Anthropology and Theology, Angelology and Demonology

To any of my readers who haven’t got an ology I offer an, um, ap-ology, for bringing four ologies into the title of this post.

My responses to Scott Bailey’s post Does Higher Criticism Attempt to “Destroy the Bible”? V, both in comments on that post and in my own post Scott Bailey in bed with creationists!, have created a small storm. I will not attempt to respond any further to Scott, as it is clear that he holds to his materialistic creed with the fervour of a fundamentalist. But some important issues were raised by Scott’s commenters Terri and 4xi0m. I started writing this post in order to address these issues, but matters have moved on as I have been working on this post, and I have said in many further comments there much of what I intended to write here. So here are some slightly disconnected thoughts about the matter.

I can also recommend John Hobbins’ post Why Scott Bailey is wrong and Alvin Plantinga is right.

An issue which I still want to take up is one which I hinted at in my post Unseen Realities: forget Bultmann and the 19th century. There I wrote concerning the activities of spiritual beings:

Just as experiments on the behaviour of individual humans cannot succeed without their consent, so we cannot hope to experiment on the behaviour of individual demons or angels who are unlikely to consent. The best we can do is observe their typical behaviour using the kinds of techniques used in anthropology.

I need to explain a bit more these “techniques used in anthropology”. Anthropology (from Greek anthropos “human being”) is, according to Wikipedia, “the study of humanity”, and

is traditionally divided into four sub-fields, each with its own further branches: biological or physical anthropology, social anthropology or cultural anthropology, archaeology and anthropological linguistics.

In addition, systematic theologians recognise

Theological anthropology, which is not part of anthropology but a sub-field of theology.

The only sub-field of anthropology which I have studied formally is cultural anthropology, and that only for one short course. And the specific anthropological technique I had in mind, which was the focus of that course, is called participant observation:

A key principle of the method is that one may not merely observe, but must find a role within the group observed from which to participate in some manner, even if only as “outside observer.” Overt participant-observation, therefore, is limited to contexts where the community under study understands and permits it. …

It emerged as the principal approach to ethnographic research by anthropologists and relied on the cultivation of personal relationships with local informants as a way of learning about a culture, involving both observing and participating in the social life of a group. By living with the cultures they studied, these researchers were able to formulate first hand accounts of their lives and gain novel insights. This same method of study has also been applied to groups within Western society, and is especially successful in the study of sub-cultures or groups sharing a strong sense of identity, where only by taking part might the observer truly get access to the lives of those being studied.

Angels & DemonsI’m sure Scott and his commenters would agree with me that, to a large extent at least, Christian healing and the attribution of activity in this world to angels or demons takes place largely within “sub-cultures or groups sharing a strong sense of identity”, referring to the Christian groups practising these things. That justifies the use of participant observation methods to study these phenomena. I would accept that there are limits to what can be proved by such methods.

But there is another factor here, that angels and/or demons, if they exist, can themselves be treated as “sub-cultures or groups sharing a strong sense of identity”. As such one cannot hope to study their behaviour in any detail without “cultivation of personal relationships” with them as a participant observer. Now I would not suggest that anyone should cultivate personal relationships especially with demons. My point here is more that angels and demons cannot be studied as if they are impersonal forces. Nor can God, although participant observation would not be a suitable technique for studying him.

Then, as I wrote in response to one of 4xi0m’s comments on Scott’s post,

there is an issue to be considered whether spiritual healing depends on “the caprice of an invisible, unpredictable force” or “follow[s] a predictable law”.

Here “force” is 4xi0m’s word. I would have used “person”, on the basis that forces are predictable but persons or not. But on the quantum level even forces are unpredictable, and the Free Will Theorem ascribes to them free will and so blurs the distinctions between them and persons. Scott should note that this theorem which offers metaphysical results, while not necessarily proved beyond doubt, was put forward by respected scientists in the peer-reviewed journal Foundations of Physics.

