Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Pagans might know what they are talking about!

Only kidding.

Well, in one way they might: there is a non-material realm. Only they've got hold of the wrong part of it.

Two podcasts on Truthxchange shine some light:

Karma Summit report by Pamela Frost


Karma Summit 2 report by Pamela Frost

The first podcast has a great summary and rebuttal of 'mindfulness' at about 30:00: what it is and what the scriptures give us contrary to it.

The second has a report of the 'fairy cosmology' (at about 35:00).

This set me to thinking of the importance of  Genesis 1-2. This account places the creation in human history (via the 'days'), personalises it (the God who speaks, acts and the same days that we do, showing himself active and present in our history), and demonstrates that the foundation of reality is personal thought: God's. This enables great evangelistic conversations with pagans who probably are aware of the immaterial realm; but the wrong territory within that realm.

Along these lines, we can handle easily detractors who seek to lampoon the scriptures in the report of the talking snake and the talking donkey.

Both are examples of the unseen reality breaking through into the material realm. But this happens all the time. Every time we speak, the unseen realm of our soul: our minds producing ideas and propositionally communicable content) breaks through into the material realm.

We use propositional content to communicate and to do. To give effect to our will.

Yahweh showed that he created a communicable and rationally understandable cosmos with his use of propositional content. A demonstration to us that we engage with 'real' reality!

Communicate the gospel?

I've been thinking about Paul's approach in Acts 17:22 on.

The topics in Paul's discourse are precisely how we should move in this pagan culture we are in.




the problem of evil (as we call it these days)

and its resolution in Repentance.

The problem of evil is our 'friend' rhetorically.

Yeshua gives us the example in Luke 13:2-5. Bad things happen; they are to incentivize repentance, to show us the world is dislocated and calls for resolution.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

What should church 'look' like?

On reading the New Testament, one would not get the idea that the church would be like it is in most places today.

The modern Western church, and probably over the entire world, is like the pre-reformation church. The reformation, like most revolutions, merely changed the people at the steering wheel, and some of the fuel, of course.

We still isolate 'worship' into a set of performances in a special room, with a ceremonial talk called a 'sermon'.

Paul tells us otherwise.

The closest thing I got to what I'd call a 'real' church expression was in a small 'church plant' in a lower income area.

First we collected the kids in a bus for Sunday School. We taught SS, then drove the kids home. Back at the church premises we gathered for a pre-'service' morning tea; we chatted, mingled and were a community.

Then we had the 'service' which became a performance of sorts. Another morning tea was then provided, noting that most attendees had not participated in the 'between tea'.

The middle bit was good.

So how might church be at meeting.

Informal, sitting around tables, talking about life, faith and the scripture, a light meal,  perhaps or morning or afternoon tea. Singing, of course, but not as performance, as community.

After we might break into a few learning groups; groups for new, younger, and older Christians.

We might also meet during the week for prayer and conversation, with reading of the Bible together.

For special events: Christmas, Easter, Pentecost we might have special celebrations. Proper liturgy, choir, etc. followed by a special lunch or dinner together.

Once year we might have a conference, or we might alternate a conference and a 'regroup' (not a retreat) annually. These might be at our premises, or away at a special venue.

Years ago we had a men's conference at a hotel in the local mountains. It was great. Not lavish, but good to be in decent accommodation, a room to oneself, good food and lovely meeting rooms.

All this would be tricky for me, as I find a formal liturgical 'service' wonderfully helpful and enthralling. Every time we meet we together read the Bible, say the creed, the confession, respond to prayer and commune together. The 'service' is full of the scripture and its sentiments, all reinforcing of our faith and commitments.

Enneagram, Women and Men

Much to learn from here. A comment to "Gospel Truth or Pagan Lies" at

I'm glad he mentioned the enneagram; this piece of NewAge pabulum has regrettably found its way into the undiscerning in the church who are, like the world, detached from the worship of our Creator-Redeemer and so must seek the resolution of sin the made up world of the enneagram as it is here. The enneagram works by confirmation bias. Being self -centred we tend to see in it what we want to. Mitch Pacwa has done good work on exposing this particular piece of charlatanry in the Christian Research Journal .

OTOH, I must take issue with the family 'roles' at 21:25.

The family in the scriptures is not a command structure. Paul's instructions in the occasional epistles are to oppose the paganized destruction of relationships, where the 'earth mother' is supreme over the male and respect for the male is deprecated. Paul says that women are not to teach this, and indeed it was Adam who was made first and Eve as his helper. I.e. Adam was one who needed help.

Thus, a married man who doesn't listen carefully to the advice of his wife is a fool in the making. Further he is to sacrifice for his wife as Christ for the church. in Galatians it is clear that there is no hierarchy of difference between the sexes ('neither male nor female'). Furthermore, we are taught in Ephesians not to frustrate our children. We must bear that in mind at all times, difficult as it can be. Kindness and putting the other before self are the underlying imperatives of Christian life.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Cute church signboards

We've all seen them; droll or twee church signboards; or even just naff! But at last a good one, IMO:

What if there's more?

Good one!

No fake answers, no dimwitted use of Bible passages. Just a question.

Now, I wonder what the follow up is.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Peter Singer

The humanist philosopher Peter Singer is giving a public lecture in a couple of weeks.

A friend and I have prepared a brochure to hand out there.

We'll mix with the participants heading inside and seek to hand it out, maybe converse.

