Sunday, May 11, 2014


‘An ancient Near Eastern carpenter claims to be God - do people still believe that?’

1896 novel
Charles Sheldon's 1896  book, In His Steps was subtitled "What Would Jesus Do?" Sheldon's novel grew out of a series of sermons he delivered in his Congregationalist church in Kansas

In this popular novel (it had been translated into 21 languages by 1935), Rev. Henry Maxwell encounters a homeless man who challenges him to take seriously the imitation of Christ. The homeless man has difficulty understanding why, in his view, so many Christians ignore the poor:

"I heard some people singing at a church prayer meeting the other night,
All for Jesus, all for Jesus, All my being's ransomed powers, All my thoughts, and all my doings, All my days, and all my hours.

and I kept wondering as I sat on the steps outside just what they meant by it. It seems to me there's an awful lot of trouble in the world that somehow wouldn't exist if all the people who sing such songs went and lived them out. I suppose I don't understand. But what would Jesus do? Is that what you mean by following His steps? It seems to me sometimes as if the people in the big churches had good clothes and nice houses to live in, and money to spend for luxuries, and could go away on summer vacations and all that, while the people outside the churches, thousands of them, I mean, die in tenements, and walk the streets for jobs, and never have a piano or a picture in the house, and grow up in misery and drunkenness and sin."

Remember reading In His Steps as a teenager and was gripped by it.

BBC woman/child/teenager wandering streets --- Robinson House.

Last few months Peter McKinnon The Songs of Jesse Adams'...

World Congress on Evangelism

"As my Father hath sent me, even so send I send you.” (v. 21).

I venture to say that, although these words represent the simplest form of the Great Commission, it is at the same time its most profound form, its most challenging and therefore its most neglected. In these words Jesus gave us not only a command to evangelize ("the Father sent me; I send you"), but also a pattern of evangelism ("As the Father sent me, so send I you"). The Church's mission in the world is to E-e like Christ's. Jesus Christ was the first missionary, and all our mission is derived from His. Now we might ask, how did the Father send the Son? Here are three straightforward answers.

(a) The Father's sending of the Son involved birth into the world. He did not stay in heaven; He was sent into the world. Nor did He come into the world in the full regalia of His divinity; He laid aside His glory. He became poor. He did not even come in human disguise, like-an Old Testament theophan7. He actually took our nature. He was born into the world.

(b) The Father's sending of the Son involved life in the world.. Having assumed our nature, He shared our experience. Once “Word was made flesh," He "dwelt among us" (John 1:14). He exposed Himself to temptation, sorrow, loneliness, opposition. scorn. He mixed freely with men, even in sinful, secular society. He was criticized for fraternizing with publicans and sinners. "This man receives sinners and eats with them," men sneered (Luke 15:1, 2). Indeed He did! It is our boast: one of His most honorable titles is "Friend of publicans and sinners" Ce. g., Matt. 11:19).

( c) The Father's sending of the Son involved death for the world. God's Son did more than just take upon Himself our nature and our life; He took upon Him our sins as well. If He was "made flesh," He was also “made sin" and "made a curse" (John 1:14; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13). 1 know, of course, that the sinbearing death of Jesus in its atoning significance and power was absolutely and utterly unique. Yet there is a secondary sense in which we, too, are called to die, to die for the very people we seek to serve. Not until the seed dies is the fruit borne. "The disciple is not above his master ... If anyone serves me, let him follow me ... If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." See John 12:24-26, Luke 9:23. We are to be ready to lay down our lives for others, not only in martyrdom, but also in self-denying service a.-id despised and rejected of men sometimes in the living death of misunderstanding, misrepresentation, ridicule and obscurity.
Thus, in a word, by His birth, by His life and His death., God's Son identified Himself with us. He did not stay apart from us or aloof from us; He made Himself one with us. All this was involved in His being sent by the Father into the world.
Now He says to us "As the Father sent me into the world, so send I you." I personally believe that our failure to obey the implications of this command is the greatest weakness of evangelical Christians in the field of evangelism today. We do not identify. We believe so strongly (and rightly) in proclamation, that we tend to proclaim our message from a distance. We sometimes appear like people who shout advice to drowning men from the safety of the seashore. We do not dive in to rescue them. We are afraid of getting wet', and indeed of greater perils than this. But Jesus Christ did not broadcast salvation from the sky. He visited us in great humility.

