Deadly Sins of the Credit Crunch

Anglican vicar David Keen wonders, Is the Crunch a Catholic? The Seven Deadly Sins and the Credit Crunch (also posted at The Wardman Wire). David starts:

Though the Catholic church seems to have recently mislaid its moral compass, it was not always so. Long before they were linked to the churches own financial scandal, the Seven Deadly Sins were commended as a medieval precursor of PSHE. Since nothing else seems to be working, gimme some old time religion….

(Don’t ask me what PSHE is, follow the link!)

Then David runs through these seven sins and shows how each one of them has played its part in causing the current chaos in the world economic system. In other words, the credit crunch is a matter not so much of economics and politics as of morality, or lack of it. Read the rest of the article for yourselves.

In his last paragraph David writes:

And here are the 7 virtues: Faith, Hope, Love/Charity, Courage, Restraint, Justice, and, um, Prudence. It would be interesting to sit down with this list and Obama’s inauguration speech and tick them off, one by one, but that’s another post.

That other post will be interesting! I hope he writes it. But for now he finishes with:

If the debt crunch is at root a moral problem, then how do we fix that?

The Naked Dead Arise!

Nearly two years ago I caused some controversy by raising the question Does the risen Jesus have blood? This also referred more generally to resurrection bodies. Now a new question on the same lines has arisen at the blog Singing in the Reign: Will the Dead Be Raised Nude? In this Brant Pitre examines

the Jewish tradition which identified the resurrected body with the “garments of glory” that Adam and Eve had lost in the fall but would be restored to the righteous in in the messianic age

– a tradition which he sees reflected in 2 Corinthians 5:3. But he notes that Michelangelo, in his Last Judgment scene reproduced in the post, as well as Mel Gibson depicted naked resurrection bodies.

I don’t think there is any clear biblical teaching on this one. Presumably the risen Jesus appeared in appropriate clothing, even immediately after the resurrection when Mary Magdalene mistook him for a gardener (John 20:15). But that is not necessarily a precedent for the general resurrection. As for 2 Corinthians 5:2-4, surely the clothes mentioned here are a metaphor for the body, not to be understood literally.

Brant refers to “garments of glory” supposedly worn by Adam and Eve in the garden. But the biblical text makes it clear that these, if they existed at all, were not literal clothes:

The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

Genesis 2:25 (TNIV)

The resurrection life is more than a restoration of Eden, but not less than it. In it there will again be no shame, as all sins will be forgiven and everyone will have an unrestricted relationship with God (Revelation 21:3-4). The reference to robes (22:14) is surely symbolic. So, as I understand it, in the reurrection we will not be clothed in any literal sense, but only in the glory of God.

Rick Joyner on unity and restoration

I have had to reject several recent comments on my posts about Todd Bentley, because they contain unsubstantiated allegations against Todd and others. My policy is to reject such comments as a matter of principle, and also because they might get me into trouble with libel lawyers. Among those who have persistently tried to breach this rule is a certain Susan. But I should thank her for giving me a link, in a comment I rejected as explained here, to a new article by Rick Joyner.

In this article Rick Joyner writes first about unity:

One reason there has been so much division in the church is because we have tried to unify around too much. The nation of Israel was only required to be in unity on two basic matters—worship and warfare. They were to worship Jehovah together in the manner and place He had prescribed, and they were to always be ready to mobilize and defend any of the other tribes that were attacked.

If the church would live by this same wisdom, her power, authority, size, wealth, and impact would multiply quickly. When we discuss being in unity about worship, we need to steer clear of the nuances that the Lord has given us liberty in, such as the style of music. However, we do need to be in unity about Who we worship and how complying with the biblical standards and teachings on morality, integrity, and other basics that should be common to all Christians. The Moravians stated the following: “In the basics there must be unity. In the other matters there must be liberty, and in all things there must be charity.”

As far as warfare is concerned, as Christians we should always be ready to mobilize with other believers to defend any of our brothers or sisters, or other churches, who are attacked. Presently, this is quite rare, but the times that I have seen it happen have resulted in a bonding together of believers in a special, powerful, and lasting way.

Amen! But how often we see Christians attacking rather than defending one another! This is my point in joining the “Religious North”.

