Thursday, August 23, 2007

Athens in Greece

(The Acropolis in Athens)

I shall be away to Athens, Greece from today until 1st September 2007. I shall not be updating this blog until my return. In the meantime, enjoy my previous posts.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Action and Contemplation

Next, you ask me why you should put down such thoughts under the cloud of forgetting, since it is true that they are good of their kind, and when well received they do you so much good and greatly increase your devotion. My answer is that you must clearly understand that there are two kinds of lives in holy Church.

One is the active life, and the other is the contemplative life. The active life is the lower and the contemplative life is the higher. The active life has two degrees, a higher and a lower; and the contemplative life also have two degrees, lower and a higher. Further, these two lives are so joined, neither of them can be lived fully without having some part in the either. For the higher part of the active life is the same as the lower part of the contemplative life.
Hence a man cannot be fully active unless he is partly a contemplative, nor can he be fully contemplative here below unless he is in some way active. It is the nature of the active life both to be begun and ended in this life. Not so, however, of the contemplative life, which is begun in this life and shall last without end.

Chapter VIII
The Cloud of Unknowing

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Planet Hulk

The Incredible Hulk/Bruce Banner is not one of my favourite Marvel heroes. Nevertheless, I have been reading the Hulk stories and of various incarnation of the Incredible Hulk; from the mindless Rage “Hulk smash!” to the grey “Mr. Fixit” and then to the present incarnation after the movie where we have an intelligent Hulk. What drew me back to the Hulk was a powerful science fiction fantasy story arc that ran quietly in the background in Incredible Hulk issue #92-105 from 2005-2007 while the rest of the Marvel universe was turned inside out. This story was crafted by sci-fi writer Greg Pak and was collected in 2007 as Planet Hulk.

This storyline started with a secret meeting of the most powerful leaders of the Marvel superheroes: Iron Man, Reed Richards, Dr Stephen Strange, Namor, and Black Bolt (of the Inhumans). Apparently these have gathered to plan for the protection of the earth. One item on the agenda was the Hulk, whom the group thinks is dangerous to the humans on earth. Like many in leadership positions, they have the Messiah complex and think that it is their duty to save the world!

To do that, they came up with a plan to maroon Hulk on an uninhabited planet where as Reed said to Hulk later, “There will be no one there to hurt you. And no one you can hurt.” I really cannot imagine that Iron Man, Reed Richards, Dr Stephen Strange, Namor, and Black Bolt will do that to the Hulk. Apparently that’s what they did. Under the guise of a mission from S.H.I.E.L.D. to destroy an artificially intelligent satellite which has gone rogue, Hulk went into space, was betrayed by his friends and marooned on the planet Sakaar.

Instead of an inhabited planet, Sakaar was full of alien races ruled by the tyrant Red King. Hulk was sold into slavery and forced to fight as Green Scar, a gladiator. Then follows a riotous storyline that is like Spartacus, Conan, and Gladiator rolled up like a California roll sushi. Green Scar united his gladiators friends, overthrew the Red King and gain access to space. The Green Scar/Hulk led his army into space to seek revenge on his former friends on a planet named Earth! I cannot remember when I have enjoyed a Hulk storyline so much. Hull/Banner seems to have integrated into one who comes out as a person with integrity, wise leader and fair judge.
Nuff’ said.

more of my comments on other comics and mangas here.


Partnership with God

Prayer unites the soul to God, for although the soul may always be like God in nature and substance, it is often unlike him in condition, through human sin. Prayer makes the soul like God when the soul wills as God wills; then it is like God in condition as it is in nature. And so he teaches us to pray and have firm trust that we shall have what we pray for, because everything which is done would be done, even though we have never prayed for it. But God's love is so great that he regards us as partners in his good work; and so he moves us to pray for what it pleases him to do so, for whatever prayer or good desire comes to us by his gift he will repay us for, and give us eternal reward.

Short Text, Chapter 19
Julian of Norwich


Monday, August 20, 2007

One Night with the King

This is a 2006 movie about how Hadassah, whose Persian name was Esther, became the queen of the Persian Empire and saved her people from genocide. The storyline followed closely the biblical book of Esther. However there was an interesting twist in which the story was presented.

