Showing posts from February, 2007

The Tomb of Jesus

I see that Titanic director James Cameron is making a doco for Discovery Channel on Jesus' tomb which has apparently been found in Jerusalem! The idea is based on an excavation in southern Jerusalem of what is termed the Talpiot Tomb with 10 empty ossuaries (stone 'bone boxes' for burials). Some of the ossuaries are inscribed with the names Yeshua bar Yehosef (Jesus son of Joseph), Maria (Mary), Yaaqov bar Yehosef (Jacob son of Joseph), Yehuda bar Yeshua (Judah son of Jesus), Yose (Joses), Matya (Matthew?) and Mary e Mara.

Now some have put two and two together and have concluded that this is the burial place of Jesus and his family along with a disciple or two (Matthew and Mary Magdalene).

Is this for real?

Well there are severe problems with the idea.

Firstly, the names are astonishingly common at the time. According to Richard Bauckham's analysis these names were all in the top ten most popular names in Israel at the time (Joseph 2nd; Judah 4th; Jesus 6th; Matthew 9th).…

Should Christians Tithe?

In Interpretative Method this week I raised the issue of tithing in relation to Malachi 3. I avoided the question that the passage raised 'should Christians tithe'. Here I will dare to give some thoughts:
1. Christians who believe God's word tells them to tithe should tithe: Paul when dealing with arguments over non-essentials such as eating, Sabbaths, eating meat from the temple butchery (cf. Rom 14-15; 2 Cor 8) suggests that the answer lies not in one group imposing on others what they should do, but on people living by their conscience as they believe in the Lord. Those who reject tithing should allow others to disagree with grace and freedom. Those who argue from the Scriptures for tithing too should not impose on others their viewpoint. We should allow freedom of conscience on this issue.
2. Christians who believe God's word does not endorse tithing should not: Similarly and for the same reasons, Christians who after weighing up the arguments believe tithing is not …

NZ Greatest One Day Cricket Team

Wierd guy that I am, in light of the performance against the Aussies the other day, I have been thinking about the best team of players from the start of NZ one day cricket experience. I have not considered players who played before one day cricket like John Reid who would no doubt have been a great one day player. However, I have gone for the best 11 as I see it.

Openers: Astle is a certainty with 16 one day centuries (next best 7, Fleming!). He also adds to the bowling with 99 wickets as well. Not a bad fielder too; the complete package. The second opener is Turner who provides the foil for Astle, able to hit over the top or to attack. In a curtailed career he averaged 47 and scored 3 centuries. We know from his county cricket performances that he is beyond peer as an opener in both forms of the game.

Top Order: Crowe has to come in at 3. He is NZ's best batsman without question averaging 38 and with a solid strike rate. Fleming is the next legitimate batsman with 7 centuries. He …

Black Wash

It's been a few days since we slaughted the Aussies in the recent Chappell-Hadlee and it is good to get past the euphoria and think about it in a sober manner.

It is all good that we won; as the cliche goes, winning is a habit and it is good to get into the habit. It is also good that we exposed the weakness in the Aussies; that is, their bowling attack, which is not the usual miserly Australian bunch. Australia go to the West Indies with a brilliant batting line up, and a weak attack. Ironically though, I think the addition of Clark will strengthen their bowling as he is more accurate than Lee and more suited to the slower tracks.

Having said that, I think Australia will struggle to subdue the batting line ups of the Indians, Sri Lankans, West Indians and Pakistanis.

I think too that NZ will find the going tough over there as they face tremendous batting sides. Any chance we have relies on a fit Bond, Vettori and our batsmen giving the bowlers something to bowl at every time. They c…

How Do We Know That the Bible is the Word of God?

A student asked me this very good question the other day and so I thought I would put some thought to it.

The problem we have as Christians is that we work in a certain degree of circularity. We argue that the Bible points us to God and then determine who God is from the document. Can we therefore make the claim that the Bible is the Word of God? For me, it is a cumulative argument like so many theological arguments i.e. no one argument proves it, but the sum-total of a set of arguments points strongly in this direction. Having said that, it has to be conceded that this like so much of what theologians and philosophers postulate is not able to be proved totally in an emperical sense. Rather, it is a one faith-based conclusion to a set of thoughts.

1. The Bible's Self-Witness: There is no statement in the Bible that says that the whole Bible is the Word of God but there are a series of statements in which the Bible says things of itself that point in this direction.

For example, Paul …

Cricket Stuff

Oh yeah, Go England! Who would have thought that England would give the Aussies a 2-nil thrashing in the Tri-Series! Outstanding. It also makes me wonder how the Ashes would have gone if this English side had had a decent build up. But maybe that is irrelevant. Hats off; and they did it without Pieterson! Fantastic. I think the Aussies had it coming!

Now does this get the NZ team off the hook because it turns out that the English are a good team?

No way! They really are under achieving at present. Our talkbacks are clogged with criticism and defence of Stephen Fleming; 'should he stay of should he go?' Well it is clear to me that Fleming is not himself. On his last trip over the Tasman he was sensational, dominating the Aussies. Then there was his demolition of the South African Graeme Smith several years ago. He is not the same man, down on passion, down on confidence and down on form. Sure he got a ton in the final game, but it was not his usual free-flowing innings.

I do not a…

Adventure Sports and Christ

I have just watched a bit of evening TV and saw on One was an account of Michael Holmes whose main chute got snarled up so that he could not open his reserve and then plunged into blackberries somehow surviving with a collapsed lung and a broken ankle. The other is Andrew McAuley and Australian explorer who has gone missing near Milford Sound kayaking from Australia to NZ.

