Category Archives: Purpose and Destiny

What Hope is there for Mission?

It was a privilege to recently give the Whitley College 2010 Annual Missiology Lecture. Whitley College, part of the University of Melbourne,  is the  Baptist training college in Melbourne. The lecture was subsequently published in the Australian Journal of Mission Studies. Vol. 4, No.2 (Dec 2010) 55-61.  The lecture begins with the material below, but the full text can also be downloaded here.


The humour of this kind of “end of the world” cartoon reminds us that there is a certain disdain for crazy preachers who proclaim the end of all things, but we ought to remember that Jesus came into Galilee as an end-time preacher, saying, “The time has come, the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:14-15). It might be good if the church was more willing to sound equally crazy in saying that the kingdom of God is a lot closer than many realize, and that we are nearly there at every moment of time!  The Celtic Christian tradition has a saying that heaven and earth are only three feet apart, and that in the “thin” places the distance is even less. This is a way of saying that there are times and places when it seems that the veil between heaven and earth is lifted and we are able to get a glimpse, a sense of the holy. Read More »

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The Future of the Church

by Brian Edgar

What is the future of faith? What future is there for the church? These were the matters discussed on the ABC’s Sunday Night Talk  (July 18) with Jon Cleary, myself, Andrew McGowan (Warden of Trinity College at the University of Melbourne) and Dr Margaret Beirne, a Catholic sister of Charity and senior lecturer in Biblical studies at St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox theological college.

You can read Jon’s comments and download the whole program as a podcast from the ABC site.

Before the program started I made some notes on what I thought. Note carefully, that these are only notes. But they might stimulate your own thought on the topic. Read More »

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Resurrection and discipleship

By Brian Edgar

Matthew’s account of the life of Jesus is the only one with a decisive ending. The gospel of John may have originally finished at the end of chapter 20,[1] the ending of Mark is uncertain[2] and Luke’s gospel finishes so it can move on to the sequel in the book of Acts. Matthew, however, chose to finish clearly and decisively and to leave his readers with the final words of the risen Lord Jesus ringing in their ears. Read More »

Also posted in Formation and Discipleship | Comments closed

Life after death – the intermediate state

By Brian Edgar

Marc Chagall - an angel takes Jesus

There are four connected ideas about death and resurrection which are widespread but wrong.

  • The first idea is that when a Christian dies they go into a disembodied form and wait for the time of the final resurrection (there are significant differences in opinion as to actually what happens during this ‘intermediate state’ – sleep? being in the presence of God? in purgatory?)
  • This concept requires the second idea, which is that the person is understood in a dualistic sense, composed of two parts which can be separated (although again, there are differences of opinion as to how this actually works: body and soul? body and spirit?).  This involves the idea that the ‘real person’ is found in the souls/spirit part and that the person in this form can exist quite independently of the body. Read More »
Also posted in Theology of the Person | Comments closed

The human person according to Paul

By Brian Edgar

What exactly is meant when there is talk of a person being made up of ‘body and soul’? Are there two parts to a person? Can they exist separately?  Does the soul live on after the death of the body?  Discussions of the Biblical understanding of the person inevitably lead to the question as to whether the person is best understood  as unified whole (monism)  or as a integrated dualism of body and soul/spirit. Read More »

Also posted in Science and Faith Theory, Theology of the Person | Comments closed

Intelligent Design in schools?

By Brian Edgar

There was, a little while ago, a very public debate about whether the teaching of Intelligent Design should be banned in Australian schools. There are strong advocates for doing this it and the suggestion inevitably produces tensions. The situation in Australia, however, is not as heated as in the USA, partly because the processes by which curricula are established are different, and this tends to reduce the level of tension. Nonetheless, it remains a controversial issue.

Unfortunately, I reckon there is, in Australia, a general lack of theological understanding about what intelligent design actually is and what it achieves Read More »

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The soul – where does it come from?

By Brian Edgar

The Soul:Where does it come from?Where does it go to? In the twenty first century, just as much as at any time questions about human origins and destiny lie before us.  Where does humanity come from? What is our true nature? Where are we going? Read More »

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