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  • On Christian History

    D G Hart, in History and the Christian Historian:

    In the end, Christian history is nice work if you can get it.  It would be marvelous if, because of faith or regeneration, Christian historians were able to divine what God was up to in all subjects of research and teaching. But Christain theology says we cannot discern God's hand in that way.  It also reminds us that we need to trust that God is in control of human history even if we cannot always see that control, that God providentially orders and governs human affairs.  No matter how much the historical profession says that history moves from antiquity to modernity, the Bible tells Christians, whether historians or not, that the real direction of history is from the first to the last Adam. Only with a sense of history that culminates in Christ and the establishment of the new heavens and new earth will we finally have a Christian history. (p. 86-87)


    Same essay citing Charles Miller

    The Christian historian must be one in three and three in one - a professing Christian, a thinking theolgian, and a practicing historian.' (p. 87)


    As the saying goes: discuss.


    History and the Christian Historian ed. Ronald A Wells, Cambridge, Eerdman's, 1998

  • A Day in the Life...

    ... of this minister.

    1. Deal with a few important phone calls
    2. Meet team of archaeologists surveying chapel site and digging big holes to look for ancient relics 
    3. Conduct funeral at crematorium 20 miles away
    4. Arrange for SOCO to visit church to collect crisp bag evidence
    5. Meet another family to plan another funeral
    6. Let endangered species officer into chapel at dusk to check for bats
    7. Read a couple of chapters of a book on theology and history and think (a) ha, I'm right (b) rats someone got here first (c) how do I develop all this!
    Never dull!
  • And God said...

    "... have another woman minister"

    Just heard that Dibley Parish Church has appointed a woman priest, which turns Dibley and District into one of the highest densities of female clergy in the country!  Mildly amusing given the ongoing level of anti-women minister sentiments in the broader locality.

  • The Puzzle that is Paul's Letter to the Church at Philippi

    I am trying to make head or tail of the readings I chose for this Sunday (from lectionary sources) and which seemed a good idea at the time, and now I'm not so sure.

    Philippians 1: 21 - 30.

    For me, says Paul, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  I have long struggled with this attitude to life and recall a house group discussion many years ago, where most of us agreed we actually quite liked being alive and really weren't in such a hurry to die as the apostle seems to have been.  And then he says he's torn between the two and doesn't know which to choose - but surely it isn't his choice anyway?  He'd rather 'depart' (whatever that means) and be with Christ, but 'it is necessary' that he remains in the body for the sake of others.  I do find all this puzzling to read and try to make any sense of (apologies for bad grammar).  Somehow I find myself as a reader feeling guilty that Paul is held up on my account.

    Then he tells the people that they are to stand firm as a sign, to those who oppose them, that they (the opposition) will be destroyed whilst you (the Philippians) will be saved.  Oh, and by the way suffering is somehow a blessing (or that's what it seems to imply).  I can't honestly say I want to be a sign to anyone that they're going to be destroyed, zapped, judged, condemned or whatever: I'd much rather be a sign towards salvation, hope, forgiveness, reconciliation etc.  As for the privileges of suffering, well, hmm, there are times to say such things and times to stay very silent.  I have never quite forgotten (even if I have forgiven) the person who told me that I must be very special that God was allowing me to experience such a pig of a time during initial ministerial settlement.  Well, if that's so, I'd rather not have been special!

    So, I'm not quite sure what I'll do with this passage yet but right at the moment it feels that somehow it is its very irritatingness (if there's such a word!) that makes it worth wrestling with.  I guess sometimes we'd all like the realities of life to be replaced by some idealised version of eternity with Christ but we all have to get on with staying faithful in the messyness that is life.  If we can be a sign of hope rather than despair, if we can show that our faith sustains us through struggles, questions and even doubts, then maybe it is somehow redeemed - but not in some kind of simplistic "gosh, God must really love you to kick you so hard" kind of way.

    If anyone actually understands this letter (like people who wrote DPhils on it for example) perhaps they can explain it to me.

    In the meantime, I am going to start playing with Matthew 20:1 - 16 which I might take from the angle not of rewards but opportunities for service (i.e. even late comers can find work to do in the Kingdom).

  • Why?

    This morning I took some people into the chapel building to conduct a historical recording survey only to discover that the thieves and vandals had returned on a smashing spree.  Loads of smashed windows, kicked in doors and general mayhem (plus they'd left behind their crisps bags and biscuit wrappers!) and wanton destruction of anything they could wantonly destroy.

    I have only one thought running through my mind - why?  Why just destroy things?

    I am working hard not to 'bless' them with my little sister's favourite Jewish curse (may you inherit a house with a thousand rooms and be found dead in every one of them) and instead to forgive them and pray for them to find a better, brighter future.