The Investigator

I just took the (free) short form of a questionnaire recommended by Eddie Arthur. It is no surprise to me that he came out as “The Enthusiast”. It is also no surprise how I came out:

Enneagram

Type Five
The Investigator

The perceptive, cerebral type. Fives are alert, insightful, and curious. They are able to concentrate and focus on developing complex ideas and skills. Independent, innovative, and inventive, they can also become preoccupied with their thoughts and imaginary constructs. They become detached, yet high-strung and intense. They typically have problems with eccentricity, nihilism, and isolation. At their Best: visionary pioneers, often ahead of their time, and able to see the world in an entirely new way.

This seems to fit me well. The first three examples of my type are Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates – sounds good to me!

Click on the picture above to take the test yourself.

Here are my full results reported in a histogram, showing the areas in which I am relatively strong and relatively weak, according to the rather short and simplified free version of this test:

Type 1 – The Reformer
Type 2 – The Helper
Type 3 – The Achiever
Type 4 – The Individualist
Type 5 – The Investigator
Type 6 – The Loyalist
Type 7 – The Enthusiast
Type 8 – The Challenger
Type 9 – The Peacemaker

The Live Parrot Sketch

Anyone of my age here in England will certainly remember the Monty Python Dead Parrot sketch, starring Michael Palin and John Cleese. If you have never seen it, you really must. You can find it on YouTube: Dead Parrot Sketch – there is more of it in this version than I had remembered.

Today (thanks to Matt Wardman and David Keen‘s sidebar for the link) John Cleese appears in a new sketch, in fact more of an interview, this time about a live parrot. As there were problems with Matt’s attempt to embed this, here is a link to YouTube: Live Parrot Sketch. This is in fact John Cleese’s take on the other Palin, Sarah. Among other things he says:

I used to think Michael Palin was the funniest Palin ever …

She’s basically learned certain speeches. And she does them very well, she’s got a very good memory. But it’s like a nice looking parrot, because the parrot speaks beautifully, and kind of says “Aw, shucks” every now and again, but doesn’t really have any understanding of the meaning of the words that it is producing, even though it’s producing them very accurately …

And the truth is that Sarah Palin is no way good enough … [In Europe] you probably wouldn’t find 5% who think she is good enough to run the United States. And she’s running as the partner of a 72-year-old cancer survivor. I mean, Monty Python could have written it.

By the way, Cleese is not politically naive: he has been a long term supporter of the Liberal Democrats (the party I am a member of) here in the UK.

Now I am not sure that the media have been fair to Sarah Palin. I stand by my initial impression of her as a small town politician with integrity and a genuine Christian faith.

I think Sarah Palin was right to insist that an allegedly violent state trooper, accused of

using a Taser on his stepson, drinking beer in his patrol car, illegally shooting a moose and threatening his former father-in-law

should have been fired, if the allegations were true. It was quite wrong and morally reprehensible for Walter Monegan to rely on the argument

He didn’t do anything under my watch to result in termination

to wash his hands of the fact that what Trooper Wooten allegedly did when off duty should have led to him being fired. The way in which Palin intervened was of course unwise, but this is the way things are done in small towns.

Nevertheless I agree with John Cleese that “Sarah Palin is no way good enough … to run the United States”. Experience of running a small town is just not relevant. McCain may have thought he was making a smart move, but it looks like it has backfired on him.

Good news: not that Bishop John!

At last I seem to have actually succeeded in cutting down my blogging, to the extent of not posting for more than a week. In fact I have been commenting quite a bit here and elsewhere, and I have been busy with the rest of my life including trying to reconfigure my computer to run at a decent speed. But I don’t want anyone to think I have gone away completely. So here is a post …

Several years ago a certain Jeffrey John was chosen to be a bishop in the Church of England. But there was an outcry because he was in a relationship with another man, although he stated that he was celibate. This was about the time of the initial controversy about the American gay bishop Gene Robinson. Archbishop Rowan Williams intervened and blocked Jeffrey John’s consecration; instead he was appointed Dean of St Albans.

This year there has been a rapid changeover among the six bishops of the Church in Wales, the independent (and disestablished) sister church of the Church of England in Dean John’s native principality. In April this year the Bishop of St Davids was forced to resign because of allegations of an extra-marital affair. In May a new bishop of Swansea and Brecon took up office. Then in June Bishop Crockett of Bangor, according to the BBC “the first bishop in the UK to have been divorced and remarried”, died. As earlier in the year the Church in Wales had decided not to allow women bishops for the moment, and as at least one Welshman, Rowan Williams, is serving as a bishop in England, there was perhaps a shortage of suitable Welsh candidates for the episcopacy, in a diocese where a Welsh speaker was required.

