Thursday, December 13, 2007

Something of interest

This one fascinated me. It seems that the very moral ethos that initially empowered women now disarms them when faced wit men who employ it against them. Enjoy the read.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Jesus arrives soon...

in a Wal-Mart near you. Check it out here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Proverbs 27:12

The sensible see danger and take cover; the foolish keep going and are punished.

If I were going to paraphrase this proverb in more modern terms, I might say "A smart person sees the warning signs and heeds them; the fool goes on as if they aren't there."

There is something frustrating about watching people be foolish. People will come up to me, and tell me about the difficulties they are in. That in itself isn't frustrating; the frustration sets in they will speak as though they are so shocked to be where they are. For the life of them they cannot understand how they are where they are.

Now, as I listen I am making a mental list of all the places where they made mistakes. The mistakes are obvious. By the time the list is complete, along with the tale of woe, one thing has become clear: The individual ought reasonably to have surmised that trouble would result from their course of action.

As a counselor, the only question is whether they will accept responsibility or not. If they will, help can be effective. If not, then there is little point in offering assistance. If they want to accept responsibility, then they will heed the signs that I hold up for them. Otherwsie, they won't, and, as the Proverb puts it, be punished.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


How to describe God? My first inclination is to be as short possible. God is such that the longer I go on, the likelier I am to say something wrong. Verbosity can lead to heresy, as it were.

Still, I did say I would go into the topic, so...

I could present a lengthy list of attributes, but that wouldn't be what I am about here. Rather than talk about what God is, I am more concerned with God as He relates to us. And how doe He do that?

1) As a Father.
With apologies to those who find the idea of God as a male figure, the reality is that God has chosen to relate to us primarily as our Heavenly Father. That does not mean that there are not feminine aspects to God, but those are clearly secondary. As a father he seeks to protect and provide for us. He seeks to be generous, giving to us out of the bounty of His love for His children. He also is concerned for our growth and development in terms of character. To that end, He is our disciplinarian and teacher.

2) As a Judge.
Some might think that relating to us as a a Judge is incompatible with relating to us as a Father. I find the two to be nicely complementary. As our Father, God knows us perfectly, and so is perfectly able to judge us. How can we expect to get more fairness than from a Judge who both knows us perfectly and still loves us perfectly? That fairness does not guarantee a verdict in our favor on all issues; He will call us on our bad behavior whenever it occurs. But we know that our discipline will be truly commensurate with our crime, and we can take comfort that the disciple comes from someone who is neither arbitrary nor uncaring. Quite the contrary.

If any of this sounds familiar, it is because I have basically posted how God's love and God's justice hold together. Many times I hear people ask how God can be loving if He is willing to allow people to go to Hell.

Hopefully the above shows how God is not only perfectly able to do that, He is the only ONe we should want to do so.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Who are we, anyway?

Lately I have been reading a book by Miroslav Volf called Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace. In it, Volf goes into who we are. He is clear in pointing out that with respect to God, we are receivers. We have nothing to offer God that He needs. We have nothing that isn't already His. We cannot even be unless God gives us the gift of our next breath.

As Volf points out, this brings us very close to Luther's notion that we are "beggars all". Many might suppose that being such is utterly demeaning and denigrating our dignity as human beings, that to respond in faith to such a being is wrong. Volf responds:

But that feeling of diminishment and humiliation comes from wrongly conceiving our relationship to God. If we were independent from God the way we are independent from each other, and God expected us to just receive, God would be like an overbearing father who always knows better and will not let his daughter do anything on her own. But we are not independent in relation to God. Our power to be and to act comes from God. Faith merely recognizes this. Hence faith doesn't tell us how little we are and what we can't do. On the contrary, it celebrates what we most properly are - God's empowered creatures- and it frees us to our greatest accomplishment.
So we are receivers with respect to God. But that reality doesn't threaten our dignity; it makes it. If we fear looking small and silly, then we might consider how it appears to God when we struggle to assert ourselves independently from God.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

What Is Man?

When I was in seminary, I had many discussions that centered on the question of Pilate: "What is truth?"

There were, and are, many ways to understand that question, and many ways of answering it. Most of those have to do with what we understand the "truth" to be, and how we communicate it to unbelievers such as Pilate was.

These days however I am coming to believe that the key question is not "what is truth?", but "what is man?" That is, the key question is not what truth is as such, as though truth were primarily an existential matter, but what the truth is about us. If we correctly understand what we are we can better understand what the gospel is, and why it is what it is.

I believe that the gospel is what it is because that is the way it has to be in order for us to be saved. Given who and what we are, and Who and What God is, the gospel could only be what is.

So that's what I am thinking. Next time I will go into who and what we are. After that, I'll go into Who and What God is.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Imperfections... Must Sterilize

That line is from a classic Star Trek episode. The speaker is a freaked out piece of machinery who holds that its programmed mission is to seek out and sterilize imperfections. It is absolutely maniacal about its mission. It cannot stand imperfection.

