Friday, 31 October 2014

Truth Sets Us Free

This year I have chosen to focus my attention as a born again believer on a key positive aspect of the 31st October. So ignoring the nonsense of ‘Halloween’, let's remember that today is Reformation Day….the anniversary of that momentous act of defiance by Martin Luther in 1517 when he nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Wittenberg Castle Church in Germany.

There is no doubt today that Luther is a pivotal figure in history.  Yet at the time, Luther, a Roman Catholic Augustinian monk and priest had only intended to initiate a debate…..common practice in 16th century Germany.  This one act changed the world.

In those days, almost everyone in Europe belonged to the Catholic Church. At that time the Church was politically powerful, but morally and spiritually corrupt. Over time it had wandered far from Biblical truth putting increasing trust on man-made traditions. Luther had hoped to find salvation for himself by being a perfect priest. He was faithful in carrying out all the rituals required of him, but always had a sense of unworthiness feeling that he could never please God.

Luther often discussed his troubled thoughts with colleagues at the monastery, but found no peace in the solutions offered by Church teaching. As he had a remit of teaching and preaching, Luther spent a lot of time studying the Bible, and through this process, he finally came upon the answer to his doubts when he read in Romans Chapter 1 verse 17, ‘The just shall live by faith’.

Luther immediately understood that he could be justified (declared not guilty and righteous in the sight of God) by faith through the grace of God.  In other words by putting his trust in Jesus Christ as His Saviour he would be righteous and sinless. There was no need to slavishly follow rituals or work for his salvation. Martin Luther found the truth in the Bible, and that truth revealed there immediately set him free!

Luther’s call for reform of the Church spread like wildfire quickly throughout Europe. Other heroes of the faith such as John Calvin and John Knox added to the work of Luther and eventually new churches following the Bible based ideas of these reformers. What are known today as the ‘Five Solas of the Reformation,’ became basis of Protestant doctrine. These are:

Sola Scriptura: Scripture alone is the basis for all church doctrine, belief, and practice.

Sola Gratia: Salvation is by grace alone. It is the unmerited gift of God based solely on His goodness.

Sola Fide: Salvation is through faith alone. Faith is a gift from God. We are saved only by placing faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross. Salvation cannot be earned by good works.

Solus Christus: Salvation is found in Christ alone. The Bible in the book of Acts emphasises, ‘there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.’

 Soli Deo Gloria: This means that God saves individuals for His for glory alone.  Christians should therefore live their lives to glorify God alone.

Christians world-wide owe a massive debt to Martin Luther. Apart from his work as a reformer, he was passionate about the Bible. Luther wanted all people to be able to read the scriptures in their own language. In his day, the Bible and all worship was in the ecclesiastical language of Latin, which ordinary people without education could not understand.

Today everyone has the Bible in their own language. Sadly many Christians don’t read the Bible regularly or thoroughly and therefore lack the basic toolkit for spiritual discernment.

We should pray for a 21st century reformation of interest in the contents of the Bible. After all, it contains the truth, and when read persistently with understanding, it will set anyone free.

Monday, 27 October 2014

The Hillsong Corporate Show Goes On and On!

“17,000 Hillsong Fans Unite for Concert Filming Event in Los Angeles” said the headline on Alex Murashko’s article in today’s Christian Post.

According to Murashko, whose extravagant review borders on sycophancy, the event was; “the best I've ever witnessed. From the spectacular sound, lighting and staging, to the crowd participation – the experience was powerfully moving, and a time of corporate worship beyond words. Let's just say it was the largest and loudest ‘choir’ I've ever heard.”

The ‘concert’ attended  by 17,000 ‘Hillsong fans’ was filmed by 12 cameras as part of a movie project which is intended to document the inexorable30 year rise of Hillsong to global prominence.

By any standard the Hillsong operation is impressive. It has churches in many major cities who appeal directly to the more ‘hip’ middle class millenials. Around 100,000 attend its weekly services and 10 million are Facebook  followers. Most importantly, Hillsongs’ world-wide album sales are around the 16 million mark.

The feature film will be released in April 2015. Brian Houston the Hillsong senior pastor has said that: “the aim is to give people the world over the opportunity to experience the praise and worship that has been birthed in this House."

As a born again Christian, there’s a fine line between true Biblical worship and the ego driven ‘look at me’ excess of the corrupt, corporate, celebrity-driven Christian entertainment industry.

