Monday, 14 March 2016

Where should I start, after a week away?

In the last week or so I've watched 3 full-length films (on DVD), had physiotherapy for my knee problems, decided it's time to replace Chris's beetle, played guitar in another church celebration, test driven 2 cars with a sniffly wife and possibly found another useful piece in the puzzle for a company for who I'm doing development work. Oh, I also finished reading Eusebius (finally - now I can concentrate a bit more on What's Wrong With Outreach) and have started reaing a criticism/analysis of Origen's refutation of Celsus' The True Word (more interesting than it sounds).

Time flashes past.

I'm tempted to try to review the films (Edge Of Tomorrow was well made with a good story and pleasing characters, The Lady In The Van was a film much better in retrospect that at the time of viewing, Oblivion suffered the 'Hollywood effect' that replaced humanity with CGI) but I won't right now.

As for the cars, we test drove a used new VW Beetle 1.4TSi (great looks, great engine, good ride and handling, high price) and Mini convertible Cooper D (good looks, good engine, good ride and great handling, lower price). The beetle is a more practical car than most convertibles seem to be, with a large boot, folding seats and OK legroom in the rear (I managed an hour in the back without discomfort). The mini is a little less spacious in the back (good headroom still, 2"-3" less legroom) and all-round smaller & more nimble-feeling in other respects. Doing the 'looking back' test, Chris seemed to prefer the Mini, so that's probably where we'll go for her next car.

I'm still digesting Eusebius, with the final chapter not being like the previous text. It has been a very useful read however, and has really helped me understand why the ancient church was so intensely political and inclined to acquire power (protection from brutal persecution initially, though that became self-fulfilling very quickly). Before I began reading, my original impression had been that the church had gone off the rails once it became a state-sponsored, then state-controlling organisation. From this text, it appears the church had quickly become corrupted and fragmented in a way that looks modern long before that, with major heresies and schisms devloping even before the end of the first century. It's also been useful to see that the 'bible as the word of God' that we now have would not have been recognised at all by second and third century Christians, which I had been aware of, but not considered in this way before.


  1. One of these days I'll read Eusebius... it's been on my shelf for a while.

    Can you say more about your final sentence? I'm curious.

  2. The impression I have was that there was a large soup of documents of varying degrees of provenance and authenticity, and in addition the various heretical groups and sects were creating their own versions and unique writings to support their work.

    So the 4 gospels and Acts were probably viewed as most authoritative, closely followed by Paul's, the apostle John's and James' writings. Revelation was disputed as being authentic, as was Jude. In addition to this there were quite a number of other church fathers that wrote various things that were used as sources for teaching and theological study, some of whom we have heard (like Origen) and some that aren't normally mentioned. Most weight was given to those who had direct contact with and been discipled by the original apostles, and those who had been taught by them. There seemed to be many schisms and groups of churches, all pulling away from each other and making up their own rules for what it meant to be a Christian, with their own sets of writings.

    In this light, I find it all the more amazing that a group could ever come together to agree a canon of scripture in the way they did and when they did it. Time and distance has lent a sense of the sacred and holiness to the collection of works we have as the bible that tends to cause us to exclude all other writings from having the same absolute authority. This is not a bad thing, but would have been outside the experience of those early Christians. This also partly helps us understand why the oldest traditions base their understanding on tradition as well as scripture, because that's how church practice was developed and was not expected to be bible-based, even after the canon was assembled, having pre-dated it by some time.

  3. Ah yes. I wondered if that was it. Thanks.

  4. Also, that link to the "What's Wrong with Outreach" blog is fascinating. If you're reading the book, I'd be curious to hear your thoughts when you're finished. It's a compelling argument he presents in the post. I have a paper somewhere by one of my seminary professors which I haven't finished reading, but it also highlights the fact that evangelism seems to be of relatively little concern in the New Testament.


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