Archives For Mission

An excellent review from Christianity Today of an intriguing book:

ordinaryIf we are justified by faith in Christ alone, then we need not be anxious to show how Spirit-filled we are by living extraordinary, radical lives. Having already received the promise of the Spirit in baptism—God’s promise, which we can trust he will keep—we are free to serve our neighbors with ordinary good works. We are freed from establishing our credentials before God or our own consciences. And we are even free, Horton states, to enjoy our neighbors as gifts rather than making them into our own projects, as if it was our job to transform their lives.

Horton argues that the underlying theology behind oft-heard calls to be wild and crazy radical believers—as if Christianity were an extreme sport—is works righteousness in a new, consumerist mode. For some time, radical has been a favorite word of advertisers and ideologues alike. Every website with something to sell now routinely promises a transformative experience.

Instead of another call to be radical, extraordinary, or transformative, Horton would have us return to the ordinary means of grace, those practices of the church in which God has promised to make himself known: preaching the gospel, teaching the faith, administering the sacraments, and worshiping with a local congregation. Instead of advertising life-changing experiences or the next big thing, the aim is a sustainable faith for the long haul. The great strength of being ordinary, after all, is that you can do it for a lifetime.

Read it all.

An Invitation to Park Circle

September 18, 2014

Coming soon to a church near you:

“It’s an unwitting decision to think that we don’t need to be held together by shared theology and a shared understanding of the gospel, but by relationships, shared institutions, and a general sense that we all want to do good in the world,” DeYoung said.

Losing unity over the gospel is a recipe for disaster, and numbers will slowly decline as churches head to more conservative denominations, he said. Most of the [Reformed Churches in America] RCA churches now filing to leave, including University Reformed Church, are heading for the Presbyterian Church in America.

It’s part of the “reshuffling of the deck” among American congregations, DeYoung said.

“This big sorting that’s happening in the mainline is also going to happen in evangelical churches, colleges, seminaries, and parachurch organizations,” he said. “You’ll find a stronger, more doctrinally robust evangelical church, even though it may be smaller than it once was.”

Read it all.

The Ridley Institute at St. Andrew’s is pleased to announce a week-long, seven-lecture introductory seminar on The Person and Ongoing Work of the Holy Spirit to be held on campus at the end of this month.  This course is part of Andy Piercy’s year-long School of Worship, but has been opened up for participation by the public.

The seven lectures will be given by The Rev’d Rob Sturdy over four days, 28 April – 1 May.  The schedule for the lectures is listed below – note that most lectures occur in the morning. The registration cost is $30. Participants will be expected to bring a Bible and notepaper, and can register on our website.

A full course on The Person and Ongoing Work of the Holy Spirit, spread over ten weeks with expert guest lecturers, will be held next spring (2015), and will cover more ground in greater depth than these four days can afford us.  However, this seven-course introductory seminar is an excellent chance to begin laying a foundation for our understanding of, and relationship with, the Holy Spirit.

I hope you are able to take advantage of this latest offering from The Ridley Institute.

Monday, 28 April
12:30-1:00 Registration, Coffee

1:00-2 Lecture 1: “The Holy Spirit, a Biblical theology”

Tuesday, 29 April
9:00-9:30 Coffee

9:30-10:30 Lecture 2: “The Holy Spirit: A Systematic and Historical Approach” 

10:30-10:40 Break

10:40-11:40 Lecture 3: “The Holy Spirit and the Ministry of Jesus” 

Wednesday, 30 April
9:00-9:30 Coffee

9:30-10:30 Lecture 4: “The Holy Spirit and Regeneration”

10:30-10:40 Break

10:40-11:40 Lecture 5: “The Sealing of the Spirit” 

Thursday, 1 May
9:00-9:30 Coffee

9:30-10:30 Lecture 6: “The Holy Spirit in the Life of the Church” 

10:30-10:40 Break

10:40-11:40 Lecture 7: “The Gifts of the Holy Spirit”

No.  It is not.

Ed Stetzer explains.  From Christianity Today:

Come on—it’s 2014.

Every church should have an online presence.

Your church people and your community are there, so you should be as well. But that is different than referring to something that happens via your website as a “church.”

Can an online gathering of Christians be classified as a church? Let’s think through this by asking five questions.

Read the rest.

Here’s a snip:

IWabukala Abp Eliudn the year ahead we must resolve to devote ourselves to the great biblical mandate to make disciples of all nations which was the focus of our gathering in Nairobi. There is urgency about the gospel and it must be proclaimed in word and deed, in season and out of season and it is the same gospel, whether in strife torn nations such as South Sudan or in the affluent but morally disorientated nations of the developed world.

We cannot therefore allow our time and energy to be sapped by debating that which God has already clearly revealed in the Scriptures. Earlier this week, the English College of Bishops met to reflect upon the ‘Pilling Report’, commissioned to reflect on how the Church of England should respond to the question of same sex relationships. Its key recommendations were that informal blessings of such unions should be allowed in parish churches and that a two year process of ‘facilitated conversation’ should be set up to address strongly held differences within the Church on this issue.

