Monday, April 25, 2011

Remember the Fallen

It is a very significant and highly unusual Easter this year in Australia and New Zealand. For the first time ever Easter and ANZAC day coincide with one another. I find it incredibly ironic that the date of Easter, the most important day in the Christian calendar, is determined each year by an astronomical event. It goes something like this... the weekend closest to the first full moon which comes after the Autumn (southern hemisphere) or Spring (northern hemisphere) equinox; that date being March 21. A couple of years ago we had the earliest Easter for over 100 years. This year it's quite late, with Easter Sunday on April 24. The next day, April 25, is a day of special significance to Australians and New Zealanders. It is the day we remember those who have fought in conflicts, not just WW1 and WW2, but all conflicts and peace keeping efforts we as nations have been actively involved in. It is a day when we remember the fallen.

The date goes back to 1915 when, due to a monumental stuff-up, ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) troops landed at the wrong spot; Gallipoli - a small beach on the coast of Turkey. Heavily outnumbered and never having the high ground, there were massive casualties on both sides. Whilst it was a military disaster, for Australia; a relatively young nation with federation only occurring 14 years earlier, it was the time when we consider ourselves to have "come into our own". Great respect was one between both sides, and there is a deep respect between Australia, New Zealand and Turkey resulting from the bravery of all involved.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

It's all fun and games until someone loses a tooth!

Yesterday was one of the most bizarre and most horrifying of my life.

We've spent the last week taking some well earned time off and enjoying the last week of the school holidays with the kids. We decided to treat them to an outing to a kid's play centre nearby, affectionately known in our house as 'the bumpy slide'. We've been to several of these over the life of the girls, but this was a new place for us. When we arrived we were really impressed with this one. It was clean and tidy, the equipment all looked relatively new and in great condition, and the staff were friendly and attentive. We unleashed the kids and let them loose. They knew what to do.

The kids were having a great time. After about an hour or so Megan and I were talking through our plans for the rest of the afternoon. Little did we know that none of them were going to happen. One of the pieces of equipment at this particular centre was a large jumping castle. It had the same shape as this one pictured here, but different pictures on it. At one point Annabelle (our youngest) was climbing on the wall at the front, which made me nervous (in this picture the part where Nemo's dad is patting Nemo on the head). So I got up out of my chair to tell her to hop down and play safely. Just as I did so Brielle (our oldest) appeared from behind her, having just come down the slide part of this jumping castle. Something was drastically wrong. She had "that look" in her eye, and was screaming. As a parent, you know that look very well, and somehow categorise cries and screams by priority levels. Well, this scream was a 10 on that scale. As I got closer to Brielle I could see she was holding something. I didn't recognise it at first, but my first thoughts were (a) it's a compound fracture of her finger and this was a bone (b) she's landed on some piece of plastic or otherwise and it's now imbedded in her hand. It was my wife who identified it - "It's her tooth!" She told us later that she had bounced down the slide and her face hit the netting above the slide. Incredibly, the netting got caught under her tooth and ripped it almost completely out. Brielle, in the shock of the moment, felt her tooth in a completely unusual position, and thinking it was the wobbly tooth in her mouth, pulled at the tooth and it came out.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Split in the Trinity?

Recently there have been some discussions amongst my online friends about the nature of the Trinity following a statement made by a visiting lecturer to Asbury Theological Seminary. I wasn't at the lecture, but from all accounts the suggestion was made that, as Jesus cried "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matt 27:46) on the cross that there was, at that moment, a split in the Trinity. You can read more on the details of the lecture and some responses at both Jeffrey Rudy's and Isaac Hopper's respective blogs.

Of course, for anything to do with Trinitarian theology Gregory of Nyssa, as one of the Cappadocian Fathers, will have something important to say. Whilst he doesn't address the issue of a split in the Trinity with regards to Jesus on the cross, he does address the  suggestion of a split, albeit under a different guise. Gregory in On the Holy Spirit is addressing the suggestion from Macedonius that the Holy Spirit was just "a divine energy diffused throughout the universe: and not a person distinct from the Father and the Son." (Gregory of Nyssa, On the Holy Spirit, in NPNFV (New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co, 1892, 315-325), 315, n1). It's clear that Gregory disagrees with this suggestion, but whenever we disagree with someone else's teaching the question always arises "do I or don't I seek to address this? Is this a significant problem? Is this a hill I should die on?" For Gregory the answer is clearly "yes". 
There is a danger lest through our silence error may prevail over the truth, and so the rotting sore of this heresy may invade it, and make havoc of the sound word of faith. (ibid, 315).

Friday, April 1, 2011

Jesus: Truly and Properly Human?

One particularly fascinating theological discussion relates to the humanity of Jesus. It's an important discussion, and tends to revolve around this question "What kind of human was Jesus?" The difficulty with answering this question is twofold. Firstly, the problem that Gregory Nazianzus highlighted long ago; 
"For that which he has not assumed he has not healed; but that which is united to the Godhead he has saved" (Letter 101) 
In other words, if Jesus did not become completely human like us then all that he achieved is ineffective and so a waste of time and energy. Humanity remains in the condition that it has been in since the Fall and we need an alternative saviour to either "top up" what Jesus didn't (or wasn't able to) achieve, or have another go at it all. Clearly this will not do. 

Sermon: Matthew 13:1

I love questions. Many here would be aware that I’m working on a PhD in theology. I’ve also been a teacher of theology, worship, and critica...