Generous Orthodoxy – Part 2

Some insights from McLaren:

The 7 Jesus’ he has known

- Conservative. Protestant

- Liberal Protestant

- Roman Catholic

- Eastern Orthodox

- Pentecostal

- Anabaptist

- Liberation Theology

Son of God as the Radiance of God – looking at Perichoresis and Christ hymns.

He casts Jesus as Lord as

- the head of the household whose commands are to be obeyed

- the triumph over the powers

- the master/ apprentice


Jesus saving

- through judgement

- then forgiveness

- the saving of all creation

“‘Preach the gospel to all creation’ Christ said.  Are we only now beginning to understand what he meant?  I believe the unwritten melody that haunts this book every so faintly, the new song waiting to be sung in place of they hymn of salvation, to simply the song of creation.  To move away from the theology of salvation to the theology of creation may be the task of our time. ” from Vincent Donovan, on page 101

Generous Orthodoxy – Part 1

A few things on Generous Orthodoxy, firstly about the term itself (which comes from Hans Frei).

From Lesslie Newbiggin on other faith

Exclusive in the sense of affirming the unique truth of the revelation in Jesus Christ to those outside the Christian faith, inclusive in sthe sense of refusing to limit the saving grace of God to Christians.. (and the quote goes on – page 17)


Reading the Bible is like eating fish.  Enjoy the meat that’s easy to eat first; come back and work on the bones later if you are still hungry (page 22)

Chesterton “I am the man who with utmost daring discovered what had been discovered before … I did try to found a heresy of my own; and when I had put the last touches to it, I discovered it was orthodoxy. (page 27)

I can’t find the page which has Frei’s quote

“Generosity without orthodoxy is nothing, Orthodoxy without generosity is less than nothing.”


Sisters of Sinai

What to say about Sisters of Sinai, an example of a book that got better as it went on, possibly because it was about two sisters finding their vocation and honing their skills as they went on,

These two, Margaret and Agnes, were the best kind of Calvinists – engaged with the world, prepared to ask the questions, hot in pursuit of truth, and also ecumenically engaged.  They were people who made mistakes, but did their best to redress them; they were firm and idiosyncratic but ultimately good hearted; in them they want to discover the truth about the text, but also to embody what it stood for.

This is a book about vocation – a vocation that gradually emerges from half chances and encounters, and passions, and being led to things along the way – vocation that also meant much hard work, perseverance, and discovering the dead ends were actually what led to where the twins were meant to be.

This is also a book about 19th Century Biblical scholarship and textual criticism.  I think we can perceive the Higher Critics of the 19th century as unwelcome and iconoclastic layabouts, those who shied away from the real business of belief because they fell in love with rationalism.  In this portrait, the best of them are believers who believed they would meet God in truth, wherever the truth would take them. Continue reading

Seven Things About The Divine Word

J.I. Packer once said of himself “Packer by name, packer by nature.”  He loves compressed, theological density.

Here outlines the seven things that John’s prologue tells us about the Word:

In the beginning as the Word – the Word’s eternity

And the Word was with God – the Word’s personality

And the Word was God – the Word’s deity

Through him all things were made – The Word creating

In him was life – The Word animating

The life was the light of men – The Word revealing

The Word became flesh – The Word incarnate

(based on page 62)

Celtic Pilgrimage

One of my favourite poems, from Peter Millar, reflecting on the Iona Pilgrimage reaching St. Columba’s bay.

At Columba’s Bay
they met;
Two of Iona’s
countless pilgrims.
He, a pastor from Zaire;
She, a broker in Detroit.
And battered by the
autumn wind and rain
they shared their stories -
rooted in twentieth century realities,
yet both embedded
in a strange, life-giving
The hidden stories -
of poverty and torture,
of cancer and loneliness;
interweaving stories,
mirroring our
global interconnectedness.
And stories of faith;
of God’s unfolding
in their lives
through ordinary days.
And suddenly it seemed
that for a moment
on that distant shore
they glimpsed
that basic truth -
that truly,
we are one
in Christ.

