03 December 2008

quote of the day

"If I had been a priest I would have made a thorough study of Hebrew and Greek so as to understand the thought of God as he has vouchsafed to express it in our human language."

--St Theresa of the Child Jesus
(quoted in the front pages of A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament, 3rd Rev. Ed., by Max Zerwick, S.J.)

02 December 2008

quote of the day

"[Plato's] father Ariston traced his descent from Codrus, the last king of Athens, and the family of his mother Perictione was connected with Solon, who, as Field remarked (Ρ. and Contemps. 4), might be of less venerable antiquity but at least had the advantage of having really existed."

--from WKC Guthrie's A History of Greek Philosophy

16 November 2008

new anglican province coming to north america in december

It has been confirmed: the new Anglican province in North America will be officially established on December 3.

See the announcement by Bishops Duncan and Murdoch.

I am working on my commentary--we have a lot of hard work ahead, and I believe some of our parish experiences at CHS can illustrate the challenges ahead. Exciting? Yes! Fulfilling? Yes! But a challenge (you should have heard the boss-man preach today--it rocked us all)!

if sarah palin was your mother...

...what would she name you?

Go to this website and input your real name to find out what your name would be if Governor Palin was your maternal unit. Apparently, she would have named me "Copper Catfish Palin."

Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator

13 November 2008

c.s. lewis on authority

Do not be scared by the word authority. Believing things on authority only means believing them because you have been told them by someone you think trustworthy.

--C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

31 October 2008

anglicans: listen up!

What attribute do you most frequently associate with the faithfulness of a saint?

A. Piety
B. Heroism
C. Mysticism
D. Sacrifice
E. Wisdom

This was the poll question at the website of The Living Church. The questions change frequently, so it probably won't even be there tomorrow, but when I clicked on my response, I was dismayed to learn which answer had over 50% of the vote.


Look, I understand the politics of Anglican Christianity in North America these days, so I understand that peole might want to think "sacrifice" because a lot of people are making big sacrifices in order to maintain the Faith Once Received. But to say "sacrifice" is such a basic biblical error that I want to shake some people!

1 Samuel 15:22--And Samuel said, "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams." (ESV)

The correct answer is "A".

27 October 2008

ha ha ha

Gas prices are dropping steadily all over--coming to the church this morning, gas was $2.12. It will probably be lower when I go home!

As nice as it is to have the prices going down, I laughed out loud this weekend over the gas prices in the movie Die Hard, which I think was showing on TNT or some other basic cable channel. Here, apparently, are the gas prices in California in 1988:

25 October 2008

debate: is abortion morally justifiable in a free society

I am using this debate on abortion in my intro to philosophy class, in the section on ethics. The debate is between Prof. David Boonin (Affirmative), of U. Colorado-Boulder, and Prof. Peter Kreeft (Negative), of Boston College. If you know which of these men I greatly admire, you know who I'm agreeing with in this debate.

Check out the debate in either video or audio, held at Yale University. Note that this debate is over 90 minutes long--not for someone looking to kill a few minutes on the internet!

Just for kicks, I was going to post my five-page outline of the debate that I prepared for my students, but I don't see how I can do that on blogger. If you want a copy, let me know in the comments.

23 October 2008

the hour of holiness

A great teaching program that been on AFR (which I can't get in Tulsa) is now available online: The Hour of Holiness, from Wesley Biblical Seminary. Dr. Bill Ury, theology prof at WBS, teaches these 30-minute lessons, rich in content and incredibly pastoral. Dr. Ury was the reason I went to WBS, was my thesis advisor, and his work in the early Church and Trinitarian thought has deeply influenced me and scores of his other students.


09 October 2008

romans 1 is not about temple prostitution

I know of no serious biblical scholar, even prohomosex biblical scholar, who argues that Paul had in mind only or primarily temple prostitution (not Nissinen, not Brooten, not Fredrickson, not Schoedel, not Bird, not Martin, etc). There are many reasons why this view has not found a welcome in serious biblical scholarship. I shall limit myself to fifteen such reasons, without making a pretense that the list is exhaustive.

1. Rogers' historical anachronism regarding temple prostitution in Corinth. Rogers' trip to Corinth convinced him that Paul's views on homosexual behavior were profoundly influenced by the alleged existence of seven thousand prostitutes, male and female at the temple of Aphrodite in Corinth in Paul's day. As it happens, the only ancient account that refers to cult prostitutes at the temple of Aphrodite in Corinth is a brief mention by Strabo in Geography 8.6.20c:

And the temple of Aphrodite was so rich that it owned more than a thousand temple-slaves, prostitutes, whom both men and women had dedicated to the goddess. And therefore it was on account of these women that the city was crowded with people and grew rich. (Text and commentary in: Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, St. Paul's Corinth: Texts and Archaeology [GNS 6; Wilmington: M. Glazier, 1983], 55-57)

