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Monday, 30 April 2007
I want to speak up for annihilationism – it can’t be lightly dismissed. It may be 'somewhat unorthodox' but it is certainly not unorthodox, many evangelical scholars hold to this position; these include: John Stott, E W Fudge, John Wenham, Michael Green and Philip Edcumbe Hughes.
A range of options
There are a number of different views that are covered by annihilationism. The first two hold to some form of conditional immortality. 1. Only those in Christ are resurrected, the rest die and that’s it; this is the view held by Jehovah’s Witnesses. 2. Both those in Christ and the rest are resurrected, the rest are judged and then annihilated – this position also allows for the possibility of punishment after judgement and before annihilation; this is in essence the view of the Seventh Day adventists. 3. All are created immortal, after the resurrection the unbelievers are punished and then annihilated.
One motivation for adopting annihilationism is that it avoids a Greek view of the immortality of the soul. The concept of conditional immortality fits perfectly with annihilationism (positions 1 and 2 above). (Though not all annihilationists (position 3) are conditionalists, eg John Stott.)
God alone is eternal (1 Tim 6:16), immortality is a gift of God through the work of Jesus (2 Tim 1:10). The scriptures never speak of the immortality of the soul. The immortality of the soul is predominately a platonic idea.
Eternal punishment not eternal punishing
As Wenham puts it: 'It is an everlasting punishment, but not an everlasting punishment’ (Goodness of God p 36). It is the fires and its effects that are eternal rather than the punishment the unbeliever receives.
Death and suffering will be no more
The idea that there will be some who have everlasting punishing stands in contradiction to the idea that death and suffering have been swallowed up (Rev 21:4). Eternal punishing means that suffering will always exist. How can all things be headed up in Christ if there are still those who are in conscious torment in God’s creation?
FT imagery of the fate of the wicked
The imagery used in the First (Old/ older) Testament suggests an extinction rather than a continued suffering. Images include:
- vessel broken to pieces
- ashes trodden underfoot
- smoke that vanishes
- chaff carried away by the wind
- tow that is buried
- thorns and stubble in the fire
- branches pruned
- wax that melts
- a dream that vanishes
A look at Jn 3: 16 shows a parallel between perish or everlasting life, it suggests those that don’t have everlasting life perish.
The debate must continue.
Sunday, 29 April 2007
Thursday, 26 April 2007
Johnny-Dee on annihilationism
Russ Reeves links to a new wiki: Citizendium - where the emphasis is on quality rather than quantity.
C Wess Daniles has some tips on being green
MakeUseOf.com has a list of 100 portable apps
Apollos.ws now provides free standard membership
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I have looked at several reassons why Christians may be reluctant greens. These include:
- a failure to grasp the full implications of the cross
- a misunderstanding of the message of the gospel of the kingdom
- the daunting size of the problems
- associating it with the new age movement
- the idea that Jesus didn't "get involved", so neither should we
- a defective eschatology.
We are all born and raised into a culture and consequently we absorb and accept the world-view that has shaped that culture, unless we consciously and actively reject it. The tragedy is that the majority of Christians when they decide to follow Christ do not reject the dominant cultural world-view. Their Christianity is, as Theodore Roszak puts it, ‘privately engaging but culturally irrelevant’. A truly Christian world-view is culturally relevant, because Jesus comes as the transformer of culture, the Lord of all creation. It is the Christian’s task in imaging God to bring all of life under the lordship of Jesus.
We can start by transforming our minds (Rom 12:2). Many Christians never take Paul at face value when he declares that we need to have our minds renewed. We have the ability and the potential to think in a Christ-like manner about all the issues that face us, but because we do not actively renew our minds, we become conformed to the world, and consequently the way we see life is in many ways no different from our non-Christian neighbours.
God created us to think. This might seem a little too radical for some Christians, yet our brains are not the result of the fall - God created us with them. Our thinking and studying, however, need to be done in dependence upon the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who will guide us into truth.
Much Christian thinking is shaped more by the gods of this age than by the Bible; economic growth is seen as a means of salvation, and science and technology are looked upon as saviours from any impending environmental disaster. It is time this changed. What is needed is a biblical framework from which Christians can develop truly Christian ethics which in turn enable them to critique and transform modern perspectives on life and thus instead of being reluctant greens, Christians will embrace the stewardship of the earth as a part of their calling to image God.
