Wednesday, January 28, 2009
I would like to hear your views on this.
I thought of posting a series of post on the book as a whole but this would be way beyond my area of expertise. I am not a scholar so don't expect me to answer your questions :) . I just hope that we can have some decent discussions base this particular series.
I choose my reflections based on Chapter 4 of the book because
1. This chapter is worth the price of the book!
2. Enns contends that the Apostles methods of using the OT text were how other interpreters in their period of time interpreted the OT.
3. The time period mentioned here is known as the Second Temple Period.
4. He gives 'enough' (I wished he dealt with all the relevant passages) examples for our consideration on how the Apostles were following methods of interpretation understood in their time.
5. It raises important issues on how we are to interpret the OT text in the way of the Apostles.
I wanted to start posting tommorow but I better compose them before hand. So I hope you will join me in this discussion. Before that though, this is a link (see below) to an article by Enns based on this particular issue. It would shed some light on this particular subject:
Apostolic Hermeneutics and an Evangelical Doctrine of Scripture: Moving Beyond a Modernist Impasse.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
I'd like to use it as a conversation starter for us in this post.
"The bible I read taught about tithing, but the Bible does not insist that all of the tithe must go to a local church. Truth be told, the New Testament doesn't even bring up the tithe. In the bible the tithe is a combination of spiritual support (for the temple) and social service (for the poor). Moses says tithes are to be given not only to the Levites (roughly the temple servants) but also to the alien, to the fatherless, and to the widow (Deuteronomy 26:12). The churches I was attending had nothing to do with immigrants, did little to help orphans, and so far as I knew did little to strengthen widows." (14)
"What was more, the tithe we were hearing about was something we were to give to our local church for buildings, maintenance, pastoral salaries, missionaries, and the like. But the bible said that I-as a tither- was to give some of my tithe to the Levite and also to those who were marginalized and suffering. This was something neither I nor anyone knew was doing. I was learning that we sometimes live out the Bible, rightly or wrongly, by morphing one thing into another, that is, by taking a tithe for temple assistants and also for the poor and turning it into a tithe for the local church. It might be fine to read the Bible like this, but we should at least admit what we are doing: in a word, we are morphing." (14-15)
The quotations above are not McKnight's position on tithing just to make things clear. I am simply using this quotation from the book as a discussion starter.
These are some of the questions I would like to ask, feel free to answer any one of them:
1. If the New Testament doesn't have anything to say about tithing is it still applicable now?
2. Has the church , in following the directive of collecting the tithe, ascribe to one part of what the bible tells us about tithing and neglect what the tithe is for?
3. Your thought about the quotation.
Friday, January 23, 2009
My 'conversion' was spawned by the charismatic movement. And during those years, the journey of following Jesus was harnessed by reading charismatic authors, people like Benny Hinn, Cindy Jacobs, C. Peter Wagner, Dutch Sheets are just some of the names that come to mind. I guess this come with my background here in (Borneo, Malaysia) being part of a native tribe who were reached by Australian missionaries and had a turning point in their Christian faith being swept by what we know here as the revival in the 70s. This spawned the growth of Christianity among my tribe and what would be a turning point of growth in Borneo. So, the charismatic wave influenced Christianity in these parts among most of the tribal people.
My brush with the charismatic wave introduced me to the importance of the presence of God. At times these were tangible (just my personal experience). But that soon changed when I went to bible school and was introduced with reformed evangelical theology. My charismatic convictions were being questioned when I started reading John MacArthur's book 'Charismatic Chaos' which I found disturbing. There were some things that I agreed with but some were just plain baseless. That when I settled in my mind to be leaning towards being (i)reformed theologically and (ii) moderately charismatic. I'm not sure if the combination works but these were the two plausible paths which blended in me.
In my second year in bible college (basically somewhere in the middle), the reformed stance of my theological leanings were fully dominating my ideology and theology. So during this phase I literally became critical of those who did not conform to this theological understanding of the Christian faith. You could say that up to this point I became a proud son of fundamentalism.
How deep these roots maybe in me that time were to be tested on the in December of 2005. An accident that claimed the lives of three of our youth members, one of which died in my arms spawned numerous questions for me about faith. It was at this point that whatever theological position I held were 'abandoned'. But in all that whatever belief or ounce of faith I had to start with simply believing in God in the light of Jesus who came and died and rose again as a hope of something new.
The third year of bible college were filled with questions that soon progressed towards disillusionment with institutionalized church. I had no problem in believing in God and Jesus but what really bothered me was how we practiced church. Faith and institution form of church simply didn't blend well to me.
