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.