Sunday, 26 August 2012

Against Christianity (Notes 3)

Part 1 - Against Christianity 
Peter Leithart's first section has 23 points to it rather than chapter divisions. This summary will work through it in in chunks [Notes 1]. 

11. The Philippians, so proud of being Roman citizens and so protective of Roman custom, needed to learn to live as citizens of a different commonwealth that placed new demands on its citizens. [cf. Philippians 3:20] 
In short: throughout Philippians, which some identify as one of the least political of Paul's letters, Paul was treating the Church as an alternative to the politico-religious organization of the city and of the empire. 
12. politeuo shouldn't be rendered 'conduct yourself' but rather ' live as a citizen'. 
13. ekklesia echoes the Sinai assembly and the returned exiles; and in Greek it is the assembly of citizens of the polis for decision making and deliberation. So the Church is not presented as another 'sect' or cult that existed under the umbrella of the polis. She was an alternative governing body for the city and the beginning of a new city. 
14. Despite pagan opponents seeing this clearly even in the patristic era 'Christianity' was making an appearance (Church as philosphical club or escape into desert etc.). 
15. If salvation is the re-creation of man through Christ and the Spirit (which it is), then salvation must be restored relationships and communities as much as individuals. If Christ has not restored human community, if society is not 'saved' as much as the individual, then Christ has not restored man as he really is. Salvation must take a social form, and the Church is that social form of salvation, the community that already (though imperfectly) has become the human race as God created it to be, the human race that is becoming what God intends it to be. 

(Against Christianity p16-27)

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Against Christianity (Notes 2)

Part 1 - Against Christianity 
Peter Leithart's first section has 23 points to it rather than chapter divisions. This summary will work through it in in chunks [Notes 1]. 

4. Christianity is biblical religion disembowelled and emasculated by (voluntary) intellectualisation and/or privatization. 
5.  The Church is strange: she is the creation of the Father through Word and Spirit, the community of those who have been united by the SPirit with the Son, and therefore brought into the eternal community of the trinity. She is a city whose town square is in heaven. She is a city without walls or boundary lines, a polity without sword or shield. 
But she is ordinary: the Church is made up of human beings, with features that identify her as a culture among the cultures of the world. 
God created a world of stories, symbols, rituals, and community rules. Into this world of stories, GOd came with His own library; in a world of symbols and rituals and sacrificial meals, the Church was organised by a ritual bath and a feast of bread and wine; in the midst of cultures with their own ethos and moral atmosphere, God gathered a community to produce the aroma of Christ in their life together. 
6. The Church can cut across the grain of existing human societies and cultural life only if she bears some likeness to existing societies. 
If the Church is God's society among human societies, a heavenly city invading the earthly city, then a territorial conflict is inevitable. 
7. Paul, Peter and John visit Georgus Barnus, a religious marketing consultant in the mid-first century. A very very illuminating sketch! 
8. Anti-supercessionism [the view that contemporary Jews are still in covenant with God] seems more a result of post-Holocaust guilt than of exegisis. 
9. Every church is an urban reality; every Christian lives in the suburbs. What is meant by this is that Churches on earth are outposts of heavenly Jerusalem that will be revealed at the last day (Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 12:1-27; Revelation 21). 
10. Aristotle's Politics begins with the claim that 'every state is an association (koinonia)'. The political koinonia (the city being it's highest form) is aimed at establishing things that are 'common' (koinos) to the citizens. 
The apostles tell us that the Church also forms a koinonia arising from the common sharing in Christ and His Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:12-13). 
In short, the Church is not an addition to the Greco-Roman polis but an alternative to, the koinonia of the polis

(Against Christianity p16-27)

Thoughts to Young Men (3)

General Counsels to Young Men 
1. Get a clear view of the evil of sin 
2. Become acquainted with our Lord Jesus Christ 
3. Never forget that nothing is as important as your soul
4. Remember it is possible to be young and still serve God 
5. Determine always to make the Bible your guide
6. Never make a close friend of anyone not a friend of God 

Thoughts for Young Men - JC Ryle Chapter 3

Friday, 24 August 2012

Prove it

I want to suggest that scientific proof, philosophical proof and religious proof follow the same rules.
After the question has been defined, in each case proof consists of two steps: 
A. The theory must be non-contradictory and must give an answer to the phenomenon in question.  
B. We must be able to live consistently with our theory.  In other words, the answer must conform to what we observe in a wide consideration of man and how he behaves.  
 (The God Who Is There, p110-111)

Thoughts for Young Men (2)

Special Dangers Facing Young Men 

  1. The sin of pride
  2. The love of pleasure 
  3. Thoughtlessness and lack of consideration 
  4. Scornful contempt of religion 
  5. The fear of other people's opinions

Thoughts for Young Men - JC Ryle Chapter 2

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Against Christianity (Notes 1)

Part 1 - Against Christianity 
Peter Leithart's first section has 23 points to it rather than chapter divisions. This summary will work through it in in chunks.

