Showing posts from March, 2013

Fixing English

The European Union commissioners have announced that agreement has been reached to adopt English as the preferred language for European communications, rather than German, which was the other possibility. As part of the negotiations, Her Majesty’s Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a five-year phased plan for what will be known as Euro-English (Euro for short). In the first year, ‘s’ will be used instead of the soft ‘c’. Sertainly, sivil servants will resieve this news with joy. Also, the hard ‘c’ will be replaced with ‘k.’ Not only will this klear up konfusion, but typewriters kan have one less letter. There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome ‘ph’ will be replaced by ‘f’. This will make words like ‘fotograf’ 20 per sent shorter. In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkourage the …

Homosexuality and Law: A Range of Christian Views

I have been noticing a range of views by Christians in the cyber-world on the issue of legalising gay marriage. For the sake of simplicity, I thought I would condense these Christian views into 4 main categories:
1.  Homosexuality is such a vile sin that all homosexual acts should be illegal.
2.  Homosexuality is sinful. However, in a democratic society we legislate less around what is “immoral” and more around that which causes harm or loss to others. Consensual adult homosexual acts are wrong but should be legal: the police have more important things to do with their time than monitor sexual behaviour. However, we draw the line at “homosexual marriage”. Christian marriage is between a man and a woman, and the laws of the land should reflect this for the good of society.
3.  Christian marriage is between a man and a woman. God is the Author of marriage, which existed for millennia before nation-states existed. Legal recognition of a union by a nation-state does not make something a …

Spirit, Grace, Love

I have been thinking about the nature of theology. In deference to my last post, let me make clear this is with the posture of a learner rather than the posture of an expert!
“Hermeneutics 101” (biblical interpretation) tells us the bible is not “even” but “weighted”. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus keeps noting: “You have heard that it was said… but Isay to you”. The teaching of Jesus carries more weight than the law of Moses. When Jesus is asked about the greatest commandments, he notes (or affirms) that loving the Lord your God with your heart, mind, soul and strength, and loving your neighbour as yourself, are the most important commandments… indeed, everything else hangs on these. In Acts, the early church was faced with the issue of whether Gentile believers in Christ were to follow all of the laws of Moses. The church leaders in Jerusalem made the decision the life of the Spirit and faith was the most important thing… that they would simply provide a few guidelines to avoid ex…

Credible Voices

What do Mark Driscoll, Billy Graham, Robert Schuller, Jim Bakker, and Bishop Desmond Tutu have in common?

Answer... they are (or were) all high-profile Christian ministers, with completed (or part-completed) theological training.

My question of the day is... does having a high profile and a teaching platform mean that we should accept what these people teach?

My personal answer is... duh... no, not necessarily.

It is not profile per se, but expertise, that carries weight in my mind. There are probably a million or more pastors in the world with some theological training... their opinions need to be considered. There exists a much smaller number of biblical scholars, who devote much of their life to researching and publishing about the biblical languages, or the history, customs and languages of cultures in which the bible was written (and how this may influence our interpretation of texts), or textual criticism, or systematic theology, etc. etc. In complex and difficult questions of t…

Smacking and violence?

We live in a society where 1 in 3 women will experience violence at the hands of a partner at some point in their life. Nearly every week, a woman loses her life to a partner or ex-partner in Australia. Violence against women and children cost an estimated 13.6 billion dollars to the Australian economy in 2009. Intimate partner violence is the leading contributor to ill-health and death in women under 45 in Victoria.

Why are we experiencing such a truly horrible epidemic of violence?

No doubt the causes are complex, as such things normally are. Alcohol, drugs, sexism, mental illness, dysfunctional families of origin... I expect all these things are in the mix.

One of my suspicions (and the primary focus of this rant) is that hitting small children actually normalises violence for future perpetrators and future victims. Not everyone who has been smacked as a child becomes a perpetrator or victim of violence. However, I would think MOST perpetrators and victims were hit as children. The…

Two problem passages for egalitarians

A couple of posts ago, I noted how Complementarians (in my view) ignore many parts of scripture, but put great weight upon a couple of verses in the epistles. Now interpreting the epistles need to be done thoughtfully. We are reading other people's mail, and we need to carefully consider whether an instruction to a particular church addressing a particular issue, or whether something is a universal principle. The whole context of scripture is there to help us in this task. I have extracted some thoughts below from an absurdly long earlier blog post to highlight these "problem verses", and how egalitarian theologians might interpret them.

Problem passage 1: I Corinthians 14

1. I Corinthians 14:29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32 The spirits…


One of the things I wonder about is the tension between having opinions and having humility.

Intellectual humility would surely involve openness to being wrong. Part of the brilliance of the scientific method is that ideas are constantly tested against reality. Results of controlled testing are published, so others are able to design new tests to see whether a hypothesis is supported or not.

Other areas of academic endeavour, such as philosophy, mathematics, theology, history, and the arts, also involve the discipline of publishing research for scrutiny. The business of publishing academic work opens one up for critique: your ideas might be rejected as other opinions compete for validity.  There is a vulnerability about the best academic endeavour.

I must confess there are many areas where I have formed strong opinions. For example, I have judged Complementarian theology to be very poor theology indeed, based on dreadful hermeneutics, forcing those who adopt it to accept ludicrous sce…