Monday, October 24, 2016

Moving times!

For a couple of weeks this blog will likely be very light on posting ... Theology House (my workplace) along with the Anglican Centre of the Diocese of Christchurch are moving from current locations at St Peter's Upper Riccarton Christchurch to the first floor of a building at 10 Logistics Drive Harewood Christchurch. (It is a rather large first floor ... 1000 m sq).

For Theology House this will be our fourth move since the 2011 earthquake but we are grateful that we have been just over four years in our most recent location.

Various decisions need to be made in the next few days, the packers come Friday 28th October and unpacking takes place from Monday 31st October. With a library to move, IT to set up, who knows when life will feel "normal" again :). And I must be focused on the move and not on the blog ...

Anyway, here is one item that caught my eye over this weekend: two high profile Kiwis converted to Christ and baptised into one of our leading episcopal churches!

It is always good to hear the testimonies of those in whom God is working in particular ways.

Postscript: here is a quite different post, somewhat "terrifying"!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Orwellian or American?

The SBL (of which I am a member) is banning the IVP Press (of which books, I do read) from having a display at the annual SBL Conference in November this year (the largest Biblical studies conference in the world).

Rod Dreher has a go at what this means.

Is this Orwells' 1984 come upon us?

Or just the peculiarity of binary USA?

Friday, October 21, 2016

Mike Hawke, Dean of Nelson

Possibly the best known (i.e. most widely known) priest in our church today is Mike Hawke, former Vicar of St Christopher's Avonhead (one of our largest parishes) and currently Church Support/Projects Officer for the Anglican Missions Board of our church. In this current role he has visited most of our parishes as well as many spheres of our overseas mission, especially in the Pacific region.

 Mike is on the move. He will be the next Dean of Nelson Cathedral, his first Sunday is 11 December 2016.

As a former member of that Diocese I am very pleased (as I know many people are) that Mike will have this role.

Life will have come full circle for Mike and his new Bishop, Richard Ellena: they were once curates together in Timaru!

Our greatest Anglican theologian?

Yeah, yeah, I know.

Ask the question in the title of this post and there are many contenders and no obvious Barth/Luther/Calvin/Augustine/Aquinas standout.

The contenders include: Hooker, Jewel, Ryle, Maurice, ++Ramsey, Sykes, Macquarrie, ++Williams. [Some might cheekily pop John Wesley or Cardinal Newman on the list :)].

The last name on my list would probably get the nod in a popular vote because very, very well known around Anglicanland as greatest ever theological ABC, etc.

But there is another name to consider, the late John Webster, and some reasons why are given in this obituary written by Kevin J. Vanhoozer (H/T Bryden Black).

Here is a sample paragraph, deliberately chosen because it mentions a "hot topic" here at ADU ...

"Like John, I too was searching for a way out of the desert of criticism–a way out of the methodological morass of modernity and into the Promised Land of dogmatics and doxology, where I could use language to speak well of, and praise, God. In particular, I came across John’s essay on “The Dogmatic Location of the Canon” (reprinted in Word and Church), in which he re-established the canon, and sola scriptura, in its magisterial place over the church, in contrast to postliberals who were in danger of collapsing Scripture into the tradition of its ecclesial use. I admired the boldness of the essay, its clear argumentation, and its thoroughly theological approach."

See also this excerpt from an article by Ivor Davidson (whole article behind paywall).

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The power of the message

I am working on material for the next Theology House Lenten Studies book, Risk: Through Lent with Acts (January, 2017). In Acts 20:32, Paul farewelling the Ephesian elders says,

"And now I commend you to God and to the message of his grace."

A first thought is that commending someone to God's grace is sufficient so the additional "and to the message of his grace" is unexpected. Why?

An implication is that God chooses both to work in the believer through his indwelling Spirit and also through the medium of his Word, the message of his grace, the gospel.

God can and does build us up through the Spirit working within each believer but also through the medium of the Word.

This message of grace, Paul continues in Acts 20:32, is

"a message that is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all who are sanctified."

In the particular context of Paul's warning of savage wolves threatening to tear the flock of God apart in Ephesus, he is saying that a critical factor in preventing the savagery is attention to the message of God's grace.

This is an always pertinent message to the church in every era and every place.

In terms of some currents in the church today, it is also a message which reminds us that the power to nurture the soul does not lie solely in the "ministry of the Sacrament." Vital to Christian growth, steadfastness and liveliness is the "ministry of the Word."

Monday, October 17, 2016

World War Three, coming ready or not?

Just to set the scene for why Christians along with all humanity should be troubled by the way the world is this day in this year in this century, Archbishop Cranmer posts about horrible, terrible treatment of faithful Christians in Aleppo. (The post is here, it is disturbing, you may not want to read it and just rely on the preceding sentence). There is a reason why Assad is fighting so malevolently with Putin's aid against the rebels in Aleppo. It is not pretty. It is humanity at its second worst but there is a plausible argument that if the rebels win we will see humanity at its worst.

Who knows how this may all turn out. We have an election in America which may or may not significantly steer the geopolitical calculations. Europe is something of a powder keg. It is no longer rocket science to contemplate World War Three is either round the corner or even has just begun. Today, however, because talk of WW3 seems not to be in the central vocabulary of the MSM, I am intrigued to open our local Christchurch Press and read a reprinted article from the Washington Post, titled "Are the Russians really preparing for war?"

As a reader I am, to be honest, suspicious that the Press is printing the article as a slightly amusing insight into how a slightly deranged society is thinking, i.e. it is not printed for the good citizens of Christchurch/Canterbury to be in any way disturbed or terrified.

But shouldn't we be just a little bit worried (humanly speaking - God has everything in hand as Lord of history)?

Also in my reading this morning, an article about Terry Eagleton's take on the conflict between religion and the "new atheism." That is disturbing reading, IMHO! We are in the mess we are in, both politically and theologically/philosophically because we in the West have stuffed up!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

All Blacks can't win off the field!

OK, having caught your attention with the post title (called in the trade "clickbait", I am told), let me share a couple of items of news before getting to another AB loss off the field ... or is it?

News item one: I did not realise we had any current Kiwi vicars who have served 35 years in the one parish, but this report tells us about Graham Colley who is retiring after that period of time as Vicar of Thames (Auckland Diocese). Congratulations Graham!

New item two: the other day, journeying up the Peel Forest area to visit the Ecolodge I thought about seeing how progress was going with post-quake repairs to the Church of the Holy Innocents. Time was too short but not to worry as this report tells us both of progress and a snag.

Recently rugby players in NZ have incurred and/or received bad press re bad boy behaviour, notably one of our current All Blacks. Cue justified questions about whether the culture of rugby is getting out of hand. But there has also been some tut-tutting and harrumphing which may have gotten out of hand itself. Anyway, I read this morning about Our Best Ever All Black Coach, His Holiness Steve Hansen being invited to speak at a business conference arranged by the Exclusive Brethren.

The article is an interesting read, not least because it raises the question whether the EBs are changing! But here is the thing, the political tone of the article is critical because the EBs once supported the National Party in a slightly dodgy way. The implication seems to be that Steve Hansen should not be consorting with such folk.

So, here's the thing, as one wag identified on the internet, but in my own words: The All Blacks cannot win off the field. If it is not bad behaviour with women they are being criticised for, it is good behaviour with godly folk!