Thursday, July 30, 2009

OT: Reading with the modern mind or some other way?

I'm doing a course on Old Testament survey and we were in a discussion on whether it was possible, using our modern minds to exegete the text scientifically, that is reading the text with modern bearings, that the Israelites were able to cross the Red Sea (i'll not get into details about the Reed sea debate)?

Some scholars contend that the number of Israelites, if there were millions of them, it would be impossible for them to cross the Red sea in the space of hours but it might take a week for them to do so. (Sorry I haven't got the time to cite the references of where i got these facts. I'll probably do explanation when i have free time to spare)

But let me just pose a few questions on this. Should we use modern ways to read some portions or the whole of the Old Testament? Modern as in reading them in the way we read historical books now, where facts are studied and chosen and weighed to determine whether they are real or not.

For the moment though, I lean towards trying to understand the OT in the manner how someone in that particular era understood things. Take for example missionaries who come from developed countries and they work among tribal groups who live in the jungle. If the wanted to communicate Christianity with these people, do you think it necessary for them go tell these people about the original Greek language of a certain word, or talk to these people about science and religion? I think these people would be scratching their heads and wondering what on earth these missionaries are talking about.

I think it is more rewarding to read an ancient text, not to look too much into how they relate scientifically (although in some cases this is needed), or factually (in the manner of archaeological discoveries). Another way to appreciate the ancient text is also to read them in a way that we try to dig out their theological bearings or meanings. The bible is first and foremost, after all, a book telling us about God and his story.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Scot Mcknight Interview Part 1 & 2

Another side pluralism in Malaysia

A blog post that talks about the religious situation in Malaysia. Interesting things to reflect and think about. Follow this link.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Jesus' Return & Hell

Two blog posts that i found helpful, both written by Klyne Snodgrass on Jesus' return and hell. Here are some exerpts that should whet your appetite. 

"...I like N. T. Wright’s recent book Surprised By Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, And the Mission of the Church (HarperOne, 2008), but as with his earlier work Jesus and the Victory of God(Fortress, 1996), his view of Jesus’ eschatological teaching is unsatisfactory. In Surprised By Hope Wright states baldly that during his earthly ministry Jesus said nothing about his return. Did Wright confine himself to the Synoptics—if that were his intent—and ignore Johhn 14:3, 18, and 28?.... "

"...My concern is to stress that we know far less from Scripture about "hell" than most Christians think. If asked if I believe in hell, I often respond that I believe in gehenna. Most NT writers never mention "hell" or even have much on judgment by fire. All of us know what the English word "hell" means, but that meaning derives from medieval sources (and Greco-Roman ideas) more than Scripture..."

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Leadership as Embodying

Some reflections amidst my exilic period...

I've been reading Christopher J. H. Wright's book "Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament" and it's contents has been cluttering in my mind for the last few weeks. Especially in the area of Jesus embodying God's vision for Israel. C. J. H. Wright is one of my favorite authors (along with another Wright, with the initials N. T.). Along with N. T. Wright, he also gives us a Jesus who embodied God's vision for Israel. As God's chosen messiah, Jesus did not just hold office, but became an encapsulated version of Israel, with the task of fulfilling God's call and will for the nation chosen by him. Jesus did not simply explained the kingdom in a sense but he went a step further, living what the kingdom of God required. In that way he became the obedient son whereas the called nation failed to do so. Because he was to embody Israel in being the obedient son, he also became their embodied sacrifice. 

I could go on and on with this but let me just stop at that point and divert our thoughts to leadership. Reflecting on this, leadership is in a way a call to embodiment. Embodiment in a sense that the leader becomes what God desires for the church. Leaders, have to encapsulate the vision of God for the community. It is only then that the church with the picture of God's vision incarnated in the life and thoughts of the leader able to grasp God's will and ways. 

This is not to mean that the leader becomes like Jesus, in a way that he is above reproach and everything he does is God's will. No, not at all. It is actually telling the leader the call upon his life and the kind of responsibility that is placed upon him; being obedient to God in serving the Church in mediating the vision. 

These are at best fragmented thoughts and not a full blown description of what I'm thinking. I would appreciate comments that would help harness where i might lack clarity or erred. But the idea that Leadership is embodiment still stands and i hope to build on this in the future.  

5 Views on the Historical Jesus

I was alerted by Nijay K Gustapa upon reading his blog on this upcoming book from IVP entitled "The Historical Jesus: 5 Views". The list of scholars include Robert Price, John Dominic Crossan, Luke Timothy Johnson, James D. G. Dunn and Darrell Bock. This book will definately make it's way to my book shelf when it come out! 

Friday, July 17, 2009

A quote from N. T. Wright

I heard Bishop N. T. Wright make this statement about doctrines

"Doctrines often function as portable stories..." 

Doctrines are important but they don't tell us the whole story. They function as portable stories which we unpack from our suitcase (some of these ideas are expressions of stuff Wright said) that tells fragments of the whole. In the way Scot McKnight would explain it 'wiki-stories'. They are condensed 'statements' that compliment the whole. 

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Reflections on being Exiled

The year has not ended but there is a resounding theme that keeps banging on the doors of my thoughts, mainly the turmoil of being to some extent exiled. I think it is a resounding theme that I keep on going through and one that I seek on reflecting on constantly in many days to come. But one thing is constant when all seems lost, the hopeful expectation of an exodus. 

I find that ministry and theological life in shifting Malaysia, with the parody of old school mentality combined with some western thought patters makes the journey a bumpy one at best. Some parts of Malaysia are clearly premodern in their thought patters and some parts are modern in their thought patterns. The irony is some theological students or fulltime workers do not understand these tensions. Many are still working out their sermons, teaching, ministry patterns on worn out methods (not that there is an ideal method) or doing things based on tradition (how things have always been done). Not many see the need of contextualizing their theological training or biblical preaching and teaching. 

Because of this ministry and theological way of communicating becomes static to those who have no background on these issues. Now is the minister is not sensitive to this, it does not matter how biblically based your teaching might be, you stand to lose a whole generation. 

I think this is the kind of thing that goes around the mind of someone in exile. A parody of anguish and hope. 

Friday, July 3, 2009

What do you think of expository preaching

I've been thinking about preaching for the past few days and especially in the best method used when preaching. I hear a lot of talk about the importance about expository preaching and i'm in agreement with all the emphasis on it. The need for the bible to be expounded and the bible to be taught and preached in church is vital, mainly because we do find that most of the stuff taught are mainly one line verses from the bible or sometimes a passage is read but the sermon and points or the topic have nothing to do with the passage read. So to come up with the method of expository preaching is simply great because the message and points are derived from the exposition of the chosen text. 

But i do have some minor problems with just strictly sticking on with just expository sermons. One of the reasons being, some passages in the bible are not adequate enough to give meaning to a given topic. The method of expository preaching simply hits a brick wall because it simply has to derive it's points from the passage and when it deviates everything runs havoc. One has to dig in the bible and look for particular passages so that one can arrive at the juncture where a text would fit in adequately giving justice to the topic. 

Although I place the above as a minor issue, i'm not at all against expository preaching. For me, we have to use a variety of methods with the intention of presenting biblical preaching as well as a message that is both relevant and understandable. Sort of like messages that Jesus gave. I'm not sure if Jesus gave an expository message to his hearers but what we do find him telling stories and occasionally expounding what we call the OT now. And at times this makes me wonder what method did the apostles use when they preached to the congregation

So what about you? Do you have any thoughts on expository preaching? Or are there any other ways that a pastor or preacher(teacher) can use for the purpose of preaching? 

Hopeful Theo

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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