Moved Mountains

Banner - Mt Trio, Stirling Range National Park, Western Australia - (c) 2007

Friday, February 29, 2008

Hermeneutics Quiz

Rick Meigs posted on this neat little quiz designed by Scot McKnight.

I scored a 59 making me a moderate - kinda where I thought I would have fit.

The main sway in the questions seemed to be between a "fundamentalist" literal understanding of scripture, a contextualised approach that takes into account the historical setting of the original author and recipients and a "liberal" stand that assumes little relevance in the text for modern readers.

My answers swung between all three depending on the questions.

Here's what Scot had to say about the "moderate" score:

The moderate hermeneutic might be seen as the voice of reason and open-mindedness. Moderates generally score between 53 to 65. Many are conservative on some issues and progressive on others. It intrigues that conservatives tend to be progressive on the same issues, while progressives tend to be conservative on the same issues. Nonetheless, moderates have a flexible hermeneutic that gives them the freedom to pick and choose on which issues they will be progressive or conservative. For that reason, moderates are more open to the charge of inconsistency. What impresses me most about moderates are the struggles they endure to render judgments on hermeneutical issues.
What did you score?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Discipleship in a Post-Literate Culture - Synchroblog

One of the most critical challenges facing Western Christianity today, particularly within evangelical/pentecostal circles, is the growing irrelevance of modernist (primarily acedemic) approaches to discipleship.

In a lot of ways the Missional Church is at the coalface when it comes to these issues - its willingness to critique, experiment and adjust are important attributes in facing the problem of making and growing disciples in a world where the absolutes of the church's former modernist approaches to Bible study and discipleship are fast losing relevance. Particularly when it comes to taking the gospel beyond the safe streets of the middleclasses.

So the critical question is, "how do you see discipleship taking place in the increasingly visceral world of the 21st century?"

What approaches have you used? How successful have they been or are we still so much in a state of flux that it's really not possible to say? How can we help each other as pioneers (within or without established churches) in coming to terms with and moving beyond the confines of our modernist past in the area of discipleship?

If you would like to join in this synchroblog please drop me a line or a comment and I will make sure to link back to you.

Here's something from Michael Frost to whet your appetite (Preaching in a Post-Literate Age):

  • The Bible is not a textbook (contrary to much evangelical dogma). It is an account of God's self-disclosure, the drama of a developing relationship between God and humankind;
  • Biblical truth is often best discovered and applied in Christian community in a spirit of mutuality;
  • Christ's truth cannot be fully grasped by mere cognitive processes. It must be discovered spiritually, experientially, emotionally, as well as cognitively;
  • People cannot be compartmentalised. They must be viewed holistically in relationship with one another;
  • God's starting point with us is our present need. In Scripture, we see God moving from life to truth, as his people discover more and more about him depending upon their life circumstances.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Propserity Doctrine - Part 2 (finally)

(c) Andrew Rigg 2007 - Rwandese farm boys

Way back in October 2006 I wrote part 1 of a post on this topic. I intended to follow it up but guess I just never got around to it. Til now at least.

I was confronted with the pure studpidity of this theology while in Africa again last May. Benny Hinn was following hot on my heels in Uganda, and as a result the locals were doing a lot of talking about him and his fellow prosperity preachers and the effect their way of doing things is having on Africa.

I have been bothered for a long time by the possible side effects of this theology on the poverty inflicted people of Africa - its a doctrine that basically says, if you are not receiving material blessings your faith is somehow difficient.

You don't need to be a Rhodes Scholar to guess at the kind of damage this take on things could do among incredibly poor communities.

I heard stories of large pentecostal churches where poor parishners were giving their homes, cars and money to pastors who were getting increasingly wealthier as a result - "obviously" a sign that God is on their side - while their church members just got poorer, and I don't doubt, very disillusioned with God because of his apparent lack of interest in their situation.

A South African friend of mine, Reggie, has posted on current investigations taking place in the US into the properity clan - Kenneth Copeland, Creflo ollar, Joyce Myers etc. He also calls for similar action to be taken against Africa's prosperity clones.

