Archive for July, 2006

Looking for themes in scripture

Looking for themes in scripture

As much as I enjoy haggling over the best interpretation of a particular passage of scripture I think we get away from what God would want to communicate to us through the scriptures. Over the last few years I’ve been looking at the strongest general themes. What did the people value? What was their main concern? What points are reiterated time and again? What was important to several biblical authors?

For example I did a study on the “one anothers” in scripture. I was looking to see if the New Testament talks more about leaders ministering to others or peer ministry. From what I could tell ministry from one to another is a stronger theme than leader ministry. As I compare this to church I see the opposite is true.

It is far too easy to find support for what we do in scripture. There is a lot in scripture written about leaders and to leaders in scripture. One could look at these passages and find a lot of support for leadership driven ministry. The problem comes when we look only for passages that support our position and neglect to reconcile our position with the passages that would round out the picture.

Sometimes the errors we make are more in the strength of our emphasis rather than the legitimacy of specific practice or belief.

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Things you didn't really want to know

Things you didn’t really want to know

According to this article a baby foreskin is a pretty valuable item

“There is the resale value,” says Tinari. He is referring to the fact that human foreskins are a highly valuable tissue that can be grown in a lab to the size of a football field.

The foreskin has more blood cells and nerve endings than almost any other skin on the body. Most baby foreskins are used in insulin production, breathable bandages, and in the cosmetics industry. People like Tinari wonder why the sale of all other human tissue is considered illegal, or is highly regulated, yet doctors are allowed to remove healthy tissue without the patient’s consent and against all medical recommendations, then sell it for profit in a for-profit industry.


Um, I didn't actually say that

Um, I didn’t actually say that

I’ve been blogging for a few years and I’ve got in to a few debates. One thing that continually surprises me is how easy it is to be misinterpreted. It is often by people who claim that scripture is abundantly clear and they have the correct intrepretation of it. I have to wonder. If people don’t understand the text that I write and we are speaking the same language and are in the same culture how much more difficult would it be understand something that was written 2000 years ago in another language.

When I debate people I often find that people aren’t actually debating me. They are debating a charictature of me. I think there is temptation to assume that if a person holds position X they must be one of “those people” and hold position Y and z. This goes for people all across the spectrum.

I think everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt. I never expected so many people to starting debating who I am and miss what I actually say.


Staging publicity stunts in the midst of a crisis?

Staging publicity stunts in the midst of a crisis?

Suddenly, last night, they were told the Prime Minister would be visiting and that Canadians — any Canadians — would have to be brought to the port of Larnaca, Cyprus. They made an urgent request to the British government, which had been taking Britons on large naval vessels with military escorts to the western city of Limassol, to allow 120 Canadians to board one of the ships so that there would be some available to greet the Prime Minister and ride home on his Airbus jet.

One government official in Ottawa, who asked to remain unidentified, expressed concern that Mr. Harper’s decision to fly to Cyprus to offer up the services of the government jet might be perceived by Canadians as a publicity stunt. The government could have sent one of its Challenger jets to Paris to pick up the Prime Minister and his staff, the source said, freeing up more room on the Airbus.

From the Globe

Staging publicity stunts in the midst of the crisis?




In the course of a year of blogging one goes through a number of topics. I find that the two subjects that receive the most response are women in ministry leadership and homosexuality. I don’t think it is all about scripture. Take the following verse from 1Tim 2 NRSV.

9 also that the women should dress themselves modestly and decently in suitable clothing, not with their hair braided, or with gold, pearls, or expensive clothes, 10 but with good works, as is proper for women who profess reverence for God. 11 Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. 12 I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent.

For those opposed to the idea of a female senior pastor this is the key passage. I respect those who have a willingness to stay true to scripture even when it is unpopular. However I think very few people do this. Almost no one actually takes this passage of scripture literally and directly. I don’t see anyone advocating that the church should restrict women from ministry because they wear jewelry or expensive clothes. I don’t see anyone advocating that women in a bible college should learn in in silence with “full submission.” Why take one passage of this chapter and apply it to one position in our context?


The Edmonton Oilers logo

The Edmonton Oilers logo

This weekend I was looking at a mangled Edmonton Oilers lawn chair and had a sudden realization. If you take [most of] the letters in Oilers you can rearrange them to spell something else.


Mennonite Brethren pass resolution to remove gender restrictions

Mennonite Brethren pass resolution to remove gender restrictions

It has been a long difficult road for the denomination I consider my own. In the most recent annual conference the Mennonite Brethren voted to allow the local church to determine their policy towards gender and the role of senior pastor. I think it is a helpful step forward.