Any critical New Testament scholar knows that Strabo's comments (1) applied only to Greek Corinth in existence several centuries before the time of Paul, not the Roman Corinth of Paul's day; (2) referred to more than a thousand prostitutes, not seven thousand; and (3) mentioned only female (heterosexual) prostitutes, not male (homosexual) prostitutes. Scholars agree that there was no massive business of female cult prostitutes, to say nothing of male homosexual cult prostitutes operating out of the temple of Aphrodite in Paul's day; and that there may not have been such a business even in earlier times (i.e., Strabo was confused). This is not particularly new information, which makes it all the more surprising that Rogers was taken in, apparently, by an ill-informed tour guide. For example, Hans Conzelmann made the following remarks in his major commentary on 1 Corinthians written some thirty years ago:

Incidentally, the often-peddled statement that Corinth was a seat of sacred prostitution (in the service of Aphrodite) is a fable. This realization also disposes of the inference that behind the Aphrodite of Corinth lurks the Phoenician Astarte. [Note 97:] The fable is based on Strabo, Geog. 8.378. . . . Strabo, however, is not speaking of the present, but of the city's ancient golden period. . . . Incidentally, Strabo's assertion is not even true of the ancient Corinth. (1 Corinthians [Hermeneia; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1975 [German original, 1969], 12)

This continues to be the view held by scholars. As Bruce Winter notes in a recent significant work on 1 Corinthians,

Strabo's comments about 1,000 religious prostitutes of Aphrodite . . . are unmistakably about Greek and not Roman Corinth. As temple prostitution was not a Greek phenomenon, the veracity of his comments on this point have been rightly questioned. The size of the Roman temple of Aphrodite on the Acrocorinth ruled out such temple prostitution; and by that time she had become Venus, the venerated mother of the imperial family and the highly respected patroness of Corinth, and was no longer a sex symbol (After Paul Left Corinth: The Influence of Secular Ethics and Social Change [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001], 87-88; similarly, Murphy-O'Connor, St. Paul's Corinth, 55-56)

The scholarly consensus that there was no homosexual prostitution at the Corinthian temple of Aphrodite in Paul's day is enough, all by itself, to dispense with Rogers's theory and show Rogers's unreliability as an exegete of the biblical text. But we continue anyway.

Read it all--good stuff.

27 September 2008

jesus is a friend of mine: sonseed & david crowder band

The world changed in September 2008, with the return of the melodic stylings of Sonseed. Thanks to William Brown for pointing to this video for "Jesus is a Friend of Mine":

This weekend I ran across David Crowder Band in their setting at University Baptist in Waco with their own version of the Sonseed instant classic:

18 September 2008

iowa 17, iowa state 5 (3-0)

Another week, another win. Some detractors might add, another weak team, another win. Yes and no. The Hawks are playing convincingly good football, and the victory over Iowa State shows they can win. ISU is not a good team, but it is our in-state rival, and both teams are always geared up for the game, as is the entire state of Iowa. The field was brutal, with standing water and awful conditions, so I'll take a 17-5 win. RB Shonn Greene is looking good.

Big Ten Network has the highlights of the Iowa-Iowa State game.

Next week at Pitt will be a crucial game for the year and the door to the conference schedule. Iowa is on a disastrous 1-for-7 streak for away games. The game will be on ESPN2 at 11am, so I've already got the couch reserved!

Speaking of football, my NFL FF team is 0-2, even though I was projected to beat my dad's team by thirty-some points. One of his WRs was setting franchise records, so what was I to do???

12 September 2008

come to penn state!

If you're fortunate enough not to be a Big Ten football fan like me (it's been rough lately), you may not have seen the ad for the Big Ten Network. It's a good 60 seconds of coaches trying to recruit players, but the best part is the very end, with Joe Paterno's, "Come to Penn State." The ad is worth the watch just for JoePa.

11 September 2008

theology is not for everyone

From St Gregory of Nazianzus:

"Discussion of theology is not for everyone, I tell you, not for everyone--it is no such inexpensive or effortless pursuit. Nor, I would add, is it for every occasion, or every audience; neither are all its aspects open to inquiry. It must be reserved for certain occasions, for certain audiences, and certain limits must be observed. It is not for all people, but only for those who have been tested and have found a sound footing in study, and, more importantly, have undergone, or at the very least are undergoing, purification of body and soul. For one who is not pure to lay hold of pure things is dangerous, just as it is for weak eyes to look at the sun's brightness."

Gregory speaks to a number of challenges for today's church, which I hope to address in separate posts, though I welcome any comments now:
1) Theology is not simple.
2) Theology from everyone, by everyone, is killing the Church. Many think they have a "right" to be heard, to have a place at the table, when shaping the way the Church talks about interpreting God's revelation of himself. Not necessarily so!
3) Theology rightly belongs to the Church.
4) Theology is not solely intellectual, but a spiritual undertaking.

08 September 2008

iowa 42, florida international 0 (2-0)

Week two of another game the Hawks should win easily--and they did. Score at halftime was 35-0, but Kirk Ferentz has more class than to run it up. Running back Shonn Greene had 130 yards on 13 carries, but even more exciting is a genuine quarterback controversy! Christiansen or Stanzi??? Christiansen was the starter last year and also game 1, but Stanzi started this second game of the season and outshone Christiansen. Big Ten Network has the highlights. Iowa State is next week, so it's anyone's game.