The movie claimed that the enmity between Haman the Agagite, and the Jews started 500 years before when Saul, the first King of Israel defeated King Agag, the king of the Amalekites. Instead of killing all the people and live stocks as God had ordered, Saul kept back some animals and kept alive King Agag (I Samuel 15:20-33).

In the movie, Agag’s wife escaped. She was pregnant and survived to give birth to a child. The Agagites started a blood feud with the Jews and formed a sort of secret society to exterminate the Jews. Their chance for revenge came when Memucan made use of the Agagites to get rid of Queen Vashti. In the process, Haman an Agagite gained power until he came to be trusted and promoted by King Xerxes to hold the royal seal. Then he set in motion his plan to exterminate the Jews in the empire which included those living in Jerusalem, seeking revenge for what Saul did to Agag, and the Amalekites. This is an interesting twist in describing the reason for Haman’s hatred of the Jews which is more than just been slighted by Modecai. I love the guest appearances by Peter O'Toole and Omar Sahrif.

The Book of Esther is foundation of the Feast of Purim. The Feast of Purim was not established by the Mosaic Law. It was commanded by Mordecai and by Esther. The two-day feast was for remembering the goodness of God working through a number of circumstances to protect His people from extinction.
Mordecai wrote a proclamation that the Jews were to celebrate the event annually with eating, rejoicing, giving food, and sharing with the poor. The feast was called Purim because of Haman’s use of the pur . . . the lot to determine the time of the execution of the Jews in the Persian empire.

The pur became a symbol of God’s using circumstances to deliver His own.
What others think of the movie here
More of my movie reviews here

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The Music Played-Matt Munro

The Music Played- Matt Munro


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Watching The King and I in the Durian in Singapore

Last Friday evening, I watched the stage performance of The King and I at the Esplanade Theatre on the Bay (the Durian). I have been looking forward to watching this stage play the whole month. I have enjoyed the movie version and am now eager to watch a live stage performance. This musical is based on a true story and is also based on a novel by Margaret Landon, Anna and the King of Siam. Landon based her novel on the memoirs of Anna Leonowens, a 19th century Englishwoman who became governess to the children of the King of Siam.

The musical was a Rodgers and Hammerstein's production with memorable songs like "Shall we dance?", "Hello, Young Lovers", and "I Have Dreamed." The King and I opened on Broadway on March 29. 1951, where it was shown for three years (1,246 performances). It received five Tony Awards.
In 1956, The King and I musical movie was released starring Deborah Kerr as Anna and Yul Brynner (who stared as the King on Broadway) reprising his role as the King. It was nominated for nine Academy Awards and received five. In Singapore, Anna was played by Brianna Borger and King Mongkut of Siam by Paul Nakauchi.

While enjoying the wonderful music and lyrics, the fascinating backdrops, the exciting choreography and the wonderful cast, it was the story of the King of Siam that fascinates me. Here is a man who realises that his country is in danger of being made into a protectorate by the British and tries his best to bring his country into the 'scientific' modern age. Hence he employs an English woman as a school teacher to his children. He realises that education is the key to the survival of his country and his family. Yet this also means betraying his culture and tradition by adopting a "western" approach. The clash of civilization is at times both hilarious and sad.

The King is tormented by inner struggles as he wrestled to be a good King, a good Buddhist, a good husband (to many wives) and a good father. In his struggles, his humanity comes out clearly as he struggles between compassion and duty. I cannot help but identify with him in his pride, his pain and his loss. Clearly this is a great man who struggles to be human, to be a good man in circumstances that would not allow him to be so.

Paul Nakauchi performs superbly as the KING but it is difficult to fill in the shoes left behind by Yul Brynner.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

An Emergent Manifesto

I was about to write a review of this book when I came across a set of posters from Emerging Grace (HT: bob k). Grace has allowed me to use her posters which expressed so well what I have read in this book that I shall let the posters be the review.

Click on the posters for a bigger and clearer view.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Who, Me?

Click to view my Personality Profile page


Help, Mattel is Recalling my Batmans!

Early this month Mattel is recalling nearly one million toys in United States due to use of lead paint; all affected products were made in factories in China; more than 300,000 have already been purchased by consumers. Then the company recalled other toys with tiny magnets because these magnets can be easily dislodged and swallowed by young children.

Sarah Corey from Reuters reports

In the United States, the recall includes 7.3 million Polly Pocket dolls and accessories with magnets, 1 million Doggie Day Care magnetic toys, 683,000 Barbie and Tanner magnetic toys, and 345,000 Batman and One Piece play sets.

