reload The Race by Maurice McCracken

Thursday, June 09, 2011

I've moved

posted by Little Mo | Permalink | 0 comments
Now I blog here.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

The Gospel and Community

posted by Little Mo | Permalink | 9 comments
So, it's the thing today to emphasise the role of the community in reaching people with the Gospel. Hurrah for that emphasis; it is indeed the church that demonstrates God's wisdom, and it is also the love that we have for each other that makes people know we are Jesus' disciples. I agree with the Bible- big surprise.

However, I see people making a jump here that I'm not sure is in Scripture, and I think, actually, is making us all risk feeling like failures. Yes, it is our love, our community that backs up our witness. But is the unbeliever supposed to like our community (and want to join in?) I'm not sure I see that idea anywehere in the Bible. Should they even want to belong before they believe? Isn't the idea actually more that the unbeliever thinks our community is weird as it's made up of a random group of people who still love each other?

Discussing this with some friends the other night, I was sharing that, for example my housegroup, which is a lovely friendly group of people have been trying this for some time. Lots of emphasis on spending time together, bringing non-Christians along, sharing our lives. Now, not once has someone who isn't a Christian come along and joined our housegroup and thereby become a Christian. Are we doing it wrong? Should we be worried?

I don't think so. Many people have commented and chatted to their Christian friend about our group being friendly, but more than that, how they have found it weird that a group of Christians like us hang out together. To be honest, though, the 22 year old Chinese people who come along probably have no desire to come back and hang out with me, nearing middle aged guy. Why would they? But hopefully the group makes them also wonder why their Christian friend wants to.

The friends I was discussing with agreed that they would be far more likely to invite some non-Christian friends to their house for dinner with similar Christian friends than to their house group social where there would be such a huge range of people they aren't used to, that they would sit in a corner and the inviter would end up talking to them.

In short, are we putting pressure on ourselves by saying our love for each other makes non-Christians want to join our community? Is it, rather, that our love for each other, madly diverse and different as we are is really strange to non-Christians, and almost unattractive in its weirdness? And that is what makes them wonder about where this odd ball community comes from?

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Gospel: a good idea

posted by Little Mo | Permalink | 5 comments
This rather thinly veiled attack on apologetics by Glen got me thinking. It didn't quite sit with me and I couldn't work out why.

And then I realised, it is, yet again, all about doctrine of creation. So, the Gospel is not a good idea, a "worldview amongst worldviews" (apparently) it is in a totally different spiritual category: "good news." A spiritual, other-worldly category, totally different from the ideas of this world.

My problem with this is that it is a diminution of the Gospel. Truly the Gospel is more than a good idea. But that doesn't mean it isn't a good idea. It is more than a worldview, but nevertheless it is the best worldview because it is God's very own view of the world. Surely the Gospel appears foolish to us, that does not mean it actually IS foolish!

This idea, that if you can only preach "good news" not the Gospel's worldview, is dependent on the wrong assumption that the Gospel works on us entirely in a different way to any other discussion. God works outside our normal way of thinking, of logic, of relationship to bring us to Jesus, rather like magic words the Gospel "good news" separate from everything else I think, brings me to God. One wonders why it is necessary to use sentences people can understand at all - may as well just insert the words "Jesus is Lord" anywhere into the following collection: pig, sheep, house, car, McDonalds. Sure people won't understand, but an appeal to their understanding is apparently intellectual pelagianism.

No, the Gospel is a message, revealed in words, that through the power of God's Spirit we can be persuaded of and understand. It truly does explain the reality that we see around us. It is much more than a good idea, but it is really a good idea too.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Local church - hope of the world

posted by Little Mo | Permalink | 7 comments
Both my brother and Tim Chester have drawn my attention to this report on the role of the local church in sustainable development work.

It makes interesting reading, and is a wonderful commendation of God's Gospel community modelling his grace to the world.

Tim makes the suggestion that Tearfund's next logical step should be to start planting churches for the poor.

I admit to having several reservations about that. Church planting nearly always needs to be organic in my experience - resulting from believers being somewhere and meeting together. I'm not sure how a very corporate (in a good way) organisation like Tear Fund can faciitate that without being controlling. I may be wrong - it happens.

My other reservation may come from my professional status! But there does in many church circles at the moment seem to be an appeal to church planting as a panacea to all ills. I have come across a rather unappealing macho "how many churches have you planted?" approach to ministry.

My experience of local church is that even at its best it is not a brilliant driver to new and radical projects. Furthermore, I think the real risk of church planting for particular people is that church quickly becomes homogoneous - a church for the poor unchurched and a different one for he middle class churched.

