Monday, 26 October 2009

I'm a Mainstream believer!

I was asked recently which of the various groups and forums were the 'sound' ones - Now's there a question!!

As I said in the previous post, many of those who consider themselves to be AM types consider themselves to be the right and proper voice of CofE members. After all, they're not called 'Anglican Extreme' or 'Marginalised Anglicans' or 'Anglicans at the Fringe' are they? They think the name means something, and perhaps this is a clue.

This leads me to think that 'Reform' should be a group for those shape-shifters within the CofE (Deep Space Nine has a lot to answer for in my theological thinking!). Of course, this group do not take their name from the action required after a rout or retreat but is a reference to the fact that this is a place for conservative Anglicans i.e. reformed types and so it does what it says on the tin (sadly at times!).

What about thinking Anglicans? Are they thinking and do they actually do what it says on the tin or are they people who take a position because of factors outside of thinking? It's all well and good to be thinking but if you're thinking God is a Marmalade sandwich would that fit in - after all it is still thinking (I think)! Perhaps they need to re-brand themselves 'Right-Thinking Anglicans'? I quite like Thinking Anglicans but don't always see the thinking as joined up either - but it is a valuable place to be at times.

"What about Fulcrum," I was asked. What does this simple machine name confer, an attempt to gain some increased leverage perhaps. ? But on what and with what. I have been told that this is a place for middle of the road (i.e. liberal to others) evangelicals and yet find myself blessed, challenged and very much in support of what I find there. There is a balance that I don't always enjoy with some of the other groups.

I think that I am probably a truly 'Mainstream (orthodox) Christian' because I am able to maintain an orthodox faith - I rely upon Scripture (first and foremost), tradition (acknowledging that we have developed and maintained some excellent errors) and reason (never forgetting that God gave me a brain for some very good reasons - and I will continue to use this as one of the tests of 'rightness') and live in a pretty solid Christian manner. I seek to live the Gospel and 'restore those who are caught in sin gently' which is perhaps where some of these other groups fail.

So where are you - are you mainstream or fringe (lunatic or otherwise)?

I'm a Mainstream Christian!

'Mainstream' is a very dangerous and contentious place to put oneself and more so when the 'Mainstream' has 'Anglican' attached to it!

If we take the name 'Anglican Mainstream' to indicate that it is the prevailing current of thought, influence or activity within the orthodox believers that make up the Church of England then we need to recognise that it holds (and maintains) this position by virtue of its constituent part, namely:

New Wine
Forward in Faith (FiF)
Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC)
The Scottish Anglican Network, and
The Evangelical Fellowship in the Church in Wales.

Interestingly, and obviously, there are times when what has come out of any individual group has to be recognised as being anything but mainstream and we need to recognise that each group, in concert with others, makes the mainstream and yet may not themselves be mainstream across the board. They are all able to (and do) exist outside of what must be considered mainstream orthodox positions!

Subscribing to any one member group of AM does not necessarily render one 'orthodox' nor 'mainstream' Neither of course does total blind and unquestioning acceptance of the front page news on AM either. I am a member of three of the groups that make up AM and yet would not be considered 'Mainstream' by others within AM itself I am sure.

If we were to use the word "mainstream' as an adjective rather than noun, which I find more accurate, we would be saying that AM (by dint of the constituent groups) does contain within it a representation of the prevailing attitudes, values and practices of 'orthodox' Anglicans.

I struggle with those who portray Anglican Mainstream as not only 'Mainstream' but as the only people with an eye to what is orthodox and as being the only group to be in existence who are totally right and are therefore ultimate authority and voice for orthodox believers. Obviously not the case and if it were the language and manner in which the voice is used is not always accurate or even, dare I say, helpful or Christian at times.

So there's the first of my thinking on this - more later (staff meetings and stuff beckon),


Sunday, 25 October 2009

Seeing again, or for the first time?

Jeremiah 31:7-9; Psalm 126; Hebrews 7:23-28; Mark 10:46-52

“Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the Son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He's calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.”Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.” Mk 10: 46 - 52

A couple of weeks back we read the record of Jesus’ encounter with a rich man (oddly he is usually the rich ‘young’ ruler thanks to Matt 19:22). Today bring us to the end of Ordinary Time, next week being All Saints, and with it we come to the final healing story in Mark as well, that of Blind Bartimaeus. After this, as we leave ordinary time we move into Jerusalem with an extraordinary time ahead of us! And what of our other passages for today?