So it is perhaps not surprising that, as Ruth Gledhill reported, one of the names put forward for the new bishop of Bangor was that of Jeffrey John, a Welshman who had already been chosen for an English bishop’s mitre then rejected. In some ways he was a strong candidate. But for the Church in Wales to elect a gay man, albeit a celibate one, as a bishop would have caused serious problems in the Anglican Communion, reopening wounds that have partly healed since the Lambeth Conference. I would imagine that the Archbishop of Wales would have come under strong pressure both from within his own church and from his predecessor in his post, Rowan Williams, to block the appointment. And that is apparently what he did.

Nevertheless rumours were going around last week that John was among the candidates being considered at a “lock-in” at Bangor Cathedral. Some evangelicals were seriously concerned, not just because Jeffrey John is gay but also because he takes a strong anti-evangelical position on some issues. But when the announcement came their concern turned quickly to relief and joy. For it turned out that the man chosen to be the new bishop was not Jeffrey John but Andrew John, Archdeacon of Cardigan. Andy John, a married father of four, seems to be much more one of their own, according to Chris Sugden a member of the Evangelical Fellowship in the Church in Wales He was trained for the ministry at St John’s Nottingham, and was curate in his home town at the “both Evangelical and Charismatic” St Michael’s, Aberystwyth.

So, for once good news in the Anglican Communion for evangelicals and for conservative Christians in general.

Was Jesus' work finished on the cross?

I was made to think by part of a comment here by Bud Press. Bud listed a number of what he called “serious problems” with the teaching in Todd Bentley’s book The Reality of the Supernatural World (which I haven’t read) including this one:

– Jesus’ act of redemption was not completed on the cross, but when he ascended into heaven.

Now why does Bud consider this a problem? I know that it is a commonplace in certain strands of evangelicalism to refer to Jesus’ finished work on the cross. And his final word before he died, as recorded by John, tetelestai “It is finished!” (19:30) is often understood as a triumphant declaration that Jesus has finished his work. But is this understanding correct?

The word tetelestai in itself, introduced simply by eipen “he said”, does not necessarily imply anything triumphant. Indeed it can equally be interpreted as a dying man’s cry of despair, John’s equivalent of the words “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” recorded by Matthew (27:46) and Mark (15:34), but not by Luke (who has “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”, 23:46) or John. The interpretation of tetelestai as a shout of triumph is based not on the word itself but on a broadly based theological understanding of Jesus’ work.

But does this broader theological understanding in fact support the concept that Jesus’ work was finished, completed, with his death on the cross? I think not. While much evangelical theology has relegated Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to being not much more than an afterthought in God’s plan, these subsequent events have always been given much greater importance in many strands of theology, especially in Eastern Orthodoxy where they tend to be given more emphasis than the cross.

There are certainly some aspects of Jesus’ work which are specifically linked to the cross alone and so were complete at Jesus’ death. This would include his sacrifice and satisfaction for sins, according to the substitution and satisfaction model of the atonement. On the rather different model presumed by Bud’s (or was it Todd’s?) use of the word “redemption”, that of slaves being bought and given their freedom, the price of this redemption was already paid on the cross. So in a rather narrow sense I might be able to agree with Bud’s implicit position that Jesus’ act of redemption was completed on the cross.

But there are other important senses in which Jesus’ work could not be completed without the subsequent resurrection and ascension. Concerning the resurrection, Paul writes to the Corinthians:

if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.

1 Corinthians 15:17-18 (TNIV)

So, although in principle sins had been dealt with on the cross, it took the resurrection to apply the benefits of the cross to individual believers, so that they would not remain in their sins and be lost when they die, but be forgiven and attain eternal life.

As for the ascension, this may not be essential for believers’ salvation, but it does seem to be essential for the Christian life. For, in ways which I do not claim to understand, it was necessary for Jesus to ascend back to his Father before the Holy Spirit could be poured out fully on humanity, as happened on the Day of Pentecost just days after Jesus ascended. Before he died he had said:

But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.

