Tuesday, 28 February 2012

How tithing made it through the net

The Christian emergence from second-temple Judaism managed to leave behind food laws, beard trimming laws and even circumcision. How the hell did tithing manage to stick around? Surely God loves a cheerful giver and not a legislated giver.
Acts 15:22-35
Then the apostles and the elders, with the consent of the whole church, decided to choose men from among their members and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leaders among the brothers, with the following letter:
‘The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the believers of Gentile origin in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings. Since we have heard that certain persons who have gone out from us, though with no instructions from us, have said things to disturb you and have unsettled your minds, we have decided unanimously to choose representatives and send them to you, along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to impose on you no further burden than these essentials: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.’
So they were sent off and went down to Antioch. When they gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. When its members read it, they rejoiced at the exhortation.

And so do I.

I don't have a problem giving to a church or to an individual. That's a good thing. I just wish we could leave behind the label of tithing. It's connected with too many of those lovely "promises" that Hallmark Christians love to claim.

And of course, the cynical explanation is probably correct.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

How To Find A Church

This will be more autobiographical than theoretical. I've just moved to a new city (Hi Perth!) and want to find a new church to be part of. I can't say it's much fun to find one. We've been going to a pentecostal church for the last few weeks and it's an odd experience. It's so familiar, in the same way that a finger traces an old scar with familiarity, but so foreign.

I'd forgotten all the pente jargon. Apparently, this is a new season and we should position ourselves before God to find out what he wants for us and for the house.

Ooh boy. I haven't heard that kind of thing for years. They sincerely believe it too. I imagine my hermeneutic method won't be especially common there, but is that a good enough reason not to attend that congregation? After all, it's the spirit that unifies the community and not doctrines or creeds. We are, after all, all followers of Jesus. I'm sure he and the disciples had their debates about the finer points of Torah and the prophets, and they probably didn't all agree. From what we know, that didn't break up the disciples in any meaningful way. The debates about food laws and circumcision were still centred around the common lordship of Christ.

I think I'll be more interested to find out how they act out the gospel message. Maybe I won't really see that in just a few short weeks. It'll take time.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Inevitable Over-population

There's plenty of evidence across nature to support the idea that population sizes are controlled by resources. Farmer's spot this one easily. Rabbits and locusts peak in numbers one year, over-populate and die off so the following year there are fewer.

We humans can't be much different. We move to where the food and water are. Lots of water and food allows for high population count. A country like Australia can't support high population because we don't have lots of food and water, and we can't really eat coal and iron.

I don't think that we are really capable of restraining ourselves on a large scale. We consume a lot, not just food and water. The pragmatist in me thinks its inevitable that we'll all go to war with each other to secure food and water. The Christian in me hopes that we can avoid that war by making love real and sharing more equally those basics for life.