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Archive for the ‘ordinand’ Category

You may notice, from the poster below,  that I get to give a 10 minute response to what is sure to be a fascinating and controversial paper by Robin Parry.

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I thought I better do this as Belder and the Bishop tagged me. Hopefully Taylor may join in.

1) What’s your favourite theology book?
Ahhh! That is difficult. I have different books for different phases of my life

John Piper: The Pleasures of God
When I was in my late teens this book powerfullly set forth a high view of God. A powerful tonic to an anthropocentric view of the world.

Creation Regained by Al Wolters: In my early twenties this book exposed my dualism and set the foundation for a non-reductionistic view of the kingdom and the gospel.

N.T. Wright: Jesus and the Victory of God: In my late twenties this book helped me to better understand the historical Jesus

Rikk Watts: Isaiah’s New Exodus in Mark: In the last few years I keep on coming back to this book. This book has shaped and is still shaping how I read Mark and appoach teh Old Testament.

2) What Christian(s) book has been most influential in your thinking? Why?
Creation Regained: Al Wolters  Life became richer! Mission became life encompassing

3) Where do you attend church?
St Micheals, Stoke Gifford Bristol

4) What is your denominational affiliation?
Church of England

5) Who is your favourite theologian/Christian philosopher?
John Calvin,   Lesslie Newbigin, N. T. Wright, Chris Wright, Rikk Watts

6) Who is your favourite preacher?
My dad…

7) What is your calling as a Christian (if you’ve figured that out!)?
To be human. To love God and enjoy him forever. To be an agent of reconciliation. To be a husband and dad. To teach and preach. To bring theological education to the church. To be a servant of the church.

8) What spiritual virtue do you desire most?
Greater depth and persistence in personal prayer

9) What is the greatest challenge to the church today?
Depends who we are talking about:
Conservative Evangelicalism: To reduce the gospel to personal peity and evangelism
Mainline CHurches: To be more influenced by  zeitgeist than scipture

10) What bothers you most about the local church?
I have noticed a copy of the ‘Left Behind’ series in the Church Library.

11) What encourages you most about the local church?
Love the Bible, Love each other, impacting local community, openness to the Holy Spirit.

12) Pre, post, or Amil?
I have postmillenial tendencies….
Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
Does his successive journeys run;
His kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.

13) Antichrist…past or future?
Margaret Thatcher! just kidding….. both/and

14) If you could only keep 5 Christian books with you on a desert island, what would they be?

Bible: Preferably a study bible with notes, maps and concordance.
Greek New Testament + Greek Grammer Book + BDAG lexicon Apostolic Fathers in Greek (might finally be able to get my greek up to scratch)
Church of England’s ‘Daily Prayer’
Maybe Bavink’s Reformed Dogmatics: Never read it but want to!
Hymn Book of some description (preferably something which blends old and new)

15) What got you thinking theologically?
debates as a teenager on United Beach Missions about Calvinism and Arminianism.

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Jake Belder, via his blog, introduced me to the book ‘Who gets to narrate the world?’ by Robert E. Webber. My copy arrived today and I have ploughed through the first few chapters.  So far, so good. Webber encourages us to look at the comprehensive biblical narrative which is desperately needed as Christians face real problems, both internal and external, in the 21st century.

However, I was surprised, given this book calls us to move away from a reductionistic understanding of God’s story and mission to find the following,

The overriding theme of this book is to respond to these challenges by understanding and practising the fullness of God’s narrative. Whether you are a pastor, a youth worker, a worship leader, an evangelist, a teacher or active layperson in the church, the effect of restoring God’s narrative is manifold. (page 19)

Why, please tell me, does a book which is against reductionism, have as its target audience people who work in a church? Surely the call of the gospel is to people working in all spheres of life. I have taken the liberty of re-writing the above paragraph and would be happy for Robert to use it in in any future editions of the book.

The overriding theme of this book is to respond to these challenges by understanding and practising the fullness of God’s narrative. Whether you are a pastor, baker, butcher, scientist, artist, teacher, economist, lawyer, candlestick maker,  the effect of restoring God’s narrative is manifold.