The Jeremiah passage relates to the return of God’s people after their exile, the second exile if you’re interested, and the restoration of the covenant and the temple. Perhaps we should be looking at ‘restoration’ today. Restoration of the Temple, restoration of the covenant, restoration of sight both physical and spiritual perhaps? After all, Jeremiah prophesies regarding returning from exile (Jeremiah 31: 7 – 9):

“This is what the Lord says: "Sing with joy for Jacob; shout for the foremost of the nations. Make your praises heard, and say, 'O Lord, save your people, the remnant of Israel.' See, I will bring them from the land of the north and gather them from the ends of the earth. Among them will be the blind and the lame, expectant mothers and women in labour; a great throng will return. They will come with weeping; they will pray as I bring them back. I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble, because I am Israel's father, and Ephraim is my firstborn son.”

And we find restoration of relationship with God from this same passage (Jer 31: 31 – 34):

"The time is coming," declares the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them," declares the Lord. "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the Lord. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbour, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the Lord. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."

Here we find of course a reference to the Shema (Deut 6:4). A moving into the fullness of relationship where God is on the hearts, hands and minds of the faithful in a new and deeper way – a relationship which is more than observance. And for those who are under the new covenant we find Jesus, our great and eternal high priest, ministering before and for us. Something both stated and confirmed in the Hebrews reading.

And so we come to the Gospel reading itself. A story I have heard many times with so many different meanings. An odd name because ‘Bar’ meaning ‘son of’ is attached not to a Jewish name here but a Greek name! So is he a God fearer, a Gentile who has found JHWH or is this person merely an example, as Thimaeus was a character who delivers one of Plato’s works which places sight as the foundation of knowledge? A bit like having ‘daughter of Portia’ relating to the ‘Merchant of Venice’ Son of Timothy but in the Greek? All very interesting stuff, but what about the blind bloke I hear me ask?

Is it a story about coming to Jesus and following Him like the rich ruler? Could we say that this beggar, sitting by the road is about to have a Zachheus moment and is about to receive more than he was asking for – eternal live and a ‘follow me’ moment? Is it Bartimaeus’ faith in Jesus that Jesus is the Messiah that heals him? Is he thinking to himself that he wants the ‘Son of David’ to restore his sight? 
And what does it mean for Jesus to be the ‘Son of David’? he term appears some seventeen times in the New Testament and often with amazing miracles, demonized girl (Matt 15), the two blind men (Matt 20), Bartimaeus (Mk 10). It is a recognition that Jesus is the Messiah, that He is the fulfilment of the Law and the Prophets and that where he is, basiliea – the kingdom of God is also.

Here we find Bartimeaus seeking to be set free from his own personal exile – his own separation from God, for as a blind beggar he was not permitted into certain company and certain places lest he defile them. His own separation from creation, for he could no longer see the beauty of it and was captive in a world of darkness, longing for the light.

He persists in calling out to Jesus, the God incarnate, despite the rebuttals and it pays off. “Cheer up! On your feet! He, Jesus, is calling you! Come on down!” So Bartimaeus jumps up, throws off his cloak, which was an encumbrance, and rushes (as quickly as a blind man can) to Jesus. An important point –no one leads, carries, drags or anything else – he comes to Jesus on his own at his own request. The kingdom of God is at hand – and the hand that reaches out to God through Christ will be healed. Healed by Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of David.

Where are you today? Where is our need for restoration? Recognising our need and who Jesus is, let’s come to Him and be healed, restored and renewed.

"When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations, "The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.
He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, WILL return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him."

Psalm 126

Thursday, 22 October 2009

BBC Question Time - How disappointing!

What a complete waste of time and what a complete yawn the 'Nick Griffin' Edition of Question Time was!

I was all in favour of the man being invited onto the programme, because regardless of his views, democracy demands a voice for all people. I hoped for some sort of debate which would display what and who this man was and what he believed. I hoped for it and was sadly let down.

