Saturday, 27 September 2008


Hey daddy, isn't it funny that 'grabity' has the word 'grab' in it?

Yes, darling, it is funny, in many, many ways.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

One for culture vultures

There's a discussion about what culture is and how significant it is for understanding the Bible, happening here.

Have at it, ye landlubbers, arr harr.

Oh, sorry, I'm still gettin' over International Talk Like a Pirate Day, ye scurvy dogs.

Men and women and criticism

I'm reading lots of marriage books lately, got a marriage weekend coming up and have to think of worthwhile ways to use people's time on the weekend, given that the husbands and wives coming could just as easily have gone away for a weekend with each other.

Lots of random thoughts keep popping into my head as a direct result.

Women are very sensitive to implied criticism, aren't they?

I'm now imagining a possibly female reader of this blog thinking 'I wonder if he means me?'

The answer is, no.

Although actually, if you thought the thought, maybe I do...

(the dreaded ellipsis!)

Nitschke, Jennings and euthanasia

Back in June, Caren Jenning was found guilty of the manslaughter of Graham Wylie, despite claims by euthanasia campaigner Dr Philip Nitschke that this was not murder but assisted suicide.

Last Friday she committed suicide.

One of the creepy aspects to this is that Dr Nitschke now appears again:

Caren Jenning, 75, died alone on Thursday night, the euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke confirmed yesterday, calling her death "inevitable".

"It is not unexpected given the treatment and persecution she received at the hands of the legal system in the past few months," Dr Nitschke said.

Every time Nitschke materializes, he seems to come equipped with another story of how a particular death is inevitable and understandable—never tragic or avoidable. Even troubled teens may have reason for seeking a way out.

Meanwhile, the daughter of the murdered Graham Wylie offers her comment:

Prosecution was the only way to deal with death

Date: September 25 2008

Your article states that Caren Jenning failed to mention during her trial that she bought the drug Nembutal for herself, as well as to kill my father, Graeme Wylie ("Suicide accomplice, a modern whodunit", September 23). She did mention she had planned to do so on one trip to Mexico, but said she lost her nerve. Her dear friend Philip Nitschke has now admitted she bought a bottle for herself. Even on her deathbed the woman has been caught lying.

She mentioned being persecuted by the legal profession. But how is one supposed to treat someone who has imported illegal drugs on more than one occasion, been involved in the death of a person, fabricated evidence for the Supreme Court of NSW, and consistently denies any of it?

The police and the Director of Public Prosecutions had no choice but to take the matter to court. I had the right to know what happened to my father and I thank them for finding out some of the truth. At no time did I see them act inappropriately to Jenning.

This woman was given every opportunity to own up to her involvement in my father's death, yet she consistently denied it. I understand that in NSW no one has ever been sentenced for assisting a genuine suicide. Why didn't she stand up for her beliefs? What would be gained by consistent lying about having nothing to do with it?

I can only imagine she was hoping a doctor would provide another medical certificate to keep her out of jail. I eagerly await the autopsy result, as she told me on the night she was involved in the death of my father that she was cured of her cancer.

As the supportive co-ordinator of Exit NSW, she made a good pair with Nitschke. However, yet again he is left holding a news conference, with another dead body in his tracks.

Nicola Dumbrell, Spit Junction

From here.

Lance is back

Lance Armstrong is back and he's coming to Australia.

AFTER Lance Armstrong confirmed that Australia's Tour Down Under would be where he will launch his comeback to road racing, it was revealed the seven-time Tour de France champion intends to resume where he left off when he retired in 2005 - by winning.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Michael Kellahan has started a blog

Welcome to the world of blog-posting, Mike!

Looking forward to your thoughts.

Victorian abortion law

The Catholic hospitals in Victoria are threatening to disobey the proposed abortion law.

Report in the Age.

Beam me up, Scotty

Sky hooks are on the way (SMH).

JAPANESE scientists are attempting to build a lift that will take passengers into space, marking the realisation of a vision that has inspired science fiction writers for generations.

The lift's carriages, which will themselves require new feats of engineering, would move up and down 35,000 kilometre-long cables. Those cables would need to be stronger and lighter than any material ever woven.

They would be anchored to the ground and disappear into the sky, eventually reaching a satellite docking station orbiting above the Earth.

Carbon nanotubes to the rescue! Yeah!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Super choral concert coming up

I am singing with my choir in a couple of concerts at the Opera House on November 1 and 6.

We've started rehearsals and from the sound so far, this one is going to be fantastic. If you have never been to a choral concert before, and you have even vaguely thought you might go one day, this is one worth turning up for to find out what it's about. Here's the ad.

The Dies Irae from Mozart's Requiem was used for an ad a few years ago, might have been the Melbourne Grand Prix, might have been Firestone tires; you will recognize it even if you aren't a classical music buff. Spine-tingling. Here 'tis on YouTube.

I can get cheap tickets for you (15% off A res, B res or C res) if you let me know soon enough, just respond with a comment and mark it Not For Publication if you don't want it to appear on this blog.

Free Esther!

The ESV Study Bible notes on Esther were written by Barry Webb, lecturer in Old Testament at Moore College. I interviewed him for the Sola Panel here, and if you head on over you can download the complete Esther notes for free!

A current pet peeve of mine is people who want to insist that we be culturally savvy in our understanding of our own culture and the culture of the Bible, and that this needs to happen before we can really get the message from the text. It seems to me a subtle attempt to deaden and dull the immediacy of God's living word. So my ears always prick up when I get the hint that others see this as a problem too. In the interview, Barry says:

The Jewish people during the inter-testamental period even added a bit to the story of Esther, and this has been preserved in the Septuagint [the traditional Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament]. In these additions, whoever wrote them seems to have wanted to exonerate Esther from the charge of having broken the law and behaved immorally.

So one of the exciting and fascinating things for me was when I read the book of Esther, having questions about their behaviour, and then discovered that the Jews of the inter-testamental period had the same thoughts. It was a good example of a modern reader reading the same text, with my questions coming not out of my modernity or my Christianity; it was a real issue that arose for earlier readers too.

I am not sure at all that Barry shares my annoyance with scholarly attempts at authoritative cultural exegesis. But his observations about the continuity between BC culture and his questions—my questions too, when I read Esther—help us see why it is that the Bible speaks to day. It's God's inerrant, infallible and true word, applied by his Spirit to people who have been made in his image. It's an image that remains despite the passage of some two and a half thousand years between when God first addressed his hearers, to when he addresses us now.


I read this comment about the literary and historical context of some of the New Testament letters:

But the epistles themselves don't leave many explicit clues, and since a lot of scholarship discounts patristic testimony and limits itself to internal literary evidence, it is hard to be certain of a great deal in this crucial area.

But if the epistles themselves don't give clues, and internal literary evidence doesn't answer the question either, then how is it 'crucial'?

