Archives For November 2015

March Of The Eschaton

November 30, 2015 — 4 Comments

 

March of the Eschaton With FrameI spent a few days experimenting with an electronic sound. All this was worked out on the guitar first. Afterwards I mixed the tune and ended up with this rather cool sounding 3min tune.

In theological circles, the word eschaton  ‘means doctrine of the “last things – in the last days.” It’s definition is fairly broad, but is at times restricted to pertaining to all things do with the final age. It can also relate to the completion of a cycle’ (EDT, p.386)

As always, constructive feedback is always welcome.

SoundCloud: {linkage}

YouTube:


Source:

Elwell, W.A. 1994 EDT: Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Baker Academic

IMG_5720Jesus’ stated, ‘…you will be hated by all for my name’s sake.’ (Matthew.10:22; Mark 13:13).

Not hated because we reflect the light, but because, although, we were ‘at one time darkness, we are now, light in the Lord.’ (Paul, to the Church in Ephesus, 5:8). Therefore, we ‘walk as children of the light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.’ (Eph.5:11).

It’s where this:

‘A summer’s sun, even when beclouded, yields more comfort and warmth to the earth than a winter’s sun that shines brightest.’
(Charles Spurgeon, FPG)

Reminds me of G.K Chesterton’s,

“the moon gives off light, but not life. It is a cold, morbid light. It is light without heat ; a secondary light, only a dim reflection from a dead world.” (Orthodoxy, p.18 paraphrased)

From there, Plato’s cave (The Republic, 360 BC) comes to mind. Three men. Prisoners, shackled in darkness since birth. Their only knowledge of life is obtained from flickers of light, reflecting shadows on the wall. Each image mesmerises them. Birthed into deception, they are stopped from noticing the bright light beaming in from the cave’s entrance. Until the chains are removed from one of the men, who then proceeds to move outside.  Believing shadows to be more real than the things he now sees, at first he is disoriented and confused – ‘looking straight at the light, brings pain to his eyes.’ (ibid, p.131). After some time passes the freed man begins to see the shadows for what they are, a counterfeit reality – only ‘the shadows of true existence; false notions’.

He returns to the cave to spread this news and free the others. Instead, he is met with violence, ridicule and aggression, because:

 ‘it was better not even to think of ascending [out of the cave]; and if any one tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, let them only catch the offender, and they would put him to death.’ (ibid, p.132)
Any one who has common sense will remember that the bewilderment of the eyes are of two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or from going into the light, which is true of the mind’s eye, quite as much as of the bodily eye.’ (ibid, p.133)

The pre-“Christendom” Christians, namely the disciple, John, point to a dichotomy between a spirit of truth and the spirit of error (deception); of combating this by ‘walking in love and truth’ (2 John.4), of ‘speaking truth in love’ (Paul, Eph.4:6).

In Christ, we are called [and called to be, what and who we already are in Christ] children of the light, not a morbid, ineffective, static, dim and cold, secondary light. When a light offends our eyes, we don’t turn the light off. We wait for our eyes to adjust and navigate from there.

Let Christ shine bright; walk the talk – ‘let us love not in word or talk but in deed and in truth’ (1 John.3:18), – taking into account prayer, wisdom and discernment – even if it means people are offended; or like the prisoners of Plato’s cave, in their state of happy ignorance, act out of their offended-ness accuse falsely, and ‘hate us without cause’ (John 15:18 –  16:1-3).

 


Sources:

Chesterton, G.K. 1901 Orthodoxy Relevant Books

Plato, The Republic

Spurgeon, C. 1883 Flowers From a Puritan’s Garden Funk & Wagnalls Publishers

Sagacity

November 23, 2015 — Leave a comment

SagacityI’ve spent about a week putting this together. I hadn’t intended on there being a designated theme, although I did have a sound in mind. The themed art and video sequencing came about because a static page didn’t seem to justify the instrumental. It meant creating more work for myself, but the end result seems to fit.

One good outcome is that I’ve acquired an appreciation for how much work is involved in creating and connecting a video to the music.

This said, the sequencing, I’m happy with, the artwork, though, warrants more time than I have at my disposal at the moment.

For now, it is what it is.The lead you hear is the best of about eight takes.

Jesus among other gods_Ravi Zacharias_Blogpost 15th Nov 2015 PicI’ve just completed Indian-born Canadian, Ravi Zacharias’ 2002, book, ‘Jesus Among Other Gods’.