Speaking of football:
--condolences to my friend and boss, Dr. Briane Turley. His WVU Mountaineers got beat badly. Ugh.

--"condolences" to my brother, Nathan, who just a few weeks ago took Tom Brady with the #5 pick in our Fantasy Football league. Jon Kitna is my backup QB--I'm willing to talk trade...

31 August 2008

iowa 46, maine 3

Great to get to see some Hawkeye football this weekend, as we beat Maine 46-3. Yes, I know Iowa is a Big Ten school and Maine is D-II, so we should have beaten them like that. The Hawks looked much better in this opener than last year's opener, when they won 16-3 against a lousy Northern Illinois team that ended the season 2-10.

The Big Ten Network has a five-minute video with highlights from the Iowa-Maine game and the post-game press conference with head coach Kirk Ferentz. Check it out.

29 August 2008

how many countries can you name in five minutes?

Stumbled on this fun quiz surfing some Anglican blogs...


18 August 2008

st ephrem the syrian on christ's victory over death

At a Eucharist before a recent memorial service, I read a portion from an Easter sermon by St Ephrem the Syrian (I did my master's thesis on him). I've had at least two people come up to me since asking for copies of that, so I thought I would put it here as well.

Death trampled our Lord underfoot, but he in his turn treated death as a highroad for his own feet. He submitted to it, enduring it willingly, because by this means he would be able to destroy death in spite of itself. Death had its own way when our Lord went out from Jerusalem carrying his cross; but when by a loud cry from that cross he summoned the dead from the underworld, death was powerless to prevent it.

Death slew him by means of the body which he had assumed, but that same body proved to be the weapon with which he conquered death. Concealed beneath the cloak of his manhood, his godhead engaged death in combat; but in slaying our Lord, death itself was slain. It was able to kill natural human life, but was itself killed by the life that is above the nature of man.

Death could not devour our Lord unless he possessed a body, neither could hell swallow him up unless he bore our flesh; and so he came in search of a chariot in which to ride to the underworld. This chariot was the body which he received from the Virgin; in it he invaded death’s fortress, broke open its strong-room and scattered all its treasure.

At length he came upon Eve, the mother of all the living. She was that vineyard whose enclosure her own hands had enabled death to violate, so that she could taste its fruit; thus the mother of all the living became the source of death for every living creature. But in her stead Mary grew up, a new vine in place of the old. Christ, the new life, dwelt within her. When death, with its customary impudence, came foraging for her mortal fruit, it encountered its own destruction in the hidden life that fruit contained. All unsuspecting, it swallowed him up, and in so doing released life itself and set free a multitude of men.

He who was also the carpenter’s glorious son set up his cross above death’s all-consuming jaws, and led the human race into the dwelling place of life. Since a tree had brought about the downfall of mankind, it was upon a tree that mankind crossed over to the realm of life. Bitter was the branch that had once been grafted upon that ancient tree, but sweet the young shoot that has now been grafted in, the shoot in which we are meant to recognise the Lord whom no creature can resist.

We give glory to you, Lord, who raised up your cross to span the jaws of death like a bridge by which souls might pass from the region of the dead to the land of the living. We give glory to you who put on the body of a single mortal man and made it the source of life for every other mortal man. You are incontestably alive. Your murderers sowed your living body in the earth as farmers sow grain, but it sprang up and yielded an abundant harvest of men raised from the dead.

Come then, my brothers and sisters, let us offer our Lord the great and all-embracing sacrifice of our love, pouring out our treasury of hymns and prayers before him who offered his cross in sacrifice to God for the enrichment of us all.

17 August 2008

ken lee

From "Music Idol" in Bulgaria.

11 August 2008

hermeneutics & children's curriculum

An interesting piece...

Seminaries and grad programs that train pastors, and the academics who teach in those programs are very concerned about proper hermeneutics. We want pastors to have the very best training so that God’s word is handled properly and that preaching proceeds from the authoritative teaching of the text rather than from human cleverness or tangential ideas. This is as it should be since we seek to teach with the authority of God’s Word. My question is, why do we not show the same interest in assuring that children are taught with the same care?

It has been my practice over the years to work with the Children’s education program in my church to evaluate curriculum and train teachers for the pre-school through elementary grades. What I find in curricula is consistently shocking from a hermeneutical standpoint. I should hasten to say that curricula are often excellent from an educational standpoint—for that is the expertise of those producing curriculum. In the area of hermeneutics, however, the violations of sound method are frequent and obvious. I have identified five basic fallacies that appear repeatedly:

1. Promotion of the Trivial: The lesson is based on what is a passing comment in the text (Josh 9:13, they did not consult the Lord), a casual observation about the text (Moses persevered in going back before Pharaoh over and over) or even a deduction supplied in the text (Joshua and Caleb were brave and strong). The Bible is not being properly taught if we are teaching virtues that the text does not have in focus in that passage. We would like children to be virtuous, but we dare not teach virtues rather than the Bible. The plague narratives are not teaching perseverance nor is the feeding of the multitude teaching sharing (as done by the little boy in one of the accounts).

