Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Books for Further Reading

We discussed some books in class in our last session, and as promised I'm giving you a short list of these here. I do most of my book shopping at http://www.bookfinder.com/, a site which searches a lot of different booksellers (Amazon included) and gives you the best price, including shipping.

For Christian Thought, our main textbook is Created for Community by Stanley Grenz. For a basic introduction to the course I use Who Needs Theology? by Stanley Grenz and Roger Olson (I see it listed by just Grenz as well as Grenz and Olson - same book). I also have my students do a "Life Response Project" out of The Life You've Always Wanted by John Ortberg, because theology is not just about correct thinking, but much more importantly about living correctly as a member of God's kingdom. This assignment/book results in something very unusual every semester: thank you notes from students for the work I've assigned! If you decide you want to go much deeper after you've finished these, I heartily recommend Christian Theology: An Introduction by Alistair McGrath. It's available in a number of editions, and any of them from the third edition on are worth getting (just in case you find a big difference in price between 3rd, 4th, and 5th editions).

We actually started our discussion on books with the topic of church history. An excellent and non-boring look at history with an eye to theology is The Story of Christian Theology (also listed as The Story of Christian Theology: Twenty Centuries of Tradition & Reform - get whichever is cheaper) by Roger Olson. I also like the two-volume set The Story of Christianity by Justo Gonzalez.

Have fun meeting some of my friends!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Link for Christian Thought outlines

For anyone following along with our discussion on God's story and our place in it, I have a link here for the outlines we'll be using. These are in Microsoft Word format, and you can download them and use them for organizing your notes as we discuss things.

I'm sharing them from SugarSync, which is an excellent way of putting resources up for others to access. They offer free storage, and you can check my post in my TechRoadShow blog for some of the ways I use this. You might find some of these ideas useful as well.

Looking forward to another session tomorrow with the class at Cedar Park! We'll be discussing perhaps the most crucial element of actually doing the work of a theologian: judging what is true, and just how important that particular truth is. (Just in case that's set off sirens in your mind, while my choice of favorite color and my choice of belief about God's existence both are "truths", one of these is much more important than the other!)

See you tomorrow, I hope!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christian Thought class at Cedar Park

I'm very excited to be launching into a new class at Cedar Park. We met this last Sunday (Nov 27th) for the first time, and covered some of the basic definitions of what theology is and means. It was a great group, and I'm looking forward to the series.

For anyone who would like to subscribe to a weekly feed of the class, here are some links:

iTunes with audio and video - itpc://panopto.northwestu.edu/Panopto/Podcast/Podcast.ashx?courseid=7519af72-c344-42f4-8b88-07fb0035db42&type=mp4

iTunes with audio only - itpc://panopto.northwestu.edu/Panopto/Podcast/Podcast.ashx?courseid=7519af72-c344-42f4-8b88-07fb0035db42&type=mp3

RSS feed with audio and video - http://panopto.northwestu.edu/Panopto/Podcast/Podcast.ashx?courseid=7519af72-c344-42f4-8b88-07fb0035db42&type=mp4

RSS feed with audio only - http://panopto.northwestu.edu/Panopto/Podcast/Podcast.ashx?courseid=7519af72-c344-42f4-8b88-07fb0035db42&type=mp3

Holler in the comments below if you need some help with what to do with these links. Otherwise, those who are a part of the class, either gathering in person each week, or joining us in cyberspace, welcome!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween - Holy or Defiled?

This last Sunday (Oct 30th) was a sad day for me at Calvary Christian Assembly, as we finished off our session on Romans and I said goodbye to friends who love studying God's Word. (At the same time, I was excited to see the love of my life again, as Rosemarie returned from a three-week doctoral research and studies stint in Springfield.) We blazed through Romans 14-16, and spent some time on the issue of "disputable matters" in chapter 14.

As a child growing up in a quite conservative German church in Canada, I was trained to see Halloween as an example of depravity and evil, or at least that's what I recall. This was by no means the view of all believers in our small town, and I have a vague recollection of doing some trick-or-treating, but have difficulty figuring out how that happened! In the course of our class I brought up, in passing, the issue of Halloween as a "disputable matter".

It is good to think and to learn. One of the things which I had read just prior to our session was the Internet Monk rant on Halloween, presented by someone who had grown up in a likewise conservative setting, but had a very different recollection of Halloween: fun without any taint of the occult. And then I read this article by David Mathis on why Luther chose Oct 31st as the day for the nailing of the 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg: it was a day that celebrated the triumph of good over evil, among other things.

Hmmm... that's not what I had understood growing up, and yet I like that idea. Not as an excuse to have fun, but as a true expression of Romans 12:21 - "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Whatever your view on this particular day, may we be those who overcome evil with good!