On the other end of the spectrum is something which says "we must not be perfect." Really I think the intent is to say we must not act perfect when we are not. But what exactly does that mean, practically? Does it mean that we must be willing to acknowledge that we still have a way to go before being fully sanctified? Minimally that should be so. Such admissions would be healthy for one's spiritual life; they ensure that you do not become over-confident with respect to one's spiritual growth and maturity.

But what if it means something more than that? What if it means that if you don't say you are somehow dysfunctional, or have some kind of imbalance, then you are hiding something?
The implications are not at all pleasant. Those who are more spiritually mature end up being marginalized, even viewed as aberrant. The norm would be dysfunctional spiritually immature people.

Really, the goal should not be to emphasize what is a given, that we are imperfect. Rather, we should emphasize what we should be, and will one day be (perfect). Doing so may highlight for some the fact of our imperfection, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. We should not try going through our walk with Christ thinking that we are something other than we are: sinful.

Yes, the "S" word. We tend to think of ourselves as "broken" or "disconnected". We are those things, but only because we are sinful. We should not confuse the symptoms with the disease.

Besides, there is nothing wrong with admitting we are sinful, ungodly. Paul seems to think that God is in the business of justifying such people. Jesus said that he came to save sinners.

If we don't think of ourselves that way, how can we expect to be saved?

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Odds and Ends

I have not had time to get too far in the Revelation work due to stuf at home. But a couple fo things have caught my attention lately.

First is how far our culture, even the Christian sub-culture, has strayed from an interest in being edified to a hunger for being entertained. This puts me in mind of what Paul tells Timothy about how in the last days people will turn to teachers who will teach what they want to hear. Traditionally I have taken this to refer to the propensity of people to ignore sound teaching for false teaching because tey prefer the lie to the truth. But it could be that the lie is turned to just because it is more entertaining than the truth.

Ho do we respond to that?

Certainly there have been times when the Christian Church has been out of step with the culture and managed to turn good news into "o.k. news" through being boring in its delivery. I don't think that this can be said of preaching today, though; many churches feature cutting edge multi media presentations on a regular basis.

The church however may be a victim of its own success in this area. We may just be addicting attenders to the medium at the expense f the message. We may be training people to expect entertainment rather than edification. We may wind up altering our services so that they titillate rather than transform.

This is entirely unintentional, but that may be the scariest part. For this to happen without our notice, or perhaps without our forethought, says a bit about the way we are trying to reach the culture. We are simply looking for the next big thing, the next fad that we can ape and imitate. But isn't the Holy Spirit creative, rather than imitative? Does this not mean we should be setting trends in some sense rather than reacting to them?

Something to think about.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Revelation: The Beginning

As promised, I am beginning a series on Revelation. I will be using material I have collected for the purpose of teaching a Young Adult Sunday School Class.

As a kind of prologue, I would like to make a few opening comments of a general nature:

1) Although I do have a definite opinion on issues such as the Tribulation and Millennium, I do not intend to present this study as a means of forwarding those opinions. In fact, I intend to say rather little about particular eschatological schemata.

2) While I intend to be somewhat scholarly in my approach, bringing forth the various options for disputed passages, my goal is to make a presentation with potential for personal application, and informed by pastoral concerns.

3) My belief is that Revelation has two primary thrusts: pastoral and ethical. Revelation is written to and for people enduring persecution. It is under such circumstances that the question "How do we live our faith?" is being asked and answered.

4) My format will be a mixture of verse for verse and paragraph for paragraph exegesis. There are times when verse for verse is entirely appropriate, even necessary, to bring out the full meaning of the text. Yet there are also times when verse by verse can encourage one to become bogged down with minutiae that do not really make a contribution to our understanding commensurate with the time and energy they require. I will strive to strike an appropriate balance.

Next time, we will begin with the first few verses of Revelation 1.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Return of the OP

The Oddball Pastor has returned. It is time to resume blogging on matters of theology.

Where have I been? I have written a devotional commentary on James. Called, "Being Consistently Christian", it is based on research I have done using commentaries in the Tyndale, Pillar, NIV Application and Expositor's series.

Currently I am looking at publishing options.

So what now? Now I am dealing with the impact of a deep study in Revelation. I am convinced that Revelation is a book with far more relevance than those who think only in terms of end-times charts might guess. It is a book deeply concerned with ethics. It has a lot to say about worship, martyrdom, the nature of our victory over evil in this world, and the unity of the Father and the Son. That is just in the first 7 chapters.

I will be blogging the insights I have gained from this study, plus whatever else pops into my head.

Kudos to Tertium Quid on his "promotion" to "Team Apologian."