Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Happy Man

Glen quoted this remarkable passage about Jesus from Lord Hailsham, the former Lord Chancellor, last night in his superb talk on Jesus, the ultimate hero, Commander, Host & Doctor (Luke 5:27-32):

The first thing we should learn about him is that we should be absolutely entranced by his company. Jesus was irresistibly attractive as a man. The one they crucified was a young man, vital, full of life and the joy of it, the Lord of life itself, and even more the Lord of laughter, someone so attractive that people followed him for the sheer fun of it. The twentieth century needs to re-capture the vision of this glorious and happy man whose mere presence filled his companions with delight.

(from The Door Wherein I Went)

Change & Alms

I'm reading and so far very much enjoying Sam Allbery's book on the significance of the resurrection, Lifted! experiencing the resurrection life (IVP, 2010). I plan to plagarise it on Sunday evening.

Sam has a lively sense of humour and an engaging turn of phrase.

I liked this on the beggar in Acts 3:

But on this day he didn’t get change, but changed. He asked Peter for alms but received legs!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Jesus Meets Your Needs

In Conversation with Fiona Castle, Rev'd John Cheeseman argued that it is the Lord Jesus Christ alone who can satisfy our deepest human needs. Jesus provides:

(1) Significance / meaning / purpose

(2) Security / unconditional love

(3) Salvation / forgiveness

Monday, March 29, 2010

Can We Trust The Bible?

God-willing I'll be speaking to our Mothers & Others group on Thurs 15th July and at our Listen & Lunch event on Thurs 22nd July on "Can We Trust The Bible?" In each case the brief is to speak for up to 20 mins and then take questions. Any hints / tips?

Here's some possible reading:

John Blanchard, Why Believe The Bible? (Evangelical Press, 2004) 40pp

Craig Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospel (IVP) - apparently there is a second revised edition 2008

F. F. Bruce, New Testament Documents: Are they reliable? (Eerdmans)

Walter Kaiser, Old Testament Documents: Are they reliable and relevant? (IVP, 2001) - I've never read this: is it good?

Amy Orr-Ewing, Why Trust The Bible? Answers to 10 tough questions (IVP, 2005)

John Wenham, Christ and the Bible (Baker) - deals with a number of supposed "difficulties" with the text. Argues that Jesus thought of the Bible as the authoritative Word of God and so should we.

And even a DVD:

Brian Edwards, Why 66? The Canon of Scripture (Answers in Genesis, 2008) - how do we know we have the right books in the Bible?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Philip Pullman and Jesus

Thanks to Rev'd Richard Perkins for mentioning that Philip Pullman, of His Dark Materials fame, has a new book due out in two days time called The Good Man Jesus and The Scoundrel Christ (Canongate Books).

Here is the Amazon UK blurb:

This is a story. In this ingenious and spell-binding retelling of the life of Jesus, Philip Pullman revisits the most influential story ever told. Charged with mystery, compassion and enormous power, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ throws fresh light on who Jesus was and asks the reader questions that will continue to resonate long after the final page is turned. For, above all, this book is about how stories become stories.

It sounds as if Paul might be cast as the real baddie of the piece. Pullman says:

By the time the gospels were being written, Paul had already begun to transform the story of Jesus into something altogether new and extraordinary, and some of his version influenced what the gospel writers put in theirs...

Paul was a literary and imaginative genius of the first order who has probably had more influence on the history of the world than any other human being, Jesus certainly included. I believe this is a pity

The idea that Paul distorted the message of Jesus is neither original nor sound.

As Perks points out, New Testament scholar, Revd Dr David Wenham, has written a definitive study of the relationship between Jesus and Paul Paul: Follower of Jesus or Founder of Christianity. You can hear Wenham speak in Balham on 9th May.

3 Crosses

Roger Carswell suggested that we might think of the 3 crosses of Luke 23:39-43 alongside Romans 6:23:

(1) The cross of rebellion - the unrepentant criminal - "the wages of sin is death"

(2) The cross of repentance - the repentant criminal - "the gift of God is eternal life"

(3) The cross of redemption - the Lord Jesus Christ - "in / through Christ Jesus our Lord"

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I don't claim to know anything about economics, and some of this is stridently put, but here are some Oxford students (over on Facebook) lamenting what they might call the tyranny of so-called Fair Trade monopolies:

Christian Aid and Ctrl Alt Shift have been campaigning against the sale of non-Fairtrade produce for the past two weeks. A Christian Aid campaigner said, "We don't want fair trade to be an issue, we want it to be the norm."

TESCO already sells Fairtrade bananas. These misguided souls organised a flash mob to protest TESCO's decision to give customers the option to buy non-Fairtrade bananas.
Many JCRs have attempted to make their pantries stock only Fairtrade goods.

We offer the following arguments to the effect that Fairtrade is morally abhorrent. Even if you don't agree with every single one, we hope you at least realise that it is an open question whether Fairtrade helps poor people, and therefore reject the moral arrogance of those who want to deny Oxford students the option to buy non-Fairtrade produce.

1. Fairtrade schemes require all workers on a farm to be paid a minimum wage. This reduces demand for labour, and results in unemployment for farm workers whose marginal product is worth less than the minimum rate. A caveat: The empirical evidence on whether minimum wages harm employment in rich countries is mixed. But note that poor countries tend to have laxer labour protection laws, and fewer social safety nets: So it is reasonable to think (1) that Fairtrade is quite likely to increase unemployment in those cases, and (2) unemployment will have more disastrous consequences.

