Thursday, February 28, 2008

Jesus the focus of Scripture?

There was a discussion on the biblical studies list regarding the interplay between exegesis and theology that was quickly and decisively stamped out by the list owner/moderator. The list rules are that only issues related to biblical studies can be discussed but issues of faith and theology need to be left out - not that they are bad or inappropriate, just inappropriate for this list as with the insertion of faith and theology - the waters of biblical studies get muddy real fast. And probably, the calvinists would come in and take over like they do on other lists.

The discussion had surrounded what entails proper biblical exegesis - set faith aside and let the text speak for itself then let faith be shaped by exegetical study - other felt theology has to be a part of the process - others felt theology is shaped and responds to the process. One participant had outright called the intrusion of theology into biblical studies "nonsense."

Before I understood some of this, I wrote:
Here is the sad thing about "exegesis" - folks often (especially on this group list) exit Jesus right out of the discussion and consider him irrelevant. It is either the Christ of history or the Christ of faith - why is he not both/and?

It is sad that those who actually have the audacity to believe that Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the historical one, is also the Christ of faith, the Son of God, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Everlasting God, the Alpha and the Omega, the One who was dead and is alive forevermore - can't really participate in the list as for some on the list - believe disqualifies the argument and makes it nonsense.

When one asks what the Bible is all about - it is about Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who is, in the words of John R. W. Stott, the center of history, the focus of Scripture, and the heart of the Church's mission in the world.

But I guess that is all nonsense.

To this the list moderator/owner replied:
Because, Brian, one is a confession of faith and one is a historical datum. You and I and others may or may not hold to the one. The other, though, can be discussed here. There are lists elsewhere which do what you recommend. And they are free to do so. But here, for our purposes, faith claims have no privilege.

I know a number of persons who hold quite strong faith positions who participate regularly. They simply play by the rules.

If the Bible were only about Jesus, we would only adhere to the Gospels and a few other snippets in the NT. The OT would have to be utterly abandoned. In sum, then, what you commend to our adherence is marcionitism. And appealing to Stott as an authority not only doesn't work- it doesn't prove anything at all.

That last line hurt mainly because I think John Stott is a biblical scholar and theologian par exellance, and in my opinion, as an Anglical scholar, he far and away, outshines a certain Bishop of Durham. But according to the list owner/moderator an appeal to John R. W. Stott is a non-appeal and non-answer.

So, the appeal to John Stoot aside, is Jesus the focus of Scripture?

In reply to the list owner/moderator's last paragraph above I sent this:
I think the historical Jesus himself would disagree with this assertion. Luke shows us in his Gospel Jesus' discussion with two men on the road to Emmaus (one was named Cleopas) (Lk 24:13-27; esp v27) that in fact, "Moses and all the Prophets" (ie: the OT) point to the historical Jesus (from his birth to his death and resurrection, even his ascension). So, I think it is fair that in pursuing understanding of the historical Jesus one would indeed need to include large portions of the OT texts. Also note John 5:39 where Jesus says the Scriptures "bear witness about me" (ESV). These Scriptures are none other than the Hebrew Scriptures.

It did not make it onto the list -probably because by the time I sent the reply the topic was shut down.

Am I off? Is Jesus the focus of Scripture or is he not?


not a biblioblog

I just wanted open with you so you all would know I fully recognized this is NOT a "biblioblog!" Well, we all knew that already! I just wanted to be clear about it - that I also don't intend to be one either. I plan to be more eclectic, covering issues in missions, general theology, pastoral ministry-theology, some biblical studies, books I read, and other miscellaneous events and topics. I know I said I don't really have a lot of time to blog but I would like to as able and may try to take some of Nick's advice. It seems he keeps the KISS principle: "Keep It Super Simple."

Hope this helps! Wahoo!! I am NOT a biblioblogger!! I am Free!!!


Pray for Somalia

The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none. And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the LORD, will answer them myself. As God of Israel I will not forsake them. Isaiah 41:17

Consider praying for Somalia.

According to UN reports and Reuters' AlertNet, Somalia tops the list of forgotten and neglected world emergencies.

The group Doctors Without Borders says Somalia's society as totally fragmented.

According to the BBC, Somalia's capital is in ruins and under factional control.

It's government is a transitional national government but is presently considered [one of] the most lawless nations in the world.

All Somalis are Muslim and they are not open to Christianity - immediate death is the consequence for any conversion.

Less than 0.1% of ethnic Somalis are Christians (perhaps as many as 2000 in the whole world).

