Friday, July 31, 2009

Off to camp

We're off to Danehill 1 Pathfinder Venture camp today and would value your prayers.

For great fun, health, strength, safety, and for the making of disciples of the Lord Jesus, for great love and unity in the truth for the team, for leaders to grow and serve and go back to their home churches more equipped for ministry, for members to grow in their faith and for some to receive Christ Jesus as Lord for the first time - and lots of other things you can no doubt think of. Oh, and sunshine for our trip to Eastbourne beach on Monday.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ventures in Times Online

As we prepare to head off to camp for The Best Week of the Year at Danehill 1, thanks to the mother in law and Mrs Lloyd for pointing out this report on Ventures in Times Online. I guess Atheist Camp (which sounds much less fun) may have promoted this good publicity.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Why don't English speaking Protestants and Reformed types use the word "Eucharist" more? I know some baddies use it, but why not reclaim it?

"Eucharist" means thanksgiving and therefore it wonderfully stresses that we eat the Holy Communion with thanksgiving and gratitude. It is therefore fitting to a Reformed understanding that the Supper is primarily about what God has done from us not what we have done, are doing or might do for him. God feeds us and we receive his undeserved gift with the empty hand of faith in thankfulness. Eucharist.

Looking for a bed

I'm seeking a bed in Cambridge from Mon 19th Oct - Thurs 22nd Oct inc. when d.v. I'll be working on the Magnum Opus at Tyndale House and maybe the UL. All offers gratefully received.

Monday, July 27, 2009

And under rated virtue

Letting your yes be yes and your no no, keeping your word, doing what you have said you will do even when it is to your own hurt. A subset of reliability, consistency, honesty, truth-telling, faithfulness.

Abortion & Euthanasia etc. resources

On Sunday I made some comments about abortion and euthanasia (amongst other things) from the 6th Commandment, "You Shall Not Murder". You may find some interesting stuff on these subjects on The Christian Institute website (link on the right). The Institute is a kind of public policy lobbying think tank resource type thing. I also linked to The Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child yesterday.

I would also highly recommend Rev'd Dr David Field's ethics notes which cover subjects such as abortion, euthanasia, just war and a whole lot more, as well as quite a bit of stuff on how to think (ethically), meta-ethics.

On our church website sermons page, you can find (evangelistic) talks by my predecessor as curate, Rev'd Jeremy Hobson (who is a medical doctor) on abortion, euthanasia, stem cell research and other topics besides.

As ever, John Frame's The Christian Life (P&R Lordship Series) would be a great place to go to think more about the Commandment and the issues it raises, though arising out of and more oriented towards a US context than a UK one. Get that book - its impressively fat but pretty readable!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A ball of cells?

Images of unborn children from The Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC).

No apology

After a couple of drafts and one or two challenges and suggestions from friends, here's how I began my sermon on "You shall not murder" today:

(The real thing may have differed a bit from these notes. The whole sermon should appear on our church website this week d.v.)

I'm going to say some difficult and controversial things today.

I know that.

I don't mean to be nasty or to over simplify or generalise or exaggerate.

You might not agree with everything I say.

You may not always understand quite where I’m coming from or what I'm getting at sometimes.

That's okay.

I'm just trying to say what I reckon the Bible says or implies about some very important and very topical subjects.

Please do feel free to come and put me right at the end.

Or ask me any question.

And if you're a guest or a visitor, it’s not quite like this every week.

Why not come back another time and give us another go?!

So, my text today is this:

The 6th of the 10 Commandments:

God said: "You shall not murder."

This is a very short command: “No murder” with very deep and wide ranging implications.

If there’s were time, I'd deal with war, capital punishment, abortion, suicide, euthanasia, assisted-suicide, self-harm, character assassinations, keep-fit, food, drink, drugs, health and safety and the environment and a few other things beside.

Many of us will have been personally affected by these things.

Perhaps you’re struggling with one of them at the moment.

I’m not trying to make your grief or trauma worse but to bring God’s loving, holy word to bare on some of the darkest places of life today.

If you’d like to talk or pray with someone about any of the issues raised today, we can arrange that: come and have a word with me, or the vicar, or our pastoral worker.

