I'm sorry. This blog seems to have lost even more direction than usual.
However, I couldn't not post this:
Be warned, you might find a couple of bits offensive, if you've got nothing better to do.
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I'm sorry. This blog seems to have lost even more direction than usual.
However, I couldn't not post this:
Be warned, you might find a couple of bits offensive, if you've got nothing better to do.
I don't hold very popular views on the end times. That is, I didn't think I did. Around the turn of the Millenium, I wrote my Spurgeons College thesis on the significance of the fall of Jerusalem in AD70. At the time, any one who got into discussion with me on the subject, soon began to look at my like I had two heads.
The 'star' of my disseration was J.S. Russll, who wrote his classic The Parousia in 1878. Russell concluded that Jesus returned, as he had promised, in the events surrounding the fall of Jerusalem. The thing is, this view is becomming more and more acceptable, thanks to the likes of N.T. Wright, Scot McKnight and Tim King. Now, not only do I not like holding views that make it look as if I am jumping on the bandwagon, but I worry that the moment a view or movement becomes 'popular' it risks being accepted uncritically and thus loses the benefit of sympathetic critics, becomming weaker in the process. However, I can't deny that there is much to be said for an argument like this:
Christian books, web sites and TV programs often claim modern historical events are fulfilling prophecies of the Bible. The Second Coming of Christ and the "end of the world" are dominant themes in evangelicalism. The belief that these events are imminent in our day and "could happen any moment" pervades almost every branch of conservative Christianity.
...Contrary to popular belief, the Bible is not concerned with the destruction of the universe nor with the end of time. In fact, the phrase "end of time" is never used in the Bible. The focus of eschatology was never the elimination of humanity, but rather the spiritual reconciliation of humanity to God.
The Scripture does mention "the time of the end" (Daniel 11:35; 12:4, 9), a time when God finally would complete His covenant of eternal life, which He "promised before time began" (Titus 1:2). "And this is the promise that He has promised us -- eternal life.... and this life is in His Son" (1 John 2:25; 5:11).
...The "last days" in the Bible were not the last days of the universe but the last days of sin's power to separate people from God: "The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law" (1 Corinthians 15:56). When the law passed away in the A.D. 70 destruction of Jerusalem, sin's power was destroyed, the "last days" were ended, and God's salvation in Jesus was consummated. Christ had completed His atoning work "in heaven itself" (Hebrews 9:24-28).
When I posted the Royal British Legion's thoughts on white poppies, I said that I would offer a brief response. Here it is.Read more...
1. If He did not love us, why would God help our world?
All our anger and greed and vengeful desire
He has held in his hands, through Christ;
Making peace in the way of the cross.
Making peace by His death on a cross, Making peace by His death on a cross.
Making peace by His death on a cross,
Making peace by His death on a cross.
2. If He was not human, how could He help us now?
All our warfaring ways and injustice shall bow
At the feet of the Christ, who bleeds,
Making peace by His work on the cross.Read more...
John Piper has finally published his response to N.T. Wright: The Future of Justification. (Available online.) I'm almost embarassed for him.
I'll read it tonight and if it doesn't annoy me too much, I might post a response over the weekend. [EDIT: Didn't happen; see comment below.]
Great God of justice, mercy, peace Who rules the world in matchless grace How could it be your sovereign will That evil men should take and nail Your son upon a cross of wood Shatter his body, drain his blood Release a terrorist instead Happy to see your Jesus dead?
Great God of justice, mercy, peace
Who rules the world in matchless grace
How could it be your sovereign will
That evil men should take and nail
Your son upon a cross of wood
Shatter his body, drain his blood
Release a terrorist instead
Happy to see your Jesus dead?
I've got so much news to share with you, but I thought I'd start with the most important.
I got my first Christmas present! It arrived in the mail today and I can honestly say that it filled me with the joy of the season.
You can see the little beauty to the right. Can anyone say, "obsession"?!
