Monday, July 30, 2007

Things are moving fast- I need your prayers

My thanks to everyone who prayed for me during my time in Japan. The Lord really blessed me during that time.

Things are moving fast. My father is working in Sussex, in the south-east. My mother might just be joining him soon. The house is already on the market.

I do not want to move to Sussex. Ideally, I would rather stay in Worcester. So I am going to need a job and eventually, a place to live. I could really do with your prayers.

Friday, July 27, 2007

I am going to see my lovely sister tonight

My sister, Heather, is visiting friends in Worcester tomorrow. However, she just phoned and said she would like to come and stay over tonight. I shall look forward to seeing her.

Question for Readers about Fasting

Should Christians fast today, and if so, when and why?

Times: Lawyers sap our will to combat terrorism

Times: Lawyers sap our will to combat terrorism

Article by Michael Burleigh

Human rights do matter, but I find that dreadful Shami Chakrabarti woman really irritating.

Times: Only a reckless mind could believe in safety first

Times: Only a reckless mind could believe in safety first

Article by James Whyte

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Corporeality of Angels and the Redemption of Bodies

The Scholastic theologians debated in the middle ages whether angels had ethereal bodies or whether they were bodiless spirits. The majority of Christians accept the position of Thomas Aquinas that angels are non-corporeal beings.

This may seem like an utterly irrelevant debate, but I believe it has great significance in the development of a truly cosmic soteriology.

I believe the Bible indicates clearly that angels have bodies that are different from ours, yet which are not completely different. Angels are consistently presented in Scripture in physical terms. Angels look like people and even eat manna (Psalm 78:25). More controversially, I believe that the best interpretation of the Sons of God in Genesis 6 is that they are angels and they indeed had sex with humans in utter perversion of God's purposes.

The fact that angels are physical beings has significance in the salvation of the cosmos.

Angels dwell in heaven at the centre of God's government. They experience God's presence in a way which we do not know here in this world. That God should have physical beings as his closest servants and dwelling in the midst of His glorious celestial presence shows that the physical world matters to God. It shows us that the material creation has a purpose in God's plans.

That angels are physical beings shows us that the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is a true physical resurrection. He rose bodily from the dead. Despite what rationalist theologians may maintain, it is not sufficent for our Lord to have risen as an immaterial spirit. His flesh did not see corruption for it now lives.

Some Christians maintain that angels are bodiless spirits but they sometimes manifest themselves as bodies. The Jehovah's Witnesses teach the same thing about angels. That is all well, but horribly they also teach this about our Lord. The JWs teach that our Lord rose only spiritually and that in His resurrection appearances He only manifested Himself as a body, while still being a bodiless spirit. This is a falsehood. The Lord Jesus Christ rose bodily from the grave. He shall return and men shall see His body. They will also see the bodies of the angels that accompany Him at His glorious arrival.

We too shall be raised bodily from the grave, unless we remain to His coming and are changed. Our future glory will not be spent lving as disembodied spirits, but our flesh shall be raised. The fact that the angels of God and their heavenly dwelling is physical should re-inforce in our minds this great hope.

We shall not be raised in bodies that are like the kind of bodies we have now. We shall no longer have corruptible bodies, but bodies that are incorruptible. We shall have bodies that are in some sense spiritual, with different properties.

This is re-inforced by the fact that our reseurrection is compared to angelic existence. Our Lord tells us:

30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.

Matthew 22

We shall be a different kind of flesh, an ethereal flesh:

39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.

40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.

41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory.

1 Corinthians 15

We shall have celestial bodies as the angels do. For in Christ we have entered into an heavenly life and we are fitted for an heavenly existence:

3 ¶ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

Ephesians 1

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,

5 even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

6 and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

7 that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness toward us, through Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 2

18 ¶ For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest,

19 and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more:

20 (for they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart:

21 and so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:)

22 but ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,

23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

Hebrews 12

Heaven, not earth is our home.

