Monday, April 14, 2008

It could be worse... and it could get batter

Post-millenialists and other may be heartened by this from Jonathan Fletcher's talk at the recent Reform conference:

In the middle of the eighteenth century the state of the Church of England was far, far worse than it is today. In the mid-1750s on Easter Day in St Paul’s Cathedral there were a total of six people. Six undergraduates were sent down from Oxford for reading the Bible. The celebrated lawyer, Blackstone, early in the reign of George III went out of curiosity from church to church to hear every clergyman of note in London. He says that he did not hear a single discourse that had more Christianity in it than the writings of Cicero and that it would have been impossible for him to discover from what he heard whether the preacher was a follower of Confucius, Mohammed, or Christ.

Yet over the next century things changed dramatically so that by the middle of the nineteenth century a third of the clergy in the Church of England, it is estimated, were evangelical, the great missionary societies had been founded, the Clapham Sect was achieving great things, and at least three-quarters of the societies that were trying to ameliorate the situation were of Evangelical foundation.


But those men did make a change - slowly - it took several decades - when the Church of England and the nation was in a far worse state than conceivable today. They stood by their evangelical convictions, they preached the Word, and the situation changed.

We have got an enormous battle on our hands. The situation is not as bad as it was in the eighteenth century, but we are campaigning for the reform of the Church of England and our sights are set on the evangelisation of our nation: that is where we are heading. The lesson from the past is that we must hold fast to our theological convictions; we must continue to strive for that holiness without which no-one will see the Lord; we must have a loyalty to the Church of England and remember that this is the place to be; there must be a boldness as we think outside the box with principled irregularity.

Lastly, an appeal that we maintain unity. For example there is going to be disagreement over what we advise bishops to do about Lambeth. Similarly, there are secondary issues where we will disagree: creationism; limited atonement; annihilationism. I am not suggesting that every position is equally valid on those issues, but we need to trust one another more and have a greater humility towards one another.

A version of the talk has been published in booklet from and is also available on the Reform website.There's also a mini-version (from which the above is taken) that is specifically designed to be reproduced in church magazines and the like.

Trinity, Community, Relationship, Mission and Ministerial Formation

Maybe if we are thinking about how the theological resources of the doctrine of the Trinity can be related to ministerial formation (as I am a bit) maybe relatedness and relationships are highlighted. Ministerial formation is at its best when it is in an ordered community of love, like the Triune life of God himself.

May we say that in the Triune life the Son and the Spirit are "formed" for mission since they are sent out into the world?

By the way, when I was talking about things to mention in the ministerial formation essay I'm working on, I think it may be an unspoken marking criterion that no essay which fails to include the phrase "missio Dei" may be awarded a grade above a lower second (or whatever that is on some new fangled marking scale). Oh for the days of alpha, betta, betta, query minus!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

FV Consensus

I wasn't asked and I've only read it once, but I think I would have signed it. Would you?

Friday, April 11, 2008

George Herbert on Theological College

Here's a thought from George Herbert on minsterial formation:

Some [live in universities] in a preparatory way, whose aim and labour must be not only to get knowledge, but to subdue and mortifie all lusts and affections: and not to think, that when they have read the Fathers, or Schoolmen, a Minister is made, and the thing done. The greatest and hardest preparation is within: For, Unto the ungodly, saith God, Why dost thou preach my Laws, and takest my Covenant in thy mouth? Psal. 50.16

(Chapter 2)

George Herbert, A Priest to the Temple or, The Country Parson (1652)

Ministerial Formation Essay

The Lord being my helper, I've to write 2500 words by Wednesday on Ministerial Formation (for ordained ministry).

So any comments, questions, corrections etc. most welcome.

The essay gets entered for the Archdeacon Sutton Prize. I don't know what the prize is, but if you say anything helpful, I guess we could split it!

I don't even know who marks it / awards the prize but I guess we ought to think Anglican clergy.

They are after theological reflection and some comments on personal experience, I think.

