procrastination, heresy, and navel-gazing.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


sometimes I get a bit over Christocentrism.
it’s not that I don’t agree that all the scriptures point to Christ. But I always thought Christ came to show us God -
No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, [Jesus] has made him known. John 1:18
If the Bible is God’s self revelation, Christ is the Word of God, revealing God to us – then why do we always talk about reading and preaching Christocentrically?
Jesus is about revealing to us God
Jesus is about reconciling us to God
Jesus is about bringing us into God’s Kingdom
Jesus is about bringing about God’s Kingdom
and on top of all that, Jesus is God
so why Christocentric?
why not Theocentric – you cover Christocentric anyway.

i think a little levity on this would make free preachers up to preach God from all the Scriptures. To preach God, who is revealed throughout his scriptures, who is revealed in Jesus, but also reveals himself to us as he relates with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; with Jepthah, Gideon and Barak, with Rahab, Ruth and Rehoboam.
i think as we then preach God, we will preach Christ – the Son of God; we will preach the Holy Spirit, we will preach the whole host of God’s revelation to us in his Word, as well as in his words.

if you're wondering why i've been moved to write this? listening to some Dale Ralph Davis talks from last year's SMBC Preaching Conference as he worked through Judges and some other OT narrative passages, i am thinking more and more that we are allowed to just preach God.
it may be that the pressure i feel to make everything Christocentric is from a perceived lack of this around the world, but the error of not preaching Christocentrically is not preaching Theocentrically, but moralistic sermonising. so as a reaction to doing bad biblical theology i can understand the emphasis on Christocentrism, but that's not the direction i'm wanting to go.
make sense?

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, June 23, 2008

an important quote about a man you don't know.

Barmen helped the church seek to be a faithful community of witness and service, but it did not require it to develop a prophetic, "watchman" or public theological role, shaping the moral and spiritual architecture of civilisation. [...] it distanced itself equally from all social theories and political systems. In asserting that the gospel stands far beyond all forms of human wisdom, Barmen limited the church's capacity to develop modes of discourse and social convictions necessary for creative participation in society.*
you may not know who Barmen is. in fact, it's maybe better if you don't. the question is one of relevance. what is the church? what does it seek? from what does it distance itself from? from what does it shirk from discussing, interacting with?

at my old church, i was really excited at the 'untouchable' series we did every year, as we do exactly what the quote above maintains of Barmen. it was a great testimony to God as we saw many people from the community drawn not to an irrelevant piece of architecture from another age, but to a church that speaks the truth in love.

* quote from Revisiting the church in socialism. Max L. Stackhouse, in Christian Century, 115 no 25 S 23-30 1998. p867

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


wordle is fun. and not procrastination either. well, it is, but there is a purpose, as justin via mpj rightly say.

Firstly then, from my sermon last week on Exodus 16-17: (CLICK TO ZOOM IN ON PICS)

then we have, from earlier in the year, a sermon on Philippians 2:12-18:

A two-part series from last year on Lamentations:

and finally, a wordle from what you see on this blog!

i'm not sure what to say about all this, what i can understand better about how i preach, at least the words i (intend to) read out aloud. i would like to see the word love there a little more, it really doesn't stand out as it should, except in the Philippians talk. thankfully there's not too many 'churchy' words, which pleases me. i'm glad to see hope stand out in the Lamentations talks, that's something i really wanted to impress from that book.

what else? what stands out and doesn't? what should stand out but does?

Labels: , ,

Monday, June 16, 2008

wright and women

trying to write (no pun intended) a practice essay for my Biblical Theology exam on Thursday, trying to write a biblical theology of men and women. which isn't as hard as it sounds - it's just i can't keep focussed.

i keep thinking about this paper by N.T. Wright, entitled Women's Service in the Church, which really is a cracker of an article.

the thing i keep coming back to (yes, i did a little scribbling out in my bible) is his translation of Galatians 3:28

the NIV has,
There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
there's a nice rhythm there, neither A nor A', B nor B', C nor C'.
however, as Tom Wright puts it:
That is precisely what Paul does not say; and as it’s what we expect he’s going to say, we should note quite carefully what he has said instead, since he presumably means to make a point by doing so, a point which is missed when the translation is flattened out as in that version. What he says is that
"there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, no ‘male and female’".
so i checked my greek*, and he's right.

the question is of course however not if Wright's right (he is Wright, after all), but what are the implications? why the marked difference from Paul's neither this nor that formula? especially in the context of elsewhere affirming maleness and femaleness, the differences and complementarity between the two.

i do wonder about IVPs New Dictionary of Biblical Theology's quote in thinking through the implications of maleness and femaleness in the new creation,
the people of God will be 'like angels in heaven', in that the centre of their existence will be undivided communion with God. Then the beautiful and delicate interplay of man and woman with one another will give way to the ultimate reality of Christ and his church for ever at one.
i'm not sure what that bit at the end means (at one), but the picture i get, despite the author's assurances, is that of androgynous winged angels playing harps in the clouds. which i don't quite get from Galatians 3 (nor elsewhere really).

so why's he done it? what's the point? whaddya reckon?

