Saturday, 20 March 2010

'I'm sorry but it's not my fault.'

It's not really a real apology when you blame someone else, is it? The current Roman Pope has sent a 13 page letter to the Irish Roman church to say, 'Sorry: the Irish church leadership should clean up its act.' Hans Küng, a German priest of Rome and its frequent critic (his right to teach theology has been rescinded), suggests that Ratzinger himself is the one who needs to apologise for a top-down coverup. He also suggests that Rome's insistence that forbidding priests to marry has an unsurprising and strong connection to systematic sexual abuse of decades. The Bible says that forbidding marriage is the teaching of demons; the Reformers critiqued it (as there were known examples of immorality 'hushed up' in their time) and we're supposed to be totally surprised about child sex abuse now? Küng:
Honesty demands that Joseph Ratzinger himself, the man who for decades has been principally responsible for the worldwide cover-up, at last pronounce his own "mea culpa".
Read it here.

[HT: Carl Trueman]

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

What are you doing in work on St Patrick's day?

My boss joked to me this morning, 'What are you doing in work on St Patrick's Day?' I couldn't think of a more appropriate thing to do on St Patrick's day: I replied, 'Continuing what he started!'
I may dare to undertake so devout and so wonderful a work; so that I might imitate one of those whom long ago the Lord already pre-ordained to be heralds of his Gospel to witness to all peoples to the ends of the earth. So are we seeing, and so it is fulfilled; behold, we are witnesses because the Gospel has been preached as far as the places beyond which no man lives.

I wish to wait then for his promise which is never unfulfilled, just as it is promised in the Gospel: 'Many shall come from east and west and shall sit at table with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob.' Just as we believe that believers will come from all the world.

So for that reason one should, in fact, fish well and diligently, just as the Lord foretells and teaches, saying, 'Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men,'...

According, therefore, to the measure of one's faith in the Trinity, one shoul
d proceed without holding back from danger to make known the gift of God and everlasting consolation, to spread God's name everywhere with confidence and without fear, in order to leave behind, after my death, foundations for my brethren and sons whom I baptized in the Lord in so many thousands.
Read Patrick's Declaration (Confessio) here. Dating c.450AD - contemporary with Augustine, Chrysostom and the Council of Chalcedon. A rivetting personal testimony and defence of 'throwing his life away among the pagans' - because of God's grace, and the promises of his word.

Celebrate God's work through Patrick by taking part in that same mission
- worldwide evangelization. Join in the Lausanne Global Conversation on our brand new interactive world wide website - and engage with brothers and sisters around the world, on key topics 'to spread God's name everywhere'.

Read last year's reflection - Missing the Point on St Patrick's Day

Tuesday, 9 March 2010


In the latest TableTalk from, Mike Reeves chats with Peter Mead about preaching, and more broadly, communicating God's word. A heart-to-heart well-worth listening to: teaching the Bible.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Awe-inspiring irony

Tonight I had the privilege of hearing the CBSO, CBSO Chorus and soloists, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, perform Bach's St Matthew Passion. I'd been reading Carson's Scandalous on the way - here follow a few selections from the libretto, and then some verse by Carson.
The Saviour falls prostrate before his Father,
And so he raises me and all men from our fall
Up again to God's grace
He is ready
To drink the cup of bitter death
In which the sins of the world were infused, stinking;
Because it pleased God.

How awe-inspiring is this sentence:
The good shepherd suffers for the sheep.
The debt he pays: the Master;
he the righteous, for his servants.

Why, what evil has this man done?

He has so richly blessed us all:
To the blind he has given sight,
The lame he made to walk,
He told us his Father's word,
He drives the devil forth,
The humble he has lifted up,
He took the sinners to himself.
Else, my Jesus has done nothing.

Out of love,
For love now will my Saviour die:
He does not know a single sin.
That eternal condemnation
And the sentence of the court
Will not fall upon my soul.

Ah Golgotha, unhappy Golgotha!
The Lord of majesty must perish here, scorned,
The saving blessing of the world
Is placed as a curse upon the cross.
Creator of both earth and heaven
From earth and air must now be taken.
The guiltless must die guilty here.

See - Jesus has outstretched his hand
To capture us
Come! Where to? To Jesus' arms.
Seek redemption: take his mercy.
Where? In Jesus' arms.
Living, dying: rest here,
You forsaken little chicks:
Stay. Where? In Jesus' arms.

And, behold: the curtain of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom. And the earth was filled with quaking, and the cliffs split asunder, and the graves themselves opened up, and there rose up the bodies of many saints who were sleeping, and they came out of the graves after his resurrection and came into the holy city and appeared to many. But the centurion and those who were with him and were watching over Jesus, when they witnessed the earthquake and all that there occurred, were terrified and said: Truly, this was the Son of God.
And Carson's verse, from Scandalous
On that wretched day the soldiers mocked him,
Raucous laughter in a barracks room,
'Hail the king!' they sneered, while spitting on him,
Brutal beatings on this day of gloom.
Though his crown was thorn, he was born a king -
Holy brilliance bathed in bleeding loss -
All the soldeiers blind to this stunning theme:
Jesus reigning from a cursed cross.

Awful weakness mars the battered God-man,
Far too broken now to hoist the beam.
Soldiers strip him bare and pound the nails in,
Watch him hanging on the cruel tree.
God's own temple's down! He has been destroyed!
Death's remains are laid in rock and sod.
But the temple rises in God's wise ploy:
Our great temple is the Son of God.

'Here's the One who says he cares for others.
One who says he came to save the lost.
How can we believe that he saves others
When he can't get off that bloody cross?
Let him save himself! Let him come down now!' -
Savage jeering at the King's disgrace.
But by hanging there is precisely how
Christ saves others as the King of grace.

Draped in darkness, utterly rejected,
Crying, 'Why have you forsake me?'
Jesus bears God's wrath alone, dejected -
Weeps the bitt'rest tears instead of me.
All the mockers cry, 'He has lost his trust!
Here's defeated by hypocrisy!'
But with faith's resolve, Jesus knows he must
Do God's will and swallow death for me.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Dreams of theology and world evangelization - Piper questions

How do we listen to Christians around the world, to better spread the good news of Jesus Christ in our situation and worldwide? DesiringGod has posted a video of John Piper chairing a discussion with Doug Birdsall, Chris Wright and Lindsay Brown (3 leaders in the Lausanne movement) on that topic, and the Cape Town 2010 congress. Dr Piper confesses that if he went to plan such a congress, it'd flop - so watch the interviewees discuss how we hope, by the grace of God, it will be effective - and catch many pearls of wisdom from these four servants of God in the course of discussion.

Some of the questions asked and topics shared were these:

  • What are the issues facing the global church today, for world evangelization?
  • How does the cross of Christ address those issues?
  • Why are we evangelicals those who need reformation as in the 16th century?
  • How an evangelical 'swagger' should be replaced with humility and hope?
  • What is the Lausanne Movement anyway?
  • What's wrong with prosperity theology? How it leads to desolation, discouragement and dissertion.
  • Sharing as a part of the body of Christ in the world - how should we partner in the new equilibrium? What have we to learn in the West?
  • How can we be different as the people of God?
  • What's new in each of the areas identified as key for world evangelization? What are the implications of globalization for world evangelization?

And to wrap up, Dr Piper asked the others for 30 seconds each on: 'Cape Town 2010, 16-25 October, 4000 people, 200 countries, coming together with these issues in mind, all informed by the gospel, to advance world evangelization: what are your dreams?'

Well worth watching.