Answer? It's not.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Broughton Knox writes about his theology

I'm quoting from the unpublished manuscript by Broughton Knox entitled Robert Banks—a Reply, subtitled The "Apologia Pro Theologica Mea". The explanatory note underneath says it was "Written almost immediately after the publication of Banks' chapter in God who is Rich in Mercy, 27.2. 1990—not looked at since". It is a response to Banks' assessment of Broughton's theology in this book.

From page 4:

I hate having to justify myself but I am told I have an obligation to so as no one else is in a position to.

Robert Banks begins his criticism with the statement, "DBK seems to have developed his theological method too independently of the wider world of theological discussion".

Because he has had the slenderest personal contacts with me he has perforce to base this comment on my theological writings. He bases his comment on the fact that I am not constantly citing and footnoting references to contemporary scholars; but to assume that consequently I am unacquainted with modern theological scholarship is non sequitur, it doesn't follow logically. It is a question of what I am aiming to achieve, to accomplish by my theological writings.

By God's providence, from early youth, I have had very great opportunities of personal relationship and theological cross-fertilisation with scholars in the universities of England, Scotland, and America, and by their visits to Australia. And, of course, I have had access to the great libraries of England; the Bodley, Oxford, Cambridge, London, and the British Library, as well as the growing libraries of Tyndale House, Cambridge, and of Moore College, Sydney. I do not believe that I am unacquainted with the writings of modern scholarship.

If I do not normally constantly refer to them in the pages of what I write, it is due to my understanding of how theology should be written, or what the objective is. The objective is to make clear some aspect of "the whole counsel of God", and to then see how it applies to our life.

True theology is an explanation of God's revelation. Therefore there should be constant references to holy Scripture to assure the reader that what is being said is well grounded; but there is only need for an occasional reference to a writer in the last half-generation.

Most of Christian theology has been done in the past. A theologian should be very well acquainted with the pivotal thinkers of the past and of the present (of which there are one or two). Their thought will enter into his own thinking but, unless he is writing a history of theology, they will not be referred to by name.

A reason—and a most important one—that modern theological writers are not of much help—except to provide an interesting stimulus here and there, is that the presuppositions of their theological writings are so different from classical Christian theology that it makes much of their conclusions of little value. True theology must be based on, to quote our Lord, "What God has spoken to you". This is the Scripture as we have it in our hands. What God has spoken to us must of course be true, infallible and inerrant. Any other concept is unthinkable. Yet the members of the wider theological reading to which Banks believes I should be constantly referring reject this view of Scripture, which was the view of Jesus and his apostles and of all the theologians up to a generation or so ago. The "modern theological academy"


has such a fundamentally different presupposition on which their theological thinking is based that an eclection that chooses this or that among their conclusions to include in the theological whole is likely to weaken rather than strengthen the result. This does not mean that a theologian should be unacquainted with modern writings, but it is more important to be acquainted with the older writings. My object and consequently style of writing does not quote either older or modern writers. But I am not criticised for not quoting the ancients, but only the moderns, and the deduction is drawn that I'm unaquainted with these latter!

Finishing Luke

Have you noticed the final words of Luke's gospel?

and were continually in the temple blessing God.

It is the description of what the disciples were doing when they discovered that the mysterious individual who had been appearing among them was, as some suspected, the Lord Jesus risen from the dead.

Remember at the beginning of Luke that the reason he writes is for Theophilus,

that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

By the time that Luke finishes his gospel, he thinks he has achieved his goal. The result? Those who have certainty are in the temple 'blessing God'.

The Christian life is characterized by thankfulness, focussed on and inspired by the mighty work of God.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Attacks against Christians in India

They continue, in the east and in the west.

Pray for them.

Go Penelope!

The government ought not to fiddle around with the Edmund Barton building.

Hands off you Philistines! Go Penelope!


Ruby asked me what a 'tomb' was the other day. We'd been reading about how Jesus was buried in a tomb after he had been crucified.

What is a tomb?

A tomb is a room where they put dead people. Then you close the door, and they never come out.

A tomb is a room without a view.

You would not have put Jesus in a tomb if you were not very sure that he was dead.

That's pretty much what I said.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Violet age 5 and a 1/2

Oune I axudently frode my toy Charile up on one of the school roofs and at the end of school befor we went hame I tode my dad I axudently frode charile up on one of the school roofs and my dad tride to get charlie down but my dad cad ned get charlie down so my dad said he wode got Charile trmoroe and the next day my dad brang a stail and he went into athdelrey and got a char and I said what are you going to do? you well see then it didntd werck so my dad went bake to antterrcur and gave the char back and my dad got a ladre and theen he got charile down.

She speaks a little bit like this too.

Pakistan v Afghanistan

AN excellent article by Fraser Nelson in London's Spectator in July put it as succinctly as I have seen it: "At a recent dinner party in the British embassy in Kabul, one of the guests referred to 'the Afghan-Pakistan war'. The rest of the table fell silent. This is the truth that dare not speak its name.

Christopher Hitchens talks about it here.

Sex and ministry

Jen B makes a mighty fine attempt at eviscerating a common argument about sex and ministry, here.

From the post:

Sex within marriage is not for ministry. Sex within marriage is for the husband and wife of that marriage.

This is well said.

I did have a question, though, about whether sex is also for children, as in, the producing of them. And if so, I wonder if it affects the shape of the argument? Being fruitful and multiplying, after all, has as its aim the establishing of God's rule in his creation—Genesis 1:28. And once we introduce the idea that sex might not be solely for the husband and wife, but have some external purpose in view as well, we are back into the question of whether or not you might have sex (within marriage of course—that's assumed) for reasons other than that you simply enjoy it.

Another verse that comes to mind is Malachi 2:15

Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.

I don't really know what this verse means. But the bit that I understand again seems to point to a view of sex that says it is about more than mutual enjoyment, as terrific as that is.

Now what Jen eviscerates, stays eviscerated so read what she said and feel the weight of it; feeling the weight will paradoxically result in a great burden of guilt being lifted from some, particularly wives of ministers. But there is more to be said; something Jen herself would likely acknowledge.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Immigration under Ruddock

I don't like the way detention centres were run under the previous government, and Phil Ruddock must carry a large part of the responsibility for that. They kept people imprisoned, including children, on the grounds that they had not yet shown that they were genuine refugees. A friend of mine spent more time in a detention centre than he would have in jail had he been found guilty of murder. Eventually his status as a refugee was recognized, and he was released into the community. His is not an isolated story.

However this has to be acknowledged:

Ruddock’s place in Australian political history will record that immigration grew every year after 1996, rising from 67,100 in 1997 to more than 142,000 in 2006. The fair-minded will call that a genuinely compassionate outcome.

From here.

Stem cells from cloned human embryos

Sickening news on the research front. The first licence has been issued for a company to attempt to produce cloned human embryos.