While we should be thankful that the College of Bishops did not adopt the idea of services for blessing that which God calls sin, it did unanimously approve the conversation process and this is deeply troubling. There has been intensive debate within the Anglican Communion on the subject of homosexuality since at least the 1998 Lambeth Conference and it is difficult to believe that the bishop’s indecision at this stage is due to lack of information or biblical reflection. The underlying problem is whether or not there is a willingness to accept the bible for what it really is, the Word of God.

At Lambeth 1998, the bishops of the Anglican Communion, by an overwhelming majority, affirmed in Resolution 1.10 that homosexual relationships were not compatible with Scripture, in line with the Church’s universal teaching through the ages, but the Pilling Report effectively sets this aside. The conversations it proposes are not to commend biblical teaching on marriage and family, but are based on the assumption that we cannot be sure about what the bible says.

I cannot therefore commend the proposal by the College of Bishops that these ‘facilitated conversations ‘ should be introduced across the Communion. This is to project the particular problems of the Church of England onto the Communion as a whole. As with ‘Continuing Indaba’, without a clear understanding of biblical authority and interpretation, such dialogue only spreads confusion and opens the door to a false gospel because the Scriptures no longer function in any meaningful way as a test of what is true and false.

Faced with these challenges, I am reminded of the importance of the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration. It places our fellowship under the written word of God, which ‘is to be translated, read, preached, taught and obeyed in its plain and canonical sense, respectful of the church’s historic and consensual reading’. Here we have a solid foundation for the responsible reading of the Bible which preserves its transformative power. As John the Evangelist writes ‘these things are written so that you may believe…..and that by believing you may have life’ (John 20:31).

 Read it all.

To Be Tired of Luther . . .

January 20, 2014

From Carl Trueman:

… is to be tired of life.

Most of those who know anything about Luther’s life tend to think of his appearance at the Diet of Worms in 1521 as the point at which he was most vulnerable — the isolated reformer surrounded by the massed forces of the Holy Roman Empire and the Catholic Church.  In fact, it is clear that Electoral Saxony had a well-thought out strategy for keeping him safe.

Luther is probably most at risk in 1522, when he is recalled from the Wartburg to restore civil order in Wittenberg.  As radical iconoclasm and rioting has taken hold in his absence, he needs to bring some stability and sanity to the Wittenberg reformation or his protector, Frederick the Wise, will have no choice but to abandon his cause.    It is then that Luther really has nothing an no-one to rely on other than his own personal presence and his preaching ability.   Of course, we know that these are enough.  Luther triumphs.  Karlstadt and Zwilling are forced out.  And the Reformation moves forward.

In the struggles of early 1522, Luther preached a famous sermon on March 10 which contains one of my favourite quotations, revealing the secret of Luther’s Reformation success:

In short, I will preach it [the Word], teach it, write it, but I will constrain no man by force, for faith must come freely without compulsion. Take myself as an example. I opposed indulgences and all the papists, but never with force. I simply taught, preached, and wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing. And while I slept, or drank Wittenberg beer with my friends Philip and Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that no prince or emperor ever inflicted such losses upon it. I did nothing; the Word did everything.

Read it all.

A very good article from Albert Mohler:

Most viewers are likely unaware of what they are actually seeing. They are not merely watching an historical drama, they are witnessing the passing of a world. And that larger story, inadequately portrayed within Downton Abbey, is a story that should not be missed. That story is part of our own story as well. It is the story of the modern age arriving with revolutionary force, and with effects that continue to shape our own world.

Downton Abbey is set in the early decades of the twentieth century. Though by season four King George V is on the throne, the era is still classically Edwardian. And the era associated with King Edward VII is the era of the great turn in British society. The early decades of the twentieth century witnessed a great transformation in England and within the British Empire. The stable hierarchies ofDownton Abbey grew increasingly unstable. Britain, which had been overwhelmingly a rural nation until the last decade of the nineteenth century, became increasingly urban. A transformation in morals changed the very character of the nation, and underlying it all was a great surge of secularization that set the stage for the emergence of the radically secular nation that Britain has become.

Viewers should note the almost complete absence of Christianity from the storyline. The village vicar is an occasional presence, and church ceremonies have briefly been portrayed. But Christianity as a belief system and a living faith is absent—as is the institutional presence of the Church of England.

Political life is also virtually absent, which amounts to a second great omission. The epoch in which Downton Abbey is set was a time of tremendous political strife and upheaval in Britain. The Earl of Grantham would likely have been quite distressed by the rise of the Liberal Party’s David Lloyd George as Prime Minister. The right of women to vote was a recent development, and the political waters were roiled by high unemployment and a faltering British economy. The signs of the Empire’s disappearance were there for all to see, even if most among the elites did their best to deny the evidence. The great landed estates were draining their lordly title holders of precious capital, and the economic arrangements that allowed the nobility to live off of their estates would never return. That is why so many English lords looked for rich American women to marry.

A great moral revolution was also in full sway. Birth control was increasingly available and openly discussed. In 1930, the Church of England would become the first major Christian church to endorse the use of contraceptives. Sexual morality was changing with a lessening of sanctions on premarital sex and adultery. Calls for liberalized divorce laws became more frequent. Many argued that the working class should have the same access to sexual liberty that the nobility seemed to allow themselves.

Read it all.