You will be saddened to hear that Kingsley Barrett, my predecessor, died last night (6.30 pm, 26.08.11) - aged 94. He was the greatest UK commentator on NT texts since J. B. Lightfoot, and much loved by a wide range of Methodist chapels to which he ministered for about 60 years. He will be much missed, but his commentaries will live on for many years, providing information and insight to future generations of students of the NT."
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Friday, August 26, 2011
Dealing with a time when "Christians" were moving towards separation from the movement's Jewish origins, this inaugural volume of A People's History of Christianity tells "the people's story" by gathering together evidence from the New Testament texts, archaeology, and other contemporary sources. Of particular interest to the distinguished group of scholar-contributors are the often overlooked aspects of the earliest "Christian" consciousness: How, for example, did they manage to negotiate allegiances to two social groups? How did they deal with crucial issues of wealth and poverty? What about the participation of slaves and women in these communities? How did living in the shadow of the Roman Empire color their religious experience and economic values?
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Eugene Nida, the giant of Bible translation in the twentieth century, died in hospital in Brussels on August 25. He was 96. Conveying the news, his widow Elena said, “My adored husband has passed away 10 minutes ago. Thank you for your prayers. He was a saint. The Lord is with him.”
For more than 50 years Eugene Nida was the leader of the translation program of the American Bible Society, and subsequently the intellectual leader of the global program of the United Bible Societies, as well as consultant to that organisation.
Dr Nida will be best remembered for the revolution he brought about in the field of Bible translation in the mid-twentieth century. The resulting impact on the growth and development of the Church continues to be felt as millions of people in hundreds of languages around the world have access to the Bible because of the approach he developed and promoted.
Lewis experienced, in other words, both the emotional and the intellectual pain of Absence—not just the absence of his wife, but the immense Absence of God. The “dark night of the soul.” In his words,
“Meanwhile, where is God? When you are happy, so happy you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be — or so it feels— welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. . . . Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?”
What disturbs Lewis most at first is not the thought that God does not exist. Rather, it is the thought that he does, and that he may inflict pain from motives that we do not recognize as positive or even ethical: What reason have we, except our own desperate wishes, to believe that God is, by any standard we can conceive, ‘good’? Doesn’t all the prima facie evidence suggest exactly the opposite? What have we to set against it?” But even this angry thought, written early in his notebooks, he soon subjects to cooler judgment: “I wrote that last night. It was a yell rather than a thought.”
Yelling at God in times of darkness has a long history, beginning with Jesus himself: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” A vivid cinematic example occurs in Robert Duvall’s movie “The Apostle,” when evangelist Sonny Dewey, who has had his own share of darkness, paces up an down in his room, abusing God in a loud voice. “I love you, Lord,” he bellows, “but I’m mad at you!” Below, his mother is awoken by a phone call from a neighbor, complaining of her son’s raucousness. She only grins and says, “I tell ya ever since he was an itty bitty boy, sometimes he talks to the Lord and sometimes he yells at the Lord, and tonight he just happens to be yellin’ at him.” Somehow I think Jesus intercedes for those in pain and darkness who yell at the Father.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Nothing expresses the intensity of this loss better than Mother Teresa’s own words: “Now Father—since 49 or 50 this terrible sense of loss—this untold darkness—this loneliness—this continual longing for God—which gives me that pain deep down in my heart.—Darkness is such that I really do not see—neither with my mind nor with my reason.—The place of God in my soul is blank.—There is no God in me.—When the pain of longing is so great—I just long & long for God—and then it is that I feel—He does not want me—He is not there.—Heaven—souls—why these are just words—which mean nothing to me.—My very life seems so contradictory. I help souls—to go where?—Why all this? Where is the soul in my very being? God does not want me.—Sometimes—I just hear my own heart cry out—“My God” and nothing else comes.—The torture and pain I can’t explain.”
Neuner’s response was wise and to the point—and it freed Mother Teresa to continue her ministry in the assurance that this terrible experience of spiritual darkness was in itself both a confirmation and a magnification of the vocation God had given her: “My answer to the confession of these pages was simple: there was no indication of any serious failure on her part which could explain the spiritual dryness. It was simply the dark night of which all masters of spiritual life know—though I never found it so deeply, and for so many years as in her. There is no human remedy against it. It can be borne only in the assurance of God’s hidden presence and of the union with Jesus who in His passion had to bear the burden and darkness of the sinful world for our salvation. The sure sign of God’s hidden presence in this darkness is the thirst for God, the craving for at least a ray of His light. No one can long for God unless God is present in his/her heart. Thus the only response to this trial is the total surrender to God and the acceptance of the darkness in union with Jesus.”
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
If 90% of children who grow up in Evangelical homes accept the Gospel, but only 20% of them are still following Jesus as adults, could their be something wrong with our Gospel?
What if we are preaching a weak Gospel?
What if the Gospel we preach isn't the Apostolic Gospel, or the Gospel that Jesus preached?
In The King Jesus Gospel, Scot McKnight challenges our assumption about the good news, and suggests that at its core the Gospel is the declaration that Jesus is Messiah and Lord, and that the story of Jesus completes the story of Israel in a way that saves.
Monday, August 22, 2011
The jar, just 16 inches (40 centimeters) tall and dating back about 1,800 years, was found shattered into an unrecognizable 180 pieces in a room at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology. But even after it was restored, the scientists were faced with a mystery. So far no one has been able to identify another artifact like it from . "Everyone's stumped by it," Katie Urban, one of the researchers at the London, Ontario, museum, told LiveScience. "We've been sending it around to all sorts of Roman pottery experts and other pottery experts, and no one seems to be able to come up with an example."
Another possibility is that the jar was used to store dormice, rodents found throughout Europe; ancient texts suggest the mice were a popular snack for Romans. ( suggests eating a dormouse "stuffed with a forcemeat of pork and small pieces of dormouse meat trimmings, all pounded with pepper, nuts, laser, broth." Then, "put the dormouse thus stuffed in an earthen casserole, roast it in the oven, or boil it in the stock pot.") Urban said the problem with this theory is that dormice jars from elsewhere in the Roman world look different from this vessel. The rodent jars were equipped with a ramp that mice could run along and use to help store food within the holes.