Letter of Love

(This piece was originally posted in October 2011) 

How do you read the Bible? How we approach the scriptures is affected by a number of factors, such as our church background, our upbringing, even our personality.

To some of us the Holy Scriptures are rather like a huge catalog of treats. We seldom start at one end of the book and work through rather we pick and choose the bits we find appealing - although if you use a daily lectionary you are disciplined into trying a little bit of everything.

For others of us the Bible is more like an instruction manual. Some of us feel the need to read a manual from cover to end before we even began assembling something, others only turn to it when the flat-pick wardrobe of life is looking wonky.

For others of us the Bible is like a long reference work, it is full of verse numbers after all. Perhaps we have a verse for every circumstance in life without ever quite getting a hold of the context.

For others of us the Bible is a short story book, full of mysterious and wondrous tales of faith – we may know the popular ones, but tend to skip the sections without a good narrative or a happy ending.

For some the Scriptures are a book of Worship, Psalms, Songs and canticles, wonderful liturgies, but not often used outside the confines of built sacred space.


Three Charismatic Streams

Following recent discussions some folks have been asking questions about different expressions of Charismatic Christianity. The Charismatic movement is huge and impossible to define into easy movements. So instead I am going to focus on three streams (representative rather than exhaustive).


Top 10 facts about Christenings

Back in July The Artsy Honker had a go a rewriting the CofE FAQ on baptism.

Here is my less reverent take on it:

1. What is the difference between a baptism and a christening?
Baptism is when someone is submerged in running water, or has water poured over them in the name of God, Father Son and Holy Spirit. Christening is when a bottle of champagne is smashed on the pointy end of a ship. Your local church will be happy to provide either service for your family. 


Baptism and Christening

Archbishop Justin Welby has spoken on You Tube about Prince George's Christening

Great video. Well done. And the usual rumblings on Twitter. The rumblings are for a reason however.



And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:7-8 ESV)
This morning I preached on God as Judge. And through that what might be Godly judgement. Instead of placing judgement in the law court we placed judgement in the context of the story of salvation - especially those who in the Old Testament God called to be Judges. Characters like Gideon.

Shofar Sho Good

God's judgement then isn't waiting patiently for us to fail so that we can be dragged before the prosecutors and handed sentence. Rather God as judge is active, working for justice and transformation in the world and in his people. With God's judgement of a problem comes the solution to that problem, most extravagantly evidenced in the incarnation and the sacraments.


#StrangeFire and a Third Way

Following on from yesterdays reflections on StrangeFire and Augustine I have been pondering what the conference means for the wider charismatic culture. Especially in the light of the Panel session and the session on Is There a Baby in the Bathwater.
Calling Catholics our brothers in Christ, that is an offence to the Gospel
- Justin Peters
At least we know where we stand.

I first came into contact with the Charismatic movement in my late teens. I was a part of City Church in Canterbury, a church in the New Frontiers Network. We were encouraged to read Wayne Grudem and Piper, discouraged from reading Kenneth Copeland. Calvinism was sound, Arminianism was tolerated. American Charismatic Christianity was represented by a little bit of Wimber and Sovereign Grace Ministries, but there was often a note of caution. The wider Charismatic scene in the UK seemed similar, with differences of opinion mostly coming down to old fashioned Arminian / Calvinist lines.


#strangefire and Augustine

On Twitter #strangefire has been trending. It's a conference headed up by John MacArthur and raising significant concerns about the Charismatic movement from a Reformed perspective. You can find a live feed of the conference on the Strange Fire website, and read some transcripts of talks at The Cripplegate.

At face value the conference would seem to be targeting the extremes of the Charismatic movement. The stuff that airs on certain Christian TV channels and generally goes under the banner 'Word of Faith'. But this was put to bed last night when Steve Lawson targeted Charismatic Calvinists.


A little bit of Politics

So the English Party Conference season is over, and I am not sure many of my questions have been answered. Over the years I have been member of two different political parties and two different think tanks. I pastorally support active members of different parties.

At the heart of my politics these days is a distrust of the market. This is personal and theological. From the theological perspective I see in the Old Testament economic system the principle of Jubilee, a correction to the free transfer of property and over indebtedness that can occur in a free market. From a personal point of view I am a member of a profession that the market values lowly despite a high level of responsibility and training. This is not an argument for higher clergy pay, but an acknowledgement that what I consider to be the one of the most valuable jobs on earth is not highly valued by capitalism. I could go in to how other related professions are also not valued highly but let's keep it simple - the market does not accurately acknowledge peoples value in and to society.