Sunday, November 10, 2013

Dallas Willard on Transforming the Will

Bonhoeffer and Christology

"Teaching about Christ begins in silence. 'Be still, for that is the absolute', writes Kierkegaard. That has nothing to do with the silence of the mystics, who in their dumbness chatter away secretly in their soul by themselves. The silence of the church is silence before the Word. In so far as the Church proclaims the Word, it falls down silently in truth before the inexpressible: In silence I worship the unutterable' (Cyril of Alexandria). The spoken Word is the inexpressible; this unutterable is the Word. 'It must become spoken, it is the great battle cry' (Luther). Although it is cried out by the Church in the world, it remains the inexpressible. To speak of Christ means to keep silent; to keep silent about Christ means to speak. When the Church speaks rightly out of a proper silence, then Christ is proclaimed." 
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
 "Christ the Center" 

This is the opening paragraph from the Introduction of Bonhoeffer's christology lectures. I had that tiny but incredibly important book running through my mind as I sat in church this morning. It was not so much the book, as it was the subject of the book: Christology...that was running through my mind. As I thought about why I went to church in a place where I could understand so little of the sermon and all the songs were simply melody without meaning to me because of my lack of knowing the language....the reason came to me: because of Christ, because this is his body and it is good to come and join the body. That alone, is worth it. (However, I do plan to learn the language  to get over the language barrier and be able to communicate better with the body that I meet with every sunday!)

Friday, November 8, 2013

Bible Study Resource: ISBE online

I just found this website which has the whole ISB encyclopedia online:
I knew this was used on some other sites, but there is just something nice about having it's own site. I like the ISBE and use it from time to time as a basic Bible encyclopedia, I prefer to read the new "IVP Dictionaries" but those aren't free online right now :)

hopefully this could be a good resource for some people!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

"Forced to Choose"

I have posted a video from the collossian forum website before, and I really like how they handle the questions of science and faith. Here is another short clip from them about the integration of science and makes me wonder about how I am presenting the issue to my students in SBS when I teach Genesis.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Weekly Talk- Andy Crouch on Power

Andy crouch on power at Qideas

This is a 17 minute talk by Andy Crouch entitled "when Christians have power". Thats not really what he talks about though, he just talks about "jussive power"...they "let it be" power in Gen.1-3, power and idolatry and some interesting stories at the end about Steve Jobs and a "hero/idol" of Crouch's.

I really like it because it is just an appetizer to crouch's new book Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power. A book that looks really good, this is just a small appetizer of that new book.

Augustine on Youthful Lust and Marriage

I really enjoyed these thoughts by Augustine from the confessions on youthful lust and marriage. I am blessed to have "found the shore of marriage".

"I did not keep the moderate way of the love of mind to mind- the bright path of friendship. Instead, the mists of passion steamed up out of the puddly concupiscence of the flesh, and the hot imagination of puberty, and they so obscured and overcast my heart that I was unable to distinguish pure affection from unholy desire. Both boiled confusedly within me, and dragged my unstable youth down over the cliffs of unchaste desires and plunged me into a gulf of infamy....I was tossed to and fro, and wasted, and poured out, and I boiled over in my fornications...If only there had been some one to regulate my disorder and turn to my profit the fleeting beauties of the things around me, and to fix a bound to their sweetness, so that the tides of my youth might have spent themselves upon the shore of marriage! Then they might have been tranquilized and satisfied with having children, as they law prescribes, O Lord..."

I love the contrast between the "hot imagination of puberty" and the solid real shores of marriage! I read this from a book called "Readings in Christian Thought" by Hugh T, Kerr. It compiles snippets of writings from throughout church history, and I believe this one is compiled from both the confessions and "enchiridion". The ending paragraph is also worth quoting...a biting revelation of the disgustingness of sin:

"Such was my heart, O God, such was my heart- which thou didst pity even in that bottomless pit. Behold, now let my heart confess to thee what it was seeking there, when I was being gratuitously wanton, having no inducement to evil but the evil itself. It was foul, and I loved it. I loved my own undoing. I loved my error- not that for which I erred but the error itself. A depraved soul, falling away from security in thee to destruction in itself seeking nothing from the shameful deed but shame itself."

Monday, October 28, 2013

Weekly Talk- The Bible in Modern Society

I have not posted a weekly talk for a few weeks, because I was teaching Isaiah in SBS and then playing catchup the week after, but during that time I did listen to This talk on Q Ideas about what is the role the Bible should play in our modern society. It really is a mixed discussion going through several topics. My favorite part about it is probably the people involved in the talk: Tim Keller, Brian Mclaren, Allister Mcgrath and a catholic priest from NY city. It is a diverse group and it's worth the 40 minutes just to see these guys interact, but they also have some good stuff to say about the modern usage of the Bible.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

F.F. Bruce on a Holistic Pauline Theology

I am teaching a bible study on Ephesians, and for part of my preparation I am reading through a commentary on Ephesians by F.F. Bruce. It is written for the laymen who is serious about studying the bible, and I really enjoy it's simple and straightforward introduction and explanation of Ephesians. I really enjoyed one paragraph and wanted to quote it in full:

