Monday, 31 December 2012

The Unchanging God Who Changes Everything

New Year, Old God.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
James 1:17

God the Father doesn’t change; a new year doesn’t bring us a new God.  He is the same, he always will be.  And so is Jesus:

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
Hebrews 13:8

The seasons come and go: people are born, people grow old and people die.  We change our minds, change our outlooks, and change our ideas.  God never does. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  Is that not an encouraging thought? 

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The CoE: England’s Notional Church?

National church

I am not one to comment on the affairs of Episcopalians as a rule.  The issue of whether women can be bishops in the Church of England is one that I honestly could not care less about.  This is not because I do not have an opinion on the question of complementarianism. (Word would like me to change that to ‘complement Arianism’.  I would rather not complement Arianism if it is quite alright.  Santa has the right reaction to that particular nonsense.)  It is rather for the simple reason that as a plain and simple Baptist I do not think there should be bishops of any gender.  Or for that matter a Church of England.  Still ‘the best laid plans’ and all – there was one thing I heard on the matter that made me think perhaps I would mention it after all.  That being a quotation from Sir Tony Baldry MP:

“If the Church of England wants to be a national church, then it has to reflect the values of the nation.”

Hmm.  That is an interesting statement.

Here are another couple of statements:

“I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.
John 17:14-15 ESV

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Romans 12:2 ESV

“And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”
Ephesians 1:22-23 ESV

That first one of course is from Jesus, the second two from Paul.  So Sir Tony says that to be a national church the CofE must embrace national values.  God says to be a church you have to be prepared to reject national values.  Sir Tony may disagree but I rather think that the Apostle is more qualified to speak on the church than an MP is.

Monday, 24 September 2012

A Theology of Weeding

1The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
2Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
3There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard”
Psalm 19:1-3

 A Theology of Everything

There is theology in everything.  That is not to say that we take our theology from anywhere except from the Bible.  Nor is it to say that everything is God.  As Daniel Hames says:

“Far from being a sort of polytheistic belief that there is a ‘divine spark’ in everything, or that everything is god, the Christian view of creation and indeed all of reality is that it bears the fingerprints of the one who formed it.”

Rather it is that in everything we can see reflections of theology, images of God and his nature.  It is somewhat like the fact that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are both material events which nevertheless reflect great spiritual realities.  Likewise, the mundane things in life can be seen to reflect profound truths.  The case for forming such a ‘theology of everything’ is laid out more fully by Daniel Hames in his article on Theology Network: Why and How to do a Theology of Everything from where the previous quote comes from.  What I want to do here is not to cover that ground again but rather just to offer some of my own application of that principle.

Saturday, 31 March 2012

The attractive holiness of loving.

The sour centre to a sugar coated gospel?

“And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2“Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, you shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.”
Leviticus 19:1-2

As I discussed last time. the trinity is a doctrine which we tend to either try and ignore or ‘grin and bear it’.   Holiness is another of those and so maybe writing a blog post on both of those together is just going to put people off…  But as I discussed last time, the trinity is good news, and it makes God’s holiness good news too.

Friday, 9 March 2012

My Daddy is bigger than your daddy.

The reality of the Christian life

We often make the mistake do we not of thinking that the Christian life should be easy, as soon as we put our faith in God we expect Him to clear the way forward in front of us – to remove all the trouble and difficulties ahead of us.  The problem with this view is that it’s simply not true and sometimes when that idea is challenged we stumble because it’s so unexpected.  Maybe we confess with our mouths the existence of the devil, maybe we say that we expect persecution but really, deep down it comes as a shock.  And yet the Bible talks candidly about these things:

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
1 Peter 5:8

“Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours”
John 15:20

Scary stuff.

But I’m not writing some sort of Christian horror story to scare people (although we do need to be woken up from our spiritual complacency) but rather to encourage and equip for those moments when our troubles seem too much to bear.  For all that prowling lion wants to eat us, and the world to break us, we have nothing to fear.

Why is that? Why is it that when supernatural forces are aligned against us, when the whole world stands opposed to us, yet we can stand there unafraid?  Let’s think about it, beginning with an assessment of the enemy, moving on to a playground argument and lastly seeking encouragement from the words of children.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Our Good God.

The Ineffability of the Trinity

If ever there was a topic for making anyone feel like an assistant pig-keeper it must be this, the doctrine of the Trinity.  Three, and yet one.  The Father, the Spirit and the Son.  All three fully God and yet this God is one God, not three.  The sheer impossibility of it defies our feeble mortal minds – how can there be three who are one?

Truly anyone who claims to fully understand the nature of the Trinity is either mad, foolishly arrogant or just lying.  Such a grasp is beyond the reach of human intellect, we can understand the nature of insects – how they function, how each part fits together to create the organism, what drives them and motivates them – because we are greater than insects.  They are simple and lowly compared to us.  Yet surely trying to understand the nature of the God who sits enthroned above the earth and to whom we look like little grasshoppers is madness.  To expect fallen human minds like our own to understand God is like expecting insects to understand us.

8For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
9For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:8-9

Grasshoppers do not grasp the ways of men, nor do men ever fully understand the ways of God.

So surely then we should not even try to grasp the Trinity at all?  After all if it is an impossible truth about a God we could never understand then why bother?  Surely those who do are merely trying to ‘effor’ the ineffable?

I cannot hope to convey the intricacies of the Triune God in a way that could be understood, perhaps I’ll do a blog post on it when ‘The Good God’ comes out and I can more easily plagiarise the wisdom of Mike Reeves…   Until that day however, I just want to briefly consider some reasons why it’s worth grappling with this truth, why truly the doctrine of the Trinity is the most wonderful and beautiful doctrine that the Bible teaches.