Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What's Dumbledore got to do with it?

House Season 3 arrived! Woop. As House puzzles over things he stumbles over many things that might work and that might be important, but eventually disgards most of his ponderings in favour of the one thing needed.

I suppose JK Rowling did that with Harry Potter - she must have had vastly more ideas than she included in her huge books. Like that 'revelation' that Dumbledore was gay. The problem there is that she never once revealed that in the book - so surely the issue of his sexuality is up for grabs by the reader isn't it?

In preparing a talk the 'revelation' is all there. Nothing is hidden. But the preacher still can't cover everything. I remember once hearing a student scream frustration that there hadn't been much talk of the Holy Spirit in CU meetings for a few weeks - mostly because we'd been going through the early chapters of Romans. And then you hit chapters 5-8 and there's a whole lot more about the Spirit. The preacher hasn't got to tick every box, he needs to distill the big idea of the passage at hand. Other stuff has to remain untouched for a while. I had 4 talks on 2 Timothy, if I'd have had 16 it'd then loads more detail could have been explored. My Calvinist biases (probably) showed in this first talk, though I tried not to be too strong either way given that in a CU context there is room to differ on what Election is about.

[I'm reminded that Wesley & Whitefield differed strongly on the issue and eventually agreed to not spend too much time talking about it lest they break their strong missionary partnership. Issues shouldn't be avoided but there are sensitive and careful ways to approach them (more on that in 2 Timothy 2v14-26!). ]

Many of my other theological biases on 'secondary matters' (ones on which it is possible to disagree and still work together in evangelism) wont have come through in this first talk, or indeed the rest of the weekend. Where I stand on baptism, charismatic gifts, women's ministry and a whole host of other issues didn't and couldn't come up. The text never took us there. - another weekend with another part of God's word and they might have been inescapable!

My agenda is set by the passage (more on that in the posts ahead) but I can't include everything. These days I seem to go into 30 minute talks with about 1700 words of script, that's not a lot to have. When it came to 2 Timothy 1v1-2v13 I'd shot myself in the foot by tackling such a long passage, but as I'd pondered the manuscript of the book a couple of months back it seemed like one big section - with it's repeating themes of not being ashamed, suffering, guarding the gospel, grace etc.

But to preach what I preached (Saved by grace, strengthened by grace) meant I had to leave a load of really good God-breathed things in my study, like...
1. The biographical encouragement to Timothy about the genuine nature of his faith (though I pick that up a little in chapter 3).
2. The encouragement to fan into flame the gift that dwells in him - and a whole lot of stuff on the indwelling of faith and the Spirit in the Christian... guarding the deposit of grace by grace is inextricably linked to the work of the Holy Spirit but I'm not sure I had space to explore this very far, though I'd have loved to.
3. Detail on the nature of enduring hardship as a Christian - I made reference to it, but didn't have space to unpack and feel the force of.
4. The stuff on God's faithfulness and our faith or faithlessness.
All of which is good stuff for future study and potentially the blog allows for some extra-canonical exploration on top of the weekend's talks. What mattered most was the overarching concern of Paul to remind Timothy of the grace he knows in Christ - a concern that would put backbone into this believer.

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