I thought I might call it:

Theological and Trinitarian Perspectives
for Formation for Ordained Ministry
in Three Dimensions

3 aspects of ministerial formation:
- knowledge
- character
- competence

3 perspectives:
- normative
- existential
- situational

3 dimensions of ordianed ministry:
- diaconal
- presbyteral
- episcopal

3 orientations of ministry:
- the glory of God
- the pain of the world
- the renewal of the church

I hope I could make use of some of the ideas mentioned in previous posts and that I might manage some paragraphs on:

- the incarnation as public ministry
- the economic and immanent Trinity and the minister's private / public life, or inner / outer life
- the priesthood of all believers and a special priesthood
- the priest as example / icon / representative of Christ
- essence and fullness (cf. threshold learning outcomes and ideals)
- simplicity and integrity
- perichorisis and inseperable operation
- praxis and theory (cf. faith seeking understanding and service seeking understanding)
- ontology and function, being and doing, person and work
- creation, providence, salvation and life-long learning
- liturgical / baptismal / eucharistic formation
- ordination and ontological change, a decisive moment of formation
- a word study on "formation" / transformation in the Bible
- the gospel as maturation / transformation / sanctification from one degree of glory to another
- 9:38 apprenticeships and 2 Timothy 2:2
- ministerial selection criteria
- the ordinal
- the impossible vastness of the subject, because of who God is, the greatness of the gospel, the goals of ministry, the uniqueness of every minister and ministry

Any tips?

Blair & God

I have been browsing in my father's copy of Anthony Seldon's Blair (London, Free Press, 2004)and it looks a fascinating book, though I must say I doubt I'd want to read 700 pages about Tony.

Completed in May 2004, 90% of the book is said to be based on 600 specially conducted interviews with unpublsihed diaries and papers being the next most important source. Seldon calls it a work of contemporary history rather than journalism. Every substantive point gets an endnote. Though some of the interviewees wished to remain annonymous, the full details of the interviews will be deposited in an archive library for future reference.

Though Seldon credits 3 other for working on this book with him, its impressive that Seldon, who is the headmaster of Brighton College, has managed to write or edit some 25 books and shows the usefulness of sabbaticals.

This book contains 20 chronological chapters on key episodes in Blair's life interspersed with chapters on 20 people who influenced him, each with a photograph.

Seldon identifies chapters 10, 20, 30 and 40 on Neil Kinnock, Roy Jenkins, Margaret Thatcher and Gordon Brown as giving the political backbone of the book. He highlights the chapters on Blair winning Sedgefield, the abolition of Clause IV, Kosovo and Iraq as showing Blair at his boldest.

Chapter 34 is on God, and opens thus:

Blair's relationship with God is more important than any other described in
this book because, uniquely, it has coloured his relationship with all other
nineteen figures, and it has affected his response in differing measures to
all twenty turning points. Not only has the relationship been all embracing; it
is also peculiarly hard to understand. His religion explains why he became the
person he did, why he entered politics, why he holds his beliefs, how he relates
to others, and from where he derives much of his inner strength and convictions.

I also learnt that:

Wilson (a Congregationalist) is the only previous Labour premier to have
made anything of his faith, proclaiming that he was a socialist "because he was
a Christian". He appointed ten practicing believers to his Cabinet in 1964, and
asked for a service to be organised in the House of Commons chapel after the
1964 General Election to bless the new government (p516)

Matthew d'Ancona, who has written persuasively on the subject of Blair and
religion, sees Blair's religious awakening at Oxford as the defining moment of
his life. (p516)

Jesus' home

I saw one of those cross-stitch things that people frame and put up on the wall yesterday that I rather liked. It said:

is the HEAD of this home
the unseen GUEST at every meal
the silent LISTENER at every conversation

I might set Mrs Lloyd sowing!

The home is a marvellous opportunity for building Christian community and civilisation. It can still be a little bit of Christendom and an outpost of the Kingdom whilst an Englishman's home is something like his castle. Of course, Nanny Brown will want to interfere but...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

New Exodus, New Time

Revd Dr Peter Leithart points out on his blog:

In Exodus 12:2, Yahweh tells Moses that the month of Abib, the month of Exodus, will be the first month in Israel’s calendar. Israel gets a new time with the Exodus. Yahweh informs Moses using the word “head” or “beginning,” which reaches back to Genesis 1:1. The new time of Israel is a new time for the world; of the Exodus, we might say “In the beginning Yahweh made (new) heavens and earth.”

It is appropriate that in the New Exodus that the Lord Jesus brings we recive a new calendar of A.D.