From the report:

The director of Australians for Ethical Stem Cell Research, David van Gend, criticised the issuing of the licence by the National Health and Medical Research Council. He said cloning research was no longer necessary because of recent advances in stem cell science.

"It is unspeakable that we should continue this project of creating living human embryos with the sole purpose of destroying them when the compelling justification for such experiments has gone."

Crabb on Turnbull

Funny as always:

Turnbull does additionally have something of a money problem. He's got too much of it; side by side yesterday, he and Julie Bishop looked like the Blake and Krystle Carrington of the Liberal Party.

It's an awkward fit for the present political culture, in which the hard-luck story is king, and any candidate unlucky enough to have enjoyed a happy and comfortable childhood in a stable family unit starts very much behind the eight ball.

Fortunately for Turnbull, he was abandoned at the age of nine by his mother, who probably had no idea all those decades ago just what a handy future political service she was rendering her son.

From the SMH.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008


Learned a new word today: oikophobia.

From here.

On the support Greens give to terrorists.

Abortion funding faces review

Report in the SMH today.

A matter for prayer.

From the report:

Both anti-abortion and pro-abortion campaigners believe the inquiry will turn into a de facto investigation into the numbers and cost of abortions in Australia.

The pro-choice MPs fear the timing of the inquiry, which is happening as the Victorian Parliament debates whether to decriminalise abortion.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Nelson v Turnbull

It's on.

Not sure what this achieves from Nelson's end. An extra month or two?

Meanwhile Costello hasn't resigned. I don't think we will know the end of this story for at least 12 months, but instability in the party favours him over the long term.

UPDATE: For Nelson, it achieved early retirement from the job as leader. If Malcolm T performs well, that is not just the end of Nelson but certainly farewell for Costello, sooner or later.

Peter Jensen reviewed

Peter Jensen's book The Future of Jesus, was reviewed in The Australian over the weekend.

I have laboured these matters in rather simplistic political terms because I want to encourage secular Australians, especially those on the Left, to read Jensen's book.

(From the review by Roy Williams)

Sunday, 14 September 2008

I don't know

I don't know who Mark Driscoll is

And it is possible that he hasn't heard of you either, but it is such a refreshing line that it is worth repeating.

From here.

Saddle sore

Weekend away with some families from school.

One of them had a spare mountain bike, so I went along for the ride. First time ever, easy for some but a bit terrifying for me.

Prayed for a chance to talk about Jesus, and ended up having a conversation with M, who told me about the Fourth Way, of which he's a member, and he sent me off to Wikipedia to find out more.

I thought Irenaeus did a pretty decent job of dealing with this sort of stuff in the second century, but it is the nature of hydras to return with extra heads.

The big question is why would there be a secret message hidden in the four gospels, when the obvious message is astonishing and salvific enough?

The girls had a lovely time.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Hey Mike I guess you saw this!

Hey Mike K, I added a comment to our discussion here and then read this letter in today's SMH:

Little chance of fair trials when so many articles imply guilt

Date: September 12 2008

Bouquets to the Herald for publishing Belinda Neal's staunch and quite proper defence of her right to silence over the Iguanas affair ("Media chip away at a cornerstone of our rights", September 11).

The right to silence is, and must continue to be, one of the linchpins of a civilised criminal justice system. It applies to all Australian citizens and does not disappear just because a person has been elected or appointed to some high office.

Brickbats to the Herald for describing, in the same issue, Dr Graeme Reeves using a pejorative phrase better suited to a member of Hitler's elite. This is, of course, a description used by nearly all media outlets of recent time. No doubt it sells papers, brings in viewers and thereby raises profits. It does not profit our society, however, when the use of such terminology makes it nigh on impossible for the accused to receive a fair trial. Apparently the presumption of innocence must make way for the right to pen an eye-catching headline.

I wonder if any editors take pause to contemplate, when deciding to run with any given story, whether the person named therein will have their right to a fair hearing irreversibly prejudiced.

It is simply not good enough to argue that trial judges can warn jurors to put such reports/descriptions out of their minds. Mud sticks.

I wrote in the Herald more than five years ago, when I was still a senior NSW crown prosecutor: "Perhaps the time has come for the federal government, as well as all states and territories, to legislate that there shall be no publication of any material which might identify an alleged perpetrator until such time as the relevant tribunal has made a finding of culpability."

Those words fell, and continue to fall, on deaf ears.

Nicolas Harrison Lismore

The media does seem to manage to find all sorts of ways around sub judice matters.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Criticizing Driscoll

I appreciated Mark Driscoll's visit to Sydney and have posted about him a couple of times already, while promising a bit more at some stage. That's going to have to wait for a bit as things are a bit tight just now, but in the meantime, I don't find a lot to disagree with here or here (both posted on the Sola Panel).

Belinda Neal's right to silence

Think what you like, but she does have a point, you know.

Why we should read the Bible in schools

Greg Clarke argues the case in today's SMH.

From the article:

I have a vested interest in biblical literacy; after all, I'm a Christian and I think there's something to the big, unfolding story it tells. But I'm also a literary academic, and I can't bear the biblical ignorance students display. Regardless of whether you find something alive and kicking in the Scriptures, there is a strong argument it should be somewhere near the foundation of Australian education.

It's not the strongest argument for Bible reading, but it's a powerful ad hominem case to make to the secular, elitist readers of the SMH.

OK maybe he is going then.

Costello in the SMH.

Maybe he is going then.

UPDATE: Or not.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008


Found an old post of Al Mohler's on it, here.

All sorts of people are finding ways to preach on the topic less, or apologize for it. No wonder we lack a sense of urgency.

From Al's blog:

Those Friedrich Schleiermacher called the "cultured despisers of religion" especially despise the doctrine of hell.

Resolved: Insofar as God allows it, to become a fire and brimstone preacher.

A nice cup of tea

I believe I shall have a second one.

Do you think I am overdoing it?



Dumpy, downcast.



SA Writers in the papers

I moderate a forum over on Sydney called "SA writers in the papers", which involves noting letters mainly from Sydney Anglicans that make it into various newspapers; often (but not always) the Fairfax press, and often (but not always) supporting a biblical viewpoint.

We hit a small milestone today, and I noted it here;

[UPDATE: slightly weird things happen with that link. You will have to scroll down, it is post #1593; the post number is in the top RH corner of each post]

also see the next post by John Sandeman. Soph the declutterer will be happy about this one ;-)

The need to read

People in churches, especially Roman Catholics, are not reading their Bibles much. Pentecostals are much more likely to be Bible readers.

From the SMH.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Declutter your life

Facebook friend S doesn't realize this, but one of her wall posts put me on to this decluttering site. From today's post:

A quick walk around my house and it is pretty easy to figure out where the clutter accumulates. Problem areas include my desk, the kitchen counter, and a landing strip that borders our kitchen and dining area. The clutter seems to collect like dust and it seems to an unwinnable war.

