bible christianity philosophy theology

life: mess included

One of my favourite Proverbs is 14:4

Where there are no oxen, the stall is clean, but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest. 

In order to have a harvest, you’ll have to put up with a fair whack of crap!  I was thinking of this in relation to the problem of evil.  In order to have an existence where relationship and meaning are real, you’ll have to have genuine freedom and thus put up with evil and suffering.  I might put it in proverb form like this:

“Where there is no genuine freedom, the cosmos is void of evil and suffering;but from the genuine freedom given to creation, comes the possibility of love, meaning and relationship.”

bible christianity theology

full gospel

Some presentations and presenters of Christianity are, in my view, overly obsessed with the Death of Jesus such that they over-emphasise it, and end up marginalising the Incarnation of Jesus, the Ministry of Jesus, the Resurrection of Jesus, the Ascension of Jesus and the giving of the Spirit of Jesus.  It probably wouldn’t be fair to use any label for the flavour of Christianity I inherited in my early years as a Christian.  Whatever label is used, this version of Christianity is too prevalent.

In this version I inherited, the only reason Jesus was born was to die for our sins.  His ministry seemed like just some time-filling activity before he died.  The Resurrection is like icing on the cake after the ‘main event’, his Atoning death.  The Ascension is basically ignored altogether.  And the gift of the Spirit is basically about empowering people to tell others that Jesus died for their sins.  The New Testament, and the study and explanation of it over Church History, however, contains a Gospel that is much fuller than this version I inherited (and which most of our modern and quite a few of our older worship songs tend to focus on).

The Incarnation of Jesus is not a mere stepping stone to the Cross (though it is not less than that).  It is the Creator entering and uniting to the Creation in general, and human nature in particular.  This, the Eastern Orthodox rightly emphasise, is itself a saving act.  All creation participates in the salvation that Christ effects.

The Ministry of Jesus does not merely fill time until the Cross.  Jesus life and ministry is an enactment and fulfillment of genuine humanness.  Everything that humans were meant to be and do, which was focused in the call of Abraham and his people ‘Israel’, Jesus achieved and demonstrated in his life.  He finishes the race we could not.  This is a saving act.

The Resurrection of Jesus is not a mere happy ending to the Cross.  Whereas the Cross entails Jesus taking Death (and Evil and Sin) onto himself and extinguishing it, the bodily transformation and translation of Jesus, the Resurrection, enacts and achieves the defeat of Death (and Evil and Sin).  It also achieves a kind of ‘beachhead’ (or ‘first-fruits’) into New Creation, the ultimate destiny and intended goal for all Creation.  This is a saving act – for all creation – including humans.

The Ascension of Jesus is not an undoing of the Incarnation (which would be a huge heresy), where the Son of God strips off his humanity and reports back to the Father that the atoning death was accomplished (and thus the body no longer needed!).  It is about the enthronement of Jesus to the place of ultimate authority – which among other things, entails a denial of any other entities claiming such ultimate authority.  This is a saving act, saving us from false authorities.

The Giving of the Spirit of Jesus is not simply a bit of personal motivation to tell people about Jesus dying for us (though it is not less than that!).  It is the gift of the ongoing personal spiritual presence of Jesus, enabling us, correcting us, leading us, empowering us, shaping us to become more like Jesus.  It’s not just about ‘evangelism’ (or exciting private experiences), but about becoming more human – more like the true human, Jesus.  The Spirit of the true human, Jesus, makes us truly human.  This ‘humanisation’ (or ‘re-humanisation’) is a saving act; it’s what salvation is all about.

And that’s the “full gospel” that the New Testament communicates.

bible general theology


A few things I’m up to at the moment:

  • One year to go at Carey toward having these letters after my name: BappTheol (Bachelor in Applied Theology) & DipPL (Diploma of Pastoral Leadership).
  • This summer (as part of the DipPL programme), I get to do an actual summer placement at Ponsonby Baptist, and am really looking forward to learning from the experience.
  • Thomas is saying various fun words, like ‘bwek-faas!’ (which we hope means ‘breakfast’) and ‘s***’ (which we think means ‘Shrek’).
  • Because a) I’m a little over atheism/theism threads, and b) never wanted my blog to be an ‘apologetics’ one, I’d like my criticism of atheism to be implicit rather than explicit.
  • That band I’m in, Great North, is releasing our 9-track album (glowing review by Graham Reid here) at a must-attend shin-gig at the Wine Cellar this Friday night or on our bandcamp page, and has a 3-day north island tour (welly, hammy, aucks) from Dec 9-11.
  • Because you cannot stop me, I’m going to do a 12-track album called “Good Old Church Songs” – all hymns – this summer and I’m looking forward to seeing how it sounds.
christianity ethics politics

fiery survivor of abortion

Here (I don’t know if you have to have a Facebook account or not).

On emotion. This morning an abortion-activist (pro) was on TV – then this evening I get forwarded this.  My wife’s comment about the activist this morning was that she seemed far too ‘clinical’ about a very sensitive issue.

On free speech. Both sides (and various positions in between) have reasons to say that emotive statements from the other side are offensive, and hurtful.  Whilst I strive for an approach that tries to respect emotions and protect life, when push comes to shove, life is more worth protecting than emotions.

On reality. The reality is a rainbow of varied circumstances.  In the mix of those considering abortion will be a tiny percentage of women who’ve tragically suffered rape, incest, or a combination of the two.  Also in the mix will be a less-than-tiny percentage of women (and their absentee male partners and absentee community/family/friend support) who just don’t want to be bothered with the responsibility of parenthood (not to mention a sexual relationship).  It is naive to say that selfishness is not part of the picture, and non-PC to say that it is.