Yet heaven, that physical place above shall have union with the material world of earth. For in the apocalypse, we see the heavenly city of the New Jerusalem descending to earth. The throne of the heavenly Christ shall be found on earth.

God created this world and it is good. At this time, the presence of God is only fully known and experienced in heaven, the third heaven to be specific. Yet the whole of creation shall come to know God. For we see in 1 Corinthians 15:

27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith, All things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.

28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

God will be all in all. The whole of the cosmos shall become the dwelling place of God and will be united to Him, experiencing His love and His life. The creation will deified and divinized by the energy of Christ who is reconciling all things to God, both things in earth and things in heaven.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Power of Scripture Meme

Paul Whiting asked me to "post [on] that verse or story of scripture which is important to you, which you find yourself re-visiting time after time."

This is a tough question.

I think I will go for this one:

2 Kings 6
11 ¶ Therefore the heart of the king of Syria was sore troubled for this thing; and he called his servants, and said unto them, Will ye not show me which of us is for the king of Israel?

12 And one of his servants said, None, my lord, O king: but Eli'sha, the prophet that is in Israel, telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bedchamber.

13 And he said, Go and spy where he is, that I may send and fetch him. And it was told him, saying, Behold, he is in Dothan.

14 Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about.

15 ¶ And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, a host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?

16 And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.

17 And Eli'sha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Eli'sha.

Perhaps it is a little irreverant to think so, but I am struck at how comical the life of Elisha can seem. The man just seems to present one miracle after another as if they were a hobby. Even after Elisha is dead, there is a miracle connected with his corpse.

Although this really is an encouraging passage that should lift the spirits of any believer, it does appear remarkably funny.

What is funny about the story is that despite the servant's panic, Elisha is compltely calm. It is not nearly as amazing that the servant was shown those chariots, but rather that Elisha knew they were there without being granted such a vision.

When I imagine Elisha praying 'Lord, open his eyes that he may see', I imagine Elisha praying in a weary voice, as though frustrated at the inability of his servant and other believers to see the incredible spiritual forces at work.

This passage shows us that the world in which live is affected by the forces of the celestial world. While we only see the battles of flesh and blood, behind the scenes, in the rest of the cosmos there are incredible and mysterious conflicts between the celestial kingdom of Satan and the celestial kingdom of the Lord.

Some people are going to think I am obsessed with the subject of angels, but this passage is relevant to my planned post on the subject of the corporeality of angels. In this passage we see that the angels have horses and chariots; they are physical beings. I am going to post on why it matters that angels have bodies.

The bloggers I am tagging for this meme are:

Palm Boy

Monday, July 23, 2007

That is what I like to see

Our house is on the market at the moment. An estate agent lead a family on a tour of the house this afternoon. They all removed their shoes without being asked. This is very encouraging to see and especially welcome given the wet weather that we are getting these days.

The Nine Ranks of Angels

According to Pseudo-Dinoysius the Areopagite, there are nine ranks of angels. These can be found in his Celestial Hierarchy. In order of their closeness to the godhead, and therefore their importance, they are:

1. Seraphim
2. Cherubim
3. Thrones
4. Dominions
5. Virtues (mights)
6. Powers
7. Principalities
8. Archangels
9. Angels

I wonder which of these ranks corresponds with Elect Angels?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

What does a theologian wear?

I think a theologian probably wears a tweed suit. But maybe I am thinking of High Anglican theologians.

What do you think a theologian would wear?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Flip Flops

I really like flip flops. They are just so comfortable.

It is remarkable how popular flip flops have become in Britain. About half of women and a third of men seem to wear them. Among younger women and girls they seem to be worn like a uniform. Some people even seem to wear them in colder weather.

It seems so hard to imagine what is what like twelve years ago, when only people who worked in swimming pools wore flip flops and sandals on men were generally laughed at. When I was 17 and 18, I would never have worn flip flops (and back then I was happy to stomp around the house in combat boots, believe it or not). Summer footwear was sneakers worn with or without socks.

The fact that people wear flip flops so much now shows that society has become so much more relaxed. While it is sad that people are often rather lacking in manners, I think it is great that people have so much freedom today over what they can wear and do. I hear right-wing conservative people talk about how much better life was fifty or sixty years ago. While I admit that I have never lived in the Fifties or Forties, it must surely have been pretty rotten having so many rules and conventions governing behaviour and dress. It just seems to me that the Twenty First century is the most wonderful time in history to be alive.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Times: Early-release prisoners return to criminal ways

Times: Early-release prisoners return to criminal ways

Anyone surprised? The government should have built more prisons years ago.

Times: Someone wake me from this nightmare of withdrawal

Times: Someone wake me from this nightmare of withdrawal

Article bv David Aaronovitch

Regardless of what one thinks of the Iraq War, just pulling out is not an option.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Yahoo News: Johnson to stand for mayor

Yahoo News: Johnson to stand for mayor

It would be wonderful if Boris Johnson became mayor of London.

Yahoo News: "Bin tax" plan likely to fail, say MPs

Yahoo News: "Bin tax" plan likely to fail, say MPs

Some of these schemes really are a bad idea, along with fortnightly collections of rubbish.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

William Blake's Ilustrations of the book of Job

William Blake's Ilustrations of the book of Job

These are quite interesting.

Baptizing Nationalism: Alva McClain was better at theology that he was at political theory

Alva McClain wrote one of the most thorough and excellent works of Dispensationalist theology, The Greatness of the Kingdom (1959). One of the interesting and possibly unusual feature of this theological work is the odd comment on politics that the author threw in, always froma Right-wing perspective. I think one of these observations is deeply questionable:

The judgment of God upon this first attempt at world government was not only a clear warning against all such schemes but also an endorsement of what is called 'nationalism.' Although not the ideal form of human organization, nationalism has proven the safest for the prservation of personal liberty in a sunful world.

The nature of the divine judgment upon the first try at a World State is deeply interesting. It is generally coceded that the cement which holds men together in groups and nations is what we call a common culture, and the very core of such a culture is found in language, man's marvellous ability to communicate ideas. It was exactly at this point that the judgment of God struck: the common bond of 'one language' was supernaturally destroyed, and the multiplication of tongues lead to the formation of different groups, and ultimately, nations. For the chief obstacle to the acheivement of the one world state of'Internationalism,' it has often been recognised is the barrier of language. The very headphones worn by the delegates of the various member nations at meetings of the United Nations' organization are a witness to the divinely imposed safeguard against the menace of one world government established by sinful men.

The Greatness of the Kingdom, p.48-49

I would suggest that these comments are completely lacking in any historical perspective and even fail to make sense of realities in the modern world.

The domminance of the nation state as the central political entity is unique in world history to the Twentieth Century and the early Twenty First century. The domminant political entity in the 19th century was the mult-ethnic empire. City states and independent principalities were declining in the 19th century, but they had been extremely common in the centuries before. Throughout history, men have often been governed by empires that bore no relation to national composition or by sub-national regional powers. Nationalism belongs to the era after the French Revolution when intellectual currents moved towards the idea of the nation state.

It is quite possible that the world may move away from the nation state. There are two directions in which much of territorial politics is moving. On the one hand the forces of globabalization break down national barriers and on the other, regional and ethnic differences create a renewed push towards smaller nationalisms in many countries. Here in Europe we have seen the miracle of a peace between so many countries that have so frequently gone to war with each other. These are now united in the economic co-operation of the European Union. Now, there are a lot of things that are not so great about the EU. There are many obstacles to further unity, but I believe the historical trends are on the side of deeper integration between European countries.

Part of the problem of McClain's comments is that he seems to have two different ideas about what makes a nation. On the one hand, he talks about a common culture and on the other, about language.

