Here's New Testament scholar Michael Green speaking to students at Bristol University on the resurrection of Jesus.
the blue fish project
Monday, March 10, 2014
Friday, March 07, 2014
Loving kindness as the flood
When the Prince of life our random
Shed for us his precious blood
Who is love cannot remember
Who can cease to song his praise
He can never be forgotten
Throughout heaven's eternal days
Here is love, that conquered evil
Christ the firstborn from the grave
Death has failed to be found equal
To the life of him who saves
In the valley of our darkness
Dawned his everlasting light
Perfect love in glorious radiance
Has repelled death's hellish night
Here is love vast as the heavens;
Countless as the stars above
Are the souls that He has ransomed,
Precious daughters, treasured sons
We are called to feast forever
On a love beyond our time
Glorious Father, Son and Spirit
Now with man are intertwined
Thursday, March 06, 2014
But, really? So says Paul to Timothy (2 Timothy 2).
Now, be clear. In the same chapter he says that Jesus is "risen from the dead." That resurrection has already happened. Our champion has his victory! But there is another resurrection to come.
The Christian life is union with Christ.
It is "if we have died with him, we will also live with him."
Repeated in parallel: "if we endure, we will also reign with him."
Death and resurrection. The cross and the crown.
But where are we today?
Some want to say we're in resurrection and reigning now. I'd like that.
And in some senses we are. It's absolutely certain. As sure as Jesus' resurrection. Where he has gone we will go too. As for the King so for his people! We are seated in the heavenly realms as Paul says elsewhere.
But, here and now? Death or resurrection? The cross or the crown? The former in both cases. We might taste both at times, but predominantly now is on one side of this. Paul gets it as he tells the story (in 2 Timothy 4, based as GK Beale argues on Psalm 22's death and resurrection) of David and Jesus and himself and Timothy... there is a crown, after you die.
Understandably, with great longing and in anticipation of what's to come we can be tempted to get ahead of ourselves. But, if we have an over-realised discipleship (ORD), claiming for today what is largely ahead of us, we invite gangrene and ruin ourselves.
- ORD can't handle Sin. We'll imagine that sin isn't a problem in life. We'll presume too much victory over our sin. And so sin will slip under the radar. We'll not take care to keep from the seduction of Dame Folly and to pursue the song of Lady Wisdom with due care. If you think there's only life and reigning then you'll forget to put sin to death, forget to have the Scriptures correct and rebuke your heart to lead you deeper into the love of Christ.
- ORD can't handle Suffering. We'll imagine that the Christian life is to be triumphant and free of pain and tears. And one day it will be in the renewed creation. But as yet, this is not that day. If you think there's only life and reigning then you'll have no category for suffering, no grasps of the Psalmist's cry "we're dying all day long" (Psalm 44, cited in Romans 8) to make some sense of this fractured and fallen world.
Wednesday, March 05, 2014
Many Christians measure their spiritual health by their personal bible reading. Yet, for 1500 years until the invention of the printing press that wasn't really possible for the vast majority of believers. They accessed the Bible, some times in their own language, as it was taught publicly, but wouldn't have imagined personally reading its pages.
Gutenberg's printing press changed your spirituality, though it made possible Popish indulgences that so provoked Luther. Technology changes your world. Technology, good, bad, neutral...
Christian conferences are also the fruit of technology that enables large residential and meeting facilities to be built and rapid transport to get people there, not to mention the technology that spreads word.Technology, good, bad, neutral...
Or think of the last century, weapons of war killed more people than any other century... and the tools of medical technology saved more lives than ever before. Some technology is only destructive, much can be used for good and bad ends. The tools of carpentry gave Jesus' adopted father his occupation, and were used in crucifixion. Roads can be an eyesore and spread pollution but Rome's roads allowed the quick spread of the good news of Jesus. The camera is the tool for capturing family memories, an artists eye and the abusive acts of the pornographer. Technology, good, bad, neutral...
Among students we speak of a Christian approach to being an accountant or entrepreneur, engineer or educator. And people reply: what about a Christian approach to being a janitor? But the question is misplaced. We have toilets to clean because of ceramics and pipes and sewers and the great work of engineers... to create technology that has changed lives and increased health, and needs a degree of maintenance to remain good for us. There may not be a holy way to clean a toilet, except to do the work well. Technology can benefit life and create good work at all kinds of levels. Technology, good, bad, neutral...
We easily miss technology like the protestors against fracking who arrived dependent on the oil industry by car to sleep in nylon tents and sit on plastic chairs, heating clean water on their oil based stoves to drink coffee shipped on boats and planes fueled by oil... Technology, good, bad, neutral...