About 253,000 Pixar Sarge die-cast toy cars with lead paint were also recalled. Lead has been linked to health problems in children, including brain damage.

Earlier this month Mattel's Fisher-Price unit recalled about 1.5 million preschool toys made by China-based contract manufacturer Lida Toy Co. because the paint on the toys might contain excessive amounts of lead. The global recall included products based on popular preschool characters from "Sesame Street" and "Dora the Explorer."

This is toymaker's 17th recall in 10 years. A list of products since 1998 is here.

While Mattel is blaming the China factory and the factory is looking for a scapegoat, I fail to understand how matter can get so out of hand. There must have been some sort of quality control. One can blame China for using lead paint but the small magnet is obviously a design fault. It is astonishing that one of the world’s largest toys making company is so careless about children’s safety. After all, with a few examples, it is children who will be playing with their toys.

The tiny magnets are easily swallowed when dislodged. To date, three kids have been known to swallow it. The magnets by themselves are harmless and will be excreted out eventually. The fear is that more than one magnet is swallowed and they stick together causing intestinal obstruction. In such a scenario, the child will be vomiting continuously and may have a distended abdomen.

The lead in the paint that coats the toys is more worrying. Lead poisoning in children has been a severe health hazard in the past when lead was a standard component in paint. Children became sick, pale (anemic) and became brain damaged when they swallow the paint flaks (children will swallow almost anything).

The American Academy of Family Physicians writes

High levels of lead in the body can cause problems with the brain, kidneys and bone marrow (the soft tissue inside bones). Symptoms of high lead levels can include belly pain, headaches, vomiting, confusion, muscle weakness, seizures, hair loss and anemia (a low red blood cell count).

Lower levels of lead in the body can also cause problems, like trouble paying attention, behavior problems, learning difficulties and a fall in the IQ of young children.

Read more here. For a more technical report on lead poisoning, read here.

The only bright side of this latest problem with Mattel toys is that it highlights the risk of our children getting lead poisoning.
We must always be vigilant in the type of toys we buy for our children. It is sad that we can no longer trust brand names like Mattel, Fisher-Price, and Hot Wheels anymore.

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Professionals of Tomorrow (iPOT) Conference

12 – 16 October (Friday-Tuesday; Hari Raya weekend)

Peacehaven, Genting Highlands

3 professional tracks coming as ONE conference

We are bringing together:
(i)‘Teachers of Tomorrow’ (known as “ToT’s”),
(ii)‘Health Carers of Tomorrow’ (known as “HoT”)
(iii)‘Law Graduates of Tomorrow’ (known as “LoT’s”)

The Vision of the conference:
To grow Professionals of Tomorrow from Students of Today, who
•have a sense of calling and mission in their professions
•understand and obey God’s heart and mind for their lives and for the
world they are called to serve
•are increasingly aware and responding to the needs of our nation
•dare to be courageous to answer God’s call - wherever, whatever

We see the great need for Christian graduates in all fields to seriously consider God’s calling and purpose as they make decisions about their future, in view of the vast needs in our country and the world. We also need to ask what it means to make choices for counter-cultural living in our present times.

The Theme: iPoT’s
The “i” stands for
(i)identity & person of the professional- identity in Christ, being & character
(ii)in-Training- being moulded & shaped for His purpose. Inculcating an open & teachable spirit
(iii)impact - making a difference wherever we are placed / sent

The Program will include:

•Theme Talks, which will be Bible expositions from Nehemiah, delivered by Bishop Hwa Yung

•3 Evening Plenary, conducted specifically in 3 different professional tracks but with similar focus. It will cover:
(i)“Lift Up Your Eyes” (Vision & Calling, Needs & Challenges) by Dr Richard Loh
(ii)“Doing the Right Thing” (Ethics in our professions) by Dr Alex Tang
(iii)“Keeping the Vision” (Staying the Course amidst Challenges) by Dr David Gunaratnam

•Workshops and Forum covering specific issues and needs for the 3 different professional tracks

Who should attend?
  • students who are studying medicine, dentititry, nursing, audiology, speech science, radiology, optometry, nutrition & dietetics, forensic sciemce, biomedical, medical radiation, medical engineering and others
  • students who are pursuing any sort of law/legal studies
  • students pursuing a diploma/degree in education, considering teaching as a future career options
  • anyone else who is interested

How much?