True worship as outlined throughout the Bible is much more than singing and music. It has been described as ‘an act of reverential deference’, where true worshippers have a real Biblical fear of the Lord and therefore humble themselves before His holy presence.

Worship is not about feelings. Sadly many Christians mistakenly equate fired up feelings with genuine worship where the higher hands are raised, the more peoples’ hearts must be inclined towards the Lord. They are deluded.

In the Old testament, the prophet Isaiah concluded that the worship which he observed was shallow and man-made: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honour me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men”.

 Worship is what true believers do every moment of every day, not just at special worship services or on a Sunday or at Hillsong concerts.

Jesus’ meeting with the woman at the well, recorded in John’s Gospel describes worship from a different perspective: “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth”.

The writer to the Hebrews re-emphasises the 24/7 nature of true worship: “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God”.

In the 1990s I eagerly awaited the release of the next Hillsong album. Since then its growth has been exponential.

We should all pray that the Hillsong ‘brand’ will remain on the right God-honouring side of the thin line……….that’s where those who worship in spirit and truth are to be found.   


Monday, 20 October 2014

How Good is our Church………?

Retired from a career spanning 34 years in Scottish secondary education, I now spend my time blogging, cycling, supporting two local charitable organisations, and enjoying time with my family, particularly my grown up children and grand child.

I recently visited a large local primary school to collect gifts of produce from its Harvest Thanksgiving service which was being donated to a local charity. During my visit, I spent some time talking with the newly appointed Head Teacher and was most impressed with his initial evaluation of the school and his plans for the future.     

I have to confess that this conversation evoked the great excitement and job satisfaction of my work as a Quality Improvement Officer, the highlight of the final years of my career. With others, my remit entailed working in partnership with the schools across my local authority in the West Highlands to secure better outcomes for their pupils. In practical terms, this meant challenging and supporting these schools to self-evaluate and plan to improve their performance in all aspects of their provision.

In Scotland, all schools are committed to the principles and the processes of continuous improvement. This means that in each school, staff, pupils, parents and the community work together to identify priorities, take action and evaluate the impact of these actions on a continuous cyclical basis. According to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education, “at the heart of self-evaluation are three questions:

How are we doing?

How do we know?

What are we going to do now?

Excellent schools focus these questions on learning. Learning is at the heart of an excellent school. Learning is its core business.”   

 As a Quality Improvement Officer, I used a document called ‘How Good is our School’ developed by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate as ‘the Bible’ for school improvement.

‘How Good is our School’ (HGIOS) identifies the key areas of a school’s operation from the curriculum to assessment, pupil support, leadership etc. In each area there is a series of quality indicators which are used to evaluate performance using a six point scale. This scale ranges from the lowest of ‘unsatisfactory’ to the highest which is ‘excellent’. According to HGIOS, “an evaluation of ‘unsatisfactory’ applies when there are major weaknesses in provision requiring immediate remedial action” whereas, “an evaluation of excellent represents an outstanding standard of provision which exemplifies very best practice and is worth disseminating beyond the school. It implies that very high levels of performance are sustainable and will be maintained.”

As a born again Christian, I have often wondered why Scotland’s evangelical churches and fellowships shy away from self-evaluation and rarely plan for change, never mind improvement. Indeed I often wonder whether our churches and fellowships have a clear Biblical understanding of their ‘core business’?

It was in this context that I was both surprised but delighted to read an article entitled, ‘Every Church Is a Revitalization Project’ by Erik Raymond in the online journal ‘Church leaders’ ( Referring to the long forgotten core principle of the Reformation, ‘semper reformanda’ or ‘always reforming’, Eric Raymond contends that……. ‘this work of ongoing revitalization is not fundamentally different than major revitalization. At its core, there is the challenge to keep shaping the church by the gospel. And this work never stops. Ironically, when the work of ongoing revitalization stops, a church is soon to be a candidate for major revitalization’.

What Erik Raymond is advocating for a church/fellowship, is a commitment to continuous improvement underpinned by a rigorous self-evaluation and improvement planning. Perhaps Scotland’s evangelicals could develop their own self-evaluation tool which could be entitled ‘How Good is our Church’.

Pastor Raymond has even provided a ‘starter for ten’ in his article. It contains a series of questions that all members of a fellowship meeting together (NB all members must be involved not just the pastor and elders/deacons) can prayerfully discuss together, then plan for improvement. Imagine the difference that such a process would make to the turgid and largely meaningless twice yearly church ‘business meetings’…..more people would attend; engagement levels with the mission of the church would increase; ordinary Christians would feel they have real ownership of the church’s mission, rather than being asked to slavishly approve decisions reached elsewhere by their so-called leaders.

