Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Outline on Bibliology

Here is a decent outline on Bibliology from Gerry Brashears. It could use some tweaking, but if you need something to get started, or something to expand/revise/improve/clarify your own notes, this might be helpful.

It lacks explanation of some points, since it is not a content outline. It would be interesting to see how he explains some of his points, but nevertheless, there are some helpful things here.

Quotes for Thought

From a 9 Marks page on the reading list on Walter Brueggemann:
When asked in an interview if Scripture was his authority, Brueggemann replied, "it's the chief authority to me as long as one can qualify that to say that it is the chief authority when imaginatively construed in a certain interpretive trajectory."
Interesting qualification, which being interpreted, seems to be: It is authoritative as long as my "interpretive trajectory" is more authoritative. Which is to say, It is authoritative so long as I can make it say what I want it to say. Which is to say, It isn't authoritative at all.

From a Christianity Today interview with Mark Moring of the band Jars of Clay:
I am my own worst pop music station, constantly telling myself what I want to hear—and coming up with creative ways to do it.
Great line about the self-focused "what I wanna hear" nature of pop music. And don't argue ... You know that pop music stations make their money because they play what people want to hear ... in more ways than one. (I am not saying that giving people what they want is necessarily bad, but we should know that it exists, and recognize the inherent dangers in it, particularly in the moral realm.)

From a.k.a Lost by Jim Henderson:
When the congregation I was leading resigned from force-feed evangelism a few years back, we also decided to rename the people we wanted to connect with. We realized that calling people who are outside the faith "the lost" sets up an us/them dichotomy, artificially separating "the found" from those who are hopeless in their "lostness." It also conveys a class system, setting up the assumed superiority of "the found" in contrast to the sad plight of "the lost."
Ignoring the issue of what we call the unsaved (which really does not matter to me much), what is with the infatuation of some with erasing the lines between the "in" and the "out"? Is not one of the most theologically significant descriptions of the believer one of "in" ... as in "in Christ"? Does not that imply that some are "out"? I have seen many similar kinds of statements of late, particularly among emergents. I do not get it. Let's not pretend that the differences are minimal. There are "ins" and "outs" when it comes to Jesus, doctrine, and church.

Lastly, from a.k.a Lost by Jim Henderson, citing Brian McLaren (original source not cited):
Missing people aren't bad; they're just not where they're supposed to be.
In all too typical fashion, McLaren undersells the sin problem. Missing people (the term Henderson chose instead of "lost") are bad. That's why they need Jesus. Jesus himself said he came to call sinners to repentance. He did not come for people who "aren't that bad." And as I say, if you think you "aren't that bad," you are not ready for Jesus. You're not hopeless yet.

Monday, August 28, 2006

A High View of Scripture

One of the blogs I check in on from time to time is what some have called a "watch blog." It is essentially a blog dedicated to (sometimes harsh and ungracious) critique of the author's (or group of authors in this case) particular pet issues. Which is certainly fine. It is their blog, and they can put whatever they want on it. It disturbs me that this blog (as with some others of similar nature) are too often loose with the truth. The reality is that they do not need to be. There is enough fodder for critique without making stuff up or misrepresenting what one actually believes.

In a recent post, this blogger posted a passage from an OT prophet on the sin of social injustice in Israel under the Law as a warning to the emergents.

But a warning about what? The passage deals with one of the emergents pet peeves ... social injustice, and condemns it. The passage would actually be one that would support a pursuit of social injustice if we were to ignore the fact that it was addressed to those in Israel. To post it as a warning to those in emergent theology is hardly helpful, it seems to me.

Which leads me to my point: We expect the emergents and liberals to have a low view of Scripture that allows them to misuse Scripture by applying it in ways that it was not intended to be applied. We should not tolerate it from those who claim to have a high view of Scripture.

Misusing Scripture, even in a good cause, is a low view of Scripture.

We must make sure that we say only what God would say from a particular passage. To do less is to use God's name in vain, to use his words to say something he did not and would not say from it.

The fundamental rule in preaching and teaching is this: Would God say this from this passage? If not, then we should not say it.

Notice, it is not enough to ask "Would God say this?" We must ask if he would say it "from this passage."

Let us exalt Scripture by using each individual for what it was intended to be used for. Do not use it to further our own ideas, no matter how good or biblical those ideas are. If you want to say something the passage does not say, then find another passage. Or just say it without Scripture.

