Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Book Read - The Accidental Anglican

WOW - at one level what are you to make of someone who claims John Wimber, John Stott and NT Wright as his major theological influences??

Anecdotal in form - reflecting upon one man's journey into Anglicanism (bishop no less!) - it isn't one I would recommend to others in the end. It seems overly misty eyed and optimistic about being Anglican.

I can think of much stronger cases to made for both the benefits and indeed the weaknesses of the Anglican Church than this one - I'm really not sure how it got made into a book to be honest - it is rife for a blog or magazine article at best.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Book Read - God and Stephen Hawking - John Lennox

Easy to read, a good thoughtful engagement with and challenge to the logical consistency of Hawking's dismissal of God, by a professor of Mathematics at Oxford.

I really enjoyed this book and helped me, with other things that I am reading at the moment, to get a better picture of the world we live in, and the debates about it that are currently on offer between scientists of faith and those of atheistic persuasion.

Great read, and for $5.50, great value. 8.5/10

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A book Read - Science, Creation and the Bible. Carlson & Longman

Sometimes the more you know, the more you realize you don't know! This is one of those areas. Always tangled in controversy it seem a hard area to do thinking out loud... so here goes!

I started this book with the question, "what is the genre of the creation accounts in Genesis?", unfortunately I finished the book with the same question! Which is not to say I didn't learn a lot on the journey, it's just to say, I think I got off this train a few stations before they did.

In the end their attempt at explaining the complex issue of the genre resulted in a two layered approach - that seems to me for all money to be allegory. Now that is in good company in the history of interpretation, Augustine for one, but I am a little uncomfortable with it as it pretty quickly cuts historicity out from under you - and then Adam becomes the next to go, and the NT speaks confidently about him I think.

I think understanding the presentation of Genesis as being truth focussed to a certain depth is where I am at, so a worldview of creation written for the naked eye - not the electron microscope, helps as it is true in what it tells us, we just have to understand how to read it well.

Worth a read - but not the end of the issue by any means 6.5/10

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Book Read - The Rage Against God - Peter Hitchens

A fella who it seems is most famous for being leading atheist Christopher's brother, who however, has quite an ability to have a crack with a sharp mind when he writes as well. It is a literary 'round or two for a pound or two' and in particular centring around the central issue of the soviet state in the argument for the benefits of a society without God. Peter Hitchens argues that the soviet state is the real face of atheism in practice and that his brother is being disingenuous when he won't acknowledge that point.

Definitely worth a read and a useful book in thinking through a pretty robust defence of the place and value of the Christian faith in western society even today. I liked it and will probably read it again at some point. 8/10.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Another Book Read - Sticky Teams - Larry Osborne

A book about leadership of teams in a ministry context. A few people have really loved this book and recommended it highly, I guess by the time I read it a lot of the wisdom in it had already filtered through various channels to not be a surprise when I read it in the end.

Some good stuff, some slight madness - a warm hug - it is not!! But it is worth a read, particularly considering nearly all the insights included are pretty hard won doing the hard yards of ministry. So some things resonate well, others may work in a particular context, but it makes its points quickly and directly so you can like them or lump them without spending forever trying to work out what he is saying and why it would be important.

As always it does require a small amount of translation from a Nth American context, but then how many Christian books written in the last 20 years don't!

Solid and worthwhile without actually being some sort of 'set text' on church leadership 7.5/10.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Book Read - Bonhoeffer - Eric Metaxas

If ever there was a perfect storm for evil - surely 1930's Germany was it? How did a country with such a proud intellectual and cultural history descend into such a base level in-humane path? And how could the whole nation be swept up in it?

Well as this book points out, not everyone was swept up in it, in fact a number of people at great risk to themselves actively opposed this great wrong. This story is worth every minute of reading, what a fascinating man, in a fascinating time, involved in some extraordinary actions against an extraordinary evil - in the name of his crucified Lord...

I loved this book 9/10.

A Book Read - Church Planting is for wimps

I'm not sure why it has taken me so long to post again about books - because there has definitely been some read since Feb last year!!!

Anyway - this one by Mike McKinley is a good read, a sensible call to move beyond 'celebrity church planting' that seems to be an increasing influence in evangelical circles, and coming from a young guy - who should by current form be more up for the celebrity way of doing things.

All in all a lot of commonsense about the task at hand in being involved in a small church trying to get it together. I liked what he had to say, much of which I had come to the conclusion of previously, such as not really needing a mission statement:

"Look, if you don't know what you're supposed to be doing as a church planter, if you need to write out a statement in order to remember that your church is supposed to evangelize the lost and help Christians grow in Christ, friend, your shouldn't be a church planter. How about casting the vision the way Protestants have cast vision for the past 500 years! teach God's word! Explain it to God's people, and tell them God's Mission and vision and values and strategy for their life. Don't refer them back to some mantra that you make sure everyone in the congregation has memorized. Teach them what the Bible says about what it means to be a faithful Christian and a faithful Church." p62.

