Geoffrey C. Bingham dies – (goes home!)

3 06 2009

Geoffrey Bingham – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Today Geoff Bingham died. He is one of the dearest of men, that I know. He has been a friend, a mentor, a joyful preacher and teacher of the Christian faith, a doctor of theology, a missionary to Pakistan, a former POW in Changi in WW2, and a prolific and notable Australian author – and one to whom many, many people are grateful for his help and encouragement.

In particular Geoffrey has taught the heart of the Cross of Jesus Christ, and the grace of God known there, he has taught the hope and joy of creation redeemed through Jesus resurrection, and he has – perhaps as well as any – taught the Fatherhood of God.

Geoffrey has been a theologian and preacher of the heart! He has left a rich legacy in New Creation Teaching Ministries. 

May the Lord comfort Laurel—his dear wife, and his family, and the many, many people who will miss him. Much will be written about him. As the years roll on, many will undoubtedly discover his writings, and do so with great joy.

That is my small comment, for now.  … thanks dear Geoff, thank you!

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Things that matter

21 11 2008

It seems to me that there are lots of things that matter in life. But, sometimes one is faced – or confronted, with the brevity of life. Like when someone you know is suddenly taken from this life. Death, can come so quickly. It catches us, it takes by surprise. It leaves its deep shock in our spirit.

So then, what matters? Just having fun? Doing lots of good things? Having lots of friends? Laughter? Joy? Or, as the cynics, might say… nothing. 

No. There are things that matter.

In the end it comes down to relationships. Many will agree. But sort of beyond that, is the matter of purpose. And that can be summed up in two things:

(1) Participating in the “mandate”, the great agenda, for creation. Which is, having been blessed, to then…: ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth’ (see Genesis 1:28) 

(2) Participating in the “gospel”, the great hope, and certainty, for the future of creation. That is, pausing long enough for the resurrection and crucifixion, to have their full effect upon one’s life, causing a great change of mind… for the better.

So then, may you be in the things that matter. Mowing a lawn, or catching a fish, or studying the galaxies, or nursing a sick child – these are creational things.

And, unfolding the mystery of life – Christ Jesus – that is a gospel thing.

Both are good to do. Both need each other, not just for balance, but for fulness of life, and for exercising our true humanity; and for joy – ah yes, joy, and for – well, making true sense of it all.  Cheers!





Pateriology: Study 1

15 10 2008

STUDY 1

I had very good parents! However, I recognise that many, many people have not had this privilege. 

At the core of the universe

C.S. Lewis says: ‘We have learned from Freud and others about the distortions in character and errors in thought which result from a man’s early conflicts with his father. Far the most important thing we can know about George MacDonald is that his whole life illustrates the opposite process. An almost perfect relationship with his father was the earthly root of all his wisdom. From his own father, he said, he first learned that Fatherhood must be at the core of the universe. He was thus prepared in an unusual way to teach that religion in which the relation of the Father and the Son is of all relations the most central’.

Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth–as in fact there are many gods and many lords– yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. (1Corinthians 8:5-6).

…the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him (John 4:23)

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord (Apostles Creed).

We sing the hymn: “O Come to the Father, through Jesus the Son, and give him the glory, great things he has done “(Fanny Crosby).

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3).

We can never arrive at a love for the Father, merely by reasoning. It takes our Elder Brother, to touch our hearts concerning the Father.

Our Lord Jesus, himself said: I love the Father (John 14:31). Do we? If so, do we say this, think this, study this way, minister this way? Is this reflected in our biblical, theological and pastoral studies?

 

A Strange Thing

Bible Colleges across the globe offer Christology, Pneumatology (even Trinitarian Theology), but not ‘Paterology’.

Googleit, and you get over 1,000,000 million articles on Christology; over 175,000 on Pneumatology, but a mere 17,000 on Paterology (the preferred word to ‘Pateriology’).

Observations from a Pentecostal Leader

In 1980, Thomas A. Smail wrote: ‘The Forgotten Father’. He said then:

The Father is in fact ‘forgotten’ today in pretty much the same way in which the Spirit was ‘forgotten’ twenty years ago. To ‘remember’ him is not so much to turn our intellectual interest in a new direction, but is much more like the remembering of the Lord’s Supper, where we are summoned to an opening of our hearts, a reorientation of our faith, a personal and corporate restoration of our relationship, so that we realise anew with praise and wonder that in Christ we have, not only forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Spirit, but above all access to the Father.

Observations in Christian Libraries

Donald G. Bloesch: God the Almighty, in ‘Christian Foundations’ makes mention of God as Father, a mere 8 times – in 329 pages.

Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 12 major sections include, The Person of Christ, The Work of Christ, The Holy Spirit, (subsections of The Person and The Work of the Holy Spirit).  There is no place allotted to a study of, the Person and Work of the Father. Only a few quite useful, but brief mentions are made.

Bilquis Sheikh, former Muslim entitled her testimony: I Dared to Call him Father’. For Allah does not have a Son. Hear her witness to us!