Any thoughts to share in the comments?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Governments and Capital Punishment

This last Sunday, our topic was the interaction of citizens with their government, coming from our discussion of Romans 13 at Calvary Christian Assembly in Seattle. Two blog postings somewhat "framed" this for me: before our discussion, I had just read this post quoting John Frame on the ChurchLeaders blog, where he says that "The mission of the church was nothing less than to establish a new world order." Just this morning I read a post from Ben Witherington on governments and capital punishment. He argues that while governments may commit acts of capital punishment (and this could be done rightly or wrongly), Christians should not be involved in such.

So, what do you think?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Series on Theology at Renton New Life

I had a great time at Renton New Life last night, with Pastor Troy Jones and a "small group" of about 100 avid students of theology - it was a lot of fun! We talked about the basis, benefits and dangers, and tasks and tools of theology. As noted by a number of people, understanding that things we believe to be true can fit into three categories was a significant take-away. These categories are
  • Dogma - something essential to the faith. Denying this is in essence excluding yourself from the classification of "Christ-followers."
  • Doctrine - something important to a specific group of believers (church, denomination, etc.) but not essential to the faith. Significant disagreement here might mean you'd be better off with a different group of worshipers, but doesn't mean you're not a Christian.
  • Opinion - something of interest to you, but definitely not worth dying for.
Next week we'll be tackling theology proper: what we understand about God from his revelation of himself in his works and his word.

If you're a part of that group (or are interested in theology and want to enter the conversation), use the comments feature of this blog to facilitate interaction. I'm looking forward to learning with you!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A New Series: Romans at Calvary Christian Assembly

This last Sunday I had the privilege of starting on another Bible study at Calvary Christian Assembly in Seattle (http://www.ccassembly.org/). What a wonderful group! There were a number of us (over a hundred) who are all lovers of the Word and who love to study and discuss. Join us either in person (9:15am, Sundays, until the end of October 2011), or by following the recordings given below.

The first session was on the nature of Sin, and how it needs to be distinguished from and results in "sins".

Here are a few links, if you'd like to follow the conversation:

Subscribe to video and audio in iTunes
Subscribe to video and audio as RSS Feed
Subscribe to audio (only) in iTunes
Subscribe to audio (only)  as RSS Feed

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

(Un)Limited Atonement

Had an opportunity this last Sunday to speak at Renton New Life as part of a series about Thinking Scripture - Thinking Inside the Box. Had a blast - what a great community and a great team!

A link to the audio for my talk on (Un)Limited Atonement is available at http://www.newliferenton.com/index.php?nid=14711&s=gl, as well as links to other talks in the series. We have a great God!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

God's Vigor

Our conversation this morning was focused on Hebrews 11 (remember, the podcasts are available at
itpc://panopto.northwestu.edu/Panopto/Podcast/Podcast.ashx?courseid=1c9436a0-d6b2-48ec-869d-ace7f4113d9c&type=mp4 for iTunes and
http://panopto.northwestu.edu/Panopto/Podcast/Podcast.ashx?courseid=1c9436a0-d6b2-48ec-869d-ace7f4113d9c&type=mp4 for  other RSS feed readers.

We also discussed a portion of Chesterton's book Orthodoxy, and here's the part I quoted:

Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead.  For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony.  But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony.  It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them.  It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical ENCORE.

May your day be glorious and blessed!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

March 13th class; the Lewis and Clark air rifle

A reminder that we will not be meeting on Sunday, March 13th, as Rosemarie and I will be in Memphis, presenting papers at the Society for Pentecostal Studies conference.

Today's class session is now up and available (links in the Dec 19, 2010 posting on this blog). Looks like I forgot to hit the screen capture box, so that it's audio only - sorry!

Also, I had promised to provide a link to a video regarding the Girandoni air rifle used on the Lewis and Clark expedition. You can see this at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pqFyKh-rUI&fmt=18. If you're wondering what this has to do with Hebrews, well, the answer is not too much, directly. However, I had brought up in class that we tend to focus on things that interest us (as we see in the descriptions in Heb 9:1-5), and how in the UK they have many more periodicals than we have here in North America, with all sorts of specialized magazines. Included in these are a number on air rifles, and my rather scattered mind then turned to this video I had just seen, and I mentioned that, and now here we are, with a link in this Bible study blog. Okay, so my brain tends to do some rather random things - sorry!

