Luther Rap

To good not to post!

31st October-Reformation@499


Martin Luther’s the name, but don’t confuse me with the King
I was just a simple man working on my law degree
I was on the road home, and what did I see?
Thunderbolt of lightning very very frightening me

I was terrified, so I prayed to St. Anne
I’m in a funk, I’ll become a monk if you get me outta this jam
I survived that night right and I gave my life to Christ
Started living the fantastic monastic life Continue reading

We Ten Went

We Ten Went

A year later reflecting on the mission trip to Cambodia.


Alert:  Random thoughts coming up!

I am amazed at the missional mindset of so many people at church.  The willingness to either go or, if not go, then support those who go in prayer and financial generosity.

The link with Cambodia came through a tenuous family link with an Australian church.  We piggy-backed their magnificent endeavour over the years to support the church in Cambodia and see the Church be a blessing to the people of Cambodia.

photoThe friendship strength of the two teams that straddled the globe was quite something (although, I would have loved to have been there a few extra weeks to see what psych/ego dramas played out – but that’s a speculative unknown!

I loved the team we were part of, and the country we were in.  It has left an indelible(?) mark on my heart and mind, and I’m sure I speak for the team!

The reflection of our brief time there is a continuation of our physical time there.  There is a gospel-logic to going, and there is a gospel logic to processing and thinking about what happened there!

transformIt was a busy time; a chalenging time; a hot time; a thoughtful time; an unusual time; a playful time; a significant time.  The time was right, to talk with who we talked with, to preach to who we preached to; to give to who we gave to; to bless and be blessed by those all around; to live and learn another people and place; to pray and share and witness and eat and laugh.  We did it all and more.

The tuk-tuk’s were great fun, especially in a team of so many, chugging along throught the streets and traffic – sweet.

But the pepper.  Oh, the pepper, the Cambodian pepper:  Sell everything you have and buy some Cambodian pepper – if you like your pepper, you will love this pepper.  Sometimes I have a dinner with my pepper – it is the fragrance of heaven and the taste of the Kingdom!

(There is Cambodian pepper in Heaven – of that be assured)!

killing-fieldBut the pain, oh the pain.  Cambodia is a young country, robbed of its heritage, history and all that is in the past.  If Jesus can pray as he’s being nailed to the cross, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing!” We can only surmise that the madness of Pol Pot was another evil manifestation of what a particular human being did not know what he was doing…did he know?  Probably….but so did the Roman soldiers.  They knew they were nailing Jesus to the cross, but they didn’t know what they were doing on a cosmic soteriological level… could they?  They were just following orders!  But Pol Pot and the apocalypse he unleashed of the evil hoardes was quite something!  To stand in the Killing Fields and read, watch, walk and feel, breathe, smell, think!  That is agony enough, but it isn’t enough; it is never enough!

The Church in Cambodia:  young, energetic, hopeful, faithful, fruitful.  Lord, bring it to completion.

with-transformHidden pain, despair, degradation, women, men and children, lost to the demonic world of prostitution, but not lost to the love of God, never!  Mercy will triumph over judgment because mercy does triumph over judgment….always……forever…..!

Lord, just say the word, and we/they will be healed….








I bumped into a JW…..

I bumped into a JW…..

…..and it didn’t hurt.  They were a trio of lovely people.  One of whom I had met several times until, I suspect, she (a 70+ Italian living in England) was banned from visiting me; I can only assume that was the case, since her frequent visits stopped so suddenly.  It may have been my poor tea making ability, but in all honesty, I do pride myself on making pretty dang good tea!

Anyhoo, the trio were loitering around the cliffs of Devon whence I came upon them.  I have a love for these people “of faith” and tried to convey as much.  As soon as it was revealed, like a dirty secret on EastEnders, that I was a “Christian”, and worse, a “Baptist minister”, well, all manner of gehenna and rotten-exegesis broke loose.

I wanted to go down the relational, friendly, understanding, “liberal”, loving route, but was thwarted by the doctinaire police from the school of eisegetical proof-texting sloganeering.  I really wanted to love these beloved personages towards the love of God, but they seemed intent, bent…..hell-bent on bringing to the fore an apocalyptic Hebrew Scriptural Hermeneutic that astounded, but sadly, didn’t surprise me.

What do I mean, I hear you sigh?  Well, for one, the strength of their apologetic was rooted in an Old Testament apocalyptic rhetoric of judgment and retribution.  I know full well there are Pslams (other genre are available) that betray a particular aspect of sin and judgment and wotnot.  But, for the love of God, the love of God was not so much a silent witness, as more a total absentee; more AWOL than anything else (“You weren’t there man!”)