Take a look at the United Kingdom. We are made up of several different ethnic groups, English, Cornish, Scots, Welsh, Ulster Protestants, Irish and Scandinavians in the Shetlands. We have cultural and linguistic differences; Welsh people have a different way of viewing life to Ulster Protestants and many of them speak Welsh as a first language. McClain might argue that all British have a shared history that unites us. However, not all British wish to accept that. We have nationalists in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and there are even some dreamers who would like to see an independent Cornwall, with its black and white flag. If the Bible sanctions nationalism, as McClain thinks, does this mean a Welsh Christian is obligated to support the nationalist Plaid Cymru and oppose the union of Wales with the rest of the Crown?

Or take a look at McClain's own country, the United States. The UNited States had its own nationalist problem when the southern states attempted to succeed. Had the South left the union, they would have developed their own distinctive culture, elements of which they already posess. In time, the Confederacy would have become as distinct from the United States culturally as it is from Britain or Canada. The circumstances which lead to the United States becoming one country are nothing to do with language or ethnicity, they result from incidental historical circumstances.

I find it bizarre that McClain thought that political unity is dependant upon language. Was he not aware that in Switzerland, they speak French, German, Italian and Swiss Romance? Okay, Switzerland has a long history. But Belgium is made up of Francophone and Flemish speakers and it only became a country in the 19th century. In Asia, the idea of the nation state is deeply ambiguous. Countries like India and Indonesia are made up of many languages, cultures and ethnic groups. Are they inherently instable as countries? They have problems, but these problems are not necessarilly fundamentally detrimental to their existence.

While it is certainly true that so often in history, multi-ethnic empires have often been the source of oppression and tyranny, nationalism has often been guilty of bloodshed too. Many nationalists resorted to terrorism, many have waged long and brutal civil wars in which so many have perished. And nationalism by its nature tends towards ethnocentricity. Nationalists may support the rights of their own ethnic group, but so often they have failed to respect the rights of minorities within their own successive territories. The big problem for nationalists is that there is no neat way of divinging up the world into nations. If Scotland ever becomes an independent state, it will find itself with a minority who still identify with the UK. Modern day Ukraine is likewise divided between those in the west who see themselves as a nation and European and those in the east who identify with Russia.

McClain's ethnocentric position also raises questions about the legitimacy of immigration. If men are meant to live in single ethnic territories, surely it must be bad for people to sojourn in a foreign country? But what about the economic benefits of immigration? What the wealth of culture and talent that has enriched the United States through immigration? The whole phenomena of immigration causes a problem for McClain's ethnocentrism.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Just stay out of it, your grace.

The archbishop of York, John Sentamu has recommended that the government should set up a hardship fund to help out farmers who have suffered losses due to flooding.

I think it is a great thing for the archbishop of York to draw attention to the suffering of farmers who have been affected by the severe weather. However, does he really need to specify an actual policy proposal for it?

Let us suppose that the government decide not to set up such a hardship fund. Would it be because they do not know farmers are having a hard time? No. Would it be because the government do not care about farmers or because they think farmers stink? Probably not. If the government decide not to set up a hardship fund it will beccause they think that there are other things that are a greater spending priority and that raising more taxes would be a bad idea.

Perhaps the Very Rev. John Sentamu has a strong opinion that hard-hit farmers are a big priority for government spending. But that is just his opinion and I doubt it is any better than mine. Being an archbishop hardly gives a person a degree of expertise as to how the government should direct its budget. When Church of England ministers make these policy recommendations out of the blue, they give the impression that the government has an unlimited supply of money at its disposal. Unfortunately the money comes from the taxpayer and that money has to go a long way.

Just stick to preaching the Word of God, your grace.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Back home from a Conference

I just got back home from the weekend conference of the Japan Christian Link. It was very good. It was nice to see lots of people from the conference last year, as well as some new folks, all with a desire to see God move in Japan.

