Friday, August 7, 2009

Moving...

Dear readers,

Thanks for taking the time to read thoughts and ideas that I've scribbled down with my keyboard. This would be my last post on this site. But i'm not saying goodbye to blogging. I'm moving to a site that someone who was kind enough to help me out. I think they call it blog hosting. I'm not a tech person just a simple guy with words and sentences to spare and share. Here is the new site of Deconstructing The Monkey. Hope to see you there!



Tuesday, August 4, 2009

OT (made simple): Something about Narrative 1


The bulk of the OT is made up of narratives or in story form (there are alot of sticky issues but lets not go there for the moment haha). But not that it has anything to do with fairy tales for that matter. A working definition for understanding OT narrative would be, stories with a particular intent with a "retelling of historical events of the past that are intended to have meaning and direction for a given people in the present."


As mentioned above, narratives tells about things of the past. One can divide narratives into three parts:
  1. Character: protagonist (primary character), antagonist (conflict bringer), agonist (major character who gets involved in the struggle)
  2. Plot
  3. Plot Resolution

Now moving on to explaining plots, lets gain some perspective in understanding the basic plot of the biblical story.
  1. God created people in his own image and thus they became his image bearers who were given stewardship of the earth which was created for their pleasure.
  2. Enter the enemy, and what he did was made humans conform to his 'image' instead and thus made humans to become God's enemy.
  3. Following this is the long story of redemption of how God rescues his people from the enemies clutches and restores them back to his image and then finally restores them to the new heavens and new earth.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Reading transitions


I only started reading (books that did not have pictures in them), really reading when i hit 20 and that was after my conversion (they call it) to Christianity (being a follower of Jesus). But i started reading stuff by Benny Hinn, Kenneth Hagin, Roberts Liardon to name a few. I was into all things charismatic. But when i entered bible school, the books there were not unlike any kind of books you could find in bookstores (at least where im from). My lecturers made us read systematic theology and books on OT and NT survey. Being new and just started to reading the space of 4 years, it looked an impossible feat especially with my steady diet of charismatic bent books. But it was really amazing that there was a transition from reading a somewhat dented diet of rash theology to stuff that were of substantial substance. But then it took a while for me to get my hands on stuff by N. T. Wright, Vanhoozer, Richard Hays, Miroslav Volf, Scot McKnight to name a few. Forking out money for these books was the hard part but it was something that was needed (especially in the world of theological studies). But reading theological books take a lot of work (especially for this reader), i'm still trying my best to read through Vanhoozers book (that is sort of the curse if you start reading too late!). I'm wondering if there are people out there who went through some sort of reading transition in their life as well.


Saturday, August 1, 2009

A joyful crucible


Each day begins as a reflection for a disciple, a constant internal wrestling of the will, a reflection of whether following Jesus means a joyful escapade of exiting adventures and lasting fulfillment or a pathway that leads to a crucible path into the scorns of afflictions.

Some say following Jesus changed their lives for the better. Some testify that having Jesus in their life has given then peace in a world raging in havoc. Some say that when they have Jesus, they are blessed materially and that life seems like a steady flow of outpouring blessing that depicts a stream flowing and steering them to paths always filled with green pastures. A life that's void of hardship and pain. After all Christ died instead of them for sins that were supposed to condemn them to the gallows of death. But now, it's all a steady flow of blessing because God ultimately sees us in Jesus.

But is this what following Jesus entails? Does this reflect a theology that is close to what it means to be a disciple of Jesus? I think too much of our teachings stem for the spring of what i mentioned above. Most of our daily inspiration and preconceived ideas are directed to a meaning or passage of blessing that entails bliss forevermore. And because of that we crucify to death the meaning of following Jesus.

I think in my own reflection, in the walk of following Jesus, the best description i can use to describe how it feels on an experience basis is a joyful crucible. It is a parody really. The meshing of joy and pain married together that we do not have enough words to convey meaning to this experience. There is really true joy and peace that one experiences when one meets Jesus and seeks to walk faithfully with him. But another side of the coin is the constant tug of pain that a complicated spheres of life can dent the best disciple to probing questions filled with angst on how to develop a hopeful trust.

That is why the only 'logical' side of understanding life is the obedient outflow of meaningless obedience that would eventually be revealed and vindicated in Jesus in the Resurrection of our bodies. As the experience of getting the tattoo above would depict it is a joyful crucible indeed.



Thursday, July 30, 2009

OT: Reading with the modern mind or some other way?


I'm doing a course on Old Testament survey and we were in a discussion on whether it was possible, using our modern minds to exegete the text scientifically, that is reading the text with modern bearings, that the Israelites were able to cross the Red Sea (i'll not get into details about the Reed sea debate)?

