Archive for September, 2007

Excelente video with obvious, but creative visual metaphors.


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Tom Wright, being just brilliant, here. (streaming video)

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I read this entry over at the website of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church (part of the orthodox breakaway group CANA), and found myself totally stunned. I admit that I had never thought of Incense this way. While I don’t have any problem at all per se with the practice, to justify it’s use as being in continuation with OT worship seems to be going a wee bit too far for me.

Question: What is the reason for using incense?Is it sort of a high church thing?

Answer: Like many Christian liturgical practices, the use of incense goes back to the Old Testament where it figured regularly in the worship of God. The books of Exodus and Leviticus establish what might be called the “theology of incense”. Exodus 30 gives details of the altar of incense, an altar located in the tabernacle for the specific purpose of burning incense which was to be offered twice daily, in the morning and in the evening. The “fragrant incense” (Exodus 30:7) was an offering to God. In Leviticus 16:13 ( the Day of Atonement liturgy), the cloud of incense serves as a sign of God’s real yet mysterious presence. In Revelation 8:1-5 incense serves as a sign of the prayers of God’s people ascending to him (a notion which early Christians borrowed from Judaism). Incense still carries all these meanings when used in the church today and has less to do with style (high or low church) than with theology, that the worship of the Church maintains continuity with that of Israel.

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Dan Phillips blogs on this interesting and challenging topic.

Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is, no longer have the categories to understand it, no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories in their non-moral universe — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty.

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I am currently reading “Christian Counterculture” (well, rereading it) by John Stott and “The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God” by John Frame (thanks Becka).

Frame begins his discussion with an analysis of “The Biblical Concept of Lordship: (1) Lordship and Covenant”. Here, he casually mentions something “obvious” that I had not taken into account when struggling with the concept of Covenant and how it “works” within the Biblical narrative. Here’s a snippet (pp. 12-13):

First of all, lordship is a covenantal concept. “Lord” is the name God gives himself as head of the Mosaic Covenant (Exodus 3:13-15; 6:1-8; 20), and it is the name give to Jesus Christ as the head of the New Covenant (John 8:58; Acts 2:36; Rom. 14:9). We may, therefore, define Lordship as covenant headship.
Covenant may refer to a contract or agreement […] or to a type of relation between a lord and his servants […] everything and everybody is in covenant with God (cf. Isa. 24:5). The Creator-creature relation is a covenant relation, a Lord-servant relation. When the Lord singled out Israel as His special people to be Lord over them in a peculiar way, He was not giving them an absolutely unique status, rather, He was calling them essentially into the status that all men occupy but fail to acknowledge”.

The interesting thing here for me is to realise that the very “name” of God, the LORD, is a name that implys covenant, which tells you a lot about what God is like. It also helps understand what is going on in, for example, the Sermon on the Mount (Christian Counterculture): while the New Israel is not defined geopolitically-ethnically, they are nevertheless called to live as the covenant people of God, called to live as those who recognise who runs the show, as those who have entered a loving relationship with Him, on the basis of His mercy and faithfulness alone

That is, it’s an awesome reminder that the commands are not about obtaining “merit”, but rather living life in recognition of the fact that God (as lived out and witnessed in Jesus Himself) is Lord, with the certainty of it’s effects on the wider world (see for example, Mt. 5:16, 23-25, 38-48, etc). In other words, ethics, discipleship and discipline are not an antithesis to Grace, but rather flow from and are shaped by it (Titus 2:11-14).

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Michael Jensen blogs on the postmodern (I hesistate to use the word) critique of power in Scripture. I thought one of his footnotes summed it up best:

We may say further that for Castelli, Foucault’s works have become Holy Writ. She is, it turns out, gormlessly uncritical of him while being super-suspicious of Paul. Why doesn’t she do a Pauline reading of Foucault?

Really, all of this “hermeneutics of suspicion” is a powerplay itself: the substitution of the authority of Scripture, for more “suitable” alternatives…

Also, check out Michael’s final entry and personal response, here.


[…]the power critics have gone too far. What they have failed to see is the crucified form in which the Bible seeks to persuade its readers; which is to say, although the Bible witnesses to an Almighty God, it witnesses to him through the story of his sacrificial love for the world. The God of the gospel is a God who himself rules by dint of an act of submission to the powers of the earth. The very nature of the Bible’s message in fact relativizes human attempts at domination: it is a power protest of its own.

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Gotta love these “unorthodox” but engaging and original ways of reaching the unchurched. And I’m not being sarcastic.



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