2. Illegitimate extrapolation: The lesson is improperly expanded from a specific situation to all general situations (God helped Moses do a hard thing, so God will help you do a hard thing. But the hard thing Moses was doing was something commanded by God whereas in the lesson the hard thing becomes anything the child wants to achieve). In these cases what the text is teaching is passed by in favor of what the curriculum wants to teach and biblical authority is neglected.

3. Reading Between the Lines: This occurs when teachers or students are asked to analyze what the characters are thinking, speculate on their motives, or fill in details of the plot that the story does not give. When such speculations become the center of the lesson, the authority of the biblical teaching is lost because the teaching is centered on what the reader provided.

4. Missing important nuance: This occurs when the curriculum pinpoints an appropriate lesson but misses a connection that should be made to drive the point home accurately. It is not enough, for instance to say that God wants us to keep his rules—it is important to realize that God has given us a sense of who he is and how we ought to respond in our lives. It is not just an issue of obeying rules—God wants us to know him and respond to him by following in his ways and being like him.

5. Focus on people rather than God: The Bible is God’s revelation of himself and its message and teaching is largely based on what it tells us about God. This is particularly true of narrative (stories). While we are drawn to observe the people in the stories, we cannot forget that the stories are intended to teach us about God more than about people. If in the end, the final point is “We should/shouldn’t be like X (= some biblical character)” there is probably a problem unless the “X” is Jesus or God. Better is “we can learn through X’s story that God . . .”

If we are negligent of sound hermeneutics when we teach Bible to children, should it be any wonder that when they get into youth groups, Bible studies and become adults in the church, that they do not know how to derive the authoritative teaching from the text?

We all have a working hermeneutic, even though most have never taken a course. Where do we learn it? We learn it from those we respect. For many people this means that they learn their hermeneutics from their Sunday school teachers. Teachers in turn teach what is put into their hands. Perhaps we ought to be more attentive how Sunday school curriculum is teaching our children to find the authoritative teaching of God in the stories.
From the Zondervan blog, by Wheaton prof John H. Walton.

09 August 2008

a tale of two car repairs

It was the best of vacations, it was the worst of vacations...

No, actually, we had a great vacation--just got back from a week of travels. We spent most of the time with my parents in IL, but also saw our friends Ben and Krisanne in IL and Rebecca's grandmother in MO.

The troubles started last Saturday--as we were leaving the home of some friends that evening, the van took several times to start. Rebecca has been warning me about this problem, but the van never seems to act up when I'm driving. I still have my keys and alarm code to my father-in-law's mechanic shop where I used to work, so after dropping the family off I went to the shop and checked the charging system. Battery: good. Alternator: bad. Ugh. It was now 9:45 on Saturday evening, and we were planning on leaving early the next morning.

I had one trick up my sleeve from my shop management days, and still knew the wholesale number to the local O'Reilly auto parts store. They were open until 10pm during the week--what about Saturday? Sure enough, they were open for fifteen more minutes, and they had one alternator in stock that fit our car. So I went after it, took it back to the shop and prepared to install an alternator on my wife's van, which is absolutely hilarious, because I am the black hole of auto repair. I can sell the repair, but the most I had ever done before was an oil change.

Fortunately, Tony, my father-in-law, showed up as I was printing instructions on how to install the alternator, and he said he would help. Which of course meant that he installed it and I "helped," which itself means that I held the flashlight. He did it in about 45 minutes--would have taken me over two hours. So, thanks to my sales background at the shop and my father-in-law's gracious work, we were on the road the next day, rather than waiting until Monday for a repair.

On the way home, our left rear tire separated, losing a nice chunk of tread, so I got to put the spare on at the side of the OK Turnpike, as trucks whizzed by at 85mph. Check it out--yes, this tire is the one from our car. During my time at the shop I had seen so many people that couldn't deal with a flat, because they didn't know how to get their spare, never checked the air in the spare, couldn't find the wheel lock key, etc. so I learned from their mistake, knew all my details and it was a relatively quick process. Which probably seems like a minor deal to most people, but to me, that was pretty cool.

These were minor issues compared to what could have happened, but we are grateful to be home. We found gas for $3.36 in Missouri--how awesome was that? How ridiculous was it that were were excited about $3.36 gas? Rebecca and I also got a good deal of time to discuss something that we have been talking about for some time, and made two pretty big decisions during this trip. More on those later, probably next week.

02 August 2008

video interview with gregory venables, anglican primate of the southern cone

AnglicanTV interviewed Archbishop Gregory Venables near the close of the Lambeth Conference. The archbishop is our primate at CHS, and his evangelical spirit is a joy to experience.

Check out the video here.

