Friday, July 31, 2020

From social club to discipling centre

Social is good, don't get me wrong, and humble socialising is an essential part of life, and therefore of church.

But we are more than that. We need to know and understand our faith.

In recent decades, if not centuries, Christian faith has dropped the idea of knowledge and is obsessed with 'feelings'. We need to pull out of this 'controlled flight into terrain' dive and start climbing, seriously!

Serious teaching need not be taxing; indeed, it is exciting and expanding.

Here's a program that the average church, or regional group of churches can run.

It's a mini-conference over two half days, meals and socialising included.


Arrive 12:15 for lunch at 12:30
1:30 first lecture, then half hour seminar after
3:00 afternoon tea
3:30 second lecture and half hour seminar
5:00 open Q&A
6:30 dinner
7:30 lighter lecture
8:30 informal discussion (or prep in groups for next day)
9:30 home time.

9:00 arrive, morning coffee
9:30 prayer and singing
10:15 first lecture, then half hour seminar
11:45 short capstone  lecture
12:00 discussion groups (or group presentations)
1:00 lunch or depart
2:00 informal afternoon
3:30 close.

Three of these a year on a three to five year cycle would enable systematic coverage of Christian knowledge.

Three year:

Year 1 - Old Testament, New Testament, Theology (based on the Apostles' Creed)
Year 2 - Church history 1, Apologetics 1, Theology of salvation.
Year 3 - Apologetic and society, Church history 2, Christology.

Five year cycle adds:

Year 4: Pentateuch and Prophets, Church history 2, Doctrine of God
Year 5: Creation, Holy Spirit, History of Theology.

These aren't sermons, These are 'knowledge transfer' lectures pitched for the level of the congregation, with notes, recommended reading, videos or audio recordings for further study and catchy names, if that would work for your group.

Separate training programs in 'social apologetics' and 'talking the faith' could be helpful as could a 'society and faith' topic. Each over a few weekly meetings, say, 5.

Now, go to it.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

I've got a feeling God is telling me something for you...


Let me know when your 'feeling' turns to knowledge and he's clear about what you are to say and to whom.

That's how to handle the faux 'prophets' of today.

Remember; in the scripture, there's never a mistake about 'hearing' God. It's never uncertain. God can make himself heard unequivocally.

Justin Peters has the fully skinny on this.

It reminds me of people who claim to 'heal' or do 'miracles', like Christian faith is a sideshow.

Call me when someone who claims to heal does so instantly and fully. No cajoling prayers, like you've got to persuade God; no sweating over repeated demands of God...just a simple word did the job in the New Testament. It should do so today too, if its the same God you are seeking.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Methodological Theism!

You've probably heard that modern science proceeds on the basis of 'methodological naturalism'. This is said to indicate that it assumes determinable causality within the closed system of the physical reality, at least in principle.

Thus, it eschews supernatural causality.

But it does this firstly on the misapprehension that the supernatural produces a root metaphysic that produces pagan inconsistent causality and arbitrary intervention of gods.

That is, 'miracles' are out.

This first misstep is that Christian theism is the same as paganism. It is not.

Harrison show in his paper Naturalism and the Success of Science (Religious Studies, 2020) that this is not so.

We always encounter the world within a metaphysic. The metaphysic drives the method in science as in life.

The Christian theist metaphysic is that God created a universe of consistent and predicable interactions, regular and rationally consistent causality, amenable to human examination and understanding.

The pagan metaphysic rejects this and regards the universe as riven with inconsistent causality, unpredictable interactions, and a general reality that is not coterminous with our life experience. No wonder it can do nothing useful.

The second misstep is that methodological naturalism is built on metaphysical naturalism. It is not, and cannot be. It makes profound assumptions about the world that flow directly from the Christian world view, informed at root by Genesis 1.  The world view that fostered modern science.

This makes for a world that we can regard in reality as one that can know, study, understand and predict outcomes of within its contingently closed system. In fact it is only a partially closed system. It is open to ontological overlap of God's participation. But not as an arbitrary 'ghost in the machine' but one of measured order within a grand personal world frame of clear intention and warranted action.