  • RM 120 early bird registration by 31/08/07
  • RM 150 after 31/08/07


Closing date: 11/09/07

Download brochure here

Download registration form here


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Image-based Preaching-Visualcy

In a earlier post High Tech Preaching, some comments and concerns about the use of technology in preaching were highlighted. Now to continue the survey.

We are entering the third age of communication, according to Andy Crouch, culture guru and director of our Christian Vision Project. The first age was oral communication, when history and theology were captured in stories and shared around campfires and tables. The second age was written communication, when the stories were committed to papyrus and sheepskin and paper and finally mass-produced, thanks to Guttenberg. Now comes the third age. You might call it the age of Spielberg. Andy has coined another name.

"Many centuries after the shift from oral to written culture, we are now well along in the transition to visual culture—where the predominant mode of communication is images rather than words," Crouch says.

"Just as the shift to writing required the skills we call literacy, so visual culture requires its own skills—for lack of a better word, visualcy."

Leadership surveyed 515 subscribers who, as lead pastors, preach regularly. Most have entered the visual fray—some signed on willingly, others feel conscripted—but almost all have felt the ground shift beneath their pulpits as technologies, audience expectations, and Game Boy learning styles make new demands on preaching. And on the preacher. The television generation and its Web-wonk successors are changing the way we preach. Here's how

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Seven Reasons Why I Like the Apostle Paul

Here are seven reasons why I like Paul of Tarsus.

1. He is a fanatic. Fanaticism has a bad reputation. It brings to mind suicide bombers strapping explosives to their bodies, and going to crowded places to blow up innocent men, women and children. However, the meaning of a fanatic is a person who is totally devoted to a cause. Paul is a fanatic. He is totally committed to the God of his religion. He was so incensed when he heard about The Way which taught that the Messiah has come (and he was not consulted), that he packed his bags and sailed from Tarsus to Jerusalem to persecute the followers of The Way. In Jerusalem, he became the model for the later day Inquisitors by going from house to house and arresting the followers of Jesus.

Paul is so effective that he received a personal audience from the ascended Christ Himself! Paul still remained fanatic. However he is now a 180-degrees fanatic. He just turns the other direction and remain as fanatic as before. He now champions The Way and persecutes rabbinic Judaism! The scripture did not say it but I suspect the Jerusalem Christians gave a sigh of relief when they shipped Paul back to Tarsus.

I like Paul’s fanaticism. At least you know where he stands and his commitment. Instead of wallowing in self-pity and doubt when he discovered that he was actually persecuting the followers of the Messiah, he continued in His service. For Paul, there is no either/or/maybe. It is yes or no. I remembered what my mentor once told me. He was accused by an exasperated non-Christian that he is a fanatic. “Yes, I am a fanatic,” he answered, “now, what about you?” Resounding echoes of Paul in his rebuttal.

2. He is a systems thinker. A systems thinker is one who sees the whole picture without being bogged downed by details. That is what I like about Paul. He sees God’s plan of redemption of mankind and recreation. Paul is able to fit the jigsaw pieces of the Hebrew Bible and the gospel narratives of Jesus’ life and sees the big picture. And what was more amazing is that he is able to communicate it to others in ways that they understand. Many systems thinkers are lousy teachers. Paul’s earlier writings, in form of letters to the churches of Galatia, Thessalonica and Corinth were to address specific problems faced by these churches. Yet we see glimmers of his thinking in them. It is in the book of Romans that he blossoms and reveals God’s mighty plan for mankind and all of creation.

3. He is missional. Missional is a new word, coined by the emerging churches. When we use the word ‘mission’, we normally think of missionary going to do their work ‘over there.’ The emerging churches use the word missional to describe each of us becoming a missionary ‘over here’ or where we are now. This is another reason why I like Paul. He is not too worried about terms and set about doing what he is supposed to do and we stumble after him inventing words to describe what he did. He is missional before the word is invented. Another way to describe missional is: seeing where God is going and going with Him. That is exactly what Paul did. He sees that God’s plans involve all of mankind, not just the Jews. By default, he became the apostle to the Gentiles and I am eternally grateful to him.

