Monday, 30 March 2009

Anti-intellectualism in the Church?

Warning: This is a rant!

Not that this can be said of all churches (I went to a very positive one this sunday) but do you find that on the whole most churches and christians have at least some form of anti-intellectualism? I find it comes in a few guises:

1) Its O.K. to be dumb: Now i'm not talking of people who try to learn but it takes them ages or cannot learn, and neither am I talking of ignorance. I'm talking here of people who plod along and refuse to study because they are lazy. Whether that be biblical studies or quantum physics. It happens for both men and women. For men it tends to be justified due to their practicality and for women it tends to be allowed as thier minds are on other things: Family, etc. As such any educated persons are seen as freaks and are sidelined.

2)Uniformity: Some people seem to allow intellectualism as long as the boat isn't rocked. As long as your intellegence leads you to the same conclusion they have come to and taught in thier ignorance then it is o.k. but God forbid that you come to another conclusion. You are seen as a dissenter and as at risk from falling from the true faith.

3)A danger: This links in with No. 2 but often, and I find this extremely common, you are seen tolerated when you disagree but seen as a danger to others and are therefore shadowed by all elders so they are ready to jump in incase you mention, or perhaps even convice someone of something they disagree with.

Why can't Christian intellectuals be seen as a normal thing, a blessing to the church. A people who push past what the church is teaching to test the water, so to speak, incase they discover something that we are mistaken on or have missed. People who are more obsessed with truth, the Bible, with Jesus, then they are about established 'Orthodoxy' or conformity. Yes, perhaps they will find a dead end or will be mistaken but they is part of the beautiful journey as a disciple of Jesus. What if Luther had conformed and was too scared to question the status quo? What if the church encouraged his searching rather then sought to quench it?

Perhaps if instead of trying to squash people into a box, to conform to what we think the Church could grow. What if our church is full of Luthers, Bonhoeffers, Polkinghornes and we're stopping then or slowing them? Perhaps if we let them go, let them do what they were sent to do the church would grow again, would come back to life again and there wouldn't be such an awful view of Christians as idots by non-christians.

Till next time

An amazing sermon

See here

Monday, 23 March 2009

Is it so hard to become a Pope...or a journalist?

Hugo Rifkind, over at Timesonline, blogged the following post on how neither the Pope nor the Archbishop of Canterbury seem very competent. I chuckled quite a bit when I heard this due to the extreme irony.

He writes, "Frankly, [the Pope's] starting to look like the most hapless religious leader since, well, the Archbishop of Canterbury. And I think I know why. You know how many aspiring priests or vicars I came across during my textbook Oxbridge education? None, that's how many. Fifty, a hundred years ago, I bet you couldn't have moved for them. Think too much? No inheritance? Bad at fighting? Bang. Clergy."

So, in his opinion clergy now are the uneducated, those who don't do so well. Quite interesting as I've looked into their education and this is what I found:

Rowan Williams: Cambridge BA, Oxford PHD.(here)

Pope Benedict XVI: University of Munich; 'University of Life' (Member of the Hitler Youth) (Here)

Now, I'm not saying that I agree with them to but say they are ill-educated or that they don't understand real life is foolish. He cites two comments as examples. Firstly the Popes comments of condoms and Aids, and secondly Rowans supposed comment on Sharia Law in the UK. Its worth noting on both of these:

1) The Pope: The comments merely stated that encouraging condoms also encourages promiscuous sex in which conditions Aids will spread faster, where as abstinance and marital relations will slow the spread, maybe even stop it. All this is true. The danger of course is that in reality people will still have the same sex patterns they always had and look for remedies of Aids elsewhere. (One horrific example is in certain area infected men are told by witch doctors to have sex with a virgin to cure yourself).

2) Rowan: He never actually encourages Sharia Law in the UK. He was merely responding to the move at the time as discussing a live issue. He was doing exactly what Hugo say he doesn't: relating to society in an educated manner.

He claims that the reason behind this is the exciting voices won't get involved in a failing industry and that they are out of their depths. Interesting enough however, both the Anglican and Roman Catholic Church are pretty static in percentage of world population. Not good enough I know but certainly not a 'failing industry.'

What we seem to have here then is actually a failed case of good journalism. Is it so hard to be a good journalist....Apparently so. Maybe you should try writing a novel Hugo; you seem a lot better at fiction.

Till next time!

Though for the day

(See here ) for source of idea.

"God saw that the light was good..." Gen 1:4a
"And God saw that it was good..."Gen 1: 19, 21, 25.

Which begs the question: Good for what?

I suggest three things:
1) Good for man to live in
2) Good in and of itself as it expresses something of who God is.
3) As Robert Jenson (see above link) suggest: A good stage for the drama of Jesus Christ. Which in a sense links again into No. 2.

Till next time!