Tuesday, 24 April 2007
Rocky’s Favourite Questions to ask Atheists
1. Would you agree with Desmond Morris and Richard Dawkins who assert that sexual promiscuity is normal and natural among Alpha males?
2. Would you agree with Nietzsche that exploitation and cruelty is the fundamental fact of human existence?
3. Would you agree with Prof Eric Pianka that humans are no better than bacteria?
4. Would you agree with Susan Blackmore who argues that Darwinism leads inexorably to the conclusion that our existence is illusory?
5. Richard Dawkins has stressed that goodness and evil cannot exist in a Darwinian universe. In the light of Auschwitz would you agree with him?
6. Emotivists, like Alfred Ayer, argue that ethics boils down to human expression of feeling? If a society of committed cannibals expressed positive collective feelings about torturing and then eating people, would this be ok?
7. Suppose that the majority of people living in the U.K. voted for the death penalty for ‘gingers’. Would you go along with this?
8. Cultural relativism flows directly from Darwinian assumptions. The cultural relativist asserts that it is intolerant to judge cultures that engage in systematic cannibalism and torture. Would you agree with this position?
9. Would you agree with Bertrand Russell when he argued that cannibalism is a duty for some people?
10 Would you agree with some atheists that consensual cannibalism is perfectly valid?
11. Would you agree with evolutionary psychologists who argue that rape and infanticide are normal and natural because that’s how some humans have been hardwired by natural selection to behave?
12. Is it possible to be an ‘authentic’ cannibal?
13. Is there anything wrong with a consenting man marrying a consenting goat? Should we change the law so that humans can legally get married to animals?
(May 1998 - The Jerry Springer Show had an episode titled "I married a horse". The show was ultimately not aired by many stations on the planned date, apparently due to concerns about the acceptability of broadcasting an episode in which a man admitted to a long term emotional and sexual relationship of this kind. The man and his horse later participated in a British documentary on the subject.)
15. Is there anything wrong with polygamy? Isn’t it only natural for strong, aggressive males to enjoy the sexual delights of the well-stocked harem?
16. Is it possible to object to the Hindu practice of burying widows alive when this moral conviction has evolved very successfully in that particular culture? (Eyewitness accounts have observed children burying their own mothers in the early 19th century)
17. Nazi scientists used to experiment on "sub-humans" like Jews and gypsies. Should we object to this in the light of the simple fact that we are no better than bacteria?
18. The full title of Darwin’s famous book is this – On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. In the light of this frank title is there anything wrong with racism?
19. Would you agree with Richard Dawkins’ assertion that moral notions of responsibility are illusory because all human behaviour is determined by the impersonal laws of physics?
20. Is it possible to believe in both rationality and a view of science that reduces everything to Physics? In other words doesn’t science worship destroy rationality?
21. In his disturbing novel The Wasp Factory Iain Banks presents us with an Anti-hero, Frank Cauldhame who delights in torture and murder of both humans and animals. The novel is written in such a way that this way of life is intimately connected to evolution by natural selection. Question – Would you agree with Banks’ gruesome worldview and if not where has he gone wrong?
22. How would you respond to Nietzsche’s challenge that if you get rid of the Christian God you must also get rid of Christian morality?
23. How would you respond to philosopher Patricia Churchland who argues that Darwinism radically destroys science’s ability to produce true statements. We believe things because they help us to survive. Natural Selection couldn’t give two figs about the truth.
24. When scientists begin breeding human-chimpanzee hybrids, do you think we should grant them the same rights as human-beings or can we simply treat them like slaves and instruments? What is the moral basis for how we relate to hybrids?
25. Are you a hard-headed atheist like Nietzsche or a mystically inclined one like Richard Dawkins? (Nietzsche says - go with the cruelty of evolution and Dawkins tells us that we have the power to rebel against our selfish genes and embrace altruism and goodness.)
26. What is the moral basis for love and tolerance? (Good question to ask when Christians are accused of being intolerant.)
27. Politicians like Tony Blair are often telling us that terrorist atrocities are ‘unacceptable’. Would you agree with him about this?
Could you explain what is meant by this term ‘unacceptable’? Who are we speaking about here? All human beings? All rational human-beings? All British people? Or just stamp collectors in Burnley?