4. He is courageous. How many people do you meet that can actually admit that they are wrong. “Oops. Sorry for persecuting you and leaving you in prison!” Paul was able to see his mistake and became a follower of Christ. Then he went and confront his old religion, rabbinic Judaism. Next he went and confronted the pillar of the church, Peter in Antioch. And he quarrelled with Barnabas because of John Mark. I love that guy. He is always confronting someone. Sometimes I wonder if his sufferings will be less if he is not so confrontational! Confrontation takes courage and Paul has courage. How many of us have the courage to confront the wrongs that we see? It is so much safer and easier to keep quiet and ignore it.

5. He is focussed. He knew what he has to do and he did it. He observes that a marathon runner has to lose excessive weight if he is to finish well. So Paul left all he had behind and set forth to fulfil his destiny and to suffer. He could have stayed at home in Tarsus. He would become the rabbi of a mega-synagogue, married a nice Jewish girl and have lots of little Pauls and Paulines running around. No, he detached himself from worldly attachments. In the end, he was executed by beheading at the side of a road outside a gate of Rome and buried in an unmarked grave. Regrets? He may have some but to echo Jim Elliot, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

6. He invests in people. Paul may be the foremost theologian of the Christ faith but what endear him to me are his relationships with people. His letters are full of greetings to people he had met, written to or referred to. In modern day terms, he is a foremost networker. But unlike the most networker who networks for the contacts she can use in her business, Paul’s networking is because he sees Christ in each of them. Paul is not into organisation or structures but into human resources. Paul believes that one person can make a difference. I wonder how many of us agree with Paul and believe that what each of us do here and now can make a difference. I believe if we see people as Paul sees them, we will spend more time with, and invest our resources in people.

7. He leaves an enduring legacy of hope. Paul is a reformed Pharisee, Hebrew scholar, inquisitor, theologian, missionary, pastor, teacher, church planter, mentor, and networker. He left behind a large body of writings that was never rivalled. However, the legacy he left with me is his humanity. He is honest about his struggles, his pride and his suffering. Paul suffered physical, mental, emotional and spiritual attacks. Yet, what shone though was his humanity; a man in the process of becoming a ‘new man in Christ.’ And that gives me hope. Paul’s legacy is his blessed hope; that one day, all pain and sufferings will end and we shall be with Jesus forever.

Paul is a fanatic/ systems thinker/ missional/courageous/ focussed/people orientated/eschatological hope-giving follower of the Way. Hey, he is a neat guy and I like him. I wonder if he plays golf.

more of my comments about Paul here

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Information Overload

Ever feel that your head is fully saturated with information, a condition we nowadays called 'information overload' or 'information flood'? It seems we are not the only one suffering from it. While Augustine suffers from information underload- seems he was accused of being "steeped too long in too few books." -scholars and readers after the invention of the printing press also complained of information overload.

The "information flood" has a longer history than we suppose.

By Alan Jacobs posted 08/13/07 Books & Culture, July/August 2007

is an interesting article on information overload, how people dealt with it in the past and how we can deal with it now.

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Exegezing Confucian Writings

Confucian Hermeneutics

Why commentaries are never definitive.
by Kelly James Clark

Until the late modern era in the West and even more recently in the East, the primary mode of philosophical and theological expression was the commentary. In the medieval commentarial tradition, ideas were expressed as both explications and extensions of accepted traditions. In contrast to scholars in the contemporary academy, where novelty is esteemed and tradition denigrated, medieval commentators characteristically allied themselves with a set of "canonical" texts. More important than developing a system was the understanding of texts; hermeneutics was the primary tool, with system-building secondary. The hermeneutical approach was seen not simply as a means to understanding a text but also to grasping reality.

read more

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Eight Random Facts about Me Meme

Permanent Head Damage (PhD) tagged me for 8 random facts about me recently, so here goes (some of it you know already, I am sure).

(1) I read comics in the bathtub.
Yeap, I think that is the best place to read it. With the bathtub full of warm water, of course. What do you think I am? I am still a great fan of Batman, Spiderman, Daredevil, The Mighty Thor, Wonder Woman, Superman, Wolverine, and Green Lantern. I started reading and collecting them when comics first appeared so you know how old I am. My mother told me to read comics so that I can improve my English. She doesn’t understand a word of English and thinks comics is an educational magazine. God bless you, Mum.