28 July 2008

summer teaching

I work full-time at our church, but the powers-that-be allow me to do some teaching on the side at Tulsa Community College. This summer it has been a history class. It was quite stressful--it was a four-week class, four days a week, in an area (US History) that is certainly not my specialty. I would go to class at nine, then go to the office until early evening, plus pastoral calls or whatever, since for three of those four weeks the rector was out! Then it was home, eat supper, and start preparing for the next day until the wee hours of the morning.

One neat thing about the summer class that I didn't experience during the school year was students of other schools trying to earn some credits. One such student was a young man named Jonah who attends Berklee College of Music in Boston. Check out his video (he's on the piano):

23 July 2008

lambeth report from bishop peter beckwith

The Rt. Rev. Peter Beckwith, Bishop of Springfield (IL), speaks strong words about the Lambeth Conference:

“In my Bible study group I apologised for the behaviour of our province that has brought us to the brink of schism. Two hundred and seventy bishops are not here because they refuse to sit down with people who refuse to repent. Gene Robinson is a nice guy, but his lifestyle is not appropriate for a leader of the Church. Sure he’s a bishop, we ordained him. But that says something about our integrity. On the second day of our retreat, I had the feeling we were on the edge of a 10-storey building and the Archbishop of Canterbury was trying to talk us down without a safety net. He’s a wonderful guy, with a lot of integrity but he assumes everyone else has integrity too. The Episcopal Church is not representing the scriptural authority of Christ. In the Episcopal Church, the biggest lie of all is that sexual morality doesn’t matter, or that it’s changing, that God is doing a new thing. Yet prophetic voices in our history have always taken us back to basics. It will be very interesting to see how things develop here. Will enough be done to preserve the integrity of the Communion? We won’t hold together if we continue like this. It will end with a lot of fragments if this conference isn’t able to give a strong confident way forward. In the meeting with the Southern Cone, they were concerned to send a strong signal from this gathering that the Anglican Communion is going to stand for Orthodoxy. It was said in that meeting that the Western Church says things that are not Anglican and not Christian. But, as the Archbishop of Sudan has said, we can’t predict the future. We have to wait and see. The proof will be in the pudding. The time for procrastination and equivocation is over. ”

From here.

x-files--i think i want to believe

This weekend sees the release of the movie, The X-Files: I Want To Believe. When I first heard that this film was coming out, my immediate reaction was, "who called for an X-Files movie?" I have heard no hue and cry about the need for this movie, nobody lamenting the absence of Mulder and Scully on the TV, much less on the big screen. The show has been off the air for 6 years (with Mulder hardly involved the final two seasons), and the first film, which was released in 1998, wasn't great.

X-Files is a phenomenon that worked on the small screen, as episodes, but, in my opinion, did not work well on the large screen. At least when they released the first movie, the TV show was still being produced and the film fit into existing story lines. What now? They have to reintroduce the characters, catch us up, and only then can they tell a story. I don't know--I even found the trailer underwhelming.

And I liked the X-Files television show. The relationship of Mulder and Scully was really well done, especially when they didn't give it the old "Moonlighting" treatment and bury the show! More interesting was that Mulder and Scully harbored mirror versions of a skepticism/faith dialectic. Scully was a skeptic concerning aliens and the paranormal but had a deep Catholic faith. Mulder eschewed traditional religion but believed heartily in the existence of UFO's, psychics, etc. This double paradox was, in my mind, one of the best aspects of X-Files. It's hard to live that in a 90 minute film after being gone for several years.

22 July 2008

when the lambeth hits the fan

At the Lambeth conference today, Sudanese archbishop Daniel Deng Bul spoke openly about the necessity of Gene Robinson's resignation as Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire.

Here is a portion of the statement:

"He should resign for the sake of the church," Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul told reporters at a once-in-a-decade summit of Anglican leaders.

"God is not making a mistake creating Adam and Eve. He would have created two Adams if he wanted," he said.

A quarter of the world's Anglican bishops have boycotted the Lambeth Conference in an angry war of words between conservatives and liberals over the ordination of Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the 450-year-old church's history.

"We are for the Anglican world and we want the Anglican world to remain united," the Sudanese archbishop said.

"Over 300 bishops have stayed away from this conference because of Gene Robinson," he added. "The norms of the Anglican communion have been violated."

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of the world's 77 million Anglicans, decided not to invite Robinson to the Lmabeth Conference -- but he still came to the cathedral city on Monday to meet supporters on the fringes of the summit.

In a joint statement, Sudanese bishops accused North American church leaders of ridiculing Anglicanism and destroying its credibility by ordaining gay American clergy and blessing same-sex unions in Canada.

"We appeal to this Lambeth Conference to rescue the Anglican Communion from being divided," they said.

summer pictures

At Rebecca's birthday party July 4: Jonah, Elijah, Lily
Being Daddy to a baby girl is kinda awesome

Lily: 4th of July

21 July 2008

for greek geeks only

Back in ye olde HSBC days, Matt Johnson and I were mercilessly ridiculed as "Greek geeks." OK, maybe it wasn't so merciless [except for Julia--she was especially brutal :) ], but the label fit--you know we were geeked for it--NT Greek was at 6:40am, MWF--and, just to make it interesting, I had security duty Sunday night until 3am Monday.