Words, Signs, Sacaraments, Ideas, Things

Here are a couple of quotations from Revd Dr Peter Leithart's blog that might make it into the Dissasertation:

William Perkins on figures of speech: “There is a certaine agreement and proportion of the externall things with the internall, and of the actions of one with the actions of the other: wherby it commeth to passe, that the signes, as it were certaine visible words incurring into the externall sense, do by a certaine proportionable resemblance draw a Christian minde to the consideration of the things signified, and to be applyed. This mutuall, and as I may say, sacramentall relation, is the cause of so many figurative speeches and Metonymies which are used.”


"I have found Thomas’s explanation of the quadriga convincing. He argues that the multiple spiritual senses are not “located” in the words but in the things that the words name. One might say that for Thomas the words have a single, namely literal, sense; but the things they name are themselves signs, the “words” with which God writes history, and these things foreshadow later things."

Welsh Dragon

I've commented before that it seems a shame that the Welsh national flag should contain a symbol of Satan whilst the English national flag contains a symbol of Christ, the cross of St George the Dragon Slayer.

It's worth noting that George wasn't English, of course, and didn't kill the dragon - that was the Lord Jesus Christ, after all.

But you may also be interested in a bit of blurb about why the dragon is a symbol of Wales. Its not really anything terribly sinister.

The Red Dragon is the heraldic symbol of Wales, and is incorporated into
the Welsh national flag. According to tradition, the red dragon appeared on a
crest borne by Arthur, whose father Uthr Bendragon, had seen a dragon in the sky
predicting that he would be king.

The dragon as a symbol was probably introduced into Britain by the Roman
legions. Medieval Welsh poets often compared their leaders to dragons in poems praising their bavery, for example, Gruffydd ab yr Ynad Coch said of Llewelyn ap Gruffudd Pen dragon, pen draig oedd arnaw ('A dragon's head he had').

Between 1485 and 1603, the dragon formed part of the arms of the Tudor
dynasty, but it was replaced on the royal coat of arms with a unicorn by order
of James I.

The red dragon reappeared as the royal badge for Wales in 1807, and from
then on it was often seen in the regalia of Welsh patriotic societies. At the
suggestion of the Gorsedd of the Bards, it was officially recognised by the
Queen in 1959, and is now widely used as the national flag.

Source: - where you can also read about the leek and the daffodil. The same site contains information about Welsh Christmas traditions.

Solo Scriptura

I saw this soundbite on a comment on Daniel Newman's blog by rjs1 and rather liked it:

"Sola Sriptura not solo scriptura".

I've no idea how it mangles the Latin tongue but I think it makes a good point.

It reminds me of an article by Prof Tony Lane in which he points out that even "sola scriptura" is a post-reformation slogan.

The reformers believed in the supreme final authority and unique infalibility of Scripture. They did not believe in hyper-strict version of "Scripture Alone". They accepted other lesser sources of "authority" (such as reason, tradition etc.) in addition to the Bible and knew that Scripture could never be understood strictly "alone" for example, apart from the illuminating work of the Spirit or an understanding of the language in which Holy Writ is writ.

Incarnational Ministry

Could you just remind me what incarnational ministry means and whether or not we believe in it?

In a way incarnational ministry sounds a bit like motherhood and apple pie (who could be against that?) but I think some are agin it, maybe even in a big way?

To my mind "incarnational ministry" suggests two things:

(1) becoming like the people to whom we aim to minister, just as Christ became like us to serve us. As Paul was all things to all men, so should we be, that we might win some.

(2) in a way we are a continuation of the incarnation - we are Christ to people as Jesus lives in us and they see his light in us.

I know some people are nervous about both (1) and (2).

I seem to remember hearing some criticisms at vicar factory of incarnational ministry as advocated by the likes of Pete Ward in relational youth ministry?

Obviously we become like those to whom we minister in some ways but must also remain distinctive. I do not become a prostitute to win the prostitutes. And I also minister to people as they are in the hope that we will both not remain as we are but be transformed into the likeness of Christ. The Christian missionary must not go native in this wicked world.

