Category Archives: Theology

A Conference Parody: Our Gospel is Bigger than Yours

A Parody of The Perfect Conference from Tall Skinny Kiwi. Andrew Jones is one the most established commentators on the emerging church, and a fresh voice in the blogosphere. I was sent an email attributed to him, but can’t find the piece anywhere on his blog – so who knows where it comes from. It certainly could be his. But, whatever its source, I laughed out loud at this parody advert for a Christian leaders conference…

Our Gospel is Bigger than Yours

Cost $599.99

Location: Nashville with telecasts in Louisville, Dallas, Seattle, LA and Orlando

Speakers are 10 White Men, 5 of which wear suits and 5 of which cuss and wear Ed Hardy shirts.

Music will be led by a good natured bearded folk singer with “edgy” lyrics about sovereignty and reworkings of really old hymns of proper theological content all with never ending crescendos … and his pregnant wife.

Each sermon will be 45-50 minutes long, unless more time is desired. Topics will include:

  • The Primacy of Sovereignty in Theology,
  • The Primacy of the Word Primacy in Preaching, The Primacy of Men in Relationships,
  • The Primacy of Church Discipline,
  • The Primacy of the Pastor’s will being done as an indication of His role as God’s Appointed,
  • The Primacy of the Heresy of Emerging Christianity,
  • A Discussion of the Heresy of Brian McLaren by the 10 speaker in which no one is allowed to dissent from the norm,
  • Why Our Bible is better than yours,
  • Why the Atonement is Not a Rose, but is a Tulip and
  • Why We believe in Depravity of Man and the Sovereignty of God but Are Still Right about Everything.

Updated list of mortal sins

Originally posted on 20 March 2008, updated in April 2010

NEW COMMENT (April 2010): With the Catholic church, and the Pope personally currently mired in a controversy about child sex abuse, it is interesting to be considering what the church does or does not consider to be truly grave sins. Here is something from two years ago…

This past week, the Pope has released an updated list of mortal sins. Well, actually it was announced by Gianfranco Girotti, the head of the Apostolic Penitentiary (basically, the Vatican’s department of sin, confessions and absolution). While I am not a huge fan of the continued use of guilt that underlies the application of Roman Catholic Christianity (as it does in Jewish thought, too), I am thrilled with the mindset behind this list.

The new additions to the “seven deadly sins” are:

  • drug dealing
  • causing social injustice
  • causing poverty
  • polluting
  • becoming obscenely wealthy

The list was published in L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, and was accompanied by the Pope’s concerns for a “decreasing sense of sin” in today’s “securalised world” and the falling numbers of Roman Catholics going to confession.

In addition to the new sins listed, the Vatican took the opportunity to reiterate its concern about abortion and paedophilia.

Continue reading Updated list of mortal sins

Christians, homosexuals and B&Bs

A few weeks ago, a member of the Conservative Party election team in the UK was overheard expressing an opinion about a Christian bed and breakfast establishment that had refused to allow a gay couple to share a bed. He said that what they had done was fine – they had the right to their beliefs and to enforce those in their own home. Matthew Parris is a gay columnist with The Times and The Spectator, and was an obvious person to contact when the media went into a frenzy.

The only problem is that he just couldn’t work himself up into any form of outrage. In fact, his thoughts are quite interesting as he reflects on why he didn’t feel outrage. The resultant column ran in The Spectator on 10 April 2010 – read it here, or an extract below. It’s worth the read as we consider how we should approach morality in a community and country that has chosen to cut itself loose from its historical moral compass.

Continue reading Christians, homosexuals and B&Bs

One African Postcolonial Theology: The Imperative to Differ

Dr Kenzo Mabiala gave a brilliant talk at the first Amahoro conference in Uganda in May 2007. I recorded this on a handheld recorder – it’s worth persevering through the low quality because this lecture is sheer genius. Kenzo says that theological work done in Africa has the imperative to differ from theology from the West, and must have the courage to denouce Western theology – which “came of age during the rise of colonialism” – as being used to seeing itself as the centre around which other theologies must orient themselves (in other words: theological arrogance which claims that Western theology is the only correct theology, and all other theologies need to understand themselves in relation to Western theology).

amahoro01_Mabiala_Kenzo.mp3 (size 12 MB’s).