Anyway, after several years of studying Classical and New Testament Greek, I'm still a Greek geek--use it all the time. So I was especially geeked to learn about the online Codex Sinaiticus Project. What is Codex Sinaiticus, you ask. Glad you asked. It is a 4th century Greek manuscript of much of the Bible, and is the oldest manuscript extant of the entire New Testament. Now these pages will be available to all for study and making huge posters for your wall.

Run, don't walk, to The Codex Sinaiticus Project -- goes online Thursday, July 24!

20 July 2008

silly americans...

When you go to Quiktrip for a fountain drink, you have a choice of crushed or cubed ice.

A choice. You can pick. Little ice or big ice?

Is it a sign that I am a true American that I have a preference? that I will wait in line to get cubed ice rather than crushed, even though my Pepsi is right next to the crushed?

19 July 2008


The Anglican Communion appears to be passing the point of no return towards real schism. The Lambeth Conference, the meeting of Anglican bishops once every ten years, has publicly stated it will not pass any resolutions concerning the current disaster, and all reports from inside say that it is the liberals drawing the conservatives further from orthodoxy, and not the other way around. For continuing coverage of Lambeth, I recommend especially TitusOneNine and Stand Firm.

Dean Robert Munday, of Nashotah House (an Anglo-Catholic/Evangelical Episcopal seminary in WI), offers this analysis:

Certainly, the Episcopal Church has been in a state of declining membership and increasing departures from historic, biblical Christianity for virtually the whole time I have been a member. But I always thought that the Anglican Communion would be the Episcopal Church's salvation, not that the Episcopal Church would be the cause of the Anglican Communion's destruction. I really never thought it would come to this.
Please read it all. Pray for the Anglican Communion--it will take nothing less than a sizeable miracle to stop the divorce proceedings.

17 July 2008

it's an ordination picture!!!

I've mentioned that one event during my blog vacation was my ordination to the priesthood in April. Despite the fact that we had been working toward this for years (almost a decade for me, and Rebecca has been right alongside for most of that), we walked away with virtually no pictures. We had given our camera to a parishioner who was there, but we had left the setting on "close-up," which meant that all our pictures were blurry (not his fault, of course). No fear, my grandfather had his camera. However, when I contacted him to see if we could get copies, he had lost his camera! AAAAAHHH!!!

Thanks be to God, Grandpa found his camera a few weeks ago and sent me the pictures he had. So here are Rebecca and me right after my ordination.

14 July 2008

another gafcon reflection (fr. gregg riley of western louisiana)

Bobby Jackson Kennedy is a parishioner of Grace Church, Monroe (in the Episcopal Diocese of Western Louisiana, where Rebecca and I used to live and where I was Minister to Youth at the Church of the Ascension, Lafayette, for several years). He has interviewed his rector, Fr. Gregg Riley, who, like our rector, was a GAFCON pilgrim.

Here's a taste of the interview:

BJK: What is the next step for the Diocese of Western Louisiana and Grace Church?

GR+: Our Diocesan Convention meets in October and I sit on the executive council of the diocese. The Bishop has told me personally that after Lambeth, the executive council will meet in August. He will then give us his opinion concerning where things are and the options we have for the diocese. It is his desire that IF the diocese chooses to do something that we do it as a whole. I would also prefer that. Being realistic, whatever decision the diocese makes, if we decide to move as a diocese, there will be certain clergy, parishes, and laypeople who will want to remain in TEC. Likewise, if we don’t move as a diocese, there will be clergy, parishes, and lay people who don’t want to stay. That will be a reality after October. The bishop is wise enough, and intelligent enough, to know that is going to happen. No matter what happens at the convention in October, someone will not be happy. There is going to be movement, but the question is where.

Read the whole interview here -- a number of interesting things to hear about the reflections of that diocese and its leadership -- thanks for the interview, B.J.!

13 July 2008

the top 50 most influential figures in the anglican communion

The Telegraph, in the UK, has published a list of who they believe to be the 50 most influential figures in the Anglican Communion. Starting at #50 with The Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner, an Anglican Communion Insitute fellow and professor of historical theology at Wycliffe College in Toronto, to #1, who else, the Archbishop of Canterbury himself, Dr. Rowan Williams, the list includes a wide variety of Anglicans from every theological stripe.

Of course there are many who would question persons and their ranking in this list, or who got left out--such as the lack of former heavy hitters across the theological gamut, like John Stott or Louie Crew. My personal favorites are the comments section that we all must endure in these uber-interactive days, where individuals lash out because Jesus isn't on the list (bad, bad Christology, but who said we Anglicans are theologians anyway), or they mention someone local that no one fifty miles away from there has heard of.

But the real bombshell in this poll comes in the Top Ten. The Telegraph, no friend of theological conservatives, testifies itself to the giant rift that liberal Anglicans in North America claim is only the schism of a few, when half of those listed in the Telegraph Top Ten attended GAFCON (#9 +Nazir-Ali, #8 +Jensen, #7 +Venables, #5 +Orombi, #3 +Akinola). 5 of the top 10 most influential Anglicans attended the conference designed to provide theological conservatives a viable place in Anglican Christianity.