I'm not sure if you can see what it is from the photo, but it is a mug with the most common ukulele chords on it. So, if I'm having my morning cuppa and I expereince that urge to strum my uke, there's now no stopping me!
If you want to get your hands on this little beaut, they can be ordered from here.
It's that time of year again. Time to remember the glorious dead. Time to honour the fallen heroes. Time to succumb to what Channel 4 newsreader Jon Snow referred to as 'poppy fascism'.
In 1926, only five years after the British Legion was persuaded to use the red poppy as a fundraising tool in Britain, a member of the No More War Movement suggested that the Legion imprint 'No More War' in the centre of the red poppies and failing this pacifists should make their own flowers. A few years later, in 1933, the Co-operative Women's Guild produced the first white poppies to be worn on Armistice Day (later called Remembrance Day). The Guild stressed that the white poppy was not intended as an insult to those who died in the First World War - a war in which many of the women lost husbands, brothers, sons and lovers.
The thing that most irritates me about those who oppose (or choose to be offended by) white poppies, is the same thing that troubles me about Remembrance Day in general: the sentimentality of War. When I was 12 years old, I refused to wear a red poppy at school and one of my Teacher's began ranting about how I was as bad as the Nazis! I explained that I didn't believe in war and he retorted that people had died for my right to hold that belief, so I might want to re-think my pacifism. (No, he didn't teach logic!)Read more...
I've been in conversation with someone from the Royal British Legion, discussing how they feel about white poppies. One of the most common objections to the promotion of white poppies at this time of year is that it is an insult to those who fought and died for our freedom, as well as hindering the work of the Legion who produce red poppies. So, I thought I'd go straight to the horse's mouth and get the British Legion's thoughts on this matter.
We've shared a couple of amicable emails and they have graciously given me permission to post their response below.Read more...
Normally at this time of year, I post two posts on related topics. On October 31st, I have developed the habit of challenging the honoured reputation of the Reformers, by speaking of their horrific acts of evil in the name of God. Then, on November 1st, I have tried to honour those heroes in my own tradition, by telling the stories on some anabaptist martyrs (often killed at the hands of those I've spoken about on October 31st).
Well, this year I am breaking with tradition, partly in the interests of not being so heavy, partly due to time-restraints and partly 'cos I wanna. Instead, in honouor of the fact that I've now mastered a lovely little arrangement of 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star' on the ukulele, I thought I'd charm you all with a story about the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Astronomer Royal conversing together on the Flying Scotsman to Edinburgh in the 19th Century:Read more...
It's no secret, I can't abide the ministry of Michael and Debi Pearl. I find it disturbing on so many fronts, not least of which is the promotion of violence in the name of good parenting.
So, it almost comes as a relief to read something from them that is so ridiculous, it almost makes one smile.Read more...
You've still got time to order your white poppies!
I've bought a box and will be sending some to local MPs as well as seeing if the local schools want to take some.
Ever since I was a kid, I've been troubled by the wearing of red poppies. Regardless of what the party line may have been, there was a definite element of celebrating War involved. You only have to watch our national remembrance day services to see the military myth that lies at the heart of this nation's identity.
I know that my choice on this matter angers some people. I'm told that I should honour the memory of those who died defending our country. Yet, for the life of me, I cannot see a better way to do that than insist that it doesn't happen again.
The truth is, we do not honour the memory of the dead by promoting the truth that war is necessary, noble, just and righteous. We do it by refusing to let ourselves forget and by pledging to never let it happen again.
Guys, I can't tell you how much I am enjoying playing the ukulele! I initially bought a cheapo job to just get used to it, but have recently upgraded to this little beauty on the right.
After only a week of playing I said to my wife, "If more people played the ukulele, the world would be a happier place!" And I mean it! It is so much fun, that I am literally picking it up at every spare moment. (I've hardly read at all in three weeks!) Though I really want to become a great player, it's not the kind of instrument you can take too seriously, because it oozes fun and frivolity.
Though Aikido has been a great means of relaxation for me, the trouble is that there is too much depth to it. It ties-in with my value and practice of non-violence - and that's the problem. I can get too intense about it and what should be a source of joy and peace becomes another thing to stay up late thinking about. But no one's ever gonna have that problem with the ukulele!
So far, the songs I have learnt include:
[For those of you without LwC blogs, you might want to just ignore this!]
My suggestion, employing very little imagination, was Loonies without Constraint. So, I'm sure you can do better than that!
Feel free to add your ideas in the comments here, or post them on your blog with a link back to this post.
Mine is listed here, but what's yours?
I've recently taken up the Ukulele, so that (partly) explains my choice. Feel free to plug your favourite clip and tell us why it's worthy of that honour, in the comments below.
(Even if you don't have a favourite, be sure to check out mine. You'll be glad you did!)
The Anabaptist Network have recently added a great essay from Alan Kreider: Economical with the Truth: Swearing and Lying, An Anabaptist Perspective
This is a topic that I wish was spoken about more often. As for me and my family, we don't make promises, take oaths or make vows. In short, if you don't have something truthful to say, it isn't worth saying. And if all you say is truthful, then you have no need for degrees of truthfulness.
However, I've noticed that even amongst some contemporary anabaptists there is a fair bit of flexibility when it comes to taking Jesus seriously on the question of oaths and truthfulness.Read more...
One of the regular arguments by those who claim that Islam is an inherently violent religion, is that we never hear the so-called peace-loving Muslims speak up. If it were true that there are violent Muslimes and peaceful Muslims, just like there are violent Christians as well as peaceful Christians, why don't we ever hear about them?
After all, I didn't see too much prime-time space given to this in the news. (There was, however, much space given to the Pope's comments a year ago that lead to this document.) The truth is, I don't expect the media to make too much of a call to peace. That's down to you and I.Read more...
Jason pointed to this article in a recent comment: Thou Shalt Not Kill, Except in a Popular Video Game at Church. It's worth reading.
Across the country, hundreds of ministers and pastors desperate to reach young congregants have drawn concern and criticism through their use of an unusual recruiting tool: the immersive and violent video game Halo.
This is good news - and well over-due!
The government is asking for evidence for a new study of the effect of violent computer games on children.
Psychologist Tanya Byron will head the study, which will also examine how to protect children from online material.
The review is due to be launched by Dr Byron - together with Schools Secretary Ed Balls and Culture Secretary James Purnell - at a school in east London.
The games industry's association Elspa said it would co-operate - but it was too often blamed for society's ills.
TV psychologist Doctor Tanya Byron's independent probe comes after a revised version of the ultra-graphic Manhunt 2 was rejected by censors on Monday.Read more...
A while ago I posted a (too honest?) post about my frustrations making ends meet. I mentioned then that one of the areas we were looking at was saving money on Car insurance. (If you didn't read the post, it's well worth it, even if just for some of the great comments.)
A couple of really useful sites were mentioned in the comments, but it's actually my daughter who told us about one that she'd seen on telly: Go Compare.
Tag: free burma
This post was written to highlight the plight of Monks and other peaceful protestors in Burma. Though the date for that particular blog event has past, we still need to keep this situation in the public eye. To keep up to date with the latest news, I'd recommend visiting The First Post.
I thought that, given Christianity's bloody reputation, some of my reader's might find these thoughts interesting:
On September 24 when the Burmese military opened fire on demonstrating monks and citizens in Burma I was asked by an American friend " Burma is a Buddhist country. Why are the soldiers shooting innocent monks and people? Aren't Buddhists supposed to be non-violent?" My answer was "They are soldiers first and Buddhists last."
There is also the prevalent idea of Burmese nationalism which supercedes the teachings of Buddhism. The rigid discipline and regimentation has a very powerful effect diluting the influence of Buddhism on the individual soldier.
When I am asked this question I normally say that what is most representative of Buddhism is in the faith of the common Burmese people and not the military. The latter is a completely circumscribed institution of men who are hardened for the battlefield to defeat the enemy real or imagined. When these men happen to govern a nation they have a hard time adapting and learning the art of civil governance. And they have the guns to help them have an iron clad power over the population.Actually Buddhists don't kill; only soldiers who appear to be Buddhists do.
I actually think that answer is too easy, but I understand the temptation.
Soneseayar, an exiled Burmese blogger, reported earlier today that 'Thousands of protesters are dead and the bodies of hundreds of executed monks have been dumped in the jungle.' His unconfirmed report relies upon the a former Burmese intelligence officer who has defected, to seek asylum in Norway.
The most senior official to defect so far, Hla Win, said: 'Many more people have been killed in recent days than you've heard about. The bodies can be counted in several thousand.'
Mr Win, who spoke out as a Swedish diplomat predicted that the revolt has failed, said he fled when he was ordered to take part in a massacre of holy men. He has now reached the border with Thailand.
Reports from other exiles along the frontier confirmed that hundreds of monks had simply ' disappeared' as 20,000 troops swarmed around Rangoon yesterday to prevent further demonstrations by religious groups and civilians.
Word reaching dissidents hiding out on the border suggested that as well as executions, some 2,000 monks are being held in the notorious Insein Prison or in university rooms which have been turned into cells.
There were reports that many were savagely beaten at a sports ground on the outskirts of Rangoon, where they were heard crying for help.
Others who had failed to escape disguised as civilians were locked in their bloodstained temples.
Insistent reports emerged today that on the very day [UN special envoy Ibrahim] Gambari was scheduled to meet military leaders, a massacre occurred at one of Rangoon's finest monasteries, Ngwe Kyar Yan.
Troops supported by paramilitary thugs launched a pre-dawn raid on the monastery on Sunday, dragging 200 monks from their beds, most of them young novices, lining them up against a wall and smashing their skulls. Reports of the outrage reached London, where a reliable blog site, Ko Htike, run by Burmese students in the British capital, gave a graphic description of the horror.
The blog said the raiders "systematically ordered all the monks to line up and banged and crushed each one's head against a brick wall of the monastery. One by one, the peaceful, non-resisting monks fell to the ground."
The monastery's elderly abbot was tied up, tortured and hit with clubs. He later died from his injuries. Bodies were thrown into army trucks and driven to an unknown destination, eyewitnesses said.
...There are no monks to be seen anymore in the streets of Rangoon and Mandalay, where monasteries have been sealed off by troops and police.
Source: The First Post.
You know how sometimes you just need to see a great film? Doesn't matter what genre, doesn't matter how 'blockbuster' it is - you just need to see a good 'un. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is it!
Here's the blurb from the back of the box:
Alan Johnson has everything he needs to get through life: a good job, a beautiful and loving wife, and their wonderful children. Yet he feels isolated because he finds having a hard-working job and managing a family too much to handle and has no one to talk to about it. Charlie Fineman, on the other hand, doesn't have a job or a family. He used to have both until he lost his family on the fateful day of 9/11, and the grief he felt caused him to quit his job and isolate himself from everyone around him. As it turns out, Alan and Charlie were roommates in college, and a chance encounter one night rekindles the friendship they shared. But when Charlie's problems become too much to deal with, Alan is determined to help Charlie come out of his emotional abyss.
But that really doesn't do it justice.Read more...
The Buddhist Peace Fellowship have suggested 2 actions we can take to support the Monks, Nuns and people of Burma.
1) Sign the global petition to garner support for the Holy Sangha. Please go to the petition and follow the instructions given. This page also includes address information for the 2) Light a candle and place it in your window every night this week, along with this sign in support of the nonviolent protest.
1) Sign the global petition to garner support for the Holy Sangha. Please go to the petition and follow the instructions given. This page also includes address information for the
2) Light a candle and place it in your window every night this week, along with this sign in support of the nonviolent protest.
I'm not sure if the story I'm about to tell is a sign of God's great timing, or just an example of his twisted sense of humour. Here's what happened.
I was teaching tonight on Hospitality, it's importance and practice. We had looked at Romans 12, 1 Timothy 3 (and Titus 1) and 1 Peter 4:7-11. We then turned to the Old Testament foundation for such exhortations - the Jewish people's experience of being the stranger-sojourner and the gratuitous hospitality of YHWH towards them.
To end, I asked the quesiton, "So, how can we begin putting this into practice, particularly considering this coming Sunday?" (This Sunday we are, much to my nonchalant disinterest, observing Back to Church Sunday.)
There was then a knock at the door.Read more...
Thanks for all of the excellent comments on Saturday's post.
At the end of her comment, Kirsty wrote, 'What I would like to hear is what people do for cheap meals.'
Now, I know for a fact, that there are a number of Stay-at-home-Mums who (for some reason) read this blog. And, I'm thinking that you will all have some great answers to that question. So, I wanted to make sure that no one misses the opportunity to join in.
If you've got any advice, recipes or comments regarding cheap meals, please offer them here.
I'm beginning to articulate what it is that I actually believe in, what it is that gets my heart beating and my feet moving, about local church structure. I would call it, borrowing a term that I think others use in a similar way: Table Church.
I don't call it that to want to start a new movement, as I see table churches spread throughout numerous streams: emerging, house church, fundamentalist, anabaptist, etc. However, I do think that I would now have a hard time even calling something a church if it didn't abide by two New Testament principles:Read more...
I've got a feeling that I may have asked this question in the archives somewhere, but, good questions deserve being repeated. So, here it is... Why do you go to church?
You're allowed to say, "because the Bible commands it" (if you have to), but please try to dig a bit deeper than that. For example, if you think the Bible commands it, why does it command it? If you go to church for the fellowship, do you actually find what you're after?
My readers include anabaptists, Anglicans, Evangelicals, Emerging trendies, house church rebels and even Methodists, so I'm sure we'll have some interesting answers!
Remember how Leaving Münster was down for an upgrade few months back? (An upgrade that I still haven't fully made the most of) Well, it's down again and this time it's not for anything quite so positive.
I'm working on a few techie issues that I hope to have settled by this time tomorrow. The issues are not actually that big, but my time is in incredibly short supply, what with family weddings and 21st birthdays coming up.
Why, you may ask, do I keep writing posts that promise things that never come? Well, aside from side-tracking onto how and why good anabaptists don't make promises, let me just say that my intentions are good. The theory is that if I state publicly things I'd like to blog on, then I'd get on and do them. The trouble with the theory is that it doesn't work!
Like many bloggers, I probably think too much about my blog. I know how and why I want this blog to function - and I know what kind of blogger I want to be. For instance, if we ever decided to buy a kitten and it was the cutest, most gorgeous, most adorable creature to grace God's earth, you would never hear about it on my blog. That's because I have
vowed decided never to be the kind of blogger who talks about their cats. It's just not gonna happen.
Another thing I never want to do is have a blog that just drifts from day to day, discussing topic after topic. To avoid that, I have occasionally stated that I will begin a series on particular topics. To this day, I'm not sure I've finished one! However, here are the topics that I do still intend to write on, as well as a few upcoming posts.Read more...
Theo Geek has just written a provocative piece, entitled, A gospel of doing nothing?
Advances in biblical scholarship in the last thirty years have well and truly refuted the "irrefutable evidence" of Paul's grace, faith and works language... ironically it turned out that grace didn't mean grace, faith didn't mean faith, and works didn't mean works. The New Perspective on Paul has thus cast Paul's writings in quite a different light to the ideas above. Far from being the apostle who rejects the value of human effort, it in fact turns out that not once in any of his writings does Paul reject or deny the value or saving value of human effort to avail before God, and in fact he regularly affirms it.