On relationships. Abortion is one part of a problem with sexual ethics, which is one part of a problem with human relationships in general.  Sadly, modern/western (read: over-convenienced, over-entertained, over-bandwidth-ed, over-socialised, etc.) people have few friends/family that they have a deep/trusting enough of a relationship to be able to a) get the support they need (before and after the unplanned/unwanted/inconvenient pregnancy), and b) have loving truth spoken to them when needed.

On urgency. Whilst screaming ‘murder’, ‘genocide’ or using phrases like ‘silent holocaust’ are maybe not advisable, this is still a freaking life & death issue.

On law. If you know me at all, I’m not for Christians trying to enforce our beliefs through law.  But if the role of government is not to protect life (survival first, quality of life and personal ‘rights’ second), then I don’t know what government is for.  This is one hairy beast of a problem, and I don’t claim easy fixes.  In isolated and short-term cases, an abortion of a 3-day old foetus may look ‘better’ than a drugged-addicted teenage couple being non-parents.  Though there has to be some form of legislation to protect life and people from their own selfishness and indifference, merely making abortion illegal wouldn’t solve the problem.  Whatever one thinks about free abortions or free contraception, etc., hopefully we can agree that families, communities, and yes, even nations need to stop band-aid-ing the problem and address the sexuality and relational confusion that underlies all of this.  “To each their own” (or “live and let live”) is so indifferent and uncaring a philosophy it might as well be hatred.

On increasingly moralistic society. Has anyone else noticed how moralistic society is?  Ads telling people to confront each other about their drinking, and warning people about speeding, and a host of other examples.  This is surface stuff that belies a deep uncertainty about just what to do about some issues.  Tolerance, like ‘rights’, only goes so far.  Convictions, values, responsibilities and real community will go further toward societal change than more laws and more guilt.

On long blog posts. Sorry y’all.

philosophy www

god brain

John Cleese.

christianity philosophy

life unfolds

This poem was read to open a counselling class I’m currently in – I found it wonderful.

“Life Unfolds” By Macrina Wiederkehr

Life unfolds
a petal at a time

The beauty of the process is crippled
when I try to hurry growth.
Life has its inner rhythm
which must be respected.
It cannot be rushed or hurried.

Like daylight stepping out of darkness,
like morning creeping out of night,
life unfolds slowly a petal at a time
like a flower opening to the sun,

God’s call unfolds
a Word at a time

A disciple is not made in a hurry.
Slowly I become like the One
to whom I am listening.

Life unfolds
a petal at a time
like you and I
becoming followers of Jesus,
discipled into a new way of living
deeply and slowly.

Be patient with life’s unfolding petals.
If you hurry the bud it withers.
If you hurry life it limps.
Each unfolding is a teaching
a movement of grace filled with silent pauses
breathtaking beauty
tears and heartaches.

Life unfolds
a petal at a time
deeply and slowly.

May it come to pass!

christianity philosophy science

‘big question’ essays

Cheers to Bryson for directing me to an essay, which I discovered was one over several over at The John Templeton Foundation.

The essays are comprised answers to ‘big questions’ from a variety of perspectives – theist, atheist and agnostic.  They make for interesting reading whatever your beliefs are.

Two of the ‘big questions‘ essays were of particular interest to me: “Does the Universe Have a Purpose?” and “Does Science Make Belief in God Obsolete?“.

Some other bits which may be of interest to some readers include:

  • Does Evolution Explain Human Nature?
  • Debates between contributers to the Science/Belief essay (Christopher Hitchens v. Ken Miller; Jerome Groopman v. Michael Shermer; and Steven Pinker v. William D. Phillips).
  • A Brief interview with (physicist/cosmologist) Paul Davies concerning multiverse theory
  • assorted video content (look for it) :)

thanks ian…

Thanks, Ian Luxmoore

…for a friendly, respectful, engaging and thoroughly enjoyable conversation about life, god, the universe, morality and all the rest.


busy-ish again

  • In addition to ‘normal’ things happening…
  • Had first day of classes for Intro to Counselling (Phil Halstead) and Insights into Church History (Laurie Guy) at Carey today.  They both look to be fantastic courses.  Random thoughts about both: The counselling class had me reminded again just how ‘objective’/’real’ the various ‘subjective’ human problems can be; The church history class discussed Martin Luther in his context, reminding me yet again that an informed historical awareness makes our critiques (of both medevial Catholicism and Luther himself) all the more balanced/helpful.
  • Registrations ticking over for ‘Faithful Science‘  (August 1st).  Looking forward to it!
  • Giving morning talk/devotion at TEARFund Advocate Conference the next day (Aug 2nd).
  • We’re moving to Glenfield (cheaper and more ‘our-fam-at-this-stage-friendly’ place) THIS Saturday!
  • I must also make sure that our 7 month old, Thomas, has his cubby/cute cheeks thoroughly kissed multiple times each day!
bible christianity ethics

who is my neighbour?

In chapter 10 of his gospel (or not far into the Jerusalem journey narrative as he would have seen it – he didn’t divide his gospel into ‘chapter and verse’), Luke presents an exchange between an expert in the Law (of Moses – i.e. Torah) and Jesus.  The lawyer is first trying to ‘test’ Jesus, and uses a fairly standard question of the day to do so.

Both Matthew and Mark also record this question asked of Jesus: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

I don’t want to bother with the whole discussion of what this question means and what it doesn’t mean (suffice to say that it does not mean ‘how moral must I be to get into heaven after I die’).  I’m more interested in how Jesus answers this “law expert”.