What about the truth?!?!

Recently I met an old friend of mine. I had not seen him for a long time. We were never on the same side in discussions. He had been over in the States for a couple of years and had been studying the philosophy of religion. (He is really a modernist with all that follows…) He has started a new project back in Sweden. It was about abortion (he probably met some from the moral majority) and he thought that the church was ready to give up about it – maybe thats true, so he felt he should go public with picture of children which had been aborted. First I thoought he was ironic but soon I realised he wasn´t. I think the question of abortion is too tough an issue to use that method of informing people. I think the problem is not that people do not know that stuff but that they think about it in other ways – in a theological language: They do not think like a “christian”. (of course you could reply what is thinking like a christian…let´s discuss!) The problem is not that people are stupid or dumb but that they have other criteria for judging what is true. They judge regarding to their worldview and what they think is true. I think that the truth is in Christ but I have to be humble when I meet other people and their “truths”. And you are certainly not humble if you use that method. First of all we have to live the faith and in this case to show another ways of dealing with our sexuality and taking care of our children in the christian community. The truth is a way of life not a statement or a picture! And people around us have different ways of life and I think we have to give people “the freedom of unbelief”.

Ps. For you englishmen – soon the World Championship in Icehockey starts! Enjoy! Ds.

How far is too far?

In pushing the theological boundaries how far is too far? I have been thinking a lot about TSK post here

on Acts 15 and recognise that as missionaries come back and tell the stories of how they contexualised the gospel, that the teachers did indeed make some sense these stories and grounded them in the biblical narrative. A couple of thousand years on are todays teachers willing to do the same leg work? As I try to make sense of where God leads through mission contexts I am not sure if the teachers will catch up. As the missionaries move on and culture shifts if they do not keep up it takes a Luther or Calvin to fill the vacuum (My fear is they would never be heard in the myriad of voices of postmodernity). If Dave comes back with a reinterpretation of Blessed are the mourners through his experience with the young people here that does not fit into the traditional narrative who is to say they are right and he wrong. Where should the weight be, with missionary or the teacher?

Penalty Kick Off!

Penal substitution is a topic that is being kicked around the church at the moment. The concept that Jesus took the penalty for our sin when he died on the cross.

In thinking about this a couple of things have crossed my mind:

  1. Sin is separation from God. The penalty for sin is separation from God (hell?). So the penalty is the same thing as the offence itself… but can we call it an offence, seeing as we are all born separate from God? Perhaps the offence is to choose separation from God? To choose your own way, to choose sin. So if you choose sin then you get sin.
  2. Jesus died for our sins and it does seem that he was temporarily separate from God. But perhaps death, for Christ, was more about being stronger than evil and working out God’s forgiveness than taking the penalty?
  3. Who’s dishing out the penalty? God? Or is it us when we choose sin, when we choose the actual penalty? Certainly the only one who can save us from the penalty/sin is God.

I probably need to get my head down and look at some theology about this to be honest. Anyway, you can take the above merely as some wandering wonderings of the mind! 🙂

GMTV and wrist bands as resource idea

I caught an interview this morning on GMTV about the number of counterfeit wristbands being sold and the money NOT going to the charity. One thing it highlighted was how hard it can be to get young people involved in charitable causes and political action. Their guidance was to only buy the wristbands from reputable shops or via the charity on the web. A few ideas came to mind on how we could tap into the wristband culture in our work with young people, I bet these ideas grab them more than talking about the election.

  • Do a survey of all outlets selling the bands and send this to local trading standards. AND/OR report these to local branches of the charity.
  • Extend the idea… If you give the young people a name tag from the group (official looking), get them to dress smart with a clip board as they go around the town then it is likely to cause the shop owner to ask questions and the simple response that you are conduct research as to whether the number of wristbands being sold correlate with the income the charity receives for a local organisation will probably be enough for them to withdraw them from sale.
  • Get the young people to spend a Saturday morning counting how many are sold from particular shops and send the shop the address of the charity with an invoice for the appropriate amount to forward onto the charity, copy the letter to the charity.
  • Get the young people to ask all their mates where they have got their wristbands and explain to them the issue. Ask if their friends would consider returning an dodgy wristbands and ask for a refund. This could be a good way to increase you contact with other young people as if there are enough you could arrange for adults to accompany the young people as they ask for a refund.
  • Write to local press to highlight the issue.

Let me know if you try any of these.

Wrist Action

Future Stock!


This article first published in Benchmark Magazine (http://www.benchmarkmag.com/).

Barbie: Fairytopia

Pensions! Does anyone still believe that the pension system is functional? Do any of us think that pensions will provide for us when we retire? What is going on?

Surely the point of retirement was originally to provide for those who were too unfit, through age, to work? Pension was society’s provision of an income for those who could not provide for themselves due to, age related, forced retirement from useful work.

Somewhere along the line we confused this pure vision of care for the elderly and developed a selfish vision of escaping the ‘horror'(!) of our working lives and living out a leisure fantasy that we surely deserved!

Be Kind Rewind

Well, living as a community just isn’t like that! We all have a responsibility to do good for one another. John Calvin once said that Christians should “choose those employments which yield the greatest advantage to their neighbour.â€?

Fortunately, you and I both know people who seek to redeem their retirement, doing community work, caring for people and many other positive activities that contribute to the strength of their community. Perhaps, if we take Calvin’s advice, we can only truly review our activities at any point in our lives if we seek to break through the distinction between paid work and other forms of work.