2. Fairtrade schemes require all farms to be run as collectives. This means that every worker must have a stake in the farm's capital and decision-making process. This discriminates against the poorest workers - those who have no capital and little access to financial markets - who cannot buy in to a Fairtrade collective because they bring little to the table. It also discriminates against itinerant labourers who might otherwise be hired on temporary contracts (say, around harvest season, when there is more work to be done).

3. Fairtrade accreditation is, by necessity, available only to registered businesses. Registering a business in most parts of Africa typically takes several months and lots of bribes. Therefore, Fairtrade schemes discriminate against new entrants to the market, and against poorer farms that operate as part of the 'informal' economy.

If you buy Fairtrade, you are discriminating in favour of farmers who already own land and capital, against workers who have nothing to sell but the sweat on their backs. You discriminate in favour of the already employed, and against the itinerant poor who can't be integrated into neat little collectives. You discriminate in favour of established, registered farms with government connections, and against newer, smaller farms that can't afford time or bribes. How is this just?

Given a choice between two otherwise-identical goods, I'd pay a premium for the one that's _not_ Fairtrade. I think it's the morally right thing to do. Won't the True Believers at Christian Aid and Ctrl Alt Shift at least admit it's an open question?

HT: Daniel Newman (via The Facebook)

The Family Under Siege Audio

When Mrs Lloyd and I get a moment we are looking forward to listening to the recordings from the The Family under Siege? – the 2010 Emmanuel Evangelical Church Family Conference – which are now available on their church website in the audio archive.

1. Foundations for the Family (David Field)

2. The Battleground of Education (Ian Fry)

3. Vision for the Family (David Field)

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Law our former primary school teacher

In Galatians (3:25) Paul says that the law of Moses was a pedagogue, a schoolmaster / tutor / guardian for the people of God in their infancy to lead them to Christ, in whom they find maturity and come into their inheritance.

Thinking of the law as our one-time primary school teacher might help us to understand how we should relate to it today. For example, if you met your old teacher today you would not put yourself under his regime of try to re-enroll in his class, but there would still be much to learn from a wise teacher.

Adults do not expect their former teachers to tell them to sit up straight, be quiet, put their fingers on their lips and raise their hand if they have something to say. Neither does the teacher want to treat his former pupils in this way. The point of all that primary school stuff is that the lessons might be learned and internalized. The school aimed to produce the habits of self-discipline, respect, politeness, good order and so on which the specific rules of the classroom embodied for little people at that time.

Similarly, the OT Law does not legislate for every eventuality but gives case law to teach patterns and principles which need to be applied anew, not least in the changed circumstances of maturity in Christ under the (re)New(ed) Covenant.

(Thanks to my STMTC group and especially Phil for thinking through this stuff with me).

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Prayer of St Patrick

A prayer from here apparently attributed to Patrick:

May the Strength of God guide us.
May the Power of God preserve us.
May the Wisdom of God instruct us.
May the Hand of God protect us.
May the Way of God direct us.
May the Shield of God defend us.
May the Angels of God guard us.
- Against the snares of the evil one.

May Christ be with us!
May Christ be before us!
May Christ be in us,
Christ be over all!

May Thy Grace, Lord,
Always be ours,
This day, O Lord, and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Finding Fulfillment

I've just taken another booking for my talk on The Secret of Happiness :) so I wanted to bookmark this from Gerv on Finding Fulfillment.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Reading John 9

I'm preparing to preach on John 9 on Sunday evening. To be honest, I'm rather behind! If I had more time, I'd be wanting to look at Peter J. Leithart's Deep Exegesis: The Mystery of Reading Scripture (Baylor Univ Press, Waco, 2009). As I understand it, he applies the approaches he talks about to John 9 as a kind of test case and example. According to the Scripture index, John 9 gets quite a bit of treatment: pages 60-64, 72-3, 100-102, 105-7, 117-8, 124-32, 136, 141-2, 161-71, 176-80, 184, 185-88, 192-95, 197-204, 206.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Preaching Plans

I'm trying to work on my Sunday preaching plans for the next quarter. God-willing it might go something like this:

9th May PM – John 10 – The Good Shepherd

6th June AM – Holiday Club All Age Family Service – Merciful Rescue - Jonah

13th June PM – John 11:1-47 – Dead Man Walking

4th July PM – John 11:45-12:11 – Destined to Die

11th July AM – Ecclesiastes 3 – What’s the time?

8th Aug AM – Ecclesiastes 4 - Better & Worse

22nd Aug PM – John 12:12-36 – Strange Glory

Homegroup Plans

We're currently working through Galatians in our homegroups. For the next quarter, the studies might go something like this:

12th May - (5) Galatians 3:15-25

26th May - (6) Galatians 3:26-4:20

9th June - (7) Galatians 4:21-31

23rd June - (8) Galatians 5:1-15

7th July – (9) Galatians 5:16-26

21st July – (10) Galatians 6:1-18 & Review

Monday, March 08, 2010

The Right To The Internet!

A BBC World Service poll today suggests that four in five people around the world believe that access to the internet is a fundamental right.

What do we mean by "a fundamental right" in that context? It seems quite extraordinary that access to the newfangled interweb should be a fundamental right.

Do we mean hat someone else shouldn't deprive me of the right to free access to the web? Does everyone have that right? Do prisoners?

Or do we mean that someone else ought to do all they can to provide me with the internet?

How would the right to the internet compare to other rights? Say, the right to a fair trial? That's a rather different things, isn't it?

Who gives this right? With respect to whom? Etc.? Etc.

Passion For Eastbourne

Just in case I haven't mentioned it before, here are the Passion For Life Events for Eastbourne. There's a fascinating mix of events with excellent speakers. Hopefully there'll be something of interest for everyone.