My letter in the Sydney Morning Herald

30 05 2010

…is here.

Posted by Con Campbell

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Help me choose the cover for my book, Keep Your Greek

27 05 2010

Which cover do you prefer? I need to make a decision by Friday, so any thoughts would be appreciated. If you can tell me why you like a particular cover that would be especially helpful. Thanks!

Posted by Con Campbell

Cover A

Cover B

Cover C





What is the Center of Paul? A Three Corded Rope?

21 05 2010
Ary Scheffer: The Temptation of Christ, 1854
Image via Wikipedia

A friend of mine (Jason Hood) is in the process of writing an article about the kingdom of God as the center of Paul’s thinking -If I’ve understood him right. This is an age old question, but after I wrote a response to Jason, I thought it might be worth posting it for others to interact with…

Jason, you have emphasized the continuity of the concept, i.e. suggested how other key ideas and expression (eschatology, union with Christ) may be consumed under the kingdom of God. I would like to hear about the discontinuity too – why in the  Pauline corpus do we see him choosing this expression when he does, over against another descriptor. I.e. in the absence of a passage which explains why this particular expression IS a summary of these other ideas (I don’t know of any passage that brings them all together), why does Paul choose to use other expressions besides this one and why does he choose to use this expression where he does.

My only concern as I have thought about this subject myself (I start my lectures on Paul’s letter with three full weeks on the center of Paul) is a pedagogical one. Kingdom is quite an impersonal concept, as are redemptive history and eschatology. Union with Christ is a REALLY personal way for Paul to say things. Maybe this (in part) answers the question of “Why this expression?” (above), but there is also a pedagogical rub with what you are trying to say in your article. If someone says to me that “kingdom of God is the center of Paul” It sounds very corporate – which of course many today would be happy about! But given the VERY personal nature of “with/in Christ” how in your article can you capture the idea that the center of Paul is (in fact) very personal?

For what it is worth, I teach that the center of Paul is a three corded rope – union with Christ, redemptive history & eschatology. You may then state this three different ways depending (pedagogically) on what you/Paul wants to emphasize 1) The center of Paul is Jesus, who fulfills redemptive history by ushing in the eschaton; or 2) The center of Paul redemptive history, which now finds its fulfillment in Jesus ushering in the eschaton; or 3) The center of Paul is eschatology, which in Christ is the beginning of the end for redemptive history. Perhaps the redemptive history side could be restated as kingdom, since this is OT language for the hope of Israel, which finds finds a subversiveness expression in Christianity in that the way the eschaton works out and also the nature of God‘s Christ. It is this subversive edge as well as Paul’s desire to be personal, which perhaps explains why he must add the other two cords to this rope.

Posted by Bruce Lowe

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Preaching without notes: Method I

11 05 2010

Sometime ago I posted about preaching without notes, and promised to follow up with some thoughts about method. I haven’t been blogging for a while, but several people have asked when I would fulfill that promise, so here goes. I think it will be easier to tackle it in a few small chunks rather than lay it all out at once.

I’ve been preaching without notes for six months now, and in that time have preached 34 times, including a couple of occasions in which I’ve preached two different talks back to back, with about 15 minutes in between. Last month I preached 11 times, nearly all different talks. All of this has tested my “method” pretty well, and has helped me to reflect on what I’m doing. So here’s my first point:

1. Know the passage really well. It sounds obvious, since any preacher will study the text closely. But my point includes more than this. First, it is more important to know the passage than to know your talk. This is a good rule anyway, but it especially helps in preaching without notes. One reason for this is that even if you forget bits of your talk, you can still speak about the passage with clarity and depth of understanding.

Also, close attention to the structure of the passage, and particular words and phrases, can serve as a memory trigger for the talk. I will make sure that I know how I want to break a passage up, and then will know what I want to say about each section of the passage. For example, if the first unit is verses 1–3, I’ll expound that unit, drawing out its most important elements. I might have an illustration to help with understanding the main point of the unit, and I’ll know what kind of application I want to draw from the unit. As long as I know the passage well, all I really need to remember are those three steps. As I move through the whole passage, the process is much the same for each unit.

More to come later…

Posted by Con Campbell