Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The BBC, Sex and the Anglican Church

I just read this review on the BBC website trying to break down the issues at the heart the Anglican Church 'rift'.

The first thing I noticed: there is no section on "Approach to Scripture". This section appears to be subsumed into the section "The need for a shared universal doctrine". Methinks they are not the same thing. And, as most keep pointing out, approach to Scripture is the issue at the heart of the 'rift', and not sexuality.

But the other thing that astounded me was the very slippery description on the"Liberal" position on "Active Homosexuality":
LIBERAL: When we talk about human sexuality we are actually talking about questions of the goodness of the body, and the goodness of creation. Sexuality is part of a person's being. People are called to be in relationships, sometimes sexual relationships, and that's how we understand the goodness of creation. We are emerging from 1700 years in the West of a deeply distrustful stance toward creation and everything that creation contains, including the human body and sexual relationships (even those traditionally called "marriage"). A dominant view of the Church in that time period has been that a celibate life is closer to the angelic life than the married life, and that marriage was for those who could not successfully aspire to the celibate life. Such an attitude is based on a profound unease, or dis-ease, about creation. So ideas about "active homosexuality" - even framing the question that way - betray a view that is still being shaped by an uncertainty about whether the creation and the body are in fact good or not.
My response is:


Isn't this the bedrock conservative position? But with a sneaky Bait'n'Switch twist at the end? Isn't the conservative position that the Bible teaches in "the goodness of the body" and "the goodness of creation"? Isn't the conservative position that sex is good and healthy and to be expressed regularly in marriage? (A point made in the conservative entry). Don't the conservatives also distrust (and even 'condemn') historical positions that are distrustful of the goodness of creation?

We believe all that.

But we don't believe that a person in Christ then has a blank check on sexuality. By no means.

Have I misread this?

Pic on Flickr by Yley Coyote.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sermon Audio: Romans 5:1-11 (Plumbing the Depths of God's Love)

Download HERE for an Sermon Audio from Romans 5:1-11. (Right Click to Download file)

I was 15 when they finally found the wreck of the Titanic. Before then, people had a rough idea of the location of the Titanic (the Atlantic), and we knew that the Titanic was grand from the pictures. And we enjoyed the idea of the Titanic.

But on the Labor Day Long Weekend of 1985, they actually found the wreck. They plumbed the depths of the Atlantic, and found the wreck.

And the images that came out on that National Geographic Magazine... They were wonderful.

Suddenly, with my 15 years old own eyes, I could put some real shape on the dimensions of the Titanic as it exists today. I could see how high and wide and deep was the Titanic.

I say all this, because I wonder whether you and I have a similar story with the love of God in our lives.

But for many of us, we know God’s love is there. We know that it’s meant to be grand. And we enjoy the idea of it. Or the theory of it.

And yet we have not plumbed the depths of the love of God, and seen firsthand the sheer enormity of his grace.

Romans 5:5>
God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
A friend of mine says: the reason most people have such a shallow experience of God’s love is that they narrow the activity of God down to a few years: The few years of my Christian life.

God’s love is bigger than your experience of it. And the narrative of God’s love is greater than the narrative of your life. And yet, God has poured his love into our hearts by his Spirit.

Romans is a book giving us that narrative of the Titanic Love of God.


(Sermon is on Romans 5:1-11. And the Link to the sermon is HERE.)


Monday, June 23, 2008

Anglicanism: Thegreat thing about it is...

So Tom Wright made an appearance on The Colbert Report here in the States. He handled himself very well. You can view the video HERE. (H/T Justin Taylor) He is on the show to promote his new book, Surprised by Hope.

(As as aside, I went to hear the Bishop in NYC 2 months ago. I asked him in Q and A if there was anyone in the evangelical world arguing with him on this one. Surprised by Hope is far less controversial that many of his other writings. I asked him if there were any scholars defending the Platonic version of 'going to heaven when you die'. He was kind and said it was a good question. And his answer was basically, 'No, not that he knew of'. Interesting.)

Anyways, here is what I thought was interesting in the Colbert interview. Colbert is a Roman Catholic. And this exchange took place (at 4 minutes):
Colbert: And is this your reading, or is this Anglican theology?
Wright: The great thing about Anglicans is that we have no theology of our own, and so if something is true, the Anglicans believe it. That’s the theory anyway. It would be nice it is did work.
Colbert: That’s what I say. That's what I say.
Wright: No. You chaps [Catholics] have stuff that you look up in these big books all the time. Anyway, the point is this…

Some Questions to get you going.
  • What do you think he means by Anglicans 'have no theology of our own'?
  • Is he right?
  • If he is right, is it a virtue or a vice of Anglicanism?
Related reading: Dr Paul Barnett's Ten Elements of Historic Anglicanism.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Saturday Shots

We had our monthly families event for Church this morning. We had Music with James come and play for us (the kids especially). Then the Moms and Dads looked at these verses (thats a pdf Download) in a Bible Study exploring the dynamics of our love for God. Then after that we went to a play ground with our friends. And tomorrow, we are looking at Romans 5:1-11. Can't wait. Thats our Saturday.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Miller High Life and the Epistle to the Romans

We are preaching through Romans at Church over Summer. Abraham Piper, of Twenty Two Words, wrote these words about the Spirit's use of Romans in his conversion:
One Tuesday morning, before 8 o’clock, I went to the library to check my e-mail. I had a message from a girl I’d met a few weeks before, and her e-mail mentioned a verse in Romans. I went down to the Circle K and bought a 40-ounce can of Miller High Life for $1.29. Then I went back to where I was staying, rolled a few cigarettes, cracked open my drink, and started reading Romans. I wanted to read the verse from the e-mail, but I couldn’t remember what it was, so I started at the beginning of the book. By the time I got to chapter 10, the beer was gone, the ashtray needed emptying and I was a Christian.

