Monday, August 31, 2020

Don't tell me; show me!

 A friend and I have been discussing the difference between the Koran(/Book of Mormon/Dianetics/Science and Health with Keys to the Scriptures/Being and Nothingness/Enuma elish) and the Bible.

The big difference?

In the Bible God, the creator, is personally involved. Mankind is shown as being deeply connected to the person-ness that underpins, defines and sustains all reality. God is palpably there. He knows (us) and is knowable. He comes to us for our benefit even when we push him away. He enables us to understand our person-ness and its root in his own divine-(person)-ness.

From Genesis 1 the Bible unrolls the story of the connection between man and God, creature and creator in a great flow of historical meaning shown through God's actions and his encounters with those who reject him, reap the consequence of rejecting life, and can be finally regenerated to enjoy God forever. The great dynamic rent in history is the defining demonstration: the resurrection of the Christ, God amongst us.

God is ever present, personally available in commutative relationship with his creature (Genesis 1:27) and seeks his creature for that relationship (Genesis 3:8). Not because it would be good for him, but good for us!

God is deeply interested in and in fellowship with man. Throughout the entirety of the Bible.

In the other books I mention above God is a distant figure, a cipher, a place holder with no ontology, personality or passion. They leave us in the existential mess resulting form our living in opposition to God, a mess made worse and not better by the 'gods' of the witch doctors and charlatans who composed these books without knowledge, but full of excuses. More, they leave us adrift and without hope, or without hope as persons. They all deny the base reality we reflect of God: person-ness and connection.

The scriptures address man in his existential and spiritual condition and meet it by the supreme relationship with God who regenerates us for our eternal delight in him that bubbles out in worship, praise and thankfulness.

What is the Bible? Why read it? It is the greatest love story: of the creator who seeks his broken and rebellious creature in his (our) mad pursuit of death and not life, who puts pride before humility and bluster before knowledge, but who is turned from spiritual poverty to the riches of adoption by the creator, now our Father in Heaven.

There is person-hood and relationship throughout the Bible. It is not a book of  rules, but is the genealogy of new life set out by the one who gives it and who shows that he gives it, by showing the facets of the relationship culminating in the supreme demonstration of victory of that which defeats us: death.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

What use are leaders?

The theme at church in the sermon (and see Darryl Erkel on this) was 'leadership' or being a 'leader'.

The sermon was about Solomon and his wisdom to exemplify the theme.

All fine, as far as it went (see Darryl's article again), but it went the wrong way.

We in the modern west seem obsessed by 'leadership': in churches, in politics, in business. None of this is right, particularly for Christians. We have one leader, Christ (Matthew 23:10).

Leader in modern usage has more to do with the often hubristic heroic 'leader' of business. I'm pleased that Mintzberg deplores this as much as I do. If there is 'leading' it is the social influence component of management (in an organisation context). Mintzberg talks, rather, about 'communityship'.

Leadership as we seem to operationalise it in the church is an artifact of media hero-worship, but Paul describes communityship. Groups of people interacting to achieve a common goal. Any organisation, including a value-producing organisation is in effect a 'community of specified purpose'. Everyone is there to do something specific for the jointly produced value.

Now, bring this back to church. Paul tells us we all have a ministry: that is, we all serve the body of all Christians in some way. What characterises ministries is the span of responsibility and the administrative conditions of the ministry. The specific content just follows.

What is essential in all ministries is responsibility.

The oxymoronic idea of 'servant-leadership' seeks to get around this by having the worst of both worlds, it is a sad compromise where 'servant' and 'leadership' mutually destruct.

Every ministry in the church is about serving the church: teaching, administering (i.e. planning, budgeting, taking minutes, organising, convening, coordinating), etc.

But, paradoxically, or maybe not, elevating some as 'leaders' disempowers all others and defeats the gospel. It tears the practice of discipleship away from everyone who is not a 'leader'. And we wonder why the church is disempowered. It has disempowered itself!