Rick goes on to explain how he got started on his ministry of restoring fallen Christian leaders, when he was prompted by a dream to offer help to Jim Bakker. To Rick this is an example of how “as Christians we should always be ready to mobilize with other believers to defend any of our brothers or sisters”. So he writes:

It was for this same reason that when the situation with Todd Bentley happened and I was asked to help restore him, I did not hesitate. I was warned by some that helping Jim Bakker would cost me and my ministry very dearly, and it may have with some, but the favor of God is worth much more than the favor of all men. I know Todd has asked what I expect to get out of helping him, wondering why I would want to when it seems the whole church    is mad at him, but the dream the Lord gave me over twenty years ago is still as real to me right now as when I first woke up after having it. I’m not here to build a ministry—I’m here to do God’s will, but I also know the church will never be trusted by God or men until we have His heart for restoration. When the world sinned, turned away from Him, and fell into terrible debauchery, the Lord did not condemn it—He came and gave His own life to save it. Those who have His heart will do the same for those in trouble.

Again, Amen! But sadly some people (who I won’t link to) have used this article as an excuse to attack their Christian brother Rick. Well, following Rick’s teaching, I at least am ready to defend him, and Todd, when they are attacked.

Meanwhile, while I am again on the subject of Todd, there is an interesting update from Fresh Fire, dated 23rd January and also found thanks to Susan, which announces the return to ministry of Shonnah Bentley! She and her son Elijah will be visiting Fresh Fire’s Uganda Jesus Village in the spring. There is also in this announcement the following interesting, and in part surprising, news:

The first news item that we wish to bring to your attention is that Todd Bentley has resigned from his involvement with Fresh Fire Ministries Canada and will continue a process of restoration under the capable leadership of Rick Joyner and his association. Because Todd founded Fresh Fire Ministries, we feel it appropriate and honorable to give FFM’s name to him to use as he chooses when he starts ministering again in the future. We here at FFM are in the process of changing our name to reflect our present and future focus as we continue with the God-given mandate for this ministry. Check back with us soon to see our new name, logo and image.

So FFM is clearing the way for Todd to be restored to ministry and return with a new Fresh Fire organisation. It will be interesting to see how this works out.

Towards the Religious North

My friend Tim Chesterton has lived further north than anyone else I know – at Holman on Victoria Island off the north coast of Canada. At 70°43′ N that is further north, and much colder, even than the home of a Norwegian friend, Tromsø, at 69°40′ N. Even Tim’s current home of Edmonton is more than cold enough with its -29°C January temperature, although at 53°30′ N it is only a little further north than my home, Chelmsford, 51°44′ N. At this time of year I would feel more at home with David Ker and a real life friend of mine in South Africa. I don’t know exactly where he is, but she is on holiday in Cape Town, 33°55′ S, +28°C and sunny. Lovely!

Before I get carried away with degrees, let me get on to the real subject of this post …

Considering where he lives, it is not surprising that the “entirely arbitrary” name Tim has chosen to describe an attitude which he shares is “Religious North”:

Under the heading of ‘Religious North’, I’m going to put anyone who puts loyalty to Christ and his Church ahead of all other loyalties, and is willing to demonstrate that by the language they use and the love they demonstrate toward their fellow-Christians with whom they disagree on other issues.

He contrasts this with the “Religious South”:

Under the heading of ‘Religious South’, I’m going to put anyone who puts loyalty to a country, an ideology, or a cause ahead of loyalty to Christ and to fellow-Christians. The evidence for this will be that they reserve their choicest abusive language for fellow-Christians with whom they disagree, and spend more time promoting their favourite ideology than the gospel of Christ and his kingdom.

I’m afraid that I have come across far too many religious southerners in the blogosphere – as well as some in real life, although any who find their way to my church soon walk out in disgust. The southerners I have come across tend also to be conservative, even fundamentalist. But as Tim points out there are also quite a few among so-called “liberals”, people who loudly proclaim their tolerance but are unable to tolerate criticism of their own position.

Tim concludes:

So – no more Religious Left or Religious Right, thank you very much! I repudiate both those labels; they have never been true for me, and they never will be. I’m now a card-carrying member (and if there are, in fact, membership cards, I’ll be the first card-carrying member!) of the Religious North! Anyone care to join me?

Indeed! I have already signed up, along with a few others in Tim’s comment thread. Anyone else care to join? But I did so on condition that it doesn’t commit me to the frozen geographical north!

