If I Wasn’t a Baptist…

A few years back I pondered jumping ship to a different denomination.

I was in flux with my work roles and open to all possibilities. At that stage it was a Church of Christ I was looking at, in many ways our closest cousins. It never did eventuate but not specifically for denominational reasons.

In the process I discovered that I am actually more ‘Baptist’ than I realised. I am probably not deeply ‘Baptist’ in the theological sense, (although that is there) but more in the sense of affiliation and family. It is a comfortable relationship, much like living in the same suburb for your whole life. It has been my tribe for so long that it would feel a bit odd to join up with someone else.

That’s not to say I wouldn’t do it. I would if I felt the need and occasionally I ask myself if ‘I still belong’. Moving denominations would be much like moving house. It would need to be for a good reason and it wouldn’t be a shift I would make too easily or too often, but it would be doable.

Occasionally I ponder who I would be if not ‘Baptist’ and probably the best fit for me would be the Vineyard scene. Part of that is because of one my closest mates is a Vineyard pastor and part of it is that I do like what they stand for and who they seek to be. I like their kingdom emphasis, their focus on church planting, more demonstrative faith and the work of the Holy Spirit.

As much as they have mellowed somewhat since the Wimber days I still like the vibe of the movement and their theology of the Holy Spirit seems more even keeled than stock pentecostalism. (I feel this is a lack in our conservative denominations but the theology of some of the pentecostal set leaves me cold.)

While its not a big issue for me currently, it is one that lurks. We are a denomination in the midst of significant change and because of the influence of Paul Borden we seem to be adopting a more corporate and ‘one size fits all’ approach to church. From where I stand it seems the focus is on the larger church / CEO model and the space for diversity seems to be decreasing. I could be wrong on this, but it is the feeling I get from around the place.

I am hopeful we will still be a denomination that welcomes experimentation, that champions innovation and encourages those willing to leave the familiar in search of different ways of doing mission and being church, but as of yet my jury is out on that one.

Perhaps this is why I do resonate with the Vineyard (as I perceive it). There seems to be a real openess to new ideas and a valuing of those courageous enough to have a go at different things.

I must say there are a few in my own denomination who have been cheering for us and have been genuinely supportive and they are highly valued and much loved. I can handle those who oppose us and those who don’t ‘get’ us, but the people who I find particularly difficult are the dickheads who cheer us on to our face but secretly despise us or see us as losers.

The again I am dickhead sometimes too…

So if you weren’t part of your denomination who would you join up with?…

Son of God?




Jarrod McKenna

Jarrod McKenna’s Wednesday’s with Gandhi:



“Jesus expressed, as no other could, the spirit and the will of God. It is in this sense that I see him and recognise him as the Son of God.”

Gandhi, (October 1941) from “Mohandas Gandhi: Essential Writings” by John Dear, p. 79

How does Gandhi’s understanding of ‘Son of God’ sit with you?

I don’t think Gandhi was talking about the “hypostatic union” of the Father and the Son. I don’t think Gandhi had in mind the fourth Ecumenical Council in Chalcedon considering the two natures of the Son of God. Nor did Gandhi have the Sixth Ecumenical Council in Constantinople and it’s discussion of, not just the two natures, but the two wills of the Son of God.

But in fairness to Gandhi, nor does the average evangelical Christian. While I don’t want to take away from any of the important spiritual lessons that can be learnt from studying the “Councils”, I’d like to suggest it’d be fruitful to consider what another non-Christian probably meant by “Son of God” and what the Apostle Paul meant in context.

The Unnamed Soldier

We don’t know his name. And there is little recorded about him. What we do know: He was a solider who’s job declared “good news”. The Good News of the ‘Son of God’ bringing salvation and justice to the world because he is now Lord of the whole world and calls for our allegiance. I know what your thinking,

“Jarrod, I thought you said he wasn’t a Christian?”

He’s not.