28. In 2004 a woman in the Netherlands got married to herself! Perfectly legal in Holland. Is there anything wrong with this? If marriage is a social construct then why not? What about a marriage with three people in it? Two gay men and a lesbian. And there are growing numbers of people who would like to get married to dolphins and their pets. Isn’t it intolerant not to allow such conjugal bliss?
29. Missionaries like William Carey, James Chalmers and Amy Carmichael fought such social evils as suttee, cannibalism and religious prostitution. Were they wasting their lives? Were they being intolerant of indigenous ‘customs’?
30. Would you agree with Columbine killer Eric Harris when he wrote the following?
“just because your mummy and daddy tell you blood and violence is bad, you think it’s a f-g law of nature. Wrong, only science and math are true, everything else, and I mean every f-g thing is man made.” (From one of Eric’s notebooks)
Monday, 23 April 2007
Eschatology, the study of the end or end times, is crucial to how we act in the present. There are 31,124 verses in the Old and New Testaments, and of these 8,352 are predictive prophecy, almost one third! In fact only four biblical books contain no predictive prophecies: Ruth, Song of Songs, Philemon and 3 John. Is this not ample reason to take eschatology seriously? And yet so often it is relegated to the last chapter in books of systematic theology.
How we see the future winding up affects how we respond in the present. If at the end of this age Jesus returns to whisk the Christians away to heaven and to destroy this ‘wicked evil earth’, then any environmental involvement can, at best, only be regarded as patching up a dying man’s coat, and effectively a waste of time.
However, God’s final glorious consummation at the end of this age and at the beginning of the age to come is to include the physical world. For the Old Testament prophets, their eschatological hope included the earth. The redeemed earth is to be the scene of the kingdom of God.
There is, throughout the scriptures, a theme of destruction, often coupled with the theme of a new heaven and earth. However, a closer examination of the Scriptures reveal that Jesus will not return to destroy the earth - rather he will renew it. At first - but only at first-there appear to be two contradicting concepts in the scriptures: that of the renewal of the earth and the destruction of the earth.
There will be a renewed heavens and earth [Gk: kairos = fresh, renewed, rather than new in time]. Jesus talks of the renewal (literally rebirth) of all things, and Paul writes about the creation being liberated - there seems to be no room for a destruction of the earth here.
And yet, on the other hand, Peter describes the consummation as the earth being destroyed. The writer to the Hebrews, echoing the psalmist, talks about the earth and heavens perishing and being rolled up like a garment, and Jesus says that heaven and earth will pass away.” So how do we reconcile these conflicting accounts? Is it restoration or destruction?
The first thing we need to remember is that these passages are apocalyptic and therefore may not necessarily have to be taken literally; they may well be metaphors to describe the catastrophic and cataclysmic event the return of Jesus will be. I will look at three passages that talk about an apparent destruction of the earth.
(i) Matthew 24:35: ‘heavens and earth will pass away’ (cf Mk 13:31; Lk 21:33).
The Greek word ‘pass away’ is the same word that occurs in 2 Corinthians 5:17, where Paul describes the person in Christ as a new creation, saying ‘the old has gone’ (literally passed away). This implies not total destruction but transformation. Hence we could legitimately paraphrase Jesus as saying ‘heaven and earth will be transformed but my word never changes’.
(ii) Hebrews 1:12
In this passage, as in the Matthew passage, there is a contrast. In Matthew 25:35 the contrast was between the creation (i.e. heavens and earth) and Jesus’ words; here it is between the creation and the creator. The thing that both writers want to emphasise is the unchangeableness of God compared with his creation; this is the context of both passages, so to use them as proof texts for a theory of destruction is inappropriate.
The word translated as ‘changed’ in v12 is allagesontai; this same word is used in 1 Corinthians 15:51 and 52. Here the context is the resurrection of believers: ‘we will all be changed’. Yet again the meaning can be understood as transformation. When we receive resurrection bodies we shall not be destroyed but changed or transformed; in the same way the earth will be transformed.
(iii) 2 Peter 3:10
Richard Bauckham, in his excellent commentary on 2 Peter and Jude describes this passage as a crux interpretum: it is crucial to our reading of the entire subject of the earth’s destruction. The majority of contemporary commentators translate the key passage as ‘the earth and all its works will be found. [See in particular Al Wolters ‘Worldview and textual criticism in 2 Peter 3: 10’ Westminster Theological Journal 49 (1987) pp. 405-13] This reading is arrived at for textual and contextual reasons: the majority of Greek texts have ‘will be found’ (heu rethestai) rather than ‘shall be burned up’ (katakaesetai). So yet again there is no ground for supposing the earth will be destroyed. The sense here is that the purging fires will enable the earth and all its work to be ‘found’, that is revealed or discovered for what they are (cf 1 Cor 3:15).