The previous position was theologically absurd. Women were not restricted from any position in the denomination except that of senior pastor. I’m not sure how you can determine whether it is biblical for women to hold a position that doesn’t exist in the New Testament. It seems completely inconsistent that one would affirm women as college and seminary professors and restrict women from the role of senior pastor. If one is going to take 1Tim 2:12 literally and apply it directly to our context they should at least try to be consistent. The old position was a compromise solution and so is the current one but this one makes more sense.

Changing the rules is one step. Changing the culture is another. I respect those who wish to stand by the complementarian position regardless of how politically correct it is. I disagree with them because I think what Paul writes in 1Tim is inconsistent with what he wrote to the Corinthians and inconsistent with the general theme of his concept of church. My last few years of participating in a house church gives me a hands on feel of the context of the local church Paul typically spoke to. I see how Paul’s analogy of the body plays out in smaller relational church. I see how so much of New Testament theology that needs to be shoe horned in to fit in a traditionally structured church fits like a glove in a house church.

If one wants to be truly biblical in how they structure church there are a lot bigger issues than the gender of the people in certain positions.


The Day will disclose it

The Day will disclose it

1Cor 3:11-15 NRSV

11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 the work of each builder will become visible, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done. 14 If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If the work is burned up, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire.

How do you know if what you are building in someone else’s life is something will survive the fire test? The implication in this passage from Paul’s letter to Corinth is that sometimes ministry is empty. Sometimes what we build in the lives of others appears to have substance but it is flimsy and fragile. I’ve been thinking about that. I’ve been wondering if what I’ve done for the kingdom would survive a fire test.

Do I really want to face God and have to explain why I spent so much time doing ministry that so rarely made a significant difference in someone else’s life. Why did I keep doing the things I’ve always done? Why was I content with what I did? Why didn’t I risk more and look for that which would move things forward? There were stories of God’s people living like Jesus and doing the same things he did. Why didn’t I take their stories seriously? Why did I assume that somehow my situation was different and what I see around me is the best one can expect?

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Prosperity Praise!

Prosperity Praise!

Check these out. Prosperity Praise and Me Church.

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Vellacott gets his day in court!

Vellacott gets his day in court!

Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott was fined $206 Friday after he was found guilty of failing to slow to 60 km/h while passing an emergency vehicle with its lights flashing.

Vellacott, 51, represented himself in a trial at traffic court, where he questioned the accuracy of the radar unit that showed he was travelling 88 km/h as he passed an RCMP cruiser that had pulled over a different vehicle last Aug. 8 on Highway 11, about 1.6 kilometres south of the Warman overpass.

The radar was operated by Const. Darcy McGunigal in a second vehicle, which also had all of its lights flashing and which had stopped about three car lengths behind the first cruiser.

Vellacott said he slowed as he came over the hill and saw the flashing lights. He didn’t check his speedometer but estimated that he slowed to 60 km/h, “or maybe a few clicks over,” he said.

“I was in the left lane. I don’t think I was a risk to anyone at all,” he said.

He suggested his 1996 Dodge minivan, in the left lane of the divided highway, was too far left for the radar “cone” to have captured it as it passed the front cruiser.

“If he wasn’t in the cone, we wouldn’t have a reading,” Crown prosecutor Larry Danylyshen said.

Vellacott also suggested the radar reading may have been taken after his van had progressed out of the passing zone intended by the legislation, after he had passed both cruisers and was accelerating back to normal highway speed.

McGunigal and his partner that night, Const. Dean Yuzik, both said the reading was locked in just as Vellacott’s van was beside the other cruiser.

“It’s mostly common sense. Obviously, when you’re beside the emergency vehicle, you’re in the zone,” Yuzik said.

Vellacott also suggested the radar reading might have been affected by the beam hitting a rear-view mirror on one of the vehicles.

“No. I think that’s ludicrous,” McGunigal said.

Vellacott said he knew he should slow for emergency vehicles but doesn’t think he was aware the limit was 60 km/h.

“Ignorance of the law is not an exception,” said justice of the peace Kim Dmytryshyn, who noted there have been police officers killed by passing vehicles during such traffic stops. She also ordered Vellacott to pay a $30 surcharge.

Vellacott said he will research whether radar can be affected by reflecting off mirrors and will be offended if he finds they can be.

From the Star Pheonix