(2) I am a Trekkie, nowadays called Trekker.
I am a great fan of Star Trek. I have the complete collection of Star Trek movies and television series, initially on video tape, then on LD, CD, and now on DVD. Man, I have to pay royalties for each episodes 4 times! I also have almost every novels and comics published on Star Trek which comes up to about a 1000 items. Star Trek saved my sanity once and I shall never forget it. On fine day, I shall write a book, The Gospel according to Star Trek.

(3) I love making models of space ships and batmobiles.
The top of my bookshelves are full of plastic model spaceships. I have collected and made most of the science fiction spaceships. One thing I love about painting spaceships as the spaceships do not exist so you can paint it anyway you wants. Anyone has a problem with that? Recently I have also turned to making batmobile. This is a photo of my latest, a Romulan Scorpion light fighter from the Star Trek Movie, Nemesis.

(4) I love computer gaming, especially when I am winning.
My reaction time may not be as fast as I used to be and I cannot remember all the keystrokes but I save a lot. Computer gaming keeps me wake at night. I love real time strategy games but do not mind a shooter or two. One day, when I grow up, I wanna get a playstation.

(5) I collect Batman action figures.
With the different stories and variation in the Dark Knight, I started collecting Batman action figures. They are still in their display boxes. No, I do not play with them. If I want to, I usually read a comic, watch the movies and animated series on DVDs.

(6) I am doing a PhD as a hobby.
Yes, I know. People not only think me weird but also crazy. “Why are you doing a PhD for at your age? You do not need it.” “For fun” I will reply, “For Permanent head Damage (PhD).” Why can’t we study for the love of study? I get many weird looks.

(7) I love watching movies and television series.

I love action movies with a lot of blood, gore, and mayhem. I am uncomfortable with emotional loaded movies because, hey, in my line of work I get a lot of emotions thrown at my face. Being a sensitive empath does not help at all.

My favourite television series are Magnum PI, The A-team, X-Files, Babylon 5, Colombo, Alias, and Band of Brothers.

(8) I love books.
Here is a confession. I am a biblioholic.

bib/li/o.ho.lism n. [BIBLIO+HOLISM] book, of books; the habitual longing to purchase, read ,store, admire and consume books in excess. Yes, I have a book on that too. I buy and read books. I collect signed first edition. I have books that have picture of books. When I walk past a pretty girl and a bookstore, guess where I will be staring? And I do not give away or lend my books, so keep away. Plez.


Sunday, August 12, 2007

New Perspective on New Perspective on Paul

Simon Gathercole is senior lecturer in New Testament at the University of Aberdeen. He was recently appointed a lecturer at the University of Cambridge, starting in October. His new article clarify and adds a new perspective on 'new perspective' on the apostle Paul.

What Did Paul Really Mean?
'New perspective' scholars argue that we need, well, a new perspective on justification by faith.
Simon Gathercole posted 8/10/2007 08:48AM

For those who are confused about what 'new perspectives', the editor of Christianity Today online added a helpful comment:

Leading new perspective theologian N. T. Wright has repeatedly responded to his critics. Talking in 2004 with James D. G. Dunn, who named the new perspective, Wright faulted his critics for producing websites that "are extremely rude about the two people sitting on this platform tonight for having sold Paul down the river and given up the genuine Reformed doctrine of justification by faith."

Gathercole gives a short summary of the 'new perspective'

The difference between old and new perspectives can be summed up briefly. In the old perspective, works of the law are human acts of righteousness performed in order to gain credit before God. In the new perspective, works of the law are elements of Jewish law that accentuate Jewish privilege and mark out Israel from other nations.

Two vital ingredients go into the new perspective. The first is actually more a new perspective on Judaism than on Paul. It reacts against the traditional idea that Jews in Paul's day believed they could accumulate merit before God by their deeds. In place of seeing Paul's contemporaries as legalistic, the new perspective says the concern in early Judaism was to maintain the identity of the Jewish nation, especially through observing the Sabbath, circumcising their newborns, and eating kosher. These boundary markers or badges of identity for the Jewish nation distinguished them as belonging to God's covenant people.