However, we need to make sure that we don’t spend more time promoting the Religious North ideology than the gospel of Christ and his kingdom. Rather, we must demonstrate our love even towards religious southerners.

Isa = Jesus revisited, with a correction

Yesterday I posted about Praying in the name of Isa = Jesus, including a correction of some bad information which I found at other blogs. Unfortunately in the process I managed to introduce and propagate some errors of my own. My purpose in blogging again in this post is first to correct my error, and then to offer some further observations on this matter.

I wrote yesterday (but will correct shortly in the original post):

I checked with a Palestinian Arab Christian, from a Roman Catholic background stretching back centuries. He confirmed my understanding (see also this comment) that “Isa” is the form of the name of Jesus which has been used by Arab Christians, or at least the great majority of them, since time immemorial. There may be some non-traditional Arab Christians who use “Yesua” but this form is never used in mainstream churches or Bible translations.

Unfortunately I mis-remembered the information from my friend. As I now understand it, the form of the name of Jesus used by Arab Christians in traditional churches is neither Yesua nor Isa, but Yasu, يسوع, as in the apparently correct information here and here.

The -ua ending, characteristic of Hebrew (as in the Hebrew Yeshua for “Jesus”), and the e vowel, not found in Arabic at least in standard transliteration, show that the form Yesua is not a genuine Arabic one. It may be that Yasu is in some places pronounced more like Yesu or possibly even Yesua. But it is certainly not true that, as claimed, “the Arab Christian communities only refer to Jesus as `Yesua´”.

The form Isa, عيسى, used by Muslims worldwide, is also used by Christians and in Bible translations in many non-Arabic Muslim majority countries, including Iran, Turkey and former Soviet Central Asia. This is the only form of the name known in the national languages of these countries.

Meanwhile I can confirm that Arab Christians and Muslims, and indeed Christians and Muslims in most Muslim majority countries, use only one word for the one true God: Allah, الله. This is not a Muslim word but an Arabic word, related to the Hebrew Elohim, which has been borrowed into many other languages.

Even though Arab Christians and Muslims use different names for Jesus, this does not imply that they are referring to different people. “Simplicity in Christ” has claimed in a comment that

It doesn’t matter what word the Muslims use, the bottom line is that Isa is not Jesus. … Praying in the name of anyone other than Jesus Christ is unscriptural.

But this claim that “Isa is not Jesus” is preposterous. Consider what Islam teaches, and denies, about the one called Isa in the Qur’an

The Qur’an, believed by Muslims to be God’s final revelation, states that Jesus was born to Mary (Arabic: Maryam) as the result of virginal conception, a miraculous event which occurred by the decree of God (Arabic: Allah). To aid him in his quest, Jesus was given the ability to perform miracles, all by the permission of God. According to Islamic texts, Jesus was neither killed nor crucified, but rather he was raised alive up to heaven. Islamic traditions narrate that he will return to earth near the day of judgment to restore justice and defeat al-Masīḥ ad-Dajjāl (lit. “the false messiah”, also known as the Antichrist).Islam rejects that Jesus was God incarnate or the son of God, stating that he was an ordinary man who, like other prophets, had been divinely chosen to spread God’s message. … Numerous titles are given to Jesus in the Qur’an, such as al-Masīḥ (“the messiah; the anointed one” i.e. by means of blessings) …

Much of this agrees with the biblical account. Of course “Jesus was neither killed nor crucified” and “Islam rejects that Jesus was God incarnate or the son of God” go against biblical and Christian teaching. But the very texts in the Qur’an where the Christian teaching is explicitly contradicted demonstrate that the Islamic Isa is the same person as the Christian Jesus (Qur’an passages quoted from here):

And because of their saying: We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Allah’s messenger — they slew him not nor crucified him, but it appeared so unto them

O followers of the Book! [The Bible] do not exceed the limits in your religion, and do not speak (lies) against Allah, but (speak) the truth; the Messiah, Isa son of Marium [Jesus son of Mary] is only an apostle of Allah and His Word which He communicated to Marium and a spirit from Him; believe therefore in Allah and His apostles, and say not, Three. Desist, it is better for you; Allah is only one God; far be It from His glory that He should have a son …

