Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Heaven here we come...

In her helpful book Heretic, Ayaan Hirsi Ali mentions that Christians look forward to heaven.


The long arc of salvation ends in the New Creation...we don't expect to waft around disembodied, we expect to have fun in the permanent company of our heavenly father and creator. Thus the kingdom of God is likened to a wedding party, or a many roomed mansion: all good stuff.

TV Cops

This morning I caught the end of a police reality show just before the morning news (which is also a police reality show). The reporter was talking to a policeman who was discussing his job as including shooting bad guys. She asked if he had any religious qualms about killing people. He fluffed a bit, but didn't really have any.

What he should have said was: correction, lady, the 10 commandments prohibit murder, not killing, but as I'm not an ancient Jew, they are inapplicable to me. On the other hand, Paul in Romans 13:4 tells us that the state has the sword for good against those who do wrong and that's what I'm doing.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Allah <> Jehovah

I've just read a book by Nabeel Qureshi Answering Jihad (essential reading for all politicians: send a copy to your local MP). He discusses in one chapter whether God as represented in the Bible is the same as Allah represented in the Koran.

He makes a good case for an inequality here.

I make a futher case.

God enjoins drinking alcohol (Deut 14:26...my favouite verse), music (1 Chronicles 15:16 is good here, as is Genesis 4:21), dancing (Ecclesiastes 3:4) and parties (Deut 14:26 again, Matthew 22:2, and of course John 2:1 ff).

So, God is a fun Father; Allah is not.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Olive tree

For my everyday computer-based Bible reading and study I use Olive Tree's Bible Study.

Recently I bought the Thompson Chain Reference module.

I've hankered after this for a long time. It was used by a wonderful old Christian who I admired in my young adult-hood. Rolley (Roland?) Bunker, now probably dead, lead a very active outdoor life as a farmer and stone mason. His hands were large and powerful and in them was usually his Thompson Chain Reference Bible, which he used expertly. His Bible knowledge informed his most gracious speech and the humble approach he had to all. So my purchase is in part homage to my great old friend. His mere presence was an encouragement, and he was ever kind

Christ creator

Wonderful words from the Burmese Christian Church pastor letter for July 2017:

Let’s focus on Jesus Christ our Lord and celebrate Him for who he is as our creator Colossians 1:15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the one who is first over all creation, [a]16 Because all things were created by him: both in the heavens and on the earth, the things that are visible and the things that are invisible. Whether they are thrones or powers, or rulers or authorities, all things were created through him and for him. Let’s celebrate Jesus because He is our redeemer with His own blood 2 Corinthians 5:21Common English Bible (CEB)21 God caused the one who didn’t know sin to be sin for our sake so that through him we could become the righteousness of God. Let’s live in the light of His grace and demonstrate His goodness, His greatness as a living testimony for Jesus and keep His commandment as we love one another and celebrate Jesus, because He is our victory in life here and for eternity John 16:33Common English Bible (CEB) I’ve said these things to you so that you will have peace in me. In the world you have distress. But be encouraged! I have conquered the world.” God bless you all and have a good July 2017 in Jesus name. Amen.

Monday, July 10, 2017

After we meet

In a previous post, I suggested that after the church 'service' we break, then hold an optional 30-40 minute study session.

If your congregation is large enough, I'd suggest a couple of study groups. Bedrock: that would do the  basic framework of faith, and Landscape: deepening understanding of the Bible, theology and other topics.

The sessions could be split into 2/3s content and 1/3 questions. Questions and discussion are essential for learning. I'd also have worksheets that people could use to revise (another great way of embedding knowledge). That would build into a handbook. I'd also have a members-only blog for questions and discussion through the week, and I'd put links and other content on it.

Each week we would also encourage participants to learn a topic relevant verse of the Bible.

The formal sessions would run in step with school terms, with the off term sessions recapping the term's content and covering other material.

Twice a year would be either a retreat of one or two nights away or a full day session to explore some areas more intensely.

