Monday, 23 April 2007

Sheer poetry

You've found my site,
so cool and funky,
hosted my me,
a theological monkey.
"The sky's the limit"
is what they'll say,
'cos every monkey's
gotta have his day.
*Oh yeah!

*This is the blog that
broke the mold
all the rest are
scabby and old.
*Oh right!

Blue sky thinking,
that's the way to go.
Just take a glance
at my manifesto.


Don't disagree,
it makes me grumpy.
I'm always right,
an infallible monkey.
D'you hear?
So take a look round,
read and weep.
The blogging monkey,
he 'aint no geek.
*Let's freak!

Friday, 20 April 2007

Banner of Truth Minister's Conference

From Monday 23rd April, I'll be away at the Banner of Truth Trust's Minister's Conference in Leicester. Check out the Exiled Preacher's blog for the lowdown here.

Ten proposals for being a pastor-theologian

This is a guest post by my great friend Jake Coolicus.
1. You cannot be a pastor without being a theologian. If you think you can, you're a poor pastor and a rubbish theologian.
2. You can be theologian without being a pastor, but if your theology is of no use to pastors, give up.
3. A pastor who thinks that he can do without theology is like a fish who despises water.
4. The aim of the pastor-theologian is not to study so much that his sermons are very clever but incomprehensible. The aim is to immerse the people of God in the clear depths of the Word.
5. If all a pastor reads is the stuff he needs for sermon prep, he will dry up and blow away.
6. Preaching is not warmed over precious thoughts with some funny illustrations thrown in, it is theology on fire.
7. If you haven't yet read Kevin Vanhoozer's The Drama of Doctrine, then you are a slacker and you should be ashamed of yourself.
8. If you haven't even heard of the above book and you think that reading Louis Berkhof is the way to keep up-to-date, then you are a very sad man.
9. Read books that will stretch your mind and stir your soul, not just to get sermon stories.
10. If you have read down to this point then you need to get a life. Go and read something deep and doxological like The Holy Trinity by Robert Letham.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Exiled Preacher interview

I've made such a splash in the world of theo-blogs that the great Exiled Preacher has given me a special Blogging in the name of the Lord interview (first series here). Some people have been waiting for years to sit in the hot seat. I've only been at this blogging lark for a week and I'm already getting noticed. This means that I'm right up there with blogging Leviathans Byron Smith and Michael Jensen (son of Abp). See here for our little chat.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

What's it all about? The New Perspective on Paul

N. T Wright
The so-called new perspective on Paul (NPP) is based on the assumption that Protestants have misunderstood Paul's teaching on justification. Scholars associated with this revisionist stance include E. P. Saunders, J. G. D. Dunn and N.T. Wright. All NPP proponents are usually named using their initials.
Reformers and Revisionists
The Reformers, in their simplicity used to think that 1st century Jews believed in salvation by works just like 16th century Roman Catholics. Saunders challenged that view by saying that "Second Temple" Jews believed that they were saved by God's gracious election. They may have taught that they had to "stay in" the covenant relationship by works, but they "got in" by grace.
When Paul wrote that we are saved by faith in Christ not by the works of thew law, he was not condemning legalism. He was saying that faith in Christ is that badge that now identifies us as the people of God, not the works of the law like circumcision under the old covenant. Justification by faith, then is about the question, "Who are the people of God?" The answer is, "Jews and Gentiles whom confess Jesus Christ as Lord." Jews who insisted that Gentiles get circumcised and obey the law to be "proper" Christians were being nationalistic rather than legalistic.
Can the NPP be justified?
The Reformers understood that justification is God's declaration that we a right with him on the basis of the obedience and sacrifice of Christ. For them, faith is not a "badge", but the empty hand that lays hold of the righteousness of Christ. In that case, justification is a legal category. It is the opposite of condemnation. It concerns our status before God rather than our identity within the people of God. Strangely, this is exactly what Paul says in Romans 8:33 & 34, "It is God who justifies who is he who condemns?" [Emphasis added]
Second Temple Jews may have believed that they "got in" by grace, but if they had to "stay in" by works, then this is still salvation by works. It seems that in terms of getting through the judgement of God into eternal bliss, many believed that they had to "get there" by their works. NPP scholars like N. T. Wright teach that final justification is on the basis of the whole life of faith, including works.
Paul's pespective on Paul
Paul's great argument in Romans 1-3 is that "by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified in his sight, for the works of the law were the badge of membership under the old covenant." Not really, the text says that we cannot be justified by the works of the law because "by the law is the knowledge of sin." (Romans 3:20). We have broken God's law. We are guilty before him (Romans 3:19). We cannot bring ourselves into a right relationship with God because we stand condemned as sinners. God justifies us on the basis on the atoning work of Christ (Romans 3:24 & 25). We are declared to be in the right with God because Christ has redeemed us. Justification is primarily about our standing before God, not our membership of his people. It is true that justified sinners are God's people, but justification by faith is not a "Jesus is Lord" badge. How could such a badge help us before the bar of God's judgement?

