Liverpool’s Ethnic Minorities

(From here)

– Afro-Caribbeans (inc. 1000+ Jamaicans, in esp. Toxteth and Granby)
– Chinese (perhaps 30,000 — oldest Chinese community in Europe)
– Ghanaians (9,000)
– Greek Cypriots (2,500)
– Irish (up to 50% of Liverpudlians have Irish ancestry)
– Italians (3,000)
– Latin Americans (Brazil, Colombia, Bolivia, Peru)
– Malaysians (9,000)
– Vietnamese (1,500)
– Somalis (5,000)
– Indian (7,000)
– Pakistani (3,000)
– Bangladeshi (1,000)
– Welsh
– Yemeni
– Zimbabwean (3,000)

Nation of birth (with more than 500 Liverpool residents)
– Ireland
– China
– Hong Kong
– Germany
– India
– Somalia
– Nigeria

What Jesus Said About Scripture

Andrew Wilson, Unbreakable: What the Son of God said about the Word of God
(Notes from my reading)

1. The Art of War (Authority)
‘It is written’ (Luke 4:1-13, Matt. 4:1-11)
God’s word is i. enough, ii. coherent, iii. authoritative.
Jesus loved the Word with his heart (being satisfied by it), mind (understanding it), and will (obeying it).

2. True Like Jazz (Inspiration)
‘David, speaking by the Spirit’ (Mk. 12:35-37)
cf. 2 Peter 1:21, 2 Tim. 3:16
It’s not invention, nor is it dictation. It’s inspiration.

3. Dodging the Rocks (Unbreakability)
‘Scripture cannot be broken’ (John 10:30-36)
cf. Matthew 5:17-19
“Maybe I’m the one who is broken, rather than the Bible”

4. One Bride for Seven Brothers (Coherence)
‘You are wrong because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God’ (Matt. 22:23-34)
“There’s nothing wrong with being puzzled by the Bible… but the later bits don’t contradict the earlier bits”
And we can A. acknowledge tensions (Prov. 26:4-5), B. admit insufficient information (genealogies of Jesus: Matt. 1, Luke 3), C. harmonise differing accounts with imagination and patience without flattening different emphases (eg. Judas’ death Matt. 27:3-10, Acts 1:18-19; resurrection Matt. 28, Mk. 16, Lk. 24, Jn. 20).

5. It’s Not About You (Centrality of Christ)
‘Beginning with Moses and the prophets…’ (Lk. 24:13-33)
When you discover the Bible is mainly about Jesus, and God’s purposes for the nations through him, your heart catches fire and your eyes are opened.

6. Red and Black (Canon)
TaNaKh: Luke 24:44 ‘Law, Prophets, Psalms’; Luke 11:51 ‘from Abel [Genesis 4:8] to Zechariah [2 Chronicles 24:20]’
ie. not deuterocanonical Apocrypha
NT (He doesn’t mention much in the way of specifics, but to develop his argument one would have to draw on Jn. 16:12-15; 1 Cor. 14:37; 2 Peter 1:16-21; 2 Peter 3:1-2,15-16; Rev. 22:18-19)
Recommended: Michael J. Kruger, Canon Revisited
Two ideas: 1. the sixty-six books you have in your Bible are the uncontroversial ones; 2. all the Scriptures (OT and NT) are authoritative because of Jesus.

7. The Ship is Made for the Ocean (Fulfilment)
‘I have not come to abolish [the Law or the Prophets] but to fulfil’ (Matt. 5:17)
cf. Romans 10:4 ‘Christ is the *telos* of the law’

8. You Can Always Trust the Light (Clarity)
Q: Surely if the Bible was clear, we’d all agree?
A1: On the essentials, we do: Eph. 4:4-6, Nicene Creed.
A2: Because of ignorance, hardheartedness, sin, unbelief, etc. we don’t.
The problem is us, not Scripture. Cf. Matt. 13:15, 15:16, 16:9-11, 16:23, Mark 7:13, Luke 9:45, 24:25-26, Jn. 8:43, 5:39-40

9. Judgment, Miracles, Sex and Stuff (Challenges)
Sometimes difficulties from the text: “accounts vary, theology develops, tensions exist and authors bring different perspectives”
But “Most of these difficulties are fairly easy to resolve with study, imagination and honesty.”
“The biggest challenges for most people are not over issues where the Bible is unclear, but over issues where the Bible is very clear”, eg. Judgment, Miracles, Sex. “The answer, as ever, is to look at Jesus”.
Miracles: “all the historical evidence we have shows that Jesus was known as a miracle-worker”.
Judgment: Luke 17:22-37 (Noah’s flood, fire and sulphur on Sodom, Lot’s wife turned into pillar of salt) — ‘God sometimes kills people in judgment and when he does, it happens suddenly, and it catches people out. Well, the same will be true when the Son of Man comes. So make sure you’re ready’.
Sex: Matthew 5:27-32 — call to holiness, renouncing adultery, lust, divorce and sexual immorality; Mk. 7:21-23 – adultery and sexual immorality as prominent examples of what makes unclean; Matt. 19:1-12 – Garden Story foundational for sexual morality (one man, one woman, permanence of marriage, singleness).
“We have a choice. We can challenge the Bible, or let the Bible challenge us”.

