Saturday, 30 January 2010

The Book of Eli

Films make me blog. I’ve just been to see The Book of Eli. Here’s some meaning that me and the Hughes brothers came up with.

The words of The Bible are beautiful, potent and good for humanity. So are the words of The Koran, all other sacred texts and the works of Beethoven. Even cheap music has the power to sustain and enrich. You can’t be a hero without being violent. A surfeit of stuff blinds you to what’s important. Salvation normally comes from a lone individual. When making a “post-apocalyptic” film you have to include a shot of a ruined, iconic, American building. Politicians use religion to control the populous – don’t trust ‘em. It is really important to follow where your convictions lead and to do so with determination and discipline. Women are normally peripheral, feeble and insignificant.  Treasuring The Bible is one thing but what really matters is living out its message.  Ultimately the message of The Bible can be reduced to the Golden Rule.  Old people know some important stuff. Go West. If you are going to have a twist in the tail it will only work if doesn’t make a nonsense of all that went before.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Bristol Mission Conference

Interested in mission? Live near Bristol? Prepared to travel to Bristol?  This looks like it might be good.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

21C Illuminated Bible

Mike Lowe, one of our students here in Manchester, is working on a very interesting project producing a communal, 21C, British, illuminated Bible.  It's called the buk.  This is me commending it to you.

The image on the right is the buk's illumination of 2 Corinthians 4v6 “For God who said “let Light shine out of darkness” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (NIV)

Here's what Mike has to say about the project:

Welcome to the buk. The buk is a new community driven illuminated Bible where visual reflections on the Biblical text are made up of images taken in Britain. The aim is to produce a Bible anyone in Britain can connect with very quickly and see that God is at work all around them.
It's looking good.  But don't take my word for it, check it out for yourself.

Image courtesy of 

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Shock! Horror! Churchgoers Look Forward to the Sermon

Various places are reporting the findings of the CODEC research centre's investigation of attitudes to sermons. Here's the BBC's take, and here Ruth Gledhill's at Timesonline.

It turns out that for many the sermon is the best bit of the service often eagerly anticipated.  Can't yet find a link to the actual report (don't think it's available on line) so for now I'll suspend judgement.  One question though, "Should I be at all suspicious, or perhaps "careful" would be a better word, that the research was commissioned by The College of Preachers, an organisation committed to and seeking to promote preaching?"

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

David Southall to give 2010 Whitley Lecture

Andy Goodliff put this together; I just nicked it.

David Southall is to give the 2010 Whitley Lecture entitled: "The Poetic Paul: On Creating New Realities for Righteousness in Romans".
Why does the Apostle Paul personify righteousness and sin in Romans 6? Why does the character "Righteousness" act out its role as a slave master in opposition to "Slave Master Sin?" In this seminar David J. Southall explores Pauline personification and makes the case that the Apostle uses the poetic ways of speaking as modes of character invention and then goes on to show that personified "Righteousness", becomes Paul's way of talking about Christ in passages which are rich in metaphor and the story of Christ.

Southall gives an exegesis of Romans 6:15-23 which affirms this view and looks at the implications of his position for aspects of Pauline theology including "the justification debate" and universalism.
Southall gained his PhD from Spurgeon's College with a dissertation on theology of Paul in 2007. It was published as Rediscovering Righteousness in Paul (Mohr Siebeck, 2008). See also his chapter 'The Personification of Righteousness within a Metaphoric and Narratorial Setting' in Bible and Mission (Neufeld Verlag, 2008).

He became Chaplain ar Worcestershire Royal Hospital in 2009.
You can hear the lecture at:
  • 22nd February 2010 at Regent's Park College, Oxford, 2pm
  • 24th February 2010 at South Wales Baptist College, 3.00- 4.45pm
  • 2nd March 2010 at Northern Baptist College, Luther King House, 7.30 - 9.30 p.m
  • and also at the Baptist Assembly in May.
  • 24th March Spurgeon's College

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Haiti, Pat Robertson, God and Satan

This from Maggi Dawn

C S Lewis made letters from Satan into an art form. Lily Coyle of Minneapolis follows suit in a letter to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, replying to Pat Robertson’s extraordinarily ill-judged comments this week.