Monday, 16 April 2007

Linking policy

If you leave a comment, or I refer to your blog, I'll add you to my link list. You will be categorised as either Sound as a Bell or Wobbly and Dodgy, but don't take it personally.

What's it all about? Karl Barth

It seems that 20th century Swiss theologian, Karl Barth is all the rage at the moment. Ben Myres at Faith & Theology devotes every other post to something Barthian. So, you might be wondering, what's the fuss all about? Don't worry, you won't have to plough through the massive 4 volume Church Dogmatics to find out - David Sky will give you the low down.

This is important. You have not pronounced his name correctly if you make it rhyme with "laugh". Barth rhymes with "art" or "cart".
Barth (1886-1968) taught theology at a number of German universities, Gottingen, Munster, and Bonn. In the 1930's he opposed Hitler and was dismissed from his post. He returned to Switzerland and taught for the remainder of his career in Basel. In 1919 Barth published his seminal commentary on Romans, where he emphasised the "Godness of God". His major literary work was his massive, four volume Church Dogmatics.
Barth scandalised his admirers by conducting a long term affair with his assistant, Charlotte ("Lollo") von Kirschbaum. He would take "Lollo" on holiday with him, leaving his poor, long suffering wife at home.

Barth reacted against the liberal theology of the likes of Bultmann and found inspiration in the teaching of John Calvin. But Barth's dislike of the historico-critical method of exegesis left him seeming to be ambiguous about the historical basis of Scriptural events. Barth emphasised the revelatory character of events like the resurrection of Christ. At least in his earlier writings, he wasn't so sure about the historicity of the empty tomb.
Barth saw Scripture as a witness to the revelation of God rather than the inscripturated revelation of God in itself. He held that the Bible may become the Word of God to us in a revelatory event, but that Scripture was not the Word of God written. Barth so emphasised Jesus Christ as the revelation of God that he seems to have forgotten that we cannot know Christ apart from the witness of Scripture.
He was ambiguous about using the term "Person" to describe the three in the Trinity. Barth preferred to speak of "modes" within the godhead. He may not be charged with fully blown modalism, but the spectre of unipersonality cannot be entirely avoided. His model of the trinity is God as "revealer, revelation and revealdness". Again, this leaves us doubtful regarding the distinct Personhood of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Barth reformulated Calvin's doctrine of election to teach that God elects himself to save humanity in Christ. This leaves him open to the charge of universalism. If God has chosen to be the Saviour of all humanity in Christ, it is difficult to explain how all will not be saved. Barth's followers battle amongst themselves as to whether or not he was a universalist.
Christ assumed a fallen humanity when he became Man according to Barth. If "fallen" means anything, it means sinful. At the fall, humanity entered a state of sinful rebellion against God. What does this say about the union of the divine and human natures of Christ within the Person of the Son? Did the Son of God express himself through sinful humanity? If Jesus assumed a sinful humanity, he is part of the problem rather than the solution. He came in the likeness of sinful flesh. But we was without sin. He offered himself up without spot to God.

We may be able to learn certain valuable lessons from Karl Barth. But remember, Barth does not rhyme with laugh because his theology contains some seriously bad errors.

