OST is closed for business but its spirit survives on my blog.

WYSIWYG if you're lucky

I’ve installed a rich text editor on a trial basis, which will make it easier for registered contributors to add moderate formatting to their work.

Homosexuality and new creation

I would like this website to model a way of doing theological reflection and debate that gets beyond the old trench warfare manner of disputation. This is not going to be at all easy to do. As soon as we try to pick our way across these bloody, mangled battlefields, we risk becoming antagonists and victims in a war that is still going on. It’s very difficult not to feel that we are under attack, very difficult not to fall into one trench or another - and then someone thrusts a gun into our hands and tells us to start shooting. The debate over homosexuality is one of these battlefields. Somehow we need to turn it into something else - or at least create a reasonably safe space where we don’t have to behave like combatants in a mindless and probably futile war of attrition.

A God of violence?

God promised Abraham that he would multiply his descendants and would give to them ‘the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession’ (Gen.17:5-8; Ex.6:2-4). The liberation from slavery in Egypt was an act of redemption, but it was also a step towards the fulfilment of that promise: ‘I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians… I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob’ (Ex.6:6-8). It is, moreover, a land of material abundance, flowing with milk and honey, and if the people ‘walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them’, they will enjoy prosperity and security, God will make them fruitful and multiply them, and he will walk among them and be their God (Lev.26:3-11). The echoes of the creation narratives are unmistakable: the fulfilment of the promise to Abraham is in some way a renewal of creation, a new start for humanity.

The God of the Bible

The poll asking whether visitors to open source theology believe that the God of the Bible exists has raised the question of what we actually mean by the 'God of the Bible'. I don't have a very coherent response to the question, but these are some preliminary thoughts.

Tacit Theology

The Schiavo case may be seen, and so the case has been made by some, as a question of theology over a person. As a professed Catholic, the theology promulgated by the faith Ms. Shiavo ascribed to when she could has a very clear answer to the question being asked on her behalf -- that food must not be refused in the face of death.

Can a person's theologies be legally and practically real grounds for action? What if no direct wishes or opinions on the issue are expressed, only the indirect nod of Church belonging? Here it must truly be asked whether theology is a thing that can be soberly taken seriously; whether theology is a "canopy" that hangs over a person in entirety, in system, or an accidental creature of personal opinion. If theology is to be accounted as a real thing of any importance, it surely has some dominion, some answer regarding a silent adherent's consent.

Can a Christian Support War?

It seems to me that since the dominant image of Christianity in the US media is of right-wing Christians who predominantly vote Republican, one would think that this group would generally be in support of the current military operations in Iraq. On the other hand, I personally find that I cannot count myself as a follower of a Jesus who always practiced non-violence himself, and support violent actions of my state. Another view of the issue is that a Christian ought to support war if and only if every other possibility has been exhausted. So, perhaps this would make the Second World War justifiable, but one would want to let the inspections process finish before finally coming out in support of military action in Iraq. I have heard this called “Just War Theory.”

Must a Christian be a pacifist? Must a Christian support war in some cases? Is Just War Theory a workable solution to the problem? Are there other possibilities?

Could you say the Apostolic Creed with conviction?

A striking feature of the Emerging Church is its apparent lack of conviction. So much twisting and turning on the hook of Scripture. This said, can they honestly say that, without reservation they subscribe to the ancient creeds of the Christian Church without disputing the details?

End of Days....

I’d be interested to know from contributors to OST just what their various stances are with respect to End-Time teaching. I was brought up in a pre-tribulation, pre-millenial doctrinal environment which confidently expected Christians to be spared the persecutions of the Antichrist via the kind of ‘secret rapture’ endorsed by Tim LaHaye, Hal Lindsey and others. Nowadays I din’t seen any Biblical support for pre-trib rapture — at best, Christians can only expect a mid-trib ‘exodus’, but even that is dubious. I realise that this kind of thread could lead anywhere, not least to a discussion regarding the identity of the Antichrist — man or corporate body etc.

Kenneth Bailey article

I have found helpful this article by Kenneth Bailey, who lived and taught in the Near East for quite a few years. The language angle will always get my attention, as well as hearing from someone with the education and experience of Dr. Bailey.

Neo-Gnostic Church?

Is the Church (Emerging or otherwise) embodying a neo-Gnosticism? I pose the question since the current vogue for championing women’s ordination smacks more of Gnostic than traditional Christian teaching (i.e. orthodoxy). As I said in a recent discussion, maybe the Church is inclined to trade its New Testament for the 52 extant Gnostic codices found at Nag Hammadi, for it is only in these ‘jettisoned’ Scriptures that female authority is seen as the norm. Is this oneof the reasons why judgement must first begin at the house of God? I fear that we are losing sight of the importance of abiding by the rule of Holy Writ on many important matters.

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