Monthly Archives: November 2007

DOC is new Holiness acronym

Last night in the Elephant Group at Raunds we were considering Holiness and Christian Perfection.

I invented a new acronym in honour of the occasion. One that seems to me to be a useful mnemonic on some of the basics of a life in search of Christian Perfection. I don’t claim anything magical about this, however, it does appear to relate quite well to the Methodist tradition and to some of the challenges we face as a denomination.

So the acronym is DOC (a pun on the idea of Physician heal yourself, a hint towards the idea that a journey of Christian Perfection, of sanctification involves healing.

Anyway after all that verbiage DOC stands for Desire Openness Commitment. Three requirements for us if we are going to keep going as mentioned in Philippians 3:12-14:

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

As we considered DOC, we did so within three main contexts.

First, the 4 legged stool (Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience, all bound together and understood in community) that I believe is an essential framework as we do theology & discipleship together. All too often we see individuals and churches go off into tangents because they fail to use all the legs or they do so individually rather than as a community. No doubt more on that later.

The second context was to explicitly look at a number of scripture passages that have been associated with holiness and Christian perfection in the Methodist tradition (obviously by no means an exhaustive list but they were challenging and helpful). We considered Galatians 5:22-23, John 13:35, 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13, Romans 5: 1-5, 1 John 4:7-21Philippians 3:12-14 and Hebrews 6:1 (you can find these in "A Catechism for the use of the people called Methodists" questions 34, 35).

The 3rd context was community worship, our Elephant Series always begins with worship. Last night we followed a very simple pattern of singing with open prayer between each song. We sang "As we come today", "O God of burning cleansing flame", Holy Spirit, we welcome you", "All I once held dear" and "Purify my heart". I guess the intention of seeking the presence of the Holy Spirit in power within our Church and of lifelong commitment of ourselves to God is quite noticeable in that selection.

So the Elephant session considered DOC within these contexts. I should also say something about the Elephant Series itself. The name may sound odd but it came from a determination to have a group (essentially within the Methodist Class tradition) that goes deep and is not afraid to tackle the big elephants in the room. During the time we have met we have tackled head on the major elephants in the Christian tradition today (Authority of Scripture, Sexuality, Islam, Atonement, …). It has not been easy and some have found it too challenging. However, we have also added new people to the group. We are currently considering what it is to be a member of the Methodist Church and so are in the middle of 6 weeks based loosely on "Called by name: being a member in the Methodist Church".

Onto DOC (yes I know you thought I had forgotten).

Desire: If we are to seek Christian Perfection, if we are to become holy then we have to want it. Really want it. It won’t come simply by turning up on a Sunday. We have to seek to be continually fed and nurtured so the desire to become more Christ-like remains. Sadly we do see people in Churches who have lost this desire, who have no passion to become like Christ, instead Church has become for them a social institution or a dry ritual.

We used the image of the 4 legged stool to consider different ways of kindling desire for God. Maybe different ways are appropriate at different times. The need to not crowd out time for building desire, the dangers of being too busy.

Openness: We need to be open to hear and respond to God’s call on our lives. This includes a reminder back to Ephesians 4:11-12 and context around it which I preached on recently with the call for Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers. Particularly noting that this is not a call for ordained people in a denomination but to the whole  people of God. That included a plea to remember that God is calling people to be APE’s (Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists) within the Methodist Church and so to seek to hear and obey his call.

Again sadly there are people in the Church today who are not open to hear and respond to God. They may feel they are expressing desire to seek Christian Perfection but they have attached conditions to that. Not if it means changing my job, not if it means changing my lifestyle, not if it means loving x or y, not if it means changing my views on a or b, not if it will take more time, not if it means I have to talk to people about my faith, not if it means I have to get my hands dirty.

We talked about how we create a climate of openness within the Church. Some suggestions included looking back through the saints of the past to consider how they often struggled, we are not alone in this. I challenged people to make sure that at least they occasionally they tacked a theological book coming from an entirely different view to the ones they hold, to see how God might speak to them through that. Other ways included different experiences of worship, different Bible translations to give fresh insights (you can hopefully see how these relate to different legs of the stool).

Commitment: As the Philippians reading clearly challenges us we need to commit to lifelong discipleship. But this has to be continually connected to and revised by the insights coming from Desire and Openness. We considered the lessons from the past when at times our denomination got so focused on it’s commitment to live out the gospel that we stopped being fed (ie we neglected Desire and Openness because we were too focused on the commitment).

So again the 4 legged stool worked out in community proved to be a good way of assessing, guiding, reviewing and feeding our commitment. We considered how the tradition of the Methodist Class system where there is mutual accountability can be helpful in supporting and focusing our commitment.

We also spent some time reflecting of the need for commitment to be energised and powered by the Holy Spirit, attempting to achieve commitment in our own strength is doomed to failure and is clearly bad for us, the Church and those we are committed to. Again the Desire and Openness elements are intended to keep us listening to and being controlled by the Spirit so that our commitment is always working for the Misio Dei (Mission of God).

So there you have DOC. By no means comprehensive on it’s own but offered in case anyone else finds it helpful.

More destruction

In a careful, detailed article Better Bibles Blog: The Value of Dictionaries Richard A. Rhodes looks at the way dictionaries are often misused in translation compared to primary sources. He explains it much better than I can, definitely worth reading.

You also need to read the comments which explore a little whether Richards last sentence:

If the complementarians really understood what shaky ground textual ground they stand on, the whole debate would be different.

is fair. Apparently not all complementarians argue the way that we see Driscoll, Grudem & Adrian Warnock argue (see 42: Complementarianism Destroyed). What I am missing is how those other complementarians argue).

Either way this post destroys far more effectively than I can, the idea that adam has anything to do with men (and therefore that adam implies male headship or leadership).

Feminism challenges Christianity ; is it a crisis to be weathered or an opportunity to be grasped?

Sally tackles a belief that Christianity is threatened by Femiinism Feminism challenges Christianity ; is it a crisis to be weathered or an opportunity to be grasped?. She concludes:

This is by no means a conclusive nor even a comprehensive argument, I guess I want to clarify my position to myself as a Christian and a feminist. I have more questions to ask, and to answer!

I (at least partially) define myself as a Christian who is a feminist. While I recognise that Christianity has historically been extremely patriarchal I do not think that this is by any means central to the gospel nor a requirement of faith. Sadly we do need to recognise  that much of Christianity is still overwhelmingly patriarchal and many seem determined to not move on, even they are attempting to emphasise patriarchy as if it were some glory of the church rather than a misunderstanding of the kingdom that needs to be jettisoned just as slavery before it.

Results of bad theology

In various posts on the should/shouldn’t have comments and should/shouldn’t draw attention to bad theology the question has been raised about the dangers of bad theology on blogs. Read this and I rest my case: Sunday Morning Meditation: The Ugly Side of Religion « Journaling Faith.

Oh and another viewpoint on the nature of God (love or wrath) at Tom Haward: God Hates You By the Way.

Back to gender and Sam hits hard in his description of one of Adrian’s posts in Elizaphanian: TBTM20071121.

PS I deliberately do not refer to people and situations that I meet in my role as a Methodist Minister. Suffice it to say, in my experience, in the case of gender the evidence is overwhelming that bad theology hurts people and that all forms of male headship have caused immense hurt.

Adrian so close yet so far

Adrian is quoting John Stott on Ephesians.

“We have had occasion several times in our study of this letter to marvel at the breadth of Paul’s horizons. He began by unfolding God’s purpose, conceived in a past eternity before the foundation of the world, to create a single new human race through the death and resurrection of Christ and ultimately to unite the whole church and the whole creation under Christ’s headship . . .