This is something you should hear at your church this week, but probably won’t.

Continue reading One African Postcolonial Theology: The Imperative to Differ

Why Men Can’t Lead – and faulty logic about women in leadership

Originally posted on 30 May 2007

I was sent this by a friend – its meant to be a joke and quite funny. It is. But there is a shred of sad truth in these ten reasons why men can’t lead… the sad truth is that this is the same type of logic many churches still use to exclude women from leadership.

TEN REASONS – ACCORDING TO THE NATURAL ORDER OF THE WORLD, SOCIAL CUSTOM, AND THEOLOGY – WHY MEN SHOULD NOT BE ORDAINED

    1. The male physical build indicates that men are more suited to tasks such as picking turnips or de-horning cattle. It would be “unnatural” for them to do other forms of work. How can we argue with nature?

    2. For men who have children, their duties as ministers might detract from their responsibilities as parents. Instead of teaching their children important life skills like how to make a wiener-roasting stick, they would be off at some committee meeting or preparing a sermon. Thus these unfortunate children of ordained men would almost certainly receive less attention from their male parent.

    3. According to the Genesis account, men were created before women, presumably as a prototype. It is thus obvious that men represent an experiment, rather than the crowning achievement of creation.

    4. Men are overly prone to violence. They are responsible for the vast majority of crime in our country, especially violent crime. Thus they would be poor role models, as well as being dangerously unstable in positions of leadership.

    5. In the New Testament account, the person who betrayed Jesus was a man. His lack of faith and ensuing punishment stands as a symbol of the subordinate position that all men should take. It is expected that even ordained men would be unable to withstand the natural male tendency to buckle under pressure.

    6. Jesus didn’t ordain men. He didn’t ordain any women either, but two wrongs don’t make a right.

    7. Men are simply too emotional to be ordained. Their conduct at football matches, in the army, at political conventions and especially at Promise Keepers Rallies amply demonstrates this tendency.

    8. Many men are simply too handsome to lead public worship. They could prove to be a distraction to the women in the congregation!

    9. To be an ordained pastor is to nurture and strengthen a whole congregation. But these are not traditional male roles. Throughout the history of Christianity, women have been considered to be not only more skilled than men at nurturing, but also more fervently attracted to it. If men try to fit into this nurturing role, our young people might grow up with severe gender role confusion.

    10. If the Church is the Bride of Christ, then it goes without saying that all ordained leaders should be female. It just makes theological sense!

Developing Kingdom Vision (by Reg Codrington)

This was originally posted on 19 April 2006

I have enjoyed interacting with my father over the past few years.  For most of my life, he has been many miles ahead of me on the spiritual journey we’re all on.  But, in the past few years, we’ve found ourselves journeying together on a new path. 

He recently sent me some thoughts he had put together after reading a book I think I have him for Christmas last year.  He calls these writings his “Wooden Spoons” (for stirring).

Here is what he sent me.

Continue reading Developing Kingdom Vision (by Reg Codrington)

I am a social justice Christian

Recently, the crazed Fox “News” commentator, Glenn Beck, argued that social justice was a foil for Nazism and Communism (see the original clip on his radio show on 2 March 2010, or an extended version on his TV show on 23 March 2010, part 2, 3 and 4).

I don’t want to give his crazy notions more airtime. His fundamental error happens in the first few minutes of his program, when he basically defines social justice in a way that no-one would recognise – in a way that plays completely into his own agenda. In fact, one of the best video responses (see it here), points out how ludicrous it is to see “social justice” as a “progressive” plot. Ronald Reagan was a big supporter of social and economic justice, and I don’t think you can accuse him of being communist or socialist! Another video response (here) comes from Jim Wallis, the man Beck attacks.

It seems to me that it could just be a case of bad terminology and definition. (Although to see the real problem with Beck and Christianity, you need to look at part 3 at about 07:00 – he wants Christianity to be completely internal and unrelated to public policy at all). We’ll see how it plays out.

Over the past weekend a group of Christian film makers started a project to get people from around the world to submit video messages proclaiming their support for social justice. See the campaign website here, and respond to the YouTube video here.