What I saw in the first twenty minutes was a series of quotes from Mr. Griffin which he was then asked to defend. This was the  'Let's interview Nick Griffin' show. The other puppets on the show were little more than window dressing and the event had about as much value and worth and the Muppets protesting against the man's presence outside the BBC Television Centre.

The panel members spoke only to condemn the man - comfortable for once that their woeful parties and their excesses in claims, duplicity in appointing people and hypocrisy were lost to the circus. We had a woman who knew about culture, apparently, but she was black, The Community Cohesion woman had little to add - everything was about Nick and attacking him and his awful party. Still, he kept on smiling - something which is easy of one has little wit or integrity.

It took twenty-five minutes to get a question which Jack Straw failed to answer and of course the answer was BNP related. Seems there is nothing that cannot happen without involving the BNP! Which was handy as he never got round to answering the question because to do so put his own party fairly and squarely in the frame!

The show was a complete waste of time and apart from the BBC pushing their viewing figures through the roof it served no real purpose - none at least if democracy and debate were to be served by this programme. It wasn't the bear pit I feared but neither was it the debating forum I desired and hoped for.

What was on offer was Nick Griffin with:
One failed party, one hopeful party, one non-existent party (politically and personality wise) and an American who knows about culture (now there's a novelty!!!).

Debate was seen about forty-five minutes into the show - bit of a too little, too late situation really!

"I don't want this programme to be all about the BNP", says Mr. Dimbleby, so let's talk about the late lamented Mr. Gately instead! From the sublime to the ridiculous.

Chris Huhne, using the, "I don't like what was written but will defend their right to write it," approach just added the cherry to this tosh! Of course, the woman in question was attacking homosexuality so she was of course in the wrong - not a vote-winner.


Wednesday, 21 October 2009

November – Falling leaves and Falling Poppies

Sunday, the eight, of November, sees us mark Remembrance Day once more.

This year, along with those who live to mourn the loss of those who gave their lives in the World Wars and other later conflicts. We will remember the one hundred and seventy nine members of the British forces who lost their lives in Iraq; The Two Hundred and twenty one who have so far died on operations in Afghanistan, with almost one hundred of these being in the past twelve months, and will remember along with the dead those who returned, and continue to return, injured and damaged.

It is also a day to remember those whose lives have been changed, often irreversibly, by conflict. A day to think not only of those who marched away, but also those who sent them then (and now) and who waited (and wait now) for the return of their loved ones from conflict.

Remembrance Day comes in for a degree of flak from some quarters because it is seem by some of glorifying conflict and ‘honouring war’ but this is not so. Some wish to change the poppy from white to red, and to make political or other points and yet this is not the place nor the right of those who wish to do so.

In John 15: 13, Jesus spoke these words:

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

Today we have the freedom to ignore the very values and standards that many men and women over the years have given their lives for (by death, blindness, loss of limbs and mental affliction) in conflict, to protect our freedom and rights. The reality of Remembrance Day is mirrored in the words of the Kohima Epitaph:

"When you go home, tell them of us and say, 
for their tomorrow, we gave our today"

I pray that as we come to this Remembrance Day that you will not only be present at the Town’s cenotaph (or another if away) but will make a truth of the fact that a person does not truly die if their name is not forgotten – We have our today, living as we choose because men and women have, and continue to lay down their lives:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning 

We will remember them.                                               For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon

Please pray for:
Those who serve throughout the world seeking to bring peace and provide aid.
Those who have lost loved ones in conflict - in and out for uniform!
Those who return scarred and broken, limbs, sight or mind damaged or gone!
Those who work at the RCDM, Selly Oak, caring for those who return from conflicts.
The peace of the world, that justice, equity and peace will come to us and the nations of the World.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Blogs and comments

I know some of you who post me emails do so because you assume that you can't leave comments - but this has been sorted and the blog now permits comments.

I had a little glitch in the software but this has now been resolved - so feel free to add your comments of suggestions (or come to and engage in dialogue).

Happy Luke's Day - keep taking the tablets (As God said to Moses!!).


An early morning thought!