Take a stroll around your home and identify your perpetually cluttered zones.

Ah! How true it is. Sites like this remind me of my mother. Thanks S!

Music in church

Got a letter in the SMH today.

For five years I was a regular organist at the parish Phillip Jensen led before he was dean of St Andrew’s Cathedral. Musicians are there to serve and one way we do so is by playing to help people sing. The other is by not playing when they are trying to talk.

Music is a great blessing from God, but nowhere near as great as the blessing of quiet conversation about the glory of God, the resurrection of Jesus and the forgiveness of sins.

Reverend Gordon Cheng, Kingsford

The article this is responding to is so misguided and generally irritating that I'm not even going to link it, but google will be your friend if you feel the need to track it down.

Monday, 8 September 2008


You can't not like this:

Matilda's band played a passable approximation of it on Saturday, in fact as a proud dad I reckon it was mighty fine after just a few hours practise. Matilda got a bit lost, she said, but then she's only been learning the clarinet this year.

Two good things about Driscoll

The other day I promised to start giving an assessment of some of the things Mark Driscoll said last Monday.

The first two things to say about Mark Driscoll—and the only two things I'm going to say in this post—are that he really is on our team, and that he can pull a crowd. In fact, let's just say the first thing; the second is a self-evident truth.

In what sense on our team? Well, like most Sydney Anglicans, he is a four and a half point Calvinist. He believes in (1)Total Depravity, which means that sin has affected every part of our character and will. He believes in (2) Unconditional election, that God chooses us irrespective of any thing to do with our merit. He sort of believes in (3) Limited atonement, which means that he believes Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, but that not everybody is predestined for eternal life (For more on that last one, see lots of Reformed theological discussions the world over since about 1630). He believes in (4) Irresistible grace—if God chooses you for sonship, you’re chosen; and lastly he believes in the (5) Perseverance of the Saints, which means that if you’re chosen by God, then you stay chosen. A wonderfully comforting doctrine, that last one. I’m paraphrasing what Driscoll himself said in his interview last Monday at St Andrew’s Cathedral.

Not only that, but he falls on the conservative evangelical side of all sorts of important discussions. He believes in penal substitutionary atonement; he believes that men ought to lead women, families, and churches and teach them God’s word. In most of the major contemporary reformed evangelical debates he is not only with us but out in front of us, leading and teaching things we believe to be true and provoking us because on at least some of these things, we keep flinching and pulling back from Biblical standards.

And as for pulling a crowd, 10 000ish Anglicans and friends in the Entertainment Centre counts. Beat it or join it (and don’t compare it unfavourably to some local popular Pentecostal congregations because that is prosperity gospel, not Bible teaching).

The man’s an honest to goodness friend. We should thank God for him and pray that he will stand and not fall.

There's a bit more to say under the headings ‘Mark Driscoll the Criminal Profiler’, and ‘Mark Driscoll the Big Bad Barry Hall’. Not today though.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

I need more friends

On facebook, I mean. Honestly, you wouldn't be there just to make up the numbers. Try me, you'll see how sincere I am!


Mark Driscoll speaks:

Jesus is our ‘propitiation’. This word appears four times in the Greek New Testament. Most translations don’t include it. They say, “People don’t know what the word ‘propitiation’ means”, so they put in other words like ‘sacrifice of atonement’. [But] people don’t know what those words mean either! So I don’t think it helps. Use the word. It’s a good word.


What happens with propitiation is that Jesus stands in our place and the wrath of the Father is poured out on the Son.

It seems to me that the very strongest thing about Mark Driscoll's ministry is that he trusts the Lord Jesus to save him from God's terrible anger against sin and sinners, and teaches accordingly. You can find more about his explanation here.

White Bay Hotel

Sydney's White Bay Hotel has burned.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Large Hadron Collider

Reported in the Australian.

Teh cool! Will we at last find the Higgs boson?

A round-up opinion piece on the Republican Convention

Useful. From Jules Crittenden.


Hey, no fair, Obama’s the change guy!

and from Gerard Baker at the Times in London:

The best line I heard about Sarah Palin during the frenzied orgy of chauvinist condescension and gutter-crawling journalistic intrusion that greeted her nomination for vice-president a week ago came from a correspondent who knows a thing or two about Alaska.

“What’s the difference between Sarah Palin and Barack Obama?”

“One is a well turned-out, good-looking, and let’s be honest, pretty sexy piece of eye-candy.

“The other kills her own food."

h/t Tim Blair.

The US Presidential election has sparked into a real contest.

Friday, 5 September 2008

You need more money

After a 36 hour hiatus, the Sola Panel is up and running (though it still looks a bit weird on my browser). I've posted a quote from You Need More Money and asked a question about Rowan Williams.

Dan Phillips on Sarah Palin

Dan Phillips is a funny dude.

I once wrote that a definition of mixed emotions would be (A) having the position of Presidential speech-writer... (B) for George Bush.

However, his blog post is on the new Republican vice-presidential candidate, Sarah Palin. Worth a read even if you are not particularly into US politics.

Thursday, 4 September 2008


News flash.

'Fervourous' is not a word. Nor is 'fervorous'.

So if you have used it lately, it shows that you are a creative genius, or you are as dumb as a plank. Maybe you are both.

Christians in Orissa province, India

The SMH reports today on Christians fleeing to the jungle in Orissa province in India to escape attack by Hindus.

Pray for protection of the Christians and that the Hindus will turn to Jesus through the witness of those being persecuted.

(The reporter, Matt Wade, was a committed member of the church youth group I helped lead back in the 1980s)

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Notes I took on Mark Driscoll the other day.

Long post follows.

On Monday I went to St Andrew's Cathedral in Sydney to hear Don Carson, Mark Driscoll and Kent Hughes at a training session put on by the Ministry Training and Development people of the Anglican Church in Sydney. It was a good day.

Here are my notes on Mark Driscoll's 2 talks, with the disclaimer that they are essentially unedited, unchecked, unfiltered and virtually unproofread. They are what flowed from my fingers as I sat listening. If you happen to have been there too and know that I've made a blunder in my typing, please use the comments section of this post to note your reservations, qualifications and corrections. If it doesn't flow, please blame it on my failure to type fast enough as Mark spoke, rather than assuming confusion on his part. If I'm convinced I've made an error, I will correct what follows and note it in the updates at the bottom of this post.

My favourite point was point 16 in talk 2. How deeply true it is.

Talk 1. Acts 17

We have a problem. We are biblically centred, but not missiologically focussed. The thousand year era of Christianity has come to an end. Christendom has come to an end. Now, places like Sydney, we have a post-Christendom mindset.

We now minister in Athens and not Jerusalem. Result is that one of 4 kinds of churches and ministry philosophies exist.

First. Church as bomb-shelter. Church is the place where Christians huddle together and preserve their values under the assault of secularism. Theologically faithful, culturally irrelevant.

