Wednesday, 24 June 2009

The streets paved with gold.....

On Tuesday I am moving to South London (sort of) from my current home in Cardiff. People say that the streets of London are paved with gold.....they're liars! I've been there, well perhaps they are but it can't be seen for all the dirt, gum and blood (ok, that's a bit exaggerated!)

I'm going there for 3 reasons: 1) I don't have to pay rent, 2) its closer to My girlfriend, 3) I hope to earn more money as to save for the future (assuming I even get a job that is). Why am I telling you all this? Well, except for the fact that I feel slightly responsible for anyone who pops by here and wish to share everything I has got me thinking about a few things. Now I'll admit upfront that these are not new ideas, either to the world or to me, however they have become more real and therefore thought I'd share them with you.

First is money. It's a funny old thing. I've heard it said that no matter how much someone in the UK earns they spend that plus 10%. I'm not sure how true that is but I think the concept is evidently true. There is a lot of debt here. People want things now and never later. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that I'm not one of these people but merely that I don't believe I should be. I've been hoping to get a job before I move but its not happened (not to say I've been completely devoted to that endeavour) and it worries me a little. I've decided that the issue here is lack of trust. Do I believe that God really does provide for all my needs? That he is a good and loving father? If so then why am I worrying? Perhaps I'll get to London and he'll provide me with a job with which I can earn money, or perhaps he has other things in store for me. I just don't know. What I do know is that I need to learn to trust him.

Secondly is loneliness. I'm moving to a new city where I have no friends, I'm not a member of any club, I have no job, the people I'm living with I've not spent more then a week with and are not my age and to top it all my girlfriend is an hour away and will only see her (at best) once a week. Again, as with most things, the root issue is a poor Theology. Do I really believe that God will be my great provider? Is God really enough for me? If God made Adam a wife from his rib because he was lonely, then surely he is able to find a way that Sarah and I can see each other?

Third is church. I've seen good churches and bad churches in my time as I'm sure most of us have. I want to find a church where I am challenged and pushed, where status quo won't do where good Theology is central and bland opinions are whittled out. Where I can become a member and feel like a brother and not a stranger or a reject. I pray that I will be of use to the church as much as I will gain from it. I've realised over the last few years that my view of church has been wrong but I go in expectation that this new understanding that God has brought me too will enable me to be part of a church where I may grow, encourage and serve.

If you've got this far then well done. Yes, this basically was just a worried rant but like I said before, God is faithful! May I decrease so that he may increase.

Till next time!

Monday, 15 June 2009

Good theology?

This weekend I was at Beaconsfield Baptist Church. We were blessed to have as the visiting preacher Stephen Gaukroger. Personally I'd never heard of the man but people were excited, and as it turns out rightly so! There is one thing in particular he said which was not the point of the sermon but rather a off hand comment he made. In reference to how he became a Christian he commented on his wonderful, Christian parents who (and take note of this) for a treat!!!! took him to the evening service at their church. (Guess they were doing church better then or something). Anyway, after the service he went home and said:

"Jesus, whatever is it my parents have, I want it."

He then said (paraphrased), "Now I know that isn't very theological..."

Oh really? Isn't it? To me it sounds like perfect theology and I'll explain why in a bit but first I wish to address how we (the church) view theology. It seems that unless we use big words that become way out of reach for the average layman that our theology isn't deemed "good". It seems strange to me. Karl Bath said that Theology is for the church and I wholly agree which is why I believe that simple statements are often greater then the most complex and pompous thesis. That is not to rule out the need or desire of academic Theology (surely not!) but rather to say that unless Theology can be whittled down to a statement such as this then it is in a poor state. What good is Theology if the church as a whole cannot understand it and act accordingly?

Back to Stephens comment.
We are commanded by God that we should teach children about him and that our lives should be a reflection of Jesus, so that people will turn and come to him:

"Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them." Deut 4:9

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." Matt 5:14-16

"Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behaviour of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives." 1 Pet 3:1-2

"Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us." 1 Pet 2:12

Perhaps then this comment was packed full of good theology after all.
From the mouths of babes...

Till next time!

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

"...because of the Angels": Did Paul believe the book of Enoch?

Paul wrote:
"Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels."
1 Cor 11:10 - NASB (Emphasis mine)

This post will comprise of a brief look at what Paul may have meant.

The word we translate as here as "angels" literally means messengers in Greek as does is equivalent in Hebrew. In other parts of scripture this word is translated and angels and at other times messengers, depending on the context. However it is unclear what Paul means here.

One interpretation is that Paul means human messengers who would come and check on the congregations and report back to Paul. This seems to be a rather rare view and if one checks other Bible translations they will quickly note that the vast majority translate it as angels.

What I was taught when I was younger were the following:
i) The angels represented the created order and women were to wear head coverings as that’s what nature teaches. In this sense it is carried on in verse 14.
ii) There are angels watching over the churches (Rev 1:20) and therefore one must adhere to what is being taught and not be contentious (1 Cor 11:16).
I must admit that I am most partial to option ii, however it leaves something lacking.

This brings me to an option I have been musing of late. Recently I purchased the collection of books now called I Enoch. This book was deemed not to be canonical and later even banned by the church has heretical.

In Genesis we read:
"Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. Then the LORD said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years." The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown."
Gen 6:1-4 - NASB

Basically, as others seem to have done, the author of I Enoch took these verses and ran with them. In the first part he describes the angels who came down, took human women as wives and had children with them, the Nephilim. He describes how the angels were locked in chains waiting for the judgement and how the children were cast into the fire but as they were part angels only their body was destroyed but their spirit remained and they are what we now call demons that are bound to the earth. (For those who have read it I know this is extremely lacking but please stay with me).

We know that I Enoch is known in 1st/2nd century as it’s used in other Biblical texts. Jude 14-15 Quotes it and 2 Peter 2:4 seems to refer to it also. So could it be that Paul knew of it too? Could it be that Paul was worried that because the women did not have a sign of male authority over their heads (i.e. Husbands) that angels may take them? That the whole process could be repeated again?

If your answer is no then I sympathise as I am dubious of this too however I thought I'd throw this into the pot and see what you all have to say, even another interpretation.

Looking forward to your ideas,
Till next time.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Which Jesus do you serve?

"Open up it's Jesus! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me, otherwise I'll break the door down and come in anyway. To him whom I overcome, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne."

Rev 3:19-21 (A Calvinistic reading)