There is a significant Somali diaspora in Minnesota (some 30,000-50,000 live in and around the Twin Cities).

Consider praying for Somalia.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

evangelism and theology

Do they mix? Michael Green in his 1970 work Evangelism in the Early Church (Eerdmans, 1970, 2004) noted in his intro that typically an evangelist is not interested in theology and theologians are not interested in evangelism.

Green wants us to know he is committed to both, but I wonder about his assertion? I don't know too many evangelists who exemplify good theology or even show interest in larger theological issues - most of the time they are about Jesus and seeing people come to saving faith in his work on the cross - yet I haven't seen too many ivory tower theologians either out street preaching either. Often they might be more concerned with things like textual criticism, form criticism, source criticism, and other various criticisms along with correct doctrine and theology.

So, do they mix? What say you?


Saturday, February 23, 2008

the cry of the soul

Like others, I am reading more than one book at once. I just gave a quote from John Stott - we'll get back to that. The book I am reading at the moment is Dan Allender and Tremper Longman's The Cry of the Soul: How Our Emotions Reveal Our Deepest Questions About God (NavPress, 1994). I am just in the introduction. The premise is that
Every emotion, though horizontally provoked, nevertheless reflects something about the vertical dimension: our relationship with God. This book explores what difficult emotional struggles say about our relationship with God. And every emotion, including those we often view as negative, reveals something about the heart of God.

The are four core convictions that structure their approach to the book:

1) It is our conviction that emotions are not amoral- they vocalize the inner working of our souls and are as tainted as any other portion of our personality. Here they observe, "Part of understanding difficult emotions, however, is comprehending why we avoid them. The reason we don't want to feel is that feeling exposes the tragedy of our world and the darkness of our hearts. No wonder we don't want to feel: feelings expose the illusion that life is safe, good, and predictable.

2) The reason for looking inside is not to effect direct change of negative emotions to positive emotions. Instead, we are to listen to and ponder what we feel in order to be moved to the far deeper issue of what our hearts are doing with God and others. To accentuate this point they aver that "struggling with emotions is not a matter of solving problems with a little more information and practical knowhow. We are not machines that can be repaired through a series of steps - we are relational beings who are transformed by the mystery of relationship. We are radically disposed to idolatry, illusion-making, and attempts to secure our lives without bowing before God. Our core problem is not a lack of information - it is flight and rebellion. So what they are arguing is that instead of looking for answers that work, pursue relationship with God regardless of the outcome.

Going on they write: "Rather then focusing on trying to change our emotions, we are wiser first to listen to them. They tell us how we are dealing with a fallen world, hurtful people and a quizzical God who seldom seems to be or do what we expect of Him. Although emotions are generally aroused in a human context, they always reveal something about how we are dealing with [or relating to] God." To be certain, they are not encouraging any sort of excessive preoccupation with the self as this hinders true growth and change. Instead they encourage just enough honest inward examination to gain wisdom in determining what is going on with one's emotions and how one is relating to God.

3) Our guide for this pilgrimage of revelation is the Psalms. The authors argue here that no other portion of Scripture more poignantly exposes the inner world of our heart and more vividly reveals the emotional life of God than the Psalms. This will be interesting to see how the authors work this point. It has been my understanding that Psalms are more about the people praying them than they are about God - they reveal more what the pslamists think about God than what God thinks about the psalmists per se. I agree with Bonhoeffer that the Psalms are the prayer book of the Bible. Even so, they will focus primarily on what Walter Brueggemann has called "Psalms of disorientation" or Psalms of Lament. This type of Psalm, they write, "captures the struggle of the heart as the poet attempts to grasp the goodness of God in light of the heartache of life." At the same time, they "will allow the poetry of the Psalms to move us into the divine imagery used by the prophets, Paul, and Jesus Christ as we explore Scriptures invitation to taste the mystery of God's goodness."

4) All emotions, including the darker ones, give us a glimpse of the character of God. This is the heart of the book. Far more important than the way in which our most difficult emotions - anger, fear, jealousy, despair, shame, contempt, - uniquely reveal something about the heart of God. They are are quick to point out that the supposed "positive" emotions (joy, peace, pleasure, etc) also show us much about God. The reason for the focus on the more difficult emotions is to show that they can be more positive and necessary to life than most are prone to recognize. It is important to realize that God too feels these emotions (the darker ones) and they reveal something about who he is - but even more interestingly and gloriously (as they put it), each one points to the scandalous wonder of the cross of Christ. As we discover how they point to the cross, they will lead us to the worship of God!