Maybe we'll ask our youth worker to come along and help, along with the Christian group from our local university, a world top 50! It must have some of the brightest people in the world (sorry, fallacy of composition) studying there; but  I'll bet none of these are interested in really seeking to take the gospel to pagans: not to 'John 3:16' them, but to prompt curiosity - check Paul at Athens. Acts 17. It ended with some wanting to hear more. But also to listen to pagans to understand them, to develop conversation skills.

No, the whole church is in retreat!

Friday, March 11, 2022

A church in retreat

I can see my church rolling back.

We sometimes have 'retreats'. Now we've made it a strategy, it seems. We are in full retreat.

Years ago we helped to found a local educational ministry with other local churches. We can no longer find a volunteer to be on the joint committee. Christians might not like committees, but without them nothing gets organised.

We did have outreach type activities every day of the week. Then it went down to three days a week, now we're down to two days a week. None of these produce any real flow of Sunday attendances or enrollment in short courses, so why do we do them?

Our Easter Fair was a bit of a local thing. Not enough volunteers. Can't run it.

Prayer before our Sunday meetings? No. No time, no interest to convene it.

There's a local 'market' once a month. We could have a booth there and sell crafts produced by our mission partners' villages, offer 'fair trade' coffee (I don't think this has any real benefit, but it would allow us to offer free coffee without seeming to compete with others). Then we could use this for quiet outreach activities with volunteers trained to initiate conversations that lead somewhere. No one is interested.

Our youth ministry has fallen flat. Partly due to demographics, partly not.

We make no contribution to local school religious education ministry.

I don't quite know what we do.

We outsource our efforts in family development to secular organisations with secular commitments including to sex confusion (one organisation we host has terminated an employee for standing against its rejection of men's needs).

We do have some courses that are helpful, but not properly targeted (maybe because these needs are not promoted from the pulpit); we have nothing for developing skills in faith conversation, regular courses in grounding faith (for new Christians), and the bones of Christian faith, practice and history. These only need to be 'term' long: that's 10 weeks.

We don't do anything to celebrate and encourage ministry contributions: I could image both an inaugural celebration for group ministers (servants, the biblical idea, not 'leaders', the worldly idea), with perhaps a special morning tea or lunch, similarly at year end; we could have a celebration of our church's founding; maybe not on the date, but on Pentecost!

In the past we've partnered with a small rural church for encouragement and support, and mutual edification. We lost interest!

We do nothing for men or separately for women; true we have lots of home groups; maybe that's good, but I don't know. Men particularly miss out in church, which are very woman dominated in the volunteering effort, and have few occasions to get together as men and do man things. I don't mean tritely, but just a dinner and a guest speaker three times a year would help. Off that we could develop a men's group for monthly fellowship, prayer and discussion. We did have bi-monthly breakfasts, but they've gone. Another local church has a weekly men's breakfast. Has done for decades. But not us.

We're in retreat.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

A weekend away

Most Christian 'conferences' I've attended are terribly biblical. Usually they amount to a set of sermons: similar content, but longer; so even lower content density than from the pew.

But Christian conferences should spring from Romans 12:1-2. "Transformed by the renewing of your mind" should be the aim.

They could do a couple of things. Give a a Scriptural basis for our thinking about life and the world. Our personal philosophy and its function to critique the world and enable point target evangelism.

Some of the work of Stand to Reason heads in this direction, but not entirely, it is, in the end, Calvinistic (and to that extent not Christian, in my view), and does not take the Doctrine of Creation set out in Genesis seriously. It dilutes and de-historicises it with a materialist time scale.

Ironically, the one who really lays out the path for such a conference would be Francis Schaeffer (ironic because he's both reformed, although not entirely Calvinistic, I think, and rather unclear on his historical location of the creation).

I've just re-read his ground-breaking and re-orienting trilogy The God Who is There, Escape from Reason, and He is There and He is Not Silent. Add to that Return to Freedom and Dignity and Death in the City and you have content for a three day conference that studies, reflects on and activates his thoughts in our contemporary setting.

The conference would presume attendees having read at least the trilogy.

It would be fabulous!

Letter to a minister

Dear Agamemnon,

I think the current preaching program is the first time in more than 50 years of attending churches that I've encountered a program on 'commending Christ'. Excellent.

I think it lays the ground for a more concerted offering that might be considered.

People really learn behaviour change through engagement. Just listening to a talk rarely does it.

Could we look at a series of seminars on Communicating Christ? These would include pre-reading, a short presentation followed by facilitated discussion (such as described by Brookfield -- ) then break into syndicate groups to work up presentations and engage in practice.

I think the questions that would need to be covered would be:

Why do I: believe the Bible, think Christ resurrected, Yahweh exists.
What about evil in the world?
Doesn't science (evolution) disprove the Bible/Christianity?

The big five.

To a more aware enquirer, the Trinity might be a question as well...that could be a bonus! Or, we could figure out 7 topics...the perfect number.

The important thing would be to get past personal testimonies, as useful as these can be, to the grounds of belief. Why these things are justified true beliefs based on (public) objective evidence.

Another or allied approach might be that of Greg Koukl's. His book 'Tactics' describes an enquiry-dialogue approach to 'talking the gospel' that is of broad applicability.

You might be aware of his work, but here are some links that could be of interest.

Tactics 1:
Tactics 2:
Tactics 3:
Tactics 4: