OST is closed for business but its spirit survives on my blog.

Is God real?

I have searched on this site for a discussion about realism and can’t find one! Christians believe in God. A rather obvious statement one might think, but is it? Many Christians act as if there is no question that God exists. I would like to propose that belief in God is simply that - *belief*. Belief in God is a matter of faith. No one has seen God. No one has intimate knowledge of God. God can neither be proven or disproven. Christians believe that He is real, that He answers prayer and that He is revealed through special revelation and scripture. Using scripture to “prove” the existence of God is a circular argument.

The resurrection from the dead

The death and resurrection of Jesus, locked together in a brief three-day period, constitute the defining moment of Christian belief. It is here that the light of God’s love for humanity burns most brightly through the dingy fabric of history. But the light of the Easter event can be so intense at times that we fail to see the surrounding context, the whole unrolled cloth, the long narrative of which the cynical execution and ambiguous resurrection appearances are an integral part - and without which they so easily become misappropriated by a truncated mythology of personal salvation. This simple contribution to our Easter reflections highlights four of the narrative insights that foreshadow and explain the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

Literal this that and the other

Mark Driscoll, who is beginning to inhabit the darker regions of my consciousness like some baleful theological bogeyman, recently announced by Tweet that Charles Haddon Spurgeon is his favourite mentor outside of scripture. You have to wonder what sort of nightmarish world Driscoll is living in if he is willing to let himself be mentored by someone who not only is dead but was, as Driscoll himself writes, ‘kicked out of his own Baptist denomination for his unwillingness to stop teaching such things as eternal torment in a literal hell, the literal truthfulness of Scripture, a literal creation by God, and the perfection and divine inspiration of Scripture’. I just don’t see what hammering on about everything being literal and perfect is supposed to achieve these days.

On the Origins of Morality: Supernatural, Biological, and Relational Possibilities

Back in 2007, Christianity Today hosted Christopher Hitchens and Doug Wilson in a debate entitled: “Is Christianity Good for the World?”. They exchanged letters six times, with Hitchens starting and Wilson concluding.

They debated a number of issues. The issue of most significance in this essay is their differences concerning the origins of morality.

Richard Rohr on the emerging church

There are some good clips of Richard Rohr talking about the emerging church that have been provided by the Center for Action and Contemplation. I came across them via a post on the Emergent Village Weblog. In this one Rohr lists what he regards as the four main characteristics of a movement that is creating a remarkable new consensus about the gospel that transcends denominations...

Evangelism before and after Christendom

Some quick thoughts on evangelism following a lively discussion at Community Church Harlesden

Evangelism has clearly become for many Christians a problematic and frankly anti-social requirement of the faith. To some extent this can be dealt with at the level of practice - there are certainly good ways and bad ways of doing personal evangelism. But I think there are some deeper conceptual issues involved that get us to the heart of the problem of what it means to be church today. It may help in this respect to think of evangelism as an integral expression of the state of a community’s existence - or perhaps better, of what God is doing through its actual, contextualized existence. This can be demonstrated by exploring the narrative dynamic of the ‘good news’ motif in the New Testament and then asking how we might interpret the present situation in the light of that dynamic.

Ekklesia and the missional church

Here’s another example (see also Review of Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch, ReJesus) of the disconnection between great missional ideas and a coherent narrative theology.

At the Christian Associates leaders summit in Portugal last week Mike Frost argued that for Paul the Greek word ekklēsia would have signified in the first place a gathering of local elders who would be a source of wisdom and good counsel to the local community. So, for example, if a man had a dispute with his brother over the division of an inheritance (cf. Luke 12:13-14), the issue would normally be settled not by an itinerant rabbi (‘Man, who made me judge or arbitrator over you?’) but by the elders of the community in lengthy and time-honoured deliberations at the city gates.

Review of Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch, ReJesus

ReJesus: A Wild Messiah for a Missional Church, by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch, is a call to a renewal of spirituality and discipleship centred on Jesus; it describes what that renewed spirituality and discipleship might look like; it tells some powerful stories about spirituality and discipleship. It’s a wonderful book. Quintessential Frost and Hirsch.

But it is not really a book about Jesus. The authors expressly excuse themselves on this point. They are not endeavouring to outline the contours of Jesus’ teaching because ‘so many books have done a better job of that than we can possibly accomplish’; rather they are trying to find the ‘spiritual centers’ of the ‘lifestyle and faith that Jesus taught and exemplified’ - ‘to touch the wild and primal energy that radiates out of Jesus’ (41).

Creation care as a rule of life

Andrew’s commentary on Lovelock’s upcoming book delves into an important question about the church’s response to this and other prognosticators who are forecasting gloom and doom scenarios. Given that creation care is so close to my heart, I am mulling over what sort of response I ought to choose in the face of all the bad eco news (which, of course, gets merged with all the general bad news the media spews out to further heighten our collective anxiety). For what it’s worth, here’s some perspectives/actions that I tend to employ to self-sooth and not capitulate to feelings of helplessness…

Who are 'the least of these'?

One important point of biblical interpretation that came up during the course of a recent TREK gathering with the Christian Associates team in Gothenburg had to do with the meaning of Jesus’ story of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25:31-46. It is remarkable how this passage is widely and consistently misread as providing support for Christian service to the poor.

The context was a discussion about the relation between humanitarian missional projects such as Serve the City and evangelism. The usual argument is that in serving the poor - supposedly the ‘least of these’ - we are serving Jesus. To give a salient example, in their new book ReJesus: A Wild Messiah for a Missional Church Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch describe an encounter with a woman outside the ornate Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow….

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