Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Easter is all about celebrating the real, physical, historical resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

I think most of us are on the same page with this one, but you might find some of this interesting:

NT Wright:

Lee Strobel:

William Craig Lane:

Happy Easter!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Should the Church accept Evolution?

This one could open a can of worms!

What do you make of this?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Who wrote Hebrews?

So, I have a pretty busy week going on here and don't have time to do a proper post... sorry.

Instead I will leave you in good hands. Here is an interview from the Euangelion Blog that I read recently talking about the authorship of Hebrews. Michael Bird provides us will a little preface and then conducts the interview:

The authorship of Hebrews is a funny question. The eastern church attributed it to Paul, Origen was ambivalent about it, suggestions have included Barnabas and Apollos, but a small cohort of scholars have suggested Luke's authorship of Hebrews or else Pauline authorship via Luke. There has been interesting proposals on this topic of late. One contribution is David Allen, Lukan Authorship of Hebrews (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, forthcoming 2010) - which I have not read yet. The other contribution to the subject is an essay by Andrew W. Pitts and Joshua F. Walker entitled "The Authorship of Hebrews: A Further Development in the Luke-Paul Relationship" which is forthcoming in S.E. Porter (ed.), Paul's Social Relations (Pauline Studies 7; Leiden: Brill, 2010). I spoke to Andrew Pitts about their essay and he answers my questions below:

1. What started your thinking about the Pauline "source" of Hebrews?

We began working on this project during the 2008 annual meeting of the ETS-SBL meetings in Providence and Boston. At the meetings, we talked about the different features of Hebrews that point to authorship—style, vocabulary, its apparent oral qualities, theological viewpoints and manuscript tradition, among others. We had always thought that a Luke-Paul collaboration was possible and so we set out to examine various strands of evidence to see what direction they might point in. The somewhat recent trend toward understanding Hebrews in an oral context seemed to have some significant implications for authorship. If Hebrews is a speech, then it may have had stenographer (speech recorder). The content and manuscript (external) evidence pointed to Paul while the linguistic and literary (internal) evidence seemed to us to indicate Lukan involvement. This theory seemed to handle the bulk of the evidence presented on this matter, evidence which was often dichotomized into Luke only and Paul only data. But both sets of data, to our mind, seemed significant and neither could be easily side-stepped. We found, then, that a Pauline origin best explained the main content of Hebrews, accounting for elevated style of the document via Luke’s involvement.

2. What is the basic thesis of your chapter on the authorship of Hebrews?

The evidence we examine suggests that Hebrews likely represents a Pauline speech, probably originally delivered in a Diaspora synagogue, that Luke documented in some way during their travels together and which Luke later published as an independent speech to be circulated among house churches in the Jewish-Christian Diaspora. From Acts, there already exists a historical context for Luke’s recording or in some way attaining and publishing Paul’s speeches in a narrative context. Luke remains the only person in the early Church whom we know to have published Paul’s teaching (beyond supposed Paulinists) and particularly his speeches. And certainly by the first century we have a well established tradition within Greco-Roman rhetorical and historiographic stenography (speech recording through the use of a system of shorthand) of narrative (speeches incorporated into a running narrative), compilation (multiple speeches collected and edited in a single publication) and independent (the publication of a single speech) speech circulation by stenographers. Since it can be shown (1) that early Christians pursued parallel practices, particularly Luke and Mark, (2) that Hebrews and Luke-Acts share substantial linguistic affinities and (3) that significant theological-literary affinities exist between Hebrews and Paul, we argue that a solid case for Luke’s independent publication of Hebrews as a Pauline speech can be sustained. We don’t claim to have “solved” the problem of authorship in terms of absolutes or certainties, but we do think that this is the direction that the evidence points most clearly.

So, what do you think?