"Praise the Lord.
 How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!
 The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the exiles of Israel.
 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
 He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.
 Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.
 The Lord sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground.
 Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp."
Psalm 147:1 - 7

It seems to me that although there are many times in my life  when I have felt like God doesn't bind up broken hearts, I find myself coming to a place where there is a revelation and it happening as a reality rather than a hope. What is tough is the fact that so often I see people effectively giving in rather than looking up at God and asking for His eyes on the affair.

Having been in the situation where the focus of my love wanted things that contradicted and downright denied my beliefs I had to find a place where I could accept the reality of His words, when they seemed so contrary to my experience, and eventually see them come through in my life.

I found then, and need to continue to live within the reality, that I needed to focus and pray for God to change one thing rather than everything at a time - this meant discerning and then asking for God to act in that one place - a bit like the Kerplunk game - one stick at a time until all the marbles fall! And whilst I was praying for that person or situation, I needed to find a place to not believe the comments and curses of others. To see the reality of what God saw me as and to strive not to live in such a way that I confirmed or owned whatever others said I was.

We can all be two year olds (and I'm so aware of my own failings and childishness) but less and less I see the child kicking the hall carpets up and find the man of God that I need waiting for me when the red mist rises and the doubts creep in. But why so slowly Lord?

Where can I go that God is not? In the heights - He is there! In the depths - He is there also!! If I hide in the darkness - The darkness is as light to Him and all is revealed to His gaze. If this is true for me as it was for the Psalmist (139) when he wrote that then it is also true for those we love and pray for (and for those we don't even know of).

I will praise you for I am astoundingly and wonderfully made - Your hand is on me and with me and for me and nothing shall stand against me - your love stands for me and with me always!

This month has been a month of losses, as it seems October often is for me and our family, and has been topped with the loss of a wonderful lady, Joy, who died far too young, and someone I would never have thought of as a queue jumper! Her mother, at 82, has had to do something no parent should - bury her child. For all who mourn and are suffering loss - prayers abound.



Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Open lives - Closed minds?

I was challenged recently, during a series of discussions relating to a young lady who was sacked from her job for posting an email with comments that opposed the position taken by a group who promote homosexuality as a viable Christian lifestyle option, regarding my attitude to such 'anti Christian' acts.

Now, this young lady, having found a website for the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM), posted her views that homosexuality and Christian lifestyles were not compatible. What she actually wrote is not known, at least not be me, but I am told by others that she merely sent something 'Biblical' and therefore this is an attack on the Bible.

At first I wondered if she was sacked because she'd broken the rules relating to use of the official email system. But I was told that her use of the email system was within the rules, which rather confused me. If this was so, why was she sacked then? I assumed it was for using the corporate mail system for a personal email and yet I am told this is permitted.

Then I wondered whether what had been sent was considered to be offensive or to contravene something within the Equality and Diversity Regulations of the organisation. Having been an IT Manager I have a fair appreciation of the requirements regarding internet and email abuse. It is an offence to use either for anything that is considered, or appears to be, racist, homophobic, pornographic or anything else that will bring the company in question into disrepute or is otherwise illegal. Breach of any of these conditions is considered to be a 'serious offence' - which means dismissal rather than slapped legs!

Now, in my book, anyone with half an ounce of brain cells and even the minimum of discernment should realise that this is what hotmail, gmail and all the other mail services are there for. I know this because I come across people who are too cowardly to publicly make their statements as themselves who avail themselves of these accounts. Perhaps this is what was needed here (too late of course if it were!).

Having been privy to a few 'instant dismissal' situations where staff  had viewed porn or sent photographs of naked people (including themselves) using the company email or sent racist or otherwise 'negative' material out, or breached confidentiality of clients using the companies I know how this works. Seems to me that the person made a stand and having done it, using the wrong mail account, has (sadly) been the victim of her own folly.

Now my attitude was attacked as being anti-Christian. I was supporting the rejection of the 'Word of God!' My observation here is that if what was written to the LGCM were nothing more than the 'Word of God'  - To whom it may concern. An abomination to the LORD is a man who sleeps with a man as a man with a woman - or something like that then there might be grounds to say that the Bible was being rejected. But the minute I add anything to it, whilst I might be quoting the Bible, it is not the Bible that I am sending them. It is my writings with a Biblical extract included (see a few posts back regarding quoting, context and prooftexting)!

