Day: March 3, 2009

what makes this hard to believe?

There’s a really interesting article by David Powlinson in Power Religion: The Selling Out of the Evangelical Church exploring the relationship between psychology and gospel ministry.

Some of it feels a little dated (I mean, how often do you hear sermons about self-esteem from evangelical pulpits these days?), but he makes some very significant points as he probes why psychology rose to such prominence in American evangelical circles in the late 80s. One of which is:

Evangelical churches and theologians have typically not grappled with the problems in living that Christian people have. The church has either misconstrued, oversimplified, or avoided facing the existential and situational realities of human experiences in the trenches of life.

The comment is made often enough that our preaching tends to be weak on application. We do our exegesis. We pour ourselves into biblical theology. We long to show people how to read the Bible. But we don’t do so well when it comes to convincing people that it’s worth reading. That biblical theology makes a difference. That the text we’re exegeting matters.

Someone might suggest that perhaps we don’t really believe that the Bible is worth listening to. Or that we’ve lost faith in the biblical gospel. But I’m not sure that’s it…

Maybe the problem is that we need to pay more attention to pyschology. Or at least the realities that its advocates are responding to. That is, those experiences and situations that make it hard for our congregations to believe what the Spirit is saying in whatever passage we’re preaching from.

I wonder what difference it would make to my preaching if I addressed myself as seriously to the question What makes this hard to believe? as I try to do to the question What is the main point of this passage?

buying theological textbooks (not quite a guide for the perplexed)

I may be a student at Moore College, but I’m not a candidate for ordination in the Sydney Anglican diocese.

Not because I’ve got anything against Sydney Anglicanism. I love Sydney! It’s my home. I met the Lord and took all my most important first steps in the faith as part of Anglican churches in Sydney. But I’ve refrained from signing up as a candidate because Natalie and I are keen to head overseas — at least in the short to medium term. For us, me not being a candidate means freedom. It means not being committed to stay in Sydney straight after College.

All good so far. But it has its downside too. Part of which is missing out on the fairly lucrative book allowance the diocese hands out. Although, it does mean that I feel less beholden to Moore Books, and more at liberty to explore the options on the magical ‘interweb’…

I’ve really only splashed around in the shallows so far. But here’s what I’ve discovered about getting hold of theological books online: books

  • A is for … Amazon: I’ve only recently shopped for books on Amazon. But it was great. They’ve got a wide selection. Reasonably priced (as long as you’re using American dollars — I did, I was given a voucher). And brilliant delivery times — my books arrived a month earlier than they predicted! But you do pay for it. Nearly half my $50 voucher went towards delivery.
  • Angus & Robertson Online: Although Natalie’s extended family often give me Angus & Robertson gift cards at Christmas, I’ve only ordered stuff through their online catalogue once or twice. Their range is pretty limited when it comes to theology. The price can vary wildly between ridiculously cheap and stupidly expensive. And, worst of all, you can’t redeem their vouchers at their online store. Bah-baum!
  • Berkelouw Books: Recent arrivals on King St (actually, just off it). The space is fantastic! And they do a mean chicken and grilled veg cous cous salad at the cafe. The second hand book section carries an … eclectic mix of theological books — with the occasional gem. 
  • Fishpond: I love these guys. A New Zealand company, they’ve got fairly reasonable prices, can get hold of a pretty good range of books, and deliver stuff in a timely manner (for free if you spend over $50 I think). They also offer periodic discounts to clear out my shopping cart (which always has something in it), which is nice. The only drawback: there’s a hefty surcharge for using Amex.

Please extend my list!