Because of the physical and digital technology of the early 21st Century we find ourselves as members of the global village - interpreting our lives in light of events that would otherwise have had no bearing on us, our minds filled with things from outside our context... and now not learning things we would've previously have learned as we presume on the provision of Google for every day knowledge. In another age my wife wouldn't have a phone number and when distance separated us we'd only have been able to write by 'snail mail',... a little more recently I'd have learned her phone number from dialing it repeatedly... today it's information I can access but have never taken the time to learn. Technology, good, bad, neutral...
We're easily unaware of the technology we use, just as its not strange to hear people talk about getting away from the bustle of the city to be in creation, when you're arguably in a higher part of creation surrounded by divine image bearers in a cultivated and engineered landscape than you are alone in an place that hasn't been formed and filled by humanity.
In the early chapters of Genesis we find metal workers and musicians, technologists. Acts of being human, likely not by believers... but how much more should those who believe God seek to fulfill, in a fallen world, the mandate to have good dominion across the world, and to form and fill it, after the image of the God who shone light into darkness... into a world in which, through technology, you find yourself able to read, and access information, via an electronic device, powered by technology, with a body that has been sustained and nourished by food and water that reached you through a whole range of technology.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
“A world view is a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story/myth or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being” James Sire (The Universe Next Door, IVP)
We all have worldviews though we may not realise we do... and we might have a false or partially false one... we probably all have inconsistencies.
Looking at the world John Calvin wrote: “There is no colour in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice” And yet, from the Bible he observed, “the heart is an idol factory” People are lovers but we love the wrong things, turning created things into our gods.
CS Lewis warns, tread carefully around idols:
“It is our painful duty to wake the world from an enchantment. The real universe is probably in many respects less poetical, certainly less tidy and unified, than they had supposed. Man’s role in it is less heroic. The danger that really hangs over him is perhaps entirely lacking in true tragic dignity. It is only in the last resort, and after all lesser poetries have been renounced and Imagination sternly subjected to intellect, that we shall be able to offer them any compensation for what we intend to take away from them. That is why in the meantime we must treat the Myth with respect. It was all (on a certain level) nonsense: but a man would be a dull dog if he could not feel the thrill and charm of it. For my own part, though I believe it no longer, I shall always enjoy it as I enjoy other myths. I shall keep my Cave-Man where I keep Balder amid Helen and the Argonauts: and there often revisit him.” (The Funeral of a Great Myth)What's your myth? What's your idol?
“If you really knew me you’d know that my life only has meaning if….”
[the following list was compiled by Tim Keller]
• I have power and influence over others” (Power)
• I am loved and respected by___” (Approval)
• I have this kind of pleasure experience, a particular quality of life.” (Comfort )
• I am able to get mastery over my life in the area of _____. (Control )
• people are dependent on me and need me. (Helping)
• someone is there to protect me and keep me safe. (Dependence)
• my parents/other family members are happy, and happy with me.” (Family)
• I am completely free from obligations or responsibilities to take care of someone.” (Independence)
• I am highly productive and getting a lot done.” (Work)
• I am being recognized for my accomplishments, and I am excelling in my work.” (Achievement)
• I have a certain level of wealth, financial freedom, and very nice possessions.” (Materialism)
• I am adhering to my religion’s moral codes and accomplished in its activities.” (Religion)
• this one person is in my life and happy to be there, and/or happy with me.” (Individual person)
• I feel I am totally independent of organized religion and am living by a self-made morality.” (Irreligion)
• my race and culture is ascendant and seen as superior.” (Racial/cultural)
• a particular social grouping or professional grouping or other group lets me in.” (Inner ring)
• Mr. or Ms. “Right” is in love with me.” (Relationship)
• I am hurting, in a problem; only then do I feel worthy of love or able to deal with guilt.” (Suffering)
• my political or social cause is making progress and ascending in influence or power.” (Ideology)
• I have a particular kind of look or body image.” (Image)
How does that connect with you? Does something resonate? Does it feel uncomfortable? We all have things we love. Few better ways to get to know someone than asking what makes their life worth living, when do they feel most alive... What do they love?
Discuss.... Part 1. IDOLS. Share your story.
• What’s your idol, or the myth that enchants you?
• How did/does that show in your life?
• How does your idol make sense to you emotionally?
• How does your idol make sense to you intellectually?
• Tell your story as persuasively and attractively as you can – talk about why you love your idol/myth.
Discuss... Part 2. JESUS. Help one another.
• How did and does Jesus confront the longings you pursue from your idol?
• How did and does Jesus comfort the longings you pursue in your idol?
• What does it cost you to follow Jesus?
• How is Jesus better?
Jesus is out to confront our idols, to put our love of them to death and through his resurrection to win us for himself, comforting our longings. He comes saying: “Therefore, behold, I will allure her… and speak tenderly to her…. Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people’ and her who was not my beloved I will call ‘beloved.'"