Thursday, May 24, 2007

New or Renewed Creation

So, during conversational theology time today (normal people call it a coffee break) the following came up;

Where would you take someone (in the bible) to persuade them that this earth continues and that the new heavens and the new earth are 'renewed/transfigured/perfected/cleansed' versions of this creation rather than totally 'new'? (NB. some people think that this earth is trashed and God makes a new one, hence our discussion)

We came up with

A. Jesus' resurrection body was his 'old' one resurrected (and he is the beginning of the new creation see 2 Cor 5:17).

B. There is continuity between our bodies now and our resurrected bodies (otherwise it's not a resurrection is it?).

And that was sort of it (someone said some good stuff about AD70 too but it would take me a long time to explain it on this blog and I'm tired). Which is a poor show really.

Having thought since then I reckon I'd add a further suggestion

C. Unless this earth continues then God has sort of been thwarted in his original creaton intentions hasn't he? The one he originally made and was good has been totally ruined by sin and so he has to rubbish it and get a new one.

D. Romans 8:20-21 and the liberation of the (present) creation from bondage to decay when the sons of God are revealed in glory. It would be odd if this 'liberation' took the form of total abolition.

But really it's a poor show, especially if there are biblicists to be persuaded. So, help needed, and lots of lovely lovely texts, please post suggestions.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Anyone any good at drawing stick men?

I love the 2 ways to live gospel outline for so many reasons. It roots sin in creation, it (sort of) attempts to incorporate elements systematic and redemptive-historical theology, and yet...

Having read (and chatted about) this post I've been reminded of something I have been thinking about for a while now on and off.

I think we need another (maybe more than one more) gospel outline in our armoury for use in evangelism and in tracts etc. One that (for example)

a. Does not assume pagans that someone's initial interest in the gospel stems from a feeling that he/she 'needs to be right with God'.

b. But perhaps (for e.g.) starts from the big concerns and worries and hopes and dreams people do have (the environment, relationships, hedonism, and so on) and gets to the big themes of creation-sin-wrath-cross/resurrection etc. from there.

c. Even more than 2ways2live (which is probably the best on the market for this type of thing) marries biblical with systematic theology (story and proposition).

d. Incorporates the communal/corporate aspects of the gospel (and of what the gospel creates i.e. Church) with the appropriate challenge to the individual.

I imagine getting c. right is a key to the others.

After all the gospel is rich and the links between it and people's needs, concerns, questions, failings, fears, dreams etc. are multiple. A big understanding of the gospel and its application more than appropriately equips us for engaging with postmoderns/goths/new-agers/Hindus/political extremists/hedonists/every other sub-group and 'tribe' in out culture.

So, if anyone wants to help me devise one (and especially if you are good at drawing)...

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Gospel Optimism 4: Against Defeatism

The reason gospel optimism is neither wishful folly nor empty-headed positive-thinking is because of the life, death, resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. Seen as it's ascension day today, have a look at David Field's thoughts on ascension and evangelical defeatism in public life HERE.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Gospel Optimism 3

The following are taken from Spurgeon’s sermon on Luke 1:46 (“My soul doth magnify the Lord.”). Spurgeon is arguing that part of magnifying God is “to think great things” of him.

- The first two quotes are about gospel optimism at the individual level:

“Never say, “It is of no use inducing such a man to attend the means of grace. He is a blaspheming wretch. All that he would do if he heard a sermon would be to make sport of it for next week”…Such unbelieving talk is making little of God. Is it not so?
Is it not dishonouring God to think that His gospel cannot reach the most depraved hearts?”

“Believe great things of God. I can honestly say this – that since God saved me I never doubted His power to save anybody.”

- Then Spurgeon turns his eye to the global picture, and to eschatological optimism:

“Believe great things of Him. Believe that China can be made into a province of the celestial Kingdom. Believe that India will cast her riches as Jesus’ feet. Believe that the round world will yet be a pearl on Christ’s finger-ring. Do not go in for the dispiriting, despairing, unmanly, un-Christly ideas of those who say “The world is not to be converted. It is a poor wreck that will go to pieces, and we are to fish off here and there one from the water-logged hulk.” Brethren, never believe that we are to stand by and see the eternal defeat of God.”

- and, in a rhetorical flourish that is typical of the great preacher there's even stronger stuff:

“It shall never be said that God could not save the world by the preaching of the gospel, and by the work of the Holy Spirit and therefore must needs bring in the advent of the Lord to do it. I believe in the coming of the Lord, but , blessed be his name, I believe also that the battle which he has begun in the Spirit He will fight out in the old style, and finish with a victory in the very manner in which He opened the conflict. It pleases Him by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe , and it will please him to continue to do so till the whole round earth shall ring with the hallelujahs of praise to the grace of God…”

I find all that both challenging and enchanting.

All from Charles H. Spurgeon, “The Keynote of a choice Sonnet,” pp.610-615 in The Treasury of the New Testament Volume 1, (London: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1962), 614.


Having just handed in a Hebrew paper it is good to reflect for a moment or two on why all the toil, fear, sweat, pain, prayer, angst and joy is worth it.

7 Reasons to study Biblical Hebrew

1. The Old Testament is the biggest part of the bible, covering the larger part of (revelatory) salvation history. And most of it is written in Hebrew.

2. The Old Testament has been too long neglected by evangelical scholarship and pulpits alike. Negatively this means we have more work to do. Positively, this means there is a lot to discover.

3. Many (good) bible translators make odd textual decisions about the OT, often going with the LXX (Greek translation of the OT) when more thought needs to be given to the Hebrew texts. This makes our English translations potentially less reliable, increasing the need for knowledge of the original language.

4. Hebrew is at the one time more simple and complex. A basic translation leaves open multiple options at a syntactical and discourse analysis level. This means a high level of 'interpretation' in translation, increasing the need for knowledge of Hebrew to properly weigh our English versions.

5. The Old Testament scriptures were the basic scriptures for Christ and the apostles (pretty early on however NT writings were beginning to be added). If we wish to understand the apostles we must understand the OT. The OT is written in Hebrew.

6.OT preaching has tended to emphasise the big picture over the detail (e.g. 'let's do Isaiah in four weeks but Romans over ten years'). A knowledge of Hebrew begins to unlock the God-glorifying, gospel-testifying, Christ-exalting detail.

7. We are not Marcionites (see here).

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Cup of tea

For those who are weary of toil, be it study, paid employment or housework, here is a site to visit. The 'Mission Statement' is especially worth a read.

Any American readers of this blog should also take a look at this in aid of their understanding.