This is the formal equivalent of the rant version: Japanese theology is in a sad place, and the seminaries aren’t making it any less sad. (I got 75% for both this and the preceding essay) Read more about There is no Japanese theology (Academic version)
I’ve been refraining from posting any papers here recently until I’ve had them marked and returned, but here’s one that’s just come back on an attempt to provide an understanding of Christ in ancestor-worship religions. I’m not getting into the whole “should Christians take part in ancestor rites?” question because I find it excruciatingly boring. We’ve been blathering about it for four hundred years and we still only have contradictory guidance to give people. So the paper isn’t about that; it’s about how people from those cultures can see Christ as their older brother. Read more about Towards a Confucian Christology of the Firstborn
I don’t often go to traditional churches any more; the community we’re part of is essentially a house church although we probably wouldn’t call ourselves that. It meets on a Thusrday evening, so we have Sunday mornings free and for interest we’ve occasionally been visiting other churches around Gloucester. I feel like it’s giving me an interesting outsider perspective on the whole going-to-church experience. Read more about A lecture club, with singing
The great thing about Gordon Wenham is that he’s an outstanding Biblical scholar. I’ve read and referred to his commentaries, and they’re invaluable contributions to Biblical studies.
The unfortunate thing about Gordon Wenham, though, is that he’s an outstanding Biblical scholar. We were treated to a detailed, encyclopedic critical exegesis of the Psalms, with Wenham recapitulating the scholarly arguments about particular readings and giving a defence of his own hermeneutical method.
For forty-five minutes. I had to gnaw off my own leg to stay awake. Read more about Gordon Wenham on the nations in the Psalms
Shades of Lakoff in this quote from David Feddes:
Churches that require pastors to have academic credentials have an implicit metaphor of church as school. Churches that expect leaders to be entrepreneurs and organizers have an implicit metaphor of church as business enterprise. Churches that look for leaders to attract crowds through gripping performances have an implicit metaphor of church as theater. Churches that want leaders to be therapeutic facilitators have an implicit metaphor of church as support group. Churches that emphasize deference to hierarchies or councils have an implicit metaphor of church as government. Churches that expect leaders to have model families and to cultivate family-like relationships with others have an implicit metaphor of church as household… The church may properly resemble other entities in varying degrees, yet it is identical with none of them. Church leaders may bear similarities to leaders in other spheres, yet they must remain alert to ways that God’s church differs from other social units, and they must pursue leadership in tune with gospel values, not mere worldly values.
- Caring for God’s Household, CTJ 43 (2008): 274-299
Great quote from Niebuhr on the origin of denominations. The house church will not escape the routinization of charisma, because everyone systematizes in the end:
By its very nature, the sectarian type of organization is valid only for one generation. The children born to the voluntary members of the first generation begin to make the sect a church long before they have arrived at the years of discretion. For with their coming the sect must take on the character of an educational and disciplinary institution, with the purpose of bringing the new generation into conformity with the ideals and customs which have become traditional. Rarely does a second generation hold the convictions it has inherited with a fervor equal to that of its fathers, who fashioned these convictions in the heat of conflict and at the risk of martyrdom. As generation succeeds generation, the isolation of the community from the world becomes more difficult… Compromise begins and the ehics of the sect approach the churchly type of morals. As with the ethics, so with the doctrine, so also with the administration of religion. An official clergy, theologically educated and schooled in the refinements of ritual, takes the place of lay leadership; easily imparted creeds are substituted for the difficult enthusiasms of the pioneers; children are born into the group and infant baptism or dedication becomes once more a means of grace. So the sect becomes a church.
Also understand that the “slippery slope” claim of “all of the Bible is true or none of it is true” is simply an unnecessary rhetorical device designed to keep readers from doing precisely what scholars do every day: analyze each claim in the Bible on a case-by-case basis. It is not necessary to accept an “all or none” stance towards the Bible.
I wasn’t going to get into the whole “slippery slope” argument but I did have a couple of thoughts on it - my general stance on authority-of-Scripture discussions these days is pretty much exasperation that we’re still having this stupid debate. Read more about On slippery slopes
I’ve written before that I believe charities have a moral imperative to reduce their overheads so that money they receive can be used for, you know, their charitable purposes.
I’ve often wondered how having large and lavish offices in expensive parts of the country fits in to this. If you’ve decided to situate yourself in an affluent area, then you’re paying more for your rent and you’re paying your staff more so that they can afford houses, and therefore less of your income is going to the poor and needy.
But are charities actually in expensive parts of the country? I decided to do some research… Read more about Do we put charities in the wrong place?
Just to show I’ve not completely dropped the theological ball while I’m off doing some computer work, I’ve been thinking on and off over the past few months about something I read recently which has shook up my view of theology.
Since Bible college I’ve generally seen the world and the Bible through the lens of liberation theology; between being taught by Paul “Pablo” Davies and reading many times through the great Big Book of Bosch, I guess there was no way of avoiding it. All Nations basically teaches you about God’s preferential option for the poor. I guess I’ve been an uncritically naive liberationist since then. I still believe it. But David Thompson’s introduction to theology in Asia in Christian Theology in Asia pointed out something I hadn’t seen before. Read more about Liberation without revenge?
I said I had no plans to write another book, but a few days back I had a dream - literally, a dream - about a book called “Holy Food”. It was a book about theological and spiritual aspects of food interspersed with some relevant recipes. I mentioned it to Hen and she thought it was a great idea - she was quite impacted by the Redcliffe Food Futures Day, and our eating patterns have changed as a result of that - so I’ll probably work on it from the end of the summer. Read more about I need your help with Holy Food