Thursday, August 31, 2006

Who knows where the time goes?

Below is a paper I did as part of a module last semester. The idea was to try and outline the worldview(s) on display in five items of popular culture all on a similar theme. The theme I chose was 'the past' and the items included the lyrics from that Sandi Thom song, an episode of Dr Who and a children's book. You might find it interesting, it might even get you thinking about your own attitude towards the past and how that does/doesn't fit with the Christian message.

CW1.1 Social File: How does modern culture present the past?
‘I feel like the sixties is about to happen’ Sir Paul McCartney[1]

This paper aims to make some initial observation and analysis about how the past is depicted in modern Britain. It seems evident that how we relate to our recent and more distant past, both collectively and individually, whether that relationship is one of upholding the traditions of an ancestral heritage or of rebellion against the antiquities of a less enlightened era, indicates a great deal about the values and identity of a society. It is the conjecture of this paper that 21st century British society relates to the past somewhat schizophrenically, with a variety of often conflicting attitudes, and that this in itself may be an indication of the fragmentation of society under relativistic pluralism and postmodernism. Five sources have been picked for the making of these observations, and we will deal with each in turn before making some concluding comments based on their collective witness.

Daily Telegraph ‘Ignorance is bliss for children tackling history‘[2]

This article argues that modern schoolchildren are largely ignorant of historical facts. In particular the article emphasises the disparity between historical and fictional knowledge by opening with some statistics about the number of children who mistakenly thought the Spanish Armada was defeated by a mixture of fictional and historical figures.

If true, the findings of the report suggest a society increasingly disconnected from its history. The article is clearly critical of this development, suggesting that there are some (at least the newspaper and its intended readership) who would bemoan this disconnectedness and thus place some value on historical learning.

Doctor Who: ‘The Unquiet Dead’[3]

Although as a whole a popular television series based on time-travelling has much to say about modern portrayal of the past, of immediate interest for this paper are two sets of relationships depicted in this particular episode, based in Victorian Cardiff of 1869.

Firstly, the relationship between Rose (the Doctor’s 21st century human companion, with whom the viewing public are undoubtedly intended to identify) and Gwyneth (a 19th century Maid) betrays an underlying condescending attitude towards the past. Gwyneth is portrayed as a pre-liberated and uneducated female figure, who is consequently embarrassed by the free attitude towards sex exhibited by Rose.[4] This attitude does not go entirely unchecked however, as later in the story Rose is rebuked for thinking Gwyneth simple, although this functions more as a plot device highlighting Gwyneth’s heroism in the climax.

Secondly, in the relationship between the Doctor (a time-travelling alien and hero of the show) and Charles Dickens (fictional depiction of the real 19th century author) there is an implicit air of superiority towards the Victorian worldview. Dickens is depicted as a sad figure nearing the end of his life. It soon emerges however that his troubles stem largely from his sense of having the world figured out, as manifested in his cynicism towards the spectacular events of the story,[5] leading him into argument with the Doctor. Dickens reveals that he has spent his life battling those who peddle fanatical illusions that don’t fit with his rationalistic worldview. By the end of the story Dickens’ experience has brought him round to the Doctor’s point of view, restoring his zest for life; he concludes ‘there are more things in heaven and on earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy, even you Doctor’. Dickens is in some ways a representative of the modernist enlightenment worldview, needing to learn that his rationalism cannot lead him to absolute truth such that he has the universe figured out. In some respects it could be asserted that the Doctor is the representative of postmodernism, his openness to other ideas and perspectives is because of his loftier perspective over history than anyone else – something which postmodernism implicitly claims for itself (the ability to see the strengths, weaknesses and subjectivity of past worldviews). The episode suggests a positive attitude towards change and sees history as a matter of positive progression and growth.

Horrible Histories: The Vile Victorians.[6]

There are many recurrent themes in this popular children’s book. Three in particular stand out as regards this paper’s study on modern attitudes towards the past; firstly, an interest in the history of entertainment (even pop culture perhaps),[7] secondly a focus on historical trivia,[8] and thirdly a frequent focus on the human angle of history.[9]

Together these add up to a presentation of ‘history as entertainment’. No doubt this is shaped by the fact that the book is for children and is combating for their attention in the age of television. The underlying message of the book is that history is worth being interested in because of its entertainment value. [10] Very little direct attempt is made to be didactic, either about the major figures or events of the Victorian era.