As far as (2) goes, I can see no problem with viewing the church as in some ways a continuation of the incarnation as long as we remember that Christ is still incarnate in heaven and we are not Jesus in the same way that Jesus is! We are however his body, and he remains the head. Christ and his church are the totus christus, or some equally clever but difficult to remember, spell and understand latin term!

Models of Ministry (and some books)

Shall we make a list of models, metaphors and descriptions of Christian ministers and ministry? We may also consider the roles and functions of the minister.

I've mentioned below priests, deacons, presbyter-bishops and "bishops". Some of these are explored further in Steven Croft's Ministry in Three Dimensions and on the Biblical and historical data, see especially Roger Beckwith, Elders in Every City.

Dereck Tidball's Builders and Fools explores the metaphors for pastoral minisry in Paul.

In The Life and Work of a Priest John Pritchard suggests a three-fold orientation:

(1) The glory of God

presiding genius?

spiritual explorer

artfull story-teller

multilingual interpreter

inquisitive learner

(2) The pain of the world

pain bearer

wounded companion

weather-beaten witness

iconic presence

friendly irritant

(3) The renewal of the church

creative leader

attractive witness

faith coach

mature risk-taker

flower arranger

and finally...


Christopher Cocksworth explores the roots, shapes and fruit of ministry in Being a Priest Today.

The NT lists of charismatic gifts may also provide other categories such a prophet, administrator, helper, governor.

Would Jordan's Sociology of the Church with its three-fold particle, wave, field understanding of church as institution / government, people and gathered worshiping community also generate other ways of thinking about ministry as steward, worship leader and father?

The dear old Church of Engalnd's selction criteria for ordained ministry (PDF) could be worth thinking about.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Eve: Queen, Priestess, Prophetess

If Adam is a prophet a priest and a king, I would suggest it makes sense to say that Eve is a queen, a priestess and a prophetess - and not as a king, priest and prophet in her own right , and that is more than a gramatical point.

Under God she gets her being from Adam and her role is not to be independant but to help the man in the mission they share.

Adam: Prophet, Priest, King

We are familiar with saying that the Lord Jesus Christ, the second Adam, was a prophet, a priest and a king.

It seems to me that it would make sense to say that Adam was a prophet, a priest and a king in an embryonic, immature, weak (and after the fall, sinful)way. Jesus perfectly fulfills these roles and will bring them in to completion in his redeemed people.

As a prophet, Adam was a friend of God who spoke to him. Adam should have spoken the Word of God to Eve and maybe to the rest of creation.

The Garden was a like a temple at the heart of the world and Adam was to guard and serve in it, the Tree of Life being sacramental food.

Adam was clearly a king, he was to rule the world under God as his vice-gerent and have domionion over the creatures.

Priest / Elder / Bishop / Apsotles in NT & now for Anglo-Presbyterians

Off the top of my head, are we all agreed that:

(1) The English word "priest" as used in the Book of Common Prayer is related to the English word "presbyter" (elder) and not the Bible word "priest".

(2) When most informed Evangelicals think "priest" they are most likley to think mediator between God and man offering (propitiatory) sacrifices.

(3) Priests in the Bible are perhaps above all guard or guardians and stewards or servants.

(4) The terms elder (presbyter) and bishop / overseer (episcopos) are interchangable and refer to the same persons in the New Testament.

(5) It may be possible to distinguish the roles of "presbyters" and "bishops" in the New Testament (if not the terms) with "bishops" acting as senior presbyters with a wider geographical remit than ordinary presbyters.

(6) So all NT and modern presbyters are NT bishops and NT priests. Modern bishops are (senior) NT presbyters and priests.

(7) There are basically 2 orders of ministry: (1) deacons (2) priest / presbyters / bishops (2a) senior priest / presbyter "bishops"

(8) The Apostles were elders but not all elders were apostles even if eldership is somewhat apostolic. The modern role of bishop may be seen as especially apostolic since the NT figures who correspond to modern bishops were apostolic deligates or substitutes in a more direct way than elders were.

(9) This view may be thought of as a modified presbyterianism or a reduced episcopasy and has eccumenical potential! It is historically and biblically accurate and adapted to contemporary and abiding needs. It represents a classical Anglican understanding even if Anglicans today generally think more in terms of a 3 fold ministry.

Clear? Any corrections, additions?

