Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How many books in the Bible?

Protestants and Roman Catholics share the whole of the New Testament and 39 books of the Old Testament, though Esther and Daniel have a few additions in the Roman Catholic Bible, and their Bible includes 6 extra books
and First and Second Maccabees

The Catholic Encyclopedia says that they have 45 books in the Old Testament and 27 in the New, making a total of 72 books.

Protestants will tell you that we have 66 books in our Bibles: the same 27 in our New Testaments and 39 in our Old Testament.
But several of these books should really be grouped together. Exodus-Numbers is really one continuous narrative, Samuel-Kings is really one book [and divided in illogical places in our Bibles], Chronicles is also one book, as are Ezra and Nehemiah. So our Old Testament is really a collection of 31 books. The Books of the Bible: a presentation of Today's New International Version also joins Chronicles with Ezra-Nehemiah, but this is not done in the Tenach [the Jewish Old Testament].

There is also one modification to make in the New Testament, because Luke-Acts is really one work in two volumes, thus reducing the New Testament to 26 books, giving us a total of 57 books in a Protestant Bible.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Is Richard Dawkins still evolving?

This is a most interesting article in The Spectator by Melanie Phillips. Richard Dawkins makes some telling admissions in his most recent debate.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Great Aussie blogs

There are some fabulous Australian blogs that have been very helpful to me. Jean Williams' one, to which I have linked, is called in all honesty and helps me to get some insight into a woman's point of view, and also has terrific thoughts on living as a Christian and also about teaching aspects of Christian truth.
I guess most of Jean's readers are sheilas, but I reckon the blokes are missing out if they don't read and consider what she has to say.

Five ways to pray the Psalms

Another helpful article on prayer by Ben Patterson, in Christianity Today.His five points?
1. Say them out loud.
2. Festoon them, as you would a Christmas tree. Add your prayers to them.
3. Paraphrase them.
4. Learn them by heart. Come to understand them so well you can recite them — by inflection and tone — as though you had written them yourself. This is by far the best way I know to learn to pray the Psalms. I can think of no more powerful way to allow the Word of God to change who you are and how you think. Over the years, the prayers of the Psalms have offered incomparable comfort and clarity in desperate, murky, and confusing situations, when I didn't have a worthwhile word of my own to say—when I quite literally didn't have a prayer.
5. Marinate in them. Some people use the Bible like they use spice to liven up the taste of food—a little Tabasco here, some salt and pepper and oregano there; a particular psalm to read when you are (check one) sad or glad or afraid or lonely or struggling with doubt. But it's better to use the Psalms as you would a marinade. A spice touches only the surface of the food; a marinade changes its character. The soul should marinate in Scripture by repeated, thoughtful, slow, comprehensive, and Spirit-enlightened reading.

Learning to pray

Our Bible study group has begun to study Prayer, using passages in the Bible about praying, talks by Phillip Jensen and a Matthias Media booklet called Bold I Approach.
Jensen's first talk on Psalm 115 was very helpful.

I also appreciate what I have read in the linked article from Christianity Today. Here is a little of what the author, Ben Patterson had to say
... prayer is more than a means to get God to give us what we want. It is a means he uses to teach us to want what he wants. Holy Scripture in general, and the Psalms in particular, teach us who God is and what he wants to give.

When the members of his synagogue complained that the words of the liturgy did not express what they felt, Abraham Heschel, the great philosopher of religion, replied wisely and very biblically. He told them that the liturgy wasn't supposed to express what they felt; they were supposed to feel what the liturgy expressed. To be taught by the Bible to pray is to learn to want and feel what the Bible expresses.

Those who practice this kind of prayer over time make a surprising discovery: As they learn to feel what the Psalms express, their hearts and desires are enlarged. They find that what they once regarded as strong desires were actually weak, puerile little wishes, debased inklings of what is good. Of course! Would not the God who made us in his own image understand better than we ever could what we really need? And shouldn't we ask him for it? As C. S. Lewis put it in "The Weight of Glory":

Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

We are part of the church nearest to our house ...

I love this cartoon and love the important exceptions for why we cross town to go to church.

Learning grammar

It has been reported that the teaching of grammar in English lessons is back on the agenda in Australian schools.
In the 60s, we were taught grammar in primary school by some teachers, and by a few in high school, but not all.
I found it much easier to understand when I studied French in high school and later Hebrew and Greek in theological college.
It was much easier to come to grips with when I had another language to compare and contrast English grammar with.
But I understand that more and more languages are being taught to fewer students these days.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

End of one project, beginning of a new

Yesterday I completed my project of reading through the Bible in the innovative The Books of the Bible - a presentation of Today's New International Version, which is a Bible without chapters, verses or headings, organised more logically than the standard form in which Protestant Bibles are printed.

I found the introductions to books very helpful, and the lack of references and footnotes enticing, and completed this project faster than my previous read-throughs.

I've now begun reading The New Jerusalem Bible using a plan called Read the Bible and the Catechism in a Year, which I got from Felix Just's Ways of Reading the Bible webpage.

As always, I am adapting the chart to my own purposes. I'm not planning to read the catechism at this stage, but may do so later. This morning I read the first chapters of Genesis, Matthew, Proverbs and Tobit, as well as reading two Psalms and 1 Thessalonians.

One thing I've noticed so far is that God has three different names in the first four chapters of Genesis. In Genesis 1 he is God, Genesis 2 and 3 he is Yahweh God and in Genesis 4 he is Yahweh.

I also noticed that the NJB translates wrath as retribution.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Origin of Prayer of St Francis?

Belle prière à faire pendant la messe
Seigneur, faites de moi un instrument de votre paix.
Là où il y a de la haine, que je mette l'amour.
Là où il y a l'offense, que je mette le pardon.
Là où il y a la discorde, que je mette l'union.
Là où il y a l'erreur, que je mette la vérité.
Là où il y a le doute, que je mette la foi.
Là où il y a le désespoir, que je mette l'espérance.
Là où il y a les ténèbres, que je mette votre lumière.
Là où il y a la tristesse, que je mette la joie.

Ô Maître, que je ne cherche pas tant à être consolé qu'à consoler, à être compris qu'à comprendre, à être aimé qu'à aimer, car c'est en donnant qu'on reçoit, c'est en s'oubliant qu'on trouve, c'est en pardonnant qu'on est pardonné, c'est en mourant qu'on ressuscite à l'éternelle vie.

First attributed falsely to St Francis in 1927 by French Protestants, it may well be a Twentieth Century creation, though some blame William the Norman for it.
I like it, but some friends tell me it is dodgy theology.
This site gives you the good oil on its origins.

I reckon if you base all of your theology on it, you're in trouble, but if you squeeze it back into biblical theology, it certainly reminds us to think of others before ourselves, which Jesus taught us to do. You need to look elsewhere [like the Bible] for your Christology and soteriology, etc.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

What Does It MeanTo Deny Yourself?

Michael Mckinley cites John Stott's perceptive words in The Cross of Christ, regarding Jesus' statement in Mark 8:34:
To deny ourselves is to behave towards ourselves as Peter did towards Jesus when he denied him three times. The verb is the same (aparneomai). He disowned him, repudiated him, turned his back on him. Self-denial is not denying to ourselves luxuries such as chocolates, cakes, cigarettes and cocktails (although it might include this); it is actually denying or disowning ourselves, renouncing our supposed right to go our own way. ‘To deny oneself is… to turn from the idolatry of self-centeredness.’

Then Mark posted these words by Bonhoeffer:
The disciple must say to himself the same words Peter said of Christ when he denied him: “I know not this man.”