Second. Church as mirror. This is liberalism, eg. emerging church. The church exists to reflect culture back at the world, and so they will see God. Homosexuality. Universalism. Etc. Done in the name of relevance, so irrelevant. There is capitulation.

Third. Church as parasite. Uses the city, uses the tax breaks. But does not have a Jeremiah 29 concern and love for the city. Church as parasite is despised by the community.

Fourth. Church as city within a city. Mt 5:14 a city on a hill. This is the church envisaged by Jesus.

Acts 17; Paul goes into a culture much likes ours. Homosexuality, pluralism, worship of false gods, perversion akin to our own day.

You need to know that missiology precedes evangelism. Church not informed by missiology does not see many converts. We see both missiology and evangelism in Acts 17.

Acts 17:16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols.
Acts 17:17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there.
Acts 17:18 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.
Acts 17:19 And they took hold of him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting?
Acts 17:20 For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.”
Acts 17:21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.

[he means bloggers]

Acts 17:22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious.
Acts 17:23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.
Acts 17:24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,
Acts 17:25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.
Acts 17:26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,
Acts 17:27 that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,
Acts 17:28 for
“ ‘In him we live and move and have our being’;
as even some of your own poets have said,
“ ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’

[that’s a quote from Epimenides]

Acts 17:29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man.
Acts 17:30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,
Acts 17:31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

Acts 17:32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.”
Acts 17:33 So Paul went out from their midst.
Acts 17:34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

[reading ends]

Paul does 4 things, missiologically speaking, which MD is now going to look at.

This is the basic framework for missiology.

1. Go.

Our problem is that most of what we do in our churches is attractional. But in addition to this there needs to be missional ministry. 'Come and see'. But Jesus not only taught 'Come and see', he taught 'Go and die'. You need to have both ‘Come and see’, and ‘go and die’.

Paul does this strategically. Cities are of strategic importance, because this is where culture is made. Therefore you need to have gospel ministries in the heart of major cities. You see this in Paul, who goes primarily from city to city. Paul nearly completely ignores the suburban and country areas. Cities are more strategic.

2 sociological variables. Density and diversity. Sydney is reasonably dense, the densest in all Australia, therefore the most strategic. 250+ languages are spoken in Sydney, 25% born O/S, therefore diverse. Cities are upstream, culturally speaking. Christians tend to live downstream and complain about what is flooding in. The stream is being polluted much further up. Bankers, politicians, musicians, fashion designers, cultural gatekeepers reside in the city. It is not the number of people who are Christians. James Davidson Hunter—the position of Christians in cultural creation is what affects change.

If the gospel does penetrate a major city it will then work itself out into suburbs etc into the rest of the world. MD thinks the same sort of people live in major cities. Younger, educated, mobile. So major cities linked by commerce, etc. The major cities are a nation unto themselves. People who live in Seattle are much more like people who live in Sydney than in they are like those in surrounding areas.

300AD half the people in major Roman cities were Christians. This is where Christianity started—in permissive, urban environments among young people.

By 2030, 60% will live in cities. In Australia 2/3 live in cities.

Paul goes, and he

2. Sees

Paul sees that the Athenians are very religious. Pluralism, many gods. Historically, there is a reason for the unknown god. Sheep lay down in various places, those following them sacrificed to the god in that area, assuming that the sheep lying down in the area meant that this god needed to be appeased. Epimenides said this—one of the people Paul quotes. The sheep lay down in one place, the people didn't know who was god there, so they built the altar to the unknown god.

You need to be familiar with the culture. You need to be familiar with TiVo. In watching TV, you want to know what people are watching. Pay careful attention to the advertising, this is what people are interested in. There is an addiction to reality TV, because people value authenticity. Don’t read from a manuscript if you’re a preacher, you won’t get through.

People are focussing their energy into what they control: house, garden, clothes, weight. This is a response to an overwhelming world. See TV as a sermon that is being preached. Listen to the radio. Be a cultural observer, carry a camera with you.
Magazines. Pay careful attention to what is on the rack in the newsagent, for they are gospel sermons (false gospels) with visions of heaven and hell and there is a functional saviour. Various versions. It’s all religion. Surf the net. MySpace and facebook are the equivalent of old Roman Catholic confessionals.

Go to new places, places you would normally never go. Women’s teen clothing stores. Go in and ask questions. Mark Driscoll goes into teen women's clothing stores and says "Got anything in my size". This breaks the ice and starts a conversation. Then he asks lots of questions about what people are wearing and why.

Go to the grocery store, see what is on sale and what the new sections are, when you see the organic section you are seeing a whole new world of people. Go out at midnight and see what people are doing. Look at your church website; if it is full of happy families you are alienating half the people who come to look at it.

Go to places and ask questions. Look for obstacles and opportunities for the gospel.

What Paul sees is idolatry. Think of functional saviours.

Rom 11:36-12:1
Rom. 11:36 ¶ For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
Rom. 12:1 ¶ I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Worship has glory and sacrifice. It is the thing which you live for more than anything else. Worship occupies the highest position. We are in image and likeness of God, therefore we are unceasing worshippers. Everyone is pouring out their lives for someone or something. The opposite of Christianity is not atheism but idolatry. What are people making sacrifices for? Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and such—atheism—is an act of worship of the mind. That is where faith is being placed. What is in the position of glory, and how are sacrifices being made?

The key is to find what is occupying the position of glory. This is what David Powlison and Tim Keller have said, and it’s helpful. Ask: What are people most afraid of? What do people long for most passionately? What do people go to for comfort? What do people complain about most? What makes people happiest? How do people explain themselves to others? The way people define themselves is usually an indication of what is most important. For those who believe in God, what makes them angry at God? Usually, people get angry at God because he fails to provide them with their idols. What do people brag about?

MD thinks that Sydney is an exceedingly selfish society, and that which is worshipped is comfort. There is no sense of good beyond me, or of social obligation. What do people make the most sacrifices for in life?

Whose approval are people seeking? Parents? Boss? Themselves?

Paul went into the culture: “Go”! Hermetically sealed world. Leave your culture and come into our subculture is what we tell people.

3. Feel

All evangelistic strategy is worked out out of emotion. Our theology, yes, of course, but that leads us to an emotional response.

Acts 17:16 “his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols.”

You should see the idols and be provoked. Like Jesus who saw the crowds and felt compassion. When we see the suffering of this world, we should feel compassion. Eg. Young women who have been bruised as they grow up, and now are living in intimate relationship—they are worshipping and serving a man, rather than the Lord Jesus. (76% of Australians live together before marriage). We should feel anger and compassion. The issue is not evangelism, the issues is emotion. If your church is not evangelistic, is because they don’t see or feel the need. Evangelism is the result of passion. Passion is the result of sight. Sight is the result of going out and seeing and feeling.