10. Oh No They Won’t (Sufficiency)
‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone rises from the dead’ (Luke 16:19-31)

11. Restless Idol Factories (Danger)
‘You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life… yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life’ (Jn. 5:39-40)
emotional reasons: “a friend used to hug her Bible as a substitute for God, because she so struggled with the fact that God wasn’t physical”
intellectual reasons: “Scriptures easier to manage than the Holy Spirit”
Recommendation: Chapter on ‘Confessions of a Bible Deist’ in Deere, Jack; Surprised by the Voice of God.
spiritual reasons: “they had put the Scriptures in the place that only God should be”

12. Epilogue (Interpretation)
“Many people today cannot understand why Christians obey some instructions in the Bible but not others: why we seek to love God, love our neighbours, preach the gospel, only have sex within marriage and gather in local churches, while not feeling the need to abstain from shellfish, circumcise boys, stone adulterers, wear head coverings in church (if we’re women), kiss each other (if we’re men), rip our eyes out if we sin, avoid black pudding, and take trips to Troas to find Paul’s coat”.
Five interpretative principles:
1. When interpreted correctly, with careful attention paid to context, purpose, genre and authorial intention, the Scriptures do not contain mistakes.
2. The primary way of establishing the meaning of a text is to establish what the original author meant their original audience to understand.
3. The Bible is a big story, and the big story is authoritative for all Christians, although instructions given in one part of the story are not necessarily binding on those who live in other parts of the story.
4. We live in the same part of the story as the New Testament church, and therefore we should obey all instructions given to believers in the New Testament, unless there are clear indications that they only apply to specific individuals.
5. Obeying New Testament instructions will sometimes require cultural translation, where the meaning of symbols has changed across the centuries, in order to preserve the meaning of the original symbols.

+. Recommended Further Reading
Kevin DeYoung, Taking God At His Word
Tom Wright, Scripture and the Authority of God
Duvall and Hays, Grasping God’s Word
Fee and Stuart, How To Read The Bible For All Its Worth
Kevin Vanhoozer, The Drama of Doctrine

Six Possible Perfections of Grace

(from Barclay’s Paul and the Gift)

1. Superabundance
2. Singularity (/benevolence)
3. Priority
4. Incongruity
5. Efficacy
6. Non-circularity

Some helpful summaries here and here.

And a survey of different emphases in church history:
2 Temple Judaism (superabundance, not non-circularity);
Marcion (singularity, incongruity);
Augustine (priority, incongruity in spades, efficacy);
Luther (superabundance, singularity, priority, permanent incongruity, and non-circularity but no emphasis on efficacy);
Calvin (priority, incongruity, efficacy, and circularity [not non-circularity, not singularity]);
Barth (incongruity, with wrestling over efficacy).

What then does a contemporary emphasis on ‘sovereign grace’ mean? Priority, incongruity, and efficacy — but efficacy only as far as to effectively create saving faith, not necessarily to effectively sanctify sinners this side of Christ’s return.

Seven Keys To Avoid Burnout

1. Sleep
2. Sabbath
3. Relationships with friends
4. Renewal by the Spirit
5. Humility — don’t worry about what others think of you.
6. Hope — your work is not in vain.
7. Grace — don’t worry about how gifted you are(n’t).

cf. Christopher Ash, Zeal without Burnout

The phrase God has given me and Taryn has been this:
‘There’s a difference between SACRIFICE and SELF-HARM’.

Seven Questions

A. Seven Coaching Questions
The Kickstart Question: What’s on your mind?
The AWEsome Question: And what else?
The Focus Question: What’s the real challenge for you here?
The Foundational Question: What do you want?
The Lazy Question: What would you like me to do?
The Strategic Question: If you’re saying Yes to this, what are you saying No to?
The Learning Question: What was the most useful part of this conversation for you?

B. Question Masterclass
i. Ask One Question at a time.
ii. Cut the Intro and ask the Question.
iii. Don’t ask Rhetorical Questions.
iv. Stick to Questions starting with ‘What’.
v. Get comfortable with Silence.
vi. Actually listen to the Answer.
vii. Acknowledge the Answers you get.
viii. Use every channel to ask a Question.

from The Coaching Habit

Acton Institute Core Principles

Integrating Judeo-Christian Truths with Free Market Principles

-Dignity of the Person
-Social Nature of the Person
-Importance of Social Institutions
-Human Action
-Rule of Law and the Subsidiary Role of Government
-Creation of Wealth
-Economic Liberty
-Economic Value
-Priority of Culture

Dignity of the Person – The human person, created in the image of God, is individually unique, rational, the subject of moral agency, and a co-creator. Accordingly, he possesses intrinsic value and dignity, implying certain rights and duties both for himself and other persons. These truths about the dignity of the human person are known through revelation, but they are also discernible through reason.

