Birthrights & Blessings, Servanthood & Leadership, Fathers & Sons

1. There Is An Innate Authority In Doing Something First (Deut. 21:17)
2. Resist The Temptation To Give Away That Birthright Too Cheaply (Even When You’re Exhausted!) (Gen. 25:29-34)
3. The Older Serves The Younger (Gen 25:23); The Greater Blesses The Lesser (Heb. 7:7)
4. Godly Authority Is All About Service (Mark 10:42-45)
5. Fathers Need Expectation Not Just For Their Sons, But Their Sons’ Sons (Gen. 48:11)
6. Jacob’s Sons All Become Tribes By Honouring Their Father And Each Receiving His Blessing, However Dubious! (Gen. 49:1-27)

Good News for Gay People

If we were to take the biblical term ‘eunuch’ as roughly analogous to someone identifying as LGBTQ (insofar as they are thus distancing themselves from traditional/natural(?)/biblical binary gender/sexuality norms, then what typological prophecy could we then draw out of Scripture?

1. The Indestructible Bond of Hetero-Binary Marriage & The Uniqueness of Eunuch-ness (Matt. 19)
2. The Heavenly Priority of Reaching The Eunuch In The Wilderness (Acts 8)
3. The Prophetic Vocation of Eunuchs in the House of Prayer (Isaiah 56)
4. Eunuchs Prepare the Bride (Esther 2)
5. The Call for Intercessory Eunuchs (Dan. 1)
6. The Strategic Role of Eunuchs in Casting Down ‘Jezebel’ (2 Kings 9)
7. The Strategic Role of Eunuchs in Rescuing the Prophetic (Jeremiah 38)

Thoughts on ‘Gospel Unity’

We are becoming members of Bethel Church, Green Lane, which being a member of FIEC, shares their stance on ‘gospel unity’. Some swiftly scribbled points for discussion…

1. The Need To Not Compromise The Gospel (Galatians 1)
2. The Need to Not Split Into Factions (1 Cor. 1)
3. Jesus’ Desire For Trinitarian Unity (John 17)
4. The Objective Spiritual Unity of the Born Again (Eph.2) — Danny Silk would say ‘The Cross Means An End To “Us & Them”‘
5. The Higher Standard Required of ‘Teachers’ (James 3:1)
6. The Need For Principled Pragmatism (Matt. 10:16)
7. Apostolic Plurality (of ‘Spheres of Influence’) as an Interim Paradigm (2 Cor.10:15-16)
8. Apostolic Succession, Petrine Priority, and Ecumenism (Acts 15)
9. The Eternal Mandate for New Apostolic Initiatives (Rom. 1:5, Matt. 28:18-20), and the Innate Tensions between Petrine (Old) and Pauline (New) Apostleship (2 Peter 3:16)

The Development of Law Enforcement in Scripture

Having just read Gary Haugen (founder of IJM)’s book The Locust Effect, in which he argues that the key to solving the problem of global extreme poverty is first to solve the problem of law enforcement (ie. the lack thereof), I was interested in the question of how law enforcement develops in Scripture.

1. Presumption of Blood-feuding Kinsmen (Ex. 21) & the Legitimation of Levitical Violence (Ex. 32)
2. The failure of the Levites & the need for a king (Judges 17:6, 21:25)
3. The Problem of a King — Centralized Law Enforcement magnifies Centralized Corruption (1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings/1 & 2 Chronicles)
4. Glimmers of Legal Reform (Chronicles, Ezra-Nehemiah) demonstrate superficiality/futility of mere Legal Reformation — Cultural (Heart) Transformation is required
5. Jesus’ apparent disinterest in Law Enforcement (Jn. 8)
6. Paul & Roman Law — making strategic use of imperfect legal protection

The Seven Essential Ingredients of a Contagious Movement

If something is truly strategic, then without it in place the plan will fail. If the plan can survive without an element, that element isn’t strategic.

[1] Being a disciple who makes disciples,
[2] prayer,
[3] engagement [ie. meeting lost people),
[4] [finding] Persons of Peace,
[5] Discovery Groups [where Persons of Peace are introduced to Scripture],
[6] establishing churches [ie. Long-term Disciple-Making Communities], and
[7] leadership development
are all strategic.

Each is part of the answer to the question, ‘What will it take to catalyze Disciple-Making Movements?’ (There are others, but [these are] the strategic elements you need to get a movement started.) If you remove any of these elements, you won’t have a movement, period. You may have some growth, but you won’t experience movement.

From Contagious Disciple-Making, by David Watson & Paul Watson (2014)

…if there were no danger…

From CS Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet (Samizdat Free E-Book, 2015; first published The Bodley Head, 1938), pp.62-63.

‘All the same,’ said Ransom, unconsciously nettled on behalf of his own world, ‘Maleldil has let in the hnakra.’

‘Oh, but that is so different. I long to kill this hnakra as he also longs to kill me. I hope that my ship will be the first and I first in my ship with my straight spear when the black jaws snap. And if he kills me, my people will mourn and my brothers will desire still more to kill him. But they will not wish that there were no hneraki; nor do I. How can I make you understand, when you do not understand the poets? The hnakra is our enemy, but he is also our beloved. We feel in our hearts his joy as he looks down from the mountain of water in the north where he was born; we leap with him when he jumps the falls; and when winter comes, and the lake smokes higher than our heads, it is with his eyes that we see it and know that his roaming time is come. We hang images of him in our houses, and the sign of all the hrossa is a hnakra. In him the spirit of the valley lives; and our young play at being hneraki as soon as they can splash in the shallows.’

‘And then he kills them?’