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Knowledge and wisdom

Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit,
Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

The Power of what?!?!?!

How often do you hear a phrase such as this?

'There's great power in prayer.'

Now I know what they are getting at but it does get my goat. There is no power in prayer, the power is my God to whom I pray. If I pray to an Idol my prayer is useless. It it is only when I pray to my all-powerful, living, gravious heavenly Father do my prayers mean squat!

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

To whom should we pray?

This post, as is often true, was sparked by two things: 1) A conversation I once had with my house-mate Dan and 2) A series of posts over at 'Classical Arminianism', particularly this one .

The question is, unsurprisingly, the title of this Blog: To whom should we pray? How often do you hear or say prayers such as 'Dear God' or 'Lord'not knowing to whom the prayer is directed? Now I'm not saying that this is wrong but merely using it as a spring board to discuss who we are to pray to. Soley the Father? Soley the Son? Soley the Spirit? Or pehaps to two of them but not the third, or is it all three of them? We will be looking at what the bible has to say on the matter to see if there are any principles to follow and if so then perhaps in a latter blog address why.

Here are a few references from the Bible showing who we should address our prayer to:

Genesis 20:17
"Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, and also healed his wife and female slaves so that they bore children."

I am who I am (YHWH)
Deuteronomy 9:26
"And I prayed to the LORD, 'O Lord GOD, do not destroy your people and your heritage, whom you have redeemed through your greatness, whom you have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand."

Lord (Adonai)
Psalm 90:1
"[ BOOK FOUR ] [ From Everlasting to Everlasting ] A Prayer of Moses, the man of God. Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations."

Father (Abbi)
Matthew 6:9
"Pray then like this: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name."

Lord (Kyrios)
Acts 4:24
"And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, "Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them,"

God (Theos)
Acts 12:5
"So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church."

Acts 7:59-60 (English Standard Version)
And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

The most common Old Testament seems to be YHWH (usually rendered LORD in most Bibles) where as in the New Testament Jesus seems to prefer to use Father and the rest of the NT seems to use God. The question now is, Should we read anything into this? Part of the problem is confusion on language. Elohim is plural (Trinity?)and Theos, it's Greek equivalent although is singular seems to be used as it's direct translation and therefore we should take it as meaning the same. YHWH is seen as Trinitarian but is not necessary to always take it as so. Lord, both in the Greek and Hebrew can mean any member of the Trinity in this context. The only references in the whole Bible to a specific are Jesus', and subsuquently the Gospel writters' use of Father and the few examples of Jesus' being prayed to. It is worth specifying that no-where in the bible is the Holy Spirit mentioned as being prayed to. Prayers are done through the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:26; Eph 6:18; Jud 1:20) but never to the Spirit.

So what we have established is that we can definately pray to the Father and to Jesus. The is no questions there but can we pray to the Holy Spirit? There are 2 things to mention here. 1) The Spirit is part of the Trinity which we should pray to (Elohim, YHWH, etc.) and 2) We are no-where forbidden to pray to the Holy Spirit.

Here is my conclusion:
1) We are called to Pray.
2) We should Pray to the Father through the spirit (power and words) in Jesus' name (authority)
3) We can Pray to both the Son and the spirit to thank them for what they have done and are doing.
4) It is the Father and the Son who send the spirit and therfore we should pray to them when we need the spirits help.
5) Our general prayers should be directed at the Father as it is him who sends and ordains.

What do you think?
Interested to hear your thoughts as always.
Till next time

Thought of the Day

"Both read the Bible day and night/But thou readst black where I read white"
William Blake, The Everlasting Gospel

Is the Bible really just like this picture? Two opposite but equally true opinions? I believe not. One God, One message, many idiots!

Thursday, 5 March 2009

My Bible, Technology and Me

Reading some posts recently written by old reformers e.g. Clavin, Arminius, Luther, etc. It struck me that although they often get stuff wrong (don't we all?), I have no reason to be high and mighty. This is obviously for various reasons but the one which struck me in particular was thier knowledge of the Bible.

I don't know about you but when I want to do a study on a certain subject, e.g. Soteriology, the first things I generally do are: 1) Search Google for any one elses works on the matter and 2)go to Biblegateway (or equivalent) and search for key words that apply to the subject and see what verse come up. Obviously I then read them and put them in context to see if they are applicable and then see what they say. The internet is a wonderful thing!

What gets me though is that you read the Theology of greats like Arminius and Calvin and you see verse after verse referenced! They had no Internet to search every reference in the Bible, or to look up endless articles yet thier understanding is often far superior to mine and I find myself in shock nearly everytime is read one off the old greats.

I just pray that the internet wouldn't become my source of Authority and understanding but rather I would search the Scriptures and come to know Gods word to the extent that I will no longer need Biblegateway.

Just my thoughts.
Please let me know what you think as always.
Till next time!