"In many protestant circles it has been customary to look upon the doctrine of justification by faith as the be-all and end-all of Paul's teaching. Justification by faith is certainly fundamental to all of his thinking, and it comes readily to the surface no matter what subject he is dealing with. Even in Ephesians it is uncompromisingly affirmed: 'by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, that no man should glory' (Eph. 2:8). It was inevitable and salutary in the Reformation age that the attention of Christians should be directed afresh to the ground on which men and women are accepted as righteous by God. But it is a pity when Paulinism is identified so exclusively with the emphasis of Galatians and Romans that the corporate and cosmic insights of Colossians and Ephesians are overlooked, or felt to be un-Pauline. True Paulinism has room for both, and our Christian thinking must similarly make room for both if it is not to become lop-sided and defective." (pg.15)

Bruce goes on to explain how Ephesians and Colossians are connected thematically around the "cosmic christ" and the implications of Christ's supremacy on the nature of the Church. I had never quite connected these two books together to see how they pair together theologically, and really enjoyed seeing him weave some strands between the two. And he really does not force these connections or pull them from a hat, but just points out what is there. The connections make most sense when we consider that both were written when Paul was in prison in Rome and that both were carried by Tychicus. After Paul wrestled with the "collosian heresy" and asserted the cosmic, supreme and divine nature of Jesus in the book of Collosians, he further explored and meditated on Christ and his church in the book of Ephesians....and the result of these two books is a strong theological strand that should not be overlooked.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Liturgical Time vs. Clock Time

Read an interesting blog by Dr. Matthew Tan on the difference between liturgical/kairos time and clock/chronos time. It was something I had never really thought about before, and for that reason I found myself intrigued. Anytime I read something that brings an idea to me I have never even thought about or heard, I am intrigued..once again realizing the depths of learning and thought that are to be explored...especially when it is a thought about such a simple and taken for granted thing as time.

Tan questions the modern and post modern idea of "empty homogenized" clock time, where all of time is measured out into single and impartial moments that can be controlled. For me i was struck by the reality that not everyone always had clocks on there wall, and for all of time...time has not been measured by the passing of measurable moments. Another way of looking at time is as "liturgical", filling time with are some of my favorite quotes from the blog:

When time becomes defined by an endless string of moments, what becomes denied is the possibility of radical transformation, what Walter Benjamin calls a “Messianic cessation of happening”. Things are always the way they are, and things will always be the way they are. There is a despair that becomes particularly acute when you consider that in postmodernity, the essentially modern search continues for individual security. There is a hyper-emphasis on the isolated monad, which heightens the sense that social relations are, as Daniel M. Bell observes, merely relations of “combat and sheer assertion”.
 both modern and postmodern time requires stripping time of any significance. Liturgical time, by contrast, in following a liturgical calendar, actually fills the time with meaning. 

Tan's thoughts are interesting and deep, and I enjoyed reading through it. I just got onto Tan's work today, but I like what I initially see of him. Tan is a professor of theology and philosophy at the Australian Catholic University, he edits a blog called the "divine wedgie" and already I have found his doctoral thesis and another paper he wrote online: thick stuff that I am looking forward to getting into at some point. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Whose afraid of Relativism? (Weekly Talk)

A friend of mine recommended this lecture series by James K.A. Smith entitled "Whose Afraid of Relativism". I have only listened to the first lecture which runs 38 minutes and is entitled "It Depends: Creation, Contingency and the Specter of Relativism." The 38 minutes is jam packed full of challenging, informing and transforming (the last adjective is spoken in light of James K.A. Smith's thoughts on education that he talks about in his book "desiring the kingdom") content and though it may be a bit over the heads of some people who have not read or thought much about postmodernism, philosophy or the sort of things he talks about, it is still much more valuable then 40 minutes on facebook.

Smith's thoughts on postmodern relativism will likely not be accepted by all, and they definitely should not be accepted unquestionably by anyone, however I think they are really valuable and worth listening to. Smith does not see relativism as a dangerous enemy of the church today, instead what he says as dangerous is the answer/medicine many churches throw in the face of the challenges of relativism...the certain and hasty declaration of "absolute truth". Smith says that while some forms of radical relativism can go too far by denying all truth claims, it also can be helpful in reminding us that we are finite, contingent, dependent and culturally conditioned people. Relativism attacks the "naturalism and realism" of the modern enlightenment and therefore can be an aide in the church's proclamation of a metaphysical reality beyond the scientific method. I have heard this message spoken by alot of people lately, and I think there is really something to be learned from this. Has the church given too much to modernism? Are we answering arguments from a rationalism which is already being debunked by postmodern philosophers? While some postmodernists do certainly say some things that go against the christian is so much more refreshing for me to hear people like Smith dialogue with the thinkers and ideas of current postmodernism instead of just clogging the ears and damning them to hell.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Hermeneutics of the Open Ear

I read a good blog yesterday from a link on the gospel coalitions website (

I really enjoyed the below quoted lines and I feel like they capture what I want my students in our Bible School to come away with:

"We shouldn’t idealize premodern interpretation of Scripture. We’ve learned a lot about ancient languages, history, and culture over the past few centuries, and that new information has immeasurably deepened our understanding of the Bible. Yet, as more and more theologians have discovered, patristic and medieval commentators knew things that we have forgotten, much to our detriment. 
They knew that biblical hermeneutics was a hermeneutics of the open ear. They trained themselves to be attuned to every inflection of God’s voice, to ponder the slightest twist of phrase, to hear every reverberation and overtone of Scripture’s music. A single verse of the Psalms could lead Augustine through the prophets to the gospels and epistles, with a side tour of the Song of Songs along the way."

