Wednesday, January 31, 2018

PoE #2

In my previous post on this topic, I omitted one comment that is, I think, pertainant.

The syllogism quoted in the article is Deist, not Christian:

  1. If God is all-good, He would want to destroy evil
  2. If God is all-powerful, He could destroy evil
  3. Evil exists
  4. Therefore, an all-good, all-powerful God does not exist
 A Christian  syllogism would be:
  1. If God is all-good, He would want to destroy evil
  2. If God is all-powerful, He could destroy evil
  3. Evil exists
  4. God has acted to destroy evil, done so in Yeshua of Nazareth (the Messiah) and provided  means for us to turn away from it.
  5. Therefore, an all-good, all-powerful God exists

Monday, January 29, 2018

NY or YN?

I've lately seen lots of people wearing this graphic. I guess they are a new type of Christian: the graphic Y N = Yeshua (the) Nazarene.

Saturday, January 27, 2018


Not Edgar Allen, but the problem of evil.

There's a long post on this at Logic and Light, but I think in a way the point is missed.

The PoE is not a problem for Christians, it is a problem for the casual atheists (and the doctrinaire atheists), the casual pantheists and their pals, the casual panentheists.

Its a bit of a problem for Calvinists, of course, but I have no sympathy for them as they bring the problem upon their own heads.

Firstly, how do the atheists and other religionists deal with the problem? Generally they have to ignore it, deny it, or accept it. After all, for evolutionists (most people these days), there is no 'good' or 'evil'. They are mere terms for convenience and inconvenience and have no meaning beyond that. Thus for materialists.

The big question for this lot is where do they get the idea that evil is a 'thing' outside of personal evaluation? Who says that something is evil? Evil to whom and why? What does their 'world view' do about this problem that they can't even start to address?


Secondly, unless they have a good theology of creation, Christians will miss the point that comes from this sequence of verses:

Genesis 1:26

Genesis 2:15-17

Genesis 3:7

Psalm 115:16

The L&L post hinges on 'free will'. A philosophical concept. The Bible is not a philosophy book, although it does represent a grounded philosophy, it is the book of the relationship of God and man in context of his creation.

Evil is the disrelation of man and God; it is man being in the image disconnected from the image giver, it is man saying to God, 'thanks for the world, we'll do this ourselves now'. And that can happen in true relationship where there is no inherent binding, such as mother and child (that is, the mutual status will never change); to have a relationship of friends with someone, it must be possible to not be friends. To be given the earth, but discontinue relationship with the giver, and 'do' earth-stewardship without partnership with God...results in what we have.

You want to live without God (to the atheist), but you want the world to be like you live with God. Can't be done, and you choose this every day!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

verse prayer

A small verse plaque: 1 Corinthians 8:6


Over the Christmas-January break I like to dip into some old favourite books.

A passage from one such book, N. T. Wright's Simply Christian, took my eye recently:
Reading scripture in worship is, first and foremost, the central way of celebrating who God is and what he's done.
So, please, no more little snippets from one book; let's plunge in: call to worship, celebratory or reflective psalm, substantial (but not excessively so) readings from the first and last testaments, reflective passage after the sermon, then benediction.

At my church you are lucky to get one small snippet of scripture in the service; its barely noticable in our, to my view, misguided 'seeker-sensitive' times. Of course, there are rarely any seekers there, and if there were, they would expect us to be thrilled about having the very word of God!

Soul Survivor

January is the month for 'guest' speakers at church, it seems. Paid staff off, and the on paid staff have run out of talking points, it would seem.

Still, a change is as good as a holiday, and it is not a bad idea to bring different views to the lecturn.

Sunday's effort was Matt Gelding, the NSW Soul Survivor director. He gave what I'd call an 'affect'-based talk. I was braced for this when I saw Matt praying with his hands at his waist level palms open facing upwards as though ready to carry a bag of concrete, mate.

As one of the young people there said to me 'it didn't have much in it'. I was expecting the person to be carried away by the emotional affect of the talk, but was so pleased that was not so; clearly my conversational partner had mind engaged but unsatisfied!

The first point for young Christians is knowledge, learning, not ethereal affect. Sure, part of our response to the indwelling Spirit is emotional, but we confuse 'heart' these days with the 'Hollywood' heart: insubstantial, solipsistic and uncommitted emotion: a feel-good, not a know-good. Admittedly Soul Survivor seeks to do the 'do good' part, but a quick look at its website tells me that the 'know-good' is probably not there, dealing more with affect than knowledge, or 'heart' as the whole person; which is more its usage in ancient times.

Then the name: Soul Survivor. It seems negative, off-putting, even, despite the obvious play on words. Just a 'survivor', and not a thriver? You need help, do you? Inadequate eh? Only one of you? It reminds me of the euphemistic names of social work organisations in mental health. Not a good connection. I don't like the name Salvation Army either, as an example from another direction. Its connotation is wrong as well.

