Friday, June 22, 2007

Holidays are for Reading

Things may go quiet here for a couple of weeks as Claire and I head off on holiday shortly. Pool-side reading includes

Cities of God: Rodney Stark on how the early church conquered Rome as an urban movement.

Pierced for our Transgression: Jeffries, Ovey & Sach on you know what.

He shall have dominion: Kenneth Gentry on why everyone should be a covenantal postmillenialist

So maybe there'll be comments on some of these when we return.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Through New Eyes 3

In 'Through New Eyes' James Jordan aims to help his readers become re-familiarised with the language and thought forms of the bible. Part 2 focuses on the basic elements of creation. After a chapter on the world in general as God’s house, chapter 5 moves to the Sun, Moon and Stars.

Heavenly Bodies

Jordan’s basic text is Genesis 1:14-18 which describes the heavenly bodies as lights, signs, governors of time, seasons and days. Stemming from their position in the heavenlies and their function as rulers of time and seasons, the heavenly bodies have a symbolic function in the bible as representing angelic and human rulers and authorities (e.g. Job 38:7, Isaiah 14:13).

Following from this, Jordan highlights a popular misinterpretation of several bible passages referring to the sun, moon and stars. Most passages which speak of the shaking/falling/removal of heavenly bodies are interpreted as referring (somewhat, but not entirely literally) to the end of the physical world/collapse of the cosmos. Jordan argues that such passages (especially prevalent in the prophets and in Jesus’ teaching) actually represent the collapse of a nation/ruler/kingdom. If the end of the world is on view it is often “the end of the “world” in a socio-political sense.” Jordan cites several examples, such as Isaiah 13:9-10, which, in context, is clearly about the end of the Babylonian kingdom (Isaiah 13:17).

In this vein, Jordan argues that Revelation 6:12-13 and Matthew 24:29 refer to the events surrounding and following the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70. Additionally, he suggests that the phrase ‘new heavens and new earth’ can refer to both a transfigured/renewed creation and also a new world order (new people, new rulers, new government).

Applying this imagery to the promise to Abraham (Genesis 15:5), Jordan suggests that the LORD promised that Abraham’s descendants would be ‘like the stars’ i.e. seated in the heavenlies (Ephesians 2:6) and given rule over the nations. This would suggest that Romans 4:13 is faithful to the original meaning of the Abrahamic covenant - Abraham's offspring will inherit the world (greek /kosmos/)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Jeremiah 32 and Infant Baptism

Neil Jeffers (who, I understand, leaves Oak Hill today) wrote a good short dissertation in his third year on Jeremiah 32:37-41 and infant baptism, and I've just finished reading it. To understand the relevance, imagine the following (imaginary) conversation between a (reformed) paedobaptist and a (reformed) baptist:

Baptist: Oi, stop baptising babies, where do you get that from in the bible eh?

Paedobaptist: Er, no, I'm not gonna stop. Baptising infants of believers is taught in the bible, so it is.

B: Where?

PB: Well, in that whole covenant thing.

B (since he is a reformed baptist): Covenant? Yeah, I've heard of that. Proceed my good man, how does it establish your bizarre watery practices?!

PB: Well, y'know, that thing about the children of believers being included in the covenant along with their parents, and therefore receiving the covenant sign too - circumcision in the old, baptism in the new.

B (being an amicable fellow): Ah, I see. There's one problem with that...

PB (also being an amicable fellow): What's that then my ole chum?

B: Doesn't Jeremiah 31:31-34 teach that the new covenant is different from the old in some crucial ways, ways which would lead to (so to speak) 'knocking baby-baptism' on the old head?

Now, whilst PB would always have had plenty of responses at this point (such as 'hmmm, to what extent do you think Jeremiah 31 is eschatologically fulfilled?'), Neil Jeffers has ably provided another, and that derived from a parallel 'new covenant' passage in Jeremiah:

PB: Good point my good man. However, I fear that Jeremiah 32: 37-41 speaks of the new covenant and includes the children of believers.

B: (mumbles something about Spurgeon and heads for the hills)

Ok, so it's not as straight-forward as that (and obviously Reformed Baptist's would hardly be conquered by a single text). If you want the arguments in all their exegetical and systematic detail then read Neil's dissertation (sorry if you're reading this and not at Oak Hill and therefore can't).

BTW I love my baptist brethren, John Bunyan was a legend, Piper is an inspiration, etc. etc. etc.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Through New Eyes 2

It has been a long time since the first post on this book.


One of the things that really attracts me to Jordan's work is the importance he places on typology. Typology has long been neglected, often for (an understandable but misguided) fear of descending into uncontrolled allegorising (I remember my Dad's indignation when an elder (!) at the church I grew up told him that he thought typology was 'tripeology').

For Jordan, typology is related to the symbolic nature of the whole creation and even history itself. Man, as God's image-bearer, has the task of building civilisations, the blueprint for which is Heaven itself (i.e. not heaven = sky). In creation God himself was working to lay the foundations and set the pattern for this glorification of earth.

Moreover, Jordan argues, at various stages in history God gave visions of Heaven as blueprints for the task of glorifying the earth. These successive visions are 'types' or patterns, with each one more glorious than the last (Tabernacle-Temple-Ezekiel’s Temple-New Jerusalem). Not surprisingly then, history too is intrinsically typological:

"Typology is the fundamental Biblical philosophy of history…It means that the successive stages of world history have a meaning, a meaning related to the heavenly pattern and God’s purpose to glorify man and the world progressively."


"The key to unlocking the meaning of history lies in the typological blueprint of heaven, as heaven progressively is impressed upon the earth, and as the Heavenly Man, Jesus Christ, is progressively impressed upon His people.” (p50-51)

Jordan helpfully notes how typology was central to the exegesis of the Church Fathers, not least because it was able to answer both Gnostics (since typology shows that the bible has an essential, historical and covenantal unity) and Judaisers (since typology shows how the New transcends and fulfills the Old).

Typology then, is a much needed perspective on the bible if we are to undertake the task we pray about in the Lord's prayer;

Our Father in heaven
Hallowed be your name
Your Kingdom come
Your will be done
On earth as in heaven

Just say 'no'

"All preaching must be destructive as well as constructive."

The above is just one of the highlights from Dick Lucas at the (currently ongoing) preaching conference at Oak Hill. Dick encouraged us to preach the negatives as well as the positives, since without the negatives ('salvation is found in no-one else') the positives ('Jesus saves') make little sense. God's word demolishes the thought-strongholds of Satan as well as establishing the Kingdom.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Exams over, last essay handed in this AM.

Seven Highlights of the year
(in no particular order):

1. Changing my mind on just about everything (slight exaggeration, but lots of things, some changes still in progress).

2. The Smashing Pumpkins re-forming.

3. Church Planting in Southgate. It's good to dream.

4. Redeemer New York visit.

5. Having just about every course prove that 'the gospel's bigger than you think.'

6. My new imac (cue chorus of thousands chanting "imac, imac!").

7. Christ Church Central.