Friday, September 6, 2013

Weekly Talk- how to make stress your friend

For the weekly talk this week, I chose a small 16 min video from Ted. It is short but packed full of two important points backed with scientific and psychological research:

1. We need to rethink our views on stress
2. Stress should lead us to interaction with others (community)

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Prediction of What Education Will Look Like in 50 Years

Here is a prediction about what education will look like in 50 years by Sal Khan, the founder of khanacademy. His predictions are bold, but I think they are not too far off from what it could look like in reality. And honestly as he describes the classroom of 2060, I wish I could go to school there! I hope to implement some of those future elements of education into the bible school I teach in and the inductive bible study course I am working on developing.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Facebook Philosophy

I enjoyed reading this article written by Mark Zuckerberg, before his startup social media group became a public company to be invested in about a year ago. It is really insightful and revealing to what are the actually motives and hopes behind facebook, as well as there innovate "hacker way" that helps run the company. Here are some highlights from the article, but I personally think the whole thing is worth a read- it is good insight into what the inventors of todays technology are actually hoping to accomplish, and it is also a contrasting way of working compared to past "prussian models" of industrial labor. Industrial workers have now turned into computer programmers following the "hacker way".

Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission — to make the world more open and connected.

 We’re inspired by technologies that have revolutionized how people spread and consume information. We often talk about inventions like the printing press and the television — by simply making communication more efficient, they led to a complete transformation of many important parts of society. They gave more people a voice. They encouraged progress. They changed the way society was organized. They brought us closer together.
Today, our society has reached another tipping point. We live at a moment when the majority of people in the world have access to the internet or mobile phones — the raw tools necessary to start sharing what they’re thinking, feeling and doing with whomever they want. Facebook aspires to build the services that give people the power to share and help them once again transform many of our core institutions and industries.

we hope to rewire the way people spread and consume information. We think the world’s information infrastructure should resemble the social graph — a network built from the bottom up or peer-to-peer, rather than the monolithic, top-down structure that has existed to date. We also believe that giving people control over what they share is a fundamental principle of this rewiring.
We think a more open and connected world will help create a stronger economy with more authentic businesses that build better products and services.

The Hacker Way is an approach to building that involves continuous improvement and iteration. Hackers believe that something can always be better, and that nothing is ever complete. They just have to go fix it — often in the face of people who say it’s impossible or are content with the status quo.

Moving fast enables us to build more things and learn faster. However, as most companies grow, they slow down too much because they’re more afraid of making mistakes than they are of losing opportunities by moving too slowly. We have a saying: “Move fast and break things.” The idea is that if you never break anything, you’re probably not moving fast enough.

We believe that a more open world is a better world because people with more information can make better decisions and have a greater impact

HIgh Hopes and interesting way of doing business, I hope facebook actually accomplishes what it wants to do and not just provide another avenue for people to waste time and feed fake fish!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Weekly Talk: Nietzsche VS Jesus

I really enjoyed this talk by Dallas Willard titled "Nietzsche VS Jesus: Who Holds the True Path". Dallas's talk is only for about 50 minutes and then students ask questions after it is not as long as it looks. He talks for the majority of time about Nietzsche and other modern philosophers, and then spends the last 10 or 15 minutes contrasting Jesus and the Judeo-Christian worldview with that of the current view of modernism. It is a great introduction into modern thought and how Jesus relates to it.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Reflections on Genesis

Just got done with teaching Genesis in our SBS here in Taiwan.
After several months of study, reading through about 6 different books and over 100 pages of notes (thanks Mccall for the hook-up!) are a few of the major things I personally have taken away from this amazing book, in no particular order....

1. God's desire to bless those who follow him
The noun and verb for "bless" shows up 88 times throughout Genesis. And it is safe to say that one of the things that connects every story, genealogy and section of Genesis is the theme of God sovereignly bringing about his promise to bless a nation that blesses all nations. Embedded into his covenant with Abraham is a desire to restore the "goodness" he saw in creation and in man. What God commanded Adam to do he now promises to do himself through Abraham's nation. Fruitfulness, blessing, abundance, goodness...delight...these are things God longs to restore to this fallen creation. The lesson of Abraham waiting 20 some years to have Isaac is proof that God's blessing often comes in different ways then we imagine...and the lesson of Sodom and Gomorrah gives a balance to God's desire for goodness enter the world, showing that sometimes the means of doing that is judging total corruption.

2. God's Providence
Genesis offers up many stories of God sovereignly intervening in history to bring about his promise. Whether it is through judging the earth but saving noah, saving Abraham's wife from foreign kings, protecting Hagar and Ishmael or bringing about the promise he gave to Jacob in unusual circumstances (through the trickery and deceitfulness of Jacob). The story of Joseph captures God's providential actions perfectly. In one part of Genesis it is very clear that Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery (37:27-28), however when Joseph looks back on this story he makes a crazy statement: "I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivers. So it was not you who sent me here, but God" (45:4-8). Joseph summarizes this in the last chapter of the book and states to his brothers "you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive" (50:20). This amazes me...God is sovereignly working, even through the malicious wills of Joseph's brothers, to bring about a plan that will save many. This summarizes the story of Joseph but it also summarizes all the stories of the Bible. The Bible is the history of God's plan to bring life to many; and he sovereignly does this through both the wicked and the righteous.