Second, this understanding of first-century Judaism is then applied to Paul. According to the new perspective, Paul is only focusing on these aspects of Jewish life (Sabbath, circumcision, food laws) when he mentions "works of the law." His problem isn't legalistic self-righteousness in general. Rather, for Jews these works of the law highlighted God's election of the Jewish nation, excluding Gentiles. Called by God to reach the Gentiles, Paul recognizes that Jews wrongly restricted God's covenant to themselves....

Simon says

On the other side, there are a few points at which the new perspective is, in my judgment, at fault.

1. We need to go back to E. P. Sanders and his insistence that Judaism in Paul's day did not think in terms of salvation as something earned or gained by obedience to the law...

2. Does Paul think primarily of circumcision, Sabbath observance, and food laws when he uses the phrase "works of the law"?

3. Criticism of "individualistic" readings of Paul can throw the baby out with the bathwater. ..

4. A further tendency of the new perspective is to confuse the content of justification with its applications...

5. Seeing justification as primarily addressing how Gentiles can be incorporated into the people of God can lead to a downplaying of sin...

6. Since the emphasis in some discussions of justification is on inclusion, tolerance, and ecumenism, there can be a tendency to downplay the importance of doctrinal clarity...

read more here

Related Elsewhere:

"Further Reading on the New Perspective" accompanies this article.

A recent Christianity Today editorial outlined why justification by faith alone is still Protestants' defining doctrine.

The Paul Page has original articles and interviews about the new perspective on Paul, as well as links to journal articles, books, and other materials around the web.

Scot McKnight has also blogged about the new perspective in Jesus Creed.

The Wall Street Journal published John Wilson's op-ed on N.T. Wright and the new perspective.
Many of N. T. Wright's papers and sermons on Paul are available on an unofficial site.

Simon Gathercole's "After the New Perspective: Works, Justification and Boasting in Early Judaism and Romans 1-5" is available online.

more on Paul here

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Corinth that Paul Saw

Seminar Synopsis

This seminar, together with visual presentation, invites you to take an unforgettable journey to ancient Corinth that the apostle Paul saw in the AD 50s. where he founded a church during his Second Missionary Journey (Acts 18: 1-17). We will investigate the connection between the archaeological evidence of the ancient city of Corinth and Paul’s experience with the Corinthian church.

Come and see, feel, and take a walk with Paul in this booming city. Discover the connection between the socio-political setting of the ancient city and Paul’s fascinating correspondence with the church he established. Read 1 & 2 Corinthians with fresh insights as we unearth the relationships between the Agora and Paul’s decisive method of preaching in Corinth (1 Cor 2:1-5); the layout of a typical Roman villa and the Paul’s admonition of the abuse of the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:17-34); the Temple of Asklepieion and Paul’s teaching of the church as a body of Christ with different parts (1 Cor 12:12-26); the Roman bath and Paul’s description of his sufferings (2 Cor 11:23-31); and many more.


1.00-2.00 pm Registration
2.00-2.15 pm. Welcome and Worship
2.15-4.00 pm Session One:
4.00-4.30 pm Tea/coffee break
4.30-6.00 pm Session Two:
6.00-7.00 pm Dinner
7.00-9.00 pm Session Three:
9.00-10.00pm Questions and Answers


Dr Lim Kar Yong is a property valuer by training and worked for many years in the property industry before pursuing theological studies at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, USA. After returning from seminary, Kar Yong served in a para-church organisation and taught part-time in Malaysia Bible Seminari (MBS) and Seminari Theoloji Malaysia (STM). In 2003, he was awarded a scholarship to pursue doctoral studies in the University of Wales where he earned his Ph.D. in New Testament working on 2 Corinthians. Presently he is a Lecturer in New Testament Studies at Seminari Theoloji Malaysia, Seremban. He also oversees the Adult Christian Education programme in Petaling Jaya Evangelical Free Church where he has been a member since 1993.

Kar Yong is an avid blogger and in his free time can be found at his blog, the homilia of a budding NT scholar at

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Gitanjali (20)

On the day when the lotus bloomed alas,
my mind was straying, and I knew it not.
My basket was empty and the flower remained unheeded.

Only now and again a sadness fell upon me,
and I started up from my dream and felt a sweet trace
of a strange fragrance in the south wind.

That vague sweetness made my heart ache
with longing and it seemed to me that
it was the eager breath of the summer seeking for its completion.
I know not then that it was so near,
that it was mine, and that his perfect sweetness
had blossomed in the depth of my own heart.

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