The Greatest Story Now Rarely Told (3)

4-2013In the evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

Now Thomas, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So The other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.”

But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

Eight days later the disciples were again inside, and this time Thomas was with them. Jesus appeared among them even though the doors were shut, “Peace to you!” He said to them all and then to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”

And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

And  Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written down but these details are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name

The Greatest Story Now Rarely Told (2)

On the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the door-stone had been taken away from the tomb. She ran and came to Simon Peter, and to John, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

Simon Peter and John ran together, and came to the tomb. And John, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there. Simon Peter followed him, went into the tomb, and he also saw the linen cloths lying there and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself.

risenAs yet they did not know the Scripture, that Jesus must rise again from the dead so the disciples went away to their own homes.

But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.

He said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him “Teacher!” Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.”

Mary Magdalene did as Jesus said and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.

The Greatest Story Now Rarely Told (1)

golgothaBearing His cross, He was taken to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified Him

Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. It said: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.

The soldiers took His garments and shared them up as spoil but his tunic was seamless, woven from the top in one piece. So they decided, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots to decide whose it shall be,” and the Scripture was fulfilled which says: “They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.”

After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, said, “I thirst!” and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. When He had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

One of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out,fulfilling what scripture said: “They shall look on Him whom they pierced.”

After this, Joseph of Arimathea, a disciple of Jesus, asked Pilate that he might take away Jesus’ body; and Pilate gave him permission. So he took the body of Jesus and bound it in strips of linen with spices according to the burial customs of the Jews. In the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new, unused tomb and they laid Jesus’ body there.

Painted Myself into a Corner!

I’ve written nothing about my paintings for quite a while. That’s because I’ve spent very little time in the studio recently.

It’s easy for me to fall into the same kind of habits I had when I was writing fiction – but instead of continually trying to perfect the first sentence (and thereby never write a second), I started reworking the same little part of a painting, and in the process lost direction.

At first the painting was entirely abstract, but with a little imagination I could see a potential face emerging. So I tweaked the face-like section until it became a face. But then how did it fit into the rest of the painting? Something else had to be added/changed – and then something else…

Ironically I’ve now painted over that original face because it no longer seemed to fit those latter changes. While there are parts I still like, overall I’ve painted an incoherent collection of marks and images.

Can anything be salvaged?

I’m not sure.

Description or Definition? :Terminology’s Effect on Theology

(Edited/updated version of an article written 4 years ago for my old blog site.)

Description or Definition? :Terminology’s Effect on Theology

I have a particular aversion to non-biblical terminology being used to describe biblical beliefs. I think inevitably that such terminology will begin to DEFINE our beliefs instead of merely describe them.

Take the phrase “Total Depravity”.

To the Calvinist this means a total inability to respond to God prior to regeneration. It goes much further than merely describing man’s separation from God due to a sinful nature. The Arminian understands the term in a slightly different way, allowing the sinner to believe in God PRIOR to regeneration in response to the Holy Spirit’s conviction through the hearing of the gospel.

Personally I prefer to have man’s condition described as being: “bound over to disobedience” as per Romans 11. At least with the biblical definition there is a scriptural context revealing the reason for and the effect of man’s condition.

 Rom 11:32 “For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.”

This indicates that man’s condition is not intended to be a totally exclusive state for anyone – but its intention is to place ALL on a level playing field with God, so that ALL may have to opportunity to benefit from God’s mercy.

Therefore which description BEST describes man’s condition and God’s response to man’s condition? Total depravity or “bound over to disobedience”? Which (in context) leaves less room for ambiguity?

The word grace seems particularly vulnerable to the attachment of non-biblical adjectives. Some of these are the logical result of needing to make “grace” fit a pre-determined theology.

The sister theologies of Calvinism and Arminianism each has their favourite: the former promotes “irresistible grace” as one of its foundational doctrines and the other relies on “prevenient grace”. Both of these brands of grace are presented as the means of escaping man’s previously mentioned “total depravity”.  Then Calvinism and Arminianism both rely on “common grace” to explain why man’s “total depravity” isn’t quite as total as it could be.

A while ago I searched the scriptures to see how the bible described grace. From memory I found it described in one way: as “abundant” – in fact a closer definition would be “super abundant”: no sign of “irresistible”, “prevenient” “common” or even “amazing”.

Recently I wrote an article on this blog about the terms “inerrant” and “inerrancy” being applied to scripture. These again are non-biblical terms applied by man to fit scripture into a theological pigeonhole that projects certain inappropriate expectations onto scripture. Why do this when scripture provides more than enough descriptions of itself to perfectly establish its source, its authority and its nature?

Why have I brought up this issue with these examples? Because I think it matters! Because I think it’s a very serious issue.