Definitely worth the couple of hours it took to wander through it - I'd say a solid 7.5/10!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Read Book - Introverts in the Church - Adam McHugh

I wanted to read this book - I thought it would be a nice change from the usual chest-beating stuff on church leadership in particular that usually winds up making you think their basic premise is to be a better leader you need to be more me, and less you!!

In the end it probably has the same sought of vibe, just zigging while everyone else is zagging - so it is going to have some good insights.

I found the book to have some good insights into the world of the introvert, and in particular what it would mean for an introvert in ministry, in getting things done, but also in terms of the relationships aspects that is quite at the forefront of this kind of vocation.

It helped me to clarify that I have a tendency towards deeper relationships with a few people, than surface relationships with a lot of people (which is handy because I can't help think the two other people in my family will help to balance that out!).

So some unusual observations for some self evaluation and indeed future planning and action.

BUT - and it is a BIG BUT (if you'll pardon the expression), the book analyzes everything so much through the grid of an introvert it felt rather self indulged and self obsessed at points - some times I wanted to say 'get over it, we can't always have things on our terms'.

And this is nothing compared to what I was saying when he was outlining some of his introverted meditation ideas - it pained me beyond belief to see that IVP would publish a book that was essentially recommending medieval Roman Catholic approach to how we know God..... (see the cloud of unknowing if you are not sure what I mean).....

I really disliked that this book was far from Evangelical in it's theology of Revelation......

If it had of just been a practical observation book, I probably would have lent it to people, but with theology as poor as that - I really wouldn't want to lend it to anyone!!

A Read Book - A couple of Bill Bryson

There is something about being in a airport (recent trip to NZ) that makes me want to read Bryson - it is a close as I ever get to reading a novel.

I know I will laugh audibly at least every couple of pages - is there anything better to do when you are sitting in a confined space with complete strangers......

No wonder they won't give me real cutlery!!

A Read Book - Why we love the Church - Kevin De Young

I was really looking forward to reading this book, but in the end didn't really feel like it hit the mark. Not because of the book itself so much, just that it is clearly written into a Nth American Christian context that is just very different to the context I find myself in.... maybe it's just because we are a bunch of socialists ;) (let the reader understand!)

An ok book - I guess I was just hoping for a little more cash value out of it for the life of our church.

I still like this guys writing and theology and will try the next one he puts out.

I'd give this a 5/10 (unless you live in the same context as the writer aimed at and I'm sure it would have been really helpful)

A Read Book - Guide Us, Guard Us - J.I. Packer

Read this one just after PDJ (see below), again a worth while read particularly in conjunction with that book. It is always good to cross pollinate your ideas with another sound Christian mind who resides in a slightly different gene pool.

In a different style and way had a lot to contribute to thinking about the Christian life, and the thinking about what does it mean to call God our shepherd is a really rewarding exercise (I remember Paul Barnett doing a similar thing at college and it was excellent).

The one area I am not certain about is Packer's view on what it will mean for us in our life's situation to 'have the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guarding your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus'. He took that to mean it would be a concrete reality in each instance. I kind of think it is more likely to mean in a general sense we have a confidence because 'we now have a peace with God', that enables us to face each instance in a new way.

Maybe I misunderstood his point - because it seemed like a slightly 'emotional response' from a stalwart of Evangelical Christianity. Anyway that would put my thinking on this issue at the moment somewhere between packer and PD Jensen - which to be honest is a comforting thought.

I'd give this one a 6/10

More Thoughts on Preaching

This is an outline of what I think about when I am trying to make a point (not three - never three!) in preaching!!!

A Read Book - Guidance and the Voice of God - Phillip Jensen

This book is classic Philip (the mostly good, the slightly frustrating, and the always parochial!).

It started life as a sermon series for uni students and shows it's heritage in that it was always going to be finite in scope. There is much taught clearly in the book - as you would expect - but being a sermon series not always at the depth that some would hope for.

I think the image of the God given compass in life is an excellent way of starting to address the challenges of decision making in life.

But I still have a nagging suspicion that in the attempt to stand against a 'charismatic' approach of decision making - that can best be described as emotionalism - this book's approach falls more into the category of 'Evangelical Rationalism'.

I find Graham Cole's approach in 'he who gives life' a more convincing and more mainstream position to the role of the Spirit in the life of the Christian today.....

A worth while read and an important corrective to a lot of rubbish out there on the issue of guidance.

I'd give it about a 7/10

A Read Book - You Can Change

Biblical, Theological and Practical - A seriously useful book that I have suggested lot's of people read on the issues of sanctification and how can we live as Christians in a way that is more like Christ - and the answer isn't - try harder!!!