If you find this interesting and want to read more, please do so. The interview continues: here

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Marvelous Music - Day 5

Oh, and I used to listen to a lot of Prog-Rock:

With these guys it's all about pushing the limits of creativity and ability. The results might be questionable but you can't deny the talent!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Marvelous Music - Day 4

Well, I can't go and showcase all of this music without hitting up some of my favourite jazz artists.

Of course, there's no shortage of astounding jazz musicians. There are everyone's favourite Canadians, Michael Buble, Diana Krall and Oscar Peterson... but everybody knows about them.

So let's start by going way back to 1961 and the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Many of you will know about them but they deserve to be heard again simply because this song (and the whole album "Take Five") literally reshaped and redefined music for the 20th Century. I honestly don't think that's overstating it.

Now, there are about a zillion amazing jazz pianists but I happen to enjoy Jacky Terrasson and it's my blog, so here's Jacky Terrasson (check out his left hand work):

But one of my favourite jazz emsembles of all time is Bill Bruford's Earthworks. They are a mindblowing progressive jazz band. I really wanted to find a video of them performing "footloose and fancy free" (I know I've seen it before) but all I could find was this:

I suppose some of you will appreciate this video more than others :)

Anyway, I've posted videos of Medeski, Martin, and Wood here before but I can't leave them out. They're a little weird but I love their groove. Here's one with them performing with the incomparable John Scofield:

And like we did yesterday, let's end things off with a little Latin American vibe. Here's the legendary Poncho Sanchez (the actual song starts at about 1:55):



Woah! I almost forgot about one good Canadian girl that you all need to know about: Jane Bunnett. She's the white girl.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Marvelous Music - Day 3

Today is all about Canada and acoustic guitars.

I don't know if you know this, but Canada has produced some of the best guitar players, well... EVER.

You have probably heard of at least a few of these artists but whether you know about them or not, it's always worth while taking a few minutes and listening to some amazing acoustic guitar work:

Antoine Dufour:

Don Ross:

Bruce Cockburn:

And we'll end with a little flamenco with Jesse Cook:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Marvelous Music - Day 2

Have you guys seen this commercial yet?

So while the blatant capitalist agenda (ie. tropicana wants to make $ off of this) takes a bit of the poignancy away from this I have to admit that it is brilliant P.R. and just a really cool idea.

But, of course, what slapped me in the face when I first saw this was: "Hey, just wait a second... they're playing Patrick Watson!!!"
[the song is "The Great Escape"; apparently it was also used on the TV show "Grey's Anatomy"]

Patrick Watson is a good Canadian boy who I first heard on the 2007 Juno awards here in Saskatoon:

I was pumped when I saw this because here was someone who had the audacity (& artistic integrity?) to play a whacked out psychedelic anthem (and most of it is in 7/8 time!) at a "popular" awards show.

The fact is that Patrick is a true musician. He is a phenomenal, classically trained pianist who in true "post-rock" fashion (like Sigur Ros and fellow Canadians, Bell Orchestre) has blended classical music and rock music together and in doing so has helped inject some much needed creativity into our bland musical landscape.

In this one he plays 3 songs from his newest album:
1) Beijing; 2) Big Bird in a Small Cage (@ 3:45); 3) Wooden Arms (@ 7:56)

Don't you just love his worn out CBC t-shirt?

You can tell that Watson has been really influenced by the classical "minimalist" movement, in particular, Philip Glass. In fact, Patrick Watson toured with Philip Glass. For those of you who don't know, Philip Glass is a classical composer/film-score composer.

Compare the piano arrangements from the beginning of Watson's "Beijing" (1st song of the above video) and this song "Glassworks" (composed by Philip Glass and performed by Branca Parlic):

While, of course, the songs are completely different you can see the stylistic similarities and how Philip Glass has influenced Watson's playing.

This is a little bit more on the "fringe" than yesterday's Charlie Winston.
So, what do you think?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Marvelous Music - Day 1

Well, over the past few weeks we've had some great discussion. I've enjoyed it a lot and I hope you have too.

