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Showing posts from May, 2007


From six boxes to eight pictures with circles, from a colleague in UCCF. This is a work in progress and he'd appreciate any constructive feedback. May I suggest starting by encouraging the good wherever you can find it in this, and then offering critique.
Click to enlarge:

Anglican Doctrinal Basis

Chris Watson Lee has composed a Doctrinal Basis for the Church of England, modelled on the UCCF one but derived from Anglican documents:

The doctrine of the Church of England is grounded in the Holy Scriptures… In particular such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal.a.There is but one living and true God… And in unity of this Godhead there be three Persons… the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
b. God [is] of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the maker and preserver of all things.[He] hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning We bless [Him]… for [His] inestimable love in… redemption [He is the] most worthy judge eternal.
c. The Scripture… is the word of the living GOD… His infallible word.[The] Holy Scriptures containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an art…

Proving that Jesus is the Christ

Jesus posed the question: who do you say I am? It's the key question. And in the setting of the Jewish Bible and the New Testament Documents that challenge is specifically centred upon the question: is Jesus the Christ. Christ is presumed to be Jesus' surname but actually it's a title. And it's The title. It's a title centred upon, though not limited to, asking who is 'great David's greater son' - promised in 2 Samuel 7:14."When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And…

Atheist Warlord?

The Times today greated me with the question:
Is religion a poison?

Move-over Professor Dawkins...

Chrisopher Hitchins arrives with his new book:
God is not great.

Introduced today - Man vs. God - ahead of an exclusive extract tomorrow.

God is not Great - from
Albert Mohler on Christopher HitchinsDouglas Wilson & Christopher Hitchens, letters in Christianity Today

Breathless and heart-broken

Yesterday I spent two hours with a friend who isn't a Christian, seeking to demonstrate the Jesus is the promised Messiah (though not Jewish he adheres strongly to the Old Testament). I then spent two hours teaching Romans 9 to Christian students at Surrey. These are two of the five introductory remarks I made, preparing the way to study this passage:

We'll focus our study on Election upon Romans 9. It's not the only passage that speaks about this subject but it is a fairly substantial one. I'm less concerned that we reach a fully formed theology of election today, and more that we begin to savour the taste of it. It's a notorious chapter that has a reputation for being impenetrable. I think that is unfair. It's actually relatively simple on the head. The argument is mostly not very complex. The problem is the way it cuts into our hearts.

It's a classic example of how God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Enter the banquet halls of Rom…

Suffering Servant

Peter Dray on Jesus the suffering servant:"God can’t just forgive sin and magic it away. God is not omnipotent in the sense that he can do anything. God can only do those things which are consistent with his nature. And so can’t readily pardon guilty people, because he has revealed himself as a God of infinite fairness and justice. He is a holy God. He must punish sin. And through sending his Servant, this is what he does. Through sending his Servant, and placing his punishment on him, pouring out all of his wrath against the Servant as he is made sin for others, God has found a way of forgiving guilty people like us whilst remaining holy and pure."See a A reply from Matthew McMurray and ongoing discussions about Bible & Coffee

Carl Trueman Interview

Martin Downes continues his outstanding interviews:
Sin in High Places - Carl Trueman (Part 2).
Here's a flavour:What signs of potential doctrinal drift and danger do you need to keep an eye out for in ministerial students?

I am increasingly convinced that pride is the root of problems among students. I was convicted recently by a minister friend quoting to me 1 Tim. 1:5-7 (ESV):

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

My friend made two observations about this passage. First, the drift into dubious theological discussion is here described as moral in origin: these characters have swerved from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith; that is why their theology is so dreadful.Second, their …