From these three passages, often put forward to propound the theory that when Jesus returns the earth will be destroyed, we have seen that there is no basis for such a theory. Rather they confirm the view that the earth will be transformed, which, as we have seen, is also the view of the Old Testament authors (see, for example Is 2:4, 11:6,8 and Is 35:6, and extra-biblical evidence, cf Enoch 45:5). In addition, there is the recurring theme in Revelation of partial, rather than complete, despoliation and destruction. One tenth of the great city collapses (Rev 11:13); the pale horse and its rider, Death, is given power over a quarter of the earth to kill by sword, famine, plague and wild beasts (Rev 6:8); and repeatedly one third of the earth, trees, grass, seas, sea creatures, ships, rivers, sun, moon and stars are variously destroyed, burnt up, corrupted or killed (Rev 8:6-12). This seems to speak of purification and purging: all that is worthy of destruction will be destroyed, but all that remains pure and untarnished will remain.
We can reasonably conclude that any time that we put into caring for the earth will not be wasted. This is, indeed, beginning the task that will be completed when Jesus returns to renew, restore and transform the face of the earth. Then the meek will indeed be able to inherit it (Matt 5:5) and rule upon it (Rev 5:10).
As the fall had repercussions for the earth, so too has the consummation. The eschatological Day of the Lord, as we have seen, involves the transformation of nature, rather than its destruction. The cursed earth produced thorns and thistles (Gen 3:17) and meant food production was difficult (Gen 3:18). But the consummation brings renewed fertility (Ezek 36) and, in that day, ‘the reaper will be overtaken by the ploughman’ (Amos 9:13), ‘they will not toil in vain’ (Is 65:23), ‘the mountains will drip with new wine’ (Joel 3:18), and ‘instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briars, myrtles will grow’ (Is 55:13). The curse will be undone.
The earth will be renewed (Is 66:17) and there will be a return to more than paradise conditions; what started as a garden will end as a city: there will be no war and killing (Is 2:49, 9:5, 11:9), there will be harmony in the animal kingdom (Is 11:6-8, 66:25), no more deserts (Is 35:1, 6-7) and the earth will respond to the Lord (Hos 2:21).
This is the earth we are to inherit, the earth we are to care for now; hence, what we do now is worth it, and of eternal significance. Our involvement is not futile because God will not destroy his creation.
Sunday, 22 April 2007
Whether we like it or not, politics concerns all of us. Some as citizens, others as government officials. Politics is one of the ways in which we as people depend on and relate to each other. Whether we like it or not, we bear co-responsibility for one another's lot and thus for the structuration of our society. Even if we are not concerned with politics, politics is concerned about us. That is why head-in-the-sand politics is still a very real form of politics - and an extremely bad form at that.
No one can avoid the challenge of responsible political engagement, not withstanding all our past failings and shortsightedness. The challenge of political action based on the gospel remains for the Christian. While we may not superficially rid ourselves of the problems just posed, there is the undeniable fact that the gospel proclaims itself as a Word for the world: as Word that affects and desires to redeem all our cultural activities. Therefore it is simply impossible to be a Christian and to simultaneously deny the relevance of this Christianity to political life. To put it differently: even if we aren't concerned with the gospel in politics the gospel is concerned about our political activities. Christ has redeemed our total existence and re-directed it to God.
Saturday, 21 April 2007
- 'Herman Dooyeweerd' in P. E. Hughes (ed.) Creative Minds in Contemporary Theology. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids: 270-306. Reproduced with the permission of the publisher. Please visit their website: www.eerdmans.com
(1979) Technology in a christian-philosophical perspective (ICS - republished in (1984)) [pdf]
(1980) Futurology or eschatology Vanguard 10 (1): 8-11 [pdf]
Thursday, 19 April 2007
Saturday, 14 April 2007
Euler was a committed Christian and, apparently, a biblical literalist as well as being (arguably) one of the greatest mathematicians ever - he was certainly the most prolific (apart from perhaps Paul Erdos).