CaesarThat’s the language used by the fastest growing religion in Jesus’ day, the Cult of Caesar. The ‘Cult of Caesar’ announced Caesar as Divine and provided the spirituality for the Empire’s invasion, colonisation, oppression and continual domination. This unnamed soldiers job was his spiritual act of worship, to oversee the brutal and public humiliation of those who would challenge the hegemonic control of the world by it’s true Lord and Son of God, Caesar, the Roman Emperor. The Empire did this through Caesar’s saving methods, means, politics, ethics and spirituality; VIOLENCE. In particular for this centurion, his job was overseeing the violence of crucifixion which made a spectacle of would be revolutionaries that would challenge Caesar as Divine Ruler of the world.

Yet, one Friday the politics, ethics, spirituality and allegiance of this centurion of the oppressive Empire did a radical life changing back-flip. As Mark Gospel records it chapter 15:37-39:

With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.

The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

“SON OF GOD?!” These words are not in the mouth of a Jew referring to the rich Jewish imagination associated with this term; the real King of Israel, the real liberating anointed leader (messiah). These words are instead in the mouth of someone who as a Roman Centurion knew the term “Son of God” to refer to his violent political leader, Caesar.

Yet, after maybe watching the death of thousands via crucifixion, something about the cry and the way this nonviolent messiah died, brought him to a conclusion that still threatens the heart of violent empires everywhere (including Burma this week). In this bloodied dying revolutionary he had seen and heard real power. Real leadership. Real sovereignty. Real divinity. The real ruler. The ‘Son of God’ that instead of ruling with violence would expose the “comic backfire” of violence and the structures which have institutionalised it’s reign, making a spectacle of it and triumphing over it “by the cross.” (Colossians 2:15)

Tom wrightAs N.T. Wright has said,

“A close comparison of the “good news” of the Caesar cult with Paul’s words shows that Romans is, among other things, a deliberate parody of the [violent] pagan message. Paul’s readers in Rome must have understood this, and he must have intended them to. Paul’s ideas do not derive from the Caesar cult, as some have suggested; they confront it.”

The Apostle Paul is not, as some liberal theologians have argued, (and sadder still, some evangelicals practice), lifting his ideas from the cult of Caesar worship in an act of political vasectomy to neutralise and hellenise a Judaism that would bow the knee to the Empire’s violent agenda. Instead the Apostle Paul is practicing the nonviolent ‘spiritual jujitsu’, (to nick Wink’s term), that Jesus taught to subvert the language Empire (and it’s spirituality of domination and violence) to expose and undermine it.

The early church, filled with the Holy Spirit, did just that and it often cost them there lives. Much like the unarmed actions of the Buddhist monks in Burma this week, the early church showed a fearlessness in the face of the rebellious principalities and powers. Yet unlike the monks and their brave actions (which I admire deeply) where not simply fueled by the desperation of the situation but by the resurrection of the Son of God; the dawning of God’s nonviolent dream for creation. Unquestionably they understood the cross to be what God has done for us, empowering us to “put away the sword” and to take up the cross as our way of defeating evil (as seen in the early churches refusal to fight wars for first three centuries of Christianity).

Tragically today we even have church leaders who accuse those who challenge the hijacking of Christianity in service the diabolical exploitation of God’s good earth and the poor as ‘twisting the Scriptures’. That accuse those who are calling the church to obey Jesus Christ and therefore love our enemies like he did, (through the way of costly love NOT the way of ‘smart bombs’ and preemptive strikes) of distorting Jesus for our own agenda.

I wonder if the challenge of a pagan solider at the cross of Jesus, the courageous unarmed Buddhist monks in Burma and the context of the Apostle Paul’s writing, will be enough for us to see how often we have made “Son of God” mean less than, (as Gandhiji put it), “Jesus expressed, as no other could, the spirit and the will of God”. More than that, I wonder if the Scriptures will be enough for Christians to believe like the early Church did that Jesus is not less than the Messiah, God incarnate, God revealed fully to be Love.