Here's how the one year Bedrock program might work:

Easter (autumn)
  1. The Bible: text, context, structure and themes. Treatment of Pentateuch and prophets.
  2. Person and work of Christ: based on Mark or Luke, but drawing out the theology.
Pentecost (winter)
  1. Church history
  2. The early church, based on Acts
Ecclesia (spring)
  1. Overview of Christian doctrine: based on the Apostles' creed
  2. What is 'saved': based on Galatians
Advent (summer)
  1. Living the life: two units; based on Ephesians and James.
  2. Arrival: all things new: based on Revelation.
Between terms and over January would be sessions to recap and to deal with apologetics and polemics, other religions and para- and non-Christian cults. These would be run as seminars with discussion, debates or short presentations by members.

(The names of the terms are based on the Christian calendar and the invented term 'Ecclesia' for 'ordinary time');

How we meet

Another format for meeting, following my post on a new format, that we sort of tried at the service of the D. Min (in progress).

A few songs...although I don't want to keep standing for 4 songs consecutively, then a morning tea break, sermon, prayer, close. Maybe there was a Bible reading there too.

I'd vary this so:

  1. Call to prayer recitation: to 'dignify' the context.
  2. A few songs: stand or sit as you like
  3. Bible reading
  4. Morning tea at tables, in groups, with a topic to spring from. The tables are important to bring people together and avoid cliqueing, pairing and isolation.
  5. Sermon (15-20 mins max), still at tables.
  6. Prayer: brief by a precentor, then at tables, also brief. Precentor would close with
  7. Benediction. A final song might follow.

All done in 60 minutes, with an optional study for 30 to 40 minutes following the end of service after 10 minutes.

Keeping strictly to time, people would be able to easily arrive at start, at Bible reading, at morning tea, sermon or for the study: it should play out flexibly.

The compere should resist the urge to comment on everything that has just occured, and on clumsy hand-overs to the next. This particularly applies to the sermon. Sermon intro? One is not usually necessary. Speaker just stands and delivers. End of sermon? "Bill will you pray, please?" (no attempted summary of John's sermon...we don't need it. We were all there, and we don't need an amateur theologian attempting to repeat what a theologian has just been through!).

Sunday, July 9, 2017

What about the poor?

Often in our church services, we have an 'interview'. All orchestrated, of course, and transparently so, but that's the way it goes in managed performances.

Today, a young woman (young to me) who made sure we know that she was 'doing her D. Min' (I was friendly with a Jewish woman a few years ago who, doing a PhD in Augustine, was one of the leading experts internationally in his theology. She only referred to 'my work'. She also counselled me against continuing with my then current girlfriend...wise woman, it turned out).

Our D. Min (in progress) speaker was all about the use of child labour in Pakistan, and  how we should stop this. We were invited to ask questions. I felt like asking, but for sake of calm did not, 'what will these children's families do for income if they stop work?'

Poverty, exploitation and slavery are complex in some dimensions, and to put the brakes on it can have parlous unintended consequences. In Pakistan, no less than anywhere else, better to preach the gospel, and rescue those children and their families that we may. But even this is complex.

If we are to pressure governments, start with safety, limited hours to allow for school for children and fair pay. Oh, and by the way, give it a couple of centuries for a pagan culture to catch up with our Christian aspirations, noting that child labour is part and parcel of agrarian life in poor countries.

What to think about Islam

Not a big issue in our area, but one for which we should be equipped.
I've met Muslims at work, as I guess most people have, and have found them universally to be lovely people, and the wonderful thing is, they are very happy to discuss  spiritual matters.
Indeed, I've acted as referee for one Muslim colleage, and have assisted a Muslim friend of a friend with some legal action.

But we need to know about the religion itself. Much like Romanism, Islam might be OK in small doses, but once it gains the ascendency, freedom evaporates. However, Muslims are people we must bring the gospel too: they are excluded from the life of God becuase they think 'works' and don't know 'grace'.

Some resources that might be of interest:


Answering Islam

Political Islam

And on YouTube:

Acts17Apologetics, Pfander, and a couple of interesting videos: Islam, the untold story, A 1400 year secret and How Islam Began.

Saturday, July 1, 2017


Recently the Anglicans have come  out against their premises being used for Yoga, with the claim that it represents an alternative spirituality.

Right on, and about time.

But, not 'alternative spirituality'; rather, fake/misleading/deceptive/degrading spirituality.

It is also dangerous: