Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Anyone for Fudge?

That's right. The US House of Bishops has spoken, and what a clever bunch they are.

See here for their statement.

Here for Church Society's response.

Here for more links.

Monday, 24 September 2007

Markan Son Sandwich

Preparing a study on Mark 1:1-13.

Helpful stuff from the Revd Matthew Mason on John's dress and diet.

In vv. 9-13 it looks like we have a sandwich, one of Mark's favourite items of food.

In v. 9, Jesus is baptised. Strange! This is a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (v. 4), so Jesus doesn't need that. Perhaps he is identifying with Israel from the off. He is becoming Israel, and in bearing Israel's sin, he needs this baptism.

In v. 12 he is driven out into the wilderness for 40 days to be tempted by Satan. Sounds familiar! Jesus is again Israel, but whereas they succumbed to temptation in 40 years of wilderness, Jesus is faithful in 40 days.

In the middle, the Father announces, "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased." A parallel and contrast to Ex 4:22, Israel God's firstborn son, who turns out not to be terribly pleasing.

This goes with the quotes from Mal 3 and Isa 40 in Mark 1:2 to portray Jesus as the faithful Israel restored from exile.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

As requested

As Michael has requested in response to the last post, the best I can do at the moment is to direct you to David Field's various links and posts. Many are deliberately provocative, and I suspect some (including Michael) will not appreciate the tone, but the substance is, I find, persuasive.

Welfare is all part of my forthcoming posts on taxation and the place of the state (after October half-term), though Jam has some useful starters.

Michael, thank you for your patience, as you endure my passing remarks without yet seeing my full rationale.

Monday, 17 September 2007


Yes, just 3 months into ministry and I've got my first letter published in the Church Times!

Sadly you need to be a subscriber to view it online. It was a response to a scurrilous attack by Stephen Bates against Christian Reconstructionism (and lots of other people he doesn't like).

A couple at church yesterday morning mentioned they'd seen my letter "in Jezebel's Trumpet". Nice!

After advice from my esteemed colleagues, here it is:


Having enjoyed William Whyte’s review of The Expansion of Evangelicalism, it was ironic then to read Stephen Bates on the Religious Right. Whyte observes that “Evangelicalism was not homogenous.” Mr. Bates then proceeds to lump together Christian Reconstructionism, tele-evangelists, the Republican Party, unfortunate examples of evangelical hypocrisy, and Evangelicals generally.

To consider just one of these, even within Christian Reconstructionism, there is diversity. There are different attitudes to the legal status of other faiths. There are different applications of Old Testament Law to the judicial system. No Reconstructionist expects this to happen in 20 years, as Mr. Bates seems to suggest. Postmillenial in outlook, Reconstructionists expect this sort of state to be possibly centuries in the making. Further, the growing movement of ecclesial rather than political Reconstructionists expect this will take place as a result of large-scale Christian conversion, within the democratic process, not to be enforced by some coup d’etat.

Finally, Mr. Bates attacks the focus on homosexuality rather than divorce or poverty. If he would read the work of Jordan, Leithart, Wilson, Bahnsen et al., he would find that fidelity in marriage, love for your wife, care for your family, takes up considerably more space than any discussions of homosexuality.

He would also find that the opposition of the Institute for Christian Economics and others to state intervention, welfare and ‘fair’ trade, which he may mistake for unconcern for the poor, is prompted by a thoroughgoing desire to follow biblical (and therefore truly effective) means for the alleviation of poverty.

Yours faithfully,
Neil Jeffers

Thursday, 13 September 2007

So much to read...

How in parish ministry can one keep reading a good range of books, which aren't directly related to sermon study?

One way might be to set myself a ridiculously ambitious target. So here's a list of books I'm aiming to read/re-read in the next, what shall we say, two years (grouped for convenience):

Biblical Studies
J. B. Jordan, Through New Eyes

Covenant Theology
O. P. Robertson, The Christ of the Covenants

H. Witsius, The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man

T. Bradshaw, The Olive Branch

E. P. Clowney, The Church

P. J. Leithart, The Kingdom and the Power

J. M. Frame, Worship in Spirit and Truth

J. J. Meyers, The Lord’s Service

J. Edwards, The Freedom of the Will

R. B. Gaffin, Resurrection and Redemption

J. Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied

J. Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ

R. Bewes, Speaking in Public Effectively

S. Greidanus, The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text

J. Hughes, Expository Preaching with Word Pictures

H. W. Robinson, Expository Preaching

G. L. Bahnsen, Theonomy in Christian Ethics

W. G. Strickland ed., Five Views on Law and Gospel

O. M. T. O’Donovan, Resurrection and Moral Order

O. M. T. O’Donovan, The Desire of the Nations

V. S. Poythress, The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses

J. M. Frame, Medical Ethics

D. Wilson, For a Glory and a Covering

R. K. &. B. Hughes, Disciplines of a Godly Family

N. Piper, Treasuring God in our Traditions

D. Wilson, Future Men

J. Adams, Competent to Counsel

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

If I hear one more person say...

... that the Jubilee is about political economy and the redistribution of wealth, I shall point them very forcefully to this excellent comment and indeed to everything Ros has ever written to do with the land (or anything else, as Ros's work is always insightful, heart-warming and, of course, carefully distinguished).

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Poetic justice

Preaching on Exodus 12 this Sunday as the first in a series on penal substitution in the OT (contra Steve Chalke et al.).

How beautiful the justice of the Passover is.

In Exodus 1:16, the Egyptians have sought the death of every son born to Israel.

In 4:22, we discover that the Israel Pharaoh has been oppressing is God's "firstborn son". We also have a forewarning of the Passover in 4:23.

In the Passover, every house in Egypt loses its firstborn son, while the firstborn sons of the firstborn son (Israel) are delivered by God's provision of a blood substitute.

Notice the mercy as well. In retribution for 1:16, God could quite fairly have killed every son of Egypt. He chose only to kill the firstborn.

What a just and merciful God we serve!