And calls us to live in ways that reflect such a love as revealed in Jesus.

here is one small way you can support the Burmese Protestors 

Its Somebody’s Daughter

No, not prostitution I am writing about…

I’m still on the subject of ‘teaching’.

One way for me to improve the way I relate to the kids at school is to see them as somebody’s daughter or someone’s son and to treat them as such – someone’s pride and joy. When you are a relief teacher its easy to slip into cruise control mode and not show much interest, or take much care because you may never see these kids again. Its easy to zone out, read a book, keep your distance…

A few weeks back Ellie had a relief teacher who was quite bovine in her manner…

She unnecessarily gruff with Ellie for being a few minutes late (in front of Danelle), so much so that Danelle made a complaint. Its never nice to see your kids get the rough end of the stick, so this week I have been trying to imagine each kid in the class as my own and asking myself how I would like them to be taught.

Its a class of 31, so at times the need for classroom management and operational efficiency supercedes a genuine ‘what’s best for the child’ ethos, but it has been helpful for keeping me motivated and focused. Its definitely helped me enjoy being there even if it hasn’t re-ignited any sort of passion for teaching.

In Search of Suburbatopia

This is the title of my sermon for next week at East Fremantle Baptist Church.

Its based around some thoughts that have been brewing for a while around the quest for the ‘good life’ that seems to dog both believers and non-believers alike.

It seems there is a belief that we can create heaven on earth, but that ‘heaven’ is the summation of marketing images that promise us contentment at the cash register as we fawn over our next purchase.

We really do live in frightening times.

Aussies work more hours than anyone else in the developed world – and ironically we do it so we can have the ‘lifestyle’ we desire. Crikey! Who has time for a ‘lifestyle’ when they spend most of their life at work?

A friend recently told me he earns $4300.00 / week… I was a tad envious of his amazing wage until I learnt that he works 12 hours a day, 6 days a week on night shift and that his workplace is 90 mins drive from home… This person spends 15 hours of his day away from home!

Yes, he makes a shitload of $$$ but at what cost?

The idea of course is to make some money and ‘get set’, but what happens in the mean time when your marriage suffers your kids don’t know you, you adjust your life to suit your income and you actually start to think it is normal to earn $200K p.a?

I remember the words of Jesus who asked ‘What good is it for a man to gain the whole world yet lose his soul?’ and who also said ‘Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, ‘but whoever loses his life for me will find it.’

The way of Jesus is an absurdity in boomtown Perth, but given the fact that we haven’t been able to find contentment, peace and happiness in more $$ then maybe his ideas might just get a lookin…

Or not.


I have 4 days teaching year 5’s starting tomorrow.

To be honest I am a bit nervous. I used to be a good teacher, used to have a great rapport with kids and a lot of creative ideas when it came to education. I don’t like the thought of not being able to do it quite as well, or not feeling as confident in the classroom. But its been a while… I am a little out of touch, and my heart is not in it like it used to be…

Part of me is actually looking forward to 4 days of new experience (I have never done a primary classroom before) and I am even a little bit excited about it, while another part of me would be happy if they rang and cancelled so I could get on with other stuff… The fact that I am blogging about it shows it is getting space in my thoughts.

I did the reticulation on our investment home last week, and saved us $1000.00 for installation. (That’s what Total Eden quoted ) It took me just a day and a half… I couldn’t help seeing a business opportunity there in a new suburb. How easy would it be to earn $1000.00 from installing one retic system a week?

As I look to next year and a number of work options I find myself constantly tossing up between the well paying but relatively brain dead options, or the poorly paying, but (for me) more inspiring and challenging ministry options.

Do I need / want more inspiration and challenge or I do I need some trench digging just to pay the bills?…

I remember as we went thru Uni (many years ago now) we learnt about the concepts of labour, work and play. Labour is what you do whether you like it or not because you need the $$$. It is purely extrinsically motivated – and may people’s jobs are like this. Work is both intrinsically and extrinsically motivated. You enjoy it but it also pays the bills. Sure – there are parts that are hard, but you can cope with that. And ‘play’ is what you do purely because it is enjoyable. Any $$$ benefit is a bonus.

