Monday, May 25, 2009

Back from Planet Narnia

Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C. S. Lewis by Michael Ward (OUP , New York, 2008) was wonderful, fascinating and persuasive.

Anyone interested in the world, Christianity, God, Lewis, literature or pretty much anything else besides should read this book. Its beautifully written, eloquent and playful. I often found myself marking passages on most pages. Perhaps some Narnia inspired blog posts in days to come.

It was expensive a bit hard to get hold of. My copy seems to be missing the promised picture gallery after p. 126. And I wondered if the index could have been a bit fuller (perhaps with entries for baptism 138, 161, 172, 249; language 145; martyrdom 97; sacraments 30, 49, 163), but I shouldn't quibble.

Nice to be back

We had a lovely week in Spain with excellent weather, but it's nice to be back to a rainy bank holiday Monday on the sunshine coast. There was plenty of sun in Spain but it'll be nice to be able to go in it once in while in Eastbourne without having to hide in the shade. Here's to a climate conducive to warm beer and not just fizzy lager.

I've also missed:


Caleb the dog

A clock radio by my bedside at night so that I can tell what time it is in the dark

Radio 4

Proper toast with Oxford Orange Marmalade

And maybe the interweb, though I'm not so sure about that. It was certainly good to be phone and information super-highwayless for a week.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Marc Lloyd is away

We're flying off to Malaga this morning. We're renting a house in Ronda with my non-Christian parents, my little sister and her fiance. Hopefully I'll be sitting under a tree by the pool reading Planet Narnia or The 3 Muskateers!

It'll be Jono's first trip abroad or in a plane.

I'll be out of interweb and land-line range till Sunday 24th May.

The prospect of this holiday has made me very busy with stuff I needed to do before going on holiday so now that I'm having a holiday I need one, though its not so long since I had one, and I wasn't really over the business that had caused.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Mode of Baptism

They were baptised in the cloud, presumably because it rained, by sprinkling.

What I learnt from Spurgeon

When I was a 16 year old kid I read quite a lot of Spurgeon: Day by Day, letters, sermons, downgrade controversy and his 2 volume autobiography. My family mocked me for reading Spud-gun but I loved it. He taught me that the Bible is the inerrant and authoritative Word of God. And a warm-hearted love for what Spurgeon calls the Doctrines of Grace, the five points of Calvinism - TULIP.

It is finished!

After 2 or 3 days almost fulltime work, the camp manual has been printed and posted. Now its the homegroup notes on "I believe in the forgiveness of sins" and then play, play, play.

Body a vile prison?

I'm not inlcined to think of the body as a prison, although I believe some Greek philosophers sometimes did. The Prayer Book also calls the body a prison. I guess it sometimes can be, when a person has some kinds of illness. Maybe the body is a house, sometimes a prisonhouse. The Prayer Book with the KJV of Phil 3:21 speaks of our vile bodies. Perhaps the NIV and ESV do better with "lowly", I don't know. Certainly our bodies are weak and frail. But are they vile (necessarily, of themselves)? Speak for yourself.

Pysical and spiritual

Its not always great to contrast the physical with the spiritual. Sometimes spiritual does not mean so must ghostly, non-material as by, of, with, or through the Spirit. The Spirit sometimes uses physical things. God made stuff and its good. Its not, physical bad; spiritual good. Its physical good and spiritual good too.

Sleep as a sacrament

Rev'd Sam Allberry says:

Sleep is the sacrament of death

Words and worlds

(1) In literature, words create worlds, sometimes known as universes of discourse. The same is true in the Bible: it is a coherent world, with a worldview and so on.

(2) In "creation", God's words create the world.

(1) and (2) are mutually indwelling. Creation includes the Bible, God's word, and is called into being by the Word. God's word creates the world and is part of it.


We still have places for up to 6 11-14 year old boys and one male Bible-believing leader for our camp, Danehill 1 2009,, first week of Aug. Feel free to comment if you are interested.

Overheard in the Barbers

If MPs can't run their own finances [such that they make so many "mistakes" in their expenses] how can they run the country? We need a whole new start.

I'm not sure I want MPs to run the country, but I'm inclined to agree.

It made me think, "and if an Elder of the church cannot manage his own household well, how can he manage the church?". (cf. 1 Tim 3).

I think Peter Sanlon is right: perhaps Her Majesty should dissolve this parliament.

