Monday, July 28, 2008

Sharing God

Going to the Eid Mela celebrations on Sunday reminded me that in my banner it says that I am blogging about the Awareness Course this year. So I thought I'd better keep you informed about how it is going.

I am very impressed that this course gives the most positive portrayal of Islam that I have ever heard from a Christian perspective. We looked briefly at the origins of Islam and its early history in this module. It really emphasised the good things in Islam such as how it stands for justice and helps the poor.

Yes, our church is still running the Awareness Course. We are studying next two modules which now involves two or three of us getting together to work through the material once a week. More people in out church studied the first module which I discussed earlier this year.

In module two 'Sharing God' - which compares Judaism, Christianity and Islam - we have also had some interesting discussions about a number of topics such as…

We looked at how to understand the early accounts in Genesis as mythology. However the course wasn’t saying they were untrue. I think the main idea was not to be too worried about the scientific or historical accuracy of these accounts but to see that they teach spiritual lessons.

We couldn’t quite see the idea of Yahweh developing from being chief among the God’s early in the Old Testament, but it was interesting to see the influence of other religions - such as the Midianite God who was also called Yahweh.

At the moment we are on a break for the summer holidays and hope to start again in September.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Who will succeed Terry Virgo?

At the recent New Frontiers conference ‘Together on Mission’ Mark Driscoll brought a prophecy exhorting Terry Virgo to make a five year plan that involved seeking God about who should succeed Terry in the leadership of New Frontiers. In this clip of an interview with Adrian Warnock, Mark Driscoll talks about the prophecy and his time at the conference.

Any comments?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Christians and Blogging

I just found this brilliant quote from Mark Greene. You can read his article in full on the LICC site (London Institute for Contemporary Christianity).

"[Blogging] …raises important questions about how the Church chooses to communicate – and our need to combine personal conviction with openness to listen. This applies not only in the way we seek to talk to people who don’t know Jesus but also whether we genuinely seek to create space for open communication among those who already do. One of the common criticisms of church culture by Christians is that it is often extremely difficult to voice dissent, explore a contrary point of view, and, more significantly, find a context in which to be emotionally and intellectually honest. Can we create contexts for ‘good conversation’? Of course, at its worst, blogging, particularly pseudonymous blogging, can simply be a self-indulgent way to sound off. At its best, however, it can provide an authentic way to express our true humanity and begin a conversation with other like-hearted humans who are seeking truth, life and a way to live it in a distinctively personal, creative way. And it’s hard to be anything but enthusiastic about that."

Any thoughts?

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Monday, July 07, 2008

Romans Disarmed

Last month I went to Birmingham Cathedral to hear Brian Walsh and Silvia Keesmaat on Romans. Sorry that I haven’t got round to blogging about this sooner, as it was really good. Having read their book on Colossians I was excited about what they would do with this epistle. The day was organised by CMS as part of their Blah series and also advertised in the Hope 08 newsletter. Richard Sudworth introduced them and you can read his comments on the day here. Walsh and Keesmaat’s site is also worth checking out.

I liked Walsh and Keesmaat’s teaching style; they were very good at getting interaction with us even though there were about fifty of us at a guess. They looked a lot at the context of the book and drew out some interesting parallels between the culture of the time and our culture today. Although there are very clear differences they looked at some points which are analogous. They used drama to great effect by acting out someone reading a section of Paul’s letter for the first time with someone heckling.

Their emphasis on the corporate life of the church rather than on personal salvation was something else that I liked but I wouldn't go as far as they did in saying that this is what Romans is all about. But I did like what they said about about not being ashamed of your difficulties from Romans 8. And they saw Paul’s words as subversive and so gave a very interesting interpretation of Romans 13 pointing out that the Roman authorities would not been pleased with what Paul was saying. Rather than making good citizens Paul was criticising the Roman authorities – who denied publicly that they ruled by the sword. Fascinating.

I found listening to this couple for a few hours that Tuesday was a real treat.