Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A new discovery

To all those who live in Gauteng and nearby: Do yourself a favour and go to the new Irene Mall (On Nelmapius Drive). The theme of the mall is "Cows" and is derived from the famous Irene dairy farm. Check the pic below:

They have all sorts of shops, but my favourite is a quaint little bookshop which sells all kinds of interesting books at a very good price. This book caught my attention:

The title: "The illustrated encyclopedia of sex"
Author: "Dr. A. Willy"


Sunday, October 28, 2007

A bit of fun

A friend of mine sent me the following list of questions to complete. I thought it was quite fun. If you don't have anything to do, why not spend a minute to complete it and post it in my comments?

Where did we meet:
Take a stab at my middle name:
How long have you known me:
Do I smoke:
What was your first impression of me upon meeting:
Colour of my eyes:
Do I have any siblings:
What's one of my favourite things to do:
Do you remember one of the first things I said to
What's my favourite type of music:
What is the best feature about me:
Am I shy or outgoing:
Am I a rebel or do I follow the rules:
What's your favourite memory of me:
Any special talents:
Would you consider me a friend:
How many children do I have:
If there was one good nickname for me,what would it
If you and i were deserted on an island, what would
i bring?
I can't wait to see the answers!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Are you dyslexic? Well, it doesn't matter.

fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too . Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.

i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

Sunday, October 21, 2007



After the match, President Thabo Mbeki was lifted on the players' shoulders. Would Gordon Brown have allowed that? Or the Queen?


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Pneumatology in the same-sex debate.

Thoughts for another paper.

It is no secret that that church is deeply divided by the debate on same-sex relationships. Not only have I followed different discussions with interest, but have been part of our denomination's struggle for the past 5 years.

Different theological perspectives have given reasons for their respective stances on the issue, and when asked to define the one factor, which causes the difference in theological perspective, the response points to different hermeneutic methods employed in the reading of Scripture. I am not satisfied with this answer. This rift is not due solely to people reading the Bible differently. It is clear that in the discussion there are different understandings of the doctrine of Scripture, Ecclesiology, Soteriology and Missiology. The differences in these doctrines, something that can be captured in a book, are acknowledged, but if there is one doctrine that can be identified as the root of these divergent views, it is Pneumatology.

Yes, Pneumatology is the forgotten doctrine, except in its overemphasis in the charismatic/Pentecostal traditions. Yet, it is a doctrine which informs our understanding of so many other doctrines. This is what I’ve noticed:

Among those arguing for the recognition and appreciation of same-sex relationships in the church, the Spirit of God is seen as one who’s function it is first, to point to the Son. The belief is that God’s self-revelation is not subject to the availability, intention or righteousness of the individual, nor of the community. This means that God’s choice to reveal pre-empts the factor of human cognition, recognition and ability. Wesley refers to this as Prevenient Grace. God does not only reveal Godself through the Son, communicated and recognized through the Spirit to certain individuals, but God’s revelation extends to all. The result is that all have equal opportunity to respond in faith to what God has already done. In the response to this revelation, a community which exceeds time and space is formed, with the aim of holiness. This Soteriology, although affecting the individual does not necessarily depend on the sanctification of the individual per se, but is concerned with the sanctification of the community. It is at this point that one should guard against the danger of Gestalt Theology. The work of the Spirit is not only the cumulative work of transforming individuals for the sake of a redeemed community, but is first at work in the restoration of the community which has, as a result, the inevitable consequence of the restoration of the individual. Even if we were to assume that homosexuality is a sin, then the place of the homosexual is rooted in the community of faith, because the Spirit is at work in the community.