Some scholars contend that the number of Israelites, if there were millions of them, it would be impossible for them to cross the Red sea in the space of hours but it might take a week for them to do so. (Sorry I haven't got the time to cite the references of where i got these facts. I'll probably do explanation when i have free time to spare)

But let me just pose a few questions on this. Should we use modern ways to read some portions or the whole of the Old Testament? Modern as in reading them in the way we read historical books now, where facts are studied and chosen and weighed to determine whether they are real or not.

For the moment though, I lean towards trying to understand the OT in the manner how someone in that particular era understood things. Take for example missionaries who come from developed countries and they work among tribal groups who live in the jungle. If the wanted to communicate Christianity with these people, do you think it necessary for them go tell these people about the original Greek language of a certain word, or talk to these people about science and religion? I think these people would be scratching their heads and wondering what on earth these missionaries are talking about.

I think it is more rewarding to read an ancient text, not to look too much into how they relate scientifically (although in some cases this is needed), or factually (in the manner of archaeological discoveries). Another way to appreciate the ancient text is also to read them in a way that we try to dig out their theological bearings or meanings. The bible is first and foremost, after all, a book telling us about God and his story.



Friday, July 24, 2009

Scot Mcknight Interview Part 1 & 2






Another side pluralism in Malaysia




A blog post that talks about the religious situation in Malaysia. Interesting things to reflect and think about. Follow this link.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Jesus' Return & Hell

Two blog posts that i found helpful, both written by Klyne Snodgrass on Jesus' return and hell. Here are some exerpts that should whet your appetite. 

"...I like N. T. Wright’s recent book Surprised By Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, And the Mission of the Church (HarperOne, 2008), but as with his earlier work Jesus and the Victory of God(Fortress, 1996), his view of Jesus’ eschatological teaching is unsatisfactory. In Surprised By Hope Wright states baldly that during his earthly ministry Jesus said nothing about his return. Did Wright confine himself to the Synoptics—if that were his intent—and ignore Johhn 14:3, 18, and 28?.... "

"...My concern is to stress that we know far less from Scripture about "hell" than most Christians think. If asked if I believe in hell, I often respond that I believe in gehenna. Most NT writers never mention "hell" or even have much on judgment by fire. All of us know what the English word "hell" means, but that meaning derives from medieval sources (and Greco-Roman ideas) more than Scripture..."



Saturday, July 18, 2009

Leadership as Embodying

Some reflections amidst my exilic period...

I've been reading Christopher J. H. Wright's book "Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament" and it's contents has been cluttering in my mind for the last few weeks. Especially in the area of Jesus embodying God's vision for Israel. C. J. H. Wright is one of my favorite authors (along with another Wright, with the initials N. T.). Along with N. T. Wright, he also gives us a Jesus who embodied God's vision for Israel. As God's chosen messiah, Jesus did not just hold office, but became an encapsulated version of Israel, with the task of fulfilling God's call and will for the nation chosen by him. Jesus did not simply explained the kingdom in a sense but he went a step further, living what the kingdom of God required. In that way he became the obedient son whereas the called nation failed to do so. Because he was to embody Israel in being the obedient son, he also became their embodied sacrifice. 

I could go on and on with this but let me just stop at that point and divert our thoughts to leadership. Reflecting on this, leadership is in a way a call to embodiment. Embodiment in a sense that the leader becomes what God desires for the church. Leaders, have to encapsulate the vision of God for the community. It is only then that the church with the picture of God's vision incarnated in the life and thoughts of the leader able to grasp God's will and ways. 

This is not to mean that the leader becomes like Jesus, in a way that he is above reproach and everything he does is God's will. No, not at all. It is actually telling the leader the call upon his life and the kind of responsibility that is placed upon him; being obedient to God in serving the Church in mediating the vision. 

These are at best fragmented thoughts and not a full blown description of what I'm thinking. I would appreciate comments that would help harness where i might lack clarity or erred. But the idea that Leadership is embodiment still stands and i hope to build on this in the future.  


5 Views on the Historical Jesus



I was alerted by Nijay K Gustapa upon reading his blog on this upcoming book from IVP entitled "The Historical Jesus: 5 Views". The list of scholars include Robert Price, John Dominic Crossan, Luke Timothy Johnson, James D. G. Dunn and Darrell Bock. This book will definately make it's way to my book shelf when it come out! 



Friday, July 17, 2009

A quote from N. T. Wright

I heard Bishop N. T. Wright make this statement about doctrines

"Doctrines often function as portable stories..." 

