Saturday, September 30, 2017

ESV Study Bible

A review that I much like in parts.


Inherited Depravity

The common and erroneous theory that all human beings are born tainted with the guilt of Adam’s sin is unapologetically alleged in this volume: “Inherited guilt and corruption leave every person completely unable to save himself or to please God” (2,530). Thus, numerous texts are exploited to this end (cf. Psalm 51:5; Ephesians 2:3, etc.).


Illumination of the Spirit

The ESVSB teaches the dogma that the Holy Spirit directly operates upon the mind of the Christian, providing special understanding and power.
After the inward renewal that makes someone who has trusted Christ a new creation, the Spirit also brings spiritual understanding, convicts of sin, reveals the truth of the Word, brings assurance of salvation, empowers for holy living, teaches, and comforts (2,521).
The commentators never explain why those “illuminated” are at such terrible odds with one another as to the meaning of Scripture and religious practices.

The bits on Genesis are good, but I take exception to the eschatology and a few other items, tho'.


The church is, or was criticised for 'wowserish' behaviour in previous generations. Let's think, '1950s'.

The rubrick was: no smoking, no alcohol, no gambling, no dancing and no movies (the last two a little extreme, and not widely supported by church-goers).

Now, today:

Government funded campaigns and medical warnings against smoking.

Government funded campaigns and medical warnings against alcohol abuse

Government funded campaigns and widespread warnings against gambling

Police and sniffer dogs turn up to young people's dance parties, where young people take drugs, get sick and sometimes die.

Movies: same old here, but more and more depravity, particularly internet pornography with its attendant dangers.

Looks like our forebears from the fifties were kinda right!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Basic Books for Christians

If I was to suggest 12 (or so) basic books for Christians?

In no particular order:

C. S. Lewis: Mere Christianity

G. K. Chesterton: Orthodoxy

F. A. Schaeffer: The God Who Is There, He Is There and He Is Not Silent, Escape From Reason

J. McDowell: The New Evidence that Demands a Vertict

Gerstner, Lindsley, Sproul: Classical Apologetics

Strobel: The Case for Christ

Sire: Scripture Twisting

Campbell: The Koran and the Bible

Moreland and Craig: Philosophical Foundations for a Christian World View

Blanchard: Does God Believe in Atheists?

Olson: Mosaic of Christian Beliefs

Oden: Classic Christianity

Wilson: A Primer for Christian Doctrine

N. T. Wright: Following Jesus, Simply Christian

F. A. Schaeffer: Genesis in Space and Time

Broughton Knox: The Everlasting God (generally great, but at the end a little too Calvanist)

Now, that's a lot of books.

My suggestion: read 1 per quarter, so there's three years or so worth of reading. Read them a few times, but at least twice: once quickly, to get a grasp of the ideas. Once slowly, to ponder, make notes, and reflect upon as you go.

And, an addendum, which could end up running into pages, but a few that might also be helpful and easy reads:

Stott: Basic Christianity
Plantinga: Beyond Doubt

I'd suggest that before reading the larger books one reads a couple of reviews of them to get the flavour before plunging in.

Also note, that like all good reading, these books reflect some divergent theological views. So, read them in the light of the Bible, and reflect on their differences.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

That's all folks

That wasn't today's benediction at church, but it was darn close.

The conductor (also snr. pastor) introduced the sermon-speaker, then excused himself and left to attend the other service underway in our complex.

No problem with that.

The sermon ended in prayer, the precentors got up to sing, all fine. The song ended, and pause...pregnant pause...more pause.

The sermon-speaker then took the initiative, clearly had not be forewarned, and closed the service, but not knowing how.

A prayer (the only other prayer in the service had been pre and post sermon), awkward, 'that's all folks' type of ending.

Now, my church is averse to being accused of 'mere performance', but this was awkward, if not clumsy.

We don't need the superb polish of St James King Street, but we do need dignity, presence, and good organisation, so that all things are done properly and in good order.

Whatever else happens, a neat, biblical benediction itself can be encouraging, uplifting and hope-building.

Saturday, September 23, 2017


In the Alpha course, which we are doing....again....(about 5th time for me as facilitator), I was caught once more by the video where Rev 3 is quoted in connection with Holman Hunt's painting of the person at the door.

