Tuesday, 19 November 2013

God is not MAN

'God is not MAN said in a loud voice.' Karl Barth

'The divine word at the beginning forbids that the Divine be likened to any of the things known by men, since every concept which comes from some comprehensible image by approximate understanding and by guessing at the divine nature constitutes an idol of God and does not proclaim God.' Gregory of Nyssa

The danger with so much of our theology (trying to put into words who God is) is that it simply becomes an expression of anthropology (putting into words who we are).

So all we end up doing is projecting an image of ourselves onto our understanding and expression of God. We are narcissists after all, so it is a natural habit of a post-modern society like ours to do. We like to look 'inwards' - much like a Jedi who has to 'search yourself for the truth' - and then from there frame our theology.

One of the big problems of this, aside from the obvious idolatry, is that we become obsessed with right belief and

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

'Get Up, Don't Be Afraid'

We live in an age of fear where daily we are bombarded with stories and scenarios designed to make us afraid and fearful.

We lose trust for each other and become cautious of the stranger so that find ourselves detached and distant from those around us.

We fear what might happen so we have life insurance, car insurance, home insurance, pet insurance.

We become afraid of losing our security which is summed up in our possessions; we become possessed by fear produced by our possessions.

Government, media and advertisers prey on us out of this fear and slowly, like a poison, fear numbs us and paralyses us.

Yet Jesus comes to us, touches us by His Spirit and tells us, 'Get up, don't be afraid.'

At Jesus' transfiguration the disciples glimpse His glory. The glimpse the day when the sun and moon will no longer be needed as he glory of Jesus will be our light. They witness and glimpse a time coming when Jesus, in His glory, will embrace us in His magnificent love and compassion, leading us into the beauty of the Promised Land, dwelling in the presence and glory of God.

Until that day Jesus comes to us and says,

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Compassion and the Spread of Christian Atheism

“True power is service. The pope must serve all people, especially the poor, the weak, the vulnerable.”

Pope Francis seems to be blazing a trail of compassion, humility and love, something that he is doing simply because he is a follower of Jesus.

These virtues should be a natural outworking of a people who follow the Risen Christ, who are filled with His Spirit and who worship the Living God.

The challenge that each of us are presented with is to be a people of mercy, humility, justice, compassion and unconditional love, especially towards the weakest and most vulnerable. 

The revolution of Christianity transformed the world to embrace and practice these things to such an extent that we do not even realise that we are holders of such a legacy, whatever our faith or belief system.

The pagan world into which Christianity was born had no real concept of love for neighbour until the Church introduced the very concept of care and love for the weakest and most vulnerable.  'Love your neighbour' was revolutionised and effected by Jesus followers across the pagan world to such a degree that Julian, a Roman emperor who hated 'Christian atheists' declared,

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Kairos Ensemble

My good friend Dan is the saxophinist in a group called Kairos Ensemble, a jazz group who have just released their new album Rejoicing Blues;

'The members of Kairos Ensemble met in the early 90's whilst studying music at the Royal Academy of Music and City University in London, forming the quartet in 2001. Their live work includes jazz concerts, workshops and tours. They have released four albums: Rejoicing Blues (2013), Passion Suite (2010) - described by Julian Joseph on Radio 3's Jazz Line-Up simply as “beautiful music”, Psalms (2006) and The River (2002). Their music reflects the breadth of the individual players' experience and captures a vibrant chemistry between the musicians. Through their strongly melodic and inventive compositions and arrangements, they produce music that

Monday, 4 November 2013

You 'thing' You

One of the issues and challenges I believe the Church faces is its understanding and approach to the person. 

Year in and year out we are fed statistic after statistic about how many people are going to church compared with previous years. Sometimes the statistics are good, sometimes they are bad, but whatever the statistics are the general voice is that we need to seek ways in which church can grow numerically. 

Now I have no problem at all with a desire for the Church to grow and to see more and more people hearing and responding to the call of Jesus on their lives; I am a evangelist after all! But what I have noticed is the subtle changes in the way we speak about church growth and in particular the way we speak about people when we are talking about mission and evangelism. And this change in speech is not particular to the church, it is a cultural phenomenon. And I believe this is having a adverse affect upon the way churches are able to engage with the communities they are a part of because our language is often a reflection of what we actually believe.

Church decline in the West over the last 20 years has caused the church to sit up and take notice of why people are leaving and what we can do to reverse the decline. Programmes of evangelism and mission, books, seminars, seeker sensitive, emerging, fresh expressions, cafe church etc etc are all a reaction to this decline and a genuine desire to do something positive in order that the church would be relevant and contextual and true to the message that God has called us to proclaim. Some things have worked while some have fallen by the wayside, but they have mostly come from a heartfelt response to the situation.

The problem is that we have subconsciously turned the people we are seeking to engage with the message of Jesus into 'targets' of mission.

People become a 'thing' that we are trying to target