Those who are vehemently opposed to same-sex relationships indicate a different understanding of the Spirit, which in turn affects their ecclesiology, Soteriology and doctrine of mission. The work of the Spirit is to reveal truth and to safeguard the truth in the community of faith. Truth is contained in Scripture, encapsulated in tradition and history. Reason, the third pillar of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral, becomes informed and subject to the three mentioned factors, two of which are Quadrilateral pillars themselves. This ensures that truth remains stable, and is not open to change as the result of a clinical and relatively “new” discovery, but must be subject to the truth of the Spirit as revealed through time in the aspects mentioned. It is therefore an unreasonable question to answer when those holding this perspective are asked: “If God is so passionately opposed to homosexuality, why doesn’t the Spirit convict homosexuals of their sin as pointed to in John 16:8-11?”. Based on this Pneumatology, it is the work of the church to convert those who partake in this practice, for the Spirit has already convicted the church through Scripture, history and tradition. The question that is raised is whether this Pneumatology leads to a re-invention of Sola Ecclesia (in the Roman Catholic sense)?

If this is the case, then we must speak of two different Christian theologies. This is of much greater consequence than merely having different hermeneutic approaches.

Share some thoughts… Obviously I haven’t argued concisely and coherently, so please, once again, excuse the fragmented thinking.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I had to laugh.

Friday afternoons in the Bentley-household is family-afternoon. Nothing is allowed to impinge on this time. Usually we go out for lunch, then I drop Natalie and Nathan off at home (because Nathan still has a nap in the afternoon) and then Matt and I spend a little bit of Matthew-pappa-time together at a venue of his choice - usually Woodlands Boulevard for an ice-cream.

Matt is not a wonderful eater. We always have to negotiate some form of positive outcome for his willingness to finish his food. Negotiating works, because he has a good dollop of Greek blood running through his veins. This Friday past, we (the whole family) decided to have lunch at the Wimpy. Matt had his usual vienna and chips with Coke-light. The deal at Wimpy, like so many other food outlets, is that kiddies get a toy with every kiddies meal. I called the waitress aside and asked her only to bring a toy when Matt had finished his meal, otherwise the toy will distract him. Halfway through our meal, she came across with armloads of toys, told Matthew that he could choose one, but that she would only bring it when she saw an "empty" plate. He understood the transaction. He chose a toy, she turned and left.

As soon as she was out of sight, he leant over the table, looked Natalie and myself straight in the eyes, and whispered with a calculating look on his face "Hey, you guys better help me here!"

Lots of lessons to be learnt from this episode, but I won't start my sermon with this illustration, lest Stanley Hauerwas may be sitting in the congregation. (His opinion is that when a minister starts a sermon with the words "This week my son taught me a valuable lesson...", he knows that he is in for a long, shallow sermon.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Is the S. African media fulfilling the prophetic role of the church?

Dion wrote an interesting blog on the church's prophetic voice. I was actually busy constructing my thoughts on the same topic when I came across his post. I want to develop this into an academic article, so your comment will be valued. These are just rough ideas, which need to be sharpened, so please excuse the fragmented nature of the following discussion. The question I would like to ask is: Is the South African media fulfilling the prophetic role of the church?

The church in South Africa has a rich history of being involved in discussion with the State, good and bad. As a prophetic voice, the church has not hindered to declare a Status Confessionis on several occasions. This has led to the signing of the Kairos Document, as well as the Belhar Confession, among others. But statements, confessions and even critique has been few and far between. During the Apartheid era, the Nederduits Gereformeerde Kerk was jokingly called "The National Party at prayer". In modern times, my own denomination has been labeled as "The ANC at prayer", and one certainly has to raise the question whether over-identification with a certain cause can lead the church to a place where it is stripped of its prophetic voice, or whether the church's voice simply is not taken seriously enough.

So, who keeps the State accountable - besides the justice system? The obvious answer is the media. The media may be over-critical, be accused of sensationalizing its content, but it is certainly the only forum which is posing questions in public to the authorities. Has the media nudged the church out of a job? One measure is to see whether the media is actually interested in, or reporting on the church's voice - that is, if it has one. It seems like the only interest the media is currently showing in the church concerns the different denominations' stances on the same-sex and civil unions debates. This is a sad state of affairs. The second marker would be to establish whether civil society is interested in what the church has to say, or if it prefers to identify with the media's relentless questioning of current practices.