It's always interesting to see what posts get blasted around the web in a fury of link-love, whilst others get dropped by the side-line. I regularly read bloggers that I can't believe don't receive more comments, links or praise (e.g. | e.g. | e.g.), whilst some others who seem so mediocre to me are linked by everyone.
Quite some time ago, I wrote a post on one topic and (as often seems to happen around here), generated a comment thread on another. Some of us ended up talking about money, living simply, greed, economic equality and so on. As most of you will know, Jubilee is the theme of my life, so how disciples handle their money is a huge interest of mine.
That being true, I'm not sure why I haven't highlighted Neil's great post before. To make ammends, I thought I'd discuss it a little and offer a response. But, please, go and read the original and add your thoughts there: Accumulation of Wealth and Economic Equality Amongst the SaintsRead more...
As some of you will have noticed, I'm not blogging as often as I used to. Though, to be honest, I guess I've always been a bit sporadic. One of the reasons is that I'm needing to concentrate on my web design work, for financial reasons. In short, until I manage to score a weekly show on TBN, I'm not gonna be making big bucks from the ministry! (Before anyone chimes in, let me clarify that I like it that way!)
So, I'm planning to see if I can improve my time spent blogging and make some much-needed money all at the same time. I've signed-up for PayperPost and am, so far, pretty impressed. Before anyone panics that this means I've sold my blog (or, worse, my "soul"!), let me try to put your fears to rest.Read more...
'Christian theologians and preachers have told many, many 'stories of salvation'... The stories have changed throughtime because culture has changed through time, and different stories communicate the unchanging reality of the gospel to different cultures.' (Steve Holmes, The Wondrous Cross, pp. 72-73.)
Short and to the point, Steve Holmes' The Wondrous Cross: Atonement and Penal Substitution in the Bible and History is a welcome contribution to the flurry of recent books on the subject.
A brief and accessible read - and therefore, predictably, over-priced - this is a great example of how books on controversial subjects should be written.
Holmes is irenic, to the extreme. He refuses to 'take sides' and posesses the acumen to recognise that the whole "Chalke-gate" furor was fueled by those with their own agendas, who paid little attention to what the book actually said. (Perhaps it's easier to argue about Jesus' death than be challenged by his message?)Read more...
It seems that John Piper is up to his old tricks.
If you've read this blog for a while you will remember me regretting how Piper always seems to respond to major catasrophe's with, "The Lord did it!" He did it after Beslan. He did it after the Tsunami. He did it following New Orleans. And he's done it again, this time regarding the collapse of the bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis.
Thankfully, John Piper does not hold to that most spiteful form of Calvinism that would say that people deserve whatever happens to them, as it is a reflection of their own sin. In fact, he would go out of his way to denounce such nonsense. No, this disaster has not come upon you because of anything that you did or didn't do. It's happened because God wanted it to! Or, in the words of Piper to his 11-year old daugher, 'God had a purpose for not holding up that bridge, knowing all that would happen, and he is infinitely wise in all that he wills.'Read more...
Having just come back from a week's holiday and finding that I will have very little time online for a while, I thought I'd better post something so you all know that I'm okay! And what better way than pointing to blog posts discussing John Howard Yoder and/or nonviolence?Read more...
Tuff is a good guy. You know how some people say that about other people all of the time - and it becomes just a bland way of saying, "He's alright, I s'pose." Well, in this case, its true.
Those of you who blog at LwC will no doubt know this. Tuffy may have helped you with techie or template problems. Or, you may just enjoy reading his thought-provoking and wide-ranging posts. (He has the knack of being able to post on something fairly controversial, without anyone really noticing or getting worked-up.) Or, you may be one of the dreadful people who comment on his epic 'poop' comment threads.Read more...