Brave Sermon Feedback

Apart from the usual "excellent"s, "thank you"s and "lovely sermon"s (no one said this latter one today), many people told me today that my sermon was "brave". I wasn't sure how to take that! I had a couple of relevant intelligent questions. One person said it was 10 mins too long and one person said it would have been better as two sermons; these people may well be right.

(The whole sermon on "You Shall Not Murder" with an emphasis on abortion will appear on our church website in due course this week d.v.)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Green Belt

Apparently "Bishop" Gene Robinson and the Lesbian and Gay "Christian" Movement (LGCM) will be pushing practicing homosexuality as a legitimate Christian lifestyle at Green Belt. Anglican Mainstream are protesting. The Church Mission Society (CMS) who are "associates" of the festival say they are unhappy and support Lambeth 1.10, which I found heartening. The ABC who is a Patron of Green Belt has not commented to my knowledge. (CEN, p3)

York church celebrates medieval mass

The Church of England Newspaper (CEN) reports in brief on p3 that All Saints North Street, York was packed out for The Mass of Our Lady which has not been celebrated since 1558. They fail to mention that it is presumably completely illegal?

Friday, July 24, 2009


I've commented before on the importance of analogies and their relation to arguments. In the end everything is an analogy.

This too from Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers (p254)

We formulate new ideas by analogy, working from what we know towards what we don't know....

David Mitchell on Desert Island Discs

I very much enjoyed what I caught of comedian David Mitchell on Desert Island Discs this morning. Charming, amusing, interesting, honest, insightful. Excellent. Highly reccomended. I imagine you can get it on i player?

I have sometimes been likened to David Mitchell (and indeed to the chap who used to host Countdown) and I do not think it was intended as a compliment, but now I shall take it as such. Mitchell was intelligent and good on the lesson of being yourself. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be 50 and wear tweed (at least on the inside) and watch Star Trek. It is possible to have fun without discotech dancing.

Do you think Desert Island Discs should be Desert Island Media? I could live without some of the songs but it would be good to have more books, poems, plays and films and so on. People could talk about the media that most matters to them that they'd most like to take. I can imagine that there could me many people who would make most interesting castaways for whom music is simply not that important, or at least less significant than the other media in their life.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


I am very much enjoying Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers: The Story of Success (UK editionL London, Penguin, 2009). Interesting, stimulating, unusual.

Gladwell argues that success is of course due to talent, but we often underestimate the importance of hard work and opportunity. More important still are culture and community. This isn't great news for us, but its fantastic news for our great grandchildren if we can manage to stay put and keep in touch.

Pig Cold & Church

See the C of E website and the Archbishops letter today regarding Holy Communion when people are a bit sniffly.

Why I am a legalist!

I said, "Pah! Lutherans! "Oh, how I hate your law", eh? Antinomians!"

Revd Glen Scrivner said (oh, I paraphrase a little bit, maybe): "Huh! If they are antinomian law-haters, are you willing to be called a legalist who thinks the law is the end of Christ?!"

I said (smiling): "Okay then, you bet! Why not?! Yeah. Bring it on. As long as I'm allowed to distinguish and ask "in what sense?""

So why I am a legalist:

Of course we are not saved by good works of the law. What a stupid blasphemous idea. How impossible.

The law is holy, righteous and good.

Some rules are good and happy: e.g. do not get drunk on much wine, do not have sex with people you are not married to.

Laws are not antithetical to relationship. They can express and shape and grow out of relationship.

Lots of the Bible is law.

Law is one of the main ways God relates to us.

Law (torah) is best understood as God's loving fatherly wisdom to his redeemed, saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone etc., children. We imagine ourselves sat on Daddy's knee as we read Ex 20.

And the law is the end of Christ. Yes. He did not come to abolish it: he fulfills it, he brings us a renewed, glorified law. The law leads us to Christ and Christ leads us back to the crucified and risen law. We keep the royal law of Christ, the law of love. We are saved for good works of the law-keeping. Sin is lawlessness.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


It has been pointed out to me in personal correspondence that it might be wrong to apologise or seem to apologise (in the sense of say sorry) for the Word of God. We should not apologise for our sermons since (in so far as it is faithful) the preached Word is the Word of God. So I'm sorry about that.

