Monday, September 24, 2007

Mind The Sun-Mon Gap I

Courtesy of Graduate Christian Fellowship, we had Dr Gordon Preece to share with us on Minding The Gap between sacred/secular, Sun-Mon. He made an interesting observation that in the epic of Gilgamesh, men were created to be slaves for the gods, for hard manual labor in their service. Leisure was the right and privilege of the god-kings i.e. Egypt, Parthenon.

How radically different and subversive was the Genesis account of creation, where God created Adam and Eve on the sixth day, and when He rested, humanity rested too. The pattern of rest and work in the Sabbath is applied to all, regardless of social class.

Lausanne paper on Marketplace Ministry:

"The loss of the creation commission/mandate has detrimental effects on Christians
who are not directly engaged with people-type or evangelistic work, who work with
technology, material things or are engaged in wealth creation. These Christians often feel like second-class believers who have to pretend to be social workers at work. A chemical engineer when asked about his faith and work at an InterVarsity Graduates Fellowship meeting, described it in terms of the people-side of serving clients as if he were a social worker, but failed to mention that he had developed a less pollutant pesticide that fulfils the creation commission.

In contrast, Crawford W. Long, M.D., who discovered the use of sulphuric ether
as an anaesthetic in surgery on March 30, 1840 and whose statue stands in the US Senate building in the state of Georgia, was attributed with these words, ‘My profession is to me a ministry from God.’ Consider also Professor Graeme Clark, the Australian developer of the bionic ear who has brought hearing to over 50,000 people worldwide. His scientific passion for the creation/dominion mandate and for alleviating the suffering of hearing-impaired humanity (including his father) combined with his front-page and televised witness to Christ, represents a very balanced and inspiring expression of all three mandates." (i.e. creational, relational, evangelistic commissions)

The Historical Reliability of the Old Testament

By Dr Leong Tien Fock

The Bible has been subjected to an incredibly extensive and intensive scrutiny by critics. Yet, unless one only reads the critics' work, it has not only survived the trial but has in fact thrived in it. Christians should be familiar with a defense of the Bible even in the absence of an offense. For the intellectual and spiritual climate we live in is such that the claims of the Bible do not seem or feel real. We need to be able to consciously affirm in our heart that the Bible is reliable and trustworthy.

The reliability of the Bible is fundamental to the credibility of the Christian faith. All Christian doctrines, including the doctrine of the Bible as the Word of God, are based on the Bible. Given the often vicious and seemingly credible attacks on the Bible, a Christian who is confronted with them may find his faith shaken or even shattered. This essay is written with the conviction that it is possible for anyone who is not already prejudiced against the Bible (or who is at least willing to temporarily suspend such a bias) to see that there is a remarkably solid basis to believe in the reliability of the Bible.

We will focus only on the Old Testament and use three criteria to establish the its reliability: the bibliographical test, the internal evidence test, and the external evidence test. These common-sense tests, often used to test the reliability of the New Testament, cannot be said to be biased towards the Bible. For they are postulated by military historian C. Sanders in his 1952 book, Introduction to Research in English Literary History. The tests are most suitable for our purpose not only because they are not biased towards the Bible. Since they are employed in testing the reliability of general historical and literary documents, they are also most suitable because we are testing the reliability of the OT as a literary-historical and not as a religious document (thus its claim to divine origin will not be assumed).

Read on for more information on:

Bibliographical Test
Internal Evidence Test
External Evidence Test
Concluding Remarks

Taming Of The Pew II

Gordon Preece on the Sun-Mon Gap:

Over 70 years ago, G.A. Studdert Kennedy asserted that:

"A very large number of the people who attend our services and partake of the sacrament are disassociated personalities. They are one person on Sunday and another on Monday. They have one mind for the sanctuary and another for the street. They have one conscience for the church and another for the cotton factory. Their worship conflicts with their work, but they will not acknowledge the conflict. I want to press home what seems to me to be obvious, that while this unfaced conflict
exists, the soul is not on the road to salvation."

Likewise, a contemporary ditty says: ‘Mr Business went to church, that’s what he did on Sunday, Mr Business went to hell for what he did on Monday’. We could say the same of other professions.

In their defence, many marketplace Christians, including increasing numbers of paid
working women, feel justifiably marginalised from their churches. Thousands make up the rapidly increasing legion of unchurched Christians in the West.16 Their workaday concerns are often banished from the pulpit and public worship, prayer and pastoral care. In one survey, 90-97% said they had never heard a sermon on work.17 One Christian in Singapore who suggested a commissioning service on Teachers Day was told by his pastor that it was a great idea for Sunday School teachers.

Read on for this insightful paper by Lausanne

Bridging The Gap III

Excerpts from Lausanne paper on Marketplace Ministry:

"In Scripture there is no ancient or modern, eastern or western dualistically derived gap between private and public, faith and work, charity and justice. There we have many images of God as a worker (Genesis 1-2, John 5:17, Revelation 21:5), specifically as shepherd (Psalm 23), warrior (Exodus 15:3), teacher (Psalm 143:10, Proverbs 15:33), potter (Jeremiah 18:6, Romans 9:20-21) and as vinedresser (Isaiah 5:1-7, John 15:1-6).50 We also find that marketplace Christians such as Joseph, Esther, Daniel, Nehemiah, Lydia, Priscilla and Aquila are very prominent among God’s

Against an individualistic reading of Jesus and the Sermon on the Mount, John
Howard Yoder’s The Politics of Jesus 51 depicts the people of God as a city (polis) set on a hill as the light of the world, who are to let their light shine so that others can see their good work(s) and give God the glory (Matthew 5:16)...

Because God is a Worker - Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier - we need to re-link the
creation and evangelistic commissions or mandates. The creation commission’s go forth and fill the earth (Genesis 1:28 to Adam, cf. Genesis 9:7 to Noah, Genesis 12:1-3 to Abram) is behind the Great Commission’s ‘go’ into the world or as you go about your daily work and life (Matthew 28:18-20 cf. Matthew 10:7) as Leighton Ford stresses. When Jesus says ‘all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,’ He claims dominion over all creation as the true and ultimate human activity.

As former Dutch Prime Minister, theologian and journalist Abraham Kuyper says: ‘There is not one square inch of the entire creation about which Jesus
Christ does not cry out, “This is mine! This belongs to me!’”

Dave: Some models of Christian workers were mentioned like Graeme Clark who invented the bionic ear by reflecting on God's creation i.e. seashell and theologian Kuyper who was active in organising trade unions, schools, journalism and established the Free University of Amsterdam.