At church the Archbishop of Sydney was interviewed (by video link). He talked about 'leadership'. Not once did he talk purely about service (except for a tipping the hat to 'servant-leadership', so, not really), or about responsibility, about equipping people, about ensuring people were encouraged to do their ministry. Not a word. It was all about the splendour or the hierarchy. Thus, is the reformation a forlorn gesture that has merely replaced Rome with lots of little Romes.

I contrast this with the Army's approach to leading. The best little text on this is by Jans "Leadership Secrets of the Australian Army".

A similar pedigree attaches to Adair's triangle of leading: its about the individual, the team and the mission.

In my Army training (at OCTU, as I already had a degree) it was emphasised that the officer's major job was the welfare of his men. Pity the church doesn't seem to have this mind.

In church circles it's never about the one responsible but those for whom one is responsible, or so it seems. And that word, 'responsible', is too often missing from the hollow rhetoric of leading, which itself should be expunged from the church.

Instead? Most 'leaders' in the church are organisers or coordinators, even managers, sometimes mentors or coaches, educators, facilitators, supporters, secretary. Use those words instead, they are far more reflective of the calling of the church and tend to make people accessible in their roles instead of isolating them with the diadem of 'leader'. Others are teachers, preachers, evangelists, etc. Words are descriptive of roles, not titles of persons.

Similarly, we don't 'lead' discussions, services, youth groups. We conduct services, we moderate discussion (moderator like the Presbyterians: I like it), we minister to youth groups, and the youth themselves are trained up as organisers, ministers, enablers, even helpers. "I help the youth group organise/run/grow.", "I help our youth group to run/operate/organise/disciple its members".

Darryl Erkel has the last word.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Why read the Bible?

I wrote a little while ago on 'why read the New Testament', but the more general question out in the modern world would be 'why (do you) read the Bible?'

Its useful to have a response, or a few responses  prepared for this, depending on the context of the question.

I'll give a few sample answers that I might use.

> It's the most remarkable compilation of historical and social documents there is, tracing the course of Israel from its foundation to its ancient dissolution. It is unique. 

> It provides a case study of a people and their God; but uniquely, it claims that their God is the only God, not just a private invention and made us for life with him.

> It's story of reality is aligned perfectly with life and gives humans a universal dignity that no other world view does.

> It tells us how God ‘out-graces’ our wrecked lives and offers us restored relationship with him replacing our disrupted human condition with peace, joy and deep satisfaction of new life in God’s family.

> It's story of reality deals with the fundamental questions of life in a way that is unique and puts its finger on our alienation from reality as being the root of all our problems. Then it solves it. It does this while confronting our real experience of life, not ducking it by calling imaginary, insignificant, imaginary or pointless.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

What is the Bible?

A tight statement of what the Bible is is essential for outsiders (those outside the Kingdom of God), and possibly for all of us.
Knight attempts this, but I think he skirts around the central objective of the Bible in showing the relationship of Creator and creature, describing the dilemma of man (made for eternal fellowship with God, but rejecting it) and the resolution of that dilemma in Christ, and the New Creation of eternal joy of God and man.

Knight’s article is OK, as far as it goes, but it does not go far enough for a viable discussion with one who is not Christian.

The Bible is the ‘story’ of reality  that addresses the only reality that matters: the relationship between God and his creature-in-his-image: man/humanity (‘man’ is a relational term, ‘humanity’ is a de-relational term). 
It shows how God ‘out-graces’ our wrecked lives and offers us restored relationship with him replacing our disrupted human condition with peace, joy and deep satisfaction of new life in God’s family.

Rather than it set out a theology or philosophy in vapid, arcane discourse, disconnected with our everyday life; it sets out a set of relationships, encounters and historical flow that show the course of reality and its results and implications in real lives.

In summary: God - Man - Christ - Cross - Resurrection.  