From Julie McGuinness ‘ Reflections on Life’s Road’ (quoted on page 243, used to end the book)

Some people travel in straight lines:
Sat in metal boxes, eyes ahead,
Always mindful of their target,
Moving in obedience to coloured lights and white lines.
Mission accomplished at journey’s end.

Some people travel round in circles:
Trudging in drudgery, eyes looking down,
Knowing only too well their daily, unchanging round.
Moving in response to clock and to habit,
Journey never finished yet never begun.

I want to travel in patterns of God’s making:
Walking in wonder, gazing all around,
Knowing my destiny, though not my destination,
Moving to the rhythm of the surging of his spirit,
A journey which when life ends, in Christ has just begun.

Physicist Speaks At A Funeral

I got this off a Facebook thread which had degenerated into irritating and patronising jibes between believers and atheists (it hadn’t started there, it was a really moving post from a pastor who had lost their faith).  This was a quote about an atheist at a funeral.

It struck me because it thinks it’s moving and beautiful.  The death in universe where energy is conserved is rather beautiful.  It’s not, it’s awful, too often dreadful.  I don’t care about the photons and the laws of thermodynamics.  I want them back.  I care that they are less orderly, that’s the bit I liked, that’s the bit I mourn.

It’s one of these posts that defeats itself, because all the time you know you don’t want any physicist showing up at a funeral and saying these things.  You realise how utterly crass that would be.

And there is another subtle thing there.  It has to be the physicist who says this.  This is the creeping elitism of so much of the new atheism, that you have to be really clever to get it, that the clever people are the ones who get it and everyone else really ought to just bow the knee at their superior intelligence, it’s a Church which worships IQ.  I am reminded that I would rather have the country run by the first 2000 names in the Boston telephone directory than by Harvard faculty.  Those guys are the new priests.

Here’s the quote:

You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.

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Systems Thinking in the Public Sector

From John Seddon

Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist – Keynes

I remember listening to Alan Milburn, then Secretary of State for Health, responding on the radio to the revelation of the fiddles that hospitals were using to avoid breaching the four hour waiting time targets in accident and emergency departments.  ‘Give me their names’ was the thrust of his reply.  I wrote to tell him that if he wanted to allocate blame he only needed one name: his own.  (page 10)

On game theory – teams learn to choose a win-win strategy… game theory’s selfish and competitive assumptions therefore look shaky at best. (page 12)



A few quotes from Karl Martin’s book “Stand.” (which reveals an extensive and well indexed reading history).

Today you are You, that is truer than true.  There is no alive who is Youer than you.  - Dr. Seuss, Happy Birthday to you.

‘But what about all the miracles?  The healints? Raising peopel from teh dead?  Doesn’t that prove that Jesus was God?  You know, more than human?’

‘No, it proves that Jesus is truly human.’


(The Shack, William P Young).

…eye contact is the most intimacy two people can have = forget sex – because the optic nerve is technically an extension of the brain, and when tow people look ito each other’s eyes, it’s brain-to-brain.  (Douglas Coupland, Hey Nostradamus)

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Discipleship and Huddles

These were some of the gems I gleaned from the Mission and Discipleship training day that was run by Central Baptist.  There were many gems here.

First was the tension between covenant and kingdom, and how we love dualisms which separate these, rather than living in the tension between them.

Talked about the different triads that live within Covenant (Father, Identity, Obedience) and Kingdom (King, Actions, Power).


A lovely little aside that the move from Abram to Abraham and Sari to Sarah means that each one of them of is given part of YHWH’s name. Continue reading

Making Great Decisions

This is Ortberg on the 8th June 2014, transcript is here.

We make 70 decisions a day, 25,000 a year and 1.7million in a life time.  Decisions and the wisdom to make them are one of the most vital things in our life.

Begins with the story of Solomon, and wisdom being the thing that we ask for the most.

I really loved the use of James 1:5 – if any of you lacks wisdom then ask God – that God is in the business of not resolving circumstances with easy answers, of sending us postcards, of creating unthinking clones; God is not in the circumstance generating business as much as he is in the character generating business.

Uses the story of Elijah in 1 Kings to talk about the dangers of making decisions when you are fatigued (although not sure that quite fits with the passage, as Elijah doesn’t make any decisions, and doesn’t do what God ends up asking him).

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