Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Radio Show

Barefoot Broadcast - Christianity and 2012

I am speaking on an small radio show this evening about Christianity and 2012.

Go here to see the link.

There is obviously a lot of talk this year about 2012 and the end of the world etc.  I'm going to share my own thoughts and ramblings about this tonight.  Tune in if you want to...

The Church and Death

Friday, 20 January 2012

Death

I have had a couple of very insightful conversations today with people about death.

I think it is clear that we have no idea what to do with death.

Stanley Hauerwas uses the expression that we are 'death-deniers' here in the West.  If we look at our politics, healthcare, education and lifestyle, death is a hidden and unspoken thing.  Hauerwas says that we think we are going to get out of life alive.  But we won't.  We will die one day.

I remember going to a funeral with Grace and the person sitting next to me said to someone else that funerals were not for children.

We hide death from our children because we think it is bad for them to know about it.  But they need to know, because death is all around us and one day they will see it for themselves.  They need to be aware, ask questions and hear the TRUTH.  Our attitude about death and children shows our inability to know how to handle death in out culture and our inability to know how to raise children in our culture.

Maybe it is because we are such consumers and we want other people to do everything for us; we want other people to sort out the death around us so we don't have to get our hands dirty.

Maybe our consumer attitude means that we want everything to be new and sparkling, and we know that death is a game changer, that nothing will be new and sparkling when our loved ones die, so we hide from it and pretend it will never happen.  We keep people alive, trying to delay the inevitable, hoping that our loved ones will be made all new.

Death hurts, is painful and hard, but hiding it away is destroying us as a society.

Things need to change...

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Capital Punishment 2

On Monday evening I organised a discussion evening at my local pub on Capital Punishment.

I began by looking at two stories where someone's child had been murdered and the response of the parents  after the trial and conviction of the murderer.

Jo Yeates' family regretted that the death penalty wasn't an option for Vincent Tabak.

Anthony Walker's family believed that with imprisonment justice had been done, and they forgive their son's killers.

Two of the guys from the church both shared for five minutes, one arguing for and one against CP.

We then had group discussion.

I must admit at being surprised by how many people were in favour of CP.  I was more surprised by how many Christian's were in favour of CP.

It was argued that murder is such a heinous act that the only suitable justice is for the life of the murderer to be taken.

Some said that the cost to keep people in prison's is too high, so CP is a suitable alternative for murderer's.

Many other views were expressed in favour.

Those against CP spoke about how God alone has the right to give and take life.

Some argued that Britain's culture is not suited to CP and would be wrong in light of our understanding and approach to justice.

Some argued that punishment needs to be restorative not retributive, and CP is too final.



I am firmly against CP.  Indeed I believe violence is not the way through which punishment and justice should be carried out.  I suspect that I am heading towards becoming a pacifist.

Something of the cross-bearing, forgiving love, and dignity which Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, revealed to be the normative way to be human, must be the norm for all humans, whether they know it or not.

The goal of punishment must surely be reconciliation and forgiveness.  The absence of hope or forgiveness can lead to devastating affects, both on the offender and within the society.

The end of punishment has been transformed by the cross and resurrection of Christ.

Justice depends on the practices of the people that embodies the hard-won wisdom of the past, tested by the challenges of today in the hope of a better future.

Jesus’ death is the death that ends all death.  Justice has been found, won and restored at the cross, and so it is the belief that all justice finds its place at the cross.  This one death is in order that humanity might travel to a better future where violence is no longer the means of punishment.  It is a call to lay down our weapons and desire for violence, and to seek transformation of ourselves, our society and our world through self-giving love, forgiveness and sacrifice.  Is that possible in a violent world?  Well that’s down to us all isn’t it? 

Monday, 16 January 2012

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Driscoll on UK Church

“Let’s just say this: right now, name for me the one young, good Bible teacher that is known across Great Britain. You don’t have one – that’s the problem. There are a bunch of cowards who aren’t telling the truth.”