The old days of division and discrimination have gone. A brand new oneness has emerged, in which through union with Christ Jews and Gentiles are equal members of the same body and equal sharers in the same promise. So now the one Father has one family, the one Messiah-Saviour one people, and the one Spirit one body.

Is God’s plan to create a new society? Then they [‘principalities and powers’] will do their
utmost to destroy it. Has God through Jesus Christ broken down the
walls dividing human beings of different races and cultures from each
other? Then the devil through his emissaries will strive to rebuild
them. Does God intend his reconciled and redeemed people to live
together in harmony and purity? Then the powers of hell will scatter
among them the seeds of discord and sin.”

All this God has done through his son Jesus. To unite all people under Christ’s headship, creating a brand new oneness, breaking down walls dividing us, creating a new human race.

Wow all that accomplished by Christ in saving us. Fantastic. Love it.

And yet according to Adrian, Christ could not break down the walls between men and women. Indeed instead of breaking them down as he did with all those other walls, according to complementarian thinking, Christ built up the walls between men and women. Making them higher than ever before (no more Deborahs to give one example).

It is as if Adrian catches occasional glimpses of the kingdom from afar, but when he realises just how different God’s kingdom is from the ways of the world he draws back afraid of just how radical and transforming Jesus really is.

It is interesting that Ephesians chapter 6 begins with an acceptance of walls between masters and slaves, yet in this chapter nothing is said of men and women. Yet Adrian feels quite comfortable breaking down the wall of slavery – clearly taught and mandated in this passage and yet now universally condemned. Oh Adrian my friend, how I long for you to catch a vision of the wonder of the Kingdom of God. A vision of hope and transformation for all people.

In a comment on 42: The blogging world goes crazy, Suzanne had quite correctly noted tenderness as one of the losses resulting from complementarianism. I went much further in what is lost (and I think that relates closely to the quite from John Stott).

Although I agree on the denial of tenderness in fact I think that female submission causes far more problems than that.

Today’s gospel reading is from Luke 23:33-43 where we see Jesus on
the cross, totally vulnerable, in worldly terms defeated and broken.
Yet through that we discover the triumph of God’s love.

When women and men focus on male headship and female submission they
are hindered from complete transformation into the people they were
created to be by the God who died on a cross and then rose again
victorious for them.

It is as if we take the salvation that Christ offers and split it in two. Some for men and some for women.

For me egalitarianism is not about being fair or nice. It is not about men becoming a bit more tender or women more butch.

Instead it is about salvation for all. It is about the Kingdom of
God. It is about life in all it’s fullness for all. It is about
standing together for the gospel rather than for the values of this
world.

Therefore the cost of complementarianism is high, not just a lack of
tenderness but a loss of life in it’s fullness and the kingdom with all
it’s values.

Oh how I pray that the Church may become united in the saving power and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

More on software licenses

I wrote about a new software license in 42: copyrighteous called the  Affero
General Public License or AGPL
.

I felt very positive about it (and still do) of course not everyone always agrees with me (if you have not been here much you may not be aware of that).

So for balance here is someone who entirely disagrees with me about the AGPL: Elzeviro » And AGPL it is.

Of course my interest is for entirely different situations. I believe AGPL is a good fit for web applications being built for free or by small companies. Suppose you create a Church administration web application and release it under the GPL. Maybe you want to make some money through hosting it.

However, a company comes along, makes some changes are starts offering hosting. Maybe they are better at marketing or maybe their improvements are great. Under the GPL there is nothing to ensure that their users benefit from the GPL freedoms. They cannot be sure they can get anyone else to host their data (which may have been stored in a slightly different format) So the freedoms you were trying to ensure with the got lost.

For me the AGPL is not about protecting companies or developers, it is about protecting users.

Oh and I really don’t think the requirements are too difficult. Just make your deployment script package the code so that running the application makes it’s code available. It makes your own hosting easier anyway, you always have the deployed source available with the application.

So I still think the AGPL is a good license for web applications, not for everything but for that.