But let's take a bit of a break.

This week I am going to be posting every day and introducing you to some music that you may not have heard before!

Most of this won't be "popular" music. It's not that I dislike all pop music; there are a number of well known "popular" artists that I quite enjoy listening to (like Coldplay or the Dave Matthews Band). But if I'm going to introduce you to some new music then I'm going to have to reach out to the fringes... and that's where some of the best stuff is!

Anyway, this week I'd like to introduce you to Charlie Winston.

In Europe he doesn't really need any introducing... apparently he's huge in France. I just ran into him because they play his song "In your hands" on CBC Radio 2 quite a bit (Radio 2 is the only radio station I can handle listening to. I'd rather suck on the tail-pipe of a car than listen to C-95... but that's just me :)

Anyway, Charlie is a pretty straight up Folk-Rock singer-songwriter. But he's got a pretty cool vibe to him. Check out this first video for "In your hands." First of all I think it's just a really cool song, but it's also got some interesting lyrics and the video... well, the video speaks for itself.

This next song, "Like a hobo" isn't one of my favorite Charlie Winston songs but it's grown on me. Plus, you just have to check out the hat solo at about 2:30.

So, as we check out some of this music just leave your thoughts. Music is intensely personal, so I'm not expecting everyone (or maybe even anyone) to love it all. But I encourage everyone to leave a quick comment like:
"Cool, I kinda liked that first song."
"Hmmm. Not my cup of tea."

See you tomorrow!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

All Creatures... Pt 5

So finally we arrive at the Gospels!

How does Jesus interact with the natural world? Does He teach about how we should interact with creation?

In my opinion, Jesus' interactions with nature are very much tied together with Paul's teaching that Jesus is the second Adam (Rom. 5; 1Cor. 15). Jesus exercised perfect authority over creation much in the same way that Adam did in the garden of Eden.

We see Jesus exercise His Lordship and Sovereignty over creation in a variety of ways:
Calming the storm (Mk4), walking on water (Mk6), cursing the fig tree (Mt21), etc.

An interesting one is this passage from Mark 1:13 (ESV):
"And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him."

This one is interesting because scholars are in debate as to how the animals fit into the picture here. In the Greek this verse is all one sentence with three parts: 1) ...He was tempted by Satan; comma 2) and He was with animals; comma 3) and angels served Him; period.

No one is 100% sure where part #2 fits. The text doesn't indicate whether the animals are connected with the temptation or with His rest and recovery from the temptation. Different scholars ride different sides of the fence here. Personally I lean toward (and so do the ESV, NASB, NIV, NLT translators: notice the phrasing breaks) connecting the animals with His rest and recuperation.

This is because of the "Jesus = Adam 2.0" thing as well as the fact that Mark says that Jesus was "with" the animals (incidentally, the "wild" part of "wild animals" is inferred, not explicit. It is one word, therion, which is generic meaning any living creature other than humans). It doesn't say that Jesus fought or struggled with them; it says He was with them.

Obviously I have my own leanings on this one, but let's just acknowledge that the text isn't super clear here. As such we shouldn't read too much into it.

There are other miracles where I'm not sure if they'd fit into what we're talking about, like turning the water into wine and the multiplication of food... And how do human healings fit in?

Don't you just love this drawing of Jesus and the sheep? It's gotta be one of the cheesiest ones around! :)

Now, unless you can think of some passages that I'm missing, we also need to acknowledge that Jesus doesn't really teach/preach much in connection with "geo-stewardship." However, I don't think this can be read-into too much either. Arguments from silence usually aren't very strong.

For example, while Jesus doesn't really preach about geo-stewardship we can't ignore the beginning of the Gospel of John. There it is clear that it was through Jesus that all of creation was created (Jn. 1:3, 10). If it was Jesus who created the world and called it "very good" (or was it Jesus who created and the Father who proclaimed it "very good"? Either way I don't know that it makes any difference) then that says something about Jesus' opinion of the created world.