Sandi Thom: ‘I Wish I was a punk rocker with flowers in my hair’[11]

The lyrics of this popular chart song suggest a number of attitudes towards history. It underlines the idea of history as entertainment by its overall feel. Also, the desire to be a ‘punk rocker’ is no doubt sincere but is delivered tongue-in-cheek - the past is something to look back on with amusement, especially if it involves antiquated fashion styles. The focus on pop culture is thus present again. However, a number of distinctive elements emerge on a closer examination.

In particular the song presents an idealisation of the past. This is perhaps a sincere reflection on what the writer feels has been lost by here own generation, though it is difficult to tell. This partly because it is difficult to ascertain exactly what it is about the recent past that the song is extolling. As such, the pastiche approach to pop history in which ‘punk’ and ‘hippy’ values are sandwiched together, rides roughshod over the fact that these two sociological movements were in many ways distinct and at times conflicting (punk being disillusioned, nihilistic, sometimes self-loathing, whereas hippy culture somewhat more optimistic and self-affirming). This is hardly the point however, since the song is not an attempted discourse on the previous generation and their values, the point is to evoke feelings of nostalgia about a vague ‘never-land’ when things were better. Relativistic pluralism inevitably leads to this kind of scavenging the past in order to recycle it, thereby disconnecting elements from the original metanarrative which gave them meaning.

The song probably therefore reflects an approach to the past which draws on many of the values of Romanticism (which judges aesthetically rather than logically), albeit with a pop culture sheen. The thing to be extolled is not the ideas or events of the past but the (imagined?) feeling of innocence evoked by remembering the days before mobile phones rules the world.[12]

In many ways this interesting website merely advances on many of the themes which emerged in the Sandi Thom song. The past is there for our amusement rather than our learning. This being an internet site there is an emphasis on personal choice. The site promotes itself as an opportunity to experience refuge from adult responsibility, claiming that if the past is another country ‘then each of us is a passport-carrying citizen of that land’[13] and that whilst

‘once there was a time to set aside childish things and get on with life’s journey…our childish things are no longer so easily set aside’[14]

The past is thus presented as being for our self-indulgence and escapism.


If representative, these five items indicate that modern-day Britain has something of a varied (perhaps almost schizophrenic) attitude towards the past. There are times when we feel superior to it, perhaps stemming from our postmodern critique of modernism.[15] Similarly however there is evidence that we feel nostalgic and sentimental about the past, viewing it idealistically from the difficulties we face in the present as a time when things were better, simpler and more pure than now.

On the other hand these items suggest we may be fundamentally ignorant of the past, even whilst we yearn for it. Little attempt is made at a popular level to learn from the past, to assess what it is we may have lost or gained in the passing of the last generation or the last century. We’d rather, it seems, be entertained by the embarrassing fashion errors of yesteryear. This may well stem from the rampant individualism which disconnects people from community values past and present. However, some see modern disconnectedness from history as negative.
This complex picture should be no surprise; it is to be expected in a society were there is no meta-narrative or collective truth, only individuals and their ‘truths’. Likewise, a society that embraces ideological relativistic pluralism should, by definition, include a wide range of approaches to its own history, and be able to move seamlessly between them despite any apparent contradiction. A society (especially an affluent and materialistic one) which embraces relativistic pluralism should view its own history as yet another commodity, subject to the whims of personal taste.

[1] Barry Miles, Paul McCartney – Many years from now, (London: Vintage, 1997), p. i.
[2] The Daily Telegraph, ‘Ignorance is bliss for children tackling history’– 05/08/2004,
[3] Lee Gatiss, ‘Dr Who: The Unquiet Dead’, Originally broadcast on BBC1 2005,
[4] When Gwyneth (almost in awe) calls Rose a ‘wild thing’ Rose somewhat condescendingly tells her maybe it’s a good thing.
[5] The story is essentially a ghost story, although the ghosts turn out to be aliens!
[6] Terry Deary, Horrible Histories – The Vile Victorians, (London: Scholastic Publications, 1994).
[7] For example, ‘Victorian poems, plays and songs’ and ‘A question of Victorian sport’. Ibid., pp. 61-64.
[8] For example, the ‘Ten useless bits of information about Victoria’ includes details of her ‘bishopophobia’. The book contains many such fascinating trivia sections, including ‘Vile Victorian names’, ‘Victorian games you must never try’, ‘Weird Victorian superstitions’ and a true and false quiz about ‘Vile Victorian eating habits’. Ibid., pp. 16-21, 41, 55, 88, 90-91.
[9] For example, ‘A day in the life of a parlour maid’, ‘Vile Victorian child labour’, ‘Ten things you always wanted to know about a pauper’s funeral’. Ibid., pp. 28-31, 42-43, 86.
[10] The introductory section boasts ‘You may find that History is absolutely Horrible – but learning about it is horrible fascinating’. Ibid., p. 6.
[11] Purchased from the ‘itunes’ music store and therefore no publishing details given. A transcription of the lyrics accompanies this paper.
[13] Idem.
[14] Idem.
[15] Many of which may be valid. This paper is not seeking to argue for a rationalistic worldview, but rather to observe and comment on the (sometimes arrogant) attitude towards modernism present in our relationship to the past.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Proverbs 9 to download