Only 77 days to Danehill 1 2009 Camp

How does he do it?

No doubt he's very godly and able and self-disciplined and all that, but how does Revd Dr Peter Leithart do it? Will someone please tell me?

(1) Father to about a million kids. Are they all doing his work for him?

(2) Senior Pastor of a church plant

(3) Senior lecturer at a university

(4) Prolific and erudite blogger

(5) Multiple author

(6) Expert in English Lit., Sacraments, published on Old and New Testaments, doctrine, hermeneutics etc. etc.

(7) No doubt a bunch of other stuff I don't know about

Dr Leithart, what are the secrets? And please don't say "HARD WORK"?!

Star Trek

Possible spoilers - but I don't really think so:

Opening scene: one man gives his life that many might live. A willing self-sacrificial death defeats the enemy and leads to new life.

Closing scene: a wicked rebel is offered mercy and grace by his former enemy who offers to be his saviour if he will submit to him but continues in his angry resentful rebellion and receives judgement.

Praise the Lord, eh?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Gospel is Cultural

"The Gospel creates a culture. It is called the church." (Tim Keller).

True. But "the gospel means we will do everything differently. It makes us relate to the culture around us differently."

"We often miss the communal aspects of the gospel."

"The Gospel tells us to engage with out culture but not to accomodate to our culture. The dangers are on both sides. We must neither withdraw nor sell out." (paraphrased)

"The radical gospel is changing us into a counter-culture for the common good, loving those outside the church. We are to be deeply engaged with our culture but deeply different."

"The gospel is the basis of a worldview that affects every area of life and how you do everything."

Revd Dr Tim Keller is brilliant

... on Gospel Ministry on the Gospel Coalition website (1 hr video talk). (Thanks for the tip Rev'd Stuart Dean's Video Bar!).

The Gospel is verbal proclamation, Good News not advice, Doxological, Christocentrical, Deeply Transformational etc.

Funny, clear, engaging, passionate, affecting, challenging.

Most evangelical preaching is too much like a Bible commentary - information for the mind, Keller argues. We need to make an impression, preach to the heart, the whole person, neither just the head or the emotions or conscience etc.

Keller says: I don't mind if people want to take notes on my sermon but I think I've failed if they're still taking notes at the end! He wants them not to give up, bored and lost, but to be too gripped to write!

Listen to the Doctor online

The Doctor was undoubtedly a great great preacher, though I reckon he's not so fashionable as people like Piper or Driscoll these days.

You can hear a little bit of his stuff for free at

There seem to be monthly free specials but most of the stuff is a bit pricey.

Be Faithful!

I have just booked my place on the Be Faithful! conference: confessing anglicans in Global & local Mission, London, Mon 6th July, which will launch the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans in the UK (following on from GAFCON).

The list of speakers (in the flesh or by video link) is impressive: Paul Perkin, Wallace Benn, Michael Nazir Ali (preaching at the closing Communion), John Broadhurst, Chik Kaw Tan, Peter Jensen, Vinay Samuel, James Packer, Keith Ackerman, Caroline Cox, Vaughan Roberts and other national and international visitors to be announced. Tunes: Stuart Townend. Something for everyone!

See you there?

Anyone want to travel up together from Eastbourne? Meet you on the train?!


For online booking to to

Towards a Policy on Church Discipline

Often we should just overlook the fact that we think we may have been wronged in some petty way. We should take the logs out of our own eye before we start poking around in other people's eyes looking for specks!

Personal sins are best dealt with personally if possible. Private sins between Christians are best dealt with privately if possible.

If you have a real serious problem with another Christian or they have a real problem with you and you cannot sort it out easily and happily between yourselves you would do well to ask the advice of the Elders of the church. I suggest you ask to talk to the Vicar! :)

If a matter cannot be sorted our privately, others will need to be involved - at first privately and more publicly if things fail to be resolved.

Obvious serious public sins of which someone repeatedly refuses to repent should be rebuked publicly and the sinner should be excommunicated (shut out from the fellowship of the church and from the Lord’s Table) in the hope that they will come to their senses, repent and be restored. (This does not mean that they should be completely ignored or forbidden to come to church but they should feel a great loss of the privileges of church membership.)

