Even, I might add in my Baptist church (the church I'm part of at the moment, I should clarify). The teacher the week before last extolled 'mindfulness' as a practice for Christians.

Mindfulness is Buddhism cleaned up for we Westerners.

But Christians have their own tradition of stillness, contemplation and quiet. It stems from the Psalms where David was consciously in the presence of God, preoccupied with the word of God, not how relaxed his toes were.

I would expect Christians to be engaged people and aware of who is around them, and the emotional climate they are in...of course we can't do this all the time. But I would also expect that Christians take time to be quietly alone with our heavenly Father in prayer and meditation on his word. This is enjoined by the Scriptures.

Similar is encouraged in an article in the Melbourne Anglican.

A Christian New Age info site has more detail.