It wasn’t what I was expecting. Initially, I anticipated there being more of an in-depth academic analysis of the history and differences between Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Western Ideological Progressivism and Christianity. Although an analysis exists, it’s often short. Because of this, at times, it seemed as though Zacharias was too brief and ended his discussions far too quickly.

This doesn’t hinder the potency of the text as a useful resource for deep thinkers. It’s full of take away points worthy of further consideration. His focus is squarely on presenting the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, and how that fact is a relevant challenge to the dominant philosophical and religious apparatus’ that permeate both East and West. Zacharias is aware of his audience and subject; presenting blunt, to-the-point facts and conclusions, drawn from experience and research.

For example:  ‘post-modernism best represents a mood (a potentially dangerous state-of-mind) where reason can be crushed under the weight of feeling.’[i]  It’s a good summary, buttressed by Zacharias’ own admission that

‘the difficulty [in writing the book] was not in knowing what to say, but in knowing what not to say. We are living in a time when sensitivities are at the surface, often vented with cutting words…Philosophically and morally, you can believe anything so long as you do not claim it to be true or a “better” way. Religiously you can hold to anything, so long as you do not bring Jesus Christ into it.’[ii]

Consider the well orchestrated neo-tolerant slogan, “religion of peace” vs. the popular rejection of those who authentically (read:humbly) follow the Prince of Peace (Isaiah’s prophetic reference for Jesus Christ – Is.9:6).We live in a fractured and noisy world, Zacharias, in his approach, seeks to move through it.

‘The denial of Christ has less to do with facts and more to do with the bent of what a person is prejudiced to conclude. After years of wrestling with such issues in academia, I have seen this proven time and again.’[iii]

The strength of ‘Jesus Among Other Gods’ is that it is succinct, well indexed and in parts, personal. Zacharias is thorough. Yet, his approach is simple. Jargon is clarified and not carried too far. What exists is an easy discussion on complex topics, close to the heart of someone who has a long history of experience sharing Christian faith and thought, in a mixture of sometimes hostile, cultural and ideological settings.

‘I  [at the age of 17, encountered Jesus Christ] amid the thunderous cries of a culture that has three hundred and thirty million deities.’[iv]

Zacharias makes well-informed assertions only someone raised in an Eastern culture can [v].  With that a unique challenge is placed before Western readers.

‘the concept of “many ways [to God]” was absorbed subliminally in my life as a youngster. I was conditioned into that way of thinking before I found out its smuggled prejudices. It took years to find out that the cry for openness is never what it purports to be. What the person means by saying, “You must be open to everything” is really, “You must be open to everything that I am open to, and anything that I disagree with, you must disagree with too.” Indian culture has that veneer of openness, but it is highly critical of anything that hints at a challenge to it. It is no accident that within that so-called tolerant culture was birthed the caste system. All-inclusive philosophies can only come at the cost of truth.’[vi]

If you’re looking for a strict fact-comparison dictionary of religions and Christianity, this isn’t it. If, on the other hand you’re looking for a good introduction, or to expand on the stark contrast between Jesus Christ and world religions, ‘Jesus Among Other Gods’ is a great place to start.


Notes:

Zacharias, R. 2000 Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of The Christian Message,  Thomas Nelson

[i] Located in the introduction

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] p.50

[iv] p.6

[v] See page 27: ‘I made the assertion earlier that in the East, the home is the defining cultural indicator. Everything that determines who you are and what your future bodes is tied into your heritage and your social standing. Absolutely everything.’

[vi] p.7

OzMikeThe latter part of 2015 is shaping up  to make it a big year for new music. October 16th, saw Stryper release their new album, ‘Fallen.’

Alongside Guardian, listening to any new content of theirs is like sitting down in earnest to hear new stories from old friends.

Both bands top the list of hard-rock musicians who aren’t concerned about the potential negative impacts that sharing their Christian faith and thought, through their music, might have on their popularity. While numbers are important to the business, these guys rock for the love of it, they also just happen to infuse their art with the Christian faith and thought that empowers it.

Stryper hold a special place in my twenty-year old, CD & Vinyl music collection. In the late 1990’s, just trying to get a Stryper CD, let alone an LP, was difficult because they were rare and expensive. Due perhaps to Stryper’s decade long hiatus.