My Sermon on Proverbs 9 is now available to listen to/download, should you be interested.

Click HERE to listen directly online.

Or go HERE to download it for saving and listening to at your leisure (right click, choose 'save target as').

All comments are welcome. Not sure I feel as happy about this one as Proverbs 8 one. Not sure I always got the whole Proverbs thing right.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Choose Wisdom

Below is a sermon plan for this sunday's sermon on Proverbs 9 (I trust if you are going to be there on sunday you'll look away now).

Main teaching point: The choice between wisdom and folly is the choice between life and death, between teach-ability and stubborn arrogance.

Biblical Theology: The choice between wisdom and folly is crystallised in the ministry of Jesus Christ. Being teachable/open to correction equates to heeding Christ’s words, similarly the life offered by wisdom is received from him.

Rival voices in our culture compete for our allegiance and obedience. Ultimately the choice is between God’s wisdom (embodied in Christ) and the world’s wisdom (folly). Proverbs 9 depicts this choice by making two contrasts, between on the one hand 2 invitations we can accept and on the other hand between two types of listener we can be.

1. We must choose between 2 invitations - life from wisdom or death from folly (1-6, 13-18)

Wisdom and Folly personified and contrasted. Folly a cracked mirror-image of Wisdom, a doppelganger. Both have set up house, both have prepared a banquet, both invite the simple/gullible.
The difference is deadly. The food on offer from Wisdom is life/insight – being able to make sense of life and live it properly/successfully, true life. Folly on the other hand offers tantalising illicit pleasures, but those who dine with her are dead. Folly promises pleasure but serves up death.

Folly’s many guises today (the different ways we can choose to run our lives and how they lead to death).
Whose banquet are you going to dine at?

2. We can be one of two types of listener - foolish and arrogant or wise and humble (7-12)

The scoffer is proud and arrogant and unable to bear criticism/change their way of life and will therefore never submit to God’s wisdom (in fact hates it).
The wise man however is distinguished by his teach-ability and openness to correction (and therefore loves God’s wisdom) – this amounts to humble fear of the LORD the author of life.

The importance of being open to correction by God’s wisdom. The danger of pride.
Matthew 7:24-27. The choice between being wise/foolish, between life/death is seen ultimately in how we listen to Jesus’ words – he is God’s wisdom and to be wise is to listen to him in rebuke and correction. To 'fear the LORD' is to bow the knee to him.
What type of listener are you going to be?

Eating Exegesis

To what extent should we be bound by the restraints of 'original authorial intent' (i.e. what we think the original writer meant by/understood his words to mean) when we read the bible?

Proverbs 9:5 is an interesting case study for this sort of question. Lady Wisdom is speaking and invites the simple to her banquet where they will find life. The point is obvious, listening to and following wisdom's teachings means receiving life. However, Lady Wisdom chooses a very particular combination of foods to describe her enticing life-giving banquet;

"Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed"

Using purely grammatical-historical exegesis we'd perhaps want to limit ourselves to saying that these would've been common fare at your average banquet, or perhaps maybe indicative of basic foodstuff, or something along those lines. We certainly would be very cautious about leaping from Proverbs 9:5 to the Lord's supper!

However, can the choice of specifically bread and wine be a coincidence? Can it have nothing to do with the following sentences we find elsewhere in scripture, on the lips of a man who describes himself as one greater than Solomon the author of Proverbs (Matthew 12:42)? For example -

Joh 6:51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh."

Joh 6:53 So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you."

Luk 22:19-20 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood."

This is made even more interesting

a. When we consider the importance of Jesus' words in giving life in John 6 (verse 63) - just as it is wisdom's words/teachings which are spoken of metaphorically as bread and wine

b. When we think of how 1 Corinthians 1:18ff. says that Christ's sacrificial death is the wisdom of God (which death is identified with the supper of bread and wine in Luke 22 and the metaphor of eating and gaining life in John 6, both of which echo Proverbs 9)

How likely is it that the writer of Proverbs was thinking of all these things (especially the death of the Messiah and penal substitutionary atonement) when he wrote his poem in Proverbs 9?