If my sermon is rubbish or wrong, I'm sorry about that, but that's not my intention. I wouldn't preach it if I thought it was a waste of my time and yours.

And I'm not sorry for going on as long as I need too. Preaching and listening is the most important thing (amongst other things) that we could be doing for 20 or 30 mins on a Sunday morning. Sorry!


I'm going to say some difficult and controversial things today. I know that. I don't mean to be nasty or to over simplify or generalise or exaggerate. You probably wont agree with everything I say. You may not understand quite what I'm getting at sometimes. That's okay. I'm just trying to say what I reckon the Bible says or implies.

Please do feel free to come and put me right at the end. Or ask me any question.

And if you're a guest or a visitor, sorry you have to put up with this. I'm only going to speak until just after 11:30am at the very latest, so you can escape soon. If it gets to 11:45 I'll stop in the middle of a sentence if I...

And please don't write off Jesus or this church because of what I say today. I don't preach very often. It's normally the Vicar and he's a lovely man and an excellent preacher, so if you can, come back and hear him before you decide you don't want anything to do with those mad fascist bigot fundamentalists at Holy Trinity, Eastbourne.

Does that make sense? Okay?

So, my text today is this:

God said: "You shall not murder."

I'm going to deal with capital punishment, abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicude, self-harm, character assassinations and a few other things beside. So fasten your seatbelts, here we go.

Individual Salvation a heresy?

US presiding "Bishop" Katherine Jefferts has lost the plot big time. What's new?

If the Church of England Newspaper is to be believed, the so-called Bishop has said that "personal salvation is a heresy." This is stupid madness.

Now, I'm all for emphasising the corporate and cosmic aspects of salvation. Glorious.

But the thing is, an "us" or a "we" always includes "I"s and "we"s. There is no corporate salvation without individual salvation and no individual salvation without corporate salvation (assuming more than one person be saved!). It is the One and the Many, again, or the Holy Trinity, as some traditionalists like to call it.

If all Ms Jefferts meant is that salvation is never merely private and personal then I think we could all agree. Salvation is individual but not individualistic, personal but not personalised or private.

As Rev'd Dr Mark Thompson said: the Presiding Bishop's "ignorance of the Bible and Christian theology is nothing short of breathtaking." Perhaps she is deliberately distorting.

What a silly mess.

Luther on the 4 uses of the law

"Out of each commandment I make a garland of four twisted strands. That is, I take each commandment first as a teaching, which is what it actually is, and I reflect upon what our Lord God so earnest requires of me here. Secondly, I make out of it a reason for thanksgiving. Thirdly, a confession and fourthly, a prayer petition.”

HT: Dan Green @ Blog of Dan on Martin Luther's Quiet Time.

Gresham Machen on Roman Catholicism

I think I agree with this from Gresham Machen (an arch Reformed Conservative Evangelical bastion of orthodoxy if ever there was one) about Romanism and Christianity:

Far more serious still is the division between the Church of Rome and evangelical Protestantism in all its forms. Yet how great is the common heritage which unites the Roman Catholic Church, with its maintenance of the authority of Holy Scripture and with its acceptance of the great early creeds, to devout Protestants today! We would not indeed obscure the difference which divides us from Rome. The gulf is indeed profound. But profound as it is, it seems almost trifling compared to the abyss which stands between us and many ministers of our own Church. The Church of Rome may represent a perversion of the Christian religion; but naturalistic liberalism is not Christianity at all.

(from Christianity and Liberalism, available free on line, towards the end of ch 2 on doctrine, HT: WB, JC, LG).

Whether or not the Roman Catholic church is a Church / teaches Christianity is of course debatable. I am inclined to think it might be a perverted church since while it has seriously corrupted the Gospel it does confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour etc.

What's in a name?

I'm told that a certain church that used to be called something like High Street Strict and Peculiar Evangelical Free (Full Gospel) Church (Continuing) changed its name to something like Christ Church and found that numbers went up very significantly. It seems that many people who might go to a church like it to be called something fairly traditional and C of E sounding, not crazy cultlike. You live and learn, eh?

Monday, July 20, 2009

When is a "church" not a church?