When asked what the primary message of Jesus was, it turned out to be a revenge attack on the wicked and immoral.  I asked, in all seriousness, with a straight face, “Did the coming of Jesus make any difference?”  “Yes!” they replied, before quoting extensively from the imprecatory Psalms.

My heart sank, whilst my eyebrows rose and my toes curled.  Jesus didn’t make a difference from a pre-Gospel; pre-incarnation; pre-logos-becoming-flesh text.

“Didn’t Jehovah say we will be his witnesses?”  Indeed my ill-learned friend, he did (Isaiah 43:10).  But why fixate on an Old Testament text when you could fixate on a New Testament text:  “…and you will be my (Jesus’) witnesses in Judea, Samaria….everywhere…”  (Acts 1:8).  Jehovah’s Witnesses-Jesus wtnesses….oh my brain can’t cope with this theological explication! 

What a great eye-brow was raised that day!  Like I’d invented the verse.  Anyway, that’s (not) a moot point.  The point is this.  Given the apocalypyical legerdemain, I thought I’d ask a simple question to my three friends, the Jehovah’s Witnesses:

“Where are the Jehovah’s Witness between AD 100 and when Charles Taze Russell decided to have a go in the 1870’s?”

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To assume the Gospel is to lose the Gospel

To assume the Gospel is to lose the Gospel

“If you get to the place as an individual in a family or in leadership in a local maxresdefaultchurch, you get to the place where the Gospel is that which is assumed, but which you’re not particularly excited about, the next generation puts the Gospel to one side.  It assumes it too but doesn’t really care.  The generation after that loses the Gospel.

So when you come likewise to something like the Lord’s Supper, I would argue that one of the groups of churches that is most likely to lose the centrality of the meaning of the Lord’s Supper, is precisely the Plymouth Brethren; precisely because it’s so central for [them].  That’s not an insult, it’s a perennial danger in every denomination:  that which is most understood to be central can accidentally become that which is merely assumed – and then is on the edge of being lost!”

D. A. Carson

“A perennial danger” maybe the perennial danger.  I have found that as wonderful as being involved in a church can be, the power of assumptions are quite something to behold.  We assume too much because what we assume is too little.  There is a cognitive displacement that takes place, as though the Gospel is a stepping stone to actual ministry, or actual church business:  The Gospel is actual ministry and it is actual church business.  I suppose it gives rise to the reason why Carson would also say “I cannot think of  why any thinking Christian would not want to study theology.”  

Any departure from the Gospel is, of course, a catastrophic mistake more serious than if the escaping Israelites had set up home in the middle of the parted waters as they escaped the despotic Pharoah.  Many churches have “set up home” in the place where they are still being redeemed, because they have assumed the Gospel, they have fallen for the perennial danger; they have cuddled the wolf thinking it is a lamb.  This leads inevitably to a fossilising of corporate church life and of personal devotional life.  That is how the theological wolves pacify the churches today.

Institutional monotony is as alive and well in decaying Catholic churches as well as so-called charismatic-evangelical churches.  Give us a baby in a manger any day but do not give us the Christ who walks on water or wakes the dead!”  The Gospel obviously gives both – and shows that the baby doesn’t stay in the manger because he likewise doesn’t stay in the boat….or the grave for that matter.  A water-walking, dead-rising Messiah is a Messiah we can’t control, and the moment we have controlled him…’s not Him but another sentimental Hymn of slogans (this is the point to say that a truly great hymn can be reduced to sentimental sloganeering no less than a soppy bad hymn – it is the culture in which it is sung that makes the difference).  If it is a culture of Gospelised content, then wonderful.  But if not, then it is noise and wind!

Let us not lose sight of the Gospel because we’ve been too busy or too lazy to see it.  In 1534 John Calvin wrote on the importance of the Gospel, the opening of which reads:

jean-calvin-028“Without the gospel
everything is useless and vain;
without the gospel
we are not Christians;
without the gospel
all riches is poverty,
all wisdom folly before God;
strength is weakness…”

I have quoted it in full here, and it is a brilliant reminder of the things that are of first importance.  Our cognitive displacement is, I think, part of our tendency to sloganeer words rather than live with their reality and depth.  In other words, actual biblical content has been displaced in favour of mere words that are biblical but function as religious slogans.  This happens in our worship, mission, evangelism and devotions.  Often, what we think is Christianity is a parody, a shadow a pale reflection.  The Gospel, and all its content and entailments is biblical Christianity.  An assumed Gospel is a sloganeered Gospel, empty of power, depth and meaning – and who wants that?  Not me!