If this potential new edition contains the above paragraph I would only ask that a glossy picture of myself be included on the back cover. This would have the added advantage of increasing sales…..

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The librarian at Trinity college, Bristol is excellent. I told her about the book ‘Deep Church’ by Jim Belcher which had recieved numerous good reviews. She ordered a copy  which I was able to pick up today.

Deep-Church-200x300The book explores a path, which he calls Deep Church,  which can be taken which avoids both  traditional evangelicalism and the emergent scene.  A friend pinted out to me that people in the UK may get a little confused as there is a ‘Deep Church’ movement/set of books/blogs in the UK.

There is a ‘Deep Church’ website and excerpts can be found here.

Why was I so keen to get my hands on this book?

Firstly, I appreciate the theological leanings of some of the main traditional evangelical preachers/teachers in the UK such as Don Carson, Wayne Grudem and John Piper. However, I do think that the emergent scene has rightly criticized, amongst other things, the impact of modernity in the formulation of rationalistic evangelical theology. This places me in a strange place. I spend half of my time defending a traditional evangelicalism but this, at times, leaves me feeling uncomfortable. Perhaps this book will help me be more comfortable with my posiition.  Secondly, a quick look at endorsements reveals that this book is spoken highly of by a wide ranger of scholars and practitioners. ie. Mark Driscoll, Tim Keller, Scot McKnight, Rob Bell, Dan Kimball. If these people from different theological and ecclesiological positions are in agreement that this is a great book then it should be read. Thirdly, I want to have an ecumenical spirit (I really do) which seeks to build bridges and find unity in the Christian Church. What has Athens to do with Jerusalem Emergent to with Conservative Evangelicalism?… well for starters both camps claim allegiance to Jesus Christ. This book, which seems to be balanced, will explore and critique both traditional and emergent.

Here are some of the endorsements.

“Jim Belcher shows that we don’t have to choose between orthodox evangelical doctrine on the one hand, and cultural engagement, creativity and commitment to social justice on the other. This is an important book.”
—Tim Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City

“Smart, passionate, thoughtful, hopeful and Jesus-centered–this is the Jim Belcher I used to hang out with in the early nineties (like it was so long ago!) at the Huntington–and this is the Jim Belcher in this book. Lots of people are going to find this book very helpful.”
—Rob Bell, pastor, Mars Hill Bible Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan, author, Velvet Elvis

“Rising above the usual shallow, facile critiques of the emergent church movement, Jim Belcher has written for us a book that, indeed, goes deep. Jim took the time to listen to emergent voices, and as a result, he appreciates the movement for what it is. And, further, his admonitions ring true. While Jim and I have theological differences, I can heartily recommend Deep Church as an invigorating study of and healthy corrective to both the emergent and traditional church.”
—Tony Jones, author of The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier (http://tonyj.net)

“Deep Church is a thoughtful, helpful and practical addition to the growing field of missional church thinking.”
—Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church, Seattle, president, Acts 29 Church Planting Network, president, Resurgence

I have just read the first few chapters and am not disappointed. Here are some of the highlights so far.

His goal is to provide  ‘well rounded picture of the emerging community’s conviction’. After surveying many books and blogs he sees the emerging church as being critical of several aspects of the traditional church. (For ordinands we must recognize that this book is from a US perspective and that traditional means ‘traditional evangelical’ as opposed to Anglican traditional which means liturgy and bells and smells).

1) Captivity to Enlightenment Rationalism (Yep! evangelicals do like their water tight theological systems)

2) A narrow view of salvation (Being a Tom Wright and Neo-Calvinist fan I agree with this)

3) Belief before belonging

4) Uncontextualized Worship

5) Ineffective teaching. I have tried to deal with some of this here.

6) Weak Ecclessiology

7) Tribalism

He goes on to mention the three fold division which Ed Stetzer employs to describe the emergent church.

1) Relevants- Driscoll

2) Reconstructionists

3) Revisionists- Emergent Village

In this book Belcher will mainly interact with those of the reconstructionists and revisionist camps.

I am going to enjoy reading this book and may well blog my way through it.



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