Dear Pat Robertson,
I know that you know that all press is good press, so I appreciate the shout-out. And you make God look like a big mean bully who kicks people when they are down, so I’m all over that action. But when you say that Haiti has made a pact with me, it is totally humiliating. I may be evil incarnate, but I’m no welcher. The way you put it, making a deal with me leaves folks desperate and impoverished. Sure, in the afterlife, but when I strike bargains with people, they first get something here on earth — glamour, beauty, talent, wealth, fame, glory, a golden fiddle. Those Haitians have nothing, and I mean nothing. And that was before the earthquake. Haven’t you seen “Crossroads”? Or “Damn Yankees”? If I had a thing going with Haiti, there’d be lots of banks, skyscrapers, SUVs, exclusive night clubs, Botox — that kind of thing. An 80 percent poverty rate is so not my style. Nothing against it — I’m just saying: Not how I roll. You’re doing great work, Pat, and I don’t want to clip your wings — just, come on, you’re making me look bad. And not the good kind of bad. Keep blaming God. That’s working. But leave me out of it, please. Or we may need to renegotiate your own contract.
Best, Satan

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Mainstream Theology Day on Preaching

The next Mainstream North Theology Day will be on the theme of preaching.  I'm going to be speaking along with Ashley Hardingham.  We'll be looking at stuff such as the purpose of preaching, whether or not preaching has had its day and how our approach to preaching is shaped by our personality.

Date Jan 28th
Time 10.00 - 3.00
Venue The Blackley Centre
Cost £15 including lunch
To book

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Evangelism as Call and Response

Just been reading the opening chapter of Walter Klaiber’s Call and Response: Biblical Foundations of a Theology of Evangelism. Enjoying it a lot. Didn’t think I would, not least because it’s a translation from the German and in places it reads as such. As is often the case though with translations it’s a matter of finding your ear, once you do Kaliber is well worth a listen.

He tries to root our understanding of “evangelism” in the biblical notions of bsr and euangelizesthai without limiting it’s meaning to such usage. He is well aware that we make meaning by usage both consciously and unconsciously. It’s not just a matter of “what did it mean” or “what has it come to mean” but also “what would we like to make it mean.” Always important I think to come clean on that one.

Along the way he makes a number of interesting observations. Here are some snippets:

In the light of 1Co 9:22b-23 (I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some.  I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.) he asks if it could be that our participation in evangelism is itself vital for the health of the church and our Christian lives, since it plugs us into the cycle of divine life that is to be found at the interface between boundary-crossing-proclamation and the response of faith.

Aware of those who have been “evangelistically injured” he asks “how evangelisch is our evangelism”, or to go all the way with the English translation, “how gospel-like is our proclamation of the gospel?” A really important question this.

En route he offers up this from Barth

… a Church which is not … an evangelizing Church is either not yet or no longer a Church or only a dead Church, itself standing in supreme need of renewal by evangelisation. CD IV 3.2:874

In his consideration of the relationship between evangelism and the church’s wider mission Klaiber recognises that everything the church does has a missionary dimension but he sees mission itself as the life of the church directed toward the wider world rather than toward God or towards its itself. The Church’s mission exists in martyria (the proclamation of the word through public sermons, private conversations and the eloquent but silent faithfulness of lived lives), diakonia (care, healing, comfort, counsel, engagement in the pursuit of justice peace and conservation) and koinonia (communion before God in prayer and Eucharist and the mutual ministry of the body of Christ). Not a perfect systematisation, but certainly a helpful one – and if you want it without the Greek, witness, service and communion, or simpler still, saying, doing and being.

Within this wider understanding of mission, evangelism per se should properly be seen as an aspect of martyria. It is speech (but not mere speech) addressed to and in conversation with those who have yet to encounter or understand the gospel and has in mind that they should respond by embracing the gospel and living out the implications of such a decision.

What I like about Klaiber is his reminder of the importance of verbal witness as a concept that lies at the heart of evangelism. When so many speak of the need to walk the talk it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of the importance of talking the walk. Similarly, when so many, quite rightly, warn about the dangers of an obsession with results, emphasising instead the priority of faithful witness, we mustn’t be allowed to forget that evangelism looks and longs for a response.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Happy New Year

Just back from another cracking new year’s eve/day in Bowland.

Arrived at The Inn At Whitewell (one of my favourite places on the planet) in a snow storm. Enjoyed a rather nice pint of Landlord on the settee by the open log fire. On then to our usual spot in the trees by the river beyond Dunsop Bridge.  Barbequed steak for supper.  A Gloriously quiet night with just the sound of the river; not a firework anywhere so one very happy dog.

Early NY day morning off to see the dawn break over Waddington Fell and then walkies in the snow followed by a bacon sandwich in the van.  Back home in Manchester for elevenses.

A very happy New Year indeed – so far anyway.