Friday, September 30, 2016

Running away from.... grace?

Anyone who spent any amount of time anywhere near a Sunday School has heard the story of Jonah. For whatever reason it’s seems to be
a very popular story to share with children. I suspect anything to do with animals saving the day is attractive to kids. I’m sure you know it well. Jonah gets told by God to go to Nineveh and “preach against it” (1:2), he runs away, ends up on a boat in a storm going in the opposite direction, he gets thrown in the ocean which seems to appease God, he’s swallowed by a “huge fish” (1:17) in which he spends three days and three nights. From inside the fish he realises the errors of his ways, prays to God and determines to obey instead, so the fish vomits him up onto dry land. Jonah goes to Nineveh and proclaims the message God gives to him; “Forty more days and Ninevah will be overthrown” (3:4). Immediately a remarkable thing happens – “The Ninevites believed God” (3:5). The king calls a fast and demands the people and animals be covered in sackcloth to demonstrate their repentance and decrees that everyone should

“call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” (3:8-9)

Friday, September 23, 2016

An Exercise in Self-Deception

The Salvation Army in Australia is in the midst of an historic journey. Since 1880 the Army has been active in this country, doing all it can to see God’s Kingdom come and his will be done here on earth as it is in heaven. For much of that time, for functional and practical reasons, there have been two territories; Australia Southern and Australia Eastern. Earlier this year it was announced that this would change. The two would become one. As at 1 June the Australia One project was launched and work was begun on joining the two territories together into one unified structure.

This move excites me. Not just for the practical reasons, but for theological ones as well. This has the potential to be a symbol of unity to the rest of the Army and, indeed, the world. A symbol of how two different things can come together to form something new and, through that new thing, reform society. This can be a symbol of the incarnation; that moment in time and space when the divine and human were united in an eternal bond and through that union, in the very person of Jesus Christ, new creation was birthed. Not just replacing the old creation but born there in the midst of it, and it has been growing and building towards its ultimate conclusion ever since. That moment to come when all of the old shall become new and everything will be recreated and live under the lordship of Jesus Christ. Seen in that light the Australia One project is very exciting.

The Tradition of Scripture

An interesting online conversation I was in the other day got me thinking about the relationship between "tradition" and "scr...