How likely is it that God wasn't?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

A great deal of rubbish is put out in cyberspace, especially in the relatively fresh (to me at least) blogosphere. Contrary to all that is the excellent website of David Field who is one of my college lecturers, which can be found by clicking HERE. Highlights include
  • David Field's blog (updated a lot more regularly than this one)
  • An entirely FREE audio bible in mp3 format
  • All kinds of goodies in the articles section, including a pdf of Thomas Goodwin's treatise on Election (very worth reading if you're interested in thinking about infant baptism and how that relates to salvation by grace)
  • Lecture notes for Introduction to Christian ethics, The Book of Revelation and Puritan Models of Ministry Oak Hill modules


Monday, August 21, 2006

Sermon on Proverbs 8

My sermon on Proverbs 8 this past sunday is now available HERE (right click and choose 'save target as'). You may detect it having changed quite a bit from the outline posted on this blog last week.

Proverbs 9 is to follow this sunday, details to be posted as and when.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Proverbs 8 and incompetence

In Proverbs 8 Lady Wisdom declares

I have counsel and sound wisdom; I have insight; I have strength.
By me kings reign, and rulers decree what is just;
By me princes rule, and nobles, all who govern justly.

In other words, if you want to govern properly, you need wisdom, God's wisdom. God created and ordered the world by his wisdom (Proverbs 8:27-31) and therefore no surprise if we want to run the world properly we need to do so by his wisdom too. Consequently, ever since humanity grasped for autonomy in Eden, substituting the wisdom of God with the folly of the serpent, we haven't been very good at governing the world, or even our own little lives, very well at all.

This past week has contained many illustrations of this fact.

In particular, the assisting the in-laws in trying to complete on the purchase of a flat has revealed the level of human incompetency to govern anything, never mind the whole planet. The past week has revealed a string of errors, incompetencies and inefficiencies on the part of the seller's solicitor, all conducted with the belligerence of someone who cannot admit their errors (or is simply oblivious to what is really going on).

Other illustrations would include the not-so-helpful lady at the millenium eye ticket office and the restaurant staff who tried to fit four of us around a table for two.


1. Us human beings couldn't organise a bun-fight in a bakery. No wonder the bible asserts that we are weak, fallen, foolish and corrupt.

2. Ι will try to remember next time I am frustrated with administrative inefficiency and general incompetence that it's a small sign of our need for Christ, God's wisdom. There will be no unnecessary queues (and certainly no inefficient solicitors) in his consummated kingdom.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Does not Wisdom call?

Here it is then, the skeleton of my Proverbs 8 sermon for this sunday. Much blood, sweat and tears has gone in already. Comments are very welcome especially since I am yet to flesh all of this out into a sermon script (if you are a Christ Church Central person I hope you will look away at this point and not be naughty and think that if you read this you needn't turn up on sunday - or worse, once you've read it decide you don't want to turn up on sunday).

Sermon Plan: Proverbs 8 (click here for text)

Introduction (vs. 1-5 and context)

Will we follow Lady Wisdom or Lady Folly (cf. Proverbs 7), who will we listen to, who will be our partner to guide us through life? Powerful reasons to listen to Lady Wisdom. That means God’s wisdom. For us it means Jesus Christ.

NB. Throughout the poem the 'argument' builds, with wisdom firstly claiming to be able to deliver tremendous benefits (6-21) then secondly providing theological rationale for these claims in the 'cosmic' passage (22-31). Everything is heading towards the plea found in the conclusion (32-36).

1. Wisdom’s qualities

a. Wisdom’s words are reliable and valuable (vs. 6-10)

b. Wisdom enables good government (vs. 11-16)

c. Wisdom offers great rewards (vs. 17-21)

Application: Among other things, note the marrying of the practical (wisdom is great because it works) and the moral (wisdom is great because it is right) and the way in particular these are married in the concept of righteousness/justice – correct ordering of the world along God’s lines. The creation-based and creation-embracing character of wisdom stands in opposition to our false sacred-secular divisions and our culture’s insistence that pragmatics and morality remain separate, especially in the political sphere.