1. The Bible never mentions Christianity but speaks of Christians and the Church. Christianity is gnostic. 
2. Christianity is the heresy of heresies and underlying cause of the weakness, lethargy, sickness and failure of the modern church. 
3. In itself the linguistic fact of point 1 has little significance. The Bible never uses the word trinity either. The issue is the concept, and 'Christianity' is often used to refer to a set of doctrines or a system of ideas [and is contrasted to the teachings of Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism or Islam]. But the Bible never speaks of such beliefs except as all-embracing confessions of God's people. No 'belief system' can be isolated from the church and put in the lab for analysis. And the church is not a people committed to common ideas, but is a people committed to a whole stance of life. The Bible in short is not an ideological tract and does not teach an ideology. 
Sometimes 'Christianity' is used to embrace not only beliefs, but the practices of Christian people and the Church. This is better - but not if this is conceived as being a 'religious' layer added onto human life. Being a Christian is not simply a matter of installing a new 'religious' program into an existing operating system - it is the installation of a new operating system. And this goes for church too, for church is not another layer on social life, but is rather, a new way of living before God and of being human together. 
What Jesus and the apostles proclaimed was a new human world, a new social and political reality. In other words, a salvation. God has established the eschatological order of human life in the midst of history, not perfectly but truly. The Church anticipates the form of the human race as it will be when it comes to maturity. Conversion thus means turning from one way of life, one culture, to another and our 'resocialisation' into an alternative paideia
In the NT, we don't find a two story house. 1st story: private faith. 2nd story: public implications. The gospel is the announcement of the Father's formation, through His Son and the Spirit, of a new city - the City of God. 

(Against Christianity p13-16)

fridges to eskimos

Makes me want a cupcake and a nice shiny laptop in the next 24hrs!
It's not the content of this advert that bothers me.  
It's the discontent ...

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Thoughts for Young Men (1)

Reasons for exhorting young men (in the 19th Century!): 
1. There are few young men anywhere who seem to have any genuine religion.
2. Death and judgement are facing young men and they nearly all seem to forget it.
3. What young men will be will, in all probability, depend on what they are now yet they seem so easily to forget this. 
4. The devil uses special diligence to destroy the souls of young men.
5. A lot of sorrow would be spared them if they started serving God now.

Thoughts for Young Men - JC Ryle Chapter 1

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Barriers to Following Christ

I've been reading through The Mark Experiment over the course of the last few months. Sometimes it is very very helpful in revealing the structure and the connections of how Mark has written his gospel. For example, I am beginning to understand why Jesus' teaching on divorce comes here in Mark:

Mark 9:30-10:31
a   9:30-32    Second Prediction of His Death & Resurrections 
b  9:33-37    'I am the greatest' 
c   9:38-41    'We are the only ones'
d   9:42-50    'Sin doesn't matter' 
d'  10:1-12    Our attitude to marriage
c'  10:13-16  Our attitude to children
b'  10:17-27  Our attitude to possessions 
a'  10:28-31  The rewards of discipleship 
Now, this might not be neat and tidy. But the connections are powerful. Highlighting the threefold barriers to real discipleship (taking up our cross to follow Jesus) is so helpful: 
  • loving our own status [b & b']
  • limiting God's grace (to us and our friends) [c & c']
  • lessening the seriousness of our sin (especially when against those we think are less important than ourselves ... in 9:42 children or in 10:9 our wife or our husband!) [d & d']
The Mark Experiment starts these connections and then leaves you to meditate on them yourself. Very very helpful. 

Monday, 20 August 2012

The abnormality of man

Take away the first three chapters of Genesis, and you cannot maintain a true Christian position nor give Christianity's answers. (The God Who Is There, p104)

Thursday, 16 August 2012

How small we are...

I've been thinking about Psalm 8:3-4 and I stumbled on this neat flash animation: 
How small we are...