Apparently the uneducated Muhammad, or whoever actually compiled the Qur’an, knew corrupted versions of Bible stories (as in their time there was no Arabic Bible to read), and put them together in a sometimes confused way. The early Muslims may have made further changes to the stories to serve their religious and nationalistic purposes, for example making Abraham nearly sacrifice Ishmael, ancestor of the Arabs, rather than Isaac, ancestor of the Jews, and omitting stories that put those they consider prophets in a bad light. It was probably for this reason, as well as because they had no understanding of Christian teaching on the atonement, that they denied the crucifixion of Jesus. Then, probably after the move to Medina, the early Muslims became more familiar with Christian and Jewish teaching and so added to their proto-Qur’an explicit denials of this teaching.

So, what we have in the Qur’an is not teaching about a person Isa who is different from the Jesus Christ whom Christians know and love. Rather, we have corrupted and false teaching about the true Jesus. This teaching is, I would suppose, so seriously wrong that it cannot in itself lead anyone to saving faith. Nevertheless there have been many testimonies of Muslims who have come to Christian faith by starting with an interest in Jesus as presented in Islam and then finding out more about him through the Bible or from Christians.

So I applaud Rick Warren for making it clear, in his prayer at the presidential inauguration, that Isa is simply another form of the name of Jesus.

The Gaza appeal

I thank Eddie Arthur for embedding in a post the Disasters Emergency Committee Gaza Appeal, as a YouTube video. I am also embedding it:

This is the appeal which the BBC has shamefully refused to broadcast, a decision for which it has been criticised by among others two government ministers and the Archbishops. A petition from Avaaz calling for the BBC to reverse their decision has attracted 14,000 supporters, including myself.

But, as even a BBC correspondent has suggested, the ban just may turn out for the better, as it has given this appeal a lot more publicity than it would otherwise have received. Indeed it has prompted me to donate, through this link, although I am usually quite resistant to appeals like this, and might well not have even seen the appeal if it had not been for the internet publicity.

Eddie closed comments on his post. I will not do the same because I welcome comments about the appeal. But, like Eddie, I do not want this to become a general discusssion about the political and military situation in Gaza, and so I will not allow off topic comments.

Praying in the name of Isa = Jesus

CORRECTED VERSION, 27th January, see my follow-up post.

Daniel Cordell has sadly spread some false information in his post Praying in the Name of Isa. In response to Rick Warren’s prayer at President Obama’s inauguration, he wrote:

Today, in his Presidential Inauguration prayer, Rick Warren prayed in the name of “Yeshua”, “Isa” and “Jesus”. …

Even Arab Christians don´t refer to Isa,´ but to `Yesua.´ I´ve lived and studied Arabic in one of the same Muslim countries that Warren has visited, and I think he probably knows that the Arab Christian communities only refer to Jesus as `Yesua´ and not `Isa´ as the Muslims.

This has been quoted here and here. So the false information is spreading. And although this has been pointed out to Daniel, he has failed to correct his error in later posts.

The claim in the second paragraph quoted above is not true. I checked with a Palestinian Arab Christian, from a Roman Catholic background stretching back centuries. He confirmed my understanding (see also this comment) that “Isa” “Yasu” is the form of the name of Jesus which has been used by Arab Christians, or at least the great majority of them, since time immemorial. There may be some non-traditional Arab Christians who use “Yesua” but this form is never used in mainstream churches or Bible translations. “Isa” is also used by Christians in many, but not all, Muslim majority countries. This is what Rick Warren probably knows, and is the basis for what he explains in this YouTube video (sorry for the poor quality) apparently taken from a sermon yesterday.

The following information at this Wikipedia page is also incorrect:

Arabic-speaking Christians refer to Jesus as Yasu

This may be true for a minority, but not for all as the page suggests.

Obama to receive a CEV Bible

As the Church Times blog has reported, the Evangelical Alliance here in the UK, noticing that no Bible could be found for President Barack Obama’s second swearing in, decided to send him one. And they didn’t just send him any old (or new) Bible; they sent him a copy of The Poverty and Justice Bible, of which they also write:

Recently Prime Minister Gordon Brown was presented with The Poverty and Justice Bible at Downing Street. And in July last year, hundreds of Bishops carried The Poverty and Justice Bible as they marched across Westminster in a campaign against world poverty.