Because, maybe, if we stick as closely as possible to biblical language to describe biblical concepts, we would be less likely to introduce so many of man’s assumptions into our doctrine: assumptions that arise from our chosen terminology rather than the text of scripture.

10th Anniversary of the second Bush Family Invasion of Iraq

Invasion ripped apart a nation, causing misery. Article by John Cantwell

From: The Daily Telegraph March 18

FEW events have been so surrounded by acrimony as the invasion of Iraq, 10 years ago tomorrow. In the lead-up to hostilities, claim and counter-claim about the justification for the war divided nations. US President George W. Bush led the charge for the pro-war side, supported by British PM Tony Blair and our own John Howard.

…the cost of the war was terrible. Trillions of dollars were spent. With rare exception the coalition troops fought bravely and honourably, but almost 4500 Americans were killed along with more than 300 non-US troops, mostly British. Australia suffered two non-battle fatalities.

Well over 34,000 coalition troops were wounded. At least 100,000 Iraqis died as a result of the war, possibly many more. A quarter of a million Iraqi civilians were injured. Millions were displaced. Ten years on, what are we to make of the invasion and occupation of Iraq?

complete article here:

The author, John Cantwell is a former Australian Army major-general who served in both Iraq wars and commanded Australian forces in Afghanistan in 2010.




What is freedom and how is it maintained?


Sick Irony



John 8: 31-36

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?”

Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.  And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever.  Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

Exhibition Opening

exhYesterday I went to the opening night of the art exhibition at the local town hall.

Paintings weren’t hung on the walls – they were all hung on moveable panels arranged around the main auditorium. But they didn’t have enough panels for all the paintings so they got “artistic” and set up easels, step ladders and anything else suitable for the display of art. It was very effective – much better than in the past at the usual gallery where the walls alone were used for paintings.

I found it easier to focus on individual pieces of work because there was more space between them. In the smaller gallery exhibitions, things tended to become a blur and it was easy to overlook a lot of it.

My five paintings were hung together on one of the panels. It thought that was much better than having them spread around in different places.  It helped me to see when people were taking time to look at my paintings instead of giving them a quick glance.

I was able to spend 15-20 minutes talking about my work with a woman who had tracked me down when I was at the other side of the hall. I told her how the paintings related to my faith in Jesus.

I don’t know whether my paintings and my talk made a difference. Hopefully a seed has been planted, but that’s now between her and the Holy Spirit.

She had been attracted to them because she found them to be “spiritual” – but her idea of spiritual seemed more related to new-age than new birth.  But she made it clear she thought the paintings were wonderful.

Overall it was an encouraging experience – and maybe I’ll go back later and find I have a red dot or two.

Biblical Inerrancy?

 I believe that scripture is the Holy Spirit inspired revelation that God has given to mankind of Himself and His purposes. But inerrant? What does that actually mean?

Inerrant is a theological word for which no one has ever been able to give me a convincing definition. The only person I’ve seen try said it means “authoritative”. I agree scripture is authoritative but I suspect the word “inerrant” means much more.

To me it seems to suggest “error free” – but THAT brings up a whole set of problems when different gospels give details of chronology that are sometimes contradictory. So which one is the “true”, error-free chronological account?

I’d say all are the truth – but none are necessarily “error-free” in their chronology. They are eyewitness accounts of what they heard and saw Jesus say and do – and as such display the characteristics of GENUINE eyewitness accounts affected by the perception and memory of the witness. To me that is evidence to their authenticity – if the accounts had been in 100% agreement it would have suggested the writers colluded to “get their story straight” before writing it down.

The usual claim about inerrancy is that scripture is “inerrant” in the original manuscripts. I suppose this proviso needed to be added when more and more translations were produced that had some differences from other translations – suggesting that translation has diluted the “inerrancy”.

The original manuscript claim has two main problems that I see:

1) We no longer have access to those originals so the claim can only be an assumption. No one in thousands of years has seen the “original manuscripts” to put them to the test. (And how would we test them anyway?)

2) Even if the original manuscripts can be accepted as “inerrant” we don’t have them to reference, so their inerrancy is of no use – we only have the later manuscripts that by inference are not as “inerrant” as the originals.

So what DOES inerrant mean and is the significance?

Are the “inerrancy” claims true? How does our understanding of “inerrancy” affect the way we read and understand scripture? How do Biblical inerrancy claims affect the way OTHERS (non-believers) perceive the Bible and the revelation given through sit? For example – when clear differences in accounts can be seen (as per gospels) doesn’t that provide them “ammunition” to discount other parts?

So who actually “wrote” scripture?

I don’t see scripture as being God’s “autobiography” where God is the writer through the use of human scribes. I see scripture more like an “authorised biography”, where men have been commissioned to write God’s “story” with God having final editorial control over the completed text.