Blessings on all of you!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Some truly geeky (in the best sense of the word) wedding stuff

I mentioned Jewish wedding commitments/vows in class this last session (Feb 20th), and promised I'd give a link to a website which had some material related to this. This is not a site about Jewish weddings as such, but is rather a site for Michael (Jewish) and Marina (Vietnamese) and their marriage. The overall site is http://www.mike-short.com/MnM/couple.shtml. The brief synopsis of their customs, as brought to their wedding, is at http://www.mike-short.com/MnM/traditions.shtml, and a truly wild, fully nerd-tech account of how Michael made their wedding rings, is at http://www.mike-short.com/MnM/rings.shtml. Well worth checking out!

I also commented on a terrific resource on the topic of Divorce and Remarriage in the Church, which is the title of a book by David Instone-Brewer. I highly recommend this for anyone thinking through or dealing with issues related to this. Here's an Amazon link (print and Kindle) as well as a bookfinder.com link, giving the best prices (with shipping) for new and used copies.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Being, Doing, and Replacing the Old

We worked our way through Heb 8:8-13 today – some excellent material came out in the discussion.

A couple of things to note:
1.     The mention of wickedness and sins in v. 12 – interesting in that wickedness, or lack of righteousness, relates to character and “being”, while sins, or missing of the mark, relates to activity and “doing”. A major achievement of this new covenant, written on hearts and minds, is that both the motivation and the ability to live correctly have been provided for.
2.     The emphasis on the provision of a new covenant, replacing the old and obsolete one (v. 13), would surely have been a tough sell for an audience convinced of the durability of the law, of Torah and its attendant structures. How poignant, then, to realize that both writings, the prophecy of Jeremiah (Jer 31:31-34) and its citation by the author of Hebrews (Heb 8:8-12), were followed by the destruction of the Temple existing at that time. The writers could not have known that was coming, but the overall Author surely knew how to make a point!

I love it when such insights are suggested in discussion, and made use of some technology to immediately add this to my notes so that I could research and explore these ideas further. For more info on what I use to keep things current, check out the newest entry in my tech blog at http://techroadshow.blogspot.com/.

Another blog worth following (and not just because I think the author is an incredible and lovely person, to whom I am also married!) is http://peacefulones.blogspot.com/. Often provocative, never boring.

Yet another resource worth knowing are the sermon mp3 files from the chapel at Northwest University, where I teach. We’re currently in a series on Colossians, and our President, Dr. Joseph Castleberry, has preached two excellent messages that I  commend – have a listen at http://eagle.northwestu.edu/chapel_mp3/20110204.mp3 and http://eagle.northwestu.edu/chapel_mp3/20110216.mp3. For a chapel schedule and links to existing mp3 files, check out http://www.northwestu.edu/ministry/chapel/schedule.php. And of course, you’re welcome to come join us. The worship is almost always pretty exuberant!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Complete Salvation?

We discussed Heb 7:23-28 today, and a big part of the conversation was on v. 25 - "Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them." [NIV 2010 edn.] "Completely" has a sense of "forever" (translated thus in the NASB) but also of thoroughly or fully. So why then do we still sin? It is clear from 1 John that those in the community of faith still mess up (1:8, 10), just as it's adequately clear that we also have a remedy (1:9).

I hope there are people out there willing to enter the conversation - maybe you've got an insight here that can help us understand how to better mimic our Savior? Please share it!

On a completely different topic, I've been asked for the link to my tech blog. I'm embarrassed to acknowledge how long it's been since I've posted, but I do have some cool things to share and will update and add those as I have an opportunity. Feel free to check out  http://techroadshow.blogspot.com/, and if you've got some great tech ideas to share, please do so in your comments there!


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Are all religions the same?

In an interesting synchronicity, I had taught on God among the "gods" in Christian Thought on Wednesday (coming down squarely on the side of God being the only real one, of course!), when I read this blog that night: http://mondaymorninginsight.com/blog/post/are_all_religions_the_same/ which is a reposting of


What is your response?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!

A reminder: I will not be in town next Sunday (Jan 9, 2011) and so we'll take a break from our study.

In class today I mentioned a couple of resources:
  • the books by Robert Shank, Life in the Son (ISBN 978-1556610912), dealing with the topic of perseverance ("eternal security"), and Elect in the Son (ISBN 978-1556610929), dealing with the topic of election/predestination. Both are available at Amazon, but they're also listed on bookfinder.com for much less.
  • the citation from C.S. Lewis, coming from p. 130 of The Problem of Pain:  
    I willingly believe that the damned are, in one sense, successful, rebels to the end; that the doors of hell are locked on the inside. I do not mean that the ghosts may not wish to come out of hell, in the vague fashion wherein an envious man ‘wishes’ to be happy: but they certainly do not will even the first preliminary stages of that self-abandonment through which alone the soul can reach any good. They enjoy forever the horrible freedom they have demanded, and are therefore self-enslaved: just as the blessed, forever submitting to obedience, become through all eternity more and more free. 
    Thank you!