Obviously we should celebrate the amount of press-freedom that we have in this country, but the church should be concerned about the notion that it has been ousted by the press. Why? For starters, the media can only delivere comment based on a subjectively assumed moral framework. What moral and ethical framework is used for its comment and criticism? Is it a formal framework, or is it subject to the editorial boards' own biases? Here, the church is able to speak with a greater sense of independence and certainty. To hold Christian values, which I know are highly debatable and subjective, as the basis for our conversation with the State, the church is enabled to critique, criticize and endorse practices while being relevant to the needs of the community.

I am concerned. These are just a few rough thoughts.

The "Prophetic voice" is not to be seen as something which should be raised by either the church or the media. These prophetic voices are different. The danger is that one of these voices seemed to have fallen away, leaving the media to fulfill both roles.

Just some thoughts.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Have you ever heard of the term "loadshedding"? Doesn't it sound vulgar? "Loadshedding"! And it is vulgar, it is offensive and it is enough to make you crawl under your bed, chew your toenails, fry them and pretend that its Cornflakes. It is simply that mind boggling.

What am I talking about? Powercuts. ESKOM, the company in charge of South Africa's electricity supply is busy with maintenance on their generators, have the problem of wet coal and possess a number of generators which are simply "out-of-order". This has led to a nationwide rationing of electricity, where suburbs and towns have to take turns to sit in the dark. Frustrating, believe me, especially after I had to deal with this and write exams yesterday. I climbed in my car and realized that I needed petrol. I peeked into my wallet, to find that I had no money. And so, I had to go from suburb to suburb on petrolfumes, looking for any minuscule sign of electricity so that I could draw money. I eventually managed this, but this particular suburb did not have any petrolstations, and so I had to explore again. Four suburbs later I found a station. The attendant inserted the nozzle, and as my friend Murphy would have it... it was this suburbs turn! AAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!

What should have taken me 20 minutes to get to the exam hall, turned out to be one-and-a-half hours!

Loadshedding - this is what happens when there is a great demand and a limited supply. If not managed, there is total breakdown. Although I found the whole thing distasteful, I managed to learn a lesson from it anyway. In my life I have many different individuals, institutions and responsibilities that tug away at me. In the short- to medium term this is ok. The load may be heavy, but dealt with in short spurts, can actually be done. Management of this stress is vitally important. There are so many needs, but only one of me. If I do not manage this well, then I might just have to do a bit of loadshedding myself. Were I not to shut down some functions temporarily, I might just suffer total breakdown myself. What will happen if this were to take place? Well, the honest answer is that these needs will just move along to the next "supplier of energy".

So, I'm reassessing, rearranging, prioritizing.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Class of 2007

Tonight we celebrated the journey of the 2007 students at John Wesley College Kilnerton. I like what I do, but I love being on campus, engaging with students on theological issues. It is always a good feeling to look back and to remember the bewildered eyes, but now to see ministers and theologians who can think, act and preach with confidence. A big thank you to the class of 2007 for your commitment, love and hard work. To the full-time staff at JWC, your loyalty and dedication to ministerial formation is already seen in the ministries of those who have journeyed in this place - as Dion says, the most hallowed of theological institutions.

Class of 2007

From left to right: Me and Dion.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

New blogger!

Beryl, my colleague started blogging. Give her a visit. Click here.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Methodists in the news today

Advocate Mpshe
Deputy Chief Justice Moseneke

Two of our members are in the news today. This post is to ask for your prayers for them and their families. Advocate Mpshe has to oversee the National Prosecuting Authority while their head is under investigation. We pray for wisdom. Deputy Chief Justice Moseneke today upheld a 15 year prison sentence imposed on Shabir Shaik. We pray for continued strength as many, but many judges refused to oversee the proceedings of this case.