Someone should only be excommunicated for a sin that risks shutting them out of heaven: they are being told in their excommunication that they are behaving satanically, like a non-Christian and if they go on in that way without trusting in Christ they will go to hell.

The Church of England is in a mess over this and the evangelical church in the UK has generally been pretty terrible at it in our generation. We probably wont get it perfectly right over night.

Right? Comments? Suggestions? Refinements?

Immutability of God Sermon Notes

BCP Communion Service

Thurs 14th May 2009

Using the material for the 4th Sunday after Easter (p141)

God “with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (James 1:17)

NIV: God “who does not change like shifting shadows.”

God does not change.

Malachi 3:6 – “I the LORD do not change.”

Psalm 102:27 – “you, [O my God], remain the same, and your years will never end.”

Hebrews 13:8 – “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.”

Good news that God doesn’t change. Comfort and encouragement. Trust and praise him!

Collect: “among the sundry and manifold changes of the world” fix our hearts

It would be a bad thing if I never changed but it is a very good thing that God doesn’t

God doesn’t need to change, I do!

It would be a sin for God to change!

God is perfect. If he changed he’d get worse. Eternality.

God constant, a rock, reliable, trustworthy, consistent, never lets you down, predictable (?)

Prayer of Humble Access: “but thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy”

God is unchangeably good, so he only gives us good things. All that comes from him is good.

Great is thy faithfulness!

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.”

Abide with me:

Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.”

Hard Work

We were reminded yesterday that when asked about the secrets of the undoubtedly great success of his ministry, John Stott replied: "Two words: HARD WORK".

I was wondering whether I have ever really worked hard at anything in my life?

I've worked hard for a day, a night, perhaps even a few weeks, but I'm not sure I've ever worked hard, reliably, consistently in a disciplined sensible way at one thing for, say, a year.

For example, if I had done an hour of Greek six days a week for a year I might have mastered the basic elements of it, whatever learning disability I might or might not have.

Or if I read the Works of John Owen or Jonathan Edwards for a hour a day until I'd read them all, soon I would be a comparative expert on them...

I might even get a PhD...

Or hear Christ's well done my good and faithful servant.

Hard work. Hum.

What are you working hard at and how?

Free Internet Accountability Software?

I've heard Covenant Eyes highly recommended, but it seems to cost quite a lot of monthly cash?

Can anyone recommend any free internet accountability software?

I'm thinking of the kind of thing that wont affect my computer's running or block any internet site but which will email someone I designate with a list of all the websites I've been looking at or with a list of any that look like they might be dodgey, so that they that person can check I haven't been looking at things that I ought not to?!

An English Prayer Book

Why didn't any of the fun bits of the BCP (the commination, churching of women, prayers for rain etc.) get the modern language treatment in the English Prayer Book or Common Worship?

Swine Flu Response: More Communion Services

The Prayer Book commands:

... the Curates [that is, those ministers with the cure of souls including vicars and so on] shall dilligently from time to time (but especially in time of pestilence, or other infectious sickness) exhort their Parishoners to the often recieving of the holy Communion ...

The Communion of the Sick, BCP, p323

The Curate is to go to the homes of the sick if there are 2 or at least 3 to communicate there who cannot get to church.

The sick person is directed to communicate last. A precaution against infection, perhaps?

In the time of the plague, sweat, or such other like contagious times of sickness or diseases, when none of the Parish or neighbours can be gotten to communicate with the sick in their homes, for fear of the infection, upon special request of the diseased, the Minister may only communicate with him. (p325)

I wonder if some churches will actually want to cancel communion services if things do get bad with piggy colds this winter?

as Saint Paul saith in the twelfth chapter of Hebrews

I was surprised to read the above in the BCP service for the visitation of the sick (p314).

Why were so many people so convinced throughout church history that the Apostle Paul wrote Hebrews?

Now we seem to be sure only that someone other than Paul wrote it! Anyone! Barnabas, Apollos, anyone but Paul!

It would be an interesting blind reading test, wouldn't it, to take some modern authors works and see if we could tell who wrote what? Maybe we just don't allow Paul enough range?

PS. the word "bastards" comes on the next page, he he! I wonder if those who love the language of the Prayer Book and want to hear more of it in church could stomach that?