I made a decision right back at 21 years old to try and wherever possible place myself in jobs where I was doing ‘work’ and to avoid ‘labour’ wherever I could. You may think the ideal would be to get paid to ‘play’, but in actual fact this wouldn’t be the case as then you would lose opportunities for recreation and relaxation and life would become very fuzzy.

That said, my life lately has been a blend of ‘work’ and ‘play’ and I have rarely had to do ‘labour’. My teaching stint a few years back was exactly that and it nearly killed me. These days I get paid money to do what I would want to do even if there was no money in it.

I feel priveleged but at the same time am in search of some new challenges.

Then again it is September… and I always feel like this in September!

Musing over…

Spice of Life

If variety is the spice of life then I am having a curry!

One of the things I have really come to love about my Forge

role here in West Oz is that I find myself speaking to and interacting with such a diversity of people.

Today I was speaking at a conference with the local Lutheran guys. But over the last few months there have been opportunities to connect with and speak to Seventh Day Adventists, Baptists, Salvos, Churches of Christ, Uniting Church, Anglicans, Nazarenes, Pentecostals, Vineyards and probably even some I have forgotten.

I really enjoy the breadth of the experience and the perspective it gives me on what is happening here in Oz. It has probably been a catalyst for me increasingly holding my own theological views more humbly and for appreciating the breadth of the church that God has created.

One place we don’t seem to be able to make a dent is with the Roman Catholics. I am not sure why…

Plans for Sunday arvo?

If people in Perth were looking for ways to make peace and praise practical this Sunday you’re welcome to join us Peace Tree crew for the Gulu Walk.

“Every morning and every night the children of Northern Uganda walk for their LIVES. We’re walking to tell their story.

Not sure what that is? Please click here to view the video about what you can do for the “Invisible Children”.

Date – 23rd September 2007 (Sunday)


sleepy hollow download

– 2.30pm with a 3pm start

Where – We are meeting at Beaufort Park in Bedford. It is on the corner of Beaufort St and Drummond St.

Walk – The walk will begin at Beaufort Park in Bedford, go along Beaufort St through Bedford, Inglewood, Mt Lawley, Northbridge and then back up to Mt lawley again. The walk will conclude at the ASeTTS building near the corner of Beaufort St and Brisbane St. There is a map of the walk with distance times located on our website.

Walk Length – the walk is approximately 7kms. Depending on your walking speed, the walk will take roughly 1.5 – 2 hours.

Cost – The event is FREE

Registation – Please register at guluwalkperth@gmail.com The number of attendees in the subject line of an email is fine..

EntertainmentAt both the beginning and the end of the walk there will be various forms of entertainment. At 2.30pm we have Afrotonics, a drum and dance group, performing at Bedford Park. Speeches, photo displays and the screening of the film Invisible Children feature at the end of the walk at the ASSeTTs building.

Websitewww.myspace.com/perthguluwalk (or the link to the page is in the ‘our friends’ section)

I’ll see ya there with my wheels 🙂

Morgan Gracious in Defeat

Well after a rookie tipping year that can only be described unbe-bloody-lievable it was time to hand over the loot. At the start of the year Morgs and I put a 6 pack of Crownies (for him) against a bottle of red (for me), with the winner to recieve the prize at the end of the season.

Who would have thought it?…


So over lunch today at Giardinis (a cafe in Leederville with brilliant staff and great food) Morgs parted with the goods and congratulated me on what he described as an ‘awesome year’s tipping’.

‘I don’t know how you do it Hamo! I only wish I had your amazing insights and depth of sporting knowledge. You are incredible!!’

I think that was what he said…

Sadly Giardinis isn’t a BYO so we didn’t get to polish it off over lunch, but it was a great time anyway! Maybe next year Morgs 🙂