Why Vaughan comes to conferences
Here Vaughan explains why he comes to PT conferences and books early! Our next ministers conference is in May for younger ministers (3-6 May) with Tim Chester and William Taylor and then the senior ministers conference (16-19 May) with great OT scholar Iain Duguid and Hugh Palmer. Listen to Vaughan's advice and book now! Please note that the younger ministers conference is almost fully booked.
Ministry and Marriage (1)
Here we are at the ministers conference and we have had two very good, thorough and challenging sessions on ministry and marriage with John and Ann Benton. For starters here are ten questions for men to ask themselves how difficult they are. Score 0 if you never do this; 1 if you rarely do it; 2 if you sometimes or often do it and 3 if you always do it.
- Assume that at the drop of a hat, she is willing to accommodate anybody or do anything
- Accept an away preaching engagement on her birthday or your anniversary
- Opt out of family life except at mealtimes
- Omit to communicate stuff from leaders' meetings which affects her
- Use what time you have off for personal pursuits
- Make jokes or tell stories at your wife's expense in a sermon
- Use headship as an excuse for selfishness
- Say yes to any request even if it overrides family plans
- Expect and use sex for your own consolation only
- Ignore or belittle her behind-the-scenes work
Be honest! Under 10, well done. Over 20, you are in trouble.
Jackman: On preaching long passages in Isaiah
David Jackman: don't just preach long passages to get through a long book. You will tend to be reductionist and preach framework. Pause on a verse or two. Mine the riches. Secure it in its setting, of course. But don't lose the detail.
Notes from start of David Jackman's third session:
There was a time when eschatology was thought of as the last chapter of a systematic theology and the home territory of a few crankies. One of the good results of the bible overviews we have is that eschatology is the DNA of the Bible. But what do our congregations have in mind when we speak to them of heaven? What, in other words, does heaven look like? Living for heaven is very difficult to do when we don't know what we mean by it.
We need to understand the future well if we are to know how to live in the waiting time. Isaiah 60-62 is very concerned with this issue. Isaiah 60-62 is the central section of this last chunk of Isaiah (56-66). [BTW, David says Isaiah 60-62 would make a great little preaching series on living now in the light of what is to come – much needed material.]
In chapter 60 there is a new beginning starting (and ending) with the motif of light (Isaiah 60.1, 20, 21). This is a poem of 10 stanzas which revolves around verse 12. Those who refuse to be part of the new kingdom will be utterly laid waste.
In chapter 61 a new speaker is introduced whose task is to proclaim good news and vengeance. Then verse 5-9 are about the city of God and the speaker who began chapter 61 speaks again from 61.10-62.7.
Chapter 62 then ends with a glorious ending.
This suggests that the unit is in five sections:
- picture of new Zion (60)
- The conqueror (61.1-4)
- Zion again ((61.5-6)
- The conqueror again (61.10-62.7)
- Zion (62.8-12)
Now we're getting into the detail. We'll post the audio and video soon; all good stuff!
Isaiah (2): preaching chiasms
David is just explaining, in response to a question, that understanding some of the chiasms (a particular structure of Hebrew literature) is about preaching preparation, not preaching! Use the chiasm to find what God is saying and understand the passage. "It is a great tool for finding the big idea and keeping it central." It is not a great tool for preaching! By and large our congregations don't think that way, so don't preach that way!
Autumn Ministers Conference: Isaiah (1)
Blogging from our Autumn Ministers Conference with David Jackman on Isaiah. Tonight it's a birds eye view of Isaiah which has already whetted my appetite for going back to Isaiah again:
- "The holiness of God is not just his purity but his overwhelming and absolute otherness from the entirety of the creation he has made. Of course, it includes his righteousness, but it is certainly not limited to this facet."
- "The Holy One of Israel" is Isaiah's favourite title for YHWH. Used 26 times in Isaiah, it only then appears 6 times in the rest of the Old Testament."
- "What the prophets do is to say 'Look out, I've seen what's coming. Act now or this will happen.' If the people listen and the prophetic word is heeded and does not come true, the prophetic word has not failed – rather it has been fulfilled. This is why gospel preaching is always prophetic – turn from the coming wrath, we say!"
- The key idea outlined in chapter 1 is that God laments that righteousness no longer resides in the city (Isaiah 1.21) but he wants to restore it (Isaiah 1.26). Therefore there is a difficult refining and restorative work that needs to be done, painful though it will be.
- The restoration of Zion will not be a gradual process but will require a significant intervention in history, both in judgement, a new exile, return and ultimately the coming of the Servant
- God's people will be redeemed by justice and righteousness. There will be no peace with God except through righteousness. You cannot have peace with God except on this basis.
- Three sections to Isaiah; classically, Isaiah 1-39, Isaiah 40-56 and Isaiah 56-66 (the latter section is the one we will be focusing on over these three days)
- Just had Louis Berkhof's classic three peaks illustration. I still like this one and use it all the time with Philip Project students. "When you start out your walk you see three hills and they all look similar, but as you get close you realise that there are some considerable distances between them."
- The three significant points are: fulfilment in Zion primarily (not exclusively) mentioned in 1-39; the fulfilment in Christ primarily focused in 40-55; final fulfilment primarily addressed in 56-66. Therefore 1-39 primarily prophesies to people in Jerusalem; 40-55 primarily prophesies to those awaiting Christ; 56-66 are especially relevant for the church today.These latter chapters speak to our time with future fulfilment.
- In each case the focus is on a messianic figure though he is called something different in each section. In 1-39 it is Immanuel; in 40-55 it is the suffering servant. In 56-66 it is the anointed and conquering warrior.
