Saturday, July 29, 2006

Tagged for a Book Meme!

Well, I realised I've been tagged for a book meme by Barb..! What is a book meme? I don't really know :-) I think it just means I'm supposed to do the same and pass it on. It looks like an ANE covenant chain letter without the blessings and curses at the end. My gut reaction is: IT WILL STOP WITH ME AND GO NO FURTHER! But I probably need to learn to be more sociable so I'll go with it anyhow.. only problem is I'll reveal how few books I really read...

1. One book that changed your life:
1 Corinthians

2. One book that you’ve read more than once:
Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life, by John Calvin
(Well... I think I read it more than once... It's small enough that I probably did... ;-)

3. One book you’d want on a desert island:
How to Check Email Even on a Desert Island, by U. R. Addicted

4. One book that made you laugh:
I Take My Religion Seriously, by Charles M. Schulz
(I found it on my shelf again not too long ago...)

5. One book that made you cry:
The Gospel According to Matthew

6. One book that you wish had been written:
Every Single Decision Made For You, by I. M. Trustworthy

7. One book that you wish had never been written:
Robert's Rules of Order, by Henry M. Robert
(Okay, it's not really that bad I suppose...)

8. One book you’re currently reading:
The Stone that became a Mountain, by Richard Bewes
(A better question, but even harder for me to answer, would be: One book you've recently finished reading...)

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read:
Institutes of the Christian Religion, by John Calvin
(One day I'll finish reading the whole lot... yes, this is my Augustinian confession...!)

10. Now tag five people:
Chad
David
Donna
Mick
(How blog-lonely I am! Anyone else waiting to be tagged...? I'm still kinda new to the blog thing... :-)

[Insert Blessings and Curses here?]

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Is the Church in Exile?

In one of my lectures yesterday, the lecturer made the comment that the picture of Exile still translates to the church today. The church is still in a sense in exile, in that the church are strangers in a foreign land.

My first reaction to this was, "No, the church is not in exile!" After all, is not the key emphasis of exile about judgement? Israel was exiled because of unfaithfulness? Doesn't the exile parallel being expelled from the garden, or maybe Israel in bondage in Egypt? Surely the church cannot stand under condemnation in any sense, or under that kind of oppression?!

But as we discussed it further, and as I thought about it some more, I think it is another one of those 'yes and no' answers. I think there is a dual imagery involved in the exile. From the perspective of the unfaithful, it is about judgement. From the perspective of the faithful, it is about still being faithful in a foreign land, waiting for a return to the promised land, trusting in the promises of God, walking by faith and not by sight. The former is not applicable to the church, but the latter is.

Perhaps another way to look at it is to say that the church is not sent into exile (under discipline), as Israel was, but the church does parallel Israel in the resulting situation of having been exiled, of being the people of God in a strange land (while at the same time the whole earth really belongs to the church as her inheritance!). That is because Israel's exile was not only meant to be a single image of expulsion from the land, but after being expelled, the faithful become sojourners like Abraham or even those wanderers (Joshua, Caleb and the next generation of Israelites) who waited to enter the promised land (in fact the wilderness wandering was also a mixed image, of judgement against the unfaithful and patience for the faithful). The problems arise when we try to too neatly collapse the whole Biblical event into a single image.

Anyhow, the point is that I don't as strongly say 'no' to the church being in exile as I initially did :-)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

What is the Goal of Prayer?

This is a Theology paper I wrote on the goal of prayer:

The_Goal_of_Prayer.pdf

This paper seeks to evaluate Bloesch's description of the goal of Christian prayer (“the goal of prayer is not absorption into the being of God but the transformation of the world for the glory of God”) and determine whether this is an adequate description of the goal of Christian prayer. When Bloesch's description of the goal of prayer is understood not only in what is said explicitly, but also in what he no doubt intends implicitly, his description is considered to be generally adequate. However, there are deficiencies in what is not explicit enough. An alternate description of the goal of Christian prayer is offered, recognising that prayer is fundamentally about asking for a response from God.

Leviticus 16 and the Two Goats?