I would think a positive, confident, assertive name would be better (that is, if it is an organisation that promotes a positive, confident, assertive, informed, self-aware, and world-aware, high content faith). Maybe something like Soul Squad? Not brilliant, but you get the point. Actually, any name that detracts from the full humanity that God created: body and soul, mind and emotion, is that little bit of betrayal of God's creation of us in his image.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Turin shroud

An old press clipping about a 'shroud' that should never have even been noticed.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Not even wrong

At last we have installed a small grand piano. Much better look and sound than the back room bar piano we had hitherto.

At the speaking-down-to-you sermon this morning Teilhard de Chardin was quoted. Something about we are not humans living a spiritual life, but spritual beings living a human life.

Ironically this was in a sermon that started with Genesis 1: we made in the image of God; then that was individualised, rather than left in Genesian terms that humanity (as a collective, a community) is made in the image of God.

We then lapsed back into Sunday School mode, continuing the heretical individualisation of a collective status, to tell the person sitting beside us that they, then we were made in the image of God...we avoided this in my row.

I was itching to say to the sermon-feller that I thought de Chardin was a fiction writer....[wait for reaction, then explain]....philosophy fiction to be precise (following Peter Medawars risible lampoon of de Chardin).

Then I went to the hardware shop to buy some cleats. A much better experience.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

People of the book

This is what Christians are: people of the book, the Bible, for slow learners.
However, you go into one of our meeting places: an auditorium in a church building, and what do you see?
No book anything!

In older church auditoriums I've seen plaques showing the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments, but nothing similar in modern buildings.

It is even rare to see a Bible passage on a church bulletin. Although I've seen such recently, as above.

However, here's an opportunity for a revival of the old Christian art of illuminating (manuscripts). Look, for example at the Lindisfarne Gospels or the Book of Kells (a page from which to the left).

I wonder why we don't have displayed on the walls of our buildings lots of illuminations (in modern form) of verses and short passages from the Bible, or even classic Christian prayers, creeds, the confession, etc?

Embarrased? Didn't think of it? Couldn't be bothered?

They would give the opportunity for people to contemplate scripture in quiet moments in the service, or before or after. Particularly auditoriums that are open for 'quiet reflection' could have these to aid that quiet reflection.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Religion is for...

Quote from Pfeffer's Leadership BS, p. 40:
...religion seeks to provide believers a sense of personal control, a belief in the fairness fo the world, and a feeling of meaning and purpose...
So we know that Pfeffer has no real contact with Christianity; I don't know about other religions.

  • sense of personal control? No: sense of being able to bring benefit and growth out of the visissitudes of life through faith in Christ and his indwelling Spirit.
  • fairness of the world? No: understanding of the complete unfairness of the world and as actors in the world are empowered to think and act contrary to this...through faith in Christ and his indwelling Spirit.
  • feeling of meaning and purpose? No: understanding of why our actions, thoughts and beliefs are meaningful, and that purpose is the reality of human affairs, becuase God created a real and significant and meaningful creation.
He goes on to quote Freud (this is the equivalent of quoting an alchemist for metalurgical advice)

These [religious ideas]...are not the residue of experience or the final results of reflection; they are illusions, fulfilments of the oldest, strongest and most insistent wishes of mankind; the secret of their strength is the strength of these wishes. We know already that the terrifying effect of...helplessness aroused the need for protection...Thus the benevolent rule of divine providence [or a benevolent leader] allays our anxiety in face of life's dangers, the establishment of a moral world order ensures the fulfilment of the demans of justice, which within human culture have so often remained unfulfilled.
I wonder what experiments Freud did to establish this pack of pooh tickets?

Again, Christianity is not in this, nor would be Judaism, noting that is Freud's own religious context.

Serious Christians have notably taken on vast risk, danger and frustration in pursuit of their mission (I think of missionaries, ministry entrepreneurs and even people who in ages past sought a monastic life and today a paid ministry). Nor do we seek a 'moral world order' we live knowing that this side of the revealing of Christ there will be none and our mission is to live out the new Creation that the Spirit equips us for.

The church market

Churches, some churches, see themselves as above the market.

Should they?

The doctrine seems to be that one must stick with one church for as long as one lives in a particular location. How big the location, I don't know. I also don't know why would one stick with a failing, heterodox, wrong or ineffective church. Why reward incompetence with attendance. One family cannot solve generational problems that dog a church. If one finds that a non-liturgical service is at the end more folk religion than Christianity, more insulting, or humiliating, than worshiping of our creator and redeemer with a liturgy, why stay?

At last count I've been an active member, over time, of 19 churches, and have explored another two or three. Thus, reasonable experience of about 22 churches.

During that time I relocated my home 5 times, but other reasons were theological, theo-social (that is the church life did not reflect the church life that I would expect from the scriptures), social (ran out of single girls to chase), utilitarian (service times wrong for family needs, social environment wrong for family needs) and performance (folk-religion, social gospel, naffness).

If people stay in churches that are not compatible with other objectives, like congenial social environment for one's family, theological rectitude, dignity of meetings, wise use of resources, paid servants of the church behaving as servants, then leaving is the right thing to do. Failing churches should fail if one cannot rescue them, if they will imperil the spiritual or social development of one's family, or of they leave the theological rails and will not contemplate reform.

The 'market' is a wonderful discipline in these cases, and it should be left to do its work.

Should one stay in a church that Yeshua would spit out of his mouth?