While we have plenty who espouse this asinine, toxic, aberration, I am not aware of anyone of the calibre of the American prosperity-posse actually active in Australia. But if there is, I hope that similar action will be taken against them as well.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A community called atonement

The new Scot McKnight book, A community called atonement, which I've had on order for a couple of weeks has finally arrived today.

I've been hanging out to read it.

I heard Tony Jones speaking about the atonement and the complexity of views (other than simply that of penal substitution) that exit around this momentus, historical act of Jesus and was facinated by this new (to me) perspective on the subject. Until very recently the penal substitionary view was the only view I was aware of.

I know it has been a little controversial with several names going to town on the "emerging/emergent" commentary on the topic - D.A. Carson to name one, John McArthur another. From what I have read and heard since first coming across the Carson/McArthur criticisms, I think they are probably rather narrow and their recounting of the view of the emerging church on this topic not truely representative.

I heard another Tony Jones interview on this (and other topics) with a very conservative talk radio host a couple of months ago and was really disturbed by the way the host refused to hear what Jones was trying to say, and then, in a live interview with a critic of Emergent proceeded to further twist his words. Really bad form. I can't find the link to the podcast but if anyone would like to listen to it I can send it to you - my email address is in my profile.

Anyway, I've digressed. I'm hanging out to start the book and will try and post some of my thoughts as I read it.

New Nooma video on Facebook

There's a new Rob Bell Nooma video posted on Facebook - it's called "Open" and is viewable for 48 hours only! After that you'll have to buy it if you want to see it.

Good stuff.

Oh, and you have to be a member of Facebook to see it - make sure you add me as a "Friend" when you sign up - Look for Andrew Rigg in Australia.

Jim Wallis on the origin of the alter call ...

... and other things.

Helen over at Conversations at the Edge posted some notes from a Jim Wallis (from Sojourners community) talk she attended last night.

Wallis is a fairly prominent American Christian social activist, author and promoter of interfaith dialogue.

According to Helen, Wallis talked about the declining dominance of the "religous right" in the American political scene; the involvement of Christian's in all major (if not exclusively) social reform movements; the alter call originating in the anti-slavery movement as a way of signing people up for the cause; and, my favourite - a retelling of a time Tony Campolo, Michael Lerner (a Jew) and he were arrested at a protest and ended up in jail together where Campolo and Lerner began a very ernest discussion of christology. Wallis commented that "I think that’s the way to discuss theology - join together in social justice, get arrested and then talk about it in jail".

It's an interesting post. You can read the rest HERE!

Thanks to Helen for taking notes and sharing them around. :)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Another resolution

Seems I'm still making New Years resolutions!

I am going through an amazing period of personal growth at the moment. It seems like God keeps on bringing my unhealthy attitudes and ways of operating to light.

The latest is something I've been generally aware of for quite a long time (in fact a very long time) but it came into clear focus the other day.

Alyssa and I were talking about a book my mum gave us. It's called "Freedom from the grip of fear" (I'm not recommending it - I haven't read it yet and don't know that I will). I expressed my disdane - mum is always giving us these "self help" kind of books - and said that there really wasn't anything much I feared - except perhaps sharks while I'm surfing, but even then not enough to keep me out of the water!

Alyssa said she thought I feared rejection.

We talked about this for a while and I came to the conclusion that it wasn't so much that I feared rejection, but that in most situations I expect rejection.

  • I enter into many situations expecting that my actions will not be valued.
  • I enter into relationships expecting not to be liked or accepted and so am reluctant to expose too much of the "real me" to others.
  • I often need reassurance from those close to me that I'm "doing ok".
Recently I've had a couple of opportunities to work on the "realtionships" side of things. I have been in situations where in the past, I would have taken other people's actions as personal rejection and probably avoided the people concerned from that point on. Instead I've ignored my internal turmoil and made myself continue to engage with the others involved. In each case my "expectations" were unfounded.

Even if they hadn't been, I think going through the motions of trying to restore relationship (reconcilliation) would have been beneficial - at least on a personal level.

I don't know that I will ever find this easy - my background is one of loads of damaged trust and betrayal (I'm sure lots of people can relate to this), but I can see this is definitely an area in which I need to persevere and, hopefully, continue to grow.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Cor. 5:17-19


Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death. Ex. 31:15
How often does Sunday seem anything but the "day of rest" spoken of in the scritures?

