Can we understand what God says? The Bible (Part 2)

“Is useful for teaching…”

Here’s a question: do you “teach/explain the Bible” or does it “teach us”? Scripture is clear that God has appointed people to teach.  In fact, this ability to teach and “rightly divide Scripture” is a necessary qualification for church leadership.  However, sometimes we can talk about this teaching role as those it is primarily about taking an obscure, seemingly irrelevant book and explaining its difficult to understand content in a way that makes it relevant.  If that were true, would Scripture really be useful for teaching? Continue reading

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Where Does God Speak To Us? The Bible (Part 1)

Recently, someone visited our church and, after the sermon, came to speak to me. He thanked me for what I’d said, but then said, “I’d rather you had spoken from the heart, not a book.”  Now, it’s important to check on what someone means when they offer critique.  It could well be that my talk was exceptionally dull that morning or that I was just speaking at an intellectual level about things that I didn’t seem to be passionate about.  I don’t claim to have the oratorical gifts of a fiery Welsh preacher, so maybe it was that.  However, from the conversation, it seemed that his problem really was with me speaking “from a book.”  You see, I had stood there with my Bible open and constantly referred back to specific verses in the Bible passage.  This man wanted to hear my thoughts and opinions, as became clearer during follow-on conversations. But no, I insisted that I would stick with telling him what “the book” says.  Why?  Well, simply, because as we have seen, this is the source of Special Revelation where God speaks to us clearly and authoritatively.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that this is the only place that Christians should be going to and expecting God to speak.

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How Does God Speak to us (Part 2)? Special Revelation

Special Revelation

Imagine that you are watching one of those old silent movies. You are enjoying the different scenes.  You catch something of the humour, pathos, danger and heroics from the way the actors interact with each other and the scenery.  You watch their facial expressions.  You see the way that the landscape around them changes.  Suppose that someone suddenly turned the sound on for the film and you were able to hear the sounds of conversations and maybe a narrator’s voice.  It would be even better still if you could watch the film on DVD, playing back the special edition of the film complete with director’s commentary.  There’s a sense there, isn’t there, of our understanding and enjoyment of the film being sharpened and increased as we not only see what is happening but hear as well.  A further level of enjoyment is created as we hear the explanations and the gaps are filled in.

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How does God speak? Part 1: General Revelation

What is it?

Christian theologians tend to talk about two types of revelation: General Revelation and Special Revelation. General Revelation captures that sense which we have already considered that everything God does discloses something of who he is. Continue reading

How can we know anything about God, us and the World?

The Pendulum of Rationality

In our first post, we saw that our whole life, what we think, how we feel, what we do and say is influenced by what we believe.  We choose either to believe truth or lies about God, Creation, Humanity and New Creation.  So how do we know what is true?  Throughout history, there has been a dividing line between those who have an optimistic view of our ability to know the truth with certainty and those who are pessimistic about our ability to discover truth.  It seems that throughout history, there has been a tendency in philosophical and religious thought to swing between the two extremes.  I sometimes refer to this as “The Pendulum of Rationality.”[1]

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Starting Points

A dirty word for a messy world

This blog is for people living in a messy world.  The evidence of the mess is all around us.  I grew up towards the end of the Cold War and remember the day that the Berlin Wall came down.  We were promised that this would usher in a new era with a peace dividend.  One writer even claimed that we were seeing the end of history.  We seem to be a long way from that day now.  9/11 shattered those hopes so that we now live once again under a shadow of war and terrorism.

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