- A quick look at the description of Immanuel in Isaiah 9.6 – each of the couplets, says David, has a human element and a divine element – a great Christmas Carol service message!
- Waiting is a key theme of Isaiah. For us, waiting is a very negative experience. For Isaiah, it is a positive experience. Waiting time is when we believe the promises of God and obey his commands as we wait for the final fulfilment of all he has said he will done.56-66 shows how we are to live in the light of the not yet – the waiting time.
A great start! Looking forward to more about the waiting time tomorrow!
NIV update. Defining issue?
I first heard great preaching from the RSV. It was the first time I had sat through a rigorous, applied message (40 minutes too) and I was mesmerised. The preacher – a little unknown called Richard Cooper, from a little unknown church close to University, Woodhouse Eaves Evangelical Baptist Church – had a formative influence on my preaching.
But the RSV was not the evangelical's favourite. Strange this, because it was a good translation and, of course, became the basis for the ESV. Nevertheless, it made one well-trailed change from previous versions. It translated Isaiah 7.14 as "young woman" instead of "virgin." Technically, of course, that is correct. It could be either; and arguably (as the translators argued anyhow), it is only by reading back from the New Testament that you would assume the word should be translated "virgin." Nevertheless, it became the defining issue of the translation (along with the reduction of propitiation to pitiation, perhaps). Interestingly, the ESV revision reversed the change.
Strange how a translation should largely stand or fall on that one issue.
The updated NIV has been causing a bit of a stir in eLand because it has changed the way that Romans 1.17 is translated:
For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”(original NIV)
For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” (updated NIV)
Notice the difference? This is part of the 5% only that has been changed and will have Lutheran historians shaking, for, of course, it was this realisation that the righteousness came from God, rather than just his righteousness being revealed that kick started the Reformation. And there is no doubt that this is a politically sensitive issue because those who want to read Romans a slightly different way (be it Federal Vision or New Perspective on Paul) need the "from" to be taken out. Is this the new NIV's defining issue?
I don't think so.
First, the ESV translates the phrase dikaiosyne theou this way anyway. Plus ça change.
Second, the phrase "righteousness of God" is probably a more accurate translation. It is, after all, genitive. "righteousness from God" (original NIV) is an interpretation rather than a translation. And the wording is still left open for a traditional interpretation. In fact, arguably (and this is probably the reason it was changed) it lays open a more thorough understanding.
Moo, in his huge Romans commentary explains that the phrase can be understood three ways:
- An attribute of God. This is, of course, the way it is often understood by NPP guys.
- A status given by God. This is Luther's favourite.
- An activity of God.
Moo argues that the context, OT usage and Romans thrust take you down both line 2 and line 3. "Righteousness from God" excludes a simple understanding of line 3.
"This more comprehensive interpretation of "righteousness of God" in 1.17 has several advantages. First, it is built on the most frequent meaning of the phrase in the OT, so that Paul's readers in Rome would have an immediate starting point for their understanding of Paul's language. Second, it does justice to the nuances of both divine activity and human receptivity that occur in the text. Third, it enables us to relate the phrase to Paul's broader use of "righteousness" where he frequently highlights the end result of the process of justification in the believers status of righteousness." (Moo, p75).
Defining issue? No. Quite interesting though. And important to get right because the NIV update will replace the NIV.
Duh! It’s a donkey
Been reading Zechariah 9.9-10 this morning:
9 Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. 10 I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the warhorses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River[a] to the ends of the earth.
What's the significance of the donkey? This is a prophecy, of course, of the Triumphal Entry (as Matthew makes clear in Matt. 21). I've heard sermons which carefully explain that the donkey is a symbol of humility.
But that is worthy of an entry in the Donster's Exegetical Fallacies. The donkey was certainly the mode of transport of the rich and famous (see, for example, Judges 12.14). Poor people walked. The point of the donkey is this – it's not a war animal. The coming of the King is to usher in a reign of peace. A warrior King would have ridden a war horse. That much is made clear in the verse that follows. The King who comes on a donkey will remove the chariots, warhorses and battle bows – they simply will have no need of them in the kingdom of peace.
Of course this King comes humbly too (as verse 9 says, not only is he riding on a donkey, is is also lowly, compare the hymn in Philippians 2). But the donkey indicates a reign of peace. And that is the kind of King I want!
An interesting addendum to my post on the NIV update. The Greek word sarx was originally translated "sinful nature" in the NIV. Now, in the update, it has become "flesh" again.
Hand of Moo – updated NIV launched this week
The long awaited update to the NIV is launched this week on BibleGateway. You'll have to wait until Spring 2011 for printed copies – but the online version gives you a chance to browse and read the translators notes and see a video from chair of translation committee Doug Moo. It's comforting to know that this project has been in his hands – he's a safe and thorough Bible scholar (and will be speaking at one of 2012 conferences!).
I went straight to the passage I've been studying to see if I could spot the hand of Moo. The original NIV for Colossians 3.16-17 reads:
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Moo, in his Pillar commentary on Colossians, makes it clear that he thinks this is a less-than-the-best translation. And so it is perhaps no surprise that the updated NIV (what do we call it?) reads thus:
16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Not surprisingly, most people will be holding their breath to discover what line the updated NIV has taken on gender-inclusive language, given that this was the ONE issue that marked the short life of the TNIV. There is a long section in the translators' notes on this. Basically, "almost nothing has changed in the translation of the majority of these texts from the 1984 NIV to the updated NIV. But the careful reader will notice a few differences." These are outlined in the translator's notes.
My favourite English translation is still the Holman Christian Standard, but perhaps an NIV update might make it redundant? Only time (and a good read) will tell. There's a detailed interview with Doug Moo with some interesting insights here.