I also had difficulty with how we as Christians were to practice our faith. The thinking that said there was a secular world and sacred world ideology simply baffled me. Christian life seemed limited to the scope of church and anything with the christian label. This really trouble me to the core. Was faith in God and Jesus supposed to be like this? Simply a sort of disengagement? My faith was there but with all these questions hovering in the back on my head
Christianity seemed a dire form of religion, not a way of life or relationship with God as I was taught, but clearly not in its portrayal.
What saved my faith then?
A magazine called Christianity Today which had an article called 'The Emergent Mystique'. It was my first introduction with what is understood as the Emerging/Emergent conversation. Although the article was neither promoting or discrediting the 'movement' it served as my introduction to something new out there that were saying things that aroused my interest. Following that article we had a course called 'Spiritual Theology' which used Eugene Peterson's book "Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places" which explained the reality of living a faith based life; not in a dualistic form of understanding (which was actually the brain child of gnosticism) but living life holistically (there are no spheres-secular/sacred-all is viewed sacred and to be lived for God).
These were the catalysts that started a possibility for a 'new' christian faith (understanding);the Emergent and Emerging movement (although most would call it conversation). I would personally say that this conversation/movement saved my faith and is continuing my conversation leaning towards a faith that makes sense in a changing world. There is a list of books that I saw helpful on this blog site by a blogger friend of mine that is worth checking out. I would like to add Dan Kimball's "Emerging Church" that introduces us to new possibilities of understanding church which has been helpful for me in envisioning the possibility of creating a community living in our post-christian culture now.
Do you have a similar journey? Are you familiar with the whole emergent/emerging movement? Your thoughts?
Monday, January 19, 2009
Saturday, January 17, 2009
If you haven't come across this video, do take time to watch it. Some highlights of the video that might stir you curiosity...
-'Who is Bono?'
-Eugene Peterson explains how Isaiah made him turn down Bono's invitation to hang out.
-Some explanation of his translation of the bible: The Message
-Peterson said he wanted to use the word 'lucky' in the beatitudes and explains why
-One of the pastor's job is to "keep the perceptions clean of God"
-Peterson would rather have his books over in the cook book's section.
-writers and poets should be ordained by the church just as pastors and scholars ...
Care to share any thoughts?
Many (now this is my own observation and critique), when addressing issues like this, take the Gaza war for example, simply explain issues like this in terms of eschatology; that is with an End Time perspective. The typical engagement on issues of war is simply to explain that the world is simply getting wicked and wars that we see happening are signs that the end is coming soon. Because of this fact we are to live right for those who are Christians, in the way that we pray regularly, attend Sunday service or Christian programs/events, read our bible faithfully and all the normal Christian disciplines we know about. As or those who have yet made a decision for Jesus, they are encouraged to do so to escape the wrath and untimely death if it so happens so that they can a place in heaven.
I find this typical, something that I have observed about for my experience living here. I simply want to make things clear that I have no affiliation of any kind with a group in describing these matters, but my personal observation. I simply wish that the church would be actively involved in social issues of sorts, speaking their opinions where it mattered and lend a helping hand to society around them. Involvement needs reflections, and a christian one is what I seek the church here to seek.
We have ignored too much the world outside in whom we were and are called to effect, to be salt and light in our context and to the nations. There are many issues that are popping up, and at an increasing level if I might add. Is there a Christian mind ready to engage them? Or is the Christian and the church simply awaiting the heaven bound timetable and simply ignoring the very place where God calls them to be witnesses?
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Here is what you need to do
- Leave a comment of your favorite bible verse or passage (follow the link given above).
- Blog about the giveaway in your blog.
- Closing for the giveaway: "This giveaway will run until midnight on Saturday (12:00 am Saturday AM CST)"
My favorite verse (out of the whole host of verses): Jn 11:35-Jesus wept.This is probably the shortest of all the verses in the bible. It’s meaningful to me because this is where divinity wrapped in/with humanity showed the face of compassion, indignation, pain, anguish, and horror of humanity struggle with sin and death. I find this a constant reminder that God did have a face to show he cared…the picture of God feeling our anguish.Anyway I hope you join in the giveaway!
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
A few years back I came across a book entitled "Good News and Good Works' by Ronald J. Sider. My first encounter with the book probed an ounce of interest. But opening it and peering through there was nothing that caught my eyes except the title and the subtitle which read 'A Theology for the Whole Gospel'. But back during that time I was working in a Christian bookstore, somewhat new in my faith and inclined in just the Charismatic stream of authors.