Modern 'science' as revealed in its both professional and casual  rhetoric, attempts to graft its underpinning Christian Theistic metaphysic onto an asserted methodological naturalism. But it fails. It operates on the basis of methodological Christian Theism!

Christian Theism establishes the world as it really is. Metaphysical naturalism presumes that the world 'just is', an arbitrarily determined system of random interactions in which the person is at best a accidental and impersonally arbitrary epiphenomenon of matter.

If science truly was based on methodological naturalism it would be static. It would start with the metaphysical position that everything 'just is' and is inexplicable, providing no basis or incentive for scientific exploration because in a universe that 'just is' everything else also 'just is'.

As usual, modern western atheism, a heresy of Christianity, insists on freeloading on the Christian fundamental description of reality.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Only two religions

Yep, only two.

So, it must be pretty easy for all religions to be basically the same: only two.

But no.

The two are:
  1. man does stuff to save himself (the 'cult of me') = man first
  2. man does nothing to save himself, but God in his grace has done it all = God first.
You've got it.

Christianity is God first: man full of sin and alienation, full of pride and self-satisfaction must turn to Christ. Because, man will only create more of the same if he thinks he can save himself.

Within the Cult of Me there are many sub-cults. Three of the most famous promise a sexualised 'paradise':  Islam, Scientology, and Mormonism. The pervasive 'cult of me' seeks a sexualised present, in one way or another, or purveys other distractions. These might be such fantasies as 'karma', 're-incarnation', or giving biscuits to monks.

And there you have it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The past understood at last

I've come across Charles Finney before.

It was in the heyday of Last Days Ministry, run by the singer Keith Green.

Finney was the inspiration for many of the pamphlets that LDM distributed and for much of what KG sang and said.

The moral of that experience is don't go to singers for theology!

Except for an early period at a Presbyterian church (that seemed more Barthian than Knoxian, come to think of it), my younger years, up to about 26 or so, were spent in a denomination heavily influenced by Finney's crackpot rhetoric (it wasn't theology).

Thus the emotionalism, the shallow sermons on too many occasions, the hokey 'entertainment' that some 'praise' services descended into, and the intellectual emptiness that came my way. When I got to know some Anglicans, I found out about...theology! Proper!

No wonder my 'witnessing' attempts turned to porridge upon commencement. I had nothing to say because I was given nothing. It took years to undo that stifling of the Spirit.

Horton reveals all in this enlightening essay. It explains the shallow emotionalism, the playing the last verse of a hymn (often 'Just as I am') five or six times to pressure people to 'come forward' to signify their 'decision' to follow Christ. This stratagem was often a failure. More so when the preacher told us that he really felt the Spirit moving in the place calling people to him. Clearly, it was not the Spirit of God he sensed, but his own delusion, because no one 'accepted'.

So, he had nothing to say, I had nothing to say, the people I spoke to heard nothing. No wonder they were not compelled. Not even interested, because there was nothing interesting in Finneyism. None of the intellectual riches of the faith, none of the greatness of the knowledge of God came through.

As I've written before. I left high school having been exposed to some of the world's greatest minds. At the same time, my church life had equipped me with nothing but how to play mini-golf.

Friday, July 10, 2020

In the shadow - a metophor of our experience of evil

Why evil? What is its existential and theological place?

Here's a metaphor.

But first, a bit about 'evil'.

Evil is the negation of God. Evil is 'not-god' in its entirety.

God calls us to fellowship with him, but we reject that. We reject the life of being with God and instead prefer the life of not-god, of living in rejection of God.

God respects the freedom we have to live in rejection of him; but that results in the experience of rejection of him. Without this experience we would not know that we were in rejection of God.

If you are married but live in rejection of your spouse (divorce) then you no longer experience your spouse. Its over.

So with God. However he provides us a way to turn to him. We only know we need this way because we know very well what the alternative is. The alternative is living in evil, living in 'not-god'.

Its as though we reject a bright light. We don't want to walk in bright light so we turn from him. Instantly we walk in shadow. With a bright light the shadow is a deep shadow. We can no longer see clearly. We stumble and fall, we can't tell shadow from obstacle, shadow from chasm. We make mistakes, we can't see so we don't know. We grope and find the wrong things, we step and trip. Sometimes to our death.