In our household it is most often a day of flat-out action.

a) Church in the morning - getting the kids ready; making sure they are dressed; breakfasted; hair is brushed; teeth are brushed; they have some reading materials; Alyssa getting her children's Sunday School materials and activities together; me loading the car with video projector; laptop; making sure I have my bible; preaching notes.

b) Get to our place of meeting; set everything up; photocopy notes/hand outs/whatever; Alyssa sets up for Sunday School; we find a seat; participate in the service; pack up; try and talk to as many people as possible; keep packing up; have a cuppa; pack up some more; rush home.

c) Make lunch; clean up from breakfast; try and spend some time together as a family.

d) Afternoon meeting time; get the kids ready; get the projector and laptop and whatever else is needed together; final touches to preparation; make sure the kids have activities to keep themselves occupied; load the car; drive half an hour.

e) Get home on dark; get the kids into the shower; eat if we haven't already done so; get the kids to do their afternoon chores; get the kids into bed; exercise for an hour; try and catch up with Alyssa; go to bed; sleep.

That's a typical Sunday in the Rigg household. Unfortunately most other days of the week are the same. Throw in school, work, bible studies, youth group, leadership meetings etc. etc.

For the next 4 weeks things are going to be a little different. We are taking a church fast (my friend Glenn talks about fasting in this post). Actually, what we're really doing is making Sunday our day of rest.

Here's how today looked -

a) Stayed in bed until about 9am. Kids got up when they were ready and played and got breakfast for themselves when they felt like it.

b) Had a shower, checked my emails and then at around 9.45am we all sat down together in the lounge room. The kids lit a candle each and told us all about the symbolism. I told a story illustrating Ephesians 1:3-6 (adoption). The kids talked about the story and asked questions. We prayed and the kids asked if I could play the guitar and we could sing.

c) 10.20am I jumped in the car with the Luke and Ash and we went and checked out the surf. There was a little bit off the boat ramp. Went home and grabbed the rest of the family and my board and hit the beach.

d) Surfed (well actually just kinda bobbed around - there was nothing much by the time we got back as the wind had changed direction and turned everything to chop) and prayed for half an hour, then paddled in and sat on the beach and talked with Alyssa for another half an hour, the kids played and swam, we had a really relaxing time.

e) Jumped back in the car and went home to lunch feeling more relaxed and intune with God than I have on any Sunday (or any other day of the week) for a very long time - Alyssa said she felt the same.

This afternoon we have our Sunday arvo meeting (now only once a fortnight) but, both Alyssa and I agreed, it doesn't feel like a chore, simply because the start of the day hasn't been madness.

Alyssa and I both wondered as we drove home from the beach, whether God really intended us to do Sunday mornings as we have done for so long, or if he intended it to be more like it was for us today? Perhaps we should reintroduce the death penalty for working on the Sabbath! :)

Car smash crap 2 - A little sigh of relief

It seems someone at the insurance company stuffed up when they told me what my excess was going to be. We are actually looking at an excess of $250.00! This is a huge relief.

I am still maintaining my innocence and the claim is now progressing along the path of the insurers "dispute resolutions" procedure.

Stay tuned for more in this ongoing saga!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Car smash crap

Just before Christmas I was involved in a fairly minor car accident. A foreign tourist, driving a friends car, started to make a right hand turn from the middle of the road and, as I was overtaking her on the left hand side, changed her mind and turned straight into me collecting the whole right hand side of my car.

While no one was hurt the damage done to both cars was fairly substantial, at least from a financial perspective. Fortunately mine was still driveable - we live a 70km round trip from town where I work and the kids go to school so the vehicle is essential.

There were two wittnesses to the bingle, both of whom offered me support and reassured me that I was not in the wrong. The driver of the other car also apologised and admitted she had not "signalled" and that she wasn't sure where she was going. All admissions were made in the earshot of at least one of the two wittnesses.

Last week I got a call from my insurance company to say that I had been found innocent of fault and that the full cost of repairs would be covered without excess (I don't know if "excess" is something peculiar to Australia - it's a gap payment between the cost of the repairs and the amount the insurance company will pay out).