4. Do

Contending and contextualizing. We evangelicals are good at contending not contextualizing. Liberals are good at contextualizing not contending. So the two groups fight against each other, while overlooking the lost people in the middle.

Paul is contending against pluralism and hedonism.

Paul is taken to the cultural gatekeepers in Athens. Necessary to get their approval. But Paul informs them that they are the ones under judgement.

The entire Athenian court (which is what the Areopagus was—their permission was required to start a new religion) is built on the denial of the resurrection.

Controversy. Better to be hated than ignored, and more exciting.

The entire Athenian court is built on emperor worship. Paul contends against the basis of the court.

Paul also contextualizes; quotes their rock stars. Aretas and Epimenides.

In order to get a new religion started (at least as far as the Athenian court, the Areopagus was concerned) you need land, a temple, and an annual feast. But Paul claims that the whole earth belongs to God, and claims the temple ‘to the unknown God’.

Also, we don’t need a feast, because our God is not hungry.

Paul is simultaneously contending and contextualizing.

Historically speaking, the weakness of those who believe the Bible is that they become sectarian.

In closing.

MD is not talking about being seeker-sensitive, but being seeker-sensible. Seeker sensitive means polling the people you are trying to reach and preaching their topics. This is bad.

One generation preaches, next generation assumes, third generation denies.

4 horsemen of the evangelical apocalypse = Jim Packer, John Stott, Billy Graham, Francis Schaeffer. They preached the message of the gospel with great effect.

Next generation after these men assumes this and has its basic message not the gospel (which is assumed) but rather “you can have your best life now.”

Now, there is a whole generation who deny. Sin, Jesus, hell, preaching, penal substitionary atonement. They are only doing contextualization.

We should be Seeker-sensible, not seeker-sensitive. Our doctrine is not flexible, our methods are. You need to explain what you are talking about, and assume nothing.

This is not about being relevant. The gospel is not to be altered or adjusted. Galatians. A false gospel is demonic.

The 4 gospels are demonstrations of contextualization.

We have 3 options. Syncretism; sectarianism; or what Paul does in Athens, which is subversion.

Martin Luther got it right when he began the 95 theses by saying that the whole of the Christian life is one of repentance.
Fruit of gospel preaching: Contempt, or conversion. (There was a third C but I missed it)


[At least I think that is what it was called. Mark promised at the beginning of his two sessions to use the first session to gain our trust, and the second to assault us about all the things we were doing wrong. In love, and as a friend, and said with affection.]

I have 18 points to make.

I begin with the assumption that the gospel is the power of God. If you are not seeing a fervour for evangelism, and a harvest, you must not work harder but ask what you are doing wrong.

Sometimes there is need for pruning. If a tree is not pruned it will stop bearing fruit and die. Time to get back to your church and prune wisely. Doctrines (false ones), staff, rectors, programmes. We must not simply preach repentance but also practise it. We too sin and fail and make mistakes and we must be willing to change.

So here are 18 things I’ve seen in my month in Australia that need to change.

1 Cor 9
1Cor. 9:19 ¶ For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.
1Cor. 9:20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law.
1Cor. 9:21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law.
1Cor. 9:22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.
1Cor. 9:23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.
1Cor. 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.
1Cor. 9:25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
1Cor. 9:26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.
1Cor. 9:27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

The heart: "I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings."

If you are too busy to do this, you need to prune.

1. The Bible guys are not the missional guys, which leads to proud irrelevance. What can happen is that we believe that if our theological systems are faithful, then we will be fruitful.

2. Your culture struggles with a lack of entrepreneurialism. 2 things are wrong here. One is socialism. The other is the influence of Great Britain. They are the main migrant group in Australia, they are not entrepreneurial. Aussie culture is not very entrepreneurial, as a result. The concept of socialism means that we fail to prune what we should. We are sending resources to poor churches and poor pastors, on the grounds of social equality. We are not sending resources to new buds.

3. There is a lack of reward based on merit within denominations. You are rewarded for tenure, not fruit. There needs to be a system that a man can be demoted or even taken out of the ministry for reasons other than things to do with money or sexual impropriety. Jobs should not be guaranteed, just because a person spent four years in a college.

4. Australian men are immature.. Christian Australian men are immature. Lack of entrepreneurialism, systems which discourage initiative. The average Australian male lives with his mother until 25, he is married at 32, and delays the taking of responsibility as long as possible. Denominational systems encourage this immaturity. Training begins at age 28 in our denominations. What if a young man wants to get married young, plant churches, have families—there is no way that our denominations allow this. The longer you delay responsibility, the longer you delay manhood. The indefinite Peter Pan lifestyle. That is a sin. Jesus Christ had atoned for the sins of the world by the time most pastors take up their first associate pastorship. There are churches in the US with megachurches run by men in their 30s. You don’t have them here, so you fly them in to give talks.

5. Church planting is not welcome. Sydney is one of the weakest cities I have visited with regard to church planting. With church planting, the skill sets needed are different, and institutions here don’t appreciate them. There are few independents, because of socialism. There is not widespread opportunity for men to start new things. This leaves a terrible dilemma. Work through the system, and either destroy it or blend in. Both are bad options. MD has had 300 people come up to him and say they want to plant churches but they can’t.

6. You suffer from tall poppy syndrome. You need to work this into your preaching and teaching so that people see that the tall poppy sydrome is a sin. Thinking that 1000 people in church is a high-water mark is unhealthy. The culture generally chops down people who rise up, and the church does the same. That’s a sin. My church gives 10% to plant churches, 1.2 million dollars this year.

7.The preaching here lacks three things: apologetics, mission and application. Apologetics means anticipating and answering the objections of those who are listening. If you do this it will encourage people to bring friends, and it will train them. Second, your preaching lacks mission. What are we here to do? Thirdly, your preaching lacks application for the church as a whole and for individuals. It is not just enough to give doctrine. Paul tells Timothy to watch life and doctrine. Application is where you connect them.

8. Many of you are afraid of the Holy Spirit. Your trinity is Father, Son and Holy Bible. Because you are too reactionary against prosperity doctrine, you have reacted badly against all things charismatic. Holy Spirit calls people into ministry and empowers people for ministry. You don’t have to be charismatic. But you should at least be a little bit charismatic, and worship God with more than your mind. Pentecostals plant churches, care for the poor, and sing well, and they are more fervourous in their service for God. What I have found is that the word charismatic means different things in different places. Here it means prosperity, bizarreness. In London, it means you’re not liberal. Don’t get hung up on the terminology. There is a fear about the Holy Spirit, there is an uncertainty about the Holy Spirit. Do you love the Holy Spirit? Jesus says the Holy Spirit is a he, not an it. The Holy Spirit is sent to anoint the church for her ministry. Ministry is not possible without Holy Spirit. Do you love the Holy Spirit? This in part is leading to the lack of entrepreneurialism and innovation, because if it is not written down, it is not trusted.