Word Alive - the past and the future

Statement issued by the UCCF, 21st May:Word Alive - the past and the future

Since the recent Word Alive event in partnership with Spring Harvest, there has been much print given to the reasons for the split and these have unfortunately led to a range of complexities, distortions and disputes about the issues. In the meantime, UCCF, Keswick Ministries and Spring Harvest were approached with an offer of independent, formal mediation with a view to producing a joint, clarifying statement. UCCF and Keswick both accepted this offer but Spring Harvest unfortunately declined.
Since there is now no prospect of a formal objective procedure to clear up some of the details, we see no point in perpetuating this dispute any further. We admit that we have unwittingly contributed to it by giving the impression that the Word Alive committee rejected a specific request to allow Steve Chalke on the Word Alive platform in 2007. A request for Steve Chalke to be acceptable to Word Alive (following his signi…


Dave Cruver interviews Mark Lauterbach

Good questions, good answers...

Q1. Would you explain your journey toward Gospel-Centeredness? Was there a watershed moment or sequence of moments?
Q2. Has your understanding of "the Gospel is for Christians" altered other facets of your theology? Why? Why not?
Q3. In your opinion, why do many Christians view the Gospel as only for unbelievers?
Q4. How do you stay Gospel-Centered in your preaching without allegorizing?
Q5. What is the most challenging aspect for you in preaching? What have you done to overcome these challenge(s)?
Q6. What advice would you share with people who are aspiring Pastors/Elders/Counselors within a church?
Q7. What are some of the challenges you face as a Pastor in California?
Q8. Who are your past/present heroes of the faith? What draws your attention to them?
Q9. You have written a book called The Transforming Community: The Practice of the Gospel in Church Discipline. Can you explain why you wrote it and what your hop…

To niche or not to niche?

Tim Challies has been blogging about blogging. He notes a long tail effect:

As in music sales etc so in blogging. A popular core with a very long tail of niche blogs that are read by few. "Quite high up on the tail of the Christian blogosphere we see Justin Taylor writing a blog that covers news that is of interest to conservative or Reformed Christians--it is primarily an information blog. A little further down we see Carolyn Mahaney and her daughters writing a successful and influential blog for women interested in learning issues surrounding biblical womanhood. We see Bob Kauflin writing a blog that seeks to help worship leaders and any of us who love and value worship. Further along we see Colin Adams, a pastor in Edinburgh, Scotland, writing a blog targeted at expositors. And on and on it goes. Each of these people have, either deliberately or inadvertently, identified an audience and are now providing content that is interesting and important to these people. With more and m…

Box Five

Something I love about two ways to live is that it follows God's big story. Another thing is that it is simple and memorable. But, it's easy to take it individually, i.e. without reference to the church as God's new people under his rule.

The accompanying text is written in plural 'us' language but that's probably just to be inclusive.

The 'church' absence could also be because it's an Anglican invention and according to Mark Dever the Anglican's don't have any ecclesiology - just thinking that church is the plural of Christian (9 marks interview) !!

The 'church' absence might be due to the apparent jump from Genesis 3 to Jesus - without Abraham, Israel and a whole lot of other stuff. Granted you can't say everything in a six box outline the people of God is a pretty big theme in the Bible.

Either way, 'church' looks like a pretty big theme biblically - a people who are Jesus' body, once divided now united in him. Chu…

Sennacherib's folly

It's no joke to say that God's word is sharper than a double-edged sword, discerning the heart and exposing us. People speak today of bringing unity between the three monotheistic faiths... but God is having none of that. Sure there is room for much mutual understanding but the God of The Bible speaks with reference to the boasts of Assyrian King Sennacherib. He boasted of having defeated all the gods of the earth:"And they spoke of the God of Jerusalem
as they spoke of the gods of the peoples of the earth,
which are the work of men's hands."
2 Chronicles 32:19Soon after his army was defeated and he died in the house of his own god. A god who, by his non-existence, could not even protect Sennacherib from the wrath of his own family who killed him in his temple.

Pluralism is a doomed project. And it's one that it seems only the Secularists want to see happen. They who believe that all gods are false would ask us to put aside all our differences so that we all a…

The Destruction Of Sennacherib

A poem by Lord Byron (published 1815)

The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen:
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay withered and strewn.

