Showing posts from January, 2016

Article II: Of the Word or Son of God which was made very man

This is the next in a set of blogs looking at the 39 Articles - the confession of faith of the Church of England. There's a list of previous blogs in the series at the end.

II. Of the Word or Son of God, which was made very Man

The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father, took Man's nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin, of her substance: so that two whole and perfect Natures, that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together in one Person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God, and very Man; who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for actual sins of men.

We've not long had Christmas and as you read all the narratives in the Bible surrounding Jesus' birth you are constantly faced with the challenge: who is this baby? That's the questi…

A Beginner's Guide to Church Revitalization - What Makes a Church Need Revitalizing?

So I'm writing, as a beginner, my reflections on church revitalization (check the start of the series for my rationale).

I want to begin with a few blogs that think about what makes a church need revitalizing. In doing that, I intend to suggest a few marks or issues that would point in the direction of revitalization. Most of these are continuums and often these marks are related, as we'll see. Some churches will manifest lots of them, others maybe only one or two. Some will be way down at one end of the continuum, others only drifting that way. All of which is to say I'm trying to build an approximate way to think about what sort of churches need revitalizing and also to help think about the similarities and differences in different revitalization jobs!

I want to start with doctrine.
Doctrine If a church loses the gospel or sound doctrine, it needs revitalizing. We see that in the Galatian church, where Paul can write of the church turning to a different gospel, which is …

Conservative Evangelicals and Homosexuality - The Authority of God (Part 2)

This is the second in a series of blogs addressing the question of why conservative evangelicals take what is often thought to be a hardline approach to the issues around homosexuality. Having addressed why I think this is a useful series and what I'm aiming to cover in the previous post, I want to dive in with the fundamental question, which is: why do we believe what we believe?

The question of why we believe something is linked to the question: what or who do we take as our authority? For example, I may believe I have a particular illness, because the doctor has told me I do. Why I believe is because the doctor told and behind that is the implication that I have accepted the doctor as the authority. So as a conservative evangelical, I believe that same-sex sexual relationships are wrong, because God has told us and behind that is the implication that I have accepted God as the authority.

Now I'm going to address this authority claim in two separate blogs. In this one, I'…

Article I: Of Faith in the Holy Trinity

We've been preaching our way through the 39 Articles and it struck me that a series of brief blogs, taking an Article at a time might be in order. I've written a very brief introduction with some resources which I've used in writing these. The aim is to provide a brief, accessible introduction to the theology and some of its applications today.

Article I: Of Faith in the Holy Trinity

There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions; of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the Maker, and Preserver of all things both visible and invisible. And in the unity of this Godhead there be three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

It is popular to believe that all religions are the same, or at least that all the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) are largely the same. We're told, “You believe in the same God after all!” Our first article answers the question: What God do we b…

A Beginner's Guide to Church Revitalization

I think I might be on the lead wave of a cool new movement in the conservative evangelical world (OK cool and conservative evangelical don't quite go together, but...). We've had church planting, but frankly that's getting a bit dated now. Where it's really at these days (or where it's going to be at) is church revitalisation.

OK, I'm being flippant - church planting is very important and great and needs to continue and increase. More than that, especially in denominations like the Church of England, faithful Christians have been working to revitalize local churches since the Reformation! It's just that I notice a renewed interest in this aspect of ministry and mission.

The Americans are in on it. Back in 2010 Mike Mckinley published Church Planting is For Wimps about Church revitalization. In 2011, 9 Marks published a really interesting journal on the issue. Conservative evangelicals in the Church of England have been getting in on the act. Matt Graham wro…

Conservative Evangelicals and Homosexuality - Mutual Misunderstanding (Part 1)

As the debate continues within the Church of England on the right response to homosexuality, same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage, the thing evangelicals and perhaps especially conservative evangelicals, are increasingly known for is their hard line, traditional stance on the issue. I guess that leaves most people outside the church and from other positions in the church thinking: Why would you possibly want to hold that sort of position today?

It seems to me from the reports of the shared conversations that the great weakness of the discussions is that there isn't the chance to actually present a position coherently and clearly. Actually, I think that's been a problem for years. We understand other peoples' positions on the basis of soundbites and secondhand (usually rather biased reports). Alongside that, I've had a few opportunities to explain a aspects of a conservative evangelical position to more senior clergy and have been surprised and interested to see …

The Thirty-Nine Articles - Introduction and Resources

We've been preaching through the Thirty-Nine Articles in church over the last year and will hopefully finish them this year. I like Gerald Bray's summary of Thomas Cranmer's work in providing for the doctrine, devotion and discipline of the Church of England in the Articles, Prayer Book and Ordinal respectively (Bray, The Faith We Confess, 1).

I've noted elsewhere the lack of engagement with the Articles in the present-day Church of England and why I think it's important to change that. It seems to me that they are the historic confession of faith of our church, which we should be able to explain and affirm. They should define our Anglican identity rather than being consigned to an historical dustbin. That's why we've been preaching on them and why I'm aiming to do a series with a short blog on each Article over the coming year. I hope it might encourage us to know what the Church of England confesses and to stand up for that faith.

I'm aiming at a …