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Friday, August 29, 2008

Hiebert P.G. (2000) Spiritual Warfare and Worldview in ERT 24:3 pp 240-241 

THree worldviews

1 Modern Supernatural/natural dualism

Modern secular people there is no spiritual warfare.

"Some Christains accept this denial of spiritual realities, and demytholize the scriptures to majke it fit modern secular scientofic beliefs. Angels demons, miracles and other supernatural realitioes are explained away in scientific terms. The battle, they clain is between good and evil in human social systems. The church is called to fight against poverty, injustice, oppression, and other evils which are due to oppressive, exploitative human systems of government, business and religion."

2 Tribal

Some Christains interpret the biblical data on spiritual warfare, using the traditional tribal themes of territory and power encounter. Satan is viewd as having authority over the earth, an authority he exercises through delegation to his demonic hierachy - this view of territorial spirits has little biblical justification.

3 Cosmic Dualism

Found in Zoroastrianism, Manicheism and Hinduism - Mighty gods battle for control of teh universe: one seeking to establish a kingdom of righteous ness and order, and the other an evil empire.

Central to this worldview is the myth of redemptive violence. Order can be established only when one side defeats teh other in spiritual warfare.

Every week Bluto grabs Olive Oil. Ever week Popeye tries to resuce her. Every week Bluto beats up Popeye. Every week Popeye gets his spinnach and defeats Bluto. Bluto never learns to leave Olive Oil alone. Popeye never learns to take his spinnach before he attacks Bluto.

Many current Christian interpreations of spiritual warfare are based on an Indo Euro worldview which sees it as a cosmic battle between God and his angels and Satan andhis demons for the controal of people and lands. The battle is fought in the heavenlies, but it ranges over sky amd earth. The centralk question is one of power - can God defeat Satan? Because the outcome is in doubt, intense prayer is necessary to enable God and his angels to gain victory over the demonic powers. Human are victims of this struggle.

The question ois, what is the nature of this battle in biblical terms? One this is clear, the biblical images of spiritual warfare are radically diferent from those in the materialistic, dualistic, animistic and Indo-European myths.

It is not about power

"It is teh establishment of God's reign on earth as it is in heaven. It is for human hearts and Godly societies. God in his mercy is inviting sinners to repent and turn to him.

2 Parables prodigal son; rebellious vassals (mt 21:33ff)

Weapons - satan blindsthe minds of humans to the truth through lies and deception; tempts them with teh pleasures of sin by appealling to their old nature. He intimidates them with fear; accuses them of their sins; invites them to worship themselves as God

God uses wepons of truth to enlighten teh mind, righteousness, peace and shalom. God invites all into the kingdom of God in which Christ reigns in perfect love and justice


Monday, August 25, 2008

Foster, R. (2008). Life with God: Reading the Bible for Spiritual Transformation. New York: Harperone. 

We need a balanced approach to our intake of Scripture: heart, soul, mind. 73

The reason the Spiritual Disciplines do not make us spiritual is because there is nothing inherently spiritual in them. We do not acquire godliness the way bodybuilders build muscle in a solitary regimen. We pray in order to engage in relationship, not to count how many minutes we spend as if tracking the number of repetitions in a set or the number of sets in a workout, We immerse ourselves in Scripture to engage with the living Word, not to measure our biblical knowledge the way weight lifters monitor how many pounds they can bench press. 156

Say we are having difficulty in the area of sexual temptation. Sexuality is an enormously powerful and fundamental dimension of being human, and I do not mean to reduce it to channeling urges. For our purpose here, however, I will simply focus on those everyday choices we make within the particular contexts, opportunities, and challeges unique to our individual lives and sexual experience.

