Thursday, June 29, 2006

Discussing Theology in a Godly Way

I co-moderate a Theology list. Sometimes things can get a bit heated, especially when people know they are right and the other geezer is wrong.

I know I need Steve Lehrer's wise words, and I think you do, too.

There is a time and place for absolute statements, but these should not be the common fare in theological discussion. The fact that we do not have a hotline to heaven but that we are all growing in our understanding of God’s Word should be evident in the words we use.

Lehrer then says that when he discusses theology, he must do so in language which reflects the fact that he is a "fallible man striving to represent my Lord." He suggests we should use language like this:
“It seems to me that your interpretation does not take into account Scriptures A and B. How do these Scriptures fit with your viewpoint?”

“From my perspective it appears that Scripture X means Y because of context Z, but I could be wrong about the context, what do you think?”

“That does not seem correct given Scriptures A, B, and C, but perhaps I am missing something. Do you see something that I have missed?”

Now it is certainly possible that you can go overboard using these qualifiers, but especially on points of contention it would seem that such careful and qualified language should be the norm.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Responding to Telemarketers

Graeme Philipson's report on his visit to an Indian call centre is well worth reading, but I guess the link won't last forever. During his visit, he watched as Derek (Deepak to his friends) handled dozens of rejections and managed to complete only one of the surveys he was ringing with. He told Graeme that he averaged 3 completed surveys per hundred calls.

The typical Indian telemarketer is a university graduate. The work is complicated and requires skill, and for India, pays quite well.

A new worker in a call centre, armed with a university degree, earns about $300 a month. A programmer will earn about $500. That may not sound like a lot but it goes much further in a country where a good haircut costs a dollar and a new car less than $10,000.
For most people, a job in a call centre is a foot in the door, a starting position in an extremely large and competitive job market. Some of the jobs they do, like one I looked at that involves checking on the advice given by financial advisors to their clients, are very complex and involve months of training.
If someone has succeeded in a call centre for a year or two, they are much more likely to be hired for a more senior position. There is certainly no shortage of applicants.
You and I might regard unsolicited telephone calls from India or elsewhere as a bit of pain. It's certainly an irritation but it's also a massive business employing hundreds of thousands of people.

How should we respond to these calls? We can sign up to a list which tells members of the Australian Direct Marketing Association that we don't want calls, which may reduce the number we are faced with. But we will inevitably still receive some calls.

People love to boast about how they deal with these intrusions, but what is the Christian thing to do? Philipson's advice sounds easy, and he says it is best for the marketers, too. It may seem hilarious to send a very loud signal down the curly cordline, or say Just a minute and leave the poor telemarketer waiting for a caller who never returns, but simply saying I'm not interested, thanks and hanging up gets the intrusion out of your life, and enables the marketer to get on with trying to complete the surveys.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Stronger Church: I Stand Rebuked - Gratefully

Stronger Church: I Stand Rebuked - Gratefully

This terrific blog from Peter Bogert is a great reminder that though we are involved in God's work when we share his message, it is his message, not ours, and he is in charge, not us.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Disciple's Journal: The summer school of missions: Signs that may make you wonder

Disciple's Journal: The summer school of missions: Signs that may make you wonder

Dave Taylor's article is a good follow up to my comments about the importance of supporting Christian missions which go where no Christian has gone before.

After categorising the globe into World A (unevangelized; e.g., Turkey, Iran, Niger), World B (evangelized non-Christian; e.g., Indonesia, India, Chad) and World C (Christian; e.g., US, UK, Kenya, Ukraine), Dave provides us with some sobering statistics from The World Christian Encyclopedia and World Christian Trends.

91% of Christian literature is consumed by, and 96% of all Christian radio and TV programming is aimed at, World C countries. Just 0.1% of Christian literature and radio/TV programming reaches World A countries.

"91% of all Christian outreach/evangelism does not target non-Christians but targets other Christians in World C countries, cities, peoples, populations, or situations." In other words, for every worker in an unreached area, there are nine trying to reach nominal Christians, the backslidden or those who already have access to Christian ministry in some form.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Where No Christian Has Gone Before

It all started with The Internet Monk. Michael Spencer wrote a post about some woefully inadequate well-intentioned, but misguided short-term ministry trips. I can't find the exact post, but this one has some helpful information about the small number of people who get to hear the gospel over and over, and the many who haven't heard, because no one has gone to tell them.

