Brash by name...
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity
Wednesday, March 02, 2011
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Saturday, July 05, 2008
Seminary in Japan
I have had the opportunity to attend seminary in the UK (for 2 years) and now in Japan (I'm just 3 months into a 4-year course). A couple of initial observations concerning seminary in Japan:
1. The more I study here (it's not just "study", the Japanese call it "kenshinseikatsu" and it involves every aspect of your life. You can't compartmentalise the way you can in the West) the more I appreciate why missionaries and Japanese pastors so often struggle to work together. The underlying cultural assumptions about what "kenshin" (difficult to translate, but the word signifies what you do when you devote your life to full-time Christian service) implies are very different in Japan to the assumptions in Britain. This would include such personal areas as use of time, money, and the approach to be taken towards those whom you pastor.
I am having to put into practice everything I learned at seminary in the West about contextualisation of the gospel, simply in order to avoid the pitfall of being critical on the basis of culture alone. I am a product of my culture/background as much as anyone here, and everyone's culture needs to be judged by Scripture. If I come here only to judge on the basis of my own preconceptions and preferences, I will not last the course.
2. Learning styles are so different here. Asking questions is not really encouraged. Classes are lecture format, with no discussion. Unlike at seminary in Britain, where we were encouraged to think outside the box, so much so that some people would have probably ended up anathematized by some church council or other, the box here is presented to us ready-packaged. There is value in both approaches. I'm glad I did things this way round, as to have gone the other way might have blown my mind. But learning to hold my tongue is a constant battle...
Friday, July 04, 2008
A lot happens in a year
It's been almost a year since I posted on this blog. In that time, so much has changed. Perhaps the biggest change is that we've moved back to Japan to begin training at seminary near Tokyo.
We've only been here three months, but we often feel like we've plunged in at the deep end, and haven't yet surfaced.
Maybe I'll write again when I come up for some air.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Rarely has a single verse of the Bible stayed with me for so long, and been so instructive to me over time as has this one recently:
Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God." (Matthew 22:29)
2 things to think about:
1. Jesus identified doctrinal error. A spade was, and is, a spade, and "gentle Jesus, meek & mild" wielded his to unearth falsehood. From the Greek text of Matthew, it can be deduced that the error of the Sadducees here was not so much caused by not knowing the Scriptures or the power of God, as it was this lack of knowledge itself that was the error. Not knowing the Word or the Power of God will not just lead us into error: this itself is the most signifcant of errors we can make.
Our particular issues will be different from the Sadducees', but whatever questions we bring to Jesus, we are also liable to be admonished in the same way. As in their case, it may even be that our very questions are wrong.
This is the case whether our issue is one of doctrine or of practice. If the former, the Word of God will correct; if the latter it will rebuke. But the flipside of the coin is that it will go on to teach right thesis, and to train in righteousness for right praxis (all in 2 Timothy 3:16).
Of course, it's possible to have an intellectual knowledge of the Word without really knowing. In a sense the Sadducees were like that. So were the people Jesus spoke to in John 5:37...
You have never heard [the Father's] voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
As for the Power of God, surely this is a question of our experience. God has shown himself one way in the past, and he is not a man, that he would change his mind. He is the same: yesterday, today and forever.
So what, then? The implication of all this is that we must act in order to know. Knowing God is an action, a relationship in dynamic. It is not a state of being or the mental assent to a series of philosophical propositions.
Is this relationship - the dynamic between you and God in word and power - part of your daily experience? Or would Jesus, lovingly but firmly, point out your error if you brought to him your unformed and uninformed questions?
2. It's no ultimate use asking non-believers for guidance in life. Their paradigm is not based on knowledge of either Word or Power, and it will only lead you astray.
It is sad to see so many people live their lives in error. This much can be said for them: they do not know the Scriptures, or the Power of God. They are blind guides.
They may be very wordly-wise, intelligent, successful. They are probably rich and satisfied. But they do not know God, and this error sadly makes all else in vain. Christians need to keep this in mind when we make decisions and judgments.
"People who do not know the Lord ask why in the world we waste our lives as missionaries. They forget that they too are expending their lives ... and when the bubble has burst, they will have nothing of eternal significance to show for the years they have wasted." -- Nate Saint, missionary martyr
Foolish the wisdom of the world - its certainties denied
By wisdom of God's foolishness, which is Christ crucified. (paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 1:18-25)
Monday, August 06, 2007