This is my Old Testament Exegesis paper from last semester:

Exegesis_Lev_16v15-22.pdf

This paper looks at the significance and meaning of the two goats on the Day of Atonement, focusing on Leviticus 16:15-22 particularly. As part of the discussion I consider such things as: the meaning of the Hebrew word kaphar, the distinction of emphasis between the two goats, some implications regarding a theology of particular atonement, and the significance of atoning for the tabernacle as symbolising the atonement of creation (not just humanity). I also found this paper to be a lot harder than I expected and certain sections ended up being too rushed :-(

Here is a quote  from the end of the paper:
There is no doubt that the role of the two goats on the Day of Atonement was to symbolise and typify the dealing with sin amongst the people of God. While the two goats were involved in two distinct and different rituals, they should be seen as two aspects of the one atonement, rather than two completely different atonements. Just as the numerous types of the Old Testament meet in the one person of Jesus Christ, each adding a different aspect or image picturing his work, so too in this microcosm of the Day of Atonement, the multiple events are just different aspects of the one reality in Christ, and not completely unrelated. Rather than confuse, the multiplicity of symbols helps enrich our understanding of God's gracious work in redemptive history. On the Day of Atonement, the role of the two goats can be summarised as follows:
  • Both goats represented the atonement for all the sins of all the people of God.
  • The goat for the LORD emphasises the need for cleansing and sanctification by means of death, atoning for both the people and the tabernacle
  • The goat for azazel emphasises the complete removal of sin from amongst the people.
  • The eschatological hope is for a place and a people of God where all sin is purged and removed.

Hittitology and the Pentateuch

This is an Old Testament paper on the relevance of Hittitology to the understanding of the Pentateuch:

Hittitology_and_the_Pentateuch.pdf

In the last 100 years Hittitology has moved from virtual non-existence to a significant field of study. This paper seeks to explore some of the findings of Hittitology, and evaluate their relevance to the understanding of the Pentateuch. The paper follows this outline: Introduction, Biblical References to Hittites, Extra-Biblical Historical Survey (Hittite History, Neo-Hittites History, Pre-Hittite History, Hittite Treaties), The Chronology Problem, Pentateuchal Significance (Who were the the Biblical Hittites, Hittite Treaties and Biblical Covenant), Conclusions. A cautious approach to the use of historical and archaeological studies is taken, while still recognising the valuable contributions they make to Pentateuch studies.

(I actually found this paper very hard to write, but the research was very helpful and an eye-opener for me regarding the value and level of confidence we can have in historical and archeological studies...)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

John of Damascus on the Doctrine of God

This is my Church History paper looking at John of Damascus' teaching from the first book of An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, as a representative of Eastern Orthodox theology:

John_of_Damascus_on_the_Doctrine_of_God.pdf

After a brief sketch of the historical setting of the work, it is divided up for consideration. The book is categorised into three sections: 1. What can and cannot be known about the Triune God; 2. Logical proofs concerning the Triune God; 3. Beliefs explained concerning the Triune God. Each of these sections is discussed, also considering the historical and contemporary relevance of what John writes. The value of an appreciation of the mystery of God is noted, as are the contributions and distinctions of John's Trinitarian conceptions. Some similarities with Scholastic writings are also pointed out.

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Worldview and Theology

This paper discusses the relationship between the concept of worldview and the practice of theology:

Worldview_and_Theology.pdf

Some definitions and descriptions of both worldview and theology are provided, followed by an examination of ways worldview interacts with theology. Firstly in relation to Biblical Hermeneutics as the building blocks for theology, and then also in relation to the final and overall shape that theology takes on within different worldviews. As illustrations, the theologies of Eastern and Western Christianity are considered, as well as the changes to theology arising out of transitions from Modernism to Postmodernism within Western evangelical Christianity. The paper seeks to show that the concept of worldview, and an understanding of it, is essential to the theological endeavour, because of the organic and dynamic relationship between worldview and theology at every level.

Some Messianic Themes from Genesis

Here is another paper I wrote on 'Some Messianic Themes from Genesis':

Some_Messianic_Themes_from_Genesis.pdf

This paper seeks to touch on some of the Messianic themes that arise out of the book of Genesis. The phrase “Messianic themes” is deliberately chosen, because it can otherwise be easy to think too narrowly when we hear the term “Messianic”, forgetting that the Messiah is an eschatological figure. After a brief consideration of typology as a method for interpreting the Scriptures, the following passages are discussed making use of established typological approaches: Gen. 1:1-2:3; Gen. 2:4-17:27; Gen. 22:1-19; Gen. 37:1-50:26. By way of this limited survey and exploration, it should be evident that Genesis contains the beginnings of the Messianic hope, and that there are Messianic themes interwoven throughout the book.