Friday, February 22, 2008

emotional health

Richard Rhodes briefly discussed Peter Scazzero's book The Emotionally Healthy Church over on the Better Bible's Blog (8/21/08). It is a good post.

Here is the question of the day:
Is it possible to be a spiritually mature person while remaining emotionally immature?

Yes or no? Why or why not?

If you haven't read the book, no peeking at the Amazon reviews just yet.

Let me know what you think.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

on your mark

The General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God George O. Wood is starting a new video series on the main AG website called "On your Mark!" Check it out and let me know what you think!

I think he is the best leader the AG has had since Carlson who pastored the movement through the Swaggart and Bakker scandals.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I must be an Ent

I must be an Ent - the Ents are not hasty and take a long time to say anything worth saying (especially if it is in Old Entish).

Why do I say this? Well y'all seem to post so quickly that by the time I think of a response or want to write up on it, y'all have moved on and the topic is old already.

So, on the atonement - am sticking to my guns - I fully support PSA and don't think it is cosmic child abuse but a profound display of the mercy of God. Perhaps I may not know all the details but I do know - with the death of Christ on the cross sin is dealt with and the wrath of God is withheld for those who put their faith in Christ alone.

John R. W. Stott writes in his book "The Cross of Christ":

The essential background to the cross, therefore, is a balanced understanding of the gravity of sin and the majesty of God. If we diminish either, we thereby diminish the cross. If we reinterpret sin as a lapse instead of a rebellion, and God as indulgent instead of indignant, then naturally the cross appears superfluous. But to dethrone God and and enthrone ourselves not only dispenses with the cross; it also degrades both God and man. A biblical view of God and ourselves, however, that is, of our sin and of God's wrath, honours both. It honours human beings by affirming them as responsible for their own actions. It honours God by affirming him as having moral character.

To understand the reason for the cross then one must understand the gravity of sin and the majesty of God.

More to come!

bible meme

Got tagged so here is the bible meme:

1. What translation of the Bible do you like best?

Though I don't us it that much - NRSV

2. Old or New Testament?

OT with a view of the NT

3. Favorite Book of the Bible?

Genesis; I&II Chronicles; Psalms; Isaiah; Amos;
John; Acts; Galatians; Ephesians; 1 John; Jude

4. Favorite Chapter?

Psalm 1; Isa 40; John 1, Romans 3; Ephesians 1

5. Favorite Verse? (feel free to explain yourself if you have to)

Phil 1:6 (the Lord fulfilled this promise when my brother died).

6. Bible character you think you’re most like?

Probably like the author of the fourth Gospel - I can be a good observer

7. One thing from the Bible that confuses you?

understanding some end-time issues

8. Moses or Paul?

Paul the missionary pastor.

9. A teaching from the Bible that you struggle with or don’t get?

still working on the prophetic books.

10. Coolest name in the Bible?


Thursday, February 14, 2008

aGts Preaching blog

If you are into preaching consider visiting aGts' new blog for preaching called Karoox (a play of the Greek word for preaching). Looks like it is pretty good. Dr. Doug Oss, Director for the Cordas C. Burnett Center for Expository Preaching at aGts writes:
Thanks for stopping by our blog. We want to hear from you about preaching. At Karoox we believe the life of the church is largely shaped by preaching. So, we are passionate about it. This blog is dedicated to advancing biblical preaching for the church and for the world.

go over and take a look see! Let me know what you think!


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Wizard of Id on Voting

any questions? ;)


crucifixion not that bad?!

One Terry Eagleton, a professor of Cultural Theory at the University of Manchester, tries to claim that Jesus "got off pretty lightly" because it only took him three hours to die. Got off pretty lightly? It would seem that Professor Eagleton knows little of crucifixion. He adds that Jesus's scourging was a "blessing in disguise" because it hastened his death. In one talk, Professor Eagleton, one of the world's leading literary theorists baldly declared, "The Crucifixion of Jesus wasn't as bad as its been painted," he says. "All things considered, he got off pretty lightly." He goes on to say,
"If the New Testament account is to be believed it took him only three hours to die whereas a lot of those killed by this hideous mode of execution thrashed around on their crosses for days." He concludes his talk with an attack on contemporary Christianity, which he says has abandoned the poor and dispossessed in favour of the "rich and aggressive"

At the same time, he also attacks modern Christianity for siding with the rich and abandoning the poor the very thing Jesus tended to rebuke the Jewish leadership of doing (and his brother James too). He might be partly right here. In some respects the Church has abandoned the poor.