I had the pleasure on the way there to share a train with my pastor. I was bound for Paddington, London, he was going to Reading. It is not often that one gets to have a long conversation with the pastor of a big church. It was a real blessing. We discussed theology quite a bit, as might be expected.

I was delighted to recongnise one of the people attending the conference, a Canadian lady who lives in Malvern (not far from Worcester). She had lead a Japanese evening last summer to raise money for the Bible Society, which I happened to attend. This lady and her husband were also kind enough to give me a lift home. It was great to travel home with company. This lady had a Japanese lady with them as well, who was also good for conversation. The two ladies were delighted to look at our garden when they dropped me off. It is nice with a spectacular view of Worcester and the Malvern Hills in the distance.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

37 Reasons for Having a Shoes-Off Policy in Your Home


37 Reasons for having a shoes-off policy in your home:

1. Carpets are not easy to clean.
2. Carpets absorb dust and become breeding grounds for dust mites, causing the development of asthma and allergies.
3. If you do not have a carpet, the dust will not be absorbed and you are likely to breathe it in.
4. Shoes can leave marks on wood, PVC and marble floors.
5. Shoes can scratch wood flooring, especially if they have high heels.
6. Boots and high heeled shoes can cause wear and tear to carpets.
7. That goes for rugs as well.
8. Shoes pick up small particles of grit that cause wear and tear to carpets.
9. Shoes pick up traces of petrol fumes and industrial pollution.
10. Shoes can pick up pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals.
11. Shoes pick up traces of animal excrement.
12. Ever noticed how much chewing gum there is stuck to the streets?
13. In a square mile, there are more insects than people on the planet. How many do you think you have squashed on your shoes?
14. If you have a crawling baby, do you want him or her to be exposed to the dirt from people's shoes?
15. In rain or snow, you are less likely to get the floor wet.
16. If you live near a beach, you will bring less sand into the house.
17. If you have a crawling baby, you will do less damage if you accidently step on him or her.
18. If you get mad and kick the cat or dog, you will do less damage (apologies to animal lovers).
19. If your children play rough, they will do less damage.
20. It creates a less formal atmosphere.
21. It creates a greater sense of relaxation.
22. Your guests will become more like you by removing their shoes and will feel part of the family.
23. An oriental, Scandinavian or East European visitor will feel more at home.
24. It teaches children the importance of respecting and looking after things.
25. Psychologically, removing your shoes helps you to enter a frame of mind where you keep your everyday troubles outside your home.
26. It is more comfortable.
27. It is healthier for you feet to take your shoes off during the day.
28. Small children with growing feet should wear shoes only to the minimum.
29. If you wear high-heeled shoes, your feet badly need a break.
30. You can put your feet up on the sofa without taking your shoes off first (Dont tell me you put your feet on the sofa with shoes on?).
31. You can put your feet up on the coffee table without taking your shoes off first.
32. If you ever visit Japan, it will seem less weird.
33. If you are ever arrested and they confiscate your shoes, along with your belt and jewellery, it will seem less weird.
34. Your feet smell less if you do not wear them all day.
35. When you lovingly chastise your children, you will have a slipper to hand.
36. It was a Biblical custom (come on, did they wash their feet with shoes on?)
37. Do you really think the Saints in Glory are going to trample the sparkling, clean New Jerusalem with shoes on?

Monday, July 02, 2007

Deliver us from Evil

An exam candidate explained that Christians must not give in to the temptress Satin.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Constitutional Reform?

The new Brown government had its first meeting on Friday on the subject of constitutional reform?

Why did they begin with that? Did we not have enough constitutional change under Blair? I thought Brown wanted to give the impression that things are going to be different with him in charge.

It seems the Brown is just as addicted to control freakery as Blair was.

National Terror Alert

So the Brown government begins with a nationwide terror alert. Well it is good to see them being challenged.