After my stint in the bookstore and a couple of years in bible college and harboring interest in emergent and emerging issues I went back to the bookstore again and found out that the book was still there. Apparently no one craved interest in it's title. I guess it was largely to the fact of the word 'theology' imprinted on the front page.
I picked it up and opened the book and there was this bulb of light (like the ones that pop out in cartoon strips) moment that I had. And the rest was history (meaning I bought the book and read through it and was introduced to something old but largely unhindered by the larger chunks of Christendom). I was especially drawn to the story that Sider mentioned in the beginning of the book on his encounter with a Jewish student (James) and activist but who later turned to Jesus. I was startled by what James said to Sider pre receiving Jesus as his Messiah.
"I don't want to be like these white Christians here. They sing about their love for Jesus and the joy of heaven, but they don't care about justice in South Africa. If I become a Christian, will I have to give up the struggle?" (16)
Eventually Sider explained that accepting Jesus did not mean to abandoning social justice but rather to re energize it's perspective for him. Sider later wrote that
"The white evangelical students at the conference were typical of a major segment of the Christian church for a good deal of this century: strong on personal evangelism but little or no passion for justice for the poor and liberation for the oppressed. As a result, even their evangelistic efforts faltered." (16)
These are tough word for us to swallow but non the less something that we should consider or rather what we must do. The gospel is not just about personal evangelism, saving souls and going to heaven, there is more to it than just that.
Let me just state that being 'biblically faithful' in weighing matters of the bible is not an easy task. There are many ambiguities for us to deal with. But that said it is not impossible either. (Acts 17:10-11)
We have numerous voices telling us, 'this position is faithful to scripture over that other view'. The question that I posed in a post I wrote last week was how we determine what is biblical with all these different theological position? You can see the post here entitled Biblical... how would you determine being biblical?
- How they articulate their positions
- How they present their biblical facts (faithful to the cultural context of the passage, taking the text in its context, their 'method' of interpretation)
- How much each author reads their tradition into the text (there are authors who do this quite often, let's just say that we all suffer from this, specialist or the non specialist)
- How each author's conclusions imply on how we live (the matter of application is important)
It would also be helpful for us to read some stuff on the issues that each author is talking/ writing about; a good dictionary for that matter or the internet (the endless sea of information at the tip of your fingertips).
After reading these positions (with some clarity) the next thing we have to determine is how their positions walk in line with the voice of scripture. This is where our own study is articulated (mine that is). This would be the painstaking task that we would have to undergo. There is no short cut to it.
It is at this process that I would have to weigh based on scripture (on my own), wrestling with the author's ideas, wrestling with my own inclination to an ascribed tradition, and wrestling with scripture and God's voice speaking on all the issues at hand. One of the things that has to be articulated somewhere in the pattern that I am explaining is 'what is its implication towards how we live life?'.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
I have been reading Peter Enn's 'Inspiration and Incarnation' and find the book very helpful touching on how we are to read, interpret and understand scripture. One important aspect for us to weigh is the cultural context and background surrounding a certain book. For this lets discuss Genesis.
It seems people would normally touch the topic of interpreting this book in terms of historicity, whether the book details historical fact which in turn is largely a modern concept imposed on the text. Another way people have interpreted Genesis is to prove it scientifically, that is whether the things written can be scientifically proven. This is also a modern leaning of trying to understand the book.
So how is someone to determine how one reads Genesis with 'proper' understanding without leaning of modern inclinations of understanding the book? One suggestion that I would deem faithful to this ancient text is to know how the ancient people have understood it. Lets face it, the ancient writers would not have thought how their writings would sound reasonable to people in the 20th Century. Far be it.
This is why reading Genesis in its context and trying to understand the book like how the ancients would have understood them would be the most closest thing we can do to understand what God would wan to communicate to us in the book.
What do you think? Do you find that reading and ancient text (in our case the OT) more edifying through the lenses of the ancient people and the seeking application based on that stance?
Friday, January 9, 2009
Apple Introduces Revolutionary New Laptop With No Keyboard
I just received two books that I ordered from Amazon. The first book is called "Inspiration and Incarnation" by Peter Enns. I'm reading through it at the moment and just to let you know I really like what I'm reading. Hopefully I will do a post on the book when I'm done with it.
The other book is called "Scripture's Doctrine and Theology's Bible" edited by Markus Bockmuehl and Alan J. Torrance. This was on Scot McKnight's book recommendation during Christmas so I thought I would make a good present for me.
There is still another book that I bought earlier entitled "God at War" by Gregory Boyd. This book is on spiritual warfare and one subject that I am unfamiliar with. Boyd is a pastor and was a former professor. You can find his website on my blog roll (as well as Peter Enns'). Boyd is a controversial figure because he is an advocate of open theism (I'm not sure if advocate is the right word to use here). Anyway I am going to be reading quite a lot of books this year. I still have other books on my list that I hope to purchase (Lord if only money grew in trees).