2. Wisdom’s qualifications

a. Wisdom existed before creation (vs. 22-26). Therefore this wisdom is not merely observation from what has been made, but revelation from the one who made it all.

b. Wisdom was involved in creation (vs. 27-31). The world was ordered by wisdom. Wisdom delighted in the orderly, human-ruled creation of Genesis 1-2. The call to embrace wisdom is the call to re-order along the creator's desires.

Biblical Theology: Jesus Christ as the source of wisdom for us. Is Christ speaking in Proverbs 8? No (in one sense Proverbs 8 is clearly a personification of Solomon’s God-given wisdom, we must allow the full force of the literary device to hold) but of course yes (Solomon’s God-given wisdom finds fulfilment in Jesus Christ, such that what is personified in ‘Lady Wisdom’ is embodied, perfected even (in a teleological sense), in Jesus Christ).

Application: We must seek all that wisdom promises in Prov. 8 in Christ in whom are all the treasures of wisdom. He, the pre-existent Son, not only made all things but he is the reason for which all things have been made. Similarly he is the one in whom all things are being re-created and re-ordered, such that the call to flee folly and embrace wisdom is a call to embrace him for all areas of our life. This is again in contrast to our tendency to ‘spiritualise’ the Christian life or reduce the effects of the gospel to ‘forgives my sins/ticket to heaven’. Christ is the source of all we need to pursue true humanity, true life, and rule the world the way we should. Which leads neatly to

Conclusion: Wisdom offers blessed life (32-36)

Friday, August 11, 2006

The necessary postmortem

Having had a few days to reflect a little on our camp, there are a few things worth noting/reporting.

1. Four children made a first profession of trust in Christ. This was obviously tremendous but there was a sobering note to the celebrations; one of the children in particular is a compulsive liar, frequently churning out the porkies in order to curry favour with all and sundry. Over the course of the week he told various people that he was adopted, that his parents didn't love him, that his Dad has cancer, that he's lived in five different homes - all not true, all designed to get sympathy or admiration. Some of us on the camp were concerned that he had merely figured out another way of gaining attention - say you've become a Christian. Some had similar concerns about one of the other children who professed faith.

2. This in turn (and other events during the week) underlined the inadequacy of a 'you've-prayed-the-prayer-you-must-be-a-christian' way of thinking, which at times is all too prevalent in evangelical circles. Ongoing exposure to the challenge of the gospel and serious discipleship that is not glib about eternal security is the way forward. We must not be presumptious by sitting back and saying 'job done' once someone makes a profession. The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints is a great help in this. Sadly, many on our camp come from backgrounds where this kind of teaching gets little airtime.

3. I also noted (again) the tension in camp-ministry (no jokes if you read this Big Pete!) between opportunity and frustration, both born of the once-a-year nature of the ministry. Because it's a one-off the children are often far more ready to engage in conversation and say what they really think. Because it's once a year there's an intensity and a seriousness about the leaders that results in bold prayer and direct speech. But because it's a once a year thing, at the end of a great week you have to hand the children back to their often-messy home and church situations. Camps can feel like an exercise in powerlessness.

4. Finally, being on camp exposed my sin (which reared it's ugly head when tiredness gave it opportunity) and general weakness. Why didn't I pray more for the camp during the year? Why didn't I pray harder during the week? Why did I let my bible reading lapse? Why did I think unkind things about other leaders? Why were there times when I grew impatient with the children? The answer is sin, my sin.

Of course, all of the above should serve to drive me to the sovereign mercy of our gracious God. He glorified his name and brought lost people to himself, in, through and despite everything I've just said. This was most clearly illustrated when Claire stumbled across two girls in the dormitory. Since we encourage the children to be outside even during free time (because it reduces the liklihood of theft going on) Claire was about to turf them out, until one of them said 'but we want to read our bibles' (which is exactly what they were doing) and announced that she was part way through reading the Johannine epistles whilst the other had already finished Jude and that together they were reading through Revelation just before lights out. These were the other two who professed faith during the week.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Pie in the Sky vs Steak on the Plate

Last week someone said to me that they thought the prospect of an eternity in heaven was almost just an added bonus, and even then a very distant reward for being a Christian – for them the real joy lay in knowing the love of God now as demonstrated in the sacrifice of the cross and being able to express gratitude for that in a life of evangelism.

I was quite troubled by this.

In fact, it still really bugs me that a believer should have such a lack of yearning for eternity. It seemed so out of step with what I understand to be the ‘future-centricity’ of the New Testament.

As I’ve thought about it I’ve tried to nail down just what it is that bugs me and the degree to which that’s valid.