Here are some sample starter questions that could be used in the development of a ‘How Good is our Church’ self-evaluation tool:

·         How good are we at communicating the Word? Do all members have a clear and deep understanding of our church/fellowship’s statement of faith? Is there clear evidence that the word, empowered by the Spirit is having an impact on the lives of believers?

·         How good are our gatherings? Does the church value the Sunday gathering? Do people come to church, and when they do, what is their disposition? Do they hunger for the Word preached? Is there a real sense of the presence of God?

·         How good is our fellowship? Is there a true sense of gospel-shaped community? Some indicators of this include welcome, inclusion, hospitality, conversation, sacrificial service, etc. How good are we at inclusion and making sure that all members are involved in ministry? (not just making tea!)

·         How good is our pastoral care? Are elders/deacons involved in regular home visitation? Is there real corporate care for the elderly, vulnerable and needy?

·         How good is our engagement with the local community? Would the community notice if our church disappeared tomorrow? Does the church/fellowship have credibility with the local community?

·         How good is our use social media to connect with relevance to the local community? Is the church in tune with and able to provide a rational and relevant Biblical response local/national issues? Is social media used for the advancement of the Gospel in the local community?

·         How good are we at evangelism/making disciples in our locality? Are all members clear about their responsibility to share the Gospel? Are all members confident and skilled at sharing the Gospel? Does the church have a coherent strategy for the perpetual evangelisation of its locality?

·         How good are we at training disciples? Are people being equipped for ministry?

·         How good is our leadership at all levels? Is servant leadership evident in all ministry leaders. Do leaders invite feedback about their work? Do leaders speak with humility? Do leaders conduct themselves with joyful humility like the Apostle Paul? Are there effective systems in place to ensure that all leaders are accountable to those they serve?

·         How good is prayer in the church? To what extent is prayer a priority? How and with what frequency does the church come together for focussed prayer? Does the church celebrate answers to prayer?

·         How good is decision-making in the church? Is there a ‘bottom-up’ or ‘top down’ system? How good are communications? Does the church operate in a transparent or secretive manner?

I suppose that many people will say that activities such as self-evaluation should not be done in the church and that the idea of continuous improvement has no place in a gospel centred community. Others will simply shy away from such a process because it is perceived to be ‘too difficult’.

However, my experience is that when these practices are adopted, improvement happens. Given that most evangelical churches and fellowships are struggling to make an impact in their own localities, and many are confusing ‘growth’ with ‘sheep shuffling’, perhaps a little honest self-evaluation, accompanied by some fervent heartfelt prayer, followed by a modest plan and committed, courageous actions might just turn the tide.

To those who set their faces against starting the process of church wide evaluative discussions, I have one question: ‘What are you afraid of?’ The living God always honours those who step out in faith.

The mantra of one my former Pastors, an IBM executive prior to entering the ministry was: ‘if you fail to plan you are planning to fail’. He was absolutely correct…..more of the same is not an option!  

Semper Reformanda!!!!!! 


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

The Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth

I was born in 1950. This was a time of economic austerity and technological advance. Scottish society was divided along quite rigid social class lines and the church played a major role in holding the nation together, providing a set of moral and spiritual certainties which most people understood and supported.

Today things are different. Social class, while it still exists has been eroded to the extent that it no longer plays a powerful role in determining an individual’s life chances. The huge post-war expansion of education provided the majority of people with the tools for economic and social advancement. It also gave individuals and groups the confidence and the skills to begin to question previously accepted values and power structures.  

The church was unfortunately caught ‘flat footed’.  It failed miserably to adapt its modus operandi to the changing world, remaining firmly rooted in the nineteenth century. As a result, its membership and therefore its role and influence in Scottish society declined.   In the evangelical sector today, many churches continue to struggle in the post-modern environment and find it difficult to make an impact on their communities.

I have no doubt that post-modernism has brought moral and spiritual uncertainty to Scotland. The BBC, which for decades used its power and influence to promote post-modernism, defines this world view as one in which: “there are no universal religious or ethical laws, everything is shaped by the cultural context of a particular time and place and community. In a postmodern world individuals work with their religious impulses, by selecting the bits of various spiritualities that 'speak to them' and create their own internal spiritual world. The 'theology of the pub' becomes as valid as that of the priest. The inevitable conclusion is that religion is an entirely human-made phenomenon.”

