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Showing posts from December, 2015

Culture, creativity and curiosity

A few things people have made that I've enjoyed in 2015.
Best Film: Mad Max Fury RoadBest novel: Wise Blood (Flannery O'Connor)Best TV series: Wayward PinesBest podcast: RadiolabBest album: Get to heaven (Everything Everything)Best 'Christian' album: There is a light (Liz Vice)Best non-fiction book: So, you've been publicly shamed (Jon Ronson)Best 'Christian' book: A Wilderness of Mirrors (Mark Meynell)Best training resource: For the life of the world (Evan Koons & friends)

Must we be beautiful people?

"You were never called to be average"Tweeted the church leader, then retweeted by others, nearly seven hundred times.

To start with, this is like loopy politicians expecting every school to get above average grades... clearly most people will be average... and half might be below average, though granted some will be above average.

And then, there's that this is not remotely Christian. Now, sure, human beings are remarkable, divine image bearers, and I'm not saying we should ignore that. We're wonderfully, uniquely made.

But, the Christian faith isn't about being a star, being beautiful, being a winner. Karma is the worldview for winners. Christ is for losers. Winners can humiliate themselves to follow Christ but it's hard for them to do that.

Christian faith is the story of the Triune God, of the Son who was sent in the fullness of the loving Spirit to utter humiliation, in becoming human, and down and down, to being executed for us.

What are the marks of…

#SorryNotSorry?

In the NY Times Bruce McCall instructs in the art of The Perfect Non-Apology Apology.
"Caught red handed... It wasn't me" pleaded the philosopher Shaggy...

1. THE FIRST KING (SAUL'S STORY)
1 Samuel 13:8-14. It's early in the reign of Israel's first king, Saul. Around 1000BC. They've rejected God by wanting a king like the nations around them. And they get Saul, an impressive figure. He's just getting started but here it all goes wrong.

2. THE TRAGIC KING (THE FALL OF SAUL)
He was the King the people wanted, but not the King they needed.
The Sin (v8-9)
The Enquiry (v10-11a)
The Excuses (v11b-12)
The Judgement (v13a)
The Sentence (v13b-14) Saul's fall begins with him waiting. His people are nervous and deserting him. The enemy is near. The prophet hasn't shown up yet. Impatient Saul takes matters into his own hands and seizes the prophet/priest office for himself, making an offering to God. And then - in perfect tragic/comic timing - Sauel turns up. &q…

When I am the hero / When Jesus is the hero

A meditation on Psalms 1-2.

When I am the hero then the Psalm tells me that I'm blessed if I read the Bible day and night and keep away from the bad guys.  When I am the hero they are the bad guys and bad will happen to them, but I am the good guy and all will be well.

When Jesus is the hero I see him typified in Israel's King who is to model trust in the LORD, to have his own copy of the Word. Jesus trusts the LORD and is the fruitful one. When Jesus is the hero we are all the bad guys. Our life like chaff.

When I am the hero they are the bad guys who conspire against the LORD and find him oppressive and restrictive... and I hope they'll get what they deserve, and tell them so. Listen you bad guys and face what's coming to you.

When Jesus is the hero, he is the one against whom sin is committed. The LORD's Anointed. As we rage against his cords of kindness. We are the bad guys who conspire against him. Where we expect heaven to be silent to human protestations, the …

Our most compelling storytellers

"Our most compelling storytellers will be those who have suffered firsthand the tragic flaws of the postmodern story and thus possess the empathy and insight necessary..." (Curtis Chang) When Curtis Chang wrote, in 2000, about postmodernism his focus was, prophetically, on the stories of a Post-Christian Society and Religious Pluralism.

I'm not sure postmodernism is quite the terminology today, but the two areas he focusses on are very relevant. He also uses the language of metanarrative which might be disputed. Chris Oldfield shares from Westphal (1982) noting that "Christianity is not a metanarrative."

Chang's Engaging Unbelief (IVP, 2000), invited the church to engage others by "entering the challenger's story... retelling the story... capturing that retold tale within the gospel metanarrative..." This "requires operating within the challengers worldview" as "fellow indwellers in the shared story" carefully reworking it …

In search of common ground

The Christian faith isn't new. It was to me in 1997, and I bought the idea from the 'charismatic movement' I found myself in that real Christianity was only really found in 1970... I probably misheard because I'd spent my childhood believing the story of progress that is quick to dismiss the primitive people who went before us in pursuit of the latest upgrade.
I need the light of those who have gone before me. "The breeze of the centuries." The Egyptian pastor Athanasius, of the 4th Century, is very helpful. He was called on to respond to his fellow Egyptian, Arius. They were part of a generation who emerged from an age of violent persecution into a time where free dialogue about faith was possible. Sixteen-hundred years later, we emerge from Christendom into a time where again few know much of the Christian faith.
Arius was keen to enter the conversation but Athanasius shows that Arius compromised his faith in pursuit of common ground. Athanasius writes:
Ari…