For those who say that the GAFCON group is leaving Anglicanism, this poll demonstrates that the GAFCON adherents are not just a splinter group. For those who say that the GAFCON group is destroying Anglicanism, it is instead the actions of the "inclusive" "progressives" doing just that, shown once again in the recent CofE decision to consecrate women as bishops without providing safeguards for a significant minority in the church that does not believe women can be bishops. The other members of the Top Ten include radical liberals like +Jefferts-Schori and +Robinson, demonstrating that the most influential are by and large the most disparate in their views of Jesus, the Scriptures and the Church. No wonder we're in such a mess.

You know what Jesus said about a house divided against itself...

10 July 2008

the meaning of the jerusalem declaration (gafcon)

Dr. Briane Turley is an Anglican priest with a Ph.D. in Religious History who attended the GAFCON conference in Jerusalem. Oh, he's also my boss--he made me put this on my blog (just kidding--it's on most of the major Anglican sites already). To read the GAFCON final statement, go here.

In his watershed analysis of the rapidly emerging Christian movements in the Global South titled The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity, religious sociologist Philip Jenkins discerned that, regardless of the paternalistic interpretations that Christian observers in Europe and North America may nurture, "the emerging Christian world will be anchored in the Southern continents."

A careful scholar, Jenkins relied upon the best available data while weaving his thesis. And it is for this reason that his work serves as one of the premiere harbingers of what has, seven years after he wrote, come to pass. Those of us familiar with Jenkins' work who attended the GAFCON in Jerusalem were very much aware that the event served, in many respects, as a sign that the future Jenkins so accurately described is now present with us.

GAFCON was a uniquely global experience. During my week in Jerusalem as I served as a delegate or "pilgrim" to the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), I often reflected on Jenkins' analysis. Individuals whose skin is darker than mine dominated every meeting, every worship service, and every foray into the Israeli countryside. Organized and orchestrated primarily by Christian leaders representing third-world Anglican Provinces, the conference and its place in history should not be underestimated by revisionist or orthodox Christians. The nearly 300 bishops representing 25 nations who turned out for the gathering oversee more than half the Communion's adherents and perhaps more than 2/3rds the active Communion. Much more than a demonstration of support for orthodox Anglicans in North America, GAFCON is emblematic of a Global South Christianity come of age.

The ironies surrounding GAFCON's issuance of its highly controversial Jerusalem Declaration are manifold. Consider, for example, the movement's affinities with liberation theology. Phillip Berryman recognized liberation theology in broadest terms as "an interpretation of Christian faith through the poor's suffering, their struggle and hope, and a critique of society and the Catholic faith and Christianity through the eyes of the poor."

For decades, Western liberals saw in the Global South a tool and an ally to help advance their radical social/political agenda. Third world churches that received the West's "generous subsidies" were, the liberals thought, duty bound to embrace Marxist inspired liberation theologies that would abet their own cosmology. A remarkably paternalistic class, these same liberals now feel betrayed by a Global South Christianity that has rejected Marx in favor of a conservative theological position.

Recent commentary regarding the "GAFCON rebels" published by Anglicans in the United Kingdom and North America indicates that the gloves have come off and that a head-on collision between what remains of well-monied Western revisionist Christians and the economically poor, disfranchised emerging Southern orthodox is inevitable.

Why, precisely, have Global South Christians rejected Western ecclesiological neopatrimonialisms? In effect, at Jerusalem the South declared that the colonialist methods of maintaining the Anglican Communion represent a catastrophic failure. Heretical Western bishops openly teach with impunity that Christ was a sinner and that he was not raised from the grave while theologically faithful bishops like Dr. William Jackson Cox are publicly disciplined and then jettisoned from the church. All the while, the Archbishop of Canterbury observes what is happening in silence or, on occasion, calls on Anglicans to continue "listening" or to participate in "gracious conversation."

Lean southerners have been "listening" to their well-fed, tony neighbors for a long time and as a matter of courtesy will continue to do so in the future. But as Episcopal Church leaders deposed priests by the score and drove biblically-focused congregations from their buildings, the Global South bishops grew steadfastly aware that the calls for gracious conversation, for bringing their "exuberance to the larger party" while their deadlines for clarity were being ignored were red herrings, obfuscatory techniques designed to buy time and hopefully fatigue the opposition.

The Western scheme has failed. Now fully empowered, well-educated, and shrewd, our third-world counterparts are serving notice that they are no longer willing to sit idly while Lambeth continues to engineer decadal stall tactics ( e.g., boundless gracious discussion sessions) designed ultimately to protect the worldly interests of an aggressively anti-orthodox American Episcopal Church.

The Western liberals seem incapable of recognizing the rapidly shifting paradigm occurring in their midst. Their ears now appear dull, their eyes dim (Isaiah 6). Having sloshed through their plans for the colonials over cocktails, few seem all that interested in listening to the narratives of their Global South neighbors. Few seem inclined to consider even the stories of martyrdom that many in Africa and Asia are able to share. Western liberals now find themselves in the unenviable position of explaining why they are unable to abide the third world's critique and the liberation they discovered in the Gospel. They must find ways to explain to them that they are not, indeed, the oppressors.

