Friday, May 29, 2009

Shaq Fu: Part One

I am fascinated by the Shack, but still wrestle with it's core theology that absolutely everything in our relationship with God is up to us. i.e. God has reconciled Himself to us, in Christ, and all that is left if for us to reconcile ourself to Him. Scripture (of which Young's book is lacking) seems to indicate the exact opposite [Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:18; Colossians 1:22].

I will not go so far as to say that it is a "bad" book, although there are other issues, but this core theology (which is very prevalent in Pop-evangelical Christianity) would imply that Christ and His Cross was not center of God's plan for creation, humanity, history, eternity, but that instead WE are.

I have to believe that God's plans and purposes are always for His own glory, not ours. Papa-as-God is nothing more than a divine Forest Gump who is influential but not ultimately and eternally significant.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Spiritual Gifts

Various Greek words are used in describing spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12 -

12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts [πνευματικων], brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed.
pneumatikon: spiritual as opposed to the body/physical/natural talents and gifts

12:4 Now there are varieties of gifts [χαρισματων], but the same Spirit;
charismata: a Pauline technical term denoting extraordinary powers of the Spirit used by Christians to serve the church. They are "free" gifts of grace as opposed to being earned or learned

12:5 There are varieties of service [διακονιων], but the same Lord;
diakonian: functions or ministries used to serve the Church, the verb in English would be "to deacon"

12:6 There are varieties of activities [ενεργηματων], but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.
energematon: workings and operation for a specific purpose, rather than permanent possession

12:7 To each is given the manifestation [φανερωσις] of the Spirit for the common good.
phanerosis: an active display/exhibition/manifestation of (in this case) God’s power through the Spirit, cf. 2 Corinthians 4:2

Paul uses a variety of descriptors for the activities of the One Spirit in 1 Corinthians. He does not seem concerned with specifically and precisely defining how the Spirit works in all the various individual members of the church body. Because of the way he describes them his list of "spiritual gifts" (as they have come to be called), does not seem exhaustive. Instead he seems to be describing how the Spirit works in the life of the whole church body. In this the Spirit works in a multitude of various and expansive ways, so it is not healthy to speak of individual "gifts" granted to individual persons except as where this discussion is in relation to the church as a whole.

Here is the "complete" list of Spiritual Gifts, or the "complete" list of all the ways the Spirit works in our churches:

Service gifts:
Administration (1 Corinthians 12:28)
Helps (1 Corinthians 12:28)
Giving (Romans 12:8)
Mercy (Romans 12:8)
Service (Romans 12:7)
Faith (1 Corinthians 12:9)

Equipping gifts:
Exhortation (Romans 12:8)
Wisdom (1 Corinthians 12:8)
Knowledge (1 Corinthians 12:8)
Teaching (1 Corinthians 12:28)
Pastoring (Ephesians 4:11)
Apostleship (1 Corinthians 12:28)
Evangelism (Ephesians 4:11)
Leadership (Romans 12:8)

Prayer and worship gifts:
Prophecy (1 Corinthians 12:10)
Tongues (1 Corinthians 12:10)
Interpretation of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:10)
Healing (1 Corinthians 12:9)
Miracles (1 Corinthians 12:10)
Discernment of spirits (1 Corinthians 12:10)
Creative Communication

Friday, May 08, 2009

Destroyed the Template

Somehow, I destroyed any ability to utilize an RSS feed from this blog when I originally was messing with the template. So for the sake of an RSS feed I have destroyed my template.
I really liked the Lincoln pic in the old template though. Any idea how to have both?

Schedule for Leader Training

Northern Training Institute, through Porterbrook Network in Sheffield UK has some great ideas on how to train and mobilize men for ministry.
Some of their ideas include:

A schedule of
  • Yearly: two residential weeks with intensive lectures, seminars, and occasional guest lecturers
  • Monthly: one day of seminars with students presenting papers for discussion and critique
  • Ongoing: guided reading
Those participating in the Institute are expected to set aside 10-15 hours a week (one day and evening or two days) in addition to the residential weeks.

Institute students opt to study with the Institute for one, two or three years:
  • biblical study year
  • doctrine and church history year
  • mission and ministry year
Institute students must be graduates (of any discipline) or have significant experience of gospel ministry. All applicants must be commended by their local church.

The institute is Reformed and evangelical, believing in the sovereign grace of God in salvation, the inerrancy of Scripture and substitutionary atonement and subscribes to a doctrinal basis of Affinty

The institue emphasises participation in a local church, and the integration of theology and practice

Thanks Andy for turning me on to this.
Now if we can only get Ryan Franchuk to pioneer this ministry in South Dakota.