PPS. There's a jolly strong absolution on page 317 too:

Our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath left power to his Church to absolve all sinners who truly repent and believe in him, of his great mercy forgive thee thine offences: And by his authority committed to me, I absolve thee from all thy sins, In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

We should have read this at Vicar factory before we pledged ourselves to the Prayer Book!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Church Loyalty

Remember that the church is holy. It belongs to God as is set apart for his purposes, not ours or anyone else’s. It would be tragic if any misplaced loyalty to the institutional church, to a church leader or to a church building conflicted with our loyalty to God, whose church it is.

Trinity & Eldership

Do you think that the doctrine of the Trinity implies that each local church should ideally have 3 Elders?

And do you think the nature of the Father and the relations of the persons suggests that there should be some kind of "lead" Elder?


Lovewise was recommended at the Sussex Gospel Partnership today. They provide resources and give presentations for schools (and churches) to encourage young people to keep sex for marriage. It looks like excellent stuff.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ooo ooo!

Deep Exegesis by Rev'd Dr Peter Leithart ain't out yet (due middle of Sept.) but it looks very exciting.

Here's the blurb from Amazon:

Seeking to train readers to hear all that is being said within a written text, Peter Leithart advocates a hermeneutics of the letter that is not rigidly literalist and looks to learn to readnot just the Bible, but everything--from Jesus and Paul. Thus Deep Exegesis explores the nature of reading itselftaking clues from Jesus and Paul on the meaning of meaning, the functions of language, and proper modes of interpretation. By looking (and listening) closely, and by including passages from the Bible and other literary sources, Leithart aims to do for the text what Jesus did for the blind man in John 9: to make new by opening eyes. The book is a powerful invitation to enter the depths of a text.

Colossians Commentaries

You may find some of the following resources more or less helpful:

David E. Garland, Colossians / Philemon The NIV Application Commentary (Zondervan, 1998)

R. Kent Hughes, Colossians and Philemon: The Supremacy of Christ Preaching the Word Series (Crossway Books, 1989)

Philip D. Jensen, Colossians: The Complete Christian – eight interactive studies for small groups or individuals (Matthias Media, 1991)

Dick Lucas, The Message of Colossians & Philemon: Fullness and Freedom The Bible Speaks Today Series (IVP, 1980)

Mark Meynell, Colossians: Confident Christianity The Good Book Guide – six studies for individuals or groups (Good Book Company, 2008)

C. F. D. Moule, The Epistle to the Colossians and to Philemon The Cambridge Greek Testament Commentary (CUP, 1957) – full of Greek!

Peter O’Brien, Colossians, Philemon Word Biblical Commentary 44 (Thomas Nelson, 1982) – technical in places

Geoffrey B. Wilson, Colossians and Philemon: A Digest of Reformed Comment (Banner of Truth, 1980)

N. T. Wright, Colossians and Philemon The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (IVP, 1986)

See further:

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Children and the Religious Meals of the Old Creation

Some jottings from James B. Jordan's chapter of the above title in Strawbridge (ed.), The Case for Covenant Communion:

... every single passage in the entire Bible that mentions or discusses children speaks of them as included in whatever religious event is under consideration. Jesus says to let the little children come to Him. Paul addresses children in his letters. Moses tells Pharaoh that the children must accompany Israel to the great feast God is calling them to. Moses, in Deuteronomy, commands that children be allowed at the feasts. Search how you will, you will find no passage anywhere that hints at the exclusion of children from any religious event or meal. (p50)

... there is no passage anywhere in the Bible that commands, hints, or show that children need to be catechized or instructed in order to make them eligible for any religious meal. Instruction took place at the meal, not before it. (p50, emphasis original)

It is sometimes asserted on the basis of 1 Corinthians 11:28 that a child must be old enough to examine himself before being served the Lord's Supper. But it is clearly adult sins that are being discussed, and, if this verse excludes children, then we should be starving our children on the basis of the command "If a man will not work, let him not eat" (2 Thess. 3:10). (footnote 2, p50f)

To summarize: the Bible contains no warnings against children participating at religious meals. It provides no age limit or other qualification of entry that differs from what is required of adults (circumcision for Passover; ritual cleansing for all Tabernacle events). On the contrary, every single passage that discusses children speaks of them as included in religious events. (p51)

As the contest between Moses and Pharaoh intensifies, it is precisely the presence of children at the feast that becomes the issue. During the plague of locusts, the eighth plague, Pharaoh dismisses Moses to go and be a slave to Yahweh. But then he asks who is going, and Moses says that all, including children, must go, and livestock for sacrifice as well. Pharaoh's response is that he must will not let both them and their little ones go. The men may go to the communion meal, but not the children (Ex. 10:8-11). [Footnote 7:] Personally, I'd be nervous about siding with Pharaoh on this. (p54)

Let's be very clear about what is being demanded of Pharaoh. Yahweh intends to have a feast with Israel. Communion-sacrifices as well as Ascensions ("burnt offerings") are required. And Yahweh insists that the children be present for this feast. For the men alone to be present, without wives and children, in unacceptable.