Aside from all this there is a need for us to recognise where our provision is coming from. We should always seek to provide for ourselves and only rely upon our communities (the state) to provide for us if we are unable to do so.

Looking at the state of retirement pensions today we see two kinds: We see taxation of workers to provide for retirees (as per National Insurance) and we also see workers saving up for retirement (as per pension funds). We have looked at the former of these two in the brief comments about a community’s provision for it’s dependants. Savings, however, are a very different matter.

We recognise that we live in a changing world. We know that there is no such thing as 100% security. We see pension funds going to the wall, with pensioners ending up losing all of their life’s savings. We also see the risk of prolonged recession eating into our savings, we also live in an age of fantastic medical advances where if we live to be 100 years old we will only have done paid work for half of our lives! Compare this with an era (or even other parts of today’s world) were economically productive work starts at around age 5 and continues until you die aged 43! That would be 88% of your life working!

Are we going to insist that the our children pay for our retirement? Are the young going to rise up against the old and refuse to pay, or is our ageing population going to ensure that any democratic decision is in favour of the retirees?

Setting Up Church

Is it possible to ‘set up’ a church? I’m not sure.

If you ‘set up’ a church then there is immediately a sense of heirarchy, the founders and the invitees – you also immediately have other structures and practices such as a meeting place and a meeting time. I’m not sure if these things are fundamentally important to being church. I wonder how much they get in the way?

Spider-Man 2 on dvd

To me, church is about being friends with other people who are also part of Christ’s body. I’m tempted to think that this means I am church with whatever Christian’s I spend time with… even if they already ‘go to a church’ (how bizarre is the term ‘go to a church’?! How can one ‘go to a church’?).

I wonder if the term ‘church planting’ was first coined to overcome this problem of whether it was possible to ‘set up’ a church? The basic concept of the term ‘church planting’ is surely merely the concept of being church, mixing with brother’s and sister’s and then church emerging from that basic root.

Be Kind Rewind movie


Lets listen to fill the vacuum

There is a great discussion going on with tall skinny kiwi here here and Jesus Creed here sparked by DA Carsons forth coming book.
But more importantly the discussion could be the beginnings of a genuine dialogue between the edge and core, the missionaries and the academics. At times I feel very frustrated that academia don’t seem to hear the stories unless written in academic form. So it was surprising yesterday to hear “Meet them where they’re at� was on the reading list for an MA in Evangelism and Mission. To kick things off I thought Skinnys Reflections on Acts 15 is great and is very helpful to the process.

Skinny says, Peter, an authority figure, got up and said the new stuff was really important. That shut everyone up. They were listening.
2. Barnabas and Paul, the missionary-travellers-eyewitnesses-storytellers, told stories about what God was doing out there where the action was. They listen to the stories.
3. James, the teacher, whips out a can of Old Testament Teaching and locates the present situation in the Scriptures. They listen to his counsel.
“Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas” 15:22
Here’s the deal.
1. In the past 7 years, we have had key authority figures rise up and give their blessing to the emerging church – Rick Warren, Len Sweet, Thom Wolf, E.B. Brooks, Tom Wright, Eddie Gibbs, Rowan Williams, etc, – and the whole church has been called to listen.
2. Right now, missionaries who travel and bloggers from around the world, are reporting that the new churches are emerging out of the global postmodern culture with the blessing of God and the good fruit of changed lives and reconciled communities. Thats where I put myself – as one of those storytellers, eyewitnesses, and participants.
3. The teachers are rising up and locating what God is doing in the present with Biblical precedent and historical memory. Thats why if you want to follow this story to the next installment, you should shift over to Scot McKnight’s blog Jesus Creed.

In some ways I have a foot in both camps (academia and mission) and regularly get frustrated, so I hope to blog around this subject again, particularly around rethinking church and the theological vacuum that post Christendom culture and emerging church is creating. However it may take me a day or two to put it together.

Huge volcanoe destroys town

I have been trying to catch up on some work very behind hence the lack of blogs recently. My son (aged 10) has been drawing a huge volcanoe with molten lava, and flying rocks destroying a town. He is waiting for lift to a mates house for a sleep over, it is a very good but I wonder what the motivation was for the picture. He has asked me the question “is it true that when they are not erupting they are freezing inside before you get to the lava at the base you freeze?” I don’t think so but if you have been inside a volcanoe recently let me know!

Reluctance to Change

Stuart Murray’s ‘Post-Christendom’ has got me thinking!

I wonder if there is reluctance to change in the church for this reason:
If dramatic change takes place, anyone who is in a position of power or influence in the church (or ‘a’ church) is likely to find themselves on a level with others, without an advantage. They would find themselves beginners again, unfamiliar with their newly deconstructed/reconstructed environment.

Does this mean that such people might resist change? I wonder…

Apathetic immigrant children and church unity

Hi, you never forget your first time… Something from the Swedish front. It´s really interesting to recogise the unity of the church in Sweden at the moment. Almost every church from the official Swedish Lutheran church to the Pentecostal are participating in a huge “Easter Appeal” regarding immigrant children. The thing is that we have lots of children of immigrants who have become apathetic due to the time it takes to receive the permission to stay (or not to stay)in the country. This is not good for a country which regards itself as a human country… Churches of Sweden have reacted in relation to this together – maybe it will be several thousands (maybe hundreds of thousands) who sign will this appeal. I really like this because when we have this real question – we see some kind of unity between the churches for the sake of humans!!! It gives me hope!