The great arc of the ‘story of reality starts with the eternal God who in wisdom, by intention, delivered by his ‘logos’ or ‘word’ created the space-time-material world (cosmos) of our life-experience and as the place where we experience relationship with God. Heaven and Earth come together in Genesis 1 where the creation is unfolded in the real-world terms in which we experience the creation.
[Genesis 1-3...]

The breach of relationship between creature and creator comes early, with Adam and Eve’s rejection of fellowship with God.

The Bible is then about the relationship of God with his creatures: his formation of Israel to be the crucible by which he would restore the relationship so that man would be able to enjoy God for ever. 
[Genesis 3 to Malachi; that is, the entire Old Testament]

This resulted in the Messiah: the one who would make the way of re-connection.
[The gospels]

The work of the Messiah, God with us, (as he was in the beginning), is his victory over sin (rejection of God) and its resulting death, giving those who seek it... 
[Acts of the Apostles to Revelation]
Resurrection life and restoration of relationship between God and man to culminate in a new creation of eternal joy in our fellowship.
[Acts of the Apostles to Revelation]


Revelation...or is it?

Revelation is one of the most challenging books for modern Westerners. Almost everyone over-reads it; attempting to correlate every item and movement of the book with historical events.

But that's not what Revelation is about. It is not a timetable, but a dramatic picture of history in its totality. It is about the triumph of Christ over death consummated and the people of God taken into the New Creation.

It is almost operatic in concept.

The Bible Project has a page on it, a helpful video and even a graphic chart.

Vern Poythress has a short book on it too, available on the Internet.

Bible Project's summary is here:

Seven Letters
John wrote the book of Revelations to encourage believers in seven churches to resist sin, remain faithful although persecuted, and anticipate Jesus's return as King.

The Sacrificed Lamb
The Old Testament's promise of God's future victorious kingdom was inaugurated through Jesus, the crucified Passover Lamb and Messiah who alone opened the sealed scroll.

Seven Judgments
Three sets of seven divine judgments do not generate repentance in the nations. Instead, only God's mercy shown through Jesus and believers who die for enemies does.

Final Battle
Several symbols signify spiritual and earthly battles. The church can choose to resist Babylon and follow the Lamb or follow the beast and suffer defeat.

God's Kingdom
After the rebellion against God and the final battle, King Jesus returns to punish evil, vindicate His followers, and reign forever in the New Jerusalem.

That's the outline. Poythress also has a course on Revelation.

Not to be outdone, the great Revelation scholar, G. K. Beale, also has audio on the book.

A helpful brief commentary (unless you want Beale's vast works), is by Leon Morris in the Tyndale series. I like Leon because of his humble and (then) inconspicuous early service in the Bush Church Aid Society.

Morris' old book Apocalyptic is on line, and a new study book on Revelation is available.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Bible Society dudded out.

 I checked out the Bible Society page for intro info to the Bible.


So I wrote to them, suggesting something like BeThinking's page, or the fabulous Request page.

I couldn't even find any basic Bible reading/study material such as their material in their Good News Bible: The Bible's Story in 100 days, or their 'where to find stuff' page, or their one-years' readings.


Sunday, August 23, 2020


Drums in church music are tricky.

How to use rock/jazz drums for hymns?

Here's a suggestion: using the snare to keep a beat aint' good. Its sharp rattly 'crack' doesn't fit the mood of most hymns. Unless its played as it should be, in runs.

Better the toms, and the bassier the better. For instance. (Awesome Wonder, kid's choir)

And how the snare really does its work,  also with great use of the toms. (A closer walk with thee - Wynton Marsalis)

But if you really want liturgical drumming! This is it! (African Sanctus: Gloria)

And so is this. (African Sanctus: Lord's Prayer)

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Why are you Christian?

Ever been asked?

What would you say?

I think as a young person I would have delivered a conversation stopper:"Because I am saved from my sins by Jesus." and made part of his family for ever...if I wanted to extend it a little.

All true, but not guaranteed to promote conversation with the questioner.