A simple example of what the bible teaches about God's providence is found in the Lord's prayer, when Jesus teaches his disciples to pray "Give us our daily bread". Jesus is not ignorant that patterns of nature (rain, seed, harvest..) and plans of man (the farmer, the baker and the person who buys the bread) are involved in the simple action of "getting daily bread"...but the reality is God is behind and over both the patterns of nature and the plans of man. That God sovereignly uses the rain, seed, harvest, farmer, baker and buyer to bring bread. God is providentially involved in the affairs of everyday life! His sovereignty and providence ranges from the redemptive plan to bring life to many and to the daily task of putting bread on the table.

3. God's sovereignty and resolve to bring blessing to the nations should create bold believers
Looking at the above truths from the book of Genesis, God's promises/blessings and God's sovereignty, the natural reaction to me is to want to live boldly for God. If I really believe that the God of all the universe has promised blessing to all the nations and is sovereignly working to bring about a plan that will create life for many...then I should be boldly walking in participation with God to bring about this plan. I want to be a part of God's plan to bring life to many, and if God can uses Joseph's greedy and murderous brothers to accomplish this plan...this surely he is able to use a disciple of Christ! Knowing God's sovereignty does not excuse Man's responsibility, it should ignite us to join our wills to God's will. To give our life, time, money, dreams, family, ministries... to be consumed and wrapped up in God's will and plan to bring life to many.

Another part of Genesis which enforces this challenge to live as bold believers is the creation story of Man. God creates man in his image to be fruitful and to have dominion over the earth. God created man to have influence, a good influence. The truth of the Gospel is not just about "learning to do a few good things"- it is about learning to be human. The image of the invisible God, Jesus, teaches us cracked images how to live as we are meant to live. And now we who are in christ, the new humanity-the new adam-the new creations- should be living as Adam was meant to live...people who are bearing fruit and bringing good to the places they live in. Whether this is through preaching the gospel and seeing salvations of souls and regeneration of life or its through spending time with an old widow and clothing the naked....I really believe we would be missing out on life as it was meant to be live if we did not boldly walk with God in his plan to bring life to many!

Friday, July 12, 2013

James. K.A. Smith on Debates

James K.A. Smith: Process as Important as Product from The Colossian Forum on Vimeo.

I really enjoyed these short clips by J.K. Smith from the Collossian Forum on how to have a good discussion about issues of science and faith. It is especially relevant as I am in the midst of teaching Genesis. I hope I can exhibit this same love and patience he talks about to both sides of the discussion.

"To disagree and not hate each other!"

Genesis 3:15- Jesus?!

Read this blog article today, on Genesis 3:15, and it just so happened to be the day of my first Genesis lecture. I went through chapter 3 in class today, but i did not feel like bringing up the discussion of is this verse messianic prophecy or not. However this is my personal conclusion that I came to as studying:

" Though this has traditionally and often been looked at as Messianic prophecy. The language is describing to a "plural" seed and not a singular seed- in it’s initial context it describes a constant battle or opposition between the offspring of Eve and the offspring of the Serpent. This is played out in the contrast between cain and able, cain and seth, noah and wicked generation. The theme of offspring and chosen and promised offspring is constant throughout the whole book. It is very clear that Jesus does come and offer relief to this long spread tension of the two offsprings, however to say that this is what Moses was predicting is a stretch "

In conclusion, I think it would be better to refer to Gen.3:15 not as prophecy but as the beginning of an Old Testament theme that is resolved and fulfilled in Christ. 

7 Things We Know About Jesus from 'non-biblical' sources

Saw this blog article referenced on Scot mcknight's blog today and liked it. It is is a nice and too the point recording of what "non-christian" sources around the time of Jesus are recorded to have said about Jesus:

These 7 points are nicely summarized by Paul Barnett in his volume Is the New Testament Reliable?(IVP Academic, 2003 [second ed.], p. 34).  Notably, each fact corroborates the record of the New Testament.
1. Jesus Christ was executed (by crucifixion?) in Judea during the period when Tiberius was emperor (A.D. 14-37) and Pontius Pilate was governor (A.D. 26-36).  Tacitus [Annals 15.44.2-5]
2. The movement spread from Judea to Rome. Tacitus [Ibid.]
3. His followers worshipped him as (a) god. Pliny [Letters from Bithynia, c. A.D. 110]
4. He was called “the Christ.” Josephus [Antiquities 20.197-203—an undisputed passage]
5. His followers were called “Christians.” TacitusPliny [see above]
6. They were numerous in Bithynia and Rome. Tacitus, Pliny [see above]
7. His brother was James. Josephus [see above]

Monday, July 8, 2013

An Evening of Eschatology

We have been going through revelation this week in our bible school, and I have enjoyed refreshing myself in this extremely confusing as well as encouraging book! As we went through the final chapters of the book today and talked about the millennium and the major views on the millennium I was reminded of a clip I watched a while back on John Piper's website entitled "An Evening of Eschatalogy". John Piper acts as the moderator and talks with prominent pastors who all hold differing views of the end times. It is a great example of respectful dialogue among different opinions, and it is a great resource to help one think through this whole topic. (warning: it is two hours long, but even Piper's writeup on the different views is worth the read)

Friday, July 5, 2013

J.K Smith on "Naturalizing Shalom"