Saturday, 14 April 2007

Pet monkey the movie

Someone once asked if the monkey in my picture is me. Cheek! My pet monkey is actually a movie star. Here is a clip of some of his best work.

Thursday, 12 April 2007

What's it all about? The Emerging Conversation

I realise that not everybody has the time and intelligence to keep up-to-date with what's going on in the Christian world. This is the first in a series called "What's it all about?" I will give a brief but accurate assessment of a trend that might be bothering people who are too dull or indolent to look these things up for themselves. I'm starting with that hot topic the Emerging Conversation.
Lots of different people are involved in this conversation. But neither they nor I know quite what it's all about. Emerging types believe that the best way to win the postmodern world (trendy eh?) is to copy the postmodern world. Bad stuff like absolutes have to go now that we have outgrown old Enlightenment epistemology (that's bad).
Emerging voices don't believe in gospel truths like penal substitution. They tend to say that Christ was offered as a ransom to Satan. This makes the cross much more acceptable to postmoderns who don't like the idea of sin and judgement.
Because Emergents view the Bible through postmodern lenses, they can't really tell you what it means. What matters is what the Bible means to you. Any attempt at responsible exegesis is viewed as manipulative power play.
So, now you know.

Site Meter report

So far, I've had 99 hits. That's an average of 40 a day. Not bad for a new boy. World domination will soon be mine. Ben Myres and Chris Tilling won't know what's hit them.

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Ten proposals for world peace

This is a guest post by my great friend Jake Coolicus.

1. World peace is a very good thing, so let's go for it!
2. Remember that Winston Churchill who said, "We'll fight them on the beaches, on the streets...we will never surrender." Also said, "Jaw jaw is better than war war."
3. My peace role models are Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Bono.
4. It's a myth that all Christian peaceniks have beards and wear socks with sandals.
5. Music can be a catalyst for peace, "All we are singing is give peace a chance".
6. Shalom is the Hebrew for peace.
7. Just because I'm a man of peace, doesn't mean that I don't get stroppy, so don't push me.
8. The United Nations should be allowed to rule the world and make the warmongers beat their Kalashnikov's into ploughshares.
9. Love and peace or else.
10. If all this peace stuff doesn't work on your enemies, just nuke 'em.


Jake wants everyone to know that he is not the same person as David Sky and that he could have a blog of his own if he wanted to.

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

A blogging manifesto

This is where I set out the principles, aims and values that will guide my blogging. This, readers is my personal mission statement:
1. This blog will chart my spiritual journey. I hope Sky's the Limit will be to blogging what Augustine's Confessions was to books.
2. This blog will share the fruits of my theological learning. Calvin had his Institutes. For me, the Sky's the Limit.
3. This blog will pass judgement on the state of the Christian world today. I hope that this journal will be a forum for world-wide reform.
4. This blog will encourage intelligent and wise debate. Come on, you bloggers log on and let's get thinking.
5. This blog will be fun. I don't want to take myself too seriously. Stay tuned and you'll soon find that I have a great sense of humour.
6. This blog will reflect my wide interests in the world of music, culture and literature. Posts on everything from Bruckner to Blur, from Hardy to Herodotus, will fascinate and educate my readers.
7. This blog will consider reciprocating links with other worthy bloggers.
8. This blog will be bigger than Faith and Thelogy.
9. All my blogging will be carried out in a charitable spirit, upholding the highest scholarly standards.
10. If you think that I have fallen below my principles, please hold me to account.

A new blog!

Hi there,

I just know that this blog is what you've all been waiting for. I've got views and opinions and I'm not afraid to use them. It's about time that someone shook up the theology blogosphere and David Sky is the man to do it. For me the sky really is the limit. This blog will generate the most attention grabbing discussions in blog-land. There will be lots of heated debate here. Be brave and join in. But be warned, I'm pretty sharp! So, if you disagree with me, prepare for a mighty battle of minds.
I can't wait to get going with some proper posts over the next few days. Stay tuned for the next big thing in blogging.
David Sky