Some Relevant Questions

Does the Father really come near to humanity? Do people have an experience of the Father?  If so, where, when and how? Who is the Father? And what does the Father actually do?  Is his work primarily hidden? If so, is it unavailable as a topic of study?  Is this Divine Person somewhat removed from us, as human beings, and so attracting of little attention from Christians?  Then again, is the person and work of the Holy Spirit any more visible or measurable, or knowable, than that of the Father? Is the current lack of discussion of the Father, a modern day by-product of feminist theology?  Or has feminist theology in part proceeded apace, and resonated with many, because, in part, there is a vacuum of a rich and adequate Pateriology, (or Paterology)?  Does the church in some way fail to proclaim … one third of the gospel? Can we proclaim the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) without giving due attention to the person and work of the Father?

Abba! Father! The Deepest Cry of the Human Heart

It is my growing conviction that the Scriptures are teaching us what the Lord Jesus Christ himself knew, with wonderful intimacy, namely that God is Father, that God is our Father, and that God is my Father and your Father (John 20:17). And that this knowledge is not a mere notion, or concept, or metaphor, or idea, or theological formulation, or even merely the correct Trinitarian grammar when speaking of God; rather, to know God as Father, is a very deep, very tender, very true cry.  It is a direct cry calling upon our Father.

Serenity and Profound Love

Not only is it a unified corporate invocation of true sons and daughters, calling upon the One who loves us through Christ Jesus, calling upon Our Father in prayer; it is also a very gentle cry of joy and serenity and profound love:

… God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba!* Father!’ (Galatians 4:6)

This new cry, is indeed that of Jesus himself, who spoke to the Father, in times of rejoicing (Luke 10:21-22) and of great suffering (Luke 22:42) often using the tender words ‘Abba, Father’ (Mark 14:36), the best English translation meaning ‘Dear Father’.

Invoking the Father – Not a Shot in the Dark!

In a volume published posthumously, entitled The Christian Life, Karl Barth gives to us a seriously good essay on  ‘The Children and their Father’ (p. 49-109). He says,

When God’s children invoke him as Father, this is in no sense a venture, a mere gesture, a shot in the dark, an experiment, or a gamble. They do this as those who have a part in the history in which God is their partner and they are his partners, in which they are liberated for this action and summoned to it, in which there is also given to them the promise of his corresponding action and therefore of his hearing. The dealings he has opened up with them and into which they enter when they call upon him as their Father can take no other course than to show the he for his part, in both word and deed, is in fact their Father.

Of this essay, by Karl Barth, Geoffrey Bingham – who has written numerous titles exploring the vast matter of God as Father – says:

The gentle, simple words of this famous theologian brought tears to my eyes. Having read much of his Church Dogmatics I thought, ‘He has kept the good wine until last!’ In this sixty-page treatment he shares what the Father means to him, and it is deeply moving. From the simple peasant then, to the erudite theologian, the human heart witnesses to restlessness until it finds the Father.

To Study the Person and Work of the Father

Many things the Father does, uniquely. He sends his Son (John 5:37-38); Scripture shows the Father, from before Creation, in Creation and Redemption, through to the new Home! Hear them: Jesus – in the bosom of the Father (John 1:18); Jesus prays: As you Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us (John 17:21). To know the Father and Jesus Christ, whom the Father has sent, is eternal life (John 17:3). The Father loves us too, and shows us, all he is doing (John 5:12); The Father raises the dead and gives life (John 5:21).

Q. Next time: Is there a grain of truth in the heresy Patripassionism?


C. S. Lewis, in George MacDonald, Phantastes and Lilith, (Eerdmans, 1975)

The Forgotten Father (Paternoster Press, 1980, 1996), p. 22

Donald G. Bloesch, God the Almighty, (Paternoster Press, 1995).

Other volumes in the series include: Jesus Christ and The Holy Spirit.

Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, (Baker Book House 1988).

C. F. D. Moule, The Holy Spirit, (Mowbrays 1978), p. 29

Karl Barth, The Christian Life, Church Dogmatics, IV, 4, (Eerdmans, 1981) Translated by Geoffrey W. Bromily, p. 104

New Creation Teaching Ministries http://www.newcreation.org.au/

Geoffrey C. Bingham, Oh, Father! Our Father! (NCPI, 1985), p. viii





And the Rock was Christ

17 05 2007

One of the most important things ever said, was: “And the rock was Christ”.

These words appear in a letter sent to people, living in the port of Corinth. It was sent by the Apostle Paul to the early Christian church; this group of believers, had been founded by the Risen Jesus Christ, through the ministry of the Apostle Paul, around about 51-53 AD. Paul spent 18 months there, while he lived with, and worked as a tentmaker, alongside 2 Jews, Priscilla and Aquila (see Acts 18:1-18).

“And the rock was Christ”: The words are most important, because of what they means now, and what they refer back to. They hark back to the rock, which, strangely supplied Israel, God’s people, with water, during their years in the wilderness (about 1250 BC; or 1400 BC according to traditional scholars).

