Month: May 2011

rather instructive

While searching for something completely different, I found this article on ‘speaking in tongues‘ by Philip Mauro (1859-1952). The opening section provides a useful summary for how ‘tongues’ is best understood in the early portions of Acts. He raises a few points worth pondering in a serious fashion.

The second section is a bit brief, and I wish Mauro would have developed a couple of ideas further, but it is still worth considering. For me, the key point to recognise is the closing statement for that section, which becomes a segue for the third.

While I would contend that Paul’s argument includes chapter 13 (which Mauro does not [seem to] contend), Mauro’s comments here are rather instructive. My only question would be: is Mauro assigning the benefit of the miracle only to unbelieving Jews at Pentecost, thus making Paul’s Corinthian audience predominantly Jewish; or is Mauro using the state of unbelieving Jews at Pentecost as a specific example of the wider application of Paul’s argument (i.e. miracle of tongues is for the benefit of unbelieving Gentiles, too)?

The fourth section is about as simple as one could make it, while at the same time saying what needed to be said. Some could assert that the final paragraph is a bit forced, and in some ways I would agree with that.  However, I think Mauro’s overall point is valid (especially the last sentence).

The fifth section comes across rather abruptly and concludes in a similar fashion. I agree with the general substance of his argument (mainly because [I think] I know where he’s going with it), but I think he should have developed his case a bit more. My big concern in this section is the use of Mark 16.14-20, which might not originate from Jesus but most likely stems from an amalgamation of teachings, historical events and traditions inserted by a well-meaning scribe.* My only other concern is that his argument also takes on a kind of ad hominem tone; but then again, I may have misread how he stated things.

The final section is what leads me to read Mauro’s argument as a bit ad hominem. I do not agree with the idea that the teaching of which Mauro speaks ‘is one of the most dangerous of these last days’ (either Mauro’s or ours); there are teachings that are far more problematic and dangerous than tongues. However, I am sympathetic to the comparison of certain manifestations of the charismatic experience to various types of experiences found in spiritualism/mysticism outside of Christianity. (Go here for a video clip on this comparison, and go here for a brief take on some ‘charismatic’ experiences and hypnosis). I would only add that this potential point of overlap requires faithful and humble discernment on the part of Christians; not exercising this discernment has the potential of leading one into dangerous ideas/teachings.

What are your thoughts (on either Mauro’s argument or my response)?

* I realise in saying this without much more ado I am guilty of the previous criticism–i.e. stating a point and not developing it. My sincerest apologies.

early news from australia and new zealand

As suspected, Harold Camping’s 21-May prediction is wrong. The catastrophic events (specifically in New Zealand) that he predicted failed to occur; no descent of the Lord, no trumpets, no angelic shouts, no dead rising from the ground, no ‘rapture’ of the saints as–1Thess 4.16-17 states.* Nothing. Camping’s passionate, emphatic and grand predictions were simply that; there is not any truth to be found in them.

I noted earlier that this is not the first time that Camping has been premature (and wrong) in his end-time predictions.  I find it a tad intriguing that Camping’s previously failed prediction resulted from his (confessed) failure to read/consider Jeremiah. He claims that his revised prediction (i.e. the one that failed today) had stronger and more substantial support because of his reading Jeremiah. My intrigue is this. In reading through Jeremiah in order to bolster his false predictions, he would have come across this passage:

Then the Lord said to me, ‘The [false] prophets are prophesying falsehood my name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds. Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who are prophesying in my name, although it was not I who sent them–yet they keep saying, “There will be no sword or famine in this land”–by sword and famine those prophets shall meet their end’ (14.14-15)

While the specific circumstances of this passage and Camping’s are different (one predicting a time of peace and prosperity, the other predicting catastrophe), Camping must have seen the fundamental principle at work in this passage: don’t claim to speak for God, or a message (as though it is) from God when in reality God has not spoken; it doesn’t end well for those who do so. Camping’s failed prediction today places him in the category of a false prophet.