In fact we have a false dichotomy here. It is well known in many branches of science that whereas the behaviour of individual constituent parts of a system may be unpredictable the behaviour of the system as a whole may follow highly predictable laws. Much of physics and chemistry depend on this large scale predictability of systems which are apparently random at the molecular level. And these same principles can be applied to the behaviour of large groups of people: the choices of each individual are unpredictable but the overall behaviour of the group can often, if not always, be predicted rather well. Indeed this is the whole basis of social science.

One might expect this to be relevant to the activities of angels and of demons, to the perhaps debatable extent that they are individuals acting independently. But is this relevant to Christian healing? I’m not sure. The involvement of angels in healing is controversial. And if healing is down to the work of one God, then it is not about averaging out the behaviour of many individuals. This is a matter not of sociology but of theology.

There is another ology involved here which I cannot recommend for serious study, although sometimes it is good for a laugh: Scotteriology.

The Pastor Has No Clothes!

The Pastor Has No ClothesI haven’t read Jon Zens’ new book The Pastor Has No Clothes! But it comes with great recommendations from Frank Viola among others. And I liked Zens’ previous book What’s with Paul and Women?, which I read and reviewed here last year. What’s more, I love the cover picture. Here is part of the product description:

Protestantism carries on with the practice of making the “pastor” the focal point in church. In The Pastor Has No Clothes, Jon Zens demonstrates that putting all the ecclesiastical eggs in the pastor’s basket has no precedent in the New Testament.

So do what I say, but have not yet done: buy the book and read it!

Tea Party fulfils Wilkerson economic meltdown prophecy

David WilkersonIn March I wrote here about some of David Wilkerson’s prophecies, including this one from 2009:

AN EARTH-SHATTERING CALAMITY IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN. IT IS GOING TO BE SO FRIGHTENING, WE ARE ALL GOING TO TREMBLE – EVEN THE GODLIEST AMONG US. …

There will be riots and fires in cities worldwide. There will be looting—including Times Square, New York City. What we are experiencing now is not a recession, not even a depression. We are under God’s wrath. …

In comments on that post I was pointed to another prophetic message by Wilkerson, for which I do not have a date but it seems to be quite recent (but before Wilkerson’s death in April): Here is part of that message:

It’s about to happen—very soon, one nation, and I’m speaking prophetically–if I’ve ever heard anything from God in my life, I heard it … Very soon a European or North African or Eastern nation is going to default on its international loan and when that happens, within two weeks, Mexico is going to default. …

And when the banks open the next day at 9 in the morning, $15 billion an hour is going to be withdrawn from our American banks -they’re going to be running our banks—the Arabs—all the Latin American countries, they’re going to be running our banks–and before the day is over, the USA is going to have to declare a “bank holiday.”

SIX MONTHS OF HORROR:

And we’re going into six months of the worst hell America has ever seen—there’s going to be chaos—not even the National Guard’s going to be able to quiet it down—we’re going to have to call out the whole U.S. Army. …

There’s going to be fear like we’ve never known—judgment at the door. When I was at Macy’s Dept. store in a vision and I watched people walking around stunned, they didn’t know what to do, they didn’t know what was happening; then a bunch of people walked into Macy’s and suddenly went wild and began to steal and within an hour everybody—I saw the spirit of everybody in the store—they were robbing and stealing—they raped Macy’s and destroyed five floors—Macy’s was raped and ruined in a period of an hour or two.

That’s just the beginning. Folks it’s all in this book (the bible) —we’ve been warned and warned and warned—you can’t tell me God hasn’t warned us. …

As I wrote in a comment about this message, much of this looks like an economic prediction rather than a prophecy. Indeed it looks remarkably like the completely non-prophetic message from Will Hutton in today’s issue of UK newspaper The Observer, also published on The Guardian’s website (The Observer is in effect the Sunday edition of The Guardian). Hutton even puts a specific date on his prediction: this Friday, 22nd July:

For months, Republicans have used their new majority in the House of Representatives to block any move to lift the artificial cap on the amount the US government can borrow. If by this Friday they still refuse – insisting on up to $4trillion of spending cuts, excluding defence, and no tax increases as the price of their support – then the US will be unable to service its public debts. The biggest economy on Earth will default.