9. Many of you are Anglican. The parish system works for some, but not all. The parish system was built for when people lived in community. But today, less than half of the people who live in this city own their own home. So they are mobile, and network online. In addition people have 3 places; 3 place they work, the place they live, and the place they play. The parish system says lets draw boundaries and stay here. But all your people are going to move, and they all have 3 places. People no longer organize themselves by geography but by affinity. The concept was invented before cars. The parish system makes church planting very hard. The senior overseer can deny it if they feel threatened by it or if they have a different churchmanship.

10. Denominations are built on a paradigm that young men don’t understand. Denominations are built on control. Young men operate by influence. Control systems: we control your wage, we control your work place, etc. Young men don’t understand these systems. Some young men are disrespectful and need to be rebuked. Other people are not disrespectful, just don’t understand control, they understand influence. Which operates up close, through teaching, rebuke, instruction, example. The old culture is of control, the newer economy is of influence. Young men will find new ways to avoid the system, working alongside it so as to be influenced but not in it, so as to not be controlled by it.

11. There is a propensity to call the trained rather than train the called. Ultimately it is God the Holy Spirit who calls people to ministry. There should be an innate sense of desire. “If anyone desires…” (1 Tim) Moore College: the 4 years of residency only works for some, not for all. 4 years with insufficient practical experience leads to idealism and a tendency to criticize others who are doing something. People are writing papers to criticize those who are doing something, and this gives them the false impression that they are doing something. I planted my first church at the age of 25, and by God’s grace I finished my theological education last year. You learn as you do, because that is when you are most teachable.

12. All leaders are undershepherds under Christ: prophets, priests, and kings. Prophets. Priests love hospital visiting, small groups. Kings love control and systems. There is a shortage in Sydney of Prophets and Kings. The system discourages kings because it doesn’t allow people to set up their own systems and structures.

[GC note: I believe MD is using the categories 'prophet, priest and king' as 3 broad categories of leadership style exemplified by Christ, rather than in any strict theological sense. That was the vibe, anyway.]

13. There is a lack of missiologists; people who discern what is going on in the culture, find the idols so that the missionaries can be found and deployed. What there are plenty of are theologians. They are incredibly important. They defend truths. Missiologists put the truths into practise. Penal substitutionary atonement can get nailed down, NT Wright can get nailed up—and lots of people still don’t know Jesus.

14. There is a proclivity to try and raise ministers before making them husbands and fathers. This is about the immaturity of Australian men. Many people delay marriage and children in order to go to college. But if people are shepherding their little flock of home, then you test them to see whether they can be elders of the church. So much of ministry deals with marriage, sex, gender, responsibility and children. Being a husband and a father trains you more for ministry than any college. To love, to serve, to evangelise, to disciple, to endure, to organize. You should really press young men to take responsibility earlier to be good husbands and fathers. Once they have some success at that If they do this in the wrong order, then their priorities, I fear, will be God ministry wife children. But it should be God wife children ministry.

15. There is the doing of evangelism but not mission. But does the church see itself as the primary evangelistic tool that God has used to reach the city? It is not good enough to just go and share the faith, as important as this is. The church needs to use every means at its discretion to reach its culture. What does a faithful missionary of the gospel look like in Melbourne/Perth/Brisbane/Sydney? Start a new church from nothing. Churches need to be missional.

16. There’s a lot of number 2 guys in number one slots. Number 2 guys are not bad guys, they are just not good number one guys. Number one guys are teachers, leaders, innovators; but because of the system of tenure, number 2 guys stay in number 1 slots. Number 2 guys in number 1 slots need to step back like John the Baptist with Jesus. It requires humility, a devotion to see all things, all means, for the salvation of some. When a number 2 guy is in a number 1 slot, a church will survive but it will not multiply, and so there is no sense of necessity to do anything with any haste.

17. There is not a great sense of urgency. Cultural values, not biblical values.

18. Movements have become institutions and museums. A movement is where God does what he always does, only more so. Greater sense of urgency. Puritans. Methodists. Charismatics. Not all movements are good. Every movement has its strengths and weaknesses. Young people are the key. I’m an old guy, but around here I’m a young guy. The puritans were roundly criticized for just being children. Jonathon Edwards, 19 years old. D.L. Moody was 21. Charles Haddon Spurgeon was 19. Billy Graham was 19. Statistically it takes 25 years or more to build a megachurch. If you don’t even give the leader the keys until he’s 40, he’ll run out of gas before he gets there.

Humility—young men don’t have it. So God moves to plan B, which is humiliation.

In movements, there are converts. They are marked not just by birth but by new birth. New movements include church planting. What happens next with a movement is that supporting organizations come along to support it. Theological colleges, publishing houses, recording houses, hymnody. Usually movements come into existence when there is new technology.

Protestant Reformation came into being with printing press. Billy Graham comes along when there is electricity, radio. Now, the invention of the internet has changed everything. Because the old systems were built on control, and now there is no control. Communication is instant, permanent, global. You can communicate to the world. That changes everything. People spend more time looking at a screen than at a human being. New technology provides new opportunity. MD’s sermons get downloaded over 10 million times a year. That’s crazy. We could never have a meeting with 10 million people, we’d call it a country. The person who comes at the head of the movement puts the movement into words, but is generally not appreciated until they are dead.

Over time the movement becomes an organization. The organization becomes an institution dedicated to preserving the institution of a prior movement. Institutions are marked by a fear of failure, a preservation of accomplished wins, founders, friends, those with tenured leadership take their place at the table. Eventually the young people realize it is too crowded and leave and start their own thing. The older people feel a sense of disdain; the younger people leave because there is no room for them.

Movement→Organization-→Institution→Museum. A museum exists to preserve the memory of the good days.
What are you? Do the most innovative, exciting, aggressive men want to become part of what you represent? Or do they want to walk alongside and be influenced.

What we need? Pruning, pruning, pruning.

5 things which we can go off track with.
1. Doctrinally. We allow false teachers and bad doctrine.
2. Relationally. The people in leadership really love each other and want to work together, so they don’t want to walk away because they feel they would betray. So there is eventually no room at the table
3. Control: Too much or too little. Too much means too many hoops, doctrinally, organizationally. Or too little, and false teachers etc. come in.
4. Pride. ‘Not invented here’ syndrome. We don’t do it or consider it unless it was invented by someone on our team.
5. A movement gets off course when it fails to honour either its founders or its future. Some will honour their founder by just doing exactly what they said. Some will honour future by dismantling things in order to innovate. We must do both—faithfully serve.


How do we change and start movements and revolutions and the suffering that will come with that?
Older men think that young men are arrogant. Younger men think that old men are compromised and defensive. The key is humility. Young men, be humble. If you are proud you will have no progress. If you are a young man who wants to innovate, come humbly with a plan. If the older people say there is no place for you, leave humbly and graciously. A lot of this comes down to how the young men conduct themselves.