Thankfully, for Camping’s sake, the rules for what to do with false prophets don’t apply (i.e. stoning to death); but this ability to dodge rocks does not give him a pass to continue prophesying falsely. He needs to stop. He is performing a great disservice to the many he has duped and to the truth he claims to uphold, namely he is touting false beliefs based on faulty views of the Bible. As restitution, I think Camping should at least pay back all the people who cashed in their retirement accounts in order to promote his deception.

* Of course, we must read this passage in its larger context to know its primary focus/meaning.

leaping and jumping . . . but with a headache

I arrived back at the University shortly after 1.00pm, following a great catch-up chat with a friend, and did so with the hope of getting back to work. However, I felt something beginnnig to form behind my left eye, which usually doesn’t end well. While waiting to confirm my suspicions, I proceeded to the IT lab in order to retrieve some files from my old Uni-issued computer.*

During the 25 minutes it took for the old computer to boot up (and that’s not exaggerating) and the extra 10 minutes to move from the log-in screen to the usable desktop, the pressure in my head increased. I knew then that today was screwed. So after retrieving some of my files,** I made my way to the library to drop off a book before getting my things from the office and journeying home.

On my way out of the library, I made a quick pit-stop at the collection of books for sale–just to look. However, my ‘just looking’ frame of mind quickly turned to ‘have to have’ when I saw two gems. First: Luke Timothy Johnson, The Acts of the Apostles (SP 5; 1992). Second: G.K. Chesterton, What’s Wrong with the World (1910)–cue Ben Myer’s snickering. At the counter, I learn that there is a sale going on: buy one get one free. So both books: 50p.

Awesome result . . . but still have the headache, so I’m going home.

* We were graciously given newer (and better?) PCs a couple of weeks ago.
** I accidentally deleted some things I really needed and couldn’t figure out how to undo my mistake. The pain is too much at this point for me to care.


This cartoon by Dave Walker originally appeared in the Church Times.

(From here)

This brought back some memories for when I served as a Children’s Minister. In one of the churches where I served, we would have a monthly three-part meeting. From 8-9pm: ministers and their respective ministry teams. I was fortunate enough to have a hard-working and eager-to-serve team and an enthusiastically supportive elder,* which made the meeting quick and easy.

Then from 9-10pm: ministers and leaders of other ministries in the church (e.g. outreach/missions, grounds, maintenance, finance). In the first half of this time-slot, the ministers would recap what was discussed in the previous hour. The remaining time was given to ‘old’ and ‘new business’ from the other ministries (see examples above), so that everyone was up to speed on what everybody was doing or planning to do.

Finally, from 10-??pm: ministers and elders. Here the primary leadership of the church (i.e. no deacons) would discuss all of the ‘insider’ details and the future plans for church, both the individual ministries and the ministries as a whole. (At certain times in the year, these meetings would also be about selecting and approving new elders and deacons). Given that I came into this church after the start of a new building campaign, many of these meetings dealt with hopes, desires, needs and wants for the new building. Every time we would being the third and final part, I always suggested conducting the meeting standing up, primarily because things tend to go a lot faster when you’re not relaxed in a comfortable chair. But alas, my suggestion was never accepted and we typically discussed/debated things well into the night.

HT: Richard Hall

* Each ministry was ‘assigned’ an elder, who would oversee(!) things just to make sure the ministry was in line/supportive of the overall vision/mission of the church. While the elder’s role in these meetings was usually quiet, my assigned elder (Rick C.) was passionately involved because of his love for teaching children. I’m glad Rick didn’t remain quiet; he was a tremendous help.

two random points

Point one: if you have about 5 minutes to waste (and I mean completely waste), then hop on over and give this a read. While the 5 minutes I lost will never be returned, and while I wish I spent that 5 minutes doing something else; I have to say that this article made me laugh, which nearly makes up for the loss and the wish.

Point two: on my way to write this post, I stumbled upon a spam comment that I could not resist sharing:

The comment was attached to this post, which was a follow-up to this post. I’m struggling to see how this comment has anything to do with my post. Nice try, though.