This was good news. Our excess is several thousand dollars, and, with a trip to Africa coming up in May, was something we couldn't afford. For once things seemed to be happening in a straightforward way.

That is until this morning.

About 10 minutes after arriving at work I received a call from my insurance company to say they had "changed their assessment" and that now they were saying I was at fault and would have to pay the excess on the claim.

I asked why, and they said they had reviewed "the" wittnesses statement and that it seems I had been involved in a "rear end" type of accident. In Australia these kind of accidents are usually deemed to be the fault of the rear car regardless of circumstances. I asked the guy on the other end of the line if they had spoken to the other wittnesses - there were two - to which I didn't get much of an answer. I also reiterated the fact that this was not a "rear ender". The damage to my car was along the entire right hand side and to the other vehicle's front left hand corner.

By this time all kinds of conspiracy theories were rushing around my head. I thought about asking the guy on the other end of the phone if he "knew" I was a church minister (like that would matter!) or that the money he was taking off me for excess was going to be used for an overseas aid and development mission and that he was really taking money away from starving children in Africa.

Thankfully I thought better of it, explained my case again, and put the phone down with the "promise" that the second wittness would be contacted but that I would still have to pay the excess, with it being refunded if the decision was reversed.

I have no intention of paying any excess (we are still waiting for repairs nearly 2 months after the accident) until this whole things is sorted as I know how tightly insurance companies hold onto money, but the whole thing really did leave me rattled.

On top of all this, our power steering pump also decided to give up the ghost today. I have no choice but to continue driving the car with dodgy steering while we wait to see how much the repairs (in time as well as in money) are going to cost us - I aint holding my breath!

CEO style in the church

Hamo again - I great post on the very real problems with the CEO leadership approach in church.

Here's a piece of Hamo's action:

I don’t believe the CEO has any place in the ‘family’ of God. When was the last time your family appointed a CEO to keep it on track? Where does a ‘chief executive officer’ fit into a family? Find me one metaphor or description of the church as business/corporation anywhere in the Bible and I will walk naked up the aisle of your church this Sunday with an annual report in my bumcrack.
While I can't think of any apropriate proof texts - I hope if someone does find one or two, Hamo remembers to post the photos on Backyard Missionary! Read the whole thing here.

Hamo's post is a response to this post by MikeB on Raah.

Christian's have got heaven all wrong

Cape Freycinet, W.A. - January 2008. (c)

Hamo posted a heads-up to this interview on the Time website, with Bishop N.T. Wright on the traditional Christian view of heaven. I think Wright's got it right and I'll be passing this one around our leadership - it's been a bit of a hot potato topic out here in Binningup in recent months.

Here's a bit of what Bishop Wright had to say about the Christian misconception:
... Greek-speaking Christians influenced by Plato saw our cosmos as shabby and misshapen and full of lies, and the idea was not to make it right, but to escape it and leave behind our material bodies. The church at its best has always come back toward the Hebrew view, but there have been times when the Greek view was very influential.
It seems to me, now could be one of those "times"!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Filling everything with His presence

Last night our "Sunday arvo thing" (aka Alternate-Or) moved to Monday afternoon. Things are still very much in a state of flux which is both a little frustrating but also exciting.

We met for a couple of weeks at the community centre but ended up giving this idea away, at least for the time being, as not enough of our original core group were turning up meaning we were having a hard time scraping together the dollars to pay for the room rental. I suggested we meet in a cafe and someone else suggested we try a pub. The end result was our first meeting in the beer garden at Trafalgars hotel in the pub/cafe precinct of the Bunbury CBD.

It was kinda weird, particularly at first. Sitting down, opening Bibles, talking openly about Jesus. I think most of us felt a little uncomfortable - I kept thinking about Jesus' words to the Pharisees about their acts of public prayer and wondered if we came across the same way - but in the end I felt it went well. A couple of drinkers, obviously listening into our discussion, chipped in with comments from time to time, which was pretty cool and added to the feel of the exercise.

I decided that we would read through that great epistle to the Church - Ephesians, and so tackled chapter 1. Without planning for it in my preparation, the last couple of sentences of the chapter really jumped out at us as being so incredibly appropriate to what we were trying to achieve.