If asked today, I'd first ask 'why do you want to know?' If they say they are curious, or similar, perhaps enlarge on their curiosity. The enlargement can be either genuine, or not, and either convivial or oppositional; that is, to set you up for ridicule.

Taking all that into consideration I'd answer: 'because the Christian story of reality is comprehensively descriptive of life and how we experience it.' [its more than this, but, as in sales, you don't deliver the whole story like a recitation, you use the conversation to build a natural relationship].

Then you might have opportunity to discuss how God ‘out-graces’ our wrecked lives and gives us restored relationship with him replacing our disrupted human condition with peace, joy and deep satisfaction of new life in God’s family.

Or, briefly: because its true (in how it describes life and our relationship to reality).

See ColdCaseChristianity articles: not for any of these reasons not because it works for me. Also have a look at fear of death and how can you know truth for certain?

If they are aggressive in deprecating you, there's either a friendly response, or a 'tough' one.

Friendly: 'are you so aggressive because your own world view won't  stand up to real life/is too challenged by mine?'

Tough: 'so I guess you're an atheist or materialist, am I right? Or maybe into scientism? [person assents]. Then how is your world view anything worth even thinking about: a trivial meaningless life full of sh*t and then you turn to dust'

Rarely a person will not be in the materialism squad and will be a 'new ager' or a mainstream Eastern spiritualist. Both deny the final reality of the person, believe in an impersonal spirit, have a diffuse view of creation and no room for beauty, joy or true value other than contingent transient reactions, of the 'I like icecream' variety.

**Scientism is the usually informal or unconscious belief that the physical sciences are exhaustively and entirely descriptive of reality.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

What is the creation?

 William Lane Craig's work on theological anthropology was recently critiqued.

His views give rise to a number of problems.

The first misstep in Craig's approach, as mentioned in the article, is that he 'reads' past the concrete history of Genesis 1, etc. and sidesteps those very literary features of the text that prohibit myth making. Myths remove their story from the real world and any existential contact with the reader by their 'somewhere sometime' constructions. As CS Lewis has said, those who claim the Bible is mythical clearly have not read many myths.
Genesis goes out of its way to be concrete and historical, placing God's acts and his very communing presence in the time-space-material world that we live and experience life in. Nor is Craig's dismissal of the reality of Genesis 3:8 true to the text. It is a clear demonstration of God (in the person of the son?) seeking the now broken fellowship with A&E. This underlines the task of Genesis in showing God making the real setting for the real fellowship where he, the infinite personal God communes with his finite creatures-in-his-image.
If the text is not taken seriously, but read through a western-idealistic philosophical lens, tinted deeply by the pretensions of modern ontological materialism, any theology that comes from it is wrecked.

 Part 2

Craig and those with similar views seem to indeed regard Genesis 1 as myth at some level. On their analysis it is figurative and dislocated from our world of experience. The events it relates simply, in their view, did not, and probably could not have happened.

A signal capitulation to materialist dogma.

But Genesis 1 is more than retelling a story to entertain us, as some sort of vain polemic or empty cosmogony. It is relating events that happened that demonstrate the nature of the creation, its purpose as setting for fellowship, and its definition of reality.

What does it tell us then?

First, that the cosmos is not a given. Nothing about it is 'given'. But created, with intention, purpose and for an effect that has an objective. This is evident from God's considered activity throughout the days. Proverbs 3:19, 20 reflects on this.

Not only is the cosmos not 'given' but it is not accidental in any way. It results in an orderly rational causality from the word of God. Word, 'logos', personal will is prior to the mute cosmos and there is nothing between its elements that we experience and their coming into existence (Hebrews 11:3)

The cosmos consists of apprehensible categories that relate in a coherent manner to each other and our understanding, neatly putting paid to both Kant's fiction about perception and Hume s scepticism about causality.

This is a cosmos in which we can have sure knowledge, reliable relationships between word, event and thing (God's word preeminently, but ours too in a communicative sense), and tangible relationships. It is really real, and the way it works is really real. Th infinite God is present in the finite world (putting paid to another of Kant's fictions).