Concidentally, just last week I posted one of the best defenses of Christian social justice I have ever read at this site. If you didn’t read it, do so now – I am sure you will find it very helpful.

For the record: I am a Christian. I am a social justice Christian.

How can we change ingrained mistakes in our Bible reading?

I have been invited once again to speak in Iran later this year – and I am really looking forward to it. I have done a lot of work in the Middle East over the years, and enjoy Persian culture the most. The hospitality of the Persians is the stuff of legend. In fact, some guidebooks even warn you to be careful about complimenting your hosts furnishing too much, as they are quite likely to give you the object as a gift – and that could be embarrassing.

One of the reasons I am fascinating by Middle Eastern culture is that this is the modern representation of the culture that forms the backdrop of the Bible. Obviously, much has changed over the centuries, but in many parts of the Middle East you can still find people living very similarly to the type of world Jesus would have encountered. Some scholars have dedicated their lives to helping us understand the impact that the prevailing culture should have on our interpretation of the Bible. My favourite is Kenneth Bailey (buy his “Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes” at Amazon or Kalahari.net).

An understanding of the underlying culture can dramatically change the reading of a story (see, for example, a recent sermon I preached on the Prodigal Son).

But my issue today is that if a new insight is so big that it changes everything we were ever taught, would we be prepared to change everything? I mean, everything from the stories we tell our children, to how we view specific characters? The correct answer, of course, is that we MUST make such changes if we realise that we have misunderstood (or even misrepresented) the Bible. God’s Word must stand supreme over all.

There is such an issue… and it relates to one of the greatest of all Bible stories. And we have it all wrong. You probably won’t hear this at church this week, but you should.

Continue reading How can we change ingrained mistakes in our Bible reading?

Jesus and the “Social Gospel” – by Dr Reg Codrington

Originally posted on 1 June 2008

There was such a great response to a recent post of an article written by my father, that I thought I’d post something else by him. Anyone who grew up thinking that the “social gospel” was a problem would do well to read this.

Jesus and the “Social Gospel”

Dr Reg B Codrington

INTRODUCTION

When I was growing up, the denomination of which I was part used the term “Social Gospel” almost as a swear word. We were taught that “liberal” denominations who placed a focus on meeting social needs were guilty of, and I quote, “sending a well-fed sinner to hell”. The focus had to be on “saving souls” and everything else had to be subjugated to that aim.

Now let me make it clear at the outset that I still believe that the most important thing that can happen to a person is that he or she enters into a vital, living relationship with Christ and lives in accordance with His teachings, as revealed in the Word of God. But I have become increasingly convinced that what I was taught as a youngster was just a part of a much bigger picture which, sadly, I only began to understand nearly forty years later! What a serious responsibility lies in the hands of teachers of the Word to ensure that they teach the whole gospel to our young people!

Continue reading Jesus and the “Social Gospel” – by Dr Reg Codrington

What we are saved from and what we are saved for – sermon podcast

In March 2007, I preached a sermon at my local church, Bryanston Bible Church, in Johannesburg, South Africa. This is one of my favourite sermons of all time, and deals with something that I actually think is at the heart of what’s wrong with the evangelical church today.

Last Sunday, while attending my current local church, Dundonald, I was reminded of this sermon and the concept behind it. We were having a special outreach service, and as part of it there was an interview of some of our church members. One of the questions that they were asked was: “What’s the best thing about being a Christian?”. The answer was interesting. They said that it was “the hope of spending eternity in heaven and living today without guilt or condemnation.” No doubt, these are great benefits and worth enjoying.

But is it enough? And is this really the BEST thing about being a Christian?

I grew up in a tradition that largely held out the threat of hell as the main reason for accepting Jesus as “my personal Lord and Saviour”. Evangelical churches rightly focus on evangelism. But they often use this approach of fear of retribution. Therefore, the message is primarily about what we are saved FROM.

But, salvation is just as much about what we are saved FOR. Eternal life begins now, and our salvation demands a response – on this earth, in this life. We need to be careful – we are in danger of preaching a watered down, half-truth Gospel. We are saved FOR something, as well as saved FROM something.

Listen to the sermon by downloading it here (13 Mb, MP3 file). You can see the notes I preached from below.

Continue reading What we are saved from and what we are saved for – sermon podcast