The best way I know to describe what happened to me that morning is that God made it possible for me to love Jesus. When He makes this possible and at the same time gives you a glimpse of the true wonder of Jesus, it is impossible to resist His call.
In this article, Abraham gives 12 thoughts on what to do if your child stops believing.

Pic by cc6ss.

TheTyranny of The Text?

I was speaking to a friend the other day. He is not in a (regular) preaching ministry, although he serves in a church with a strong preaching ministry.

He was lamenting good preaching, and was fired up about it. In particular, he aimed his fire at preaching that just 'adheres the the text'. He maintained that most preaching that (basically) sticks to the text is boring. Terribly boring.

And he offered two suggestions as to why preachers just adhere to the text (instead of setting the text in a more coherent theology, or a larger narrative). He suggested:

1. Concerns about Unity: He said that in lots of churches and denominations, there is so much disagreement about world view and theology, that "at least we can agree about these 10 verses". Or, on the other hand, it puts some limits on debate: "What do these 10 verses say, or not say?" Adhering to the text is a way to not rock the boat.

2. Fear of Theology: Preachers are afraid to put together, and then to stand by a coherent theology that they preach week by week. So we limit ourselves weekly to 'just saying what this chapter says'.

Further Reading:

Pic by Bethmalena.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

All you need...

Dr Laurel and I cut 'n' pasted Song of Solomon into Wordle...

Click on the Wordle above and enjoy.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Wordle Test for your Sermon...

MPJ did a Wordle on his Blog for his D.Phil thesis on Martyrdom. So I wondered if a good sermon ought always to have Jesus at the center of a Wordle created from that sermon. I know that simple word count is very different to coherent Christ-focused content. But still...

I tested my theory out on my sermon on John 3, (it took 3 seconds) and above is the Wordle.

So I guess I passed.

(Click on the picture to see the Wordle properly.)

Sam asked me in the comments about how my theory holds for Old Testament. Hmmm. This one is from Deuteronomy 6 -- I guess its still Trinitarian, since Jesus is in the center...

Test your sermon...


Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Little Lady and creation.

Discuss (with optional reference to the Scriptures.)


Friday, June 13, 2008

Who said that?

An American President said this:

I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end, when I come to lay down the reins of power, I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside of me.

Without Googling, who said it?



Thursday, June 12, 2008


A friend (who himself is in a preaching ministry) sent me a quote from Scottish preacher James Denney:
It is impossible at the same time to leave the impression both that I am a great preacher, and that Jesus Christ is a great Savior.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Bible Study Help: 1 Timothy

One of our Bible Study Home Fellowship Groups is studying 1 Timothy 2 this Friday. It has some very controversial words in it, particularly the ones in Verses 8-15 about:
  • The limits of women teaching and exercising authority (and the link with Eve.)
  • That difficult verse about women being saved though child-bearing.
Can any of you offer my friend Nathan (who is leading) some insights into these verses?

Anything may be of help. Or even if you could point Nathan to the best resources on those texts.

Pic on Flickr by ~Haani~.

Monday, June 09, 2008

My Domestic Holy Grail.

This is what I basically do first thing in the morning. I build a train track for The Boy. But it's more than a domestic task. It is a quest: I seek the perfect track.

Today, I found it.

Click on the picture to see it's beauty in all it's glory.
  • Anyone else know what I'm talkin' about?
  • If you do, what makes a perfect track?

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Of course you saw it coming

An Insight into trust and cheating.

Found on Indexed HERE or Click on Picture for its source.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Sermon Help: Romans 2

We're doing Romans at church over summer. I'm preaching on Sunday on Romans 2. Included in the text are these (controversial) words:

He [God] will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.

Some classic questions that you can help me with:
  • So will God save me if I 'seek for glory and honor and immortality'? Will God 'render to me according to my works'? And how does that fit in with Romans 3?
  • What is the point of Romans 2? (I ask because for many Christians, Romans 2 is functionally redundant. Romans 1 says we have a big problem to which Romans 3 gives an answer in Jesus. And Romans 2 appears unnecessary in that schema.
I know it's the beginning of the weekend, but feel free to comment...


Doubting in the Bronx?

At 2:17AM someone in the Bronx was directed to my Blog by typing these words into a search engine:
im born again water and spirit but doubt sometimes
It made me a touch sad when I read that. It almost felt like a prayer typed into the Net. If you log on again, my new friend from the Bronx, click here for some of my work on being 'Born from above'.

What would you say to Mr. or Ms. Bronx?

Pic in Flickr by DownTown Pictures.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Your Own Private Idaho

Wife and family and I are having a vacation in Idaho in August. Idaho? I really haven't thought about Idaho since the B-52s immortalized the state in 1980. Ah, the music of 1980 gives my heart joy.

Christ the Redeemer Church (in Spokane, in Eastern Washington State), have invited us out to their families conference where I will be teaching from the Bible. We are very much looking forward to it.

So .. Tips?

What can you do out there in Washington State or Idaho? Anyone know? Tricks? Cheap rental cars? Day Trips? Places to visit? Restaurants? Family things? Anyone know any contacts? Vacation homes? What have you...

Pic by Wolfgang Staudt.