The Message renders Paul's words like this:

The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ's body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence. (1:23)
Yesterday, sitting in the pub, purposefully gathered to worship and learn about the Master, I got a very real sense of Christ's presence in a place in our city that perhaps, he hasn't been for a very long time.

Saying Sorry

Image knicked from website - Sorry!

This morning was an historic occaision for all Australians. New Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, apologised to a group of Australian people for the way previous governments had treated them. This group has become known as the "Stolen Generation".

From the late 1800s until the 1970s, under an act of parliment, more than 50,000 Aboriginal children were forceably removed from the families and placed in the care of state and church run facilities, most never seeing their families again.

The effects of these actions on the people involved are unimaginable. There is no doubt, particularly with the benefit of hindsight, these acts of state sanctioned trauma should never have occured.

For a long time now there has been a call from many segements of Australian society for the government to publically recognise the damage it has done to the Aboriginal people through its actions and to seek reconcilliation.

In recent years churches have apologised for their involvement in the "stolen generation's" case. Most of the children were sent to church run "missions" where they were cared for, and in some cases suffered sexual and physical and psychological abuse.

Our most recent former Prime Minister, John Howard, refused calls for more than a decade to offer an apology to the Aboriginal people, while newly appointed Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd - elected less than 4 months ago - listed a public apology to the "Stolen Generation" on behalf of the Australian government, as one of his key election promises.

You can listen to PM Rudd's speach here or read it here.

So as an Aussie, I have to say that today is one of those historic occaisions that I will probably remember for a lifetime. Kevin Rudds apology is a momentous act of reconcilliation that, in my opinion, eclipses many of the economic and diplomatic acheivements of the previous Liberal government.

Goodonya Kev!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Positive About the Church - Synchroblog

A facebook friend of mine - Sally Coleman - came up with the idea of making February the 2nd a day for posting positive stories about the local church (sorry Sally, I'm a day late!).

As someone who often grumbles about different aspects of the local church, I was challanged to participate in this synchroblog. One of my new years resolutions this year was to learn to express the positive more often and the negative less often in all circumstances and what better place to start than with my very own local expression of the church.

Our fellowship is one that has been through a lot in recent years. Around 5 years ago we experienced a bit of a split when all the young families left to attend a mega-church in nearby Bunbury. This left Alyssa and I as the youngest in the congregation by about 10 years.

There were problems with the leadership at the same time which saw a few more leave along the way. In the end we were left with a shell of about 15 regulars, the majority already well into their senior years, conservative, old fashioned but completely committed to Jesus and to being the only expression of the local church in our community.

Around 3 years ago I took over the pastoral role in the hope that we could take things in a more missional direction, changing from what until then had been a very "believer centred" church and into something that was focussed and committed to the broader community in which it existed.

What we saw in the ensuing 3 years was an amazing period of personal and spiritual growth as a group of older people (and I was always told "you can't teach old dogs new tricks") began to explore what it meant to be a decentralised, disinstitutionalised, community serving expression of faith. To break with long held traditions and even to begin to question core doctrines that had been held to faithfully for decades without question and to allow God to work in us and in our lives and through us through serving the community outside the comfort and safety of our meeting place.

While to the casual observer, looking in from the outside, we probably still look a lot like a conservative, dying church in a growing suburban community, the reality though is something very different.

I am so very proud of the people I call my brothers and sisters (even though most of them are actually old enough to be my parents and grandparents) and the way they have allowed the message of Jesus to challange them and change them and change the corporate and personal foci of their faith.

We are still growing and the journey is far from over, but already I know this community is in a better place because of the presence of the local church within it - as an active part of it - rather than as an enclave on its edge. And for the way in which a bunch of older people have completely challanged the stereotype of stayed, unchanging, evangelical conservatism, becoming instead more and more the salt and light in the difficult missionfield of affluent suburbia.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Happiness - So Simple it's almost stupid!

Throughout history sages have counselled that happiness is not a goal but rather a consequence of how we live and that it comes from being content with what we have. Today, we are sold a different message - that we will be happy only if we have more money and more of the things money buys. Human experience and scientific research does not support this belief.
Hamilton, C. & Denniss, R. Affluenza (2005) p. 218. Allen & Unwin: Sydney

See also The Wellbeing Manifesto