Last week a bunch of guys from church went up to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains near Sydney for Men’s Convention.
We joined with almost 2,000 other men, and in spirit with 4,000 more who gathered on the previous and following weekend. What was it all about? We’ll, here’s the promo video..
Good stuff, eh? As well as great teaching (more of which in a later post) there was also great singing. 2,000 men in a big tin shed make a great noise (and the shiny head of one of our churchwardens)…
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As a planner of Anglican Men’s Weekend in southern California I was impressed by your Men’s Convention. I’ve gathered some great information from the website to share with our men for future Weekends. Thanks and blessings.
Yes, men’s convention was a great weekend; but I have to say that I was profoundly disturbed by the teaching on Philippians. I’ll be very interested to read what your take on these talks was. I was concerned at the use of 1st century historical information in actually interpreting the text. Such information can illuminate the text but cannot be used as the key to understanding what the text means or meant. I’ve written my own post on this on my blog.
I’m not sure I share your level of concern. I was not particularly troubled by what John Dickson did. Whilst he certainly used some extra-scriptural material to enhance our understanding my impression is that the bulk of the argument came from the text of Philippians itself.
At least, that’s how I perceived it.
Fair enough David. But let me ask you: Were you comfortable with the fact that he made no comment at all on 1:1-26 and then launched into 1:27 with its imperative shorn from the context of 1:1-26?
And then, as I heard him, John explained how we could only hear 1:27 ‘as the Philippians heard him’ if we realised that the danger for them was to live as proud citizens of the Roman city of Philippi? Does that accord with 1:1-26? Is this historical background the hermeneutical key to this text? I have to say I don’t think so.
Interestingly, the men I was with had similar concerns, and the upside of that was some great discussion on the meaning of 1:27.
Phil, I never got the impression that Dickson was divorcing the passage from what had gone before.
Was there anything, in particular, that came prior to 1:26 that made you feel as though we had been taught something incorrect at 1:26ff?
David, I’d summarise my concerns under two headings: A wrong use of the Bible (the wrong hermenetic) resulting in eisegesis.
I’ve covered the first already: using extra-biblical material to interpret a verse or passage in the Bible. To be specific, John did not make a case from the text of Philippians 1:1-26 that the Philippian Christians were struggling with pride because they thought of themselves as good Roman citizens in a privileged city. Yet he made a contrast between citizenship of proud Philippi with citizenship of heaven. Is that the flow of logic within the text of Philippians? I certainly cannot see it; but even if this were the case John did not argue the case from Philippians, he argued it from extra-biblical material. I think this is very poor modelling of how to use the Bible. Extra biblical information can help us understand what it means for Philippi to be a Roman colony (illumination) but it cannot be cited in order to teach us what a verse means.
Second, as a consequence of the first problem, his application on 1:27 seemed to me to be based on eisegesis.
1:1-26 suggests the Philippians have a sound grasp of the gospel and are active partners with Paul in gospelling. He teaches them that to live in service to the Lord Jesus, to the gospel, is paramount, whether or not he can be with them. There is no hint at all that they are acting proudly or with a defective understanding of their true citizenship.
So then, 1:27 seems to be making the point that, as partners in the gospel, they live worthily as citizens of the gospel of Christ, whether or not Paul is with them. In other words Paul is preparing them for a lifetime of gospelling and godliness even if their partnership with him ceases. He will also need to prepare them for persecution. But that’s not what John said. Instead, he reconstructed an alleged problem the Philippians had (city pride) and read it into the text.
With my church, it’s been the same old bunch of 10-15 guys going up to men’s convention every year. This year we didn’t go. Among the concerns raised was the price – $75 each, with no discount available for those (like my church) who’ve come up on Saturday morning. Is MKC pricing itself out of reach of many men?