The band has it’s flaws and they know it. These only serve to show that Stryper is no studio produced C.C.M,  American evangelical “boy-band.” They are in the wilderness, doing what they can with the grace afforded to them. What every new Stryper album in the past decade has proven time and time again is that Robert, Michael, Oz, and Tim  know how to communicate their talent with humility.

The guitars and vocals are edgier, but it would be a mistake to consider this Stryper v.2.0. Dropping some of the hyper-staged theatrics from the 80’s glam-rock era, as a brand Stryper has matured, not aged.  Though, the yellow and black “spandex” is gone, the yellow and black guitars are not.  Risky move, but the decision appears to have paid off. Their fan base is still loyal and long. Showing that the band has earnt the respect that serious musicians who don’t take themselves too seriously, deserve.

In this new album, Stryper lift the bar on most of their previous albums,  ‘To Hell With The Devil’ is even outshone by the lyrical depth and harmonies of ‘Yahweh’. Highlights include ‘Big Screen Lies’, ‘Yahweh’, ‘Let There Be Light’, and the brilliant riff that coincides with Sweet’s vocals on, ‘Pride‘.

Like their success and the flawed journey through it, Stryper still stand as examples of how Christians can be ‘in the world, but not of it.’ They walk the fine line between fitting in and standing out. As Christians they remain ambassadors for contextual mission to the younger generation; a balanced movement that reaches out in a real way, with the zeal of a sinner-saved-by-grace, over-against the self-righteous and self-important fanaticism of the Pharisee.

In the end, what ‘Fallen’ does as an album is prove that Stryper can still rock.


Source:

Image: featuring guitarists and lead vocalist Oz Fox & Michael Sweet

Official: Stryper.com

Stryper, 2015 ‘Yahweh’ from the album, ‘Fallen’

Review: Prayer, Karl Barth

November 1, 2015 — 1 Comment

Prayer_BarthKarl Barth’s, 1949 treatise on The Lord’s Prayer is like a series of exegetical notes placed together in readable format. The text takes the form of a conversational commentary. His thought is lit up by a consistent effort to place everything squarely at the feet of Jesus, ‘the Victor’; it is through and by Christ that we can pray with the certainty that our prayer is heard. Even within the sphere of human limitations we are given the grace and permission to pray. Barth’s main point is that because of this grace; this permission to pray, we therefore, must pray.

‘Faith is not something we carry about in our pockets as a rightful possession. God says to me, “Put your trust in me; believe in me.” And I go forward, I believe; but while going forward, I say, “Come to the help of my unbelief.” (p.10)

Barth infuses the topic of prayer, with prayer. Adding to this conversational tone Barth makes no clear mark for when the prose ends and the prayers begin. They overlap. Each prayer catches the reader by surprise; each prayer an important part of the treatise. (See pp. 34, 39, 42-43, 51, 56-58 & 63-64)

The infiltration is inadvertently deliberate. In ‘Prayer’ we encounter, Karl Barth the Pastor. He gives of himself in a pastoral capacity. Being weary and sometimes critical of showmanship, it’s not a common thing to find Barth putting prayer into academic writing in this way. It’s not common to find a theological text of Barth’s filled with such passionate appeals, which also function as pauses, intermingled with the text.

As much as they are for the Church to God, these prayers are personal. They represent a vulnerable Barth standing by real convictions. Though the early theological conclusions and post-war historical context show a work-in-progress, this picture of Barth’s hermeneutics illustrates both Pastor and Professor at his best.

‘Prayer must be an act of affection; it is more than a question of using the lips, for God asks the allegiance of our hearts.’ (p.19)

‘Prayer’ contains some of Barth’s most memorable stand alone statements. Lingering take away points abound.

These include,

  • ‘A sad and gloomy church is not the church!’ (p.37)
  • ‘May we pray that the Bible will not cease to hold our attention. May the Bible not begin to make us yawn, and thy word, in all its parts not become a boring matter in our minds and in our mouths; may it not become a bad sermon, a bad catechism, a bad theology.’ (p.34)
  • ‘The Kingdom of God is the final victory over sin.’ (p.35)
  • ‘We participate in His cause even as He participates in ours.’ (p.43)
  • ‘The most certain element of our prayer is not our requests, but what comes from God: His response.’ (p.66)
  • ‘Forgiveness is already given, and this is the reality by which we live… thou hast severed us from the past. In Jesus Christ thou hast made me a new creature.’ (pp. 56-57)
  • ‘The pardon of God enables forgiveness…To know how to forgive is not a merit, a moral effort, or a sort of virtue…Let us not settle down to enjoy the offense done to us; let us not nurse our grudges with pleasure. Rather, let us retain some humor with respect to our offenders. Let us have toward others this small impulse of forgiveness, of freedom.’ (p.55)
  • ‘Prayer must take the place of anxiety.’ (p.50)
  • ‘We are confronted by an accomplishment which is infinitely beyond our possibilities’ (p.36)
  • ‘God’s patience is a gift’ (p.51)