Now, if we take Craig's path, then none of what is recounted in Genesis 1 happened, and nothing it teaches is anchored in our 'life-world'. This means that something else happened and it is this something else and how it happened that define our life-world. It makes materialism our reference point, rather than the Spirit of God.
The Genesis account in summary demonstrates (not just 'says' but demonstrates by a recounting of God's actions and results) the cohesive unified reality of which God is the final referent: it runs from God via his Logos to event and then our experience; all cohering in the one reality where things have their origin from God. This reality is knowable because of the commutativeness between God and we his creatures-in-his-image: we share something such that God's Logos reliably coheres with God and thus we-in-his-image. There is an existential and epistemic congruence.
Thus the events of creation are shown to be in that continuous reality of which God is the referent, the reality that denominates our experience and knowledge of space-time-matter events: demonstrated by God's creating in the categories, configuration and timing of our life-world, being present, active and proximate by his word and will and continuous with the world or our life-experience.
In other words, God conducted the creative acts in the terms of how we would (and now do) experience the creation -- in time, in the categories and configuration of our life-world and directly by his word: the primacy of Logos over matter.
The anti-postlude
On the other hand, detractors will seek to point to the 'science' of long aged life of the cosmos, 'proven' to be billions of years.

A period of such magnitude (and in that shared by ancient pagan 'long periods') has the result of putting the universe and its origin out of human reach: they make human-scale of time meaningless to distance the personal from the creation and thus the creator. It turns the cosmos into myth and delocates origin, creation and creator from the denomination of our life-world.

Thus those who posit hyper-ages start with 'no God, and therefore deny there is a word, a Logos, and following there is no referent for reality. It becomes diffuse, purposeless (despite our pervading purposefulness) and without parameters but mute material. Thus we have the intellectual mayhem that enables people to invent hyperages to characterise the cosmos.

Sunday, August 16, 2020 last

 Family and I attended church this evening.

It was great to be there, even allowing for no singing (but we had a small band and fine singers).

Familiar things were wonderful:

As we set to depart home, I thought of bringing my old tiny BCP just for fun, but did not.

But, lo and behold, the service started with the Confession; not Cramer's, of course, but a contemporary version. Still OK, though.

During the prayers, the Reader included Paul's wonderful prayer at Ephesians 3:14-19.

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom [a]every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the [b]saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

 At the conclusion, rather than any modern 'hip' triviality, the other Reader read the next verses, 3:20-21.

20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations [a]forever and ever. Amen.

 How church should really be!

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Why read the New Testament?

A friend has been having a dialogue with a Muslim fellow via the Internet. The Muslim asked my friend, why should he read the New Testament?

My pal and I tossed around some ideas.

A few rose to the surface:

It is a set of contemporaneous reports, history and letter from a group of young people who had their leader crucified by the Romans, yet who, upon knowing the resurrection of their leader, changed the world.

They were at the foundation of a movement that rose to historical significance after 300 years of almost continuous oppression, persecution and vigorous social and official opposition. It laid the foundation for the rise of the most economically, technologically, politically, and socially successful civilisation the world has seen bringing wealth, freedom and long life to more people than any other approach to life.

It contains historically unique literature: eyewitness or direct reportage, letters from the participants to their friends that are composed in sober, direct observation language without florid adornment, propagandist exaggeration or bluster.

27 'books' that are continuous with the historical flow of the Old Testament, itself setting the stage for, pointing towards and predicting the rise of the 'leader' whom it referred to as the messiah.

Only one Christian church in the USA...if not the entire until recently free world.

2 August 2020

Thomas More Society attorney Jenna Ellis appeared on the Wednesday afternoon edition of CBN's Newswatch to talk about the church's legal battle over the state of California's order to cease in-person worship services indefinitely. Newswatch is seen weekdays on the CBN News Channel

John MacArthur, the Los Angeles pastor who reopened his church in defiance of lockdown orders from California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), is defending his much-talked-about decision.