Read this article by J.K smith, recommended by my friend Jay Werner and written by a scholar I have appreciated for a long time. I like this so much, because i feel like his theological story and background parallels my own that I am going through right now. And a story shared by many others of this generation. He warns of how growing up in a "dualistic" fundamentalist conservative church background that is heavy on "getting saved and going to heaven" and light on "praying for the kingdom to come now" can lead people to go to the other extreme of working for heaven on earth so much that they forget about heaven and the spiritual. I really appreciate his wisdom and thoughts in this area as well as this final quote:

"The holistic affirmation of the goodness of creation and the importance of "this worldly" justice is not a substitute for heaven, as if the holistic gospel was a sanctified way to learn to be a naturalist. To the contrary, it is the very transcendence of God—in the ascension of the Son who now reigns from heaven, and in the futurity of the coming kingdom for which we pray—that disciplines and disrupts and haunts our tendency to settle for "this world." It is the call of the Son from heaven, and the vision of the New Jerusalem descending from heaven, that pushes back on our illusions that we could figure this all out, that we could bring this about. Shalom is not biblical language for progressivist social amelioration. Shalom is a Christ-haunted call to long for kingdom come."
J.K Smith

Jesus through the Lens of Revelation

Jesus through the Lens of Revelation:

The very first sentence of revelation is "The revelation of Jesus Christ". I don't know exactly if this is referring to the revelation of Christ himself...or the revelation Christ gives John...but either way it is a great way to open a book which really has the boldest and most dramatic "revelations or unveiling" of what our resurrected LORD looks like. I was comforted reading through some of these and hope you will be too...they are not all extensive...just the ones from the first 5 chapters (so you could keep going on and looking for yourself). It reminded me of Rom. 15:21: "Those who have been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand". I pray that me, my friends and all the nations will come to see and understand Jesus more and more as he is pictured in the revelation given to John! 

“Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings on earth...him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to God and Father” (1:5-7)

“One like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. HIs eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.” (1:13-16)

“I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” (1:17-18)

“him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lamp stands” (2:1)

“the first and the last, who died and came to life” (2:8)

“him who has the sharp two-edged sword” (2:12)

“the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze” (2:18)

“him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars” (3:1)

“the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens” (3:7)

“the Amen, the faithful and true witness the beginning of God’s creation” (3:14)

“the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David” (5:5)

“the lamb who was slain” (5:12)

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Thoughts on 1 John 1:1-4 and a lengthy quote from T.F. Torrance on the Incarnation

Grounded in Christ

In lecture today we were reading 1 John and I read the intro (1:1-4) in a way I never had before. I realized that it is one continual long flowing sentence that carries on four different declarations of “who or what” Christ is. The grammatical things that point out the continual and “declaratory” nature of this intro are: the continues use of “which”-it’s used 6 times and in the gk. it is the very first word that shows up on the text of 1 John; the verb of “proclaim” in vs.3 and 4 and the fact that a period does not show up until the end of verse 3! What these boring grammatical details show us is that John begins his epistle with a long continuos proclamation of “who or what Jesus is”. These points are underlined or highlighted in the verses below:

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” 

In summary, John Begins his epistle with proclaiming that Jesus is:
  1. From the beginning
  2. What John Heard
  3. What John Saw
  4. What John looked upon and touched, the word of life; 
  5. The manifest life which was made manifest to us
  6. What John has seen and heard.

This is what John was proclaiming-that the eternal word of life existing from the beginning was manifested in a way people could see, touch and hear. The eternal infinite entered time and space, the metaphysical entered the physical, God came to man. This whole topic has been summed up in the important theological term: INCARNATION. And all study of incarnational theology should find 1 John 1:1-4 an extremely relevant text. 

An important theologian of the 19th century who is known for his “incarnational” thinking is T.F. Torrance he expounds in a beautiful way about this teaching of incarnation in his book "Space Time and Incarnation", a lengthy and thought-provoking passage of that book is quoted in full below:

“If God is merely impassible He has not made room for Himself in our agonied existence, and if He is merely immutable He has neither place nor time for frail evanescent creatures in His unchanging existence.  But the God who has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ as sharing our lot is the God who is really free to make Himself poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich, the God invariant in love but not impassible, constant in faithfulness but not immutable. 

This relation established between God and man in Jesus Christ constitutes Him as the place in all space and time where God meets with man in the actualities of his human existence, and man meets with God and knows Him in His own divine Being. That is the place where the vertical and horizontal dimensionalities intersect, the place where human being is opened out to a transcendent ground in God and where the infinite Being of God penetrates into our existence and creates room for Himself within the horizontal dimensions of finite being in space and time. It is penetration of the horizontal [creation] by the vertical [Incarnation] that gives man his true place, for it relates his place in space and time to its ultimate ontological ground so that it is not submerged in the endless relativities of what is merely horizontal.

Without this vertical relation to God man has no authentic place on earth, no meaning and no purpose, but with this vertical relation to God his place is given meaning and purpose. For that reason it is defined and established as place on earth without being shut in on itself solely within its horizontal dimensionality.  Unless the eternal breaks into the temporal and the boundless being of God breaks into the spatial existence of man and takes up dwelling within it, the vertical dimension vanishes out of man's life and becomes quite strange to him -- and man loses his place under the sun.”