Doctrines are important but they don't tell us the whole story. They function as portable stories which we unpack from our suitcase (some of these ideas are expressions of stuff Wright said) that tells fragments of the whole. In the way Scot McKnight would explain it 'wiki-stories'. They are condensed 'statements' that compliment the whole. 



Saturday, July 11, 2009

Reflections on being Exiled

The year has not ended but there is a resounding theme that keeps banging on the doors of my thoughts, mainly the turmoil of being to some extent exiled. I think it is a resounding theme that I keep on going through and one that I seek on reflecting on constantly in many days to come. But one thing is constant when all seems lost, the hopeful expectation of an exodus. 

I find that ministry and theological life in shifting Malaysia, with the parody of old school mentality combined with some western thought patters makes the journey a bumpy one at best. Some parts of Malaysia are clearly premodern in their thought patters and some parts are modern in their thought patterns. The irony is some theological students or fulltime workers do not understand these tensions. Many are still working out their sermons, teaching, ministry patterns on worn out methods (not that there is an ideal method) or doing things based on tradition (how things have always been done). Not many see the need of contextualizing their theological training or biblical preaching and teaching. 

Because of this ministry and theological way of communicating becomes static to those who have no background on these issues. Now is the minister is not sensitive to this, it does not matter how biblically based your teaching might be, you stand to lose a whole generation. 

I think this is the kind of thing that goes around the mind of someone in exile. A parody of anguish and hope. 


Friday, July 3, 2009

What do you think of expository preaching

I've been thinking about preaching for the past few days and especially in the best method used when preaching. I hear a lot of talk about the importance about expository preaching and i'm in agreement with all the emphasis on it. The need for the bible to be expounded and the bible to be taught and preached in church is vital, mainly because we do find that most of the stuff taught are mainly one line verses from the bible or sometimes a passage is read but the sermon and points or the topic have nothing to do with the passage read. So to come up with the method of expository preaching is simply great because the message and points are derived from the exposition of the chosen text. 

But i do have some minor problems with just strictly sticking on with just expository sermons. One of the reasons being, some passages in the bible are not adequate enough to give meaning to a given topic. The method of expository preaching simply hits a brick wall because it simply has to derive it's points from the passage and when it deviates everything runs havoc. One has to dig in the bible and look for particular passages so that one can arrive at the juncture where a text would fit in adequately giving justice to the topic. 

Although I place the above as a minor issue, i'm not at all against expository preaching. For me, we have to use a variety of methods with the intention of presenting biblical preaching as well as a message that is both relevant and understandable. Sort of like messages that Jesus gave. I'm not sure if Jesus gave an expository message to his hearers but what we do find him telling stories and occasionally expounding what we call the OT now. And at times this makes me wonder what method did the apostles use when they preached to the congregation

So what about you? Do you have any thoughts on expository preaching? Or are there any other ways that a pastor or preacher(teacher) can use for the purpose of preaching? 


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sometimes i think

Sometimes i think, do people really need a spiritual centre in their lives? Because it seems like the bulk of life where people intersect on what's important and real is not really having a spiritual centre. But then the time when one will seek some sort of spiritual centre are through present crisis, mishaps, near death experience or stuff close to the description called 'bad thing happening to people'. It seems to me that the somber reality of coming to grips with thinking about God and spirituality is when we are sucked dry and looking at reality with enlightened eyes. But when all is well we forget the important stuff, when we have everything we feel invincible, when we are rich beyond measure we feel powerful. But all of these are just vain projections of what we think we need. They muffle out an important dimension to our life. Well it's just something i thought about. 


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What works best for you?


If you are into blogging I'd like to know what works best for you, pre-written posts and scheduled posts or a daily post? You can read a better description on this matter here.

I have written and published some 200+ posts already but I have not tried doing pre-written and scheduled blog posts fully yet. I've done it a few times (by that mean a couple of times, say less then ten tries) but I haven't gotten the hang of it yet. I go through the writing process of blogging on a more daily approach at the moment. Something comes up in my mind and that somehow is constructed into a post. But for regularity sake, it would not be a good idea to stick to this routine to expand my blog in the long run. Especially when i'll be in seminary soon. So i'll see how blogging works out with studies. Here is to a new beginning!




Hopeful Theo

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OIL TOWN, SWK, Malaysia
I'm a student of Theology (currently and will always be one). I'm a student of culture and a student of music as well. I guess you could say life is a never ending journey of learning. Because of that we never stop being students. Just a little something about this blog: Deconstructing The Monkey is all about being a safe space for emerging conversations