For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed;
And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!

And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride;
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.

And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail:
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,

Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart

MP3 - Dave Bish - Hebrews 3:7-4:13This is a talk you probably don't want to hear. It doesn't appear to speak to the daily concerns of exams etc and yet it is the one thing you need to hear. If you'll listen. It concerns being prepared to die. That might not seem like the most pressing concern in the middle of exams, and it's hardly the kind of topic that dominates polite conversation in the 21st Century. Nonetheless it is vitally important. Birthdays strike me as a good opportunity to reflect on our mortality. Another year away from birth, and closer to death. During a mission week in the 19th Century Cambridge CU challenged everyone who became a Christian to sign up to take the gospel to Africa. They didn't tell the Mission Agency who were soon overwhelmed with 200 candidates... They contacted the CU to advise them that they should tell these young missionaries that people they sent to Africa didn't return, and would usually die within 8 years. On average thes…

Changing what we eat?

Martin Downes is interviewing R. Scott Clark:"The patient needs an immediate bone marrow transplant from Martin Luther and John Calvin. Next, the patient will need after-care provided by Francis Turretin and Johannes Wollebius. Finally, the patient needs to make immediate lifestyle changes. He must stop eating Bill Hybels and the Purpose Driven Life for lunch. These are the theological and ecclesiastical equivalents of the worst sort of cholesterol."R. Scott Clark - Defence against the dark arts. Part 1
R. Scott Clark - Defence against the dark arts. Part 2


Many things to be thankful for.
One thing on my mind:
"Today if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts."

Duke Special - Shepherds Bush Empire

Early-birthday outting last night to experience Duke Special.
A bit different to the small gig at Reading's South Street Arts Centre a few years ago where he was the support for Martyn Joseph. Good support from the man with the old tunes before, and from Beth Rowley before the real show kicked in. The songs are brilliant, the band were amazing (Ben Castle and others). Pete Wilson is a guy who really knows how to perform. Buy his CD. Enjoy.

Dance upon injustice

Reformed and charismatic

Calvin has a bad reputation with some, which is totally unwarranted. Most of this is because people think that the aberration known as 'hyper-calvinism' is what Calvin taught. It's not. The other is because many haven't read the awesome Institutes of Christian Religion which is the both warm and readable. Calvin wrote to his day and so doesn't talk about many subjects, but with a Bible and an eye on the church today we can look for the implications of the high view of God in salvation that Calvin so clearly asserts.

With reference to holding a high view of God's sovereignty, Peter Day asserts:Reformed theology should motivate evangelismReformed theology should encourage seeking after spiritual gifts and healing
Spot on, in my opinion. Read more at Charismatic Hypercalvinists?
See also: John Piper's biography of Andrew Fuller who refuted 'hypercalvinism' in his day, setting William Carey free to birth the modern missions movement

Dawkins' rebuttals & Bell's brushstrokes

The paper back edition of The God Delusion arrives and Richard Dawkins offers a few rebuttals to the main criticisms he's faced, in The Times today.

Richard Dawkins - How dare you call me a fundamentalist
I’m an atheist, but I wish to dissociate myself from your shrill, strident, intemperate, intolerant, ranting language...You can’t criticise religion without detailed study of learned books on theology... You ignore the best of religion and instead . . .You’re preaching to the choir. What’s the point?You’re as much a fundamentalist as those you criticise...I’m an atheist, but people need religion.
Also in The Times today:
Rob Bell - Repainting the faith with a broad brush which describes Bell's ministry and the way Don Carson contrasts Bell with Mark Driscoll. Is Bell the new Billy Graham? Or someone to be concerned about...