Text: As the Father has sent me so I'm sending you. Signature Bible Study John Stott Billy Graham Congress Evangelism. Gk kathos 'just as' 'in the same way as'. 

Mean wandering the hills not knowing / sleep that night? Maybe. So poor wearing all our possessions? Perhaps for some, yes.

Better: justice, mercy, faith. Justice = power. Mercy = compassion. Faith = trusting God with your whole life.

Justice = helping those who've been victimised by various systems/institutions - political, ideological, theological, whatever, which human beings devise to exclude others from the privileges they enjoy. 
Mercy = what happens on the Jericho Rd, giving whatever help we can, to our neighbour in distress.
Faith = the evangelistic dimension: sharing Good News that we are loved by God, sharing that love in tangible ways with others.
So, if we're doing in our world what Jesus did in his, what will that look like?

[1] Prophetic dimension - 'speaking truth to power'. All institutions inherently degenerative. IOW The evil in institutions is greater than the sum of the evil of the individuals within them. Spent three years studying that concept - reading radical sociologists like Robert Merton and others. Today you'll find the best Christian understandings of all this in Walter Brueggeman's brilliant little book The Prophetic Imagination, also in the writings of Walter Wink and (Sojourners). 
See How to Know The Lord.
So we ask who has power over others? Who sits on thrones? Or 'seats of learning'? What kinds of serious accountability do these people have? 

So Jesus' and John the Baptists' diatribes against Herod, or the religious leaders (Pharisees, Sadducees , Elders/teachers of the law etc)

Songs of Jesse Adams (won't spoil it for you) --- what Jesse did at a church in the City of Melbourne; or at a meeting of the Melbourne City Council; or in State parliament...
Ministry as Empowerment
Can't do much? Yes you can. Note only your vote, but you can 'keep the bastards honest ' in all sorts of ways: asking them questions, putting your signature on petitions -, Getup etc.

[2] Servanthood dimension: what we do for our sisters and brothers. Best story about this: in the Upper Room when Jesus took a towel and did what slaves normally do - washed their feet.
Taize - Brother Roger...
[3] Missional dimension - our ministry to the 'last, least and lost' where we live, and worship, and around the world... 
Our best guidance - the Mt 25 parable of the sheep and the goats. Jesus today is a refugee, homeless, hungry, sick, in prison. 
(Did I hear this week about an aboriginal boy with mental health issues who's been in prison for ten years - without any conviction...? WWJD?).
John Stott quotes Archbishop Michael Ramsey some years ago: “We state and commend the faith only in so far as we go out and put ourselves with loving sympathy inside the doubts of the doubters, the questions of the questioners, and the loneliness of those who have lost the way.”
Our role? As Henri Nouwen famously put it we are 'wounded healers'...
Prostitutes... Scholars telling us that in Jesus' day they're mostly women who through death of the man in their life, or through family violence find themselves on the street...
[4] (Relationships with the powerful, with our peers/friends, with the marginalised...)
Also with God. Best practised in solitude. All of the Bible's best leaders spent a disproportionate amount of their lives in deserts...
Best contemporary guides - mystics and contemplatives (Thomas Merton (you're not contemplatives, but introverts)). Richard Rohr. Smelling roses, watching birds (as Jesus suggested eg. My magpie friend, pair of scrub-wrens


Peter Hitchens on Q & A last night [4th November 2013], when asked about his most dangerous idea came out with this gem; The transcript runs as follows; 

PETER HITCHENS: "The most dangerous idea in human history and philosophy remains the belief that Jesus Christ was the son of God and rose from the dead and that is the most dangerous idea you will ever encounter." 

DAN SAVAGE: "I’d have to agree with that." 

TONY JONES: "Just quickly, because I think you can't really leave it there, why dangerous?" 