T.F. Torrance
Space, Time, and Incarnation, p. 75-6

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Alleluia the song of the desert; Merton on the dread and awe of the christian life

"The climate in which monastic prayer flowers is that of the desert, where the comfort of man is absent, where the secure routines of man's city offer no support, and where prayer must be sustained by God in the purity of faith. Even though he may live in a community, the monk is bound to explore the inner waste of his own being as a solitary. The word of God which is his comfort is also his distress. The liturgy, which is his joy and which reveals to him the glory of God, cannot fill a heart that has not previously been humbled and emptied by dread. Alleluia is the song of the desert

The christian is never merely an isolated individual. He is a member of the praising community, the people of God. Alleluia is the vicotrious acclamation of the Risen Saviour. Yet the people of God itself, while celebrating the praise of the Lord in a tabernale of beuty overshadowed by the Bright Cloud of his presence, is still on a pilgramage. We acclaim God as members of a community that has been blessed and saved and is traveling to meet him as he comes in his promised Advent. Yet as individuals we know ourselves to be sinners. The prayer of the monk is dictated by this twofold consciousness of sin and redemption, wrath and mercy- as is the prayer of every christian."

-Thomas Merton
from "Contemplative Prayer"

Friday, June 21, 2013


"Tradition, like Scripture, is not  made holy by being carved into stone, but rather by being interpreted within a community, by being the heart of the community’s relationship to God and the world.  Tradition is thus alive and constantly relating to the world, not written in stone and frozen in some past understanding.  For St. Paul Tradition is dynamic, creative, vivifying and renewing and keeps people focused on the goal – where God is leading us to, not the past and where we were.   Tradition is not the ship’s anchor, but its sail.   It consists not of repeating past teachings, but of interpreting God’s Word for the current generation."

-FR. Ted

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth (Really?!!?)

I was reading One World Classroom by Salmon Khan, in it he was mentioning some scholarly work done recently by Malcom Knowles on lifelong learning even until adulthood. Knowles promotes "androgogy" which is the opposite of pedagogy, pedagogy is learning through an instructor/lecture; but androgogy is self-guided/self motivated learning. Anyways, as I was looking into Malcom Knowles and his books I came across a humorous and slightly frustrating comment on one of his amazon pages. Someone who interestingly enough gave the book a five star rating and said he really enjoyed it also felt inclined to add this concluding sentence:
"For all who may read this, remember that the reason we are here on earth is to be people with whom God can fellowship. Are you in the daily habit of reading The Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth (BIBLE)?"
Does anything ring off to you when you read that? I had never heard that acronym used to describe the bible before, but sadly I think it captures the way many believers look at the bible and their churches. Seeing their churches as escape pods from earth, safe refuges from the diseased around them. Yes the reason we are here is to fellowship..and I fully believe God's fellowship of people is meant to bless and benefit the nations! While I do not have my mind concluded exactly about what it means to be both the salt and light of the world as well as just "sojourners in the world"; I do believe it will not end on the lines of....we are just passing through so don't worry about this world and those who live in it. Yes we are in exile, away from our heavenly home...groaning longing to be clothed, but what should our exilic mindset be? Shouldn't it mirror that of Jeremiah's instruction to the Israelite exiles in babylon:
"Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare." (Jeremiah 29:7)
I dont fully understand how present history and eternal consummation work together. I look at the world and wonder if we are progressing or digressing, and see reasons for both. I don't have my mind made up about matters of ecclesiology, pluralism..being the church in a fallen world. But what I am pretty certain about is that if we are more excited to escape the world than to "be fruitful and multiply in it and have dominion in it"...then we are missing our God given role of being his image-bearers. If our prayer is Lord get me out of here and not "let your kingdom come on earth" then our hearts are misderected. If our goal is to die and go to heaven and not to live eternally on the new heavens and new earth, the new Jerusalem coming down from the sky to the not our hope misdirected?

Excuse the ranting, just such an interesting topic. Overall, as a christian missionary I want to have an effect on the nation I live in in many ways more than seeing a few people pray a prayer. I want to pray, strive, work, sweat, bleed, fight, preach, argue, love and live my life for the well-fare and blessing of this nation, and I want to disciple up others with this same passion...not just enlist a few more people on my escape pod!

Peter Senge

This afternoon I listened to a few talks by Peter Senge (at the bottom of the page). I know Peter Senge through his book The Fifth Discipline, he is an MIT professor who challenges the way organizations (business, schools, governments...) think and act. He is most known for promoting "learning organizations" the idea of an organization that is constantly evolving and adapting, constantly learning. The talk I most enjoyed was the one on organizational culture (all 3 talks are only 3-7 minutes long). In the talk Senge defines culture as the deeply embedded unquestioned assumption that fleshes itself out in regular practices. He then makes in incredible remark on learning as a means of transforming culture...

"Learning...must transform culture, it must lead people to recognize unquestioned assumptions and entertain the possibility that they could be wrong and then do things that actually allow them to achieve things they could not achieve before and also embody a new set of assumptions"

This is the way I want to teach, this is the way I want to learn!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Dallas Willard Remembered