But as time progressed and some years mulling through the bible I have come to an understanding that the bible simply cannot be tamed. Reading the bible within the systems as a rigid rule simply is creating a box for us to fit God in, which ideally we will never be able to do.
One example of reading the bible in the lens of our systematic theology is trying to understand the reason behind Jesus' sermon on the mount? We learn in our systematic theology that we are save by grace through faith in Jesus and not by works. So when we read passages like the Sermon on the mount the initial reaction is trying to understand it through the lens that I mentioned. If we follow the narrative/ the story of the passage the sermon on the mount would be best understood as a way of life that Jesus was advocating for those in the kingdom of God. Jesus was not saying to attain life in the kingdom this is how you are to live. He was simply saying this is the kind of lifestyle of those who live in the kingdom of God.
There might be other examples but that was one that i just thought about when writing this post. So the bible cannot be tamed to fit neatly set up systems. To me, we simply have to unshackle ourselves from the grip of just understanding the bible in our neat mannered systematic theology. Read the bible as story. Appreciate it's grand narrative. Let the bible's plot color the way we are to understand God.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Now the matter arises for us who are reading them (whatever format that might be) to weigh each author, scholar or religious leader based on their presentation and biblical authorization of their views to make up our minds. Phew this is hard sometimes because we all at some point don't have the kind of scholar's mind to comprehend each issue or view. Lets face it we are not scholars (I'm just a wannabe for that matter based on my reading material, I just try to be informed).
But how should we respond to these views. How do we know who is really biblical? How do we make up our minds actually? I'd like to hear your opinions here. Another question I would like to ask also is how do you personally make up your mind on a certain issue (justification for example) when there are debates about it by certain scholars (N. T. Wright and John Piper), in asking who is telling the most 'faithful to scripture approach' ?
I'm try to articulate mine next week. (regardless of any comments or not ;) )
Monday, January 5, 2009
Some few days ago Rachel heard the news that her colleague's house had burnt down. She and her family lost most of their belongings in the mishap. What struck me was that after Rachel had posted on facebook the needs of her colleague, basically it was just to inform he other colleagues on what they can do to help, a certain youth (from the youth group that I was a part of before) responded by calling Rachel that she wanted to help. So last night me and Rachel went to her house and received her token of help for Rachel's colleague. But to tell you the truth, that single response from that christian youth member made my day even if it was just one person responding, but none the less it is a part of Jesus' body extending help to people.
It got me thinking. Thinking about how we as Christians can be some sort of impact in society. I just find it so prevalent these days that the church constantly talk about being an impact in society but their actions don't really show that they are any sort of even a hint of impact. Why? Because all they meetings are geared towards a Christian setting. A Christian setting that I am trying to define here is in the form of a service sort of setting where there is singing, preaching, praying for people and refreshments after all that. Talk about being an impact to society.
I just think that for a change we quit that form of being an impact and search for other ways we can be an extension of Jesus' body. I mean with all our members in church scattered and working or studying in our city where we live in we can be an impact. One of the things we can do is extending our Christian community (Church) to the society by way of our members being the bridge to connect the two.
What I mean by this is each member of the church has his or her own sphere of life (her work place, her family, her neighbourhood, her friends). These spheres represent some part of the society in which we live in (our context is MIRI). So each member of the church plays the role of being bridges of her small section of society that the Church can extend her hands.
Lets say in Rachel's case, if her sphere of life, he slice of society as a whole is her work place when she sees a need that she thinks the church can help, she can address the need to the church and the church will do what they can to muster the best help they can give to those in need. This would eliminate just a one person extending help (just one small slice of the church) to unleash a flood of help from all segments of the church (the entire body of that particular church). In this manner everyone in the church can extend their help because on of their church member is part of that particular society.
Now if we were to remove the microscopic view of just one member and project how it would look like on the basis of all the members of the church it depicts a powerful picture and possibility of how the church can be an impact to the society that she is part of.
I would like to add to these thoughts with this video of Don Carson, John Piper and Tim Keller. I wanted to do some explanation of this issue on my own but I found their discussion stimulating to say the least in talking about how we are to think about impact. (just the beginning part actually)
Any thoughts (on the the post as a whole or the video)?
Friday, January 2, 2009
1. The thing about humanity: Something is wrong
-people have always been at the centre stage of things
-they had their good moments as well as their bad ones
-in a lot of ways people have explained that humans are behind a lot of the destruction in the world. Some even explained that humans were the main contributor of destruction.