Now, the other aspect is that Jesus had a very specific mission. He says, Himself, that His mission was to the people of Israel (Mt. 15:24, etc) and not to the gentiles. It is only when He gives His disciples "the Great Commission" that Jesus really opens wide the doors for Christian witness.

And this brings us to "the Great Commision" in the Gospel of Mark; Mark 16:15 (ESV):
"And he said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation..."

I find this really interesting because the word for "creation" here is "ktisis" which Mounce defines in his dictionary as "...that which God has created... encompass[ing] both inanimate creation and animate creatures such as people."

Throughout history people have taken this to mean all sorts of different things. Francis of Assisi, for example, took this very literally and actually preached to animals! I think that might be taking it a bit far... :)

Now, this ties into some of the ideas from my previous series of posts which were asking, what is "the gospel?" I believe that prior to Paul's diverse usage of euangelion the biographers of Jesus (particularly Matthew & especially Mark) view the gospel as being a proclamation that Jesus is the rightful King of everything. If we hold this to be true (...if...) then this fits perfectly with Mark's account of the Great Commission. In other words, we might be able to paraphrase Mark as having Jesus say something like, "proclaim my rightful Reign and Rule over this world to all of creation (inanimate and animate)."

So, throughout the Gospels we see Jesus exercise His authority over creation through a variety of miracles and then upon His ascension He commands His followers to continue to proclaim that authority.

[** again, let me make it clear that this is also, even primarily, meaning that we are to proclaim the Kingdom of God to PEOPLE. This is not either/or. We are to make disciples and you can't really make trees disciples that I am aware of :) **]

So, what might it mean for us to proclaim that "Jesus is Lord over all creation" (which includes the earth, plants, and animals) to all creation?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

All Creatures... Pt 4

So this week we're going to continue flying through our survey of how the scriptures speak of how we need to live in relation to God's creation and how creation lives in relation to us. This post will cover the wisdom, poetry, and prophecy books. Later this week I'll get to the crux of it all, Jesus (get it? crux! I'm so funny :).

Obviously, when we think of the Bible and wisdom we often think of Solomon.

There are at least two passages where Solomon addresses the natural world. Both of these have been mentioned either in previous posts or comments so I will simply cite them here (1Kg.4:29-34; Ecc.3:19). In 1 Kings this passage says that the wisdom that God gave Solomon included trees, beasts, birds, reptiles, and fish. If this is a part of God-given wisdom, is it fair to say that God fully endorses an intimate knowledge of the created world?

There are also some interesting statements in the book of Job. In chapter 5 it is said of the one who is blessed and reproved by God: "At destruction and famine you shall laugh, and none shall fear the beasts of the earth. For you shall be in league with the stones of the field, and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with you" (vs. 22, 23 ESV). Hmm. The blessing and discipline of God leads to unity with creation?

But there's another theme that comes out of Job:

Job 12:7-10 (ESV) "But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.

Job 35:11 (ESV) "who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds of the heavens?"

It turns out that wisdom is a two way street; the wise human will have great knowledge of the natural world... and at the same time some of that wisdom comes from the natural world (ie. from God through nature).

[In what ways is our wisdom shaped by our relationship with creation?]

But we run into some great eschatological stuff when we hit Isaiah. Like this Messianic prophecy:

Isaiah 11:5-9 (ESV) Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins. The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

Under the righteous rule of the Messiah, all of creation is united (also see Is. 35; 43:19-21; 65:17-25). {and as an additional aside: notice that this doesn't happen in heaven this is on earth; again, see Is.65 & Rev 21}

[Acknowledging that this can only be accomplished in its fullness with the return of Christ: if we are followers of Christ and this is what His dominion looks like, should we not be striving for this? Why/why not? And if so, in what ways?]

In these books there is also evident the same theme that we've talked about before, where nature is bound up with the covenant obedience/disobedience of God's people.