And we say this because we love the church.  And we love the church because Jesus loves the church.  Dodman Cross

They said what…?

“It’s not the existence of God we’re bothered about but the existence of you who say you believe in him.”  Andrew O’Hagan

“Fundamentalism:  a religious way of being that manifests itself in a strategy by which beleaguered believers attempts to preserve their distinctive identity as a people of group in the face of modernity and secularisation.”  Malise Ruthven

Jesus came to save us from religion.”  Paul Tillich

“Revelation is a process not a printout.”  David Jenkins

“The one thought that possesses me most at this time and, I may say, has always possessed me, is that we have been dosing our people with religion when what they wanted was the true and living God.”  F. D. Maurice

“[He] demonstrates to the thoughtful eye how really irrational a rationalist philosopher can be.”  William Golding

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If Jesus carried notes from his Vision Statement….


  • Be born in weird circumstances
  • Flee a murderous king
  • Argue with scholars at 12
    • And be a little bit above your station with your parents!
  • Become a carpenter for 30 years
  • Get baptized by your cousin John
  • Go into wilderness and be tested by satan without eating or drinking for 40 days
  • If successful begin ministry…
  • Call ordinary people to your side
  • Re-interpret the Bible like you know what you’re talking about
  • Assume you are the fulfilment of the promises
  • Heal people of all sorts of sickness and disease
  • Never catch the sicknesses or diseases yourself
  • Walk on water (frighten the life out of those in the actual boat)!
  • Talk to demons; silence demons
  • Kill the pigs and curse the figs

Continue reading

Talking proper-like about Jesus Christ

faceofchristBelow are some “grammatical rules” for talking about Jesus Christ, from Ben Myers Faith and Theology blog (too good not to re-post).  He writes, “I’m sure I’ve missed some important points, but here are the twelve rules I came up with. Each is a negation followed by an affirmation”:

1. Not to speak of Christ in any way that sidelines his human experience. Jesus Christ is truly human.

2. Not to speak of Jesus in any way that sidelines the divine depth beneath his human experience. Jesus Christ is truly God.

3. Not to divide Christ’s divinity and humanity, or to give the impression that he sometimes functions as God and sometimes as a human. Jesus Christ is divine and human in one person.

4. Not to give the impression that Christ’s divinity is fully contained within his humanity, or that his divinity is limited by his human experience. The human nature of Jesus is assumed by the person of the eternal Word.

5. Not to divide redemption from creation, or to give the impression that Christ invades a world that is alien to him. Human beings were created after the pattern of the same eternal Image that has become incarnate in Jesus.
6. Not to divide Christ’s person and work, or to give the impression that Christ is merely the instrument by which God achieves salvation. Salvation is a person: Jesus Christ.
7. Not to divide Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, or to give the impression that he achieves salvation at just one moment of his career. The total life-journey of Jesus Christ – from his birth, to his ministry of teaching and healing, to his death and resurrection – is the saving event.
8. Not to speak of Christ’s death as a mere preliminary stage on the way to resurrection. Jesus Christ is the Priest whose death abolishes the power of sin and death. He is the humble God.
9. Not to speak of Christ’s resurrection as a mere reversal of his death. Jesus Christ is the King whose resurrection exalts and glorifies human nature. He is the deified human.

10. Not to speak of Christ in any way that implies that he is absent, or to give the impression that the church’s task is to make Christ present. Jesus Christ is the Prophet who reveals himself. He is present always and everywhere as the divine-human light of the world.

11. Not to divide Christ from Israel’s history, or to give the impression that the New Testament abolishes the Old. As Prophet, Priest and King, Jesus Christ is the surpassing fulfilment of Israel’s messianic hopes.

12. Not to speak of Christ as if he were relevant only to some people in some cultures and circumstances. Jesus Christ is present to all people, in all times and places, as their divine-human Prophet, Priest and King. The church trusts and proclaims, but never possesses, this Messiah.


The amazing picture above, called Face of Christ is by Tracy Hatton, and is currently on loan to the wonderful retreat centre Mary and Martha at Sheldon, South Devon, and located in the tiny chapel on the grounds.

The one below was taken by me a while ago and is posted here to lament the end of summer and the beginning of the Dark Ages of Months….