As a (former, more or less) Bible translator I was interested to find out what translation is used in this Bible. The answer is at this Bible’s own website: the text is that of the Contemporary English Version (CEV):

Almost every page of the Bible speaks of God’s heart for the poor. His concern for the marginalised. His compassion for the oppressed. His call for justice.

The Poverty and Justice Bible megaphones his voice as never before.

Using the clear Contemporary English Version (CEV) text, it highlights more than 2,000 verses that spell out God’s attitude to poverty and justice.

But the blessed Barack needs to be careful with his gift. I presume that this particular text is the British edition of CEV, which actually differs quite substantially from the US and “Global Standard” editions of this version, as I documented here. So if, as I would consider appropriate, he gets copies of CEV for his daughters, and if he ever finds time to have family devotions with them and uses The Poverty and Justice Bible, there is some danger of confusion.

I can’t help thinking that there would have been more of an outcry in some quarters if Obama had been sworn in on The Poverty and Justice Bible than if no Bible was used at all!

"The Revolutionary Christ has been disguised as a moral policeman"

These words were written by Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy in 1919, but could have been written about the church today (thanks to Phil Groom for the quote, taken out of his context):

the Christianity which should have turned the world upside down has been turned into a method of keeping it as it is and meekly accepting its wrong-side-upness as the discipline of Almighty God. The Revolutionary Christ has been disguised as a moral policeman.

Sadly too many people, when confronted with preachers of “The Revolutionary Christ”, respond as moral police officers. Let the readers of my Todd Bentley posts understand. But this is not about him, it is about what has been wrong with the church for at least a century and still is today.

Essex vicar predicts the end of the world as we know it

Sam Norton, a Church of England vicar here in Essex, is quite astonishingly pessimistic, even apocalyptic although it seems for entirely secular reasons, about the state and future of the world. Last year I reported his predictions that oil prices would continue to rise, but instead they have fallen dramatically. He starts his new post with something of an explanation for why this has happened, while insisting that it will not last. For, he argues,

The problem will emerge with further strength when the economy gets through the economic aspects of the present crisis and tries to get back upon its previous growth-based models: the price of oil will increase again and choke off that economic growth. In sum, my view is that, for a period of 10-15 years, economic growth has ceased, indeed, that it will go into reverse.

Well, so far, this is believable – but it ignores the point that as oil prices increase, so, after a time lag, will supply, as expensive oil reserves such as the oil sands of Alberta are exploited, and as users shift to alternative energy sources such as coal, nuclear and renewable. Some of these shifts of course would have worrying implications for the environment and for global warming, but that is a separate issue.

But Sam then takes his predictions too far, matching the nightmare scenarios of the climate change extremists whom he does not support:

I see much of the middle-class Western lifestyle coming to an end over this period; a vast amount of unemployment which will – in a benign outcome – shift to working the land, or, in a less benign outcome, the resurrection of a slave society. …

I see us rapidly approaching a bottleneck – a time of greatly increased pressure and tension, and not all of us will get through. However, decisions that we make now – more at the personal and local society level than at the government level (I tend to see the government as a problem not a solution, as people know) – will make a big difference to what happens. Learn to store more food. Learn to garden or develop a skill that will allow for trading for food. Get to know your neighbours and develop contacts across the community.

I foresee a time of tremendous upheaval and suffering in this crisis that has now begun; a time with greater parallels to the 1340s [the decade of the Black Death] than the 1930s, and a lot of people, a lot of societies, quite possibly even some nations (eg the US and UK in their present form) will not make it through.

Now I think it is clear to me that this is not intended to be a prophecy or any kind of divine revelation, but simply a prediction based on data and trends, even if perhaps it is informed by biblical principles. This is what distinguishes Sam from those preachers who walk around with sandwich boards proclaiming “THE END OF THE WORLD IS NIGH!” But, just as those preachers typically used their backs to preach “REPENT AND BELIEVE THE GOSPEL”, so also Sam finishes off as one would expect from a Christian minister, with a Bible verse:

Yet I also believe that what we do now will make a difference in the end, and I trust that our labour will not be in vain. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I’m not quite sure what Sam means here. But even if this blackest of scenarios does prove accurate, God will provide for those who trust in him, and will eventually put all things right in the new heavens and the new earth.