This week (May 10) a modern giant of the faith passed away. Dallas Willard was one of the first teachers I listened to and read that really opened up my eyes to the depths and importance of gospel, discipleship and kingdom. His teaching challenged me to think about not just converting people but conforming them to Christ, and for my own life I learned that being converted was a continual process of learning to follow Jesus more and a daily practice of entering into his kingdom and submitting to his lordship. Though I did not know him, here are some words from someone who did know him closely Todd Hunter. (interestingly the first audio teaching I listened too of Dallas Willard was a co-teaching between him and Todd Hunter). Here are some things Tom Hunter had to say about his close friend and mentor: 
Dallas Willard was an old-school Jesus Freak. He had a world-class intellect and passionate curiosity about all things concerning God and his kingdom.
Dallas did not scare people into heaven, nor did he wrestle them down as a philosophical bully. Instead he kindly and humbly set forward Jesus as the one who announced in his teaching, demonstrated in his miracles, and embodied in his life, the gospel of God’s kingdom. It was always so obvious that Jesus was Dallas’ hero in every way...
Dallas knew that much of the evangelical world had reduced Jesus to one thing he did: shed his blood. As unspeakably important as the cross is, valuing it and forgetting the rest of Jesus’ ministry has led untold numbers of people to become, in Dallas’ memorable phrase, “vampire Christians.”
Vampire Christians are people who want a bit of Jesus’ blood so they dodge hell but really don’t want anything to do with him. They had no vision for, or intention of, following him.
Dallas taught and embodied something better. We heard Dallas as a teacher discuss it, but we also witnessed him carry on his life as an apprentice of Jesus — learning how to be a philosophy professor in a major university, an author and a speaker, a husband and father, as Jesus would do it if he were in Dallas’ shoes.
It was this quality of being, more than the towering intellect, skillful teaching and masterful writing that drew those of us close to him, to admire, love, and cherish him so much.
Many people think Jesus Freaks died out with bell-bottoms and disco. I get it. The cultural phenomenon did pass away. But a new-school generation of apprentices to Jesus is rising on the heels of Dallas Willard’s work and his life’s message: Jesus and his kingdom. I want to live the kind of life that makes me counted among them.
This is my true testimony concerning Dallas: No human being taught me more about life in Jesus and his kingdom.
Yesterday morning, having received news of Dallas’ trip to heaven, I whispered a vow in my heart: I want to grow until the day I die, as an apprentice to Jesus, announcing, demonstrating and embodying Jesus’ gospel of the kingdom of God.

To remember Dallas more check out this website that is the official home of his teaching resources:

Book Review on Sanctorum Communio

Bonhoeffer's first published work (i believe that is correct) was his theological dissertation named "sanctorum communion", it was a blend of sociology and theology addressing the church. The link below are connecting to a free online copy of the book as well as an introductory book review. . It has some good quotes from the book and a basic overview of what you will be getting into if you want to read the book. While I would encourage you to read through the whole review (it's not that long), I have also taken a few quotes from the review:

"I simply cannot believe that a young man in his twenties could write such a mind-boggling, thought-provoking, and insightful masterpiece as Sanctorum Communio.  I feel that I will never think of “church” in quite the same way again.  In fact, I feel like I’ve just been given a view of a mountain that I know I must go back and climb again, but the overall sensation of its height is so startling that I’m not quite sure how to begin....  Karl Barth would later say of this work, “I openly confess that I have misgivings whether I can even maintain the high level reached by Bonhoeffer, saying no less in my own words and context, and saying it no less forcefully, than did this young man so many years ago”.  He would also call this book “a miracle.”
It is steeped in sociological categories that many readers might find offputting.  I do not claim to have followed some of the more technical aspects of the social philosophy sections, but struggling through these parts is reward enough in and of itself to warrant the effort.  Even so, I daresay that the work is accessible enough to anybody who cares deeply about the church.  I found it to be so anyway.  (In a strange way this book reminds of Moby Dick.  I had to sludge through some of the sailing history and terminology that was, frankly, foreign to me.  But the story, and, on hindsight, the foundation that the denser parts of that book lend to the story, was overwhelming.)"

Sanctorum Communio Book Review

Free PDF & Kindle version of sanctorum communio

Monday, May 6, 2013

What is Evangelical Theology?

I recently started reading "Introduction to Evangelical Theology" by Karl Barth and in his introductory comments, he lays out a basic definition of what he means by "evangelical theology" which is invigorating and has stayed in my my mind for a few days now. I wanted to briefly summarize what he stated and then share a few quotes with you from this first chapter. As I read his chapter, and almost every time when I read Barth, I wanted to highlight every single word; but that would not be very conducive for future reflection so I have just selected a few of my favorites points of his. First the summary and then the quotes:

Barths' basic definition is that evangelical theology is the study of the God of the gospel. In poetic and scholastic writing he brings out the two main elements of this definition: GOOD AND GOD; the euangelion and theo. Barth first strongly lays out that theology is "theo-centered", its subject is God- a personal and ultimate being. It is a study of God. And then he goes on to show how evangelical theology is studying God as revealed in the bible which finds its centerpiece the gospel. It is studying the revelation that the ultimate being is a good and loving one! The God of the bible is a God bringing and announcing good news.

"The theology to be introduced here is evangelical theology. The qualifying attribute 'evangelical' recalls both the New Testament and at the same time the Reformation of the sixteenth century. Therefore, it may be taken as a dual affirmation: the theology to be considered here is the one which, nourished by the hidden sources of the documents of Israel's history, first achieved unambiguous expression the writings of the New Testament evangelists, apostles and prophets; it is also, moreover, the theology newly discovered and accepted by the Reformation of the sixteenth century. The expression 'evangelical', however cannot and should not be intended and understood in a confessional, that is, in a denominational and exclusive, sense. This is forbidden first of all by the elementary fact that 'evangelical' refers primarily and decisively to the Bible, which is in some way respected by all confessions. Not all so called Protestant theology is evangelical theology; moreover there is also evangelical theology in the roman Catholic and Eastern orthodox worlds, as well as in the many later variations, including deteriorations, of the Reformation departure. What the word 'evangelical' will objectively designate is that theology which treats of the God of the Gospel."

