Greetings from Adelaide Australia!
From Bob Jones University to the Roman Catholic Church, the story of Dwight Longenecker. “I began to study the writings of the early Church fathers and got a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In our [Anglican] parish Bible study I took our people through a study of the New Testament Church. We considered the role Jesus gave the apostles. We considered what St Paul had to say about the Church. We considered the New Testament’s clear teaching that Church unity must be maintained at all costs. We confronted the verses which taught that the Church was built of the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Eph. 2:20) and that it was the Church through which God has made manifest his wisdom. (Eph. 3:10) and that the Church is the ‘pillar and foundation of truth’ (I Tim. 3:15) I was stunned when one lady in the Bible study said, ‘If what you are saying is right vicar, all of us ought to become Roman Catholics!’ She had drawn the very conclusions that I was trying to run away from.” Longenecker’s conversion landed on the issue of authority: “To offer a universal Christ in a personal way the Church had to speak with an authority that was bigger than any one individual. That authority had to have certain traits to offer a Christ who was both personal and universal. I began to draw up a little list to outline what traits such an authority ought to have.”
Is fellowship simply fellowship in mission? Chaplain Mike pushes back against Francis Chan. “Francis Chan must be reading a different Bible. The other day I watched a video clip from a message he gave at the 2012 Verve Conference in which he asserted that genuine Christian fellowship is missional fellowship. I think Francis Chan is partly right there, but the way he said it was striking and revelatory of the way many evangelicals today read and interpret Scripture…. Francis Chan rightly objects to temple-oriented “churchianity” and the kind of “fellowship” that primarily serves the personal comforts and needs of the church members. Too many churches, of course, are inwardly focused. Our fellowship is greatly enhanced when we break up the “holy huddle” and serve together for the sake of others. But to say — “If I just read the Scriptures, I wouldn’t even think so much about the gathering. You know–Like, my first thought wouldn’t be, ‘Let’s have a gathering.’ Out of the Scriptures, I would think, ‘I’m on a mission…’” — that is the kind of reading and application that gets evangelicals in trouble regularly. This view ignores the Story of the Bible and its consistent testimony to the ecclesial nature of salvation. The Story of the Bible is not only not about “me and Jesus” it is also not about “me on a mission.” It is about God forming a people, a family, a holy nation, a kingdom, a community for the new creation. It is a missional community, yes, but that’s not all it is.”
Bill Kinnon: “The separation of church and pastor is largely responsible, in my never humble opinion, for both the abuse of pastors, as well as abusive pastors.”
God thoughts and control: “But how does religion do this? The scientists think that faith-based thoughts may increase “self-monitoring” by evoking the idea of an all-knowing, omnipresent God. Previous research, which showed that priming people to think of a vengeful, angry God reduces the likelihood of dishonesty, supports this view. If God is always watching, we better not misbehave—he knows about the pepperoni. For Rabbi Wolpe, these results are an important reminder that human nature is deeply shaped by external structures. “People need a system of rules to live by,” he says, adding: “People drive slower when they see a police car. God is a bit like that police car: Thinking about Him makes it easier to do the right thing.” [HT: SS]
From The Anxious Bench blog by Thomas Kidd: “This Sunday was the final meeting of Falls Church (Va.) Anglican at its historic location near Washington, D.C. The parish dates from 1732, the church’s brick sanctuary from 1767. George Washington and George Mason were among the church’s early vestrymen. Falls Church’s removal from the property resulted from the latest in a series of nationwide court decisions regarding congregations who have broken away from the Episcopal Church USA, often to re-affiliate with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, a “missionary district” of conservative churches sponsored by the Anglican Church of Nigeria.
Redemptive history preaching has its advantages and its disadvantages, and Jared Moore makes this clear. I find it more than a little odd that I searched “Israel” in this post and not one hit. I’m for the Trinitarian relations, but the best place to begin this is to learn to read the Bible from beginning to end, which means there’s a whole lot about Israel on the plane of history and whole lot about Jesus and another whole lot about the church. Redemptive history quickly succumbs to what I call “covenant soterian” frameworks. In the end, it cherry picks soteriological themes and calls that the Bible’s narrative.
