Dominion

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Tom Holland is a rare academic in the secular west who (at the least) has the grit to acknowledge that his agnosticism is born from a 2,000 year old matrix of Christian ethics. (A truth that he is not embarrassed by).

Each chapter is incredibly well written and defines an epoch of church reformation, narrated through the life stories of known historical characters and more interestingly those on the fringe of wider notoriety.

We read of the many shocking mistakes of Christendom that further reinforce its doctrines of the total depravity of man. We see how politics and greed corrupted and divided the church and how competing forces (paganism, Islam and secularism) have reacted against it.

But what becomes clear in this book is that throughout two millennia of cultural turbulence a thin veneer of Christian truth is always preserved by God’s brave (yet often weakened) remnant. Each generation has men and women willing to die to protect Jesus’ teaching that all are equally treasured by God and thus have dignity. That power does not come (as in the natural world) by the imposition of terror but in the love of the victim. The Cross is the sign of this revolution that has so greatly blessed humanity.

Tom makes several comparisons throughout history to show that as far as our society drifts away from God it always returns to the truth of the Cross. For it is the very morals derived from Christianity itself that those who mock and undermine the faith use to defend their cause.

The Gay Pride movement, whilst rightly attacking the homophobia within the church seek after the Christian Doctrine (of life-long monogamous marriage) that the early church fathers died to preserve under the Roman Empire.

The feminists who rightly attack bigotry in the church are also calling (through the #metoo movement) for the same self-restraint that the Puritans fought for.

Post-Christian France showed Christian virtue by welcoming Muslim refugees into their secular nation, expecting that they would take the same satire towards Muhammad as Christianity had endured for centuries with Jesus. Yet once the Atheist publication ‘Charlie Hebdo’ was attacked, secular France quickly returned to their Christian virtues to denounce it as wrong.

The much venerated John Lennon sang the Atheist anthem from his 72 acre palace in Bedfordshire “Imagine there is no Heaven-it’s easy if you try”. Baptist Pastor Martin Luther King Jr. was sent to Heaven for crying out “I have a dream”.

Wherever you stand in regards to faith and religion, the wonderful truth that Tom Holland reveals in this book, is that our histories tensions have all revolved (and thus in some way have been influenced by) the Cross! Christianity is in us all!

Although I have tremendous respect for Tom I can’t agree with his gloomy conclusion, that we are in the Shadow of God’s corpse, that just as Birds came from Dinosaurs, new cultural systems will be born from Christian ethics. If anything this book has taught me the very opposite, that throughout history new ideologies come and go, but the truth of Christianity always lives on. Why? Because it is true! If it wasn’t it would have died out long ago!

Christianity is the constant that built the West and continues to transform and liberate the oppressed all over the world.

This book has really encouraged me (as a Baptist Minister).

By God’s Grace our little church is growing but across the UK Christianity is facing extinction. This book reminds us that such decline is just one of many throughout  history. God is still working and His remnant will persevere for the good of humanity. The UK will return to its first love.

“And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You” (Psalm 9:10).

 

Why Pastors should support #EQUIP

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul.” Psalm 23:1-3

I have just returned from an inspiring two days at the Welsh Leadership Forum EQUIP conference.

Last year was a great success with world renowned speakers Os Guinness and John Lennox bringing many to attend the launch.  They were excellent to hear, but for me the content this year spoke