PS - I posted a comment on the blog noting the misuse of this passage. It was not allowed to be posted by the moderator. Apparently, some are willing to critique harshly, but are not willing to be challenged about their own views. It's a nice life I suppose

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Book and An Interview on Preaching

Today I was in a large bargain bookstore, where they have table after table of books about everything you can imagine. Sometimes, you can find some good buys on theology books. Today, my lone purchase for myself was Exploring the Worship Spectrum for $5.99. I bought a couple of books for the little guy. I am trying to get him started early. I love reading to him while he slobbers all over my arm. ("Honey, can you bring a book and a towel? It's reading time with Laran.")

However, another book caught my eye, and sparked a thought in my mind. It was entitled something along the lines of "Praying in the Harvest: How to Pray for the Lost." It made me wonder how many people think of prayer as a formula, as if there is a particular way to pray for the lost that will get more results than praying some other way. I wonder how many people doubt the efficacy of their prayer because they wonder if they said the right thing, or said it in the right way. I believe God answers prayer according to his will, not according to our eloquence. When we pray in Jesus's name, praying for things that Jesus would not hesitate to attach his own name to, God hears our prayers and answers them according to his will. I didn't read the book so I do not know what it says. But the title sparked my thinking. Perhaps it sparks yours as well.

Secondly, I came across an interview about preaching with Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Some of you will like Mark and others will not. Personally I enjoy listening to him, as much for what I disagree with as what I agree with. I am challenged by him in many areas, perhaps mostly in his boldness in speech (though perhaps sometimes a bit overly bold so as to be crass) and his ability to communicate and hold people's attention. He is not afraid to lay his proverbial all on the altar when it comes to preaching. He is not afraid to swing the Bible like a big club to confront sin and sinners. He calls himself a hard core Bible thumper.

I think this interview on preaching is worth reading. Like just about everything Mark says, there is some good and some bad. I offer no whole-hearted endorsement of Driscoll, though I have greatly benefitted from his preaching and his writing. Particularly note the amount of preparation time he puts in. And hang heavy on the last point.

Monday, August 14, 2006

I'm From the Gov'mint and I'm Here to Help

Back in January I sent an email to our senators from Michigan encouraging them to vote for the confirmation of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. Yes, I know, I might as well have tried to jump over the Empire State Building, but hey, it was a boring evening and I thought I would exercise my rights to send useless emails to my federal representatives.

Well, lo and behold, I opened up my inbox this weekend to receive an email from none other than the senator now running for re-election. I was delighted for her timely response to a current issue. Apparently, in the words of the esteemed senator, she "look[s] forward to the confirmation process and to learning more about Judge Alito's judicial philosophy." She promises, "As this process moves forward, I will keep your views in mind should Judge Alito's nomination come before the full Senate for a vote."

Lest I think that this was some kind of email problem, the email was dated August 7, 2006. I actually had to look it up to see just how long ago it was that Alito was confirmed (over the vote of our Michigan Senate delegation). It was February 1.

All I can say is, "Good thing the building was not on fire."

On another topic, I have taken a little haitus from blogging for a few weeks here. Life has been hopping along for some reason. I cannot quite figure out where my life has gone to, but I am sure the little guy has something to do with that, as have a couple of other pressing matters. I look forward to returning to writing. My mind (and thought sheet) is full of ideas that I want to write about, as well as finishing some things I previously started. So for both of you that read my blog, you can look forward to some grist for the mill.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

What Would You Say?

Today, I was having breakfast at the diner while reading Alex Hadidian's excellent book entitled Successful Discipling.

The waitress, whom I know fairly well from a couple of contexts, was serving other customers and in the course of conversation apparently allowed some profanity to slip out. She said, "I'm sorry, Larry." Then to the guys sitting out the counter, she said, "I shouldn't say stuff like that with the preacher sitting behind you." (When they don't call me "Larry" (my preference), they call me "Pastor" or "the preacher.") She apologized to me, even though I honestly have no idea what she said since I was paying attention to my reading.

She then made the comment, "That's why I don't go to church. God is going to come down on me anyway, and I don't want him to do it while I am in church."

What would you say in response, with three or four men sitting at the counter?


I must admit, this is one of those areas where I struggle. I love talking theology and life, and I am usually pretty comfortable once the conversation gets started. But there are times like this where I draw a complete blank about what to say.

The strange thing is that she owed me no apology. First, I had no idea what she said. Second, it was not offensive to me. I expect unbelievers to act like unbelievers. I have no problem with the world acting as the world. The problem is when believers act like the world.

However, this experience ties in well with some Hadidian says in his book (several times) about the power of example: We best learn how to do by watching others do it. Being around someone who is boldly evangelistic would help us to learn how to turn conversations to the gospel.

So what would you have said in reply to this woman, during breakfast hour at the diner, with three or four men sitting around drinking coffee?