Friday, June 24, 2011

Power in the New Testament - a talk delivered at a Men's Evening

I was recently asked to give a short talk to a large church men's meeting, on the subject of power in the New Testament. If you are interested in having a read, see below for a more-or-less accurate transcript of the 20 minute talk.

I originally hesitated to tackle some of what I consider to be the less theologically robust Christian mens' teaching floating around, but in the end I decided to go for the jugular, which made it fun. Of course, I don't pretend that it was a complete summary of all that could be said about power in the NT, but it was enough to chew on. And a good sign: I really enjoyed preparing and preaching it!

Power and the New Testament

A thank you

For all of you who prayed for Sam Kean. He has made an incredible recovery and we are all thrilled for him and his entire family. Thanks!

A superb opening to a summary of Revelation

‘Angels blowing trumpets! Monsters rising from the deep! Lakes of fire and rivers of blood! Ah, yes – the book of Revelation. There is nothing like it anywhere else in the New testament. It certainly is the only book to feature dragons (12:3-13:10), giant bugs (9:3-11), and airborne horses (6:2-8; 10:11-12).

Revelation is a book to excite the senses. The Bible does not often tell us what color things are, but here everything is red, purple, yellow, blue, green, gold! It is also a noisy book, rumbling with the din of battle and the crash of thunder. Earth echoes with the wailing of the damned; heaven rings with the songs and shouts of the saved. And those trumpets! There is hardly a moment’s peace. No, wait – there are a thousand years of peace, but that’s just three verses (20:4-6), and then all hell breaks loose (literally). The imagery is fantastic: buildings and furniture made of gems, and a menagerie of creatures like something Dr. Suess might have thought up after a sleepless night reading Stephen King: the locusts wear armor like horses (9:7-9), and the horses have serpents for tails (9:19). And what’s this thing that’s part leopard, part bear, and part lion but lives in the sea (13:1-2)?

In a sense, to “interpret” this book is to misinterpret it, for often the appeal is to the imagination; it’s a book to be experienced, not explained. Could the impact of its visual imagery ever be captured in literal illustrations? Imagine the questions that would arise at some film studio determined to bring Revelation to the big screen: Why do the beasts have ten horns but only seven heads (13:1; 17:3)? How, exactly, does a lion look like a lamb (5:5-6)?

Just as jokes are seldom funny when they have to be explained, so Revelation may lose some of its power when it has to be interpreted’

From Introducing the New Testament: A Historical, Literary, and Theological Survey by Mark Allan Powell

Friday, June 03, 2011

Dalferth's Der auferweckte Gekreuzigte

I discovered Ingolf Dalferth a while ago, through his book, Radikale Theologie. I since purchased his book Der auferweckte Gekreuzigte and am trying to wrestle with a few questions I have about Christology, objectivity and subjectivity, the theological location of early Christian confession and such like. In one passage he writes:
Die Festlegung des Bezugs eines Bekenntnisses ist aber etwas anderes als die Beschreibung und begriffliche Bestimmung des Bezugsgegenstandes

Which roughly translated is:
The definition of the reference of a confession is something other than the description and conceptual definition of the reference object

He references Kripke and H. Putnam at this point, but my question pertains to the present philosophical veracity of such a claim. Does not language "go all the way down" (to loosely echo Derrida's engagement with phenomenology)? If so, can we neatly distinguish matters as he does?
If any specialists out there could help me - a humble NT teacher - on this, I would be most grateful as I am out of my depth!