Social Nature of the Person – Although persons find ultimate fulfillment only in communion with God, one essential aspect of the development of persons is our social nature and capacity to act for disinterested ends. The person is fulfilled by interacting with other persons and by participating in moral goods. There are voluntary relations of exchange, such as market transactions that realize economic value. These transactions may give rise to moral value as well. There are also voluntary relations of mutual dependence, such as promises, friendships, marriages, and the family, which are moral goods. These, too, may have other sorts of value, such as religious, economic, aesthetic, and so on.

Importance of Social Institutions – Since persons are by nature social, various human persons develop social institutions. The institutions of civil society, especially the family, are the primary sources of a society’s moral culture. These social institutions are neither created by nor derive their legitimacy from the state. The state must respect their autonomy and provide the support necessary to ensure the free and orderly operation of all social institutions in their respective spheres.

Human Action – Human persons are by nature acting persons. Through human action, the person can actualize his potentiality by freely choosing the moral goods that fulfill his nature.

Sin. Although human beings in their created nature are good, in their current state, they are fallen and corrupted by sin. The reality of sin makes the state necessary to restrain evil. The ubiquity of sin, however, requires that the state be limited in its power and jurisdiction. The persistent reality of sin requires that we be skeptical of all utopian “solutions” to social ills such as poverty and injustice.

Rule of Law and the Subsidiary Role of Government – The government’s primary responsibility is to promote the common good, that is, to maintain the rule of law, and to preserve basic duties and rights. The government’s role is not to usurp free actions, but to minimize those conflicts that may arise when the free actions of persons and social institutions result in competing interests. The state should exercise this responsibility according to the principle of subsidiarity. This principle has two components. First, jurisdictionally broader institutions must refrain from usurping the proper functions that should be performed by the person and institutions more immediate to him. Second, jurisdictionally broader institutions should assist individual persons and institutions more immediate to the person only when the latter cannot fulfill their proper functions.

Creation of Wealth – Material impoverishment undermines the conditions that allow humans to flourish. The best means of reducing poverty is to protect private property rights through the rule of law. This allows people to enter into voluntary exchange circles in which to express their creative nature. Wealth is created when human beings creatively transform matter into resources. Because human beings can create wealth, economic exchange need not be a zero-sum game.

Economic Liberty – Liberty, in a positive sense, is achieved by fulfilling one’s nature as a person by freely choosing to do what one ought. Economic liberty is a species of liberty so-stated. As such, the bearer of economic liberty not only has certain rights, but also duties. An economically free person, for example, must be free to enter the market voluntarily. Hence, those who have the power to interfere with the market are duty-bound to remove any artificial barrier to entry in the market, and also to protect private and shared property rights. But the economically free person will also bear the duty to others to participate in the market as a moral agent and in accordance with moral goods. Therefore, the law must guarantee private property rights and voluntary exchange.

Economic Value – In economic theory, economic value is subjective because its existence depends on it being felt by a subject. Economic value is the significance that a subject attaches to a thing whenever he perceives a causal connection between this thing and the satisfaction of a present, urgent want. The subject may be wrong in his value judgment by attributing value to a thing that will not or cannot satisfy his present, urgent want. The truth of economic value judgments is settled just in case that thing can satisfy the expected want. While this does not imply the realization of any other sort of value, something can have both subjective economic value and objective moral value.

Priority of Culture – Liberty flourishes in a society supported by a moral culture that embraces the truth about the transcendent origin and destiny of the human person. This moral culture leads to harmony and to the proper ordering of society. While the various institutions within the political, economic, and other spheres are important, the family is the primary inculcator of the moral culture in a society.

(from here)

This Gay Christian doesn’t want to be discriminated against…

(From Ed Shaw)

“…As a member of the LGBT community that Chalke is kindly seeking to include,, I want firmer and older foundations to my place in the church than his Charter offers me.

Most of all I want a transparently biblical vision of inclusion to be shaping how the church welcomes and accepts me – rather than the ever-changing views of society around me. I don’t want be included on the basis that cultural attitudes have changed but on the basis of the timeless Gospel that Jesus Christ self-sacrificially brought into this world.

That Gospel was famously summarised by Jesus himself in the words: ‘The Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’ (Mark 1:15). It’s a message he wonderfully took to all – smashing the gender, social, religious, racial and national barriers of his day for all to see (just read the rest of Mark’s Gospel!). The Gospel is clearly a message that Jesus wants the LGBT community to hear today and Chalke is to be commended for his desire to bring it to us. But the Gospel that I want to hear as a member of that community is just the same Gospel that has been taken to every other group of people down the ages – one that includes the command to ‘Repent!’

I don’t want to be discriminated against by having his call to turn from any of my wrong attitudes and actions taken away. I want Christ’s loving welcome of me to be combined with an equally loving call to change anything he says is not good for me or the society I’m part of…”