I heard Tim Keller say recently that church is there to be broad (heterogeneously, not theologically) and para church is there to take us deep - to lend the church particular expertise in getting deep into a particular subculture, in the hope of drawing those people to being Christians who love others different than them.

I applaud Tear Fund highlighting the work of the local church which is, after all, God's expression of his wisdom. But I would, if they were to ask my advice (and they haven't!) counsel against churches being "set up" for particular groups of people.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Some thoughts about the law

posted by Little Mo | Permalink | 9 comments
So, I have been having some thoughts about the law.

I have always been of the mind that stresses the differences between the way believers related to God in the OT and the way that they relate to God now. So, God promised to rescue his people, the law was "put in charge" to show us our sin, and then Jesus fulfilled the law and introduced the way that we can know God as sons.

I have had several prompts to rethinking this recently:

1) The long discussion about the Angel of the Lord on The Coffee Bible blog. Now, I'm still not convinced about TAOTL being Jesus and I am really not convinced that I have to believe that he is to avert myself from pluralism, but it did highlight to me that I do need to think through how OT believers were saved.

2) On another totally different tack, I have just attended a really excellent week of lectures on the topic of sanctification given by a committed Presbyterian. They were really inspiring, both in content and form and gave me much to chew on. I wondered though whether in my task of working out how OT believers and NT believers can be saved in the same way his approach to the law might help me. So, I have been thinking maybe my mistake is I have been thinking very flatly "people are saved by Jesus, so I must be able to find that in the OT". How about "people are saved by following the law, which is trusting God, and Jesus does that perfectly and we are in him"? You got to give me that it is snappy.

It has the advantage that I have always wondered why OT believers loved the law so much. It has the disadvantage of leaving me in a right old quandary about Galatians 3.

Hmmm. Lots to consider.

Monday, June 15, 2009

May he add...

posted by Little Mo | Permalink | 0 comments
I kind of love it and kind of hate it when the Bible comes back to bite you.

A few weeks ago we looked at the tragic and farcical story of Jacob's two wives in Genesis in house group. It was tragic and yet great to see that fighting for the approval of someone, basing your worth on it, even someone whose approval you should actually have (your husband!) always leads to disappointment. It will never be good enough.

In fact, desperation for that approval on Leah and Rachel's part leads to all sorts of sin and mess: including getting their husband (who already had two wives = not ideal) to sleep with their maidservants.

Eventually God does listen to Rachel and gives her the son she has always wanted to prove she can be as good a wife as Leah.

And how does she respond? Well, she does give praise to God, but only because this child "takes away HER disgrace." Makes her look good in other words. And then? She calls him Joseph. "May he add." The moment of thanks ddn't long, and quickly became "I want more of that respect from others." God give me more of this lack of disgrace.

At the time I could apply that readily to all the silly people I know seeking the approval of others. "It will never satisfy" I tutted. "We should happy with God's approval, guaranteed in Christ" I preached.

And then, recently I was in a situation where I was desperate for others approval. And, in God's kindness I mostly got it. Very nearly. Almost totally. And all I can think about is the small bit I didn't get. "Praise God for his kindness" I thought "but why didn't he add the rest?"

People's approval, even where it is morally deserved, is not an idol worth chasing. It will never get you what you want, it may lead you down all sorts of dark alleys and you will always want more added to it. I say you - I mean I.

When you let it sink in, the Bible has teeth. It bites. Even a long time after you have turned the page.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

We are over committed to modernism.

posted by Little Mo | Permalink | 3 comments
I know - sounds riveting.

Recently I had to do some stuff for church about spirituality and words, which made me do some thinking on modernism, post-modernism and all that stuff.

It's almost a cliche in some circles that evangelicals are over committed to modernism: we can think it all out.
Well, I'm not sure about that: I think we are committed to words, and that they are a useful way of communicating meaning because we believe that God communicated, and continues to communicate through his words.

However, we could be too committed to the idea that we can think ourselves clear on things to do with God - perhaps we don't respect our fallen-ness enough there.

Let me explain: I was having a conversation recently about emotions in worship. Yes, that old chestnut. The person said something like "We just need to make sure we don't get carried away by our feelings." Maybe true. But I must say I have never heard anyone saying "I just think there is a danger we were going to think too hard about that talk." Far from it - being thoughtful, engaging our minds, struggling to understand are all seen as very positive things in my corner of the Christian world.

Why is that? I guess we could say that we should be suspicious of our feelings because they are fallen. But - er...isn't my intellect fallen too? And if I think the Holy Spirit has regenerated me and is enabling me to think from God's point of view, why not my feelings too?

It boils down to, I think, that we think that words are more reliable, somehow, than anything else. Thoughts are better than feelings. And I wonder, I just wonder, if that means we are, as people sometimes say we are, over-committed to modernism.