The results will be catastrophic, argues JP Morgan chief executive Jamie Dimon – a warning repeated by Obama. The US government will have to start to wind down: soldiers’ wages and public pensions alike will be suspended. But in the financial markets there will be mayhem. Interest rates will shoot up and there will be a flight from the dollar. Banks, uncertain about their expected income from their holdings of US Treasury bonds and bills, will call in their loans, creating a second credit crunch. Some may collapse. …

The main difference here is that Hutton names the USA as the first nation to default on its debts. His language is not quite as apocalyptic as Wilkerson’s, but this kind of economic meltdown will surely lead to widespread looting.

Hutton puts the blame for this partly on Rupert Murdoch, currently a convenient whipping boy for rival newspapers, and partly on the intransigence of the right-wing Republicans of the Tea Party, who he describes as follows:

These are politicians who in some respects have more in common with Islamic religious fundamentalists than the Enlightenment tradition which gave birth to western democracy. The Tea Party sees neither virtue nor integrity in any position but their own. … They have been sent by God and their electors to bring down Washington.

Yes, Scott, even in the USA there are people, elected politicians, who reject the Enlightenment tradition. But I wouldn’t disagree if you called this lot “delusional”.

Do some of these Tea Party fundamentalists actually want to provoke the kind of economic meltdown which Wilkerson prophesied and Hutton predicts? Do they think that by doing so they can provoke Jesus into coming again? But if so, have they considered the human cost of this? Have they even realised the effect it would have on their own prized prosperity? Whatever their rhetoric might be, few of them are really ready to live off the land.

Politicians of the USA, if you know what love is, back down from your threats and agree a reasonable budget. And if you don’t know what love is, whichever side of this dispute you may be on, you should drop the claims so many of you make to be Christians.

Thanks to Shoq as retweeted by Joel Watts for the link to Hutton’s article.

Scott Bailey in bed with creationists!

Scott Bailey when he was a professional ice hockey goaltender

Scott Bailey when he was a professional ice hockey goaltender

I was rather enjoying Scott Bailey’s series Does Higher Criticism Attempt to “Destroy the Bible”? This was teaching in simple language some important lessons about how to approach the Bible.

But when Scott came to the fifth post in his series his presuppositions started to show. Indeed this post is little more than a summary of them. But Scott’s position became really clear when I tried to engage with him in the comments on this post. I summarised his first response to me as

You clearly reject as “delusional and willfully ignorant” anyone who believes in any kind of spiritual world interacting with our world today.

He replied that he would accept this kind of interaction if I could show him

how it works, that it works, and do it under repeatable, verifiable, testable conditions.

But when I suggested that his insistence on “repeatable, verifiable, testable conditions” for any tests of spiritual activity implies that

large parts of modern science, including almost all geology, evolutionary biology and astronomy, are invalid because they are based on observation rather than repeatable experiment,

he replied

Are you really that stupid and unaware of the different scientific methods and disciplines? … it’s hard for me to fathom someone could seriously write that. Perhaps the most idiotic thing you have commented here.

Well, I’ll let my readers judge who is being “idiotic” here. Of course there are different scientific methods in different disciplines. But he is trying to argue that it is “delusional” to speak of interactions between the material and the spiritual world because they cannot be proven by the experimental methods used in one particular set of disciplines – although they can very likely be demonstrated by using observational methods which are accepted in other scientific disciplines.