Large swathes of the church, particularly in the Church of Scotland have not only caved in to post-modernism, but have adopted post-modernist attitudes and values. The prime motivation here has been to preserve the organisation’s power and influence in society. The Gospel of Christ, as preached from many Church of Scotland pulpits bears little resemblance to that which is contained in the Bible.

The evangelical sector is under similar pressure from post-modernism. Many of Scotland’s evangelical/independent churches and fellowships have looked to the USA, importing the music, the entrepreneurial culture and some of the spiritual practices from mainstream evangelicalism.

Sadly a growing number of these churches have also imported a ‘sanitised Gospel’ in which the elements of sin, repentance, salvation and holiness have been quietly edited out in order to make it more appealing to the potential consumers in 21st century Scotland.

Writing in the Christian Post this week, Shane Idleman lamented, “It's no secret that there is a significant shift in the church today to avoid the topics of sin and repentance. God's Word says to confront, confess, and turn from sin, whereas many encourage us to ignore, overlook, and continue in it. One popular TV preacher actually said, "I don't talk about sin," and was proud of it.

Silence about sin minimizes the cross and makes it less offensive. But the cross only makes sense in light of the consequences of sin: ‘to convince the world of the truth of Christianity, it must first be convinced of sin. It is only sin that renders Christ intelligible’. (Andrew Murray; 1794-1866).”

It must be fifteen years since I last heard the issues of sin, repentance, salvation and holiness preached with any conviction. It would appear that in the face of post-modernism, some evangelicals are going to great lengths to rethink, redefine, and rename difficult truths like sin, repentance and salvation.

For me, sticking to the Gospel as outlined in the Bible is a ‘red line.  This timeless message: that Jesus came into the world to save sinners really is an insult to the world. Jesus himself said that his message of salvation would be offensive.

Shane Idleman rightly contends that dilution of the Gospel is not an option…..“how can we discuss God's love, mercy, and grace without mentioning his justice, righteousness, and holiness? How can we discuss heaven but not hell; relationship but not repentance; a Saviour but not sin?”

The answer to any preacher considering watering down the truth…..we can't!


Sunday, 12 October 2014

GOD TV…..The Show Must Go On!!!

There’s been quite a ‘stooshie’ at GOD TV in recent weeks.  In a press release on October 2, the TV channel’s website announced that GOD TV co-founder Rory Alec was leaving the Network having stepped down as Chairman and CEO. Mr Alec’s resignation was apparently due to ‘a moral failure’ concerning his marriage i.e. he has left his wife and is now living with a jazz musician in South Africa.

GOD TV Co-founder and Director of Television, Wendy Alec continues to lead the Network with the senior management team, supported by the GOD TV Board.

Rory Alec has informed GOD TV staff that: ‘after 20 years of service, I have had a moral failure this year. For this reason, I am stepping down. Please forgive me for the disappointment I’ve caused, but I know your eyes are on Jesus who is the author and finisher of your faith and not on me, an imperfect man. It is with a heavy heart that I confirm my season with GOD TV is over for now.”

While some Christians will have been shocked by the GOD TV situation, ‘moral failure’ is something that many have come accept as part and parcel of the contemporary Christian media, its mega-pastors, ‘rock star’ worship leaders and aberrant apostles and prophets. Adultery, theft and general corruption has become increasingly commonplace in celebrity Christian culture.  

Writing in Christian Today in an article entitled: ‘The real problem with God TV is not Rory Alec's moral failure', David Robertson ‘cuts to the chase’ when he says, “whenever I have watched God TV, what comes across to me is that it is primarily about money and power. And when you have those two at the centre it's not long before the third part of that particular unholy trinity, sex, rears its ugly head”.

In his article, David Robertson highlights some of the key corrupt elements of the TV channel summarised as follows:

·         Missions Weeks: “They were nothing of the sort……purely and entirely about raising money……Rory and Wendy would tell us that it was about reaching one billion souls. That was hyperbolic sales talk, confusing the possibility that God TV "could" be seen on several million TV sets……..the manipulation, sales talk and constant pleading for money "for the work of the kingdom" was nauseating.”