*greek language version New Testament, not a person of Grecian origin routinely asked to clarify translation issues. (ed)

Labels: , , ,

Friday, June 13, 2008

Truth and Faith in Ethics

saw this poster in a café. first thought it looked interesting because of the title. then saw one of the speakers was Raimond Gaita - Australian philosopher, better known among non-philosophers for writing Romulus, My Father, an Australian film directed by Richard Roxburgh with Eric Bana and Franka Potente. excellent film dealing with Gaita's upbringing, with a mother and father both suffering from mental illness. beautiful film.

if in Sydney, the public lecture ($5 entry at the Seymour Centre on June 26th) is something you could easily get to. for further details, go to the official website here

Labels: , ,

Thursday, June 12, 2008

against introductions: parallels or patronising?

one thing i’ve been really challenged about this last week is the use of illustrations and introductions in sermons.

so today: a quote from Paul Keating (Australian Prime-minister 1991-6) – ‘[your performance] is like being flogged with a wet lettuce’, ‘you’re like a shiver waiting for a spine’, and so on .

the sermon then continues (starts) the pharisees and saduccees need to trap Jesus like an aspiring Paul Keating.

i like it, it’s fun, it seems to be relevant to the passage – but what it says is THE BIBLE IS BORING – so here’s a really interesting story. so when you think pharisees and saduccees, think Paul Keating, and then you’ll find it really interesting.

how do we do introductions that aren’t just trying to ‘make the bible more interesting’? or is that the point of an introduction?

another one – the gripping story of Australia’s America’s Cup win (in 1983), an unlikely victory. But with that really interesting story in your mind, here’s the not quite so interesting story of the Israelites being saved from certain death, with Pharaoh’s army on one side, the Reed sea on the other.

i don’t want to be a party-pooper, but, neither do I want my introductions to make the Bible boring by implication.

whaddya reckon?
(big ups to ae for beginning this thought process - tho not in the blogosphere)

Labels: , , ,

Monday, June 09, 2008

Doors of the Sea - Pt IIa

Just starting part two of David Bentley Hart's the Doors of the Sea, and it was interesting to think about the way our culture views nature.

paganism worshipped nature, believed that it was self-aware, tried placating it with sacrifices and other rites, there were rights of passage to show you were able to live in nature as an equal, not afraid, but watchfully aware.

in this scientistic age, however, we see nature as nothing but cause-and-effect. pressure builds up, tectonic plates move. earthquake, tsunami, 100,000 homo erecti die. there is no emotional involvement - it just is. how could we get upset?

and this is the bind of the world today, in a post-pagan epoch. how are we then to think of nature? benign, simply following the laws by which it was created and continues to exist - or a vengeful, dangerous, awful (in the true sense of the word) force to be greatly feared, never underestimated. we see the debate played out in Australia with the shark-nets, to protect the swimmers at popular beaches - do we fear nature, stay away, let these fearful creatures of the sea alone, or rather do we put up nets to catch them, send out hunting parties with space-age sonar and weaponry to take back our beaches?

can we have to find a middle path, a third way? what is the Christian way of understanding the untameable nature, and at once the omnipotent creator God?

hopefully either you, dear reader, or at the very least DBH will tell me the answer within the last 50 pages!

check out related posts here, and here

i don't think i've used this photo before. if you can guess the location, i'm sure either Byron will grant you a couple of points, or possibly even Dave will give you a warm fuzzy or two.


Thursday, June 05, 2008

New Birth in Titus 3

Today we had a great sermon in chapel, below is Titus 3:4-6 from the ISV, a translation notable for the maintaining of poetic forms, a real pleasure to read.

In grace our Saviour God appeared,
to make his love for mankind clear.
‘Twas not for deeds that we had done,
but by his steadfast love alone,
he saved us through a second birth,
renewed us by the Spirit's work,
and poured him out upon us, too,
through Jesus Christ our Saviour true.
And so, made heirs by his own grace,
eternal life we now embrace.

the talk reminded us how full-on this was, it's like saying, "your whole life is a mistake, get back in your mother's womb."

we reminded of what new birth isn't:
born again ≠ hypocritical (cf politicians)
born again ≠ arrogance (how great i am to be called)
born again ≠ immorality, licentiousness (why not - i'm reborn)

but rather new birth is about true humility, living good lives as a response to the good, being submissive and obedient.

this means that we can live out this new birth anywhere, under any circumstances, whatever our status in life, whatever the political regime. not because of, but despite ourselves.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


seeing as one of my fave blogs, locusts and honey, has been kind of quiet of late, i thought i should keep up his continuing instruction in the ways of ceiling cat:


in other news, obama is through.
oh wait - those funny citizenship laws mean i can vote neither for nor against him... just with all the news coverage and all i thought that maybe...

Labels: ,