Kosuke Koyama is a preacher and theologian whose work I really enjoy and am inspired by. This is the operative bit of Sunday's sermon on Exodus 3. There's more, which I'll put up when I've finished the translation, but this is the theological key to the passage as far as I'm concerned. Nothing here is Koyama's words, but his spirit was definitely at work while I was writing it. My pastor, whose sermon style is very different, asked me after checking my Japanese “How do you come up with this kind of meditation?” Well, I just look at the text, then a look at a map, then I ask stupid questions, and I try to find the answers…
So I don't think it's cool to judge politicians, or indeed anyone, on what their preacher says, or else, well, all of my congregation would be in deep trouble. But a recent sermon at Sarah Palin's church kind of raised my interest a bit. The passage in question, about 1 minute 20 in:
Moving from a technical profession to a spiritual vocation has been a weird process for me and has brought a few surprises. But there is one particular element that still gets to me every time. It is what I would call the closed nature of the spiritual community rather than the open nature of the technical community.
It has been striking me more and more recently that I am, at this point in my ministry, doing pretty much everything I said I would never do on the mission field before I got here. I am teaching English for ministry. I am using - and creating - systematized programmes for evangelism and discipleship rather than responding flexibly to individual situations. And, as we plan what happens to my various preaching and teaching slots from January, I realise that I have taken on more work than is sustainable and reproducible.
Just after writing about Christ as a critical category over our theologies, I turned to the next part of our series through Acts to see what I had to preach on this week. Chapter five, oh yummy. One of the reasons I prefer preaching in series like this is because it keeps me honest, stops me from picking and choosing, and encourages me to deal with passages I would prefer to avoid. I believe that reading the Bible is meant to change you, not just reinforce your existing views, and grappling with the bits you find unpleasant is a necessary part of this.
I mentioned earlier that I was going to write something about the “Scripture interprets Scripture” school of hermeneutics. I may not succeed, but I'm going to try to see if I can explain some of the problems I have with it.
I've just had a nice few days holiday. I'm relaxed. But just before I went, I got an email that really annoyed me.
As I wrote this morning, we had our second Maibara Revive meeting today. I arrived at church this morning to listen to a litany of people who couldn't make it. Takahashi-sensei said, “Well, it could be just the four of us…”
I got a copy of Simon Ponsonby's new book on eschatology, And The Lamb Wins, on Thursday. And I read it on Thursday, in one sitting. It's a very, very good book. One of the things that I don't like about most theological books is that they don't tend to take seriously both sides of an argument - they fall victim to the temptation to straw-man the side they don't like. But when reading Lamb, I very often found myself thinking “Yes, I understand point X, but what about point Y?” only to turn the page and find a thorough explanation of point Y. And in the end, I didn't find myself disagreeing with many of Simon's conclusions, mostly because of the way he hunted for a middle way between the various theological positions out there. For a very (and pointlessly) controversial area of theology, Simon treads appropriately carefully.