holistic christianity

From my understanding of Scripture, I can discern at least the following seven levels of Christian life. They signal – and invite us into – a rich, holistic way of life. A way of life that seems to apply at all times and in all places. After seven short statements sketching these seven levels, I offer some brief reflections on why an appreciation of this holistic mix is crucial as we negotiate our current covid-19 crisis.


Private Devotion. Individual. The focus is on the relationship between me as an individual and God. Simultaneously, I practice relating to myself and to God. The more healthy, honest and helpful this relationship is, the more I am prepared to relate to others. Jesus’ prayerful relationship with his Father is a model.

Vulnerable Companionship. Two or Three Persons. This level is about journeying with those you are closest to and vulnerable with in a special way. It is incredibly difficult. It is less threatening to function as an isolated individual, or to operate in large groups while keeping everyone at arms length. Our discipleship and growth happens at this level like no other, provided we are willing to open ourselves to being the process of being sharpened by others “as iron sharpens iron”. One core practice here is the terrifying and transforming discipline of Confession.

Collaborative Community. Households, Gatherings or Entire Cities. This widens the focus to others not like us. Here we can practice the excruciatingly challenging task of loving, welcoming, sharing and serving with people who are not in our close group of favourites. We learn to partner with others: giving and receiving, influencing and being influenced by one another. This is dangerous and risk of pain, church splits (Paul and Barnabas style) and more along the way, but there is no other path forward. This is the level where the practice of Communion (or the Lord’s Supper or Eucharist) gathers up as much local diversity as possible into one local Body.

Global Movement. All Believers Everywhere. This extends our horizon past those we have met to include other believers who we are separated from either by distance or time. The differences in culture and expression of faith get more interesting and more challenging. the same opportunities to grow in partnership extend here as well. Again this is dangerous business – and far less challenging to stick to your house, your church, your neighbourhood. But God wants us to link up. Think of the way Paul advocated for churches to support, encourage, greet and pray for one another.

Human Solidarity. Every Human Life. This is a consistent trajectory in Scripture, where God’s people are called, as much as we are able, and in whatever ways that will be helpful, to channel God’s transforming love to the nations, the poor, the stranger, the orphan and the widow, the elderly, the unborn, the eunuch, the queer, the heretic, the unbeliever, the terrorist, and the enemy. Think of the Parable of the Good Samaritan, where Jesus not only makes a Samaritan the hero instead of a Jew, but also does not name the ethnic or religious identity of the victim. He was simply a human worthy of urgent and thorough care.

Global Stewardship. Our Environment. The care and concern doesn’t stop at humans. We tend and keep the garden of the Earth. We look after the “rocks and trees and skies and seas” of our Father’s World, as the grand hymn reminds us. We study and serve clouds and climates, tides and tectonics, flora and fauna, birds and beasts, sky and soil, oil and organisms, migration and minerals.

Cosmic Wonder. All Creation. Through the surface scratching, curious and scientific exploration of this mysterious universe, we function as God intended. With the author of Genesis (and the best of the skepticism of atheists), we dethrone the sun, moon and stars from the idol thrones. With King David (and contra those same atheists), we declare them as “the work of Your hands”. Here the line between science and worship blurs.


Brief Reflection on our Current Covid-19 Situation

We are in a season of change, no doubt. When change comes, there can be a tendency to do a few things, such as a) turn inward to the things you can control, b) turn to the past and resist change, or c) turn to the new new and innovative assuming them to be improvements.

The holistic framework of living outlined above helps us to navigate various aspects of our way forward. Any one (or more) of the levels can be easily forgotten at any time, but certainly amidst change like that we are navigating at present. For example, we can be so excited about online creativity, intimate bubble fellowship, or connecting in new ways globally that we forget the simple and historic value of gathering as local communities for hugs, handshakes, confession, teaching, blending our voices, taking communion, confessing the faith and being sent.

Whatever creative and innovative places God may well be taking us forward into, they need to involve structures and relationships that see individuals relating to God, confessing their sins to one another, sharing the Bread and the Cup in body gatherings that are as diverse as possible, reaching out to and uniting sacrificially across denominational and geographical lines, serving all kinds of human needs and injustices in Jesus’ name regardless of demographic difference, caring for and preserving creation, and daring to explore the heavens with reverent curiosity.

May God give us creativity, wisdom and patience to grow into the diverse kind of life invites us into.

teleology & ethics

The word ‘teleology’ (from Greek τελος ‘telos’ – meaning ‘goal’, ‘end’, ‘purpose’ or ‘that toward which things tend’) is not a street-level term.  However, the concept of a purpose, goal, function or ‘end’ to things most certainly is.  It’s a common as anything.  Teleology is blindingly relevant.

Continue reading “teleology & ethics”

go bananas

Visit and fill out name/email and the site will send an automatic email on your behalf to progressive grocers – requesting that they stock fair trade bananas.

Now, you’ll also probably get an automatic reply from progressive about their ‘efforts’ – which includes a ‘voluntary code of conduct’, which (found here) initially looks/sounds nice.

