CategoryFaith

The Art of Reading the Bible #2

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A few months back I offered the first in what was to be a series of blogs on reading the bible, bouncing off an approach outlined by Richard Hays. Hays suggested that interpretation is a fourfold task: Descriptive: what a particular book of the bible meant to its original audience; Synthesis: how the ideas, themes, injunctions of each book/text fit within the bible as a whole; Hermeneutics: how...

Quoting the Bible in Public. What our engagement with slavery should have taught us.

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For much of the history of the church the practise of slavery went unchallenged. It’s not difficult to see why. Slavery was a longstanding feature of human society that was rarely questioned by those who were free. In the sixth century BC the philosopher Aristotle argued that slavery was a dictate of nature, that some human beings were by nature given to be ruled while others were by nature given...

When you’ve nothing left to do but watch binge TV

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In a recent post I shared the unexpected and stunning turnaround in my health that I experienced in February. The last 6 months of 2018 had seen a severe decline in my mobility to the point that on any given day I had no idea how long my body would be in a state of tremoring and muscle rigidity before flipping into severe dyskensia and somewhere inbetween those states giving me broken periods of...

Why empathy matters. Reading the Bible to hear the word of God #1

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I was revisiting Richard Hays’s The Moral Vision of the New Testament recently and was reminded of his very helpful description of how we can discern God’s word to us through the Scriptures. He speaks of a fourfold task: Descriptive Task: Reading the Text Carefully. This seeks to identify the messages of the various texts/books of the Bible “without...

Everywhere and always God’s graceful presence. Letting go of a God of fear and fury for the God of Jesus

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  Grab a cuppa and give yourself some time. This is a longer than usual piece When I was a teenager I remember being both excited and fearful when one of my non-Christian school friends came to church. I was excited because they were expressing an interest in faith. I was fearful lest they take communion, for it had been drummed into me that “anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup...

Farewell Billy Graham.

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I just heard the news that Billy Graham died. Perhaps the greatest evangelist of history, I was one of millions who were profoundly influenced by his ministry. My mother was on the organising committee for the 1979 “Billy Graham Crusade”, held at Randwick racecourse. This meant that our household was swept up in the fervour of those crusades. I was 14 years old. I can’t remember...

If the Bible is so clear, why do we keep getting it so wrong?

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I recently read Mark Noll’s book, The Civil War as a Theological Crisis. It was something of a shock to discover that in the mid 1800’s the majority of North American evangelicals opposed the abolition of slavery. Noll describes the crisis that the war created, Debates over Scripture and slavery, which combined passionate moral reasoning, careful attention to the particulars of exegesis, and...

The Decline of Religion in Australia.

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The census data is out and one of the headlines has been the rise of people indicating they have “no religion” and the corresponding decline in those who indicate an affiliation with Christianity. The census data, of course, only tells us about people’s nominal affiliation with a religious tradition. It doesn’t tell us much about people’s practise of religion. The...

The King, Sheep, Goats & Salvation.

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One of the most confronting parables Jesus told was his account of the sheep and goats (found in Matthew 25). The end of the age has come and humanity is gathered before Christ for judgement. Humankind is sorted into two groups: sheep, who the king claims fed him when he was hungry, gave him a drink when he was thirsty, provided hospitality when he was a stranger, clothed him when he needed...

The Difference Faith Can Make.

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Two weeks ago I attended the funeral of an old friend. I hadn’t seen Bazza for many years, but my memories were fond. I met Barry when I was the youth pastor at Caringbah Baptist Church and he starting seeing one of the women whose daughters were in the youth group. I had long had a soft spot for Lyn and her three daughters. For many years Lyn had been a single mother who knew some tough times...

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