This is a continuation from my last blog. Sorry it’s not very bloggish — much too long! But I hope it’s helpful.
Like G. K. Chesterton (as I noted in my blog a few years ago), I feel a little like the intrepid explorer who, with a boat full of supplies and arms, sailed bravely into the unknown in order to discover new lands and riches for the Crown. After battling on the high seas for many a month, he espies land on the horizon. Dragging his boat onto the beach, and armed to the teeth, he intends to plant the British flag on this new territory, but soon discovers the natives already speak English. About an hour later—having realised he has landed on the south coast of England—he is sheepishly enjoying a pint of best bitter in the Ship Inn and, frankly, enjoying being back at home and having a good laugh.
Every so often there appears an article lamenting the state of contemporary worship. One came across my desk last week with the usual complaints about trite songs, too much showmanship, a lack of congregational involvement, keys being too high, and so on. As a worship leader myself who recognises all these things, all such articles do is make us all feel more guilty—participants for not joining in more, leaders for doing a bad job.Continue reading “The problem of worship”
Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her. (Eph. 3:25)
Church-bashing is becoming a popular internet game. One recent article suggested that if Jesus was to return to earth, it would be the Christians who would want to crucify him again—particularly so-called ‘religious’ Christians from established church(es) who are, naturally, in league with the system etc. I find these articles both worrying and offensive.
This (rather long) post explores the slippery concept of ‘the presence of God’ by meditating particularly on the narrative of Moses. Since humans, in some sense, carry God’s image, we consider how, as-image bearers, our role is to fill the earth with light and partner with God to ‘fill the earth with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea’. It’s a long read but (though I say it myself) well worth the effort. Continue reading “The presence of God”
I remember as a fifteen year old, on a trip to relatives in Holland, coming across the music of Tom Paxton. I felt like I had stumbled into heaven. Soon the likes of Tom’s successors – Bert Jansch, John Renbourne, Paul Simon and James Taylor – were giving me guitar lessons. Not that they knew it, of course: I simply played their LP’s on my merciless record player until they were irretrievably scratchy – but at least I could play some of the most difficult passages. My education was supplemented by weekly trips to the White Horse in Reading where I joined bearded guitar-wielding hippies and other fresh-faced lads like myself nursing under-age pints (which we made last the whole evening) as we worshipped the guitar. I could soon finger-pick with the best of them and blew all my savings on a wonderful instrument which cost me seven pounds and bore the label ‘Hi Spot, Foreign’. This was, of course, a marked contrast to Sundays where hymns and dreadful ‘choruses’ made me cringe with embarrassment. (Whoever penned the immortal lines ‘We’re in the great race to put rockets in space, but the needs of our souls we’re refusing to face’ should, in my humble opinion, be made to eat their own toenails. Some of the ‘choruses’ I’ve heard recently are little better.) There was no way I could take my White Horse friends to church. And so my life developed in two parallel universes whose paths never intersected.
A response to Czech theologian Dan Drapel’s article, ‘Odpověď Johnu de Jongovi‘ (reply to John de Jong)
At the beginning of this year I wrote a short article called Reading the Bible Again which looked very briefly at some of the issues surrounding truth and the Bible. Czech theologian Dan Drapel responded by posting a lengthy article on his website (in Czech) accusing me of treating the whole Bible as a mythical work. This was not my intention, nor is it my belief. I therefore took the time to respond to Dan’s article, and this is reproduced below for those who are interested in such things! (I am sorry I cannot post Dan Drapel’s article here, but you will get a feel for the issues from my response.)
First of all, I would like to thank Dan for taking the time to respond to my article ‘Reading the Bible Again’. It is very healthy to have such discussions and debates, and I am glad that Dan and I are substantially agreed. As this response from Dan has been posted on his website, I would like to take a few moments to correct some misconceptions about my position and to make a few further comments.
A few preliminary words about motivation. The article I wrote – ‘Reading the Bible Again’ – was intended to encourage people to read the Bible, and was designed to provoke those who make truth claims about its literality, inerrancy or infallibility without proper reflection. Or those who use the term ‘The Word of God’ as if the book was a deity. If such views become foundational to faith there is a danger – and this is something I observe in the Czech Republic – that Christianity becomes more about believing the ‘right’ things than following Jesus.
A brief exploration of truth and the Bible
Nick Clegg, according to the Daily Mail, is a devious politician who has thrown away his principles in favour of power and personal aggrandisement. Is this true? Thousands of Daily Mail readers no doubt view this as as indisputable fact, but surely there must be more to this than meets the eye? As someone who, for better or for worse, chose to take his party into a coalition with previous political enemies, there must be deeper issues here; Clegg is no doubt having to walk a very difficult tightrope, balancing principles against the fact that he is the leader of a minority within this fragile coalition. I prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt — that deep down he has the interests of the nation at heart.
This simple example illustrates how we are so easily swayed by words that are in print — accepting them as truth simply because someone has decided they are worth printing. Even though we know that media barons print stories simply to sell papers, and journalists are sometimes not the most truthful of people, still we are deeply affected by what we see in print. Continue reading “Reading the Bible again”