Trinitarian & Perspectival Ministerial Formation

The so-called Hind Report into ministry training in the Church of England championed the overall concept on Ministerial Formation which has 3 components:

(1) spirituality and character

(2) theological knowledge

(3) ministerial competence

Each of these 3 is an aspect of ministerial formation and they are not quite 3 "parts" of it. They are related and there must be integrity between the 3.

Categories such as insperable operation and mutual indwelling may help to articulate this.

Each of the 3 aspects must be distinguished but not separated.

They may also be perspectivally related. (2) theological knowledge may be the normative perspective. (3) ministerial competence may be the situational perspective. (1) spirituality and character may be the existential perspective.

We may relate theological knowledge (2) to God the Father, the one known and revealed, the covenant Lord. We may relate spirituality and knowledge to Christ, the Word incarnate and made flesh, lived-out, our example and prototype. The Spirit may put this into action in the world (3).

Each component is "equal" and indispensible. There is a case for starting with Christ / charcter / spirituality / disposition / being before doing or even knowing. But arguably, the components would be best re-orderd so that theological knowledge (which is more than theoretical knowledge) takes a kind of prioroty. Who we are and what we do arises out of who God is.

Or maybe something like some of that!?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


If you see my car keys anywhere, please would you let me know? They are our only set and I'm not quite sure what we should do. We've searched high and low, retraced our steps and been down the nick and they told us to keep calling in.

Update: the car's been towed off to a Fiat dealer's now so on second thoughts it might be kinder to quitely drop our keys down a drain somewhere if you come accross them.

Ordination Vows

I must check the exact terms of the vows I made when I was ordained deacon in Chichester Cathedral last Petertide, but can anyone tell me, were the vows made for life, untill retirement, untill further notice, till I've served my title or something else?

For example, now that the government wants me to be a wonderfull well payed rewarded low work and stress free teacher, do my diaconal vows prevent me switching jobs?

Teaching Needs Me

Graham Holley, the chief executive of the tda has written me a very nice letter to say that they need me and my teaching skills back in the classroom.

Apparently its lovely to be a teacer now, there is more pay and less work and you get helpers.

I'm not sure the staff and students of Westcliff High school for boys (where I used to teach) would agree that I'm quite so essential to the teaching profession, but I must say that the rose-tinted-spectacles and the glossy government propaganda brochure did give me pause for thought!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Significance of the Resurrection

In our central mid-week Bible Study yesterday we treid to consider the significance of the resurrection. Here are the jottings from my handout:

§ A neglected subject?

- the centrality of the cross (cf. 1 Cor 15:3-4; Acts 4:2, 33)

- busy defending the empty tomb

Past Event

§ Evidence that Jesus was who he claimed to be

§ Shows there is life beyond the grave (1 Cor 15:12)

§ Shows that Jesus’ God is the living and true God

§ Shows God accepted Jesus’ sacrifice – his death was effective

§ Death defeated (Rom 6:9; 1 Cor 15:54-57; Acts 2:24)

§ Jesus’ vindication / justification and ours (Rom 4:25)

§ Jesus is enthroned as Lord of all (Acts 2:32,36)

§ Jesus is the Son of God in power (Rom 1:4)

§ A man on the throne of the universe – New Adam (Ps 8; 1 Cor 15:44b-49)

§ The New Creation / New Age has begun

- Firstborn from among the dead (Col 1:18)

- Firstfruits (1 Cor 15:20, 23)

Present Effects

§ Jesus is alive – we can know him personally

He is with us (Mt 28:20)

§ Jesus our permanent High Priest lives to intercede for us (Heb 7:24-25; Rom 8:34)

§ We have new birth into a living hope through the resurrection (1 Pet 1:3)

§ We are made alive and raised with Christ (Eph 2:5-6; Col 2:12-13; 3:1-3; Rom 6:4-5; 8:11)

§ The power of the resurrection is at work in us (Eph 1:19-20; Phil 3:10-11)

§ Our labour in the Lord is not in vain (1 Cor 15:58)

Future Hope

§ We will be raised (1 Cor 6:14; 1 Thess 4:14)

§ Jesus will judge all people (Acts 17:31; 10:40-42)

§ We will receive transformed physical bodies (Phil 3:21; 1 Cor 15:42-54)

§ Hope for creation / physicality (Rom 8:18-22)