Whether they are heard or no, the economically poor of the third world have broken their shackles and will, in time, play a dominant role in the Anglican Communion. As Jenkins predicted, Christendom is increasingly finding its anchor in the Global South. Following GAFCON, it now seems plausible that, in due course, it will find its compass there as well.

30 June 2008

reading the bible in 90 days

While wandering around the Mardel Christian bookstore this past week, I saw a "90-Day Bible," and that grabbed my attention. I've never thought about reading the entire Bible in 90 days!

However, instead of buying another Bible, I decided to look on the internet, and, of course, found the 90-day plan. It works out to about 12 pages in their edition; the first day, for example, is just over 13 pages in Rebecca's ESV leatherbound.

I plan to begin reading on Sunday, July 6, and each day will post something here, a reflection or a comment or whatever. Would anyone like to join me? It might be fun to do something like this with others.

Here's the schedule.

27 June 2008

nfl commissioner calls rookie salaries ‘ridiculous’

It's about time someone is calling the NFLPA on the absurd money guaranteed to high draft picks before they even play a down. For instance, Jake Long, who was the number one pick in the draft this spring, signed on the dotted line for a five-year contract over $57,000,000, with $30 mil guaranteed. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says it's "ridiculous;" what is even more ridiculous is that they're not talking about it until now--even the last collective bargaining agreement, in 2006, didn't address the problem.

Here's the story at Yahoo.

25 June 2008

brave new world

I'm trying to get back into blogging. I took the site down for a couple of months, and my life has changed drastically since then. I was ordained a priest (finally--the picture on the left was the one on the cover of my ordination bulletin, on the Feast Day of St Mark the Evangelist), finished my thesis and graduated from seminary. Life is completely different from three months ago. I'm so busy (a good, no, a great busy) that the blogging that I did before is different than what I would do now. It's not that nothing has happened worth blogging about; for example, I finally implemented my long-dreamed interactive sermon in a Eucharistic setting.

I decided to re-up my blog because I saw things that I wanted to reflect on, but I'm still figuring out exactly how this is going to work! For now, I've decided that, in addition to posting new stuff, I will re-post occasional entries from the last go-around, so anything you see with "blast from the past," that's from the old blog.

blast from the past: egregious greekin'

(From 11/2007)

Watched a few minutes of Pastor Melissa Scott on the TV last night, and boy was it bad! It caught my attention because she was working on a big whiteboard with the Greek text of the New Testament, and I've always enjoyed my Greek.

I got a hint that she didn't know what the hell she was talking about when she pronounced a psi in a word as a pi several times. But then she pulled a ridiculous stunt.

"Pastor" Melissa Scott had two Greek words on the board, euangelisasthai (a form of the word "to tell the good news") and iasasthai (a form of the word "to heal"). Then, emphatically circling letters, she showed how the words both end in -sasthai, alleging that the commonalities made it impossible to "spell 'the Gospel' without 'healing'!"

Her website claims that she knows 20 languages, but I can testify that Greek is not one of them. The -sasthai ending has nothing to do with the root meaning of the word. It is an aorist infinitive ending and does not control the meaning of the term itself. It would be like saying that "helped" and "opened" are similar because they both end in "-ed".

In the Greek words that she was trying to dovetail, the parts of the respective words that govern their core meaning are the first part, not the last part, of the words. The root of iasasthai is ia-, not -sasthai. And the same principle holds for euangelisasthai.

The sad part was that her audience actually stood and applauded her when she demonstrated this nonsense. Some people know just enough Greek to be dangerous.

17 June 2008

buried treasure

Earlier this week I was invited by our boys to play pirates with them--we were searching for buried treasure (in their bedroom). As we finally made it to our destination (sitting on the bed), Jonah jumped off and found the buried treasure.

"Look!" he said, his hands opening to reveal a pretend treasure. "Birthday cake!"

16 June 2008

chrysostom on jonah

I'm working on a four-part sermon series on the Book of Jonah, and in my studies ran across a quote from St John Chrysostom:
'They threw overboard the wares that were in the ship into the sea; but the ship was not getting any lighter,' because the entire cargo still remained within it, the body of the prophet, the heavy cargo, not according to the nature of the body but from the weight of sin. For nothing is so heavy and onerous to bear as sin and disobedience.

new blog

New blog--same title as before!

"unresting death" meets its master

While I was in Louisiana, our parish brought the Rev. Fleming Rutledge in for a weekend, for a retreat and to preach on Sunday. She is a marvelous preacher (with a number of books publishing her sermons), who told us that she wasn't as interested in congregations thanking her for her sermons as she wanted them to say, "that was the Gospel."

The Rev. Rutledge preached an extraordinary sermon, "'Unresting Death' Meets Its Master" at the National Cathedral earlier this year. I highly recommend it, available in video, audio, or text.