Now I accept that good observational evidence needs to be found for any claims for example of healing as a result of prayer, and that it is hard to find such evidence. But to claim that it is “delusional” to believe in such healings unless they can be performed under repeatable laboratory conditions is quite unreasonable. It is also offensive to astronomers, evolutionary biologists etc whose work, if the same standards were applied to it, would also have to be written off as “delusional”.

Yes, Scott has some uncomfortable bedfellows here, creationists who argue against evolution and an ancient universe because these scientific results are based only on observation of fossils, distant galaxies etc and not on experiments done “under repeatable, verifiable, testable conditions”.

Scott, you, like “Every single person in the western world”, have been “inculcated, socialized, and deeply, deeply ingrained into Enlightenment categories of thinking” – to quote your own words. But that does not imply that those categories are objectively correct and that all others are false. The excellent scholar does not blindly accept the categories of thinking he or she has been brought up with, but questions these paradigms and is prepared to transcend them. Great scientific advances have been made by those like Einstein who were able to think in new categories. But second rate scholars like Bultmann, as I discussed recently, continue to think in the old ways long after they have been discredited. Scott, you might think it a compliment to be compared with Bultmann, but I don’t mean it as such when I suggest that you are making the same mistake as him.

For sale: the earliest European book, £9m

The St Cuthbert GospelThe BBC and others report that “the earliest surviving European book” is being sold, for a mere £9m (over $14m), and that the British Library and others are raising funds to ensure that this historic item stays in the UK. It is a 7th century Latin copy of John’s Gospel, which was found in the tomb of St Cuthbert, originally buried at Lindisfarne in northern England in 698.

As can be seen from the BBC video, this St Cuthbert Gospel is in amazingly good condition. It is described as

an almost miraculous survival from the Anglo-Saxon period, a beautifully-preserved window into a rich, sophisticated culture that flourished some four centuries before the Norman Conquest.

The seller is “the Society of Jesus (British Province)”, i.e. the Jesuits. The story of how they obtained it is told here.

I wish the British Library and its partners success in their efforts to raise the funds to buy this treasure, and look forward to seeing it displayed in London (for part of the year) alongside the Lindisfarne Gospels, which are from the same area and period.

I’m glad this book is not being sold on Amazon, although I wouldn’t complain if it was bought through my affiliate link!

Thanks for the link to Christian Askeland of Evangelical Textual Criticism.

The devil isn't a slanderer – nor am I

Anthony BradleyYesterday Anthony Bradley accused me of slander, against Mark Driscoll. He didn’t name me. But he did name Rachel Held Evans for a “slanderous post”, and he wrote of “the way in which many other believers jumped on the slander bandwagon”, obviously referring to my post on the matter among many others.

In my response to Bradley yesterday I argued that Rachel and I, among many others, were right to stand up to Driscoll and name him for his unacceptable bullying behaviour. I regretted only using the word “bully” in the title of my post, suggesting that this was Driscoll’s character rather than his behaviour. I have now adjusted the post title to add quotation marks round this word, to indicate that it is a quotation from Rachel: Standing up to the “bully” Mark Driscoll.

I also want to argue that Bradley is totally confused about what is meant by slander. Yesterday I rejected part of what he wrote on the basis that

Bradley cannot support his argument that all accusations, or all public ones, are wrong, on the basis of a Greek word, diaballo, used only once in the New Testament.

I now want to look into this point in more detail. I note that this rare Greek verb diaballo is the basis for the rather more common noun diabolos. The noun is found 35 times in the New Testament with the meaning “devil” and referring to the devil or Satan; once of Judas (John 6:70); and three times of ordinary people, in the plural (all in the Pastoral Epistles: 1 Timothy 3:11, 2 Timothy 3:3, Titus 2:3). In RSV these last three occurrences are all rendered “slanderers”. KJV and NIV 2011 are oddly inconsistent: the former offers “slanderers”, “false accusers” and “false accusers” respectively, whereas the latter has “malicious talkers”, “slanderous” and “slanderers”. And it is often taught that the word “devil” really means “slanderer”, and therefore that Satan’s chief activity is to slander people.

