Sunday, 28 February 2010

Symphonic Theology

Poythress' Symphonic Theology is a good little book - short chapters making an easy introduction to using various perspectives when reading the Bible: the validity, value and exemplification of the same. (That I enjoy reading Poythress is not entirely surprising, as he's a Presbyterian mathematician-theologian with an interest in linguistics and translation, and writes well.) I didn't so much find the book's ideas novel, as clarifying my thoughts. But I keep finding that if I think I've had a good idea, Poythress has already written a (much) better book on it. Next one I'm eager to get hold of is his new 'In the beginning was the Word: Language - A God-centred approach' from Crossway.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Global participation in Cape Town 2010

It's exciting to be a part of the upcoming Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization, working towards it in Cape Town (16th - 25th October). I'll be going to Cape Town, Lord-willing, but as only 4,000 can participate there, take a look at an option to take part near you: [News release from]

October 16-25 will see 4,500 carefully-selected evangelical leaders and thinkers from 200 nations gather in Cape Town, South Africa, for The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization. But participation will extend far beyond this.

Already some 200 seminaries, universities, churches and missions in over 50 countries have registered to host their own remote GlobaLink site for this unique event. The Lausanne Movement will supply tools for sites to interact with the Congress in Cape Town and with other GlobaLink gatherings. Sites will choose when to convene during the Congress week, as is most suitable for their situation.

Guests of each site will actively participate prior to the Congress as well as during the Congress, and, if they desire, beyond the Congress. Each site will receive printed resources, video and audio streaming, and news feeds from Cape Town. They will hear the presenters - some of the best minds and most courageous practitioners the Church has to offer - then take part themselves in the global discussion. ‘They will not just be observers,’ said Larry Russell, Director of Cape Town GlobaLink. ‘We intend that they genuinely participate. This is a global congress, and we are working to engage the whole evangelical church in as many nations as we can.’

Dr Victor Nakah, President of the Theological College of Zimbabwe and Chairman of Cape Town GlobaLink said, 'Each GlobaLink site could effectively host anywhere between eight and 2000 participants. This will be a great expression of joining together as the body of Christ to consider key issues. I would strongly encourage you to register your school, church, or mission agency as a GlobaLink site.'

The Third Lausanne Congress is to be held in collaboration with the World Evangelical Alliance. GlobaLink registration is available at until May.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Some things just haven't been bettered

I was brought up on hymns and metrical psalms, in equal measure (no pun intended). I love many modern worship songs, and seem to be gradually working my way through teaching the Getty & Townend canon to my church. But as I prepare to delight in Jesus with Wolverhampton Uni CU through this passage on Monday evening, I can't think of anything but the hymn below to follow it. And reading it to them just won't be the same as having everyone stand and declare it in song to God and to each other with joy and music. I'd welcome suggestions of worship songs which fulfil the same function as this 1749 hymn of Wesley - bearing in mind that a former Wolverhampton CU leader expressed surprise that I expected him to know a popular worship song written "when he was 12". But unless someone comes up with something really good, I'm very tempted to take to the piano and teach this to them!
And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptised?” They said, “Into John's baptism.” And Paul said, “John baptised with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. There were about twelve men in all.

And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus. This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.

And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practised magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.
Jesus! the Name high over all,
In hell or earth or sky;
Angels and men before it fall,
And devils fear and fly.

Jesus! the Name to sinners dear,
The Name to sinners giv’n;
It scatters all their guilty fear,
It turns their hell to Heav’n.

Jesus! the prisoner’s fetters breaks,
And bruises Satan’s head;
Power into strengthless souls he speaks,
And life into the dead.

O that the world might taste and see
The riches of His grace!
The arms of love that welcome me
Would all mankind embrace.

Him I shall constantly proclaim,
Though earth and hell oppose;
Bold to confess His glorious Name
Before a world of foes.

His righteousness alone I show,
His saving truth proclaim;
This is my work on earth below,
To cry 'Behold the Lamb!'

Happy, if with my final breath
I may but gasp His Name,
Preach Him to all and cry in death,
'Behold, behold the Lamb!'

- Charles Wesley, 1707-88

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Shiny empty bubbles and tea dregs

Euan Murray, of the Scottish Rugby team, has fascinated the press by deciding to not play on Sundays. The Guardian interviewed him, and allowed him to express the decision that's really been life-changing for him: not so much that he doesn't play on Sunday, but that he's been saved by Christ.
He suggests that the path many professional sportsmen follow is "rotten". He tries to explain. "All the shiny bubbles," he says, holding out his big hands and shaking his head in sadness. "The money, the possessions, the fame, the great elusive relationship – all bubbles that appear perfectly spherical, all the colours of the rainbow. They're bright and shiny and light as a feather, and you chase them because it's good fun, but the minute you get them they burst and they're empty." He pauses. "I'd had enough of chasing bubbles."

What were the "bubbles"? "The attraction of all the glamour and glitz that society puts up on a pedestal and says is the be all and end all. All the tinsel, you know? The success. There are many ways of measuring success – it could be in popularity, the funniest guy, or the guy with the best scores, it could be money, it could be getting the best-looking girl, lifting the most in the gym, having the best clothes, it could be being the best rugby player in the world." He trails off. "It's not wrong to be funny, or have a great-looking wife. It's not wrong to have money and to want to be the best player in the world, but if that is your idol then that is wrong."

In finding God, he says, Murray was able to change his path. He picks up a mug of tea and a glass of water and holds them out in front of him. "This is the tea, all dirty and horrible, this is me, yeah? That's Jesus," he says, motioning to the water. "Pure. He's taken that filth upon himself and before God he says, 'Punish me for it'. He's been punished and look what he's given me. That perfect goodness in the eyes of God. He's declared me innocent." He swills the dregs of the tea and smiles. Can it be that simple? "I'm ashamed of the things I've done. Of course I am. But I'm thankful I have a saviour. He's saved me from that lifestyle. He's given me a new life."
Read the rest here.

[HT: Derek Thomas]