Without prior preparation, trying harder to restrain sexual expression by mustering willpower at the brink of temptation is nearly akin to attempting to hold an inflatable beach ball under water. That is repression, which will simply come back at from another angle, trapping us in a cycle of failure, self-punishment and anger. Indirection establishes a pattern of discipling the body's desires long before we face the moment of decision. Our human cravings and desires are like rivers-if ~not properly channelled, they tend to overflow their banks. The original monastic idea of chastity did not primarily focus on sexual sin, but on the right control of desire. "Chastity" meant the right control of all desires by the grace of God. This is where fasting is helpful, because it dethrones the body as master and gives us authority over our body. We learn that cravings need not control us. 159

"If I were to define Christian perfection, I should not say that it is a perfection of striving but specifically that it i5 the deep recognition of the imperfection of one's striving, and precisely because of this a deeper and deeper consciousness of the need for grace, 190 Kierkegaard


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Nouwen, H. (1979). The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society. New York: Image. 

how can a belief in a "hereafter" be an answer to the search for immortality when there is hardly any belief in the "here"? A life after death can only be thought of in terms of life before it, and nobody can dream of a new earth when there is no old earth to hold any promises. pp 14

It is a painful fact indeed to realize how poorly prepared most Christian leaders prove to be when they are invited to be spiritual leaders in the true sense. Most of them are used to thinking in terms of large-scale organization, getting people together in churches, schools and hospitals, and running the show as a circus director. pp37

The key word here is articulation. The man who can articulate the movements of his inner life, who can give names to his varied experiences, need no longer be a victim of himself, but is able slowly and consistently to remove the obstacles that prevent the spirit from entering. He is able to create space for Him whose heart is greater than his, whose eyes see more than his, and whose hands can heal more than his.

This articulation, I believe, is the basis for a spiritual leadership of the future, because only he who is able to articulate his own experience can offer himself to others as a source of clarification. The Christian leader is, therefore, first of all, a man who is willing to put his own articulated faith at the disposal of those who ask his help. In this sense he is a servant of servants, because he is the first to enter the promised but dangerous land, the first to tell those who are afraid what he has seen, heard and touched. 38

Many ministers, priests and Christian laymen have become disillusioned, bitter and even hostile when years of hard work bear no fruit, when little change is accomplished. Building a vocation on the expectations of concrete results however conceived is like building a house on sand instead of on solid rock, and even takes away the ability to accept successes as free gifts. 77

When the imitation of Christ does not mean to live a life like Christ, but to live your life as authentically as Christ lived his, then there are many ways and forms in which a man can be a Christian. The minister is the one who can make this search for authenticity possible, not by standing on the side as a neutral screen or an impartial observer, but as an articulate witness of Christ, who puts his own search at the disposal of others. This hospitality requires that the minister know where he stands and whom he stands for, but it also requires that he allow others to enter his life , come close to him and ask him how their lives connect with his. 99


Friday, August 22, 2008

Tomlin, G. (2006). Spiritual Fitness: Christian Character in a Consumer Society. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group. 

The NT urges teh cultivation of certain qualities of life as the true indicator of Christian maturity. If these qualitoies are noticeable in a Christian's life he is effective and fruitful; if not, he is not effective or fruitful, however much he knows about theology or mraches for justice. 42

The God of the biblical story displays very different characteristics from teh Greek gods, or even gods of eastern faiths. He is not capricious but faithful, keeping his promises and covenants f4rom generation to generation. He is not a sea of placid detachment from teh world, but instead interacts with it.... Instead he is humble, lavishly creating a world in which he remains hidden, a world that is not full of signs demanding we pay Him attention and give Him His due. The qualities that mark him out are those of aptience, faithfulness, perseverence, kindness, goodness, self-control, humility, hoy, creativityand abaove all, love 83

'He who sees teh Church looks directly at Christ...' Gregory of Nyssa

Developing spiritual fitness will also require teaching that explicitly makes connections between Christian theology abd Christian virtue. 129

Curriculum for Christ-likeness Willard


Guenther, M. (1992). Holy Listening: The Art of Spiritual Direction. Boston: Cowley Publications. 

The purpose of education is to show a person how to define himself authentrically and spontaneously in rtelation to his world - not to impoose a prefabricated definition of teh world, still less an arbitrary definition of eth individual himself (Merton Love and living pp3) pp42

The purpose of spiritual direction is to show (or help the person discover) how to define , but more importanbtly to God 71

An apparent loss of faith may signal a time of transition. This is a commoin experienmce of seminarieans, who find their faith shaken when they expect it yo be firmest. It is a painful time, amd academic studies do not assuage th epain as teh directee is forced to look criticaly at scripture adn history 101


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Nouwen, H. (1993). In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership. NY: Crossroad/Faith & Formation. 

