Snippets from the interweb (12th February 2023)

Do humans have free will? The answer (of course) is: it depends!

Unless we know exactly what we’re talking about, we can’t really answer this question. This one is really about defining our terms.

Are you relying on the Spirit or a hunch?

‘Intuition is knowing the reason someone is #askingforafriend has nothing to do with an actual friend and everything to do with a real situation in his life he’s too embarrassed to admit. Pastoral care often requires intuition, trying to unearth the question behind the question.’

What is a church?

‘We could start with the word itself. In the New Testament, the word “church” is translated from the Greek word ekklēsia. An old idea that still gets passed around today is that ekklēsia means “called out ones,” given that ek means “out of” and klēsia comes from the Greek word for “called.” This sounds nice—we’re the called-out ones!—but most of the time, this approach isn’t a great way to determine a word’s meaning. A butterfly isn’t a fly that likes butter, right? We need to look at how a word is actually used to know what it means, and by the time that the NT was written, the word “ekklēsia” did not mean “called out ones.” Instead, it had the basic meaning of “assembly,” and there’s two threads that tie together to help us understand this meaning.’

Gender neutral God?

The Church of England is currently discussing whether to move toward more gender neutral language when speaking about God. Dave Williams considers three arguments that get trotted out to this end and discusses what might be at stake if we heed them.

The Bishops or the Bible

In light of the recent vote at the Church of England General Synod this one asks a vital question that highlights why these discussions are unlikely to ever be fruitful. ‘The real question is: How does a bishop convince himself that the Bible doesn’t really mean what the Bible clearly says it does mean?’

Not a dinosaur: Understanding Leviathan in Job

I found this a convincing and compelling case for understanding Leviathan to be a personification of evil and, more specifically, a reference to Satan himself.

From the archive: The primary focus of our theological training

‘It is my strong belief that our theological education should focus on tools. Specifically the tools that we couldn’t easily learn on our own. Knowledge derived from reading widely can be grasped as long as we are able to read. But there are tools that are less likely to be learnt without help. What are the key tools we will use to understand the Bible and that will aid our teaching of it to others? Exegesis and hermeneutics. From these – from our heads buried in the text – flow our theological framework, our doctrine and their real world implications.’