According to one website (condensed from E T Bell's Men of Mathematics):
Euler remained a Christian all of his life and often read to his family from the Bible. One story about his religion during his stay in Russia involved the atheistic philosopher Diderot. Diderot had been invited to the court by Catherine the Great, but then annoyed her by trying to convert everyone to atheism. Catherine asked Euler for help, and he informed Diderot, who was ignorant of mathematics, that he would present in court an algebraic proof of the existence of God, if Diderot wanted to hear it. Diderot was interested, and, according to De Morgan, Euler advanced toward Diderot, and said gravely, and in a tone of perfect conviction: "Sir, ( a + bn )/n = x , hence God exists; reply! " Diderot had no reply, and the court broke into laughter. Diderot immediately returned to France.Also on Euler:
- The works of Euler online
- a paper by Duncan roper on Euler and the Koinisberg bridges problem
- a brief bio
- Rouse Ball's bio of Euler
- Christian history Institute
- The Euler archive blog
- Eulogy of Euler by Nicolas Fuss:
He was entirely imbued with respect for religion and his piety was sincere and his devotion was full of fervor. He fulfilled with the greatest detail all the duties of a Christian. He loved everyone, and if he felt stirrings of indignations it was against those enemies of religion, especially against the declared apostles of atheism that he made a stand in the defense of the Revelation against the objections of atheists in a work which was published in Berlin in 1747.
It is fair to say that Jesus was not ‘your average environmental protester’. His cursing of a fig-tree and treatment of the Gadarene swine would hardly win him honourary membership of Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth!
Yet, to argue that ‘Jesus was never involved in environmental action, therefore neither should we be’ is as illogical as saying that Jesus never wore trousers, he never drove a car, he never lived in a council flat, so neither should we.
What then of the two incidents mentioned above, the cursing of the fig tree (e.g. Mk 11:12-14) and the apparently wanton destruction of the Gadarene swine (e.g. Mk 5:1-17)? Neither gives the impression of Jesus exercising environmental care. A closer examination reveals that they are not the stumbling blocks that they first appear to be.
The cursing of the fig tree. However we are to understand this passage, one thing is self-evident: it is not to provide us with a normative example of how to treat plant-life! Elsewhere Jesus shows his (and his Father’s) care and concern of both animals and plants (cf the parables in Matthew 13, and the sermon on the mount). So how are we to understand this passage? It is best understood as an enacted parable.
(i) It provides a lesson on praying in faith (Mk 11 :22-25) and the creative (or destructive) power of words.
(ii) The Jews understood the fig tree to be a symbol of Israel (Hos 2:12; Is 34:4; Lk 13:6-9), and the withering of the tree would then be understood as a prophetic action of what was about to happen to Israel if they did not repent.
Its effectiveness as an object lesson and as a prophetic statement could well explain why Jesus acted ‘out of character’ in his treatment of the tree, thus shaking his disciples’ preconceptions and making them take special note.
The Gadarene swine (Mk 5:1-20; Lk 8:26-39; Matt 8:28-34). The purpose of this miracle is likewise not to provide a normative example for the treatment of animals, rather it is to demonstrate Jesus’ lordship over the demonic realm. In all three of the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) it occurs after the stilling of the storm where Jesus has demonstrated his lordship over the elements: ‘even the winds and the waves obey him!’ Jesus truly is lord of all.
There is not the time for a full exegesis of this passage, so I shall limit myself to making a few points.
(i) Mark and Luke are very clear that Jesus did not immediately send the demons into the swine. It was only after the demons begged him (Lk 8:32; Mk 5:11), and consequently Jesus gave them permission to do so.
(ii) It was the demons and not Jesus who sent the swine over the bank into the lake and drowned them (Lk 8:33; Mk 5:13).
(iii) One suggestion that has been made is that the demons tried to deceive Jesus and deliberately destroyed the swine to bring Jesus into disrepute with the herdsmen.
(iv) One thing, however, is certain. The passage shows that Jesus places more value on human life than on other animal life. All animals have value, but some have more value than others.
To use these two incidents to reject any Christian involvement in environmental action or to prove Jesus’ lack of concern is grasping at proverbial straws. To an extent Jesus was a man of his time; the environmental problems that we face today were not major problems 2000 years ago in rural Palestine, so we would hardly expect Jesus to get involved. Were he born in our time he would certainly have a few things to say. He was not afraid to get involved in political issues.
