Wednesday, 24 December 2014

A picture of the incarnation

In a passage from 'Unfinished Tales' by Tolkien the origin of the wizards is described. They were sent to middle-earth by the Valar (angelic servants of Eru the creator):

"For with the consent of Eru they sent members of their own high order, but clad in bodies as of Men, real and not feigned, but subject to the fears and pains and weariness of earth, able to hunger and thirst and be slain; though because of their noble spirits they did not die, and aged only by the cares and labours of many long years." Unfinished Tales, p. 503

In other words, Gandalf is the incarnation of an (almost) divine being.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

When watching Christmas films!

Here's a very helpful blog post from Grace community church, Bedford about watching films and TV programmes with the brain switched on.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Defend the Virgin Birth?

The virgin birth is obviously important. Without it Jesus wouldn't be God's son. That's why the historical authenticity of Luke 1:26-38 is challenged by doubters. The argument is that Mary knew she had got herself into trouble and the angel's message was her way to explain the pregnancy without scandal. The problem for Christians is that there's no evidence one way or the other beyond Mary's word.

But then, maybe we shouldn't worry. The New Testament doesn't spend time defending the virgin birth. Where the New Testament focuses its defence of historical accuracy is on the resurrection, most noticeably in 1 Corinthians 15.

It is in the resurrection that we have evidence that Jesus is the Son of God. The story of the virgin birth is simply the explanation, not the proof. We have to start with the risen Lord Jesus who convinces us of his authority, then work backwards to find an account of how he came into the world. The conclusion we come to is "Of course its true, how else could the Son of God be born?"

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Who arranged the meeting?

When Boaz went to gates of Bethlehem (Ruth 4:1), did he expected to meet the kinsman-redeemer, or was the meeting fortuitous?

According to Robert Hubbard in his NICOT commentary on Ruth it was to be expected:

Everyone had to pass through the gate en route to the fields, the threshing floor, or other cities. To meet him there would facilitate the speedy settlement of this matter; Boaz would waste no time searching for him. (p. 232)
However, Daniel Block takes a different view in his NAC commentary on Judges and Ruth:

With a superficial reading of the book the timing of the kinsman-redeemer's arrival may seem coincidental, but a deeper reading will recognize again the hidden hand of God. (p. 705)
Was the meeting arranged by Boaz or God? Maybe there is something of both. Boaz could expect the kinsman-redeemer to use the gate at that time in morning, but could he be certain? Perhaps he was trusting God to bring about the necessary meeting.

All through Ruth the main characters seem to take matters into their own hands, yet be very reliant on the God who is very obviously in control of these events.

I wonder if the people of Ruth's time had debates about freewill and the sovereignty of God?