This quote was interesting: "It's horrified by the sight of a female breast but nothing like as horrified by the obscene inequalities between rich and poor. "By and large, it worships a god fashioned blasphemously in its own image and likeness."

However, he was slam-dunked by the Rt Rev N.T. Wright when he responded:
"It is all a bit tired, this rhetoric. It is all a bit sad. Of course, caricatures of Christianity are all over the place, but they do not reflect reality. He should get out more.


He then added: "Perhaps the professor might also like to get his facts straight. Jesus took six hours to die on the cross, not three."

Here is someone who might know something about the Bible, but not really know the Bible (or the one to whom it points).

Here is the article in the British Telegraph

Christian Ramadan?!

What do you make if this?

Just how much Muslim influence is there in Europe? Dutch Catholics have decided that they need to re-name the Lent fast. So they've decided to name Lent the "Christian Ramadan." Wonder why have they felt the need to put Lent into Islamic terms? Because apparently young people in their country are more likely to know about Islam than Christianity.

So, the Catholic organizers hope that by linking the Muslim festival of Ramadan they can remind Christians of the "spirituality and sobriety" of Lent, for those Christians who may be less observant than Muslims.

What is this all about? What do you think is going on? Have the Moors really come back?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


This would be interesting.

Are you all aware of the Fair Tax Plan? You should be.

Check out Neal Boortz for more info.

what say you?


Monday, February 11, 2008

tell the truth

It pays to preach the truth. I noted in another post about how I am attempting to go through the Gospel of John on Sundays. In this passage John is highlighting Jesus as the divine Son of God who is in fact God. Jesus is God. It also highlights Jesus' role as the light of the world - being the true light which enlightens every man as to his or her need of redemption. One person in the congregation has a roommate who is wiccan and I had used that as an example of a false notion of light (there is some belief about light in the wiccan religion) - and that only Jesus is the true light and if Jesus is not the focus then it is false. Another attender had a problem with me talking about this because she was not certain of Jesus' divinity and felt all people are a part of the light, so and so on. Well, it payed for me to tell the truth and stick to my guns because this forced the truth into the light (ha!). The Lord began working in this gals life and she fortunately was honest enough to wrestle with it, but she had not come back to church. Soon my wife talked with her to see what was going on and the truth came to light! In the process of their conversations this gal came around and decided to give Jesus a chance! Since then, she has described herself as living life upside down! She has come to the saving knowledge of Jesus as Savior and Lord!

We fretted that maybe we were chasing people away, and all kinds of other outlandish ideas came to mind, but in the end we learned it pays to tell the truth!

It is not without its cost either however. Another gal has stopped talking to and or interacting with us at all because she is in cahoots about the divinity of Jesus Christ.

It pays to tell the truth!


Robert asked about our experiences co-pastoring. To start off I should be clear that my wife Debbie and I are the only pastors of the church. We are not working with others (not that we don't want to but just to be clear that we are "the team" at the moment; she is one pastor, I am the other, thus we are "co-pastors")(I will not talk about the biblicality of women pastors - we are a part of the Assemblies of God and believe God is and EOE - Equal Opportunity Employer!). Also, to get technical, I am still in the licensing process and Debbie is fully ordained with the Assemblies of God. Thus, she is the "Senior" Pastor for technicalities sake - though we both share the general pastoral responsibilities (and really, the real "Senior Pastor" is the Lord Jesus! He alone is the True Shepherd of our congregation and we are simply his agents in administering his will and purposes for the congregation. No?). We would not be here if either us did not have the proper "papers" so to speak. We are a district church, meaning we are under the full authority and control of the district leadership - though we are given freedom to run the ministry as we are able, it's just any major issues and things need to go through the district leadership). We were not voted in but appointed as pastors by the District Superintendent. We did come visit the church and we each preached a service prior to appointment. We interacted with the people and made sure we got a feel for the environment and the congregation before we agreed to the appointment. We did not want to just be arbitrarily appointed but wanted to be sure the people liked us (more or less).

So, we are co-pastors. How does this work? What does it look like? Well, it isn't too complicated really. We go back and forth on preaching (me one service, her another, or me for a few services and her for a few, etc). We each "lead" different aspects of the service. I can't sing a tune to save my life so Debbie leads worship. We have a time of prayer and at different times either of us will lead the prayer time. We just go back and forth. It's not a big deal really. Then in terms of ministry Debbie focuses on the women and I focus on the men, so she has gals she is interacting with and talking to while have some guys I am working to connect with in different ways.

