James's Weblog

Which came first, the wedding or the marriage

Thu, 07/09/2006 - 16:35 -- James Oakley

I’m often saddened when, in these days, weddings seems to matter more then marriage. (How encouraging, by contrast, to be helping one couple, who have recently become followers of Christ, to organise a wedding in the shortest possible time. They are keen to be married and are prepared to sacrifice lots of elements of “the ideal wedding”).

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2 Peter - the bare bones

Wed, 06/09/2006 - 17:41 -- James Oakley

Having flow charted 2 Peter, the main points stand out quite clearly from the subordinate ones.

Again – just in case this is helpful for anyone, here are two summaries of 2 Peter.


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Flow diagram of the text of 2 Peter

Wed, 06/09/2006 - 12:52 -- James Oakley

I’m doing some study of 2 Peter, and have prepared for myself a flow diagram of the English text. For those not familiar with flow diagrams, the idea is that the text is laid out to show the grammatical structure. Main clauses are placed against the left hand margin, and all dependent clauses are indented. Where it makes sense to do so, those dependent clauses are indented so as to place them directly beneath the word they depend on.

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So, let's have a "good list"

Fri, 01/09/2006 - 11:25 -- James Oakley

The BBC reports today on the Independent’s recent compilation of a British “Good List”. Not just those people who did something good, or changed things for better, but those who expressly sought to do so.

The list is interesting. Most of Britain’s religions have someone on their because of their affiliation with that religion. We have a Muslim leader, a rabbi and a Sikh leader. That affiliation qualifies their inclusion.

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Mark 13-14: "Watch!"

Fri, 01/09/2006 - 10:18 -- James Oakley

Re-reading Mark 14 is interesting. In Gethsemane, the disciples were urged to stay awake, watch and pray so that they might not fall into temptation. Jesus himself stayed awake and prayed – presumably including prayer to remain faithful under the forthcoming trial.

A sobering statement on human nature. The disciples could see Jesus, the Son of God incarnate, praying to his father that he might not yield to temptation. Yet they thought (implicitly or explicitly, it doesn’t matter) that they could endure without the Father’s help. Astounding – and sobering.

That also gives a point of contact between chapters 13 and 14. The concluding exhortation in chapter 13 is “stay awake”, the same thing Jesus has to tell the disciples in chapter 14. Could this be one key to working out Mark’s intent in these chapters?

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Structure of Mark 3:13-6:7

Wed, 30/08/2006 - 10:23 -- James Oakley

Just noticed an inclusio here. Jesus appoints apostles (3:13-19) before being rejected by his immeediate family (3:20-35).

Later, Jesus is rejected at Nazareth, his home town (6:1-6), and then sends the apostles out (6:7-13).

Could it be (kite-flying time!) that the intervening section concerns why even those closest to Jesus can reject him?

Answer 1: Because the same word attracts different responses. God is not obliged to open people's eyes (chapter 4).
Answer 2: Because evil is so powerful - but Jesus is more so (5:1-20)
Answer 3: Because Jesus needs to raise the dead (5:21-43)

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Jesus on divorce in Matthew and Mark

Wed, 30/08/2006 - 10:19 -- James Oakley

I've just noticed the really obvious.

It isn't just the lack of an exception clause that makes Mark 10 different from Matthew 19. The question Jesus is recorded as being asked is different too.

Matthew 19: Is divorce lawful for any reason?
Mark 10: Is divorce lawful?

Matthew 19: Except for unfaithfulness (notwithstanding the debate about how to translate that word)
Mark 10: Yes - but not that way from the beginning.

The difference in the question helps a lot with the difference in the answer. Matthew has focussed on the precise nature of the exception. Mark has focussed on the intended permanence of marriage which makes any premature ending a tragedy. Because that is Mark's focus, he doesn't appear to preclude exceptions - whether there are exceptions is not his interest.

The call to the ministry

Thu, 10/08/2006 - 22:44 -- James Oakley

The debate has often gone on: Should someone experience a personal call from God to pastoral ministry before they start out? Some say yes (DMLJ), others have said that there is no evidence for this in Scripture, and the wisdom of the church is what counts.

Does it help to consider the parallel debate about assurance (or, more properly, reflex faith). Can I know that I have faith or not? The Roman Catholic church teaches that this cannot be known. Scripture, by contrast, tells us to be motivated in certain ways by our reflex faith. This presupposes that it is possible to have this kind of assurance.

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