This tells us that being in the shadow is dangerous and we can't even make sound use of our eyes.

But turn to the light, and it all becomes clear.

Thus, we are called to turn to God. Christ makes this possible because by nature we love the dark. We love non-god.

In this world which is as a whole turned from God in every way, we, has new creatures in God will still suffer; maybe even more because we no longer call the world, the not-god, our friend.

But we have the hope that the bright light, life with God forever, awaits us. We know this because of his Spirit within us that tells us we are his.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Let's go to Mars Hill

When Paul was on Mars Hill (Acts 17), he saw it as an opportunity to take the gospel to the public square.

What do we do today?

An Anglican clergyperson of my acquaintance appeared on a national TV talk show along with Lawrence Krause, the famous atheist-materialist scientist.

The ACP (Anglican Clergy Person) when it came to the question of origins and the place of Genesis, decried the view that (early) Genesis has any historic content and the people who held that view, but that Krause should leave such people to the ACPs to deal with. "Deal with"? What does that mean?

That was the choice on national TV: say that the entirety of the church and its worship of God is based on things that didn't happen!

Then said ACP went on to say that he was on the side of the 'new atheists'. Talk about rattling an empty can.

Here was an opportunity to tear into Kraus's materialism, his atheism and indeed his lifestyle. Instead it was like Paul on Mars Hill merely discussing the Greek poets with their admirers.

When you are on national TV, you defend the gospel and proclaim it for the audience of thousands, not adulate the twerp in the seat next to you.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020


My comment on a video by Challies.

"Influential Christian Leader..." When are we going to shake off this residue of Roman priestcraft and remember that we have one leader: Christ?

We are all servants.

There are no 'Christian leaders' in the church but a bunch of people equipped to serve in various ways.

The sooner we learn as a church that we are to work out our salvation in fear and trembling and not outsource it to a 'leader', as soon as we stop thinking of the church as a military unit or self-aggrandizing business but a community of saints filled with the Spirit of Christ, the sooner our mission will be prosecuted with vigour and full effect.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

It ain't science!

From time to time some scientists tries to tell me that Genesis 1 is not scientific, what with light created before stellar objects and days passing before said stellar objects were there.

I made a comment on a website that mentioned such a scientist's objections.

For a scientist to be hung up about light before stellar bodies beggars belief. Genesis 1, like the rest of scripture, is written in 'ordinary observer' language to be able to communicate across cultures and history.

I would expect a scientist to understand how this works.

Light is part of the electromagnetic spectrum, and possibly a synecdoche for the entirety of the energy field. So God's first step in creation is the creation of energy. Essential.

Next energy is partly condensed into fundamental particles of matter. I've been in the bush on moonless nights. It's dark. No light, but plenty of matter without light, and its all dark. In a couple of days, God forms this fundamental matter into the stellar furniture, whereupon these bodies can be light producers.

Days are calibrated for us as 'evening and morning' type days. The time markers themselves come a little later, but what is important is calibrated time passing.

This is a vitally important part of scripture as God thereby demonstrates that he is active in our 'life world'. He is in communication with us by his acts making the domain of real fellowship between persons: him and we in his image in the place where he brings together the life of his creatures and his own life.

It also shows that the infinite God has made himself present in our finite world allowing a two-way relationship. The creation is thus shown to be something that is continuous with the time and space of human life and history and God is right there in it showing the primacy of his word, or 'logos' in all of human affairs.

Oh, and by the way, names of times and lighting conditions are independent of each other, as you would discover in the Arctic in mid summer. It’s always light!

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

You don't fit in, pal.

A friend of mine related this to me.

He thought to attend an Alpha course at his local church.

He could see some gaping issues and started asking about them.

Indeed, he thought deeply about these concerns and penned a couple of emails to the minister who ran the course.

The minister responded with party line answers that didn't actually meet the questions.

He then told my friend that he 'was not a good fit' for Alpha and was being cut from the course.

Well, that's a way to increase the reach of the gospel!