First we need to clarify the meaning of “slander”. According to The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, the meaning of the noun is

1. Law Oral communication of false statements injurious to a person’s reputation.
2. A false and malicious statement or report about someone.

In other words, a fundamental part of the meaning is that the statement is false, as well as malicious. Now Anthony Bradley quotes the 1915 International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (s.v. “slander”) as saying that “in the Bible”

As a rule [slander] is a false charge (compare Mt 5:11); but it may be a truth circulated insidiously and with a hostile purpose (e.g. Dan 3:8, “brought accusation against,” where Septuagint has diaballo, “slander”; Lk 16:1, the same Greek word).

So ISBE tries to redefine a good English word concerning false accusations to include truth spoken maliciously. On what basis? Not KJV, which has “accuse” at Luke 16:1, as does NIV 2011. It looks to me as if the only basis they have is the presumed meaning of the Greek word diaballo, which they gloss as “slander”.

So what is the meaning of Greek diaballo and diabolos? According to my 1884 edition of Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon abridged for use in schools, the verb means, in the relevant sense,

to accuse falsely, slander, calumniate: to accuse a man to another

and the noun means

a slanderer; esp. … the Slanderer, the Devil.

Very likely D. Miall Edwards, who wrote the ISBE entry, would have learned these or similar definitions at school. They both seem to imply falsehood spoken maliciously.

But it is interesting to see a shift of emphasis in the more complete Liddell-Scott-Jones lexicon online at Perseus, which has been updated to 1940. For the verb diaballo the relevant parts of the definition (citations omitted) are now:

V. attack a man’s character, calumniate, …; accuse, complain of, without implied malice or falsehood, …: c. dat. rei, reproach a man with . .,
2. c. acc. rei, misrepresent, …: speak or state slanderously, : generally, give hostile information, without any insinuation of falsehood, …
3. δ. τι εἴς τινα lay the blame for a thing on . ., .
4. disprove a scientific or philosophical doctrine, .
5. δ. ἔπος declare it spurious,

In other words, although the word can be used of slander, it does not in itself imply “any insinuation of falsehood”. This fits well with the biblical use of the verb, in Luke 16:1 and Daniel 3:8 LXX, for apparently true information passed on with malicious intent.

So what we see in the ISBE entry is Miall Edwards trying to redefine a good English word on the basis of its use in a misleading definition of a Greek word used only once in the New Testament. I think he got something backwards there! And then we have Bradley citing Edwards, writing nearly a century earlier, as an authority, and on that dubious basis accusing of slander people like myself who wrote against Mark Driscoll. Meanwhile the misleading definition has been corrected, but is still being quoted by Bradley, in the form “diaballo, ‘slander'”.

But what does diabolos mean? The LSJ entry for this word, primarily an adjective but also used as a noun, seems oddly inconsistent with the one for diaballo:

A. slanderous, backbiting,
II. Subst., slanderer, ; enemy,: hence, = Sâtân, …; the Devil,
III. Adv. “-λως” injuriously, invidiously, …

Now the meaning of an adjective or noun is not always tied to that of a related verb. But it seems odd that in this case the definition of the verb was updated between 1884 and 1940 but the definition of the noun was not. I think it would be reasonable, if not provable, that the noun, like the verb, should not imply “any insinuation of falsehood”.

To put it simply, the noun diabolos does not mean “slanderer” but more like “malicious accuser” or “denouncer”. So Christian authors and preachers should stop saying that “devil” means “slanderer”, and realise that its sense is very similar to that of the Hebrew Sâtân, “adversary” or “Satan”.

As for Rachel and myself, we are not slanderers either, because we were speaking the truth, and doing so not maliciously but in love (Ephesians 4:15): love for the homosexuals, women and others who were demeaned by Driscoll; love for those who might be led astray by his bad teaching and example; and love for Driscoll himself, in the hope that this amazing preacher and leader can accept correction and become all the more effective for the kingdom of God.