This is the whole purpose of the exodus: to celebrate a feast to the Lord at which children are present along with adults (p54, emphasis original).

... the analogies between the wilderness meals [1 Corinthians] chapter 10 and the Supper of chapter 11 could use more attention. Is not water called "blood" in 2 Samuel 23:17, and does not Jesus convert old "Jewish" water into wine in John 2:6 and 9? It would seem that the old meal of Rock-water and Heaven-manna is found anew in the Lord's Supper of wine and bread. And this being so, the fact that children as well as every other baptized person were included in the old meal has much to say about who is included in the new. (p64)

Against this kind of restrictive view, the Bible presents a God who generously feeds multitudes from His table. He showers down "sacramental" bread from heaven upon Israelite and Gentile alike, upon man and woman alike, upon old and baby alike. Jesus similarly feeds 5000 men and their families on one occasion, and 4000 on another, without seeming to worry about who was "worthy."

In fact, the inspection God is interested in does not take place before the meal, as a way of excluding people from it. Rather, it takes place at the meal. God judged Israel while they ate the heavenly food (Num. 11:33; Ps. 78:29-31). Paul says that the Supper ministers judgment, but he never says that because of this anyone should stay away. (Indeed, those in the wilderness had no choice: they had to eat the heavenly food, or starve.) In Matthew 22:11-12, the king inspected his gustes while they were already at the wedding feast. Belchazzar's Feast is another example. (p66, emphasis original)

Anyone living with this system of law and festival for 1500 years would naturally think that children belong at the Lord's Supper as soon as they are old enough to eat, and that Christian baptism is the ticket to the Lord's Supper. That's how it had always been.

The burden of proof in this matter lies with those who think Jesus or the apostles introduced some striking change. (p68)

Friday, May 01, 2009

Will the Covenant work?

The front page of today's Church of England Newspaper asks, "Will the Covenant work? p12". On further inspection this turns out to be about some proposed Anglican covenant or other, not The Covenant. Of course the New Covenant will work! I'm not sure what hopes we can have for this new covenant.

The Kingdom of God and Children at the Table

From Tim Gallant's chapter of that name in Strawbridge's Case for Covenant Communion:

The overwhelming evidence for paedocommunion from approximately the third through twelfth centuries is an imposing record that does not deserve to be dismissed lightly. (footnote 1, p35)

In Gallant's words, C. John Collins in WTJ 66 (2004) argues "that the early Church understood the Lord's Supper as a peace offering, noting that children participated in these during the old covenant period. (Note also that the Passover was actually a specific instance of the peace offering.)" (footnote 2, pp35-36)

... the Lord's Supper is not merely an exercise in private devotion, nor yet a symbol to engage our intellects; it is a sign-act of the kingdom which has a central place in that kingdom.... 1 Cor. 1:9; ... 10:16 (p38)

Just days before [the original celebration of the Supper], Jesus had been hailed as the Son of David, welcomed into Jerusalem in Messianic style (Matt. 21:1-11). At the Last Supper, Jesus surrounds Himself with those who will sit on twelve thrones, governing the re-established kingdom (Matt. 19:28); even as God communed with the elders of Israel in the inauguration of the Mosaic covenant (Ex. 24:9-11), so Jesus does here. [We may add that the apostles are elders in the New Israel.] This meal is kingly and covenantal, and formally inaugurates the kingdom which supplants the old covenant era. (p39)

Church Cancelled Due to Swine Flu

If the government advising avoiding large public meetings due to swine flu, will you be cancelling church meetings?

The Urban Pastor, Rev'd Richard Perkins, has some thoughts from Rev'd Dr Andrew Nicholls (a former GP) on how churches can make the most of swine flu.