·         Power: “I have yet to see a God TV programme which extolled the virtues of weakness. Everything was about strength and power. Power-dressed shiny happy people beamed out of our TV screens a picture of wealth, health and success……. The Church is not a corporation. Nor is it an entertainment or an advertising agency. Godliness is not a way to get wealthy. Or famous. Or to have your own 'ministry'. The Church is to be the pillar and ground of the truth. Much of modern corporate Christianity has become pillarless and groundless. As a result it has also become brainless, banal and spiritually bankrupt. And it is certainly not harmless”.


·         Charlatans:  “The problem with God TV is not the moral failure of Rory's adultery. It is the moral failure of associating the Good News of Jesus to the poor with the prosperity gospel and health and wealth blasphemy of Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn and Joyce Meyer.”

Many Christians will no doubt criticise David Robertson for speaking out so forcefully about the GOD TV scandal. Some will say ‘it’s wrong to judge’, yet all Christians are called to be discerning.  Jesus himself spoke out forcefully against the rich, powerful, and corrupt religious authorities.

As a born again believer I believe he should be congratulated for having the courage to speak up and expose the corruption and spiritual bankruptcy of GOD TV. 

Wendy Alec spoke about her situation on a GOD TV ‘revival alert’ on 8 October. Close to tears and obviously pained by her husband’s betrayal, she stated that she will nevertheless carry on at the helm of GOD TV.

I’m sure that the many ordinary Christians observing the broadcast felt for Wendy. The lady needs prayer, support, counselling and time away from the spotlight of the delusional Christian media circus, if not for her own sake for the sake of her children.

Meanwhile, in the ‘la….la land soap opera’ that is GOD TV, ‘the show must go on’.


Saturday, 11 October 2014

Engagement in the Public Square

As a former Modern Studies teacher I was fascinated by the conduct of the Referendum campaign in my own West Highland locality.  I was particularly impressed by the latter stages of the campaign which drew in many citizens who had never engaged with politics before.

The political campaigning in both scale and quality was unlike anything ever witnessed in local or general elections.   Both sides of the debate took their message to the streets and the public square, engaging the town’s citizens with their side of the argument.

For me the final weeks of the campaign were exhilarating. There was a palpable sense of excitement in the community: people seemed to be enjoying the ‘cut and thrust’ of the debates and discussions which were being conducted in a civilised spirit of maturity and good humour.  The ‘YES’ campaign in particular brought the elements of colour, creativity, culture, enthusiasm and a sense of great excitement to the wider community as it made excellent use of the town’s public square, streets, buildings and  vehicles to engage the town’s citizens with their message.

In the end, 62% of the voters in my locality voted ‘YES’ on September 18.

As the dust settles on the Referendum, political commentators and analysts from around the world have been unanimous in their praise for the levels of engagement by ordinary citizens and the civilised manner that the campaign was conducted at grass roots level.

As a born again believer, I was hugely engaged with the Referendum campaign. However,  the messages of the ‘YES’ and ‘Better Together’ pale into insignificance compared to the greatest message in history ……the Gospel of Christ.

Christians have a clear mandate from Jesus Christ himself to take His message of salvation to their own community. The Bible describes this responsibility as ‘The Great Commission, and it is the responsibility of every born again believer to be actively engaged in this enterprise….there are to be no bystanders and no excuses!!

So why is it that the church in 21st century Scotland, is failing to carry out the Great Commission effectively? Perhaps Christians could learn from the Referendum. Both sides of the campaign experienced success because they engaged with ordinary citizens, face-to-face in the streets, on the doorstep, in the public square, and through social media. The key here is ENGAGEMENT. You can’t make disciples by talking to yourself !

This is not a new message…It’s how the church began    

In ‘The Story of Christianity, vol. 1, Justo Gonzales writes, “the enormous numerical growth of the church in its first centuries leads us to the question of what methods it used to achieve such growth. The answer may surprise some modern Christians, for the ancient church knew nothing of ‘evangelistic services’ or ‘revivals’……………….. evangelism did not take place in church services, but rather, as Celsus said, in kitchens, shops, and markets. A few famous teachers, such as Justin and Origen, held debates in their schools, and thus won some converts among the intelligentsia. But the fact remains that most converts were made by anonymous Christians whose witness led others to their faith. The most dramatic form taken by such witness was obviously that of suffering unto death, and it is for this reason that the word “martyr,” which originally meant “witness,” took on the meaning that it has for us.”

Perhaps it’s time for our evangelical churches to honestly commit themselves to evangelism; plan for the perpetual evangelisation of their communities; train their members in how to share their faith, and for evangelical leaders to move out of their privileged comfort zones ‘step up to the plate’, and begin to motivate, organise and lead their members out into the public square.   