Narnia's Seven Sins

Rumor has it that C.S. Lewis wove the seven deadly sins into his Chronicles of Narnia series. If true, it would make them into an interesting teaching tool, but more than likely C.S. Lewis would respond to our speuclation:
Some people seem to think that I began by asking myself how I could say something about Christianity to children; then fixed on the fairy tale as an instrument, then collected information about child psychology and decided what age group I’d write for; then drew up a list of basic Christian truths and hammered out 'allegories' to embody them. This is all pure moonshine. I couldn’t write in that way. It all began with images; a faun carrying an umbrella, a queen on a sledge, a magnificent lion. At first there wasn't anything Christian about them; that element pushed itself in of its own accord... apart from that, I don’t know where the Lion came from or why He came.  But once He was there He pulled the whole story together, and soon He pulled the six other Narnian stories in after Him. -C.S. Lewis, Of Other Worlds
The classical-medieval seven deadly sins may have, then, pushed themselves in of their own accord and from Lewis' own Oxford training but here they are.
  1. Gluttony: The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe - Edmund's taste for Turkish Delight leads him to betrays his siblings.
  2. Anger:  The Magician's Nephew - Digory and Polly's angry quarrels result in Digory waking Jadis the White Witch, whose own anger brings trouble to Narnia.
  3. Lust:  Prince Caspian - Lust is difficult for a children's book, however, King Miraz may portray lust for power and progeny.
  4. Greed:  The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - Eustace Scrubb's greed for gold gets him turned into a dragon.
  5. Sloth:  The Silver Chair - Jill and Eustace are told of four signs they must remember which through apathy and carelessness are forgotten during crucial moments.
  6. Pride:  The Horse and His Boy - The horse Bree, the girl Aravis and Prince Rabadash all must be humbled by Aslan.
  7. Envy:  The Last Battle - Shift the ape is envious of the respect given Aslan.

Ecclectia of the Seven Sins:
Whitestone Journal
Seven Deadly Sins Sampler
All Seven Deadly Sins Committed at a Church Bake Sale

Now, more on the Seven Sins in Narnia:
Dr. Don W. King
Martin LaBar

Narnia as the Seven Planets here

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Good Work

The Off-Road Pastor makes this observation
What is the good work scripture is talking about [in 2 Timothy 3:17]? The work of God in and through us.
It is encouraging when someone ignores the secondary applications and gets to the point of a passage. Often, and sometimes to extremeism 2 Timothy 3:16-17 is used as justification for arguing that all scripture is inspired. Yet a clear reading of the passage in context indicates that inspiration without purpose is irrelevant. Scripture is inspired in order that the thoroughly/perfectly/adequately/competently/completely equipped man might be prepared for the good work of...
And here is where I think the Off-Road Pastor falls short. To the question What are the good works 2 Timothy 3:17 is talking about? He replies:
We cannot assume that we will become closer to God, understand His calling for us, or even do His calling for us if we are not looking into His word on a regular, daily basis for instruction and encouragement. We cannot be equipped or competent unless we go to the source of truth: God. And what better way to hear from God than through His Word which is right in front of our face.
An important statement, even foundational. However, I don't find anything which indicates, that "calling", "instruction", or "encouragement" are equivalent to the "good work" at the end of 2 Timothy 3:17. (The KJV translation of παιδεια as "instruction" not withstanding. παιδεια being better understood in English if it retains it's παιδιa "child" root, hence ESV/NIV's "training". The Bible in Basic English has "education in righteousness" which I find intriguing.) Not to belabor the issue but it is important to get a handle on what Paul means by the "good work" that he feels Timothy will be able to accomplish through the scriptures. Before we can understand calling, competence or even inspiration it must be clear what "good works" Paul is commissioning Timothy with.

What I do find is that Paul's charge to Timothy is couched in between two statements about apostasy:
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. -2 Timothy 3:12-13
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. -2 Timothy 4:3-4
In face of deceivers Paul reminds  Timothy of the truth of what he has learned. And, when Paul begins to give Timothy his core instructions about the scriptures he declares not that he is simply to "use" them towards secondary purpose or calling or for some other work, but, in no uncertain terms, he declares the scriptures themselves the "good work" you are to do. Notice that Paul follows 3:17 with this charge:
Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. -2 Timothy 4:1-2
Which sounds strangely like "profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness." The scriptures which make us wise unto salvation, and which train us up into righteousness, become the God-breathed life-blood which flows in a Christian's veins and beats within his heart. They are the muscles, tendons and bones by which we walk and fight and work and stand.  In face of difficulty, persecution, godlessness and suffering what work could we possibly accomplish? What hope do we have on our own? Before a blinded and deceived world of liars and impostors our "good work" is to declare and reveal, rebuke and exhort, with the same life-giving God-breathed power of divine truth that burns like fire with in us. God calls all men to no less a task. What other work is there?