This is not a rejection of the Bible as I understand it. It is a rejection of a perceived (and by reason of Scripture, Tradition and Reason) Biblical standard which must therefore be considered 'orthodox' by its very nature. So for those who would seek to make mischief by stirring the 'Rejecting the Bible' route I have to resist and reject your argument and consign it to the CV (that well known purveyor of exciting misrepresentation and rabble-rousing) bin!

What is sad is that this email appears to have been sent to an email address that invites 'your views on homosexuality' or the like. Our now unemployed lady saw this and complied with the request. She sent here views that what the group support was, in her views (and supported by the Bible) not a right lifestyle choice for Christians. Now having done so it appears a little churlish and rather unchristian for the person asking for views to then complain that they got them. This is where (apparently) the Revd. Sharon Ferguson, the Chief Executive of the LGCM, steps up to the plate for it was she who made the complaint to the council which resulted in the sacking.

Seems to me that what we are looking at now goes something like this:

1. If you don't want to know - don't ask.
But ask she did and having got an answer that she didn't like it appears that rather than act like a grown-up and merely consign the view to the bin and move on, our hapless heroine decided to act and retaliate. Unless the comments contained elements like, "I know where you live and I'm coming round to get you," her actions here appear to be neither grown-up nor Christian.

2. If you ask and get what you don't like- then enter into reasoned debate, defending your position and/or correcting the 'error' on the part of the other person.
That there was apparently none of this leave me to assume that the position under consideration was not defensible and therefore the only route open was to attack the person sending the comments. Ad hominem par excellence I guess - a shiny example to us all of fair and open-handed debate.

3. If you wish to act against the person then do so in a way that demonstrates something right and noble in the cause you support and the claim to be Christian.
Strike three - you're out (or should that be 'outed' in this case?). Paul (the Apostle not my plumber mate) tells us that when we see someone ' in error' that we 'being spiritual' should 'restore them gently'. Don't see none of that here. In fact I see petty, bitter and totally unchristian response to whatever was sent (what me Mum used to call 'malice aforethought'). Seems to me that if anyone was looking to promote the LGCM in a negative light or was looking to help others to have doubts about this organisation and its views the prize belongs within the organisation rather than within Lewisham Council and this young lady (or rather thanks to the dismissal - not!)

Funny how people who claim to be liberal are usually the ones with the closed minds isn't it?

Hey Ho - by their fruits will you know them!

Monday, 12 October 2009

We're going to have a 'fire sale' - we're going to have a big one!

We're not solvent!

Oh no! £175bn of Public spending - 23% of the GDP paid out to rescue the banks! What can we do?

We can't get through it,! We can't go round it! We can't gloss over it!

We' will have to go through it! Sell, scrap, tax, stand down!

Today it was announced that the government is seeking to raise £16bn by selling some of the silver which it describes as ' a portfolio of non-financial assets'. The initial offering (£3bn) comprises The Tote, The Dartford crossing, the Student Loan book, The Channel Tunnel Rail Link, the nation's 33% share in Urenco (Uranium for the masses?) and will also sell of surplus real estate.

Of course, with the stand down of the Territorial Army for six months I imagine there will be a fair amount of 'surplus real estate' very shortly as the TA Centres come onto the market.

I can't help feeling that my children are destined to be paying for the excesses of the bankers in both monetary terms and in being part of a nation which appears to be cutting the potential to enact a proper defence of the realm strategy.

Not a political post - but a post which is looking at the political decisions and their ramifications.

Can I suggest that we pray for our leaders. For our young people (I wonder who will take on their debt and how they will manage the system?), for the forces (£95m cut from the Army budget, TA suspended and yet nothing will change at the sharp end - apparently the defence of the realm and Afghanistan are unaffected?) and for our nation as we move towards a double-dip recession.

God bless us all!

