Sunday, March 29, 2009

A great resource

I'm continuing to enjoy wading through the ESV Study Bible. After reading rapidly through the TNIV, a repackaging of it called The Books of the Bible: a presentation of Today's New International Version, The NIV Archaeological Study Bible, The ESV Reformation Study Bible and the New Jerusalem Study Bible I'm convinced that the ESV Study Bible is a superior aid to understanding the text and message of the Bible. All of the study bibles listed have good qualities, and all are useful to read through, [though you'd need to be reading the NJSB critically, as it does not take a sufficently high view of the Bible as the Word of God], but the ESV Study Bible has so many wonderful treasures: if you could only afford one, I'd definitely tell you to go for this one.

This morning I've been reading Psalms and am very grateful for the terrific job John Collins has done with his introduction and notes. One thing he keeps pointing out is how often the Old Testament writers go back to Exodus 34:5-7
The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. 6 The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
Though I've read through 7 other Bibles over the past three and a half years [I've also read through The New Living Translation, 2nd edition and the Good News Bible, Australian edition], I had not picked up on this and am grateful that Collins keeps showing us what a central passage that Exodus one is.

It is going to take another 2 years or more to complete this read through, based on my current slow rate, but the journey is wonderful.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Barry Humphries' Australia

Cited in a talk by Dominic Steele, which I listened to today.
Australia is a Saturday with races on the trannie
Australia is the talcy smell of someone else's granny
Australia is a kiddie with zinc cream on his nose
Australia's voice is Melba's voice, it's also Normie Rowe's
Australia's famous postage stamps are stuffed with flowers and fauna
Australia is the little man who's open round the corner
Australia is a sunburnt land of sand and surf and snow
All ye who will not love her, ye know where ye can go!

Greased Grudem

This video is lots of fun. And a nice tribute to a much-maligned godly man.

No Peace in Peace Park

On Thursday, Joan and I bought some fish and chips and headed off to Peace Park for lunch and our second game of Scrabble for the day. The second game had nothing to do with the fact that Joan had beaten me by about 150 points in the first one, did it?

It was a lovely afternoon, though quite windy. We had to rescue our sheets of two letter words more than once. [Knowing the allowable two letter words is a big factor in getting a decent score.]

But suddenly there was a very loud noise. It sounded like a motor mower, or at least something motorised.

We discovered that a zealous council worker was leaf-blowing. The path had the odd leaf on it, but blowing them off did seem like overkill because the wind would have quickly blown the few leaves on the path right back on again.

Peace, peace but there is no peace? to misquote Isaiah ben Amoz

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


On Australian ABC TV's 7.30 Report tonight, there was discussion of the huge amounts Macquarie Bank executives have received and also a segment about the desperately poor in Lahore, Pakistan.

One Macquarie Bank exec managed to score $24 million in one year! A father in Lahore has taken his 11 year old son out of school because he can't afford it and has him working for 40 cents per day, for eleven hours work! Dad, who drives a motorised rickshaw earns $4 per day.

What an obscene juxtaposition!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

From Tim, Ray and Jim

Tim noted it, Ray quoted it, but Jim wroted it!
"If our theology does not quicken the conscience and soften the heart, it actually hardens both; if it does not encourage the commitment of faith, it reinforces the detachment of unbelief; if it fails to promote humility, it inevitably feeds pride."
Jim Packer, that is, in A Quest For Godliness.
Thanks Tim

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Evaluating relative importance of Bible teachings

In the ESV Study Bible, there is an interesting overview of Bible doctrine by Erik Thoennes. In this article, he has a short statement on discerning the relative importance of theological issues. Thoennes groups these into four categories:
(1) absolutes define the core beliefs of the Christian faith;
(2) convictions, while not core beliefs, may have significant impact on the health and effectiveness of the church;
(3) opinions are less-clear issues that generally are not worth dividing over; and
(4) questions are currently unsettled issues. These categories can be best visualized as concentric circles, similar to those on a dart board, with the absolutes as the “bull's-eye”

But how do you decide which is which? Isn't everything important? What should we be prepared to give ground on? What really matters? What is worth standing for?

Phoennes gives some guidance here:
Where an issue falls within these categories should be determined by weighing the cumulative force of at least seven considerations:
(1) biblical clarity;
(2) relevance to the character of God;
(3) relevance to the essence of the gospel;
(4) biblical frequency and significance (how often in Scripture it is taught, and what weight Scripture places upon it);
(5) effect on other doctrines;
(6) consensus among Christians (past and present); and
(7) effect on personal and church life.
These criteria for determining the importance of particular beliefs must be considered in light of their cumulative weight regarding the doctrine being considered. For instance, just the fact that a doctrine may go against the general consensus among believers (see item 6) does not necessarily mean it is wrong, although that might add some weight to the argument against it. All the categories should be considered collectively in determining how important an issue is to the Christian faith. The ability to rightly discern the difference between core doctrines and legitimately disputable matters will keep the church from either compromising important truth or needlessly dividing over peripheral issues.

I appreciate these guidelines, but they still leave me wondering how you know what is less important, and whether it is acceptable to compromise over the lesser issues.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Bettina on Lateline

When Ms Arndt spoke on Lateline on Monday night, she reinforced what was said in the excerpt from her article in the Good Weekend. There was almost no mention of the bits Paul Sheehan emphasised in Monday's Herald.

Emily Maguire mostly agreed with her, which didn't make for good television. Bring back the biff! [Only joking.]

Jean's blog, referred to in an earlier post, gives a fair summary of the article and this was reflected in the discussion last night.

Monday, March 02, 2009

However ...

If you read Paul Sheehan's column in today's Sydney Morning Herald, you will discover that while the article excerpted from Bettina Arndt's The Sex Diaries seems to articulate a view Christians would approve of, her book as a whole does not, if Mr Sheehan has correctly reported what it says.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Bettina Arndt on Sex

It's interesting to see a secular article in a secular newspaper saying the same things about sex which some Christians (and, more importantly, God - thanks for the reminder, Carmelina!) have been saying for years.

This is the beginning of Jean's helpful post about Bettina Arndt's article, excerpted from her book, The Sex Diaries, in Saturday's Good Weekend.
If you want to read the rest, see Jean's blog,In All Honesty