A term into theological study, and much has been made about the dangers of ‘proof texting’. Anybody, supposedly, can say anything by stringing together a few verses of scripture wrenched from their original contexts.
Apparently we must be careful how far we lean on the Bible to make concrete conclusions, since even the Apostle Paul intended what he said to be taken lightly - a questionable implication of 1 Corinthians 7:12.
But let’s not throw the theological baby out with the bathwater. Proof texting in that sense may well be bad exegetical form, but we must nevertheless have confidence that a responsible handling of the sweep of scripture will yield timeless, authoritative, glorious truth. After all, that’s what St Paul did…
"As his custom was… he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead"
Touristing in London
A couple of days ago I found myself in Westminster at 5 O’clock, and so being a good Anglican I popped along to choral evensong in the Abbey.
The Old Testament reading was the great revival of Nehemiah 8, which includes the wonderful description of what happened when the people returned to true worship of the Lord:
"So they read from the book, from the law of God, with interpretation. They gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading" - v8
Ironically of course, this chapter was read from the book, without interpretation, not giving the sense, so that I suspect not many people understood the reading. A simple reading from an ancient book, without any attempt to explain to us what it meant.
I don’t know what his expectation was as the chappie read for us, but I doubt many people ”were attentive" (v3), and sadly (but not unsurprisingly) there wasn’t much "lifting up of hands" or "worshipping the Lord with their faces to the ground" (v6).
I wonder how many went away to “make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them" (v12)?
I smiled to myself as the point was brought home by the second reading from 1 Corinthians 14:
"If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and the speaker is a foreigner to me" v11
Perhaps a spot of preaching would have helped.
Hillsong and St Paul’s cathedral panos
Greetings one and all from sunny England!
I landed at Heathrow on Friday, followed a few days later by my luggage, which apparently took a slightly more circuitous route courtesy of Ethiopian Airways.
In the meantime, it was great to be in Moreton in Marsh (albeit in a borrowed shirt) this Sunday to attend services at St David’s, catch up with friends, and sing the ‘Superglue Song’.
JBC finished on Thursday after a great end to the third term, and I’ll be sorry to miss the fourth. There were plenty of puzzled looks at my attempts to explain why the English academic year is not the same as its calendar year…
I enjoyed teaching my second year classes on sin, although other members of staff expressed the concern that there was more laughter coming from my classroom than might have been expected for such a serious subject.
The weekend away for young adults in the Gauteng region organised by Christ Church Midrand was also great fun - I gave talks on the parables of the Great Banquet, Wheat and Tares, and Prodigal Son, which I think (hope) went down well.
There were many emotional goodbyes during my final week, perhaps most memorably from the students at the University of Johannesburg who not only brought along cake to my last class, but took a group photograph, which during the cake eating they managed to surreptitiously print, frame and wrap before presenting to me along with speeches from virtually everyone present!
Now that I’m back, I’m getting ready for the start of term at St Mellitus College in London on Monday. I’ll begin three years of training for ordination in the Church of England, studying theology half of the time, whilst the other half will be spent ministering on the staff at St Mark’s Battersea Rise.
Please pray for me to settle in well and make the most of my studies and my church involvement, which starts this Sunday. I’m looking forward to staying with my godparents whilst I work out longer term accommodation plans, which is also something to pray for.
Finally just to say a huge thank you for all your prayers and support over the past 8 months - I’ll continue to write, perhaps two or three times a year. Do please let me know if you’d like to be removed from my email list!
Things I will miss and things I won’t miss about Johannesburg
This time next week I’ll have moved back to sunny England after having been in Johannesburg since January. Here are some of the things I’ll miss, and the things I’ll be glad to leave behind.
Things I’ll miss
- The work I’ve been doing
- The people I’ve been working with
- Monday morning reunions at JBC after having not seen everyone for an entire weekend
- The blue skies
- The wildlife (still haven’t seen a lion though…)
- My new church family(s)
- Tennis on wednesday evenings
- Everything being super cheap (approx £1.50 a beer, under a tenner to eat out)
- Belting out Zulu and Xhosa worship songs without knowing what you’re actually singing
- The meat
- Teaching enthusiastic students at UJ
Things I won’t miss
- The roads. Which are ridiculous
- The ridiculous drivers on the ridiculous roads
- Being locked in a fortress all the time
- Seeing a guy who’d been shot in the head lying in the street in a pool of his own blood
- Intermittent wi-fi
- Being on pay as you go
- Starting the day stupidly early