I think we can say that The Episcopal "Church" (TEC, American anglicans) - or rather, denomination, as a denomination - is no longer a church. There may be churches among them, and Christians in those churches, but it seems to me that when a denomination deliberately, repeatedly and publicly declared its intention to blesses gross sin, disregarding the Word of God and the gospel it is no longer a church.

Rt Revd Tom Wright argues in the Times Online that the TEC has deliberately formalised schism, torn the Communion and walked apart. To my mind they can no longer be seen as authentically Anglican. Wright talks a lot of sense in that article, though I think he is wrong about the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans. Even if Anglicanism is already a confessional fellowship, it is no bad thing in such circumstances to have another confessing fellowship that fellowships more closely and confesses more loudly and soundly on the matters in dispute.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The good folk of Jesmond Parish Church seem to have made some useful and interesting videos available on, including edited versions of Sunday services.

FCA UK launch

Some jottings on the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) UK launch, which has grown out of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON):

As I was going to the loo and grabbing a coffee, I missed most of the excerpts from a letter from Her Majesty the Queen.

There was a great deal of purple around so I may get some of this wrong, but the Archbishops of the Southern Cone and of Sydney were present. The Archbishops of Nigeria, Rwanda, and Uganda and the former Archbishop of Kenya sent greetings. The Bishops of Rochester, Chichester, Exeter (?), Birmigham (?), Lewes and Fulham were present and the Bishops of Chester and Winchester and the Bishop-elect of Southwell sent greetings.

It was great to have our own Bishops, John Hind and Wallace Benn there. John Hind argued for the unity of faith, morals and order and it would be worth tracking down the quotation he used about tripe and onion soup which first may perhaps have corriander added to it, with few people noticing or caring, but which can soon become beans and bacon soup and not tripe and onion at all. Wallace Benn showed what partnership (koinonia) means in the letter to the Phippians. He said he was unimpressed by some in the UK who claim the name of evangelical but are sniffy and iffy about ACNA in its stand against secularism.

Bishop Keith Ackerman of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) said that "Affirming Catholics are neither Affirming nor Catholics!". He warned against a canonical fundamentalism that puts the rules of an institution above the Bible. He criticised the trend to eliminate the fundamental "metaphors" of Scripture, such as all language of Father and Son. He argued that calling the Father alone Creator is like calling your mother on the phone and saying, "Hello, Life-giver, please may I speak with my sperm-donor". He argued that definitive, permanent, complete revelation cannot be replaced with evolution.

Bishop John Broadhurst said: "When I was ordained I didn't believe in the devil. I now believe Satan is alive and well and lives in Church House!". He claimed that too many people believe in the system and the C of E and not the gospel. What is authentically Christian is more important than what is authentically Anglican.

In a videoed interview, Canon Dr Jim Packer argued that the Prayer Book and the Articles define Anglicanism.

Archbishop Jensen stressed that the Jerusalem Declaration of GAFCON repudiates any gospel in which human merit is invoked. We take our stand on the Biblical gospel and the authority of Scripture, loyal to the Prayer Book and the articles and combating the cultural captivity of the church.

Rev'd Vaughan Roberts called for united action on the basis of the truth. He said we must resist the salami tactics of the revisionists, slice by slice creating realities on the ground.

Rev'd William Taylor spelt out an agenda of ministry (inc. church planting), ministry (selecting and training suitable candidates), and some "yes"es and "no"s in relation to money, oversight and fellowship.

A student on Cornhill Scotland who had been involved in relief work amongst the homeless said he took the course beacuse he realised "people needed more than soup and soup - the needed salvation."

Someone from the Church in Wales refered to a textbook in which the index contained the following entry: "for Wales, see England".

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


Just as it is weak to call something wacky or criticise its emphasis, to call something dangerous is dangerous. Everything is dangerous. A knife can be an excellent tool or a horrible murder weapon. We can't allow the danger of murder to rule out the dinner of steak. All sin is a privation, a falling away from good, and hence all of creation is dangerous: good but with potential for evil. Criticising the tendency of something is tendentious. Does it necessarily and inevitably tend to the bad or could it be put to a good use?


Just as it is weak and difficult to criticise something as having the wrong emphasis, so calling something "wacky" can be more abuse than argument. It assumes that we all know what "normal" is, in contrast to "wacky" and that normal is good, true and beautiful.