In ‘Prayer’, Barth notes, the consequence of grace is grounded in the revelation of Jesus the Christ. This is an intentional reversal of the consequence of sin. One provoked in humanity by an ‘evil that preoccupies us and causes us anxiety with it’s sly and insidious power.’ (pp.61-62).

This is the impact of God’s incarnation: Human freedom is made free by God’s love and acted out of God’s freedom for our benefit. It is by the consequence of grace – the uniqueness of Jesus Christ – that ‘the sinister wickedness of the enemy is unmasked’ (p.62). It is through Jesus Christ that we are unchained; that humanity becomes fully human; that we get to see again. Even for those who do not see it, ‘such a light already shines on them; grace has already embraced them’ (C.D IV:4, p.181). Because of Jesus Christ we pray; humanity is called to respond, called to become fully human through acknowledgement (faith) and participation (word, deed and attitude) with, for and in Him.

‘In Jesus Christ the human being is revealed. In him it becomes the creature par excellence, which cannot be, which cannot exist, or which cannot act alone…as soon as we have understood Jesus Christ, we have understood our humanity, our nature, our function, which are inseparable from God.’ (p.28)

Included in this exposition of The Lord’s Prayer is a discussion on the eschaton (kingdom come) and evil. It is both illuminating and vibrant. In a matter of a few pages Barth comes close to summarising his entire eschatology, theodicy and theology of evil. For him the substance of absolute evil is nothingness. It is that which God did not will or create. It is the ‘infinite menace…that is opposed to God himself and has imposed itself on creation’ (p.60).

Importantly, Barth makes a distinction between the ‘work of the Evil One and, moral and physical trials’ – the latter involves minor temptation, the former, supreme temptation;

‘one must distinguish between the two, for here it is not a matter of an ordinary threat which might be clearly perceived and resisted. It is the menace that, for the creature, carries with it not only a passing danger, a destruction of secondary importance, a momentary corruption, but total fall, ultimate extinction.’ (p.60)

Of  importance is the conclusion this follows: ‘because there is no humankind without God, atheism is a ridiculous invention.’ (p.29) Atheism is not just a rejection of the God hypothesis; it is ultimately the negation of creaturely existence; the supreme temptation of self-annulment. In short, humanity by itself is nothing. But, in Christ, God  affirms humanity. He has communicated Himself to the world. Given us hope; a cause and reason to pray.

 ‘God causes himself to be seen, because ‘the world cannot reveal God; it is God who knows how to speak of God. [and He has done so, freely and willingly]’ (quoting Blasé Pascal, pp.31-32)

Barth asserts that ‘in Jesus Christ the world has reached its end and its purpose.’ Expanding on his statement in Church Dogmatics II:I p.274, he writes:

‘…in Jesus Christ, God reveals that, while being perfectly free and self-sufficient, He does not wish to be alone. He does not wish to act, exist, live, labor, work, strive, vanquish, reign, and triumph without the human race. God does not wish, then, for his cause to be his alone; he wishes it to be ours as well…He permits us to pray, he commands us to pray…He invites us to participate in his work.’
(pp. 26-27)

‘Prayer’ provides a glimpse of Karl Barth’s personal faith. Unpacking the Jesus Prayer and with a relaxed tone, he delivers a prose on prayer that reads like a conversational commentary. The conversation between Professor and reader is underpinned by the prayers of a Pastor leading his Church to the feet of Jesus, who is now and will always be, Victor. It is because of this that we are enabled; given permission to pray; permission to load our ‘baggage’ (p.66) onto the God, who hears, chooses to hear and though He may seem silent for a time, is also willing to respond.

 ‘Jesus Christ has vanquished and He invites us now to participate in His victory […] Prayer is not an undertaking left to chance, a trip into the blue. It must end as it has begun, with conviction: Yes, may it be so!’ (pp.46 & 66)

Source:

Barth, K. 1949 Prayer, 50th Anniversary Edition Westminster John Knox Press