Not Driscoll's Jesus, nor Jim West's, but the Bible's

Jim WestJim West offers a rather double-edged endorsement of Gentle Wisdom, to which I replied in a comment, which he has not (yet?) approved, starting with these words:

Thanks for the wonderful endorsement! But don’t make it too obvious that you are trying to revitalise a fading blog by getting link love from a rising star.

Jim writes about me:

He’s a bit too fluffy for me. I imagine his image of Jesus is something of a Jesus who carries a bunny, and a flower, and never says a cross word to anyone.

Well, Jim certainly has an active imagination. I have no idea where he gets this image from. True, I rejected what might be Mark Driscoll’s Jesus, because this is not at all the biblical picture. But on exactly the same basis I reject any image of “a Jesus who carries a bunny, and a flower, and never says a cross word to anyone”, because this clearly contradicts the biblical picture of our Saviour. As Jim correctly states as he continues,

the actual Jesus we know from the Gospels … called people hypocrites, was quite unfriendly to Temple businessmen, and regularly mocked the religious leaders of his day.

Indeed I could have used Jesus’ example to defend calling Driscoll a bully: Jesus called the scribes and Pharisees much worse things. This confrontational aspect of Jesus has been important to my faith since the 1970s, when I read John Stott’s book Christ the Controversialist, which helped me to see the inadequacy of the image from my childhood of Jesus who “never says a cross word to anyone”.

Mark Driscoll is right to regret that

increasingly, the least likely person to be found in church is a twenty-or-thirty-something single male.

Among the reasons for this may well be that the image of Jesus which Jim attributes to me is so widespread. So Driscoll is right to try to present a different image. But the image he should be presenting is not of someone who might advise: “ridicule those who disagree with you, despise people of other orientations, denigrate women, and above all be arrogant and rude!” Instead he should find and preach the true Jesus as presented in the gospels.

Was I wrong to call Mark Driscoll a bully?

Mark DriscollAnthony Bradley writes in World magazine that Libel is not love, and therefore that bloggers like Rachel Held Evans and myself were wrong to call Mark Driscoll a bully. Here is part of Bradley’s article:

There is nothing loving about calling a pastor a “bully“—that is, “a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people.” That is a serious charge. In her post, Evans describes why she believes Driscoll to be a bully, implying that he, his teachings, and the elders at his church are not functioning in ways consistent with Scripture. While it is more than reasonable to understand why someone would take issue with Driscoll’s post, Evans’ way of responding cannot and should not be encouraged. What was even more disturbing was the way in which many other believers jumped on the slander bandwagon to feed on the carnage once it went viral.

But why exactly is it wrong to make this kind of charge? The evidence is there, in public. At least, it was on Facebook which is not technically public but, as Pete Broadbent discovered last year, might as well be where public figures are concerned. And Bradley is not disputing the facts. But he is disputing whether it is right for Christians to comment negatively on such facts.

Bradley tries to present a biblical argument that what Rachel and I wrote counts as slander and so is wrong. In law a statement is neither slander nor libel if it is true, and no one is disputing the truth of what she and I have written. A true statement can be an accusation, but Bradley’s argument depends on it being wrong for a Christian to bring any kind of accusation against anyone else, whereas in 1 Timothy 5:19 such accusations are specifically permitted – where there is adequate evidence, as there is in this case. In Galatians 2:11-14 Paul writes of how he publicly accused Peter of wrongdoing. Bradley cannot support his argument that all accusations, or all public ones, are wrong, on the basis of a Greek word, diaballo, used only once in the New Testament.

Now that doesn’t make it right to make public accusations in this case. It would be better, although perhaps difficult in practice, to bring the matter to Driscoll in private first. No doubt some of the at least 610 comments made on Driscoll’s Facebook post, and which presumably went back to Driscoll, did point out to him how wrong what he wrote was. But although Driscoll deleted the post no one has claimed that he showed any regret for it.