The dynamics of ministry here is much different really, than the average church (or so it seems). At the moment we have more people coming to our Thursday night Bible Study than are coming to the services on Sunday. Once the tourist season picks up, most of the morning services will focus on the tourists who come, the night service is more geared toward the locals and regular attenders.

So, that is how things are going so far. If you would, pray for us.


how do you look up searches to see who comes across one's blog?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Nighttime reading

So Nick has his weird bathroom reading list.

I would like to ask what is on your night stand next to your bed? Do you read a few minutes before going to bed? If so what do you have?

For me books next to my bed tend to come and go. Right now I have Gary Burge's The Anointed Community: The Holy Spirit in the Johannine Tradition (Eerdmans, 1987).


Preaching Christ in a Pluralistic Society

So, we are pastoring a small church in the Grand Canyon National Park. I guess it is not readily known that the religious environment of the GCNP is highly pluralistic.

There is a lot of New Age philosophy here along with some Wiccans, various Native spiritual traditions such as the Navajo, Hopi, Hualapai, Havasupai. There are the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, etc.

Some might find it surprising but religious expression here is quite diverse. Part of it is the Canyon, part of it is Arizona. Sedona, which is about an hour from here, is the New Age capital of the world. Folks floc from all over to come to Sedona.

In the Canyon itself there are lots of "pyramid" shaped structures easily seen from the rim called "temples." Several have been named after various eastern deities. For example one is called the vishnu temple. Vishnu is a Hindu god that manifest's itself in multiple incarnations. So the religious environment here is quite eclectic.

I have been preaching through John 1 verse by verse and have already had one person walk out on my sermon talking about the necessity of believing Jesus is God and why. She was friendly to my wife but hasn't talked to her since and won't talk about what is going on.

Another person stopped coming when I was talking about Jesus as the true light and how, we, like John, must bear witness to the light since we are not the light but rather must give witness about the light. I noted there are false religions that claim humans are light and such like wiccans do as well as in New Age Philosophy (not really a religion more a philosophy as I understand it), Hinduism, etc. This person disagrees and thinks all people are a part of the light and didn't appreciate me pointing out the errors of wiccans and other religions - this person reads the bible but I guess doesn't believe all of it - just parts - this person also doesn't believe in hell. Something else is going on. We're still investigating.

But that is how things are here - a real anti-Christ type attitude that doesn't want to acknowledge Jesus as the only and true God. Obviously some of this is to be expected since we know not all will receive Jesus as the true and living God. It just seems that even some Christians are wrestling with this issue - are they then Christians?

My wife is struggling with feeling like we are pushing people away and wonders if I need to not to expositional preaching right now but try a different approach. Is expositional preaching best for more knowledgeable Christians - should it be used to develop more mature Christians or can it be used to cover the basics?

I started out here at the church talking about knowing God covering some of his attributes and explaining what it means to know God - then I we did Advent and now I was wanting to carry on and talk about knowing Jesus and then knowing the Spirit - it seemed like John would be a good choice for that especially since John 20:31 notes its evangelistic purpose. It is becoming more apparent to me, however, that John is not just for new Christians but also for more mature Christians since there is just so much going on in the text.

So far I have covered John 1:1-5; 1:6-8; and 1:9-13 and have hit some bumps along the way.

I am praying as to how to move forward. I am not being harsh it just might be people aren't ready to hear that yet? It's challenging.

Any thoughts?


Sunday, February 03, 2008

nobody's perfect

Welp, I guess the New England Patriots aren't perfect afterall....

NY Giants 17, New England 14


Saturday, February 02, 2008

new mission statement

Grand Canyon Assembly of God exists to help people
Discover God, Experience his Power, and Share his Love!


Friday, February 01, 2008

The Page 123 meme

I got tagged twice to do this page 123 meme once by Bryan L and once by Nick.

The rules are as follows:

Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more. (No cheating!)
Find Page 123.
Find the first 5 sentences.
Post the next 3 sentences.
Tag 5 people.

too awkward to start where the rules say so I'll get close to it:

"What does it mean that Christ body is broken for us? When we receive the broken bread, it is as if we are saying: our old idolatrous self-understanding is broken. The old will, the old Adam, the old self-assertive orientation to life is dead. We are risen anew to participate in the wholeness of new life in Christ." Thomas C. Oden, Pastoral Theology: Essentials of Ministry (Harper One, 1983), 123.

I added the fourth sentence to complete the thought.

I tag Tim, Lou, Lee, most others have already been tagged...