Very often we have a distorted image of Jesus, an image that is reinforced by ‘Sunday school’ stories and prayers. It was not ‘gentle Jesus, meek and mild’ who engaged in conflict with the Jewish religious and political leaders. He was not afraid to speak in parables against them (Lk 20:19), or to attack their ‘idols’ of the sabbath and the Temple. Jesus deliberately healed on the sabbath (Lk 13:10-17); he demonstrated in the Temple (Lk 19:45-8), the religious, economic and political centre of Judaism; he prophesied the Temple’s destruction (Lk 21:5-6); and he ate with ‘sinners’ and ‘outcasts’ (Lk 15:1-2; 19:7). Small wonder that the ‘leaders among the people were trying to kill him’ (Lk 19:47).
Two ‘political’ problems in his time were sexism and nationalism; time and again Jesus confronted these two issues. Speaking to a Samaritan woman was unthinkable for a Jew -- she was the wrong sex and race--yet Jesus deliberately went out of his way to do it Jn 4:7). The parable of the good Samaritan and the Samaritan leper, whose faith had made him well (Lk 17:11-19), would have raised more than one or two Jewish eyebrows (Lk 11 :25). He also defied all the religious and political traditions of his day, not only by having women disciples, but by being supported by women (Lk 8:3). Jesus was not one to shrink away from political involvement; even his death on the cross had political significance, since he died a victim of a political system.
Jesus did get involved in his father’s world -- his incarnation and resurrection are testimonies to that. As his followers, then so should we, even if it does bring us suffering and misunderstanding.
Friday, 13 April 2007
I have now started the E L Hebden Taylor pages on All of life redeemed. I am in the process of putting up his book The Reformational Understanding of Family and Marriage - at present
Thursday, 12 April 2007
Wednesday, 11 April 2007
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A two-day conference: Friday to Saturday, 7th - 8th September 2007
Exploring positive contributions that a Christian faith-perspective can make to core disciplines in today's academy
Jointly sponsored by WYSOCS and Christian Academic Network
Speakers include: Adrienne Dengerink Chaplin, Jonathan Chaplin and Richard Weikert
Bodington Hall, University of Leeds, UK
More details here
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Tuesday, 10 April 2007
Environmental action is seen by some Christians as synonymous with participation in the New Age movement, and hence they steer clear of any involvement.
But what is the New Age movement? Its name is based on the idea underlying much of the ‘movement’, namely, that we are looking forward to a ‘new age’ in which people will see things in a different light from the present age. This is sometimes called the ‘new consciousness’. However the term New Age is a misnomer. It is not new, but rather a hotch-potch of very old ideas including monism (all is one), panentheism (God is in all) and pantheism (all is God). The idea of a New Age has been traced back to the mid-eighteenth century, to the poet and artist William Blake.
One ‘New Ager’, Jeremy Tarcher, the publisher of Marilyn Ferguson’s influential New Age book The Aquarian Conspiracy, describes four concepts that underlie much of the New Age philosophy:
(i) the everyday world and our personal consciousness are manifestations of a large ‘divine’ reality;
(ii) we have a hidden higher self that reflects or is connected to this reality;
(iii) this higher self can be awakened and assume a central part of our everyday lives; and
(iv) this awakening is the goal or purpose of human life.
The New Age philosophy is not new, and it is not a movement - it is far too diffuse and amorphous to be called a movement. What in the fifties was called ‘occult’, was called ‘mind expansion’ in the sixties, and in the eighties and nineties is ‘New Age’. It includes crystal healing, chanelling, astrology, Tarot, Tantric Yoga, earth worship, creative visualisation, transcendental meditation, hypnotherapy, theosophy, Eastern mysticism - the list is almost endless. Some Christians have over-reacted to it. Constance Cumbey writes that, ‘for the first time in history there is a viable movement - the New Age movement - that truly meets all the scriptural requirements for the antichrist and the political movement that will bring him on the world scene’. Cumbey falls into the trap of what the British philosopher Karl Popper describes as the ‘conspiracy theory of society' and in doing so she trivialises both history and biblical prophecy.
The New Age movement is best seen, not as a conspiracy, but as a shift in world-view.
There is no doubt that some of the New Age movement is not only dangerous, it could even be described as demonic, but that is not an excuse to abdicate our responsibility to care for God’s earth. As Christians we need to be on our guard against New Age thinking and its subtle ideas and influences, but we also need to be able to learn from what is good in it. Those involved in the green movement and in environmental action need to have a distinctly Christian world-view worked out, from which they can discern, critique and sift the New Age ideas that might try to creep up on them.