PETER HITCHENS: "I can't really leave it there? Because it alters the whole of human behaviour and all our responsibilities. It turns the universe from a meaningless chaos into a designed place in which there is justice and there is hope and, therefore, we all have a duty to discover the nature of that justice and work towards that hope. It alters us all. If we reject It, it alters us all was well. It is incredibly dangerous. It's why so many people turn against it."




when I read what Christianity is all about: “Believers, called Christians, consider Jesus the Son of God, whose crucifixion served as atonement for all human sins and whose resurrection assures believers of life after death.” I can’t help but see here that revolting and “Johnny-come-lately” theory of the atonement known as “penal substitution”, whereby a psychopathic God can only feel “satisfied” when such a God has tortured someone to death for the slightest ceremonial infraction and who is happy to project that desire onto some other innocent party. Oh, sorry. Did I say “psychopathic”? I meant to say whose beautiful and awesome holiness can only be satisfied blah, blah, blah. I guess I’m a “Christus Victor” person myself and would prefer to leave Jesus’ death-and-resurrection as one. My suggestion would be to say “… Jesus the Son of God, whose death and resurrection draws all people into the beginnings of a new creation”


Bart's Most Recent Bestseller
How Jesus Became God:
The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee
How Jesus Became God makes the most astonishing and complex topic in the history of Christianity accessible to every reader, and offers a clear and balanced discussion of how various Christians—and non-Christians—see Jesus.”
—ELAINE PAGELS, professor of religion at Princeton University and author of The Gnostic Gospels
“Ehrman has done it again! In this lively and provocative book, he gives a nuanced and wide-ranging discussion of early Christian Christology and all that it entails. Tracing the developing understanding of Jesus from a fully human apocalyptic preacher to a fully divine being, Ehrman shows his skills as an interpreter of both biblical and nonbiblical texts. This is an important, accessible work by a scholar of the first rank.”
—MICHAEL COOGAN, Harvard Divinity School lecturer and editor of The New Oxford Annotated Bible
“Ehrman writes with vigor and clarity, but above all with intellectual honesty. He demystifies a subject on which biblical scholars too often equivocate. Both believers and nonbelievers can learn much from this book.”
—JOHN J. COLLINS, Holmes Professor of Old Testament at Yale
“How did ancient monotheism allow the One God to have a ‘son’? Ehrman tells this story, introducing the reader to a Jewish world thick with angels, cosmic powers, and numberless semidivinities—among whom, for this tiny messianic sect, Jesus of Nazareth, raised from the dead. How Jesus Became God provides a lively overview of Nicea’s prequel.”
—PAULA FREDRIKSEN, author of Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews
In a book that took eight years to research and write, leading Bible scholar Bart D. Ehrman explores how an apocalyptic prophet from the backwaters of rural Galilee crucified for crimes against the state came to be thought of as equal with the one God Almighty Creator of all things.
Ehrman sketches Jesus's transformation from a human prophet to the Son of God exalted to divine status at his resurrection. Only when some of Jesus's followers had visions of him after his death—alive again—did anyone come to think that he, the prophet from Galilee, had become God. And what they meant by that was not at all what people mean today.
As a historian—not a believer—Ehrman answers the questions: How did this transformation of Jesus occur? How did he move from being a Jewish prophet to being God? The dramatic shifts throughout history reveal not only why Jesus's followers began to claim he was God, but also how they came to understand this claim in so many different ways.
Written for secular historians of religion and believers alike, How Jesus Became God will engage anyone interested in the historical developments that led to the affirmation at the heart of Christianity: Jesus was, and is, God.


Rev. Prof. Dorothy Lee

1. Jesus death was an act of love
2. The NT affirms again and again that through the cross our sins, and those of the whole world are forgiven. Jesus is the ultimate and one-and-only sacrifice for sins, whose blood atones for the sins of the world, and is available for all who repent and turn to God (Jn 1:29). 
3. The death of Jesus is a moment of glory and victory. At a cosmic level, the cross signifies God's final overcoming of evil. 

Dr Brian Rosner (Ridley College):

Two big reasons:

1. To bring us near to God (1 Pe 3:18) (key idea - substitution: atonement through the shedding of blood (Ro 3:25). 

2. To reveal the true character of God. 

Other reasons: conquer evil, inaugurate the new covenant, set an example of sacrificial love.

The death of Jesus is for life, not just for Easter. Leon Morris: 'the cross dominates the NT.'

TMA April 2014, p. 21.

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