Is this sort of thinking a symptom of our all-too-comfortable 21st century western Christianity? It would be hard to imagine a suffering Christian finding the prospect of eternity merely an ‘added bonus’. Maybe life in God’s promised world would seem less vague a hope if life in this present world were less comfortable?

Is this kind of statement evidence of a poor conception of ‘heaven’? Of course the New Testament promises not so much heaven but a new creation, and it is hard to imagine someone not being excited at the prospect of a fully physcial life free from sin, pain, death, suffering, illness and wasps (!), all amidst the perfectly just, loving, joyful and benevolent reign of God. Has this friend of mine just been sold a shoddy replica of our eternal hope? A kingdom and creation eschatology would surely preserve even the dullest heart from being dispassionate about the future?

Is it evidence of a lack of God-centredness? Surely what we know and experience of Him now is meagre compared to what we will enjoy in eternity?

How does this attitude fit with a robust and biblical understanding of sin and the curse? How does this attitude fit with a practical experience of the ongoing fight with indwelling sin and the brokenness of creation? Where is the Spirit-inspired battlefield prayer which cries to ‘Abba Father’ for deliverance and the redemption of our dead-in-sin bodies? Where is the groaning for a new creation (Romans 8)?

But then I also got to thinking;

Is the problem just that this friend of mine has an over-realised eschatology (over-spinning the present blessings) or does the strength of my discomfort indicate that perhaps I have an under-realised one (stoically under-estimating the benefits of kingdom life in the now)? Are we both guilty of a ‘heresy of emphasis’? And, if so, given that I can readily see the pitfalls in my friend's error, what are the corresponding ways my error stunts my discipleship and skews my reading of scripture?

No doubt the Apostle Paul got it right; his confidence in the future resurrection meant a life of joyful Christ-proclamation in the now. It's not an either or, but rather joy now because of the bigger joy later.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Now I have a box in which to put myself, oh joy!

I did this silly online test to find my 'theological worldview' (in reality the 'test' was a bunch of statements that you could interpret just about anyway you wanted, often pitting things as theological opposites which in fact are not). And I came out as a Wesleyan (I think it might've been because I said revival and holiness are important). Not really sure what this means or what use it is to anyone but the results are below. Why not try the quiz out yourself? If you come out as a Roman Catholic or a Liberal we need to talk.

You scored Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan
You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavily by John Wesley and the Methodists.

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan 93%
Reformed Evangelical 93%
Neo orthodox 54%
Fundamentalist 50%
Roman Catholic 43%
Charismatic/Pentecostal 43%
Emergent/Postmodern 36%
Classical Liberal 11%
Modern Liberal 4%

'Go to the ant O Sluggard'

Back from Camp and the work on Proverbs continues.

This short article has proved very helpful so far. It seems proverbs is a manual for ruling the world as God intended humans to - a 'how to be a good king' guide for idiots.

Or, put in slightly different language, proverbs is about how to live as humans were intended to in pursuit of the creation mandate to govern the earth as God's image-bearers.

Or, put in slightly different language, Proverbs is about how to live as 'a kingdom of priests' (Basic assumption behind this is that Eden = sanctuary, Adam/humanity = priest, wisdom = tree of life cf Proverbs 3:18, redemption as a restoration of Eden-pattern, Proverbs written at something of a key moment in the history of that redemption and written (at least mainly) by a king who resembles Adam (cf. 1 Kings 4:29ff.) and so on, you get the point).

This leaves me with a few things to think about, chiefly

1. The extent to which the promises of wealth and prosperity are eschatologically fulfilled (sometimes in this world you can work hard and be wise and you can end up poor, not really what Proverbs says is the norm) and therefore what the proper application of them is now. It seems a cop out to make them all about the new creation. Plus surely we don't want to have an under-realised eschatology in seeking to avoid a thoroughly over-baked one. (No doubt Postmillenialists will have an interesting take on this one?).

2. The christological importance of Proverbs 8. In what way does this passage testify of Christ? It undoubtedly does since John in John 1 and Paul in Colossians (and no doubt others whom I haven't thought of yet) draw heavily from it - the question is the shape of the route from Proverbs 8 to Christ. Is it right to see eternal generation in 8:22ff. as many have done?

3. The relationship between Proverbs 8:12-21 (which recommends wisdom because she makes things work well in the world of business and politics) and 22-31 (which recomments wisdom because she pre-existed creation and was involved in the creation process itself). The answer seems to be to do with order/rule (God ordered/ruled the creation in the first-place by wisdom, humanity rules well when doing so by the same wisdom).