On Sunday, the Grace Community Church leader told his congregation, “The world does not understand the importance of the church,” explaining why he is bucking Newsom’s renewed closures, which came in mid-July across dozens of counties in California.

The restrictions on religious gatherings also include a ban on singing, because doing so would “negate the risk-reduction achieved through six feet of physical distancing.”

Attorney Jenna Ellis, one of the lawyers representing the church, said on Wednesday's CBN Newswatch PM, "For the state of California and for any of their officials to tell a church that you cannot perform what is integral to exercising your faith in terms of gathering together, singing and holding your services indefinitely is not only unreasonable and inappropriate.   But it is not a compelling interest and it’s certainly unconstitutional.   There is no law in California that would allow this."

The attorney continued, “So the church here is simply standing firm, saying we will be open, we are free to exercise our sincerely held religious beliefs that are fundamental rights, that are protected and preserved by the Constitution -- and, by the way, the state of California is obligated to protect and preserve for the church.   And instead of that, they’re targeting and persecuting and harassing and discriminating against the church.”


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Outreach vs Indrag

 If we were concerned about 'outreach' as a church broadly, we would go out, like Paul who took to 'reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.' Acts 19:80-10.

How could we do likewise?

A few thoughts:

Every minister or other trained person would offer evening 'courses' for public interest in 'The True History of the Bible' or some similar provocative titles, or "History of Spirituality" to bring the course to the Christian conclusion, or "Ancient History Today" on the gospels and Acts: unique in Ancient history as unadorned historical accounts of events and experiences.

The idea is packaging biblical/gospel material in a manner that would have initial appeal to a wide audience.

Then for Christians.

There are many public 'course' offerings, non-award courses for general interest. The WEA and local evening colleges offer these. Something similar would be great of Christians who want to expand their knowledge but in manner beyond a local parish's capabiltiy but not at the level of a formal college.

Here in Sydney, courses offered in half a dozen venues across the metro area in biblical, historical and theological topices would be a wonderful injection into the development of the church and evangelism.

Then there's Christian cultural critique: studying film, literature and drama with a Christian lens, examining the worldview (and failings thereof) of great cinema, novels and plays.

Similar course on the works of Francis Schaeffer and C. S. Lewis would be an added element, enlarging the  perspective of Christians to engage in informed cultural criticism and discussion.


How Genesis teaches us three things

I've told you the three major planks of the created life-world taught in Genesis 1.

Now, how does Genesis 1 teach these things?

A refresher with a bonus.

1. God is active in the time-space world of our experience in the terms of that experience. God thus makes the domain where he brings together our being and his for fellowship.

>> The succession of creative acts are real acts undertaken in real days. This places God's actions in our 'life-world' in our sphere of experience and they are done in the terms of our world of experience. God thus demonstrates his active presence in our life-world, our domain, and that his word has effect here. It also shows the infinite personal God in touch with our finite contingent world directly and lovingly, as he makes it in terms of our experience of it for our use and care. This is not God far off, inexplicable, unknowable, hidden; well, not only that, but also God here, with us.

2. God’s word, his ‘logos’ is prior to the material world and shapes it in a regular rational causality.

>> God speaks with effective intention (his words produce the sought result) and direct effect (there are no intermediate causes in the result of his word). There is no mediation of other factors or deference to pagan gods (as Isaiah criticizes in 65:11 - Fortune and Destiny).

3. Our experience of God’s created world of space, energy and time is a real experience of real distinct coherent categories in consistent interaction.

>> God has created in a manner and with results that are continuous with our experience of the creation. The nature of our finite material reality is that nature in which God's logos has immediate creative effect. This differs from pagan stories where somehow a 'god' cut in two forms the sky and the sea, or a lizard give rise to a mountain range. These are causally disjointed, inexplicably related to make nonsense of our experience of cause and effect. The creation mapped over 6 days is in precisely the terms and relationships that we experience the creation. The transcended God reaches into our limited world and is present here in real terms doing real things. Given that man is made in his image, we in turn represent God to the creation, while enabled to be in commutative relationship with God and his mute creation (commutative, like in maths: the same both ways).