"The object of evangelical theology is God in the history of his deeds...Let it be noted that evangelical theology should neither repeat, re-enact, nor anticipate the history in-which God is what he is. Theology cannot make out of this history a work of its own to be set in motion by itself. Theology must, of course, give an account of this history by presenting and discussing human perceptions, concepts and formulations of human languange. But it does this appropriately only when it follows the living God in those unfolding historical events in which he is God. Therefore, in its perception, meditation, and discussion, theology must have the character of a living procession. Evangelical theology would forfeit its object, it would belie and negate itself, if it wished to view, to understand, and to describe any one moment of the divine procession in 'splendid isolation' from others. Instead theology must describe the dynamic interrelationships which make this procession comparable to a bird in flight, in contrast to a caged bird...the god of the Gospel rejects any connection with a theology that has become paralyzed and static. Evangelical theology can only exist and remain in vigorous motion when its eyes are fixed on the God of the Gospel." 

"Evangelical theology is concerned with Immanuel, God with us! Having this God for its object, it can be nothing else but the most thankful and happy science"

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

3 Different Levels of Books?! (the three R's)

 I often remember the quote that "the books you read now will determine who you are 5 years from now". I think that is so true! I thought of a theory this morning about "strategical book reading", and different levels of book reading. My thoughts drifted to this because recently I was reading a few books that were refreshing but not challenging. These were good books reminding me of basics of discipleship and church...but they were talking about stuff that I had heard before. I realized that while they were doing a good job reminding me and keeping me fresh on the importance and essentials of discipleship, they were not really igniting any hunger or new sparks of thought in me. However, I see the value in reading the basic inspirational books not just the professors and academics. Anyways, as I was thinking through all of this I came up with a plan to read three different types of books. While there is definitely overlap in these areas, I think it is important to keep a mix of all of these types:

1. Reminder/Refresher
These are books that remind me and refresh me on the basics of Christianity. They might be used for devotional books, or late at night reading right before bed. Right now I am reading "multiply" by Francis Chang, it seems more geared to new believers and people who don't know the bible. But I am skimming through it to see it's method of discipleship and to get a refreshing on the core elements of gospel and discipleship. I am also re-reading Richard Foster's "celebration of discipline". It is such a sweet and challenging book, really good to keep this in mind!

2. Relative Books
These are books that fit with where I am at in life and what I am working on. For instance I am trying to start a bible course for local taiwanese, so I am thinking through education and how to use technology with education. So I just bought a book called "one world classroom" by Sal Khan, a guy who created a classroom online! I also am thinking alot about missional living and the church/city, so I want to read Tim Keller's "city center" it is his theological manifesto of how he does and sees church. Both of these books will fuel the fire of what I am working on and thinking about now!

3. Rational Benders
I don't know if this is a good title for these books, but I wanted 3 r's! But I basically mean the books that I have to read slowly and chew on in order to understand, the books that raise my intellectual high-bar. The books that teach me and challenge me on every new page. These can range from classics like Calvin's Institutes or Aquians' summa theoligica to modern day professors and authors who are way smarter than me.

It is good to find a balance in all these books...are you challenging your brain and refreshing your soul with the books you read...a real good book will do both!

1st Post

Welcome to Rummage!
I was working on my supporters blog the other week, when I realized how easy and fun it is to make a decent blog on blog-spot! I got excited about the idea of creating a personal blog, to throw out random writings, studies, book reviews, video-clips...the whatnot! This is kind of a continuation of an idea that me and Zack Mills started last year, when we tried to make a "community blog" called sanctorum communio, named after Dietrich Bonhoeffer's first book- a book about the sociology of the church. (Never actually read the book...i consider that a must-do of 2013). While sanctorum communio is still running, in more ways than the blog, the blog has come to a bit of a stand-still, you can go to the site and check out the archives...for some good links and clips
Anyways..while I am not sure where the sanctorum communio blog will go, I wanted to start this blog..this rummage spot.

I got the name rummage...because when I was first making a template I turned to my friend Jay Werner and asked him to "say the first word that came to his mind" was...rummage....hmm, interesting fellow :)

I looked up the definition and liked it, felt like it fit with where the blog was coming from and where it was going. The thoughts, articles, papers, videos...all come out of my own personal rummagings, ravagings, hunts...the pursuit of the kingdom. That is where these articles and posts are birthed from. But at the same time, it ends up collecting in a slightly organized haphazard pile for others to rummage through.

Through the services of blogger, I can archive and organize the sporadic and constant flow of info and thought I go through in my life of bible teaching, book reading, missionary working, disciple doing, people pursuing, Jesus following...after sometime hopefully this can be a descent resource pile for some who would wish to look through it. Blessed be you if you do! I enjoy every comment and follow as the journey of rummaging begins!

Please type your e-mail on the follow bar below if you want to receive daily updates from this blog. If not, just check it when it suits you. My heart in having people follow this blog is two-fold, I hope people are blessed by what they read and receive...but I also like to have other eyes on what I am writing, reading and a form of accountability and counsel. I love to help others learn, and I love to learn from others. So this blog is more than a one-sided convo, hopefully its, others and the trinity!