From Relevance to Prayer
The Temptation: To Be Relevant
The Question: 'Do you Love Me?'
The Discipline: Contemplative Prayer

From Popularity to Ministry
The Temptation: To be Spectacular
The Question: 'Feed My Sheep'
The Discipline: Confession and Forgiveness

From Leading to Being Led
The Temptation:To be Powerful
The Challenge : Somebody Else Will Take You
The Discipline: Theological Reflection

knowing the heart of Jesus and loving him are the same thing. The knowledge of Jesus' heart is a knowledge of the heart. And when we live in the world with that knowledge, we cannot do other than bring healing, reconciliation, new life and hope wherever we go. The desire to be relevant and successful will gradually disappear, and our only desire will be to say with our whole being to our brothers and sisters of the human race ' You are loved...' 27

To live a life that is not dominated by the desire to be relevant but is instead safely anchored in the knowledge of God's first love, we have to be mystics. A mystic is a person whose identity is deeply rooted in God's first love. 28

Contemplative Prayer - keeps us from being pulled from one urgent issue to another.
Keeps us from becoming strangers to our own and God's heart.
Keeps us home, rooted and safe
Deepens in us the knowledge that we are already free.
that we already belong to God, even though everything and everyone around us keeps suggesting the opposite. 29

Through the discipline of contemplative prayer, Christian leaders have to learn to listen again and again to the voice of love and find there wisdom and courage... when we are securely rooted in personal intimacy with the source of life, it will be possible to remain flexible without being relativistic, convinced without being rigid, willing to confront without being offensive, gentle and forgiving without being soft and true witnesses without being manipulative. 32

Laying down your life means making your own faith and doubt, hope and despair, joy and sadness, courage and fear available to others as ways of getting in touch with the Lord of life.43

Real theological thinking, which is thinking with the mind of Christ, is hard to find in the practice of the ministry. Without solid theological reflection, future leaders will be little more than pseudo-psychologists, pseudo-sociologists, pseudo-social workers. They will think of themselves as enablers, facilitators, role-models, father or mother figures, big brothers or big sisters, and so on, and this join the countless men and women who make a living by trying to help their fellow human beings to cope with the stresses and strains of everyday living. 66

Theological reflection is reflecting on the painful and joyful realities of every day with the mind of Jesus and thereby raising human consciousness to the knowledge of God's gentle guidance 68

Thinking about the future of Christian leadership, I am convinced that it needs to be a theological leadership. For this to come about, much - very much - has to happen in seminaries and divinity schools. They have to become centres where people are trained in true discernment of the signs of the time. This cannot be just an intellectual training. It requires a deep spiritual formation involving the whole person - body, mind and heart. I think we are only half aware of how secular even theological schools have become. 69

My movement from Harvard to L'Arche made me aware in a new way how much my own thinking about Christian leadership had been affected by the desire to be relevant, the desire fro popularity and the desire for power. 17


Monday, August 04, 2008

Beckford, R. (2007). Jesus Dub.Washington, DC: Taylor & Francis. 

To dub is to deconstruct . DEconstruction is a transformative process involving dismantling and reconstructing. Deconstructive activity involves taking things apart. HOwever, rather than ending up with nothing, deconstruction seeks to rebuild. Rebuilding is guided by an emancipation ethic, which seeks out redemptive themes in history, culture ansd society that can be the focus for transforming teh original thesis. pp91

When Jesus Dubs, those on the margins are enabled to rear down the walls that exclude and rebuild and refashion things so that all people are free from the ravages of oppression. pp80

Heteroglossia - express the capcity to speak from one's location into a multiplicty of discourses.

Heteroglossia as tongues dub requires churches to engage in dialogue with th esocial world in order to bring the liberating power of teh spirit into the total life setting. Heteroglossia also provides a new way of describing the workings of spiritual gifts. Within this schema charismatic gifts are not confined to the worshipping community, but also directed outwards so that spiritual gifting is expressed to practical christian service and within the political quest to fight injustice abd protect the vulnerable. 128

re-read Acts 3 142


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