Bradley makes a stronger argument in a tweet:

Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself. (Prov 26:4) should govern how we disagree w/people.

Here Bradley implicitly calls Driscoll a fool, surely just as serious as calling him a bully. But indeed arguing with such a person can drag one into a vicious circle of folly. Nevertheless, as the very next verse teaches,

Answer a fool according to his folly,
or he will be wise in his own eyes.

Proverbs 26:5 (NIV)

Sometimes fools need to be shown their folly so that they do not continue in it. And that surely applies especially when the fool is in a position of leadership, whether in the church, in business, or in a nation.

But all of this needs to be done in love. And I would agree that it is does not show love to write negatively about another person’s character rather than their actions. So, while I would consider it quite justified to accuse Driscoll of bullying in his behaviour, it is not right to call him a bully, thereby impugning his character. So I was wrong.

Thanks to Brian Leport for the link to Bradley’s article, and for retweeting his tweet.

Those who live by the gun will die by the gun

Roman Catholic priest Ed EverittMy heart goes out to the congregation of Holy Ghost Roman Catholic Church in Hammond, Louisiana, who include a blogger friend, for the sad loss of their priest Ed Everitt. (I call no one on earth “Father”, Matthew 23:9.) Everitt was killed at a beachfront house in Mississippi, as reported by abc24 – thanks to Jim West for the link. See also the other JW’s post about this sad event.

I have good friends in Hammond, not Roman Catholics, and visited the city last year.

Jim rightly highlights the “Barbarism” and “depravity” of the suspect who has been arrested, who was reportedly planning to take his family to Disney World with the car and the money stolen from Everitt. But I want to look at another aspect of this story. I quote from the abc24 report as quoted by Jim:

A handyman is accused of using a Catholic priest’s own gun to kill him at a beachfront house in Mississippi …

What was a priest, a man of God, doing with a gun, when he had gone to the beach, 70 miles from Hammond, for his day off? For me this raises two questions.

First, is American society really so dangerous that a man needs to take a gun with him on a day at the beach? If so, then something really needs to be done about general violence, and in particular about the proliferation of guns.

Second, is it really appropriate for a priest to carry a gun? I wouldn’t want to make a general rule forbidding this as there might be special circumstances where it would make sense. But it seems very strange to me that a man who claims to be representing Jesus who said “Do not resist an evil person … turn to them the other cheek” (Matthew 5:39) would carry a weapon.

Anyway it seems likely that resisting evil led to this priest’s death. The full circumstances are not clear, but according to the abc24 report “Police believe the handyman had intended to rob Everitt.” Very likely if the priest had followed the teaching of Jesus he would have lost his car (only temporarily as it had a tracking device) and his wallet but saved his life. But for having a gun, and maybe for confronting the thief with it, he paid with his life.

This incident shows clearly that (to contextualise yet another verse from Matthew, 26:52) those who live by the gun will die by the gun.

Terry Virgo of Newfrontiers thanks Mark Driscoll

Terry VirgoTerry Virgo, founder and leader of Newfrontiers, in a tweet yesterday just retweeted by Adrian Warnock:

Thanks @PastorMark for your courage & clarity in motivating us in Newfrontiers to move forward. Here we go!

“@PastorMark” is of course the “bully” Mark Driscoll.

So, is Virgo oblivious to the current storm about Driscoll’s bullying and generally unacceptable behaviour? If so, he needs to keep up better with the Christian news. Or is he endorsing such behaviour as the direction for “us in Newfrontiers to move forward”? I certainly hope not!

Virgo’s blog is currently not accessible, redirecting to a holding page with a circular link. Perhaps he needs to hide like this to shelter from the storm which might now blow in his direction. But can he hide from Twitter?