Having seen the accounts of both, Michael was exceedingly lucky (or blessed depending on your perspective on God's involvement) while Andrew on the other hand, is not so.

What has happened to Andrew is terribly sad and my thoughts go out to the family.

These two events however, make me ask the question; where is the line for Christians between celebrating our humanity with exploration an/or life-threatening activities and treating life as a precious gift to be celebrated and not wasted with excessively dangerous activities?

On the one hand, life is to be explored, enjoyed, celebrated. God is with us as we do things,…

What is marriage?

One of the questions facing our age, is what is a marriage. A theology of marriage is desperately needed at present. The civil union, defacto and homosexual relationships phenomenon brings this to the fore. In the good old days (were there any really?) in western society, marriage was easily defined. When two heterosexual people wanted to 'become one' they went through a civil union often in a religious context. Defacto and homosexual relationships did occur but were frowned upon. Civil unions were nowhere to be seen. Marriage was safe in its cultural context.

Now we are faced with essentially three forms of cohabitation: traditional marriage, civil unions and defacto relationships. This raises the question for me, what is a marriage in Christian terms? Are civil unions and defacto relationships actually forms of marriage or are they non-marital sinful relationships? Many evangelicals, I believe working from their Christendom mindset, automatically believe them to be non-marria…

On being a sports parent

One of the roles in life I never anticipated was being a parent of kids who are able at sport. Today my youngest has flown to Wellington on her own at age 14 to race in the Capital Classic 15oom. A few months ago she had the honour of winning the North Island Colgage Games 1500m and was approached by the Chairman of the Board of Athletics NZ who told her about qualifying for the World Youth Champs. Her PB at the time was 4.39 and she needed to run 4.32 before April 8 to qualify. Excited she came home and after a holiday, last week fronted up at the Auckland Champs. She managed to knock a second off her PB on Saturday running 4.38. She then raced on Sunday winning the 3000m and then ran in the Porritt Classic in Hamilton on Tuesday. This time she clocked a 4.34.6 meaning she needs to run 2.61 seconds faster to make it. Today she has flown down to Wellington to have a go. She is brave and determined. We are philosophical; she may make it, she may not. Even if she qualifies she may not b…

What is family

I had a comment the other day about my suggestion that family is the basis for society. The respondent comments, 'what the heck does family mean and what does it mean to strngthen the family? Generally when we talk about strengthening family as Christian we are really meaning lowering the divorce rate and re-solidifying the marriage covenant and getting rid of civil unions etc! What does it mean now for family to be the core unit of society in our multi-ethnic, blended families, postmodern (where most people would consider their friends as their family) society with so many different expressions of family I would say that the mandate for family to be the core of society is a hollow and frivilous ideal to pursue.'

Where does one begin! Thanks! Family in biblical terms ranges from the ideal through to the fragmented. The ideal is never defined clearly; in fact, the biblical story involves God working through profound disfunction e.g. Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, Esau; Jacob and his 12 …

What would you do?

What would you do?

I know of one family who have 3 teenage kids selected for a NZ sports team to play at a U19 World Champs. They play in an unfunded sport. They need $6000 each to make the trip. The family do not have the sort of money or income to pay for it. They live in a cheap rental through their work, and do own a small unit on which they have a mortgage of about $180,000. The only way they can fund the trip is to increase the mortgage. They are applying for funding at every possible community funding agency that they can think of. The kids haven't really got time to work for the money because they also play another sport at provincial level and are high academic achievers. The other problem is that the team management require the money progressively to pay for the ongoing costs as they come in such as gear and travel. So while they may fund it through community funding, they have to front up progressively (e.g. $4500 by Feb 24). This means the mortgage is the only option; a…

Rugby on the 2 Feb

What is going on? Sure it is World Cup year, but here we are in the heat of summers that are getting ever warmer with the beaches at their best, and NZ, SA and Australian young men are hitting the fields to smash each other to smithereens on hard grounds and in searing heat! One has to question the wisdom of contemporary rugby administration that we are in this situation.

I do not get the NZ rugby approach. It seems to me that we should restructure the season. Begin with club rugby; move to NPC; select the best for a Super series; and then the best go onto the international season climaxing with a European tour. There can be some overlap for sure, but the graduated nature of the season beginning in March would give the year a great escalating sense.

Mid Feb-May: Club
April-Mid June: NPC
Mid June-Aug: Super Rugby
Sept-Nov: Test Rugby

Whatever system they use, surely they can start the big stuff later. Let cricket, softball and tennis have their days in the sun! Why compete with one another …

Social Justice, Parachute and Politics

One of the interesting experiences of my holiday was hearing politicians debate social justice at the Parachute Music festival. I was struck by the way each politician took on an either/or mode of delivery. United Future were very much for the family. National was very much into personal responsibility and government enabling of individuals distributing social justice. The Greens were very into government intervention and as one would expect, brought everything back to the environment and the disadvantaged, powerless and marginalised. NZ First came across as nothing! I couldn't hear anything clear from their rep. Labour were 'more of the same' with the government in socialist style controlling society. It was eye-opening!

Yet surely the answer lies in all of these things; what makes the difference is where the emphasis must fall at any particular time. The central family unit must be the core of the nation and I am thrilled that there is one party who is taking that line. I…