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Elitism…..Alive and Prospering

Despite the recent platitudes of the UKs political elite about ‘granting’ more powers to the country’s more restless component parts, it is quite clear that this group has no intention of diluting its own power and influence.

A recent government sponsored study by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission into the social background of those "running Britain" merely confirms the existence and corrosive effect of elitism at all levels and segments of society.

The picture painted in the Commission’s report makes grim reading. UK society is described as ‘deeply elitist’, sustained by people educated at public school and the ‘top’ universities of St Andrews and Oxbridge educated who have created a "closed shop at the top". The Commission asserts that elitism is so entrenched in the UK "that it could be called 'social engineering”.

In a recent Guardian interview, Alan Millburn, the Chair of the Commission described the growing disconnect between society’s leaders and ordinary people: "where institutions rely on too narrow a range of people from too narrow a range of backgrounds with too narrow a range of experiences, they risk behaving in ways and focusing on issues that are of salience only to a minority but not the majority in society."

In the UK where the institutional churches mirror society at large, there is a similar growing disconnect between its leaders and the ordinary people who they purport to lead. In the smaller independent and evangelical sectors, a burgeoning leadership elite of pastors, elders, deacons and more recently worship leaders have been joined by a ‘not so new’ self-appointed cadre of apostles and prophets who claim authority over everyone!

Speaking from the heart about leaders in the church, blogger Carolyn Henderson (  gets to the heart of this disconnect which blights the church: “the impression I get is that these leaders, especially the forceful, dynamic ones, are there for the rest of us to follow, and it is through their brilliance, their light, their life, their energy, their study, their words, that we will move forward. Despite all the warm talk of our being brothers and sisters together, I always get the feeling that the guy up in the very front thinks that he is the patriarch.

Leadership is a heady, exhilarating, potentially financially profitable endeavour, and any person who gets a taste of it wants more.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not an anarchist. In every situation, every group, every dynamic, there are leaders and followers, but what we tend to forget — most especially Christian leaders and just as much us ‘laypeople’ — is that there is a time and a season for everything, and just because you speak to a very large audience, does not mean that you always hold the chair. There are times when leaders must follow, and this is not something that I see very much.”

The Apostle Paul was a humble servant leader who was only too aware of his own weaknesses and failings. In his second letter to the Christians in Corinth he laid out the ‘job description’ for Christian leaders:

 “as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger;  in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love;  in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left;  through glory and dishonour, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors;  known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed;  sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.”

Any members of our comfortable contemporary Christian elite willing to step up to the plate and embrace the above?  


Tuesday, 7 October 2014

What’s Your World View?

I attended The Argyll Convention, a stimulating and heart warming three day Christian gathering in August. At one of the sessions, keynote speaker the Revd Richard Bewes focussed on the individual’s world view; the mix of ideas, understandings, and experiences through which we see and interact with our world.

While arguing that the Christian faith provides the individual with the most complete world view, he lamented the fact that today many Christians have great difficulty in articulating a deep and coherent world view.

Growing up in rural Scotland in the 1950s and 60s, I was confronted with two conflicting and competing lenses through which the world should be viewed.

In school and amongst my peer group the overwhelming view was atheistic. The idea of a personal Creator was scorned. Science teachers taught that human existence was a cosmic accident. Human beings had evolved from the most primitive of species by chance, not by design or purpose.

As I grew up, I concluded that moving towards this world view would mean accepting that:

·         people should not look for meaning beyond survival in this life.

·         there is no right or wrong; no transcendent morality…..morals are simply matters of personal or societal opinion and can change and adapt with time and circumstance.

·         death is the end point of life. There is no hope of anything transcendent or eternal outside of this life.

At home, away from my peers and school, I was presented with an entirely different world view. Within my family there was an unshakeable acceptance and experience of a Creator, a personal God who made humans in His own image. Growing up in this environment, I came to experience and understand that:

·         Life has value, meaning and dignity and I should expect to see people seeking value and meaning.

·         I am endowed by my Creator with an individual identity, freedom and responsibility and I should expect to see others pursue these realities.

·         Faith lifts me out of the despair of human relativism and the limitations of human thinking, and in life I should expect to see people reach toward the transcendent and eternal.

As a sixty something retiree I have been sustained by my Christian world view. It was developed, nurtured and confirmed within my family through, experience, actions and words.