I'd give it a 9/10

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Mark Thompson Moore Lecturer writing here:

'I'm also rather tired of evangelicals attacking the doctrine of biblical inerrancy. Like most who have thought about these things, I certainly recognise the difficulties with the term 'inerrancy'. I also understand and deplore the abuse of it in certain circles, particularly in the service of ecclesiastical politics. I'm prepared to admit that I am less than satisfied with some of the standard expositions of this concept and would like to see it presented with more rigour and careful nuance. But I remain committed to biblical inerrancy. The Bible is not only effective as an instrument in God's hand to accomplish his purposes, it speaks of things as they really are. For all the literary variety and the rich textures which stem from different authors in different situations and with different goals, it is still possible to speak of the Bible's own investment in the question of truth and truth understood in terms of a correspondence with reality. 'Utterly truthful' and 'absolutely reliable' might be better expressions because they are at least positive rather than negative and put the accent on biblical priorities. Yet the term 'inerrancy' is an ancient one, long predating the advent of modernism and even the Reformation. Too much is lost when it is denied or excluded.

It is been said that evangelical theology has always been under attack at two points above all others — the doctrine of Scripture and the doctrine of the atonement. This has proven to be the case throughout the twentieth century and continues to be so in the twenty-first. It is tragic that these attacks have increasingly been mounted from within the evangelical constituency.'

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Ain't that the truth

The Stench of Christianity

So the Jesus All about Life campaign is about to kick off and part of me wonders how ready really, Christians are for it?

I mean I think people are ready for people to come out of the woodwork to talk about Jesus and the meaning of Christianity, but are they really ready for the other response that is just as sure to come?

Paul said Christians offer the fragrance of life to those who are being saved, but the stench of death to those who are perishing.... And let's face it, people respond strongly to bad smells!!!

SO today's paper we see it start,

What utter arrogance and discrimination. What gives these people the right to hoist their beliefs above everyone else's by making absolute statements about how the universe is constructed. Ignoring the fact they have no evidence whatsoever for their fairy tale beliefs, they are by default saying that everyone else's are wrong.
I have no objection to them holding these beliefs, but they should keep them to themselves and away from impressionable youth and the emtionally and mentally vulnerable.
Oh wait, that's exactly who they want to target.
ozathiest | Sydney - September 10, 2009, 8:20AM

That's a cheery conversation starter, oui???

Either way I think we will see some positive responses, some strong negative responses, and more than likely the majority will be apathetic responses from a people who are more concerned with function of the day to day, rather than its meaning or purpose!!

Blind Faith or Numbers???

Yesterday there was an article in the paper, on how in essence, we as a society are "free" from the shackles of old fashioned conformism to make choices about our life and relationships.

"If you had said years ago that we would see many more people living together before marriage and double the number of kids being born out of wedlock, moralists would have seen it as proof of the decline of civilisation and the collapse of our moral fibre. But the reality is that the taboos we once thought immovable are completely flexible."

Salt believes such shifts show our maturity. "People are less preoccupied with sexuality and more concerned about discrimination, with sexism and racism and even with sustainability. Who cares if you're gay? Who cares if you live together without getting married?"

Likewise, the significance of marriage has diminished.

"People care less about the actual marriage, so they don't mind having kids outside of it."

I was thinking - it's a little bit of a simplistic presentation - all choices have consequences, where is the truth about those? Choices about sexual lifestyle affects your health - the numbers bear that out. Broken marriages affect people, especially children. But where is the acknowledgement of that???

It is really undergirded by a secular utopian blind faith, that is out of touch with our reality....

And that is what another article today points towards..... We make choices - good and bad and they have consequences.... but then the Bible has been saying the same thing for years - and now the stats show it might have actually known what it was talking about!!!

The three annual surveillance reports, to be presented at the Australasian HIV/AIDS Conference in Brisbane today, show that indigenous people, intravenous drug users and men who have sex with men are increasingly affected by HIV/AIDS, infectious syphilis and viral hepatitis.

Unprotected sex is also linked to an increased risk of cervical, oral and anal cancer and the risk rises with increasing numbers of sexual partners.

A 2007 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that people who have had more than five oral-sex partners in their lifetime are 250 per cent more likely to have throat cancer than those who do not have oral sex.

It is a challenging area no doubt, especially for certain groups within our society, but unless we are willing to genuinely engage with reality, the stats of lifestyle choices and not a relativists "all choices are good" - how do we expect the situation to improve??

The ready availability of pornography and representations of teen and adult sexuality in advertising and popular culture could negatively influence the way children and teenagers view sex, she said.

''Young people who are not informed or ready for sex education are being inundated with messages encouraging sexual behaviour that they are not ready to process and do not understand the consequences of.''