-Generally we have some sort of understanding that there lies a problem entailing humans.
2. The Bible explains humanity: Eikon (image of God)
-humans were created in the image of God (Gen 1:26-to rule, reproduce)
-The story goes well until "humpty dumpty had a great fall"; CRACK. The Eikon gets cracked. They disobeyed God and wanted to be solely independent of Him.
-Here lies the link to (point 1) the problem entailing humans. Humans get cracked and ceased in some degree of the original intent of being God's representative. So the crack affects humans relationship with God, himself, others and creation. This is the proposal of something has gone wrong.
-thus humans ceased to be what they were called to be.
3. Jesus: Restoring the Eikon (Jesus is the exact representation of God's image)
-He has a dual task of representation. He reflects God completely and reflected humans completely. Jesus' life and death is God's solution to save the world. God pin pointed on the source to heal the world. This is why salvation is geared towards humanity.
-God's mission is the salvation of the world and it starts with humans.
-God has made a route to end the destruction: Jesus-to save humanity.
Well that was the rough sketch. I had to cut some points out to make it simpler on the spot while I was talking to them. I'm not fully satisfied with the presentation but I was glad to be given that opportunity. Let's just say that there is never a perfect moment to start venture into new territory, as long as we start somewhere and build on how we present the Gospel. My hope is that mabey some of the things shared that day help in some sort of turning point in someones life that day.
I stepped from my cell's confinement
Calmly, cheerfully, firmly
like a squire from his country-house.
Who am I? They often tell me
I used to speak to my warders
Freely and friendly and clearly
As though it were mine to command.
Who am I? They also tell me
I bore the days of misfortune
Equably, smilingly, proudly
like one accustomed to win.
Am I then really all that which all men tell of?
Or am I only what I myself know of myself?
restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
struggling for breath, as though hands were compressing my throat
yearning for colors, for flowers, for voices of birds
thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness
tossing in expectation of great events
powerlessly trembling with friends at an infinite distance
weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making
faint, and ready to say farewell to it all?
Who am I? This or the other?
am i one person to-day and to-morrow another?
am I both at once? A hypocrite before others
and before my self a contemptibly woebegone weakling?
or is something within me still like a beaten army
fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?
Who am I? they mock me, these lonely questions of mine,
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am thine!
Taken from "Letters and Papers from Prison", a book that is a compilation of letters and other writings by Bonhoeffer while he was in prison. The struggle of living in reality tied down, bogged down, but yet still hoping still believing, still brooding with anticipation. Who will define me? Is it I or the other voices that provoke my listening? In the end after a Jacob style wrestle we settle with the mysterious trust of leaving definition to the one who shaped us.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
I have been waiting when N. T Wright would respond to John Piper's book "The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright". This is good news for me as I will be saving up money to get both these books and read them together. I am an avid fan of both authors (but for biased sake I am a bigger fan of Wright). But fan fare aside, I believe both voices are worth listening to, grappling with, agreeing and disagreeing with in light of the biblical text. Let the Justification conversation begin.
Here is a recommendation from I. Howard Marshall:
"This book is a magisterial response to the recent spate of criticism directed at Tom Wright for his theology of justification. He introduces readers to the debate and outlines his position without engaging in polemic against his opponents. This sprightly and gracious, yet robust, work is Tom Wright's carefully argued and scripturally based response to those who think that he has deeply misunderstood Paul's doctrine of justification… This is definitely one of the most exciting and significant books that I have read this year… Strongly commended!"
The title of Wright's book is "Justification: God's Plan and Paul's Vision". According to Michael F. Bird of the Euangelion blog (where I got this great info) the book will soon be published by SPCK (in the UK, Feb 2009) and by IVP (in the USA, July 2009).
So if you are fan get the book because you are a fan. If you have no clue of who N. T. Wright is take a gamble or search him on the the internet. He is one of the most engaging New Testament scholars who can write popular as well as scholarly books (a rare combination indeed). And I must add that he has given me more appreciation of the bible and the mission of God. His treatment of explaining Jesus' mission and call is absolutely amazing (you might even be reintroduced to Jesus again for the first time). So if you are simply curious about the doctrine Justification or what the fuss is all about on this doctrine do read Wright.
- OIL TOWN, SWK, Malaysia
- I'm a student of Theology (currently and will always be one). I'm a student of culture and a student of music as well. I guess you could say life is a never ending journey of learning. Because of that we never stop being students. Just a little something about this blog: Deconstructing The Monkey is all about being a safe space for emerging conversations