Friday, 9 October 2009

Great minds think alike but fools seldom differ

Engaged in debate I find that coherence with the views of one organisation or group of people appears for some to be the required standard. I find this troubling and concern-making for the ability to support and agree with something does not confer right on its authors or upon those who are agreeing. After all, there were many who agreed with the writings of certain Germans (and Austrians) in the nineteen thirties and the hindsight that is history allows us to see the error in both. Great minds think alike but fools seldom differ - there are times when the thinking process will bring us to agreement over what is right and yet some, even with their blind support and acceptance of a groups views, will never be right (or in the context I am considering - orthodox).

It was claimed that coherence with ALL of the news items of a certain Christian group conveyed 'orthodoxy' and yet it is obvious reading the news items that they were complied by a person with an agenda. Nothing new there, for all news and even blogs (yes, even this one) have an agenda. Of course I have to be honest and say that other than being as sound a Christian as possible, I don't have a clue what mine is. But agreement with all that is written is not the benchmark or assurance of orthodoxy - it merely demonstrates a lack of intellectual integrity.

I accept nothing outside the Bible, and even than I continue to challenge that, without questioning it and asking what the author has to gain from the position. I seek to understand where the person writing is coming from and more importantly where they are seeking to take me. A few 'for instances':

A while back (2005) we were confronted with something that turned out to be the 'Oh Calcutta' of the 21st century - another puerile, naff and not that funny stage production - namely, "Jerry Springer The Opera'. I received an email which contained this:

"BBC 2 plans to broadcast Jerry Springer The Opera immediately after Christmas. This musical, notorious for containing over 8,000 expletives, depicts the characters of Jesus, Mary and God as self-centred sexual deviants who give and receive extreme verbal abuse and a horrific series of blasphemies all in the name of comedy. The show's artistic director admits that it is a deliberate attack on good taste and the BBC concedes that the intended broadcast "pushes back the boundaries of taste and decency". Nevertheless, the show is planned to be transmitted without any cuts."

Like any concerned Christian I contacted my Bishop to ask if he was aware of this and he responded by issuing a statement regarding it (Thank you +Jonathan). Come the broadcast I sat, like all the other good Christians, ready to swell the viewing figures, and watched the programme. I don't know where the eight thousand expletives were, unless they were in the house of the person asking me to act as he watched the programme, but I didn't hear them!

There was an agenda and this agenda was to raise public response. The email did exactly what was required but was, for me, the final straw in the 'crying Wolf!' department. Soon I took everything that was written by this group with a pinch of salt, then a sack and now I find i largely ignore it!

A recent debacle involving people who were apparently representing me, for I belong to two of the constituent groups of the organisation they spoke for, resulted in them mounting an attack against a Christian event (apparently on my behalf). There were a number of claims and charges and some of the stuff was clearly designed to get the faithful off their bums and out there campaigning and making a stand. My problem was that what was obvious was a fair degree of spin which was designed to enflame and bring about a response which supported the authors own position. What concerned me more was that this was their perception and that this perception, like JSTO, might not have been one hundred percent decent, honest or true. The upshot was that in the second case, people were sympathetic towards the event and its organisers and became a little more hardened against the campaigning group.

A couple of examples and a plea. Please. please, please can we Christians check our facts before we issue forth on a subject (sorry Jonathan)? What should have been a valid complaint regarding JSTO was made to look ridiculous as the claims were pulled down and the positions taken, knocked over, like ninepins by the truth. The same is true of the more recent situation, for I have spoken to sound and orthodox believers who attended the event and they saw nothing that was predicted, claimed or reported.

There are so many people crying 'Wolf!' these days. Their intentions are good but the method of delivery neither honours God or enables us to act against wrong where it is to be found with any integrity. There are many areas where Christians do agree with regard to action being required but these areas will go unchallenged if the fools continue in their failure to examine the reports and differ with the authors.

Be warned - not all who look like sheep are sheep. Acting wrongly to bring about the right result denies the Gospel and weakens the Christian voice.

Test yourself to see if you are in the faith - glean and blow away the chaff of misrepresentation and spin - making our stand with the things that are of God and in ways which honour Him and can be seen , by our lives, actions and attitudes, to proclaim Jesus as Lord of our lives.