An Olympic Challenge in GB

John Stevens has some excellent reflections on the Olympic Games here: 

To whet your appetite, his main points are:
1. We have no answer to the problem of death 
2. We have an inconsistent attitude to elitism and equality 
3. We have excluded religion from public life and pushed it into the private sphere 
4. We are bound to be disillusioned because the Olympics are not going to transform Britain
5. We see the irrationality of secular humanism 
6. We face an immense gospel challenge

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

a backbone not a wishbone

Thanks to Ros Clarke for this via FB. And for her comment: 'society has mostly stopped raising children to be adults, so we're ending up with whole generations of children.'

One Giant Leap

Monday, 13 August 2012

National Imprecatory Anthem

I guess like many people this year, what with the Jubilee and the Olympics I have been reintroduced to the two verse version of our national anthem. 
What I didn't realise until I was browsing through Schott's Original Miscellany (while waiting to pick someone up from the train station on Saturday) is that there are actually 5 verses (p 54). 
And they reveal at least a passing influence of the psalms on our national song!

1. God save our gracious Queen,
Long live our noble Queen,
God save the Queen!
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us;
God save the Queen!

2. Thy choicest gifts in store
On her be pleased to pour;
Long may she reign;
May she defend our laws,
And ever give us cause
To sing with heart and voice,
God save the Queen!

3. O Lord our God arise,
Scatter her enemies
And make them fall;
Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks,
On Thee our hopes we fix,
God save us all!

4. Not in this land alone,
But be God's mercies known,
From shore to shore!
Lord make the nations see,
That men should brothers be,
And form one family,
The wide world over.

5. From every latent foe,
From the assassins blow,
God save the Queen!
O'er her thine arm extend,
For Britain's sake defend,
Our mother, prince, and friend,
God save the Queen

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Mission Praise and Psalm Singing

This won't be of interest to many people - but I'd have been glad to lay my hands on this list. I just couldn't find it on the web. 
It is a list of songs in the 'Complete' Mission Praise book that in some way are 'singing the psalms'. I have included hymns based upon psalms as well as some very short choruses that are a verse or two of a psalm. I make it 37. I expect I have missed some. 
When you think that there are 1250 songs in Mission Praise it is a pretty low number given Ephesians 5:19-20. 

Psalm 13 - MP 848 How long, O Lord, will You forget?
Psalm 16 -MP 886 Lord, when the storms of life arise
Psalm 18 - MP 286 I love You, O Lord, You Alone
Psalm 23 - MP 649 The King of Love 660 & 1008 The Lord's my shepherd 
Psalm 42 - MP 37 As the deer pants for the water
Psalm 45 - MP 893 My heart is full of admiration
Psalm 46 - MP 188 God is our strength and refuge
Psalm 63 - MP 904 O Lord, I want to sing Your praises
Psalm 69 - MP 962 When my sorrows cover me, save me, O God
Psalm 84 - MP 248 How lovely is Thy dwelling place O Lord of hosts
Psalm 89 - MP 707 Timeless love! We sing the story
Psalm 90 - MP 498 O God our Help in Ages Past, 909 O Lord the refuge of each generation
Psalm 91 - MP 583 Safe in the Shadow of the Lord 
Psalm 93 - MP 890 Mighty God, we give You praise
Psalm 98 - MP 393 Joy to the World, 599 Sing a new song to the Lord, 600 Sing to God new songs of worship
Psalm 100 - MP 20 All people that on earth do dwell, 394 Jubilate, everybody
Psalm 103 - MP 57 Bless the Lord, O my soul, 560 Praise my soul the King of Heaven, 1111 The Lord is gracious and compassionate
Psalm 104 - MP 528 O worship the King 
Psalm 113 - MP 163 From the rising of the sun
Psalm 119 - MP 546 Open thou my eyes, 915 Open our eyes, O Lord, we pray
Psalm 121 - MP 281 I life my eyes, 283 I look to the hills
Psalm 130 - MP 908 O Lord, hear my prayer
Psalm 134 - MP 88 Come, bless the Lord
Psalm 136 - MP 415 Let us with a gladsome mind
Psalm 138 - MP 963 With undivided heart and ceaseless songs
Psalm 142 - MP 961 When I life my voice
Psalm 147 - MP 147 Fill your hearts with joy and gladness
Psalm 148 - MP 920 Praise the Lord, you heavens adore him