This is connected with Christ seeking to bring salvation to a person.

But not so. Read the text carefully: it is in the passage where the church at Laodicea is being remonstrated for being luke warm and self-satisfied.

Christ is seeking to be part of that church again. It is not a reference to salvation, but restoration.

Sunday, September 17, 2017


I couldn't help but be hugely pleased at church this morning.

1. The conductor (we like to say 'leader' I'd prefer 'reader' from my Anglican roots, or 'precentor' to give a liturgical flavour), our senior pastor gave such a wonderful welcome to service that I wish I'd taken notes.

The drift of it was that the events that impinge upon us, or influence us are separate to the who that we are, in God's image, redeemed and filled with his Spirit. Great!

2. The other pastor who gave the sermon, urged us to invite someone to a meal each month for the rest of the year. Nothing fancy, either at home or cafe, either share or go Dutch...for being together, being friends and sharing time. How friends are. Not to impress, but to be.

He also referred to the contact we make with visitors and how important to be friends to them; particularly people who are here briefly from  abroad.

I recalled when I'd visited churches abroad and reflected on the degree of welcome.

Spencer St Church of Christ, Melboune: invited to afternoon soccer after service with a bunch of uni students, a member struck up a friendship with me, we had coffee in my hotel room and talked about faith, Schaeffer and creativity.

Garden Grove Community Church: big service, offical greeter/usher. No contact post service.

Disciples of Christ, New York: met pastor in study, attended evening Bible study with other young adults. No contact post this.

Cambridge Baptist Church: invited to home group, accepted as part of it, friendly conversations, but no contact after.

All Souls Langham Pl London: attended a number of services, part of small group, didn't feel included. No contact after.

University Presbyterian Church, Chicago: somewhat friendly minister, more interested in his 'litugical dance' than visitors. No contact after.

Cootamundra Baptist Church: fully accepted, a little social contact, but great hospitality with minister (Barnes?).

Cootamundra Anglican Church: hardly noticed, but got on well with young woman who also worked in the same office as me.

Group I joined travelling across the Mediterranian, South African woman, US bloke, Austrian woman (they were the Christians, there were other fellows from Canada, Switzerland and US): got on fine.


1. Melbourne Spencer St Church of Christ

2. Cambridge Baptist Church

3. Cootamundra Baptist Church.

That's for out of Sydney. In Sydney I lived in the inner city and went to Christ Church St Lawrence, my local. Accepted, engaged and invited to participate from the get go. The best church experience I've had!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The music: not performance, but godly

It is easy to confuse good music well done with mere performance; but as we are called to do things well, and this would apply to our music, we must consider that too.

I recently attended with a friend a small ethnic church about 40 minutes drive from my place.

I couldn't understand the language, and wondered what it would be like.

At service start time I became aware of a musical hum. Not acoustic feedback, but on purpose. It grew louder, and varied subtly.

I then noticed the keyboard artist at the synthesiser. I noticed another set of keyboards near him.

The musicians started moving onto the stage: calmly and unassumingly. I knew this was not 'performance' but something done well and in good order.

We ended up with four guitarists, one drummer, two keyboards, four singers. The 'lead' singer (the cantor?) changed, so there was no celebrity occuring. It was Christians joining together in doing a Colossians 3:16. Beautiful. Full of earnestness, but no over-emotive 'swoon' music.

Oddly, I had a similar experience at Christ Church St Lawrence at Easter  many years ago when Austin Day was serving as rector and the choir of King's College at Cambridge was serving as choir.

Sunday, September 10, 2017


Sermon this morning was on worship...well, no it wasn't, it was on singing, and it even got that wrong, failing to deal with:

Ephesians 5:19
19 speaking to [a]one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;

Colossians 3:16
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.


Romans 12:1
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

Thus, our entire life lived god-ward is worship, and we sing to each other. Due to Ro 12:1 this too is worship, but it is done, not in soppy emotive songs 'to God', but to each other, both as made in the image of God, and as building each other up in love.

To reduce worship, which in Christ has a vast compass, to singing betrays the gospel.