Thursday, 8 October 2009


I know Christians who love to use Bible passages to support their position, which is great, after all what better source of support for a Christian view could there be? My problem is that these wonderful Christian folk use their selected texts to support or demonstrate their doctrinal position or personal fixation by using them out of context. They are just words that say what they want them to say rather than words that mean what they mean! 

Our first problem is that these poor souls, having taken their passage, really believe that their viewpoints are supported by the weight of Scripture and are therefore not only valid but endorsed by God Himself. Now some of those who engage in this sport do so out of pure ignorance. There is no desire for them to be corrupting the Word of God, for this is what it is, they simply see a passage and decide that the words support their view because they are unable to fix the hermeneutic (which means place the passage in a contextually accurate setting and therefore understand not just what is said but what is meant and what the desires outcome of those words, in context, were).

Our next problem is that some will engage in prooftexting because they have merely been fed the passage by some other agent of misinformation as supporting whatsoever they wanted to support and will merely out of ignorance, some sort of misplaced loyalty or a desire to be right (surely not!) repeat it without examining the Scriptures or dialoguing with the Word itself. We don't test what others tell us enough! When someone tells us why something is wrong and uses a Bible passage, how often do we open our Bibles and check the quote? In my experience the answer is rarely or even never! 

Lastly, I find some Christians take the positions that those 'liberals' are the only group who engage in prooftexting. If you are one of those let me assure you that this most certainly isn't the case. I can roll out Liberals, orthodox, middle-of-the-road believers and Charismatic/Pentecostal types who engage in this sport on a daily basis. The reason is not denominational, it is not attitudinal, it is not malicious or done intentionally (most of the time); The reasons is basically ignorance! Bible ignorance.

I've been there myself, quoting passages which I many years later realised didn't say what I thought they said to support views which weren't even Biblical now I understand them. Of course we also have the obviously unbiblical stuff which we chuck in as well, words which we give a veneer of 'Bible' to like, "God helps those who help themselves!" which is obviously a validation of Christian shoplifting?

We have to ensure that when we defend our position that we have thought through what we are saying and that when we use a passage to defend that position that is it contextually correct. We, as Christians, must not engage in false appeals to the authority of the Bible but must stand with integrity, transparent integrity.

So, when you quote a passage to support your views - take the time to read the Bible, to consider the words, the setting and th desired outcomes of the words being said, PRAY and then engage.  



Friday, 2 October 2009

So why the 'Good Ideas'? The saga continues . .

I have had a few people read my last thoughts  who have asked me, "What on earth was the 'good Ideas' all about?" I responded with the observation that it was self-explanatory. This received the question, "Why should we be looking at good ideas?"

In an effort to be a little more helpful, let me explain a bit more.

The world I inhabit is full of 'good ideas'. My world, it seems, is crammed full with them and many rarely get off the ground and if and when they do the person who has the idea appears to assume that having had it, someone else will see it through or that it will just fly without any planning, thought or rational application. And of course, the biggest problem is that so many of these good ideas result in mayhem and more problems than they will ever solve. An example from the wider world (for this will not offend those closer to me whose 'good ideas' result in my pain!).

The CRB check (Criminal Records Bureau) became part of life in about 2002 as a result of the 1997 Police Act. The idea was to ensure that those who would be working with children, young people and  vulnerable adults could be checked to remove the potential for litigation should an offence occur. I recall a meeting where I sat appalled by the fact that this was sold as a means to avoid being prosecuted for employing and ex-offender or someone who might later be proved to have been dodgy! There was I thinking it was about protecting the vulnerable!!!

Anyway, this soon became the gold standard and became the norm and whenever one was to be exposed to kids (in the nicest sense) in a new setting another form was required.

Back in 2003 I attended a meeting where we were told that the system would change to mean that once one had an enhanced CRB check in place others who needed to check on you would be able to see that you'd been checked and unless there was a specific need no further forms were needed. Grown-up, efficient and effective. You've been checked and nothing being found you could be trusted to work elsewhere - the end of a location, or even role, specific check. Halleljujah!  Having within the last few days filled out three more of these forms, I guess this isn't working yet!!!!