Jeremiah 12:4 (ESV) How long will the land mourn and the grass of every field wither? For the evil of those who dwell in it the beasts and the birds are swept away, because they said, "He will not see our latter end."

The land suffers because of the evil of mankind.

Hosea 4:1-3 (ESV) Hear the word of the Lord, O children of Israel, for the Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land; there is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed. Therefore the land mourns, and all who dwell in it languish, and also the beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens, and even the fish of the sea are taken away.

All of nature feels the consequences of mankind's lack of faithfulness, love, and knowledge of God.

[Do we see nature reaping the consequences of our obedience/disobedience today?]

But it's not all death and despair! There is hope!!

Joel 2:21-22 (ESV) "Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things! Fear not, you beasts of the field, for the pastures of the wilderness are green; the tree bears its fruit; the fig tree and vine give their full yield.

So, what do you make of all this?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

All Creatures... Pt 3

In this post we are continuing in our discussion of how we as Christians should be interacting with God's creation. We all understand that "the Earth is the LORD's, and everything in it" (Ps. 24:1, 50:12; 1Cor.10:26). And yet, at the same time, God has given humanity the authority and responsibility to rule over His creation (Gen.1 & 9).

We usually call this principle "stewardship", and in the specific stewardship relationship we have with creation I have called this "geo-stewardship."

What does this look like?
How is this similar/dissimilar to the contemporary, secular "environmentalist" movement?

Today we look at the Mosaic Law.

I'm going to start with the covenant that God makes with Moses and the people of Israel. I'm starting here because in my last post we saw how God included creation in His covenant with Noah. In the Mosaic Covenant we see the same thing. Creation both participates and acts as a witness to the covenant:

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (ESV) "I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them." (also see 4:26 & 31:28)

[What does it mean that creation is a witness to our Covenant relationship with God?]

And in Leviticus 26 we see that creation is involved in carrying out both the blessings of obedience to the covenant (vs. 6) and the curses of disobedience (vs. 22).

Creation itself is both a witness and an agent in God's covenant with His people.

But creation is also a participant in the covenant! We see this most readily in the Sabbath and Jubilee laws. I will include only one here due to length:

Leviticus 25:1-7 (ESV) "The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, "Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you, the land shall keep a Sabbath to the Lord. For six years you shall sow your field, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its fruits, but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the Lord. You shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. You shall not reap what grows of itself in your harvest, or gather the grapes of your undressed vine. It shall be a year of solemn rest for the land. The Sabbath of the land shall provide food for you, for yourself and for your male and female slaves and for your hired servant and the sojourner who lives with you, and for your cattle and for the wild animals that are in your land: all its yield shall be for food" (see also: 26:34-35, etc).

The land observes a Sabbath to the Lord? Interesting. Not only that, but the fruits of the Sabbath year go to the benefit of all creation: Jew & gentile, slave & free, male & female (yes I am intentionally using the language of Gal.3:28), mankind & animal.

In the OT Law, where there is Sabbath there is a reuniting of all of creation; a reminder of what Eden was like and a foreshadowing of New Creation to come!

[In our world today what might this Sabbath unity look like?]

But some of my favourite "eco-verses" :) in the Torah are the ones that provide minute detail:

Deuteronomy 22:6-7 (ESV) "If you come across a bird's nest in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs and the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young. You shall let the mother go, but the young you may take for yourself, that it may go well with you, and that you may live long."

In the hunting world we call principles like this "conservation." Notice that the Israelite's "wellness" is at least partially dependent upon conservation.

And it's not just talking about animals either:

Deuteronomy 20:19 (ESV) "When you besiege a city for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them. You may eat from them, but you shall not cut them down. Are the trees in the field human, that they should be besieged by you?"

Wow! Don't you just love that last statement?!

So, what do you think?
How do all of these pieces come together so far?
How might we apply these principles in today's world?

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