Many are involved in the so-called New Age movement because they have seen the futility of our contemporary ideas: economic growth at all costs, and technology as an answer to all our problems - and are looking for a more satisfying world-view. This is something that Christianity does have to offer. Indeed, Christianity is the only coherent and consistent world-view there is. Those who do not adhere to the Christian world-view will inevitably struggle to find meaning. Ultimately, it is only Christianity that has the answers that ‘New Agers’ are looking for.
There is no doubt about it that some New Agers are involved in the green movement and involved in environmental action, but that does not mean that all involved in it are New Agers, or that Christians should not be involved. Mormons do door-to-door visiting, but not all who are involved in door-to-door visiting are Mormons, and it doesn’t mean that Christians should never ‘door knock’. Video watching is part of our materialistic hedonistic society, but that doesn’t mean Christians should never watch videos.
New Age or not, Christians should be involved. The earth is the Lord’s-not the New Agers’ - and he has given it to us to care for. He has called us to be involved in his world; it is not a responsibility we can shirk. Like it or not we are inextricably linked with this planet. We are, after all, earthlings. We were created from the earth (Gen 2:7, 3:19; cf Eccles 3:20; Job 10:9), given the task to care for the earth (Gen 1:26,2:15); and it was humanity’s fall that resulted in the cursing of the earth (Gen 3:17); we have the task of taking the gospel of reconciliation to all the earth (Mk 16:15); and it is our liberation as sons of God, at the return of Jesus, that will release the earth from its frustration (Rom 8:21).
Monday, 9 April 2007
Owlb's alter ego EconoMix has a blog new blog: bizmixture for use.
MakeUseOf has an excellent list of Mozilla Firefox tweaks. As if any more reasons are needed to switch to Firefox!
A couple of new search engines:
- alpha from Yahoo!
- blackle which I think looks pretty sleek! Though looking black it claims to be green!
Lifehack looks at a few writing applications for bloggers - I occasionally use scribefire, previously known as performancing.
This looks like a great idea - though I have yet to try it out - send future email [HT lifehack]. It allows you to 'send messages to yourself and have them delivered on any date and time' and idel way to rememebr birthdays, anniversaries and assignment deadlines!
Got MacEnvy? Then try Flyakite to make your XP look like Mac OSX [HT MakeUseOf]
Sunday, 8 April 2007
Saturday, 7 April 2007
Also on Glenn's site are the following recent additions:
Friday, 6 April 2007
Dividing life into sacred and secular, spiritual and non-spiritual, provides the Christian with the most common excuse for non-involvement.
Dualism is rooted in Greek philosophy and in Plato (427-347 BC) in particular; it is alien to the Scriptures. According to Plato, reality is composed of two separate realms, the material and the spiritual. The spiritual realm was thought to be superior to the material. Plato’s ideas and thinking had a tremendous impact on the early church fathers. Justin Marty (ca 100-165) even described Plato as a Christian before Christ. Many Christians are unconsciously influenced by these Platonic ideas, and consequently, so-called ‘spiritual’ activities such as worship, prayer and evangelism are regarded as more important than business, politics or caring for the earth.
This separation of life into sacred and secular, or spiritual and material, is nowhere to be found in the Old or New Testaments. Indeed the biblical evidence is very much to the contrary: all of life is spiritual. Six times in Genesis 1 God affirmed the goodness of the material realm. Elsewhere, we find that God loved the world so much that he sent his son to redeem it; as we have already seen, the cross vindicates creation; Jesus, God’s son, became human and his resurrection body was a physical one - he was not a disembodied spirit (cf 1 Jn 1:1ff); and it is this material realm that will be redeemed and restored at the consummation of all things.
There is no dualism in Scripture. Politics, environmental action, walking and planting trees are just as much spiritual activities as prayer, praise and speaking in tongues. Abraham Kuyper summed it up like this: ‘There is not an inch of secular life of which Christ does not say “It belongs to Me.’” It is by failing to grasp this that many Christians have come to regard some things as more religious than others, and this is reflected in how they choose to lead their lives and occupy their time, and indeed where their commitment lies. Neglect of caring for the earth is an inevitable consequence. And yet God declares ‘The earth is mine’!