John 16:7 (TNIV)

And Paul wrote, quoting Psalm 68:18:

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says:
“When he ascended on high,
he took many captives
and gave gifts to his people.”
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, …

Ephesians 4:7-8,11 (TNIV)

So, if Jesus had not ascended, it might have been possible for individuals to be saved, but they would not have received the power and gifting to bring others to that salvation and to come together as a community, to live as God’s people in the world.

So I must conclude that Todd Bentley (as reported by Bud Press) is right to teach that the work of Jesus, his “act of redemption” in the full sense of the word as redeeming for himself a people for his own possession (Ephesians 1:14), “was not completed on the cross, but when he ascended into heaven.”

Google Blog Search relaunched – but it doesn't work!

The IT news service ZDnet reports that yesterday Google relaunched their Blog Search service, and claims “now it’s useful”.

I disagree. In fact Google Blog Search seems to have stopped working. Up to 22nd September I was receiving almost daily alerts about other blogs which were linking to this one. But these alerts stopped suddenly on that day. The WordPress dashboard and statistics page also rely on Google Blog Search and so have not detected any new incoming links for more than a week. I have also checked with a direct search and this has failed to find any new links.

I don’t know how many links to this blog Google Blog Search should have found, because I don’t know about them. But it should at least have found the link at Biblical Studies Carnival XXXIV, and for the last few months there have been at least three links a week. My blog may have been sent trackbacks from other blogs linking here, but I have received 4,545 of these in the last 15 days which have been caught by Akismet as spam, and I don’t have time to look through these which are mostly drug adverts for the occasional genuine link.

Here is another post which linked to me which Google did not find: More on the weevils of Todd Bentley. I just found this with a blog search for “gentle wisdom”, but this works only because Kathi included my blog name as well as a URL.

If you have linked to my blog (not with spam!) but I have not acknowledged this in any way, I am sorry. This is probably because I have not even seen the link. You are welcome to point out to me any link in a comment here, or by e-mail to peter AT qaya DOT org.

Where I can get married

As of today the Church of England’s rules on weddings have been relaxed, as the Church Times blog and the BBC report. The result at least for some people is an explosion of choice. For example, if I had got married yesterday, to a woman living in the same parish as me, I would only have been allowed a wedding in just this one parish. But as of today I have the choice of something like 16 parishes where I could be married, quite apart from ones for which my (hypothetical, sadly) bride might qualify:

  • where I was baptised: one parish
  • where I was prepared for confirmation: one other parish (sadly the location of the confirmation service itself doesn’t seem to count, as that might qualify me for a wedding in Canterbury Cathedral)
  • where I have lived for six months or more: about ten more parishes in England (I don’t think overseas locations count)
  • where I have regularly attended public worship for six months or more: no more parishes as I have usually attended church in the parish where I live
  • where one of my parents has lived for six months or more in my lifetime: two more parishes
  • where one of my parents has regularly attended public worship for six months or more in my lifetime: no more parishes as they also attended their local church
  • where my parents or grandparents were married: two more parishes plus one overseas location – but this one has the most interesting implication: I think my maternal grandparents were married in Lincoln Cathedral, in March 1912, so (if I can prove it) even nearly a century later I may now have the right to be married there!

The underlying reason for this change of rules is no doubt an attempt to reverse the decline in church weddings in recent years. In connection with this the Church of England has launched a new church wedding website. One major reason for this decline has been the fairly recent change allowing state weddings almost anywhere, except in churches. This has led to a boom in weddings at country houses and other picturesque locations. I suppose that the Church of England hopes that now people whose local church is not photogenic will find a prettier church to which they have some links rather than go for a state wedding. But it may lead to a loss of weddings in less attractive churches as well as a boom in picture postcard villages.

I remember times, nearly 30 years ago, when the attractive old parish church in the parish where I still live was in use for a wedding every hour on the hour on summer Saturday afternoons. This conveyor belt was kept going with threats that if brides arrived more than ten minutes late their wedding would be cancelled. These days far fewer weddings are held there. But the clergy take their responsibility for each couple very seriously, taking them through a meaningful marriage preparation course. They would not now want to be inundated with the extra task of taking numerous weddings for couples whose only interest in the church is as a pretty background for their photos. But then couples like that, faced with the required course, might well look elsewhere. However, it may well be that these new rules will bring to our parish couples who have a genuine desire to make God part of their marriage. If so, there is a real hope that through the preparation course and the service they can be brought closer to God. And if this happens with just one couple it will make the extra hard work worthwhile.