Prophet priest and king. Do you think it’s possible to do all three, or should you choose one.
That’s just my way of talking about spiritual gifts. We all have different abilities. Romans 12, think of yourself with sober judgement. Staff your leadership team in the area of your weakness. Like tends to attract like. Build a team of people who are different from you.

How do you hold together the ideas in Corinthians about weakness with your ideas of strategy?
Holy Spirit includes gift of administration. Paul is broken before God and very strong before people. This is how it needs to be. Strong before people, but the strength comes out of weakness before God. Paul talks not just about saving grace but empowering grace. It is the grace of God that enables us to work. Paul is broken before God, but he is strong before people—it is the grace of God that enables him to be strong. God’s grace enables us to work in spite of our weakness.

What do you think my role as a woman is in making this come about, obviously I’m not a church planter?
My position is that there are male elders, and male and female deacons. We have women on full-time staff who lead areas of ministry, get trained theologically etc, but not the office of elder. What this looks like depends on your gifts.

In light of your comments on contextualization, how do you encourage the arts in your church? We in Seattle are a highly creative city, and we have by God’s grace reached a lot of people. You don’t just reach out to people, you reach out from them, that’s the key. So we unleash the people you have including new converts to reach others. The leaders equip people and release them for ministry, they will then get out and do creative things.

We don’t network by geography but by affinity. That’s true. It’s hard to reach out. So how do you structure your church to reach people when they’re not building community in your community? You’re single, aren’t you. In your community, there is a lot of families with kids and they do have social circles. You are just not in them because you are not married. For you, as a single person, it may well be different. People who are married with kids, you do have opportunity.

Spend a bit of time expanding point 17 about our lack of urgency. Pastors report that they don’t see many non-christians coming along, and that’s kind of it. Young people in churches say they can’t get support and permission for new church plants. Why not? The sense of urgency is shown in planting new churches. Lack of innovation. Cultural variables that are affecting urgency that are not biblical? Yes, for example freedom; which basically means I serve myself and don’t obey authority. That is a cultural value that is in my culture but not biblical. In this culture, not getting married and not having kids.

Oh my goodness, I have become institution man. How do I learn entrepreneurship? It is a gift that God gives. If you are in an institution, you have the opportunity to allow experimentation. Not talking about subtraction. Most institutions say, this is how we do it, and if you don’t, goodbye. That’s a problem.

A church planting movement is not something I’ve seen. Advice? How to encourage it? I’ll be back in 18-24 months and see what we can find. Assessment is key, if you send the wrong person, you’re sunk. If you want to plant, you have to pay a price. You can’t look at the old people and ask for money. Church planting is a poor person’s game. If you can lead enough people to Christ to tithe and pay your salary, you get to go full-time. That separates the guys who are just rebels, as against those who are actually able to do the job. The converts and core fund. Doesn’t matter how much money you give to a church planter; the only variable that tells you whether it will survive to year five is the passion and commitment of the senior leader. The more money, the less freedom. The more freedom, the less money.

What to do with anger? Ephesians 4, I personally worked out that the root of my anger was bitterness. There is a holy, righteous anger.

Singleness—what is the role of single men and women, given what you say? It is suicide for a single man to plant a church. In the US, I can’t remember a single case where they haven’t fornicated and gotten fired. Single people, like Jesus and Paul, should be in high-risk of death ministry.

When do you say that someone has failed in ministry? Is a number two person better than no-one? Keep looking for the number one person.


UPDATE I: Blog reader John via Mark corrected point 11 in talk 2, saying

Small thing. Point 11 should say “there is a propensity to call the trained rather than train the called.”His point was that we think a four-year Moore College grad is suitable for the ministry; he rejected that, insisting that one’s calling is primary and precedes any such training, and may even be independent of it.

Thanks John and Mark! Problem fixed.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Paul Grimmond

Paul Grimmond is now working for Matthias Media. Here is his first post for the Sola Panel.

His question: Why do Christians shout?

When you’ve only got 10 seconds or half a paragraph to make your point, you’ve got to SHOUT. Everywhere I go people seem to be shouting. They shout by being a bit more risque than everyone else. They shout by making more outrageous claims than everyone else. They shout by dismissing out of hand the arguments of everyone else. In a world where publicity is everything, if you don’t shout louder, you don’t get heard.

Good to have Paul on the team.

Pray for India

Team Pyro have a useful and important post urging prayer for Christians facing violence in India, particularly from Hindus in the Orissa province.

Spurgeon and how to teach theology badly

The Spurgeonators over at Team Pyro have given us another cracker Spurgeon quote to be getting on with. Unfortunately, what Spurgeon criticizes here seems to be a besetting sin for some evangelical theological colleges and, in my observation, amongst some young evangelical theologians:

We remember the experiment of Daventry, under that eminently godly man, Dr. Doddridge, and we are not inclined to try the like under any circumstances. That worthy man did not dogmatize to "the dear young men" who came to his College, but adopted the plan of letting them hear the argument upon each side, that they might select for themselves. The result was as disastrous as if error had been taught, for nothing is worse than lukewarmness as to truth. Dissent became enervated with a faint-hearted liberalism, and we had a generation of Socinians, under whom Nonconformity almost expired. Both General and Particular Baptists have had enough of this evil leaven, and we are not inclined to put it again into the people's bread.

When I hear supposedly evangelical teachers quoting our theological opponents with approval and respect—men like Rowan Williams or NT Wright—I fear for their hearers and their congregations. It is a guaranteed formula for sowing confusion and for removing men's backbones in defence of the truth, and is not the way the Bible encourages us to produce fruit for the gospel.

Speaking of Spurgeon, I went to hear Mark Driscoll at the Ministry Training and Development conference at St Andrew's Cathedral yesterday. His exegesis of Acts 17 was seriously Spurgeonesque in its technique at a number of crucial points

for a somewhat contrasting view, I've posted on Acts 17 here, and here

by which I mean that the relationship between passage and conclusion seemed almost magical at times, and would take years of unlearning of Moore College exegesis lessons to be able to duplicate. Yet the conclusions at many key instances were irritatingly on the money, and stirred all of us up to de-institutionalize our thinking and get out there and speak the gospel to the non-Christian community with courage and conviction.

On balance, it was a great shot in the arm for hearers, and when I've had a bit more time to reflect, I'll post some more thoughts. There were other and good ways in which Mark Driscoll reminded me of Spurgeon, and I thank God for the way his gospel ministry has been used. It was good to hear Mark speak alongside Don Carson and Kent Hughes, and I'm looking forward to more today.

Warming causes cooling

This is nuts.

Belief in global warming really has become a quasi-religious phenomenon that transcends the need for evidence.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Write children's books

Here's a fine challenge from Trevor Cairney for Christians who have the ability to write children's books.

Costello's staying

I still reckon he is, anyway. Tony Abbott talks it up.