"Carson contrasts him to Mark Driscoll in Seattle who, curiously, also runs a large church called Mars Hill. Driscoll, unlike Bell, responds to the “pos…

Seven Days

Conversation continues about the glories of Penal Substitution

1. Hosea
Tim Rudge taking 'Team Without a Leader' through this amazing book of the Bible. How awful our spiritual adultery is, how amazing thatthe Faithful One lives the repentant life so we can return in him.
2. The Bickersteth Trampoline
3. Grill-a-Christian.
Knowing that Christianity can take serious examination. That sandcastles are better than mudpies. That the new creation is about Jesus. That marriage is good. That the Bible is reliable. That the first comission is good. And that we did need that one copy of Why Trust The Bible to give away.
4. Still flying.
Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers with Will.
The allegorical bit of Galatians with Matt.
Humility in Christ, from the story of Uzziah
It wasn't tongues, it was Spanish.
5. Sean & LizEnjoying hospitality. Feeling blessed.
6. Pierced for our transgression
Finally, 10 copies arrived.
7. Photo(s) of the Week

Musing this morning about an seminar on '…

We are not professionals

Martin Downes interviews Derek Thomas

How should a minister keep his heart, mind, and will from theological error?

We are all capable of goofy ideas and sloppy exegetical insights. I try to make it a rule (and often tell my students) that I don’t teach or preach ideas that have no basis in creedal/confessional formulation and have not passed the test of time... Of equal importance are things like: maintaining a close and daily watch on my own heart (1 Tim 4:16); don’t allow my calling to become a mere profession (to cite John Piper, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals); read and read and read oneself into a warm relationship with Christ by a balanced mixture of biographical and theological literature (I have found few ‘devotional’ books of any help, to be honest); keep the hymnbook close by; read and engage in an exercise of self-examination, something on justification on a regular basis ( Lloyd-Jones on Romans 3:21 – 4:25 has been my regular way of doing it); maintain a love-affair with…


"I ask you to accept one thing. Hand on heart, I did what I thought was right. I may have been wrong. That is your call. But believe one thing, if nothing else. I did what I thought was right for our country... It has been an honour to serve it. I give my thanks to you, the British people, for the times I have succeeded, and my apologies to you for the times I have fallen short."
Tony Blair, May 10th 2007

I was thinking today about the commission given to me 3.5 years ago as I started as a UCCF staff worker - something I'll finish doing on August 19th - that day Martin Downes preached from Acts 20...

"I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to…

Atonement for Dummies?

Andii asks:"I have to ask whether in our cultural situation we can actually do 'right use' on a popularly-accessible version of PSA which can be grasped in essence by, eg an intelligent 9 year old, and convey the important points in such a way as not to easily lead astray (in our cultural situation, I emphasise). I'm coming to the conclusion that we cannot."The first question for our message isn't whether it can be understood, but is it true. Is our message what the scriptures teach. If it isn't we need to go and sort that out. If it is, then we come to communication.

Peter Bolt, in The Cross from a Distance (p128):“It is the temptation of the teacher to clarify what seems difficult. Interpreters have often sought to this by inventing illustrations of proposing analogies for Christ's work on the cross. This is a temptation, however, that should be resisted at all costs. The track record of these manufactured illustrations has nmot been a happy one; the…

Flying high with hearts on fire

Part 1: Genesis 1-Exodus 2.

It kicks of like most stories but this one is more emphatic than once upon at time. We start at the start - in the beginning. God. God. We don't know who this is yet but it's sensational because this God created the heavens and the earth. This earth was formless and empty and dark. The Spirit is over the waters - now we have two persons. The darkness is swiftly despatched. God says let there be light. Everything we know says that that's going to fall flat, but the author continues without sensation 'and there was light'.

God continues to form and fill his creation. And on the third day seed bearing plants are added. Step by step everything is spoken into existence. Enlightened, formed and filled. And then the climax, everything is good but day six ramps up the volume to make it very good.

God says 'let us make man in our image'. Once again personal plurality. Man is to rule over the creation and it's done. Man's commission i…