I don't have much to say to this comment from Mark Driscoll other than that he continues to show with this comment his arrogance, lunacy and strangeness. It is a shame that someone with such a large audience can continue to speak so inadequately, especially in matters of church and faith, and especially about a context be clearly knows very little about.

Mystery and Problem

Steve Holmes has written an interesting post on theology and the difference between mystery and problem.

He proposes that the most interesting theological questions are all mysteries and that we shouldn't expect answers.  So a mystery can never be solved.  There are ways we can explore the mystery, and in doing so think a bit clearer about it, but we will never have a final answer or a solution.

A problem has a final answer, and so the need to search for the answer is important and needed.


I like this because I think it is really important that when we are talking about God and exploring who He is, we must never think of Him as a problem to be solved, that somehow or other if we study hard enough, think for long enough or shout loud enough, we will have the God 'problem' sorted.

It is fascinating that in the 'new' atheism movement (which is running on empty now), and in areas of the Evangelical tradition of which I am a part, there has been this very error of turning God into a problem that needs an answer.  To often I hear of sermons and books that turn theology into an exercise of question answering.  It is this misguided belief that we can have all the answers and that mystery is wrong.  Theology then often simply becomes anthropological (the study of humanity or ourselves) and completely misses the mark.

God is mystery.

Trinity is the language we use to faithfully name the God who has been revealed in the Gospel Story.  Trinity helps us think a bit more clearly about who God is, but it is not an answer to a question or a solution to a problem.  Indeed, when we begin to explore further who God is as Father, Son and Spirit, we are left with more questions and the mystery grows.

Christianity is not an 'answer', but an invitation into the life of God, to know Him and be known.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Sacrifice

The Bible speaks of Jesus being the once and for all sacrifice who has taken away sin and made us holy.

The sacrifice of Jesus enables us to know God, to be friends with God, to walk in everlasting companionship with Him.

Jesus died once to take away the sins of the world.  No more sacrifice is needed.  And we would surly say that we no longer offer sacrifices for our sins.  In ancient times sacrifices to appease an angry deity were common place, yet we have given up such foolish and superstitious ways, haven't we?  And we certainly don't offer God sacrifices for our sin because we know that is something Jesus did once and for all with his own body.

Yet we still offer sacrifices.

We sacrifice privacy for our own entertainment.  We sacrifice our children in war for our own security.  We sacrifice rest so that we might work harder and be successful.

We make sacrifices believing that they are the only way to make up for the wrong we have done.  We think that God will go easier on us, or our children will forgive us, or our partners won't walk out on us.

And then we make sacrifices to God believing that he should notice and credit us for them.

Jesus died once and for all for the sins of the world.  There is no sacrifice but his that can take away your sin or my sin.  Only his sacrifice enables forgiveness between one another, healing of broken relationships and redemption from our past.

His is the sacrifice that changes everything.

Yet sacrifice surrounds us so that we believe the lies that we need to sacrifice more, that Jesus' wasn't quite enough.

We sacrifice our very selves to money, fame, sex and power in order to 'get ahead', 'find our place'.

Maybe God will gives us the grace to cast off the lies and walk in the reality and truth that Jesus' sacrifice was the once and for all, total and supreme sacrifice that truly brings freedom.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

River of Hope

My soul glides upon the river of hope
Searching for the dawn to rise
Waiting for the warmth of its embrace
And the wonder of its everlasting call.

Moments of this hope is glimpsed
Ruptures in the fabric of today
Like sunlight breaking through stormy clouds
Bathing me and beckoning me forwards.

Darkness and decay however are never far away.
They lurk in the shadows
Watching
Waiting.

They sit in this river like dead tree stumps
Their withered branches reaching for the blackness
Like fingers of evil searching for its pray.

Yet the darkness will not consume me.

This river of hope carries me onwards towards the goal.

The Spirit urging me to work through the rapids
His Voice calling me to stillness in the calm.

And so we continue on this Way
Living for today
Hoping for tomorrow
Loving for eternity.