Thursday, 5 April 2007
Wednesday, 4 April 2007
The complexity of environmental problems are too much for most people, Christians included. There are no simple answers for acid rain, North Sea pollution, global warming and nuclear waste dumping - and we certainly can’t turn to a few Bible verses to find an answer. Hence many Christians are content to ‘leave it to the experts’, while they get on with prayer and evangelism. However, by doing nothing we are part of the problem. By being ostriches we disobey God’s call to us to be salt and light. As Christians we have a responsibility to be obedient to God, and to call the institutions and structures in society to do the same; part of this will be to call them to care for the earth. Edmund Burke once said that ‘Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.’ We can do something, despite the size of the problems, because Christ is in us and his Spirit is equipping us for the task.
Tuesday, 3 April 2007
This is the story of the final preparation for the final leg of Jesus' journey to Jerusalem. The question is: Why should Jesus ride on a donkey?
More 'hunches' about the death and resurrection of Jesus are to follow.
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Monday, 2 April 2007
The Bible is full of the kingdom of God; it is a theme that runs through it from cover to cover.
The proclamation of the gospel of the kingdom was central to Jesus’ mission: ‘the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news’ (Mk 1:45). It was exactly the same message that John the Baptist proclaimed (Matt 3:2), and the same one Jesus entrusted to his disciples (Matt 10:7; Mk 16:16).
Unfortunately, many have misunderstood the relevance of the kingdom - it is seen as something far off and other-worldly. Jesus appears to support this idea; when confronted by Pilate at his trial, he says, ‘My kingdom is not of this world’ (In 18:36). Taken out of context this saying does imply an other-worldly kingdom, but read in context its meaning becomes apparent. Jesus declares that the kingdom does not reflect fallen worldly values: his disciples will not take part in violent rebellion. The kingdom’s authority is derived from heaven and does not come from the fallen power structures of the world.
The message of the kingdom was, and is, a radical message. John Howard Yoder remarks that ‘Jesus’ concept of the kingdom was borrowed extensively from the prophetic understanding of the Jubilee year’. Six themes characterised Jubilee (Lev 25), and we can see these same themes in Jesus’ kingdom message:
(i) celebration-it was a time for jubilation;
(ii) faith in God’s provision-they were totally dependent
upon him to provide for their every need;
(iii) the remission of debts;
(iv) the liberation of slaves;
(v) the redistribution of property; and
Jesus’ first public sermon in Luke’s Gospel is sometimes called the ‘Nazareth Manifesto’ (Lk 4:18-21). Howard Snyder suggests that it was preached in a year of Jubilee (AD26-27). In it Jesus announced the arrival of the kingdom - in fact he declared himself to be the manifestation of the kingdom, by declaring ‘Today, this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing’. Jesus also took up the Jubilee themes and made them part of his message. In Jesus the Jubilee age had dawned; he brought celebration, faith, remission of debts (Lk 11 :4; Matt 18:23), liberation (GaI5:1), the redistribution of property (Lk 12:32-34; Mk 10:21; Lk 19:8-10) and rest (Lk 12:22-31; Heb 4:9). It was the proclamation of a new order and it was not limited to humanity. The Jubilee and sabbath year legislation showed God’s concern not only for humanity but also for the non~human creation; it included rest for the animals and the land (Lev 25:5,6). In the same way Jesus commanded the disciples, and hence us, to take the gospel to all of creation (Mk 16:15). The word creation [Gk: ktsis] is used both of the act and product of creation, and this also, therefore, includes all the created orders. Jesus may have had in mind the Old Testament prophets when he gave this command to his disciples. Ezekiel prophesied to the mountains (Ezek 6:1ff; 36:lff), to the land (Ezek 7:1ff) and even to dry inanimate bones (Ezek 37:4). The book of Isaiah even speaks of trees clapping their hands, and the mountains and hills bursting into song in response to the word of their creator (Is 55:12). We fail in our duty of proclaiming the kingdom if we restrict it to humanity. When God created the earth, he created it as one of order. It is the Christian’s task in proclaiming the kingdom to ensure every aspect of crea tion is obedient to that creational order; if it is not, we are to call it to repentance.
The kingdom is one of justice, peace and joy (Rom 14:17). The animals, the earth, the institutions and structures of society need to have that message proclaimed to them, whether by words or works or wonders (Rom 15:19) so that they too can experience the rule and order of God that is the kingdom, and then one day come into the same liberty that the children of God can now enjoy.