Meanderings in the News
The “moral molecule”: “In 2001, I started studying a then little-appreciated molecule called oxytocin that initiates uterine contractions during mammalian birth and milk flow during breastfeeding. What else might this ancient nurturing chemical do, I wondered? A lot, it turns out. I found that oxytocin is the master “connection” molecule in human beings. It makes us care about our romantic partners, our kids, and our pets. But here’s the weird part: when the brain releases oxytocin we connect to complete strangers and care about them in tangible ways. Like giving them money.”
Do you read Marilynne Robinson? “Since her first novel,1980’s Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson has written just six books: two novels—Gilead (2004) and Home (2008)—and fourworks of non-fiction, Mother Country (1989), The Death of Adam(1998 ), Absence of Mind (2010), and this year’s When I Was A Child I Read Books. Can a novelist who produces only three works of fiction in 32 years be considered great? Can an essayist whose primary concerns—the compatibility of Christian dogma with science, the liberal origins of Calvinism—are far outside mainstream American thought be considered great? Robinson is an American original.”
Jonah Lehrer and the value of a second language: “Samuel Beckett, born in a suburb of Dublin in 1906, was a native English speaker. However, in 1946 Beckett decided that he would begin writing exclusively in French. After composing the first draft in his second language, he would then translate these words back into English. This difficult constraint – forcing himself to consciously unpack his own sentences – led to a burst of genius, as many of Beckett’s most famous works (Malloy, Malone Dies, Waiting for Godot, etc.) were written during this period. When asked why he wrote first in French, Beckett said it made it easier for him to “write without style.”
Ezra Klein: “[About ten days ago], on a mostly party-line vote, the House passed an amendment by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) to prohibit the National Science Foundation from funding political science research. And, in doing so, it politicized one of the main ways this country funds scientific research. “My amendment does not reduce funding for the NSF,” he explained. Rather, “this amendment is simply oriented toward ensuring, at the least, that the NSF does not waste taxpayer dollars on a meritless program.” Well, what Flake considers a meritless program, anyway. As Christopher Zorn writes, the NSF runs a widely respected peer-review program that decides what science to fund. If Flake wanted to reduce the funding available to the NSF in total, that would be one thing (and, to be fair to Flake, he has proposed that in the past). But what he’s doing here is telling the NSF what is and isn’t acceptable science to fund. That’s not how scientific decisions are supposed to work. And the effect could be chilling. Flake was quick to give examples of the “waste” that motivated his amendment. There was the “$700,000 to develop a new model for international climate change analysis” and the “$600,000 to try to figure out if policymakers actually do what citizens want them to do.” In other words, Flake didn’t like the kind of research that the NSF was funding in the political science arena, and so he barred the NSF from funding political science at all. Now imagine you’re part of a discipline that isn’t political science, but that relies on NSF funding. Or imagine you’re on one of the NSF panels that funds those disciplines. Think you’ll be a bit more careful about submitting or greenlighting work on climate change? Of course you will.”
Coffee and life expectancy: “(Health.com) — Drinking a daily cup of coffee — or even several cups — isn’t likely to harm your health, and it may even lower your risk of dying from chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests.”
Carson C. Chow, mathematics and obesity: “That the conventional wisdom of 3,500 calories less is what it takes to lose a pound of weight is wrong. The body changes as you lose. Interestingly, we also found that the fatter you get, the easier it is to gain weight. An extra 10 calories a day puts more weight onto an obese person than on a thinner one. Also, there’s a time constant that’s an important factor in weight loss. That’s because if you reduce your caloric intake, after a while, your body reaches equilibrium. It actually takes about three years for a dieter to reach their new “steady state.” Our model predicts that if you eat 100 calories fewer a day, in three years you will, on average, lose 10 pounds — if you don’t cheat. Another finding: Huge variations in your daily food intake will not cause variations in weight, as long as your average food intake over a year is about the same. This is because a person’s body will respond slowly to the food intake.”
Meanderings in Sports
It was 1936, it was Germany, it was the USA men’s basketball team, it was the Olympics, they played outdoors, they played on sand, it rained, and the opponents — the Canadians. A picture tells a hundred stories.