James's Weblog

Bye bye, Sitemeter

Mon, 23/07/2007 - 16:39 -- James Oakley

Technical post.

For several years I have used the free analytics services of SiteMeter. Basically, they allow you to analyse how many hits your website receives, and you can look at things like what country people visit from, what web browser they use. There is nothing sinister about such data – it is freely available to the owner of any and every website you visit – it’s in the server logs.

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That book game...

Thu, 19/07/2007 - 15:49 -- James Oakley

All members of the Renz fellowship group at Oak Hill during the time Ros Clarke was at college are obliged (by law) to try the BBC's Opening Line Quiz.

Two reservations in recommending this:-

1. I know, the Beeb haven't quite got the idea. You're supposed to play their game in reverse - give out the title and guess the first line.

2. They don't mention there being any prizes if you do particularly well at the quiz. But then again, if I were in their shoes at the moment, I wouldn't have dared either.

Still - it makes a good activity for a Monday afternoon...

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Tue, 10/07/2007 - 13:04 -- James Oakley

I’m studying Luke 20:1-18 at the moment.

Peter Leithart (introduction of House for my Name) gives head-crushing as an example of a theme-symbol in the OT. The serpent will have its head crushed in Genesis 3, which makes it significant that the enemies of God frequently have their heads crushed – Goliath, Abimelech etc.

James Jordan (chapter on rocks in Through New Eyes) points out the theme of stones as objects of judgement. The proscribed OT death penalty was for stoning, Daniel 2, Isaiah 8 etc.

We can put these together. Both Abimelech and Goliath are not only killed by having their heads crushed. Their heads are crushed with stones. So when Jesus says that the tenants will have the stone fall on them and crush them, all those allusions – including Genesis 3 – are evoked. The startling thing, of course, in Luke 20 is who the tenants are. Suddenly the people of Jerusalem, primarily but not exclusively their leaders, are being alluded to the serpent, Abimelech, Goliath, Nebuchadnezzar side of the equation. Ouch!

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The Embers of Preaching and the Flames of Piety

Mon, 11/06/2007 - 11:00 -- James Oakley

Thanks, Peter Sanlon, for your permission to post a copy of your article from Churchman, entitled The Embers of Preaching and the Flames of Piety.

A stimulating read, folks. It’s easy to point to those outside of evangelicalism, or outside of our bit of evangelicalism, and point out deficiencies in the preaching we find there. It’s easy to exhort one another to address every deficiency that we find in such preaching. But it’s refreshing to find a brother who has had the courage and patience to reflect on the deficiencies within one’s own camp.

To whet your appetite to read the whole thing (13 sides of A5 – not over long!), here’s a paragraph from the introduction:

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Applying the weak and the strong

Mon, 04/06/2007 - 21:03 -- James Oakley

I remember a conversation two years ago with a Christian brother, discussing how to apply Romans 14-15 today. It's really hard. Because, by definition, all the examples Paul picks are areas of life where we think we're right. So how do you judge whether this is (a) an example where you have an opinion and must follow it, but refusing to judge / look down on others who think differently is paramount, or (b) an example where you really are right, and others therefore need to be rebuked, corrected, cajoled into thinking the same as you.

Or is that a dilemma to be refused?

Well - I enjoyed Jam Cary's application on his blog. It's really helpful. Thanks, Jam.

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Excommunicate all without exception!

Wed, 30/05/2007 - 12:56 -- James Oakley

And there's more

"Confusing this 'union with Christ' with visible membership in the body of Christ through outward profession or sacramental expression is a serious error and endangers our church's faithful testimony to the Gospel essential of justification by faith alone." (lines 24-27, page 2214, of PCA on FV).

The force of the argument seems to be that we must not give the sacraments to those who are not elect. But the only way to avoid this, with no risk of false positives, is to give the sacraments to nobody at all. It's back to God's secret counsel again.

But the NT clearly does not say that we don't treat anyone as elect for risk of getting it wrong. At this point, covenantal objectivity is one way to go, and there have been others suggested. But if it is paramount to avoid treating someone who is not decretally elect as though they were, we're stuck with a null church.

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