Michael points out that the most effective ministry is being done by organisations like Gospel For Asia, which aim to use locals to evangelise locals.

Until recently I was supporting a young man called David Raj, who is spreading God's Word in his own country of India. Due to a shortfall in finances this year, and now being involved in supporting a minister in my local church, I have had to give up regular support, though I continue to pray for him.

This morning I read the news that the very young man I was supporting has been arrested and imprisoned, along with his wife.

Please pray for David and the others who have been also beaten and treated shamefully, only because they are servants of Jesus Christ. Pray that God will be glorified in their faithfulness and that they will be speedily released so that they can go on presenting the message of God's love to people who have never previously heard it.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Faithful or Relevant?

The most basic practical division among evangelical pastors today may be between those who pursue faithfulness and assume relevance and those who pursue relevance and assume faithfulness.

This is part of Mark Dever's thought-provoking post at Together for the Gospel. Later in the article he cites a conversation with Don Carson, the gist of which was along these lines:
The first generation has the Gospel, the second generation assumes the Gospel, the third generation loses the Gospel.

Dever concludes with:
Consider what you and I will do to the Gospel message in our churches if we continue to change the "presentation" of the Gospel until we begin to get a response.

Pursue faithfulness and relevance. Know that the Gospel is always relevant. NEVER assume the Gospel.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Allthings2all: The Merciful Stripper

Allthings2all: The Merciful Stripper

I enjoy reading Catez' posts at her blog All things2all. This is one of her special ones: outstanding even for Catez.

I came across Cynthia's response to the story before I read the story itself. Makes you think.

Friday, June 16, 2006


A thought-provoking blog from a bible translator in Mozambique. Well worth a visit.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Jerome's Playground Joy

Women Exploited During World Cup

This article in Christianity Today shows that the World Cup is being used as a vehicle for exploitation of women through the sex trade fostered by Germany's legalisation of prostitution in 2003. Although there are already 400,000 prostitutes in Germany, another 40,000 licenses have been issued to allow more women to prostitute themselves during the World Cup.

The World Cup cities are permitting sex huts to be set up around the stadiums like Port-a-loos, fitted out with condoms and snacks.

An enlightening and disturbing article.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Bible software

In 1995, I purchased a PC so that I could use the BibleWorks program. It was a great program then, but it has so much more capability now than it had 11 years ago [partly due to the way computers have developed, but also due ot the painstaking work of Michael Bushell and his team]. The program is not inexpensive, but it is well worth the asking price, due to the excellent aftersales service you get, and the way the program is continually updated and upgraded.

The best free program is e-sword, which has lots of bible versions not available in BibleWorks. It is a great program, especially when you consider it is provided free of charge. It has nothing like the capabilities of BibleWorks, but the price is right! The developer offers the program free of charge, and so far there have been over 3 million downloads of the program. About 1% of these people pay a suggested $15 USD, for which the developer sends them a CD ROM which contains most features of the program. You can download it free of charge, but having a CD can be convenient. I've used the 2 I've purchased so far to give away to spread the word about this great program.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Mere Theology

Mere Theology, Brian Hedges's blog is a great site to visit. At the moment he has a useful annotated guide to commentaries on Ephesians that is worth bookmarking.

Serious Rugby Humour

I love these jokes from David Ould's journal. Please don't think this means I'm a sport fan. I still think a soccer coach has 4 wheels, and I have to say that
Tennis is not my racquet
Piano is more my forte.

Saturday, June 03, 2006


Steve Camp is a faithful gospel musician who writes inspiringly in his blog. I love reading his comments on the church, the music industry and on the state of Christian music.

Forgive me, Steve, but I have not yet heard a note of your music! If it is as good as your blog, I'm missing out!

Australia Says Thanks

Today has been proclaimed as an Aussie national day of thanksgiving. I particularly appreciated our governor general's thanksgiving message in which he urged us to give thanks to God and to one another for those who improve the lives of others in our community.

I'm grateful for
my mother who led me to Christ at the age of 5, enabling me to have a long life of enjoying the riches of being part of God's family

my lovely wife, Joan who has been a terrific companion for over 30 years

my four terrific kids: Daniel, Justin, Cathy and David

a great church
and a brand new minister who arrives today

the wonderful Christian blogging community
and other stuff too numerous to mention!