There are a few interesting elements surrounding the CRB check that have the ability to make me sigh and shake my head a little. The first is that, like the MOT test, all it means is that on the day of being checked you were deemed to be  O.K. - or to use the words of one of the experts, "It doesn't mean the person is safe, it just means that they haven't been caught yet!" Sadly, so may see this as a qualification rather than in this light and assume, having a check in place that there is no need to be vigilant because after all, "They're approved!"

The next interesting element is that having had the check done, the requesting body can decide to ignore whatever is on the form anyway. Of course, the organisation can (and as one that I know of does) boast that all the people within it are 'CRD Checked'.  The material on the form can be discounted because the group perhaps decide that the person no longer forms a risk (in the case of child related offences) or that the information is not relevant (shoplifting, Taking and driving away or drugs-related and stuff that people do when they're young and stupid).

The last thing that winds me up is the fact that some people don't have checks done because they're on the periphery of an organisation or group. The reality is that for kids and vulnerable people, the fact that they've been seen somewhere and are therefore in a loose way 'known' even if it's just by recognition puts people in a privileged and therefore potentially dangerous (for the kids and vulnerable adults) position.

Following the tragic happenings in Soham, where school caretaker (Ian Huntly) murdered two young girls the powers that be have now decided to extend the checks to include parents who car pool or are involved with other children by virtue of being a parent of kids who have friends. One divot (sorry 'expert') appeared on the radio stating that they'd, "Love to come to the position where people were crb'd  once they knew they had a baby on the way. Hopefully the day will come when all parents will be checked!"

The response to this was that the new measures would see up to 40,000 parents remove themselves from car pools and the like rather than be crb'd (after all, who wants the other parents to know of the marijuana bust or the shoplifting when you were a kid?) . Our illustrious divot replied that this was, "Exactly what the policies were intended to do - remove unsafe people from being allowed proximity to children!" Aaaaargh!

What we have here is a piece of good intention gone bonkers. I don't see this removing that many potentially dangerous people but I do see it encouraging the climate of fear and distrust that exists. I do see it meaning that my collection of 20+ crb certificates will continue to be added to. I do see it reducing the input of some parents because of something non-child threatening in their past.

Yipee - another form has arrived (apparently this organisation need one to be done every two years :-)). Perhaps the crb system will keep youngsters and vulnerable adults safe after all - anyone wishing to get near them will be kept to busy filling out forms to ever do any damage - I guess that means we'll have to leave the abuse to the unregulated amateurs.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Living in a world of 'Good Ideas'

Being the person I am, I have always inhabited a world of 'good ideas'! Some of these have resulted in excellent outcomes, some of my own have earned me plaudits from my peers and even promotions. Others however have led me down the road of devastation, despair and broken bits of my body (not always my own ideas might I add).

For instance there was the great, "Would you like to climb a tree?" episode when I was eleven. That I didn't fancy being up a tree did nothing to stop me being placed on a branch, only to have it snap seconds later and send me plummeting to the ground. The result? A broken arm which to this day is ninety degrees out of bonk and has resulted in me being no longer a left-handed person (thanks to the expertise of the NHS of the day!!!).

There was the great regatta idea where I found myself wowing the crowds with my riding a bicycle over a half folded trestle table. (Actually the idea was that the table would collapse when the front wheel hit is and I'd ride over the flattened table - a great wind-up. Sadly, someone not realising this re-erected the table so the leg wouldn't collapse!). Not only did I wow them but I did a somersault and landed majestically breaking collar-bone and shoulder blade.

So I know from personal experience that good ideas can turn to dust because of the 'helpfulness' of others and sometimes they just aren't good ideas to start with! Some of the good ideas I have had to cope with have been generated by idiots in positions of authority, more concerned with their own paths to glory than the needs of those they were leading or the realities of achieving what was to be promised.

In reaching the point I have in my life I have suffered from a surfeit of good ideas from politicians, businessmen, lecturers and well meaning amateurs. Some have been good and others woefully useless (and on the part of politicians and businessmen, time-wastingly expensive)

So here's a question for us to ponder. What good ideas do you have for your own life, the life of your church (if you belong to one), the place you work and for those you love? What do you do with these ideas? The road to hell is often paved with them, but so to is the road to heaven. How's about we start doing some travelling?

cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.