Tuesday, August 16, 2005

My Personal Recommendations

I recently heard on a TV sender an advertisement for a worship CD. While music samples and videos were being played, I heard the background voice boldly proclaim: 'No one knows the 'spirit of worship' like … [and then said the artists name]'!

What the heck?

Nevertheless, I was encouraged to do the same. So, I have asked around my friends (no name-dropping intended here) and asked them if they would write a personal recommendation for me to put on my blog. To my surprise, more answered than I expected (that's what it means to be humble). I'm a little embarrassed to post them, but here goes:

"He is my model for holiness and obedience" - Sarah Plant, founder of Holiness Minitries International

"He is so funny, witty, good-looking, I can't help but be jealous" – Simon H, Chairman and Manager of Brill Missions inc and founding memeber of the Society of Excellence in Ministry

"His blogs are inspirational" – Joint statement of the U.S. Senate and British government

"Without Chris's encouragement and inspiration I would never have written the Institutes" - Calvin

"He helped me to take a stand against racism" - Martin Luther King

"He makes me feel so humble while simultaneously inspiring me. He always wins our arguments" - Simon H (again)

"He displays a previously unseen level of academic brilliance" – the entire research department at LST

"Chris? Oh yes. The closest thing to a walking miracle machine I have ever met" - Wigglesworth

"Compared to Chris, I know nothing" - Hengel

"He makes us feel so thick" - debaters on the Future Worship blog

"taught me everything I know" - Renoir

"I'm just finishing my book: 'How to be Like Chris, and why its Important'" – Famous author who preferred to remain anon.

"Pity Anja got there first" – the entire cheerleader squad for the Miami Dolphins

I have many more in my Inbox, but I'll leave them till later as I wouldn't want anyone to think I was being proud …

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Why do we let them in our houses?

Friday, August 12, 2005

Deissmann on Paul

An short appreciation of Adolf Deissmann's,
St. Paul. A Study in Social and Religious History.

As some of my visitors know, I am a writing a doctorate on the Christology of the Apostle Paul. 'Boring', I hear you yawn. But did you know that Paul's letters are the earliest extant Christian writings? Yes, earlier than the gospels. In fact, any reconstruction of how the early Church came to believe what they did about Jesus, and thus how most of us did, must engage with the evidence in Paul's letters. Especially given the modern debates, this 'Paul-wrestling' remains an absolutely crucial task.

I am a little surprised, therefore, that the image of Paul I read in many modern monographs is one that I suspect Paul himself would have difficulty recognising. As much as I love recent debate concerning 'justification', 'baptism', 'Israel' etc., I have a nagging suspicion that we are falling back into a version of the dry 'Paulinism' that plagued much of Pauline scholarship at the end of the 19th century.

At least this is how I want to appreciatively introduce Deissmann (1866-1937), whose words are, I feel once again very much 'in season'.

In a book that at time sounds like poetry, Deissmann 'waxes lyrical' against the sort of scholarship that has turned Paul 'into a western scholastic philosopher', an 'aristocratised, conventionalised, and modernised Paul now suffering his eight imprisonment in the paper bondage of "Paulinism"' (xi). And while things aren't, anymore, how Deissmann found them, his words, I think, still ring with prophetic relevance for our present day. Have many of us once again delivered Paul into a 'paper bondage'? I suspect so.

When others were reducing Paul to various and familiar '-ologies', Deissmann wrote in an altogether different language. In relation to christological inquiry, he writes:

'The attempt is usually made under the heading, "the Christology" of St. Paul. But it would be more accurate, because more historical, to inquire concerning the apostle's 'knowledge of Christ', or 'experience of Christ' … Anything that tends to petrify the fellowship with Christ, which was felt at the beginning and felt so vividly, into a doctrine about Christ, is mischievous' (124)

While I cannot, as with much of the 1st and 2nd generation publications of the Religionsgeschichtliche Schule, drive a clear wedge between Paul's 'religion' and 'theology', I deeply understand the attempt of Deissmann to once again put colour and religious fervour back into our picture of the Apostle. I think we ought to heed the 'spirit' of Deissmann, and make sure our Paul doesn't become a 'Paulinism', and our Christology, an anathema to Paul's Christ-devotion.

'But this is only important to you because your specific field is Pauline Christology', perhaps you may think? And while I admit my favourite questions are those christologically shaped, I am of the conviction that Paul, and his thinking, cannot be understood without the most profound reference to his risen Lord. That may sound obvious, but under the skin of much 'New Perspective' discussion, and certain 'Israelologies' being generated in Paul's name, is, I suspect, an underlying inability to grasp the importance of the Apostle's Christ-soaked, nay, Christ-obsessed life and thinking. Though I'm not yet claiming that the 'New Perspective' is therefore wrong (my internal jury is 'out' on that one still), I feel that many of our hermeneutical approaches to Paul could do with a bit of a 'haul over'. And in this sense, Deissmann could teach us all a lot.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

On a more positive note

Blade Meets Bambi

Looking back at my past film and art reviews, I guess I was a bit negative. And so, today, I want to mention a classic: Blade meets Bambi.

Particularly unforgettable is when Blade, after his long search, finally gets to meet the startled Bambi. The scene that follows is a cinematic classic - it had me in tears of laughter for days afterward.

Another film review

Steven Spielberg's recent take on H. G. Wells' 1898 novel 'War of the Worlds':

Total Crap.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Modern Art

I just found this in Anja's collection of pictures. She loves all this stuff, so I'd better be careful (I really don't want another Chinese burn). And OK, I'm certainly no errr, (desperately thinking of a famous artist....) err, Rolf Harris. Nor am I educated in the subtleties of higher 'Art Criticism'. Agreed. But tell me why this Matisse:

... is to be blamed on artistic inspiration, rather than (as is my guess) a really bad nose-bleed. Educate me.

But I have got something better.
I just came across a picture of a sculpture at the 'Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art' in France. Now, while I personally may be about as artistic as a bucket of snot, some of this modern art stuff just plain puzzles me:

It is apparently called 'The Man of Poo'.

I guess I would have called it something else. I have a few candidates, but something like 'Great Big Pile of xxxx' (children may read this) comes to mind.

Quotes for the Day

"Is not every doctrine of Holy Scripture as such a superfluous saying of
'Lord, Lord'?"

- K. Barth, Church Dogmatics I/2, 461.

"He who wipes his boggies on the furniture deserves a good slapping"

- Ancient Chinese Proverb

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The mess on my desk

About Schweitzer's famous The Quest of the Historical Jesus (1906), Stephen Neill writes:

'Schweitzer has left on record some memories of the manner of its writing. Books were stacked everywhere in his room, including the floor, and those who came to see him had to edge their way perilously along the narrow waterways between tall islands of books' (The Interpretation of the NT, 206)

And as I'm writing a thesis with the intent to publish, in some sick way I feel coldly justified for the mess on my desk:

However, when Schweitzer wrote his Quest, he was (of course) a bachelor. He wasn't to marry Helene Bresslau until June 1912.

But I am married. And, as most know, wives tend to feel differently about these piles of books and paper. Very differently. Wrathful, even.

A face to strike terror into the heart of Terminator. If fact, she just had me in a terrible Chinese burn, so I've been forced to clean it all up (my Schweitzer argument didn't work) :-(