This is part of Paul’s letter:

I want you to know, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same supernatural food and all drank the same supernatural drink. For they drank from the supernatural Rock which followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless with most of them God was not pleased; for they were overthrown in the wilderness. (1Corinthians 10:1-5).

What is this? They drank from the supernatural Rock, which followed them? How does a rock follow a group of people? (Exegetes must deal with the text).

One passage worth reading to get the background is Numbers 20:2-13

Now there was no water for the congregation; and they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. And the people contended with Moses, and said, “Would that we had died when our brethren died before the LORD! Why have you brought the assembly of the LORD into this wilderness, that we should die here, both we and our cattle? And why have you made us come up out of Egypt, to bring us to this evil place? It is no place for grain, or figs, or vines, or pomegranates; and there is no water to drink.” Then Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the door of the tent of meeting, and fell on their faces. And the glory of the LORD appeared to them, and the LORD said to Moses, “Take the rod, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water; so you shall bring water out of the rock for them; so you shall give drink to the congregation and their cattle.” And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as he commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?” And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his rod twice; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their cattle. And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to sanctify me in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” These are the waters of Meribah, where the people of Israel contended with the LORD, and he showed himself holy among them.

“And the rock was Christ”? Numerous other references can be found in the Old Testament, which show that traditionally, God was referred to as The Rock.

  • “The Rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and right is he (Deuteronomy 32:4).
  • “But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked; you waxed fat, you grew thick, you became sleek; then he forsook God who made him, and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation (Deuteronomy 32:15)
  • He said, “The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; thou savest me from violence (2Samuel 22:2-3).
  • “For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? (2Samuel 22:32).
  • “The LORD lives; and blessed be my rock, and exalted be my God, the rock of my salvation (2Samuel 22:47),…

Putting it together:

“And the rock was Christ”? Paul is equating this rock, with Jesus, the Christ. He is not saying that a man was with them, back there.  But he is saying, that this One, this Christ, was present throughout the Old Testament.

Now we know that Jesus of Nazareth, was born of Mary, as a baby. And that he was a true human being. He was NOT God stuffed into a skin, like air into a paper bag. He was truly a human being. No one really thought any differently of him. We also know that he was the Christ (or Messiah). This was the mystery of his personhood, revealed to Peter, by the God and Father of Jesus Christ – our Father in heaven (see Matthew 16:16-17).  This revelation has flowed out into the world.

The once very angry Saul, was met by the Risen Jesus Christ while Paul travelled the road to Damascus. This was a stunning confrontation. Saul had thought that Jesus, the man from Nazareth, was just plain dead. He had also thought that the early Christians were blasphemous. He was out to arrest them. But, he himself, was … arrested by Christ. He was faced with the facts. Jesus, the Nazarene, was the Messiah, (which means “the Christ”).

Saul’s life was radically altered.
 His somewhat pessimistic outlook was replaced by a strange new hope.
 His name was soon changed to be Paul.
 His character was changed too. He had seen what life was all about.
 He was no longer on the road to destroy Christians.
 He was on the road, to take part in a world-changing matter:

The resurrection of Jesus as Victor over death, in this world (not just the next!)

Paul’s new task, and new joy, was to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things. Creation had a future. The mystery of creation was that it had a servant nation – Israel. And a rock had been with them all their days. And the rock was Christ.

Commenting, on this passage, Geoffrey Bingham says:

“I found it remarkable that not one commentator has even questioned Paul’s statement, nor found it extraordinary”.

He goes on to explain what Paul does here:

‘Paul takes the word ‘Christ’ and projects it back to the time when Israel was in the desert. We may say that Paul was using the term ‘Christ’ to show that in his being as Word and Son he was present in Israel.’ (G. C. Bingham, Christ and the Triune Glory NCPI, p. 43).

Do you know the plan of the mystery? It was hidden for ages. It has now been revealed, and is being revealed. The wisdom of God in its rich variety, is now being made known to the world, through the church!

Jesus was the one who ‘came down from heaven’ (John 6:38; 58). Prior to his coming he was not a fleshy man, but a person nevertheless. Indeed he was the Divine Person, the Eternal Word, the Second Person of the Trinity, the Living Christ, the Son of God.

“The Christ”, had been with God, at Creation. He had been with Israel in their journey. Israel knew that Moses struck a rock for water to flow for the people. (‘And the rock was Christ’). At this point in history, Christ helped Moses. He was the spiritual food. He was the supply of Living Water, in the wilderness. He was the Word, speaking to their hearts. He appeared and spoke to the hearts of the first believers, who knew: And ‘the Word became flesh’ and lived among us. And we have seen his glory. His resurrection from death is grand; his suffering on the cross was essential, that our sis be forgiven, and that we be reconciled to God, our Father.

Rock Solid – that is what God’s gift to us, is, in Jesus Christ. He is moveable, in that he goes with us, always. He is secure and stable for the human race, in that his Cross is founded deeply within the purpose of creation, securing eternal life, and gushing forth rivers of living water – to drink, as human beings.

“And the rock was Christ”. Remarkable words. Remarkable truth. Remarkable future.








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