Hello! I've left Gerrards Cross and am now in Oxford, having just gone to Stafford, and being about to go to Reading, and then London, Wales and Gerrards Cross again. The lovely man at the train station spent a very long time playing around with different routings on my itinerary and saved me an awful lot of money.
The prayer meeting last night was run by the Operation World team. OW is a fantastic resource, and one of those things that we does that nobody knows is ours. So I love OW, and I particularly love the way that we here, with the OW staff on hand, can use the most current research that they’re doing to help us pray for brothers and sisters around the world with the issues that they face right now.
You know there’s a “but” coming, don’t you? We’ll get to that. Read more about Til the work on earth is done
Here is a parable.
A church pastor declares to his friend, a mission society leader, that the idea of “mission societies” is obstructive and non-Biblical. Always poaching our best people! Churches should be sending missionaries out directly!
So it all started because I was thinking about the elephants. You know, the fact that the elephants are mad as hell and they're not going to take it any more. Bluntly, the elephants are engaged in behaviour that should be regarded, by any reasonable definition of the words, as sentient, and ought to be regarded as sinful. I mean, they've always had multiple systems of communication and complex funeral rites. That's smart. But right now, they're raping rhinoceroses and ganging up to trap humans and kill them. That's just wrong. Is this sinful? To put that question another way, is this the way God intended elephants to behave? I can't say for sure, but to be honest, the odds aren't good. So do elephants need a Redeemer? Do they need an elephant Redeemer? I'm not going to go there, because this is just context, but that's what got me thinking.
I've put live a new page about my mission work, to give people more information about what I'm planning to do and why. It's also a resource for churches to be able to print off stuff about me, my profile, prayer letters, giving form, and so on, and it serves as a place for me to put presentations and other materials for future reference.
I grew up as a young Christian in a very charismatic independent church. When I came to Oxford, I sought out the most charismatic church I could find. I only moved to St Aldate's - which is reasonably charismatic - when I thought that was where God was leading me. My attitude towards theology was that it was a device to rationalise away what the Spirit of God was doing.
Here's a good one: tell someone that if they don't agree with you, then they don't believe the Bible. It's childish, it's insulting, it's the theological equivalent of the nuclear option. It's also depressingly common. And someone went nuclear on me today.
So my previous post on this subject got me a lot of traffic and a lot of thoughtful comment. I want to return to the subject, and look a little bit more about the history behind American Christianity, how we got into this state. This journey will take us through questions of why Republicans don't care for the environment, a bit about the various shades of millenialism, the idea of “manifest destiny”, and I also want to look at whether or not what I was suggesting there in my previous article was - as some people commented - a variant of the No true Scotsman fallacy. (I've been thinking about this for a while, so Haggard exploding today just shows he's an opportunist trying to cash in on my mojo.)
The whole business of prayer got me thinking recently: there are things that I believe abstractly and do not do, and things that I do than I cannot justify theologically.
I said I'd write something about the theology of children. I used to love and hate doing “children's work” in my church. Hate it because it involved hours of preparation, thinking up games, putting crafts together and so on - not my gifting, as the usual cop-out goes. But love it because I got to spend time hanging about with kids. On the whole I'd get more sensible conversations that way than being in the adult's church.