‘Not often them. The hrossa would be bent hrossa if they let him get so near. Long before he had come down so far we should have sought him out. No, Hman, it is not a few deaths roving the world around him that make a hnau miserable. It is a bent hnau that would blacken the world. And I say also this. I do not think the forest would be so bright, nor the water so warm, nor love so sweet, if there were no danger in the lakes. I will tell you a day in my life that has shaped me; such a day as comes only once, like love, or serving Oyarsa in Meldilorn. Then I was young, not much more than a cub, when I went far, far up the handramit to the land where stars shine at midday and even water is cold. A great waterfall I climbed. I stood on the shore of Balki the pool, which is the place of most awe in all worlds. The walls of it go up for ever and ever and huge and holy images are cut in them, the work of old times. There is the fall called the Mountain of Water. Because I have stood there alone, Maleldil and I, for even Oyarsa sent me no word, my heart has been higher, my song deeper, all my days. But do you think it would have been so unless I had known that in Balki hneraki dwelled? There I drank life because death was in the pool. That was the best of drinks save one.

‘What one?’ asked Ransom.

‘Death itself in the day I drink it and go to Maleldil.’

Shortly after that they rose and resumed their work…

God’s Honour & Satisfaction for Sin

From Anselm, Cur Deus Homo [/Why God Became Man], (Canterbury, AD 1098). Book I, Chapter XV.

Nothing can be added to or taken from the honor of God. For this honor which belongs to him is in no way subject to injury or change. But as the individual creature preserves, naturally or by reason, the condition belonging, and, as it were, allotted to him, he is said to obey and honor God; and to this, rational nature, which possesses intelligence, is especially bound.

And when the being chooses what he ought, he honors God; not by bestowing anything upon him, but because he brings himself freely under God’s will and disposal, and maintains his own condition in the universe, and the beauty of the universe itself, as far as in him lies. But when he does not choose what he ought, he dishonors God, as far as the being himself is concerned, because he does not submit himself freely to God’s disposal. And he disturbs the order and beauty of the universe, as relates to himself, although he cannot injure nor tarnish the power and majesty of God.

… And so, though man or evil angel refuse to submit to the Divine will and appointment, yet he cannot escape it; for if he wishes to fly from a will that commands, he falls into the power of a will that punishes. And if you ask whither he goes, it is only under the permission of that will; and even this wayward choice or action of his becomes subservient, under infinite wisdom, to the order and beauty of the universe before spoken of.

For when it is understood that God brings good out of many forms of evil, then the satisfaction for sin freely given, or if this be not given, the exaction of punishment, hold their own place and orderly beauty in the same universe. For if Divine wisdom were not to insist upon things, when wickedness tries to disturb the right appointment, there would be, in the very universe which God ought to control, an unseemliness springing from the violation of the beauty of arrangement, and God would appear to be deficient in his management. And these two things are not only unfitting, but consequently impossible; so that satisfaction or punishment must needs follow every sin.

A Distinction between Pain and Suffering

Julian Baggini, The Virtues of the Table (Granta, 2014), pp.53-54
(In discussing the ethics of eating meat, and the underlying moral question of killing animals)

… Here I think it is important to make a distinction between pain and suffering. Pain is simply that unpleasant sensation we have that has evolved as an alarm system for bodiy damage (although some alarms are false). There is no reason to doubt that any animal with a basic central nervous system feels pain, and even some crustaceans may feel some. To suffer, however, is not just to have a moment of pain, or even a series of pains. It is for pain to compound itself by accumulation, and that requires a certain amount of memory.

To illustrate this difference, imagine a person who retained no memory, conscious or otherwise, of any experience she had. Everything that happens is forgotten immediately. Imagine that this person is painfully pricked every ten seconds. These pricks, if unnecessary, are of course bad, but each individual prick is hardly terrible, and each successive prick is no worse than the one before it. It is as though on each occasion the person is being pricked for the first time. Now imagine if I were to prick you every ten seconds. It would not take long for you to be driven half mad. ‘Stop it,’ you’d say, because you were aware of this as an ongoing torment and would dread its indefinite continuation. The total amount of pain you felt would be the same as that of the amnesiac, but your suffering would be immeasurably greater. And this reflects a general truth: pain is bad, but suffering is much worse.

There is actually a good deal of experimental evidence to show that suffering and pan differ, as suffering is memory-dependent and we care more about it than mere pain. In the most striking experiment, patients who were given an endoscopy were asked to report their level of pain and discomfort while the procedure was being undertaken. Then, once it was all over, they were asked to rate how unpleasant the entire experience had been and how willing they would be to undergo it again. There were therefore two sets of results: a series of judgements made at the time and a final, retrospective assessment. It turned out that this final judgement depended more on when the most intense moment of pain was experienced that it did on the total amount of pain felt. As it happens, the most painful part comes right at the end of the procedure, and if it is stopped at this natural point, the patient judges the whole experience to have been very painful. But if you keep the endoscope in place, creating continued mild pain and allowing the discomfort to calm down a little, the patient’s final assessment is that overall the procedure was less painful than it otherwise would have been. This is deeply counterintuitive, because, of course, the second case, although judged to be less distressing, is exactly the same as the first, apart from the addition of some extra, mild discomfort at the end. There is more total pain but less total suffering. [He footnotes Daniel Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow (Allen Lane, 2011), pp.379-80).]

The reason for this is simple: pain is an unpleasant sensation, but it is experienced in present moments of awareness, which pass. What makes our self-consciousness more developed is not that we can experience moments — all animals can do that — but that we can create a narrative of our lives based on these experiences.