However, upon a closer look, it seems like the usual coporate-ish reaction to such things.

“Oh, but we are already making every effort to be good, fair, better, nice traders.  No, really.  We’re not just trying to make money and be ‘progressive’… Look at our fancy code-of-conduct website!  It’s a whole 2 years old!  That’s how long our tradition is of caring about ethical business!  All the farmers/producers (in other countries!?) have to do is pay $50, fill out a complicated form, pay travel expenses for a ‘Ombudsman Representative’ to meet with you (no lawyers, sorry), and cut through probably about 16-thousand other pieces of red-tape…” et cetera, ad infinitum

http://www.produceandgrocerycode.com.au/accessmediation.htm (And I quote: “Applying to the Produce and Grocery Industry Ombudsman for mediation is simple.” emphasis mine.  Really!!??)

http://www.produceandgroceryombudsman.com.au/process.html (More quotes: “Once the Ombudsman’s Representative has been appointment, he or she will ask for any travel expenses to be paid in advance and will ask you to sign an appointment agreement which makes your meeting confidential between everyone there.” and on meeting the the ombudsman: “You must make sure that you have authority to make a final agreement without checking with anyone else. If someone else has the final word then that person must attend too. Lawyers are not allowed to attend but you can bring a support person. That person is not an advocate, just someone there to support you.
” Gee… thanks!)

the next three years

Today begins not only the first semester at Carey, but also a busy three years for me…

Between work, study (starting a 3-year ‘pastoral leadership’ track), fatherhood, husbandhood, and rock star-hood (insert belly laugh here), I must be wise in the use of my time…

And this means my blogging activity (posting and commenting ’round the place) will be sporadic and other appropriate adjectives…

stinking stimulus

Anyone who has a knee jerk (i.e. less than critical) reaction to political events in general and the recent U.S. stimulus package in particular, should shut up and think before ranting.

That said, I just don’t like the thought (much less the passing) of the new stimulus package (and I’m not at all anti-Obama – to be crystal clear).  $US838 BILLION – on what I can’t help but see as a kind of massively over-sized whallop to a horse that is eventually going to die.  Yes, I’m aware of the complexity to all this, and No, I don’t think there are any quick fixes.  But I still cannot understand or begin to support spending nearly a trillion dollars on trying to preserve the “American Way of Life” ™.

What kind of precedent are we setting for future generations?  What are we saying to the rest of the world – much of which is living in some mild or severe form of poverty; a different kind of poverty indeed to the ‘poverty’ some are facing in ‘developed’ nations around the world.

Some may think, “Oh, but financial prosperity for the ‘rich west’ will enable them to be generous to the ‘poor rest’…”  That kind of capitalistic mentality (a.k.a. ‘the rising tide will lift many small boats’) is utter Bull.  Greed does not engender generosity.

Instead of our bank account levels needing to go ‘up’, we need our standard of living to go ‘down’ to a realistic and sustainable place.  And as long as ‘going out and spending money to stimulate the economy’ is part of doing your ‘patriotic duty’, then I think I want to be unpatriotic.

wisdom for a divisive issue

Obama’s recent statements on the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, remind us all (like it or not) of the immensely divisive issue of abortion.  The article says… Continue reading “wisdom for a divisive issue”

costs here and there

Want to have a baby in New Zealand?  That will cost you… nothing at all.  Diane and I have had various scans, midwife services, ante-natal classes, additional support and of course, the birth and subsequent more-than-normal care (heck, we’re even going to be reimbursed for the cost of petrol/gas to and from the hospital!) for our precious 7-week premature Thomas – all payed for by taxes payed by us and the rest of New Zealand.  So, yes, nothing is free, but these burdens are shared by the whole country here…

Want to have a baby in the United States?  You’ll probably want insurance.  I’m told a common cost for having a baby is around $10,000.  Who on earth would have ever thought that something so sublime as childbirth should ever have to be something you have to be insured for!!??

Then again, maybe New Zealand makes up for it in wireless internet charges?  In the US, you can go to nearly ANY cafe and enjoy free wireless internet – here, I’m paying $3 per hour ‘thanks’ to Tomizone… :)

thomas isaiah campbell

5 pounds, 3 ounces — born 4:18am Sunday, December 21, 2008 — 7 weeks pre-mature but his lungs are ‘catching up’ well — the tubes in this picture are feeding and breathing tubes — mum (for US people, this is equivalent to ‘mom’) is recovering great!

(update: more pics being added here!)

Continue reading “thomas isaiah campbell”

settled…

aaaaand we’re done… :) (hat tip + bow to Rob!)

Everything ‘should’ be pretty much as it was on the other server – only we’ve got the URL issue sorted now, so all of the posts (and files, etc.) will have the ‘fruitfulfaith.net’ base…

I’ve also updated the Feedblitz subscription for those who wish to subscribe with that service. I’ve enjoyed using Google Reader, and –seen on the left hand side– I have provided a feed of some randomly enjoyed posts I’ve chosen to share…

((and on a different note – I’m quite enjoying WordPress 2.7))