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Worship the creature not the creator?

I think we fail, in this modern world dominated by metaphysical materialism, to appreciate what it means to worship God, and the relationship between us as creatures-in-his-image and God that this rests upon.

In many passages, our worship of God is predicated directly on his being creator. When creator is mentioned in the Bible, it is a pointer to Genesis 1 (and on to 3) where creator-ness is defined by demonstration. The culminating expression of this is Revelation 14:7.

When the sequence of connections between the words of creation, the events reported as directly consequential of those words, and our experience of results of those words is broken by interposing principles, processes or systems of chance, which is the materialist recourse, we break the worship relationship. Instead we defer to the gods that Isaiah castigates in 65:11, (Fortune and Destiny) because we have ignored the God who speaks, as in Exodus 31:12-17, and particularly 17.

In fact, we have displaced God as the one who created and rejected the evidence he gives us of his being creator for our preferred story that the world created itself. 

Having displaced God as the direct, involved, committed creator, we have replaced him as the one to be worshiped because he is creator. The worshipful intent slips from the creator to the product of the creator. God's Image-bearer turns from God to find an 'image' in the work of the creator's hands.

We thus, like the Israelites in the wilderness, worship the creature rather than the creator.

Friday, August 7, 2020

God the three in one!

 Many people have difficulty understanding the three-in-one God.

A few analogies have been developed over time in an attempt to clarify. The most helpful to my knowledge is the mathematical one: 1 x 1 x 1 = 1.

Others are the three sides of a triangle, the three states of matter (ice, steam and water are all water, but this reeks of modalism).

The triangle almost makes it, but I prefer the three legged stool in Flatland (a two-dimensional world). In Flatland the three legged stool is just the three disks where the legs touch Flatland. You move one disk, and the other two follow, because they are part of the one object despite it not being visible in Flatland, and they still maint their relationship, existence and identity. Touch any one of them, and you touch the stool. Yet, they are three individual disks. One stool in three disks.

But I think a closer analogy is the family.

I'm husband Jones, my wife is wife Jones and our daughter (who proceeds from the husband (father) and wife (mother) is daughter Jones. We are all Joneses. Any one of us is fully a Jones.

The intimacy we have in a family is but a faint hint of the unity of God. God is indeed one. He also exists in three real individual persons. Their representation in scripture is clear on that.

The unity of God is that all three persons know each other with comprehensive intimacy and speak, act and know in that indissoluble unity.

A husband and wife mimic this a little: they become of one flesh; but God is of one god-ness. Daughter Jones is of the same flesh as her parents. Translate this to the spiritual realm and you might have it: God is one in divinity while three in persons all unified in intent, being and existence.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Church development program

After I'd done my post on from-social-club-to-discipling-centre, I was chatting with a friend who's part of the full-time ministry team at a local church.

He suggested an approach he's taken in the past.

He worked a four-year cycle broken into four streams: Old Testament, New Testament, Theology and Society and Apologetics.

He cycled through these building up knowledge in his congregation over the four-year cycle of book studies, thematic studies, technical studies (you know, about the historiographical and textual aspects of the books).

I was thinking this would fit neatly with my scheme, with my three conferences between each of the streams.

The youth groups would be integrated into the program as well, but emphasising discussion groups and skill development opportunities both in the youth group and in the general congregation.

Genesis teaches us three things

Genesis teaches us that God created, right?

But this is just generally, the details don't really matter. The details aren't really real. Right?


Its the details that teach us three critically important things about God, ourselves and our world.

1. God is active in the time-space world of our experience in the terms of that experience. God thus makes the domain where he brings together our being and his for fellowship.

2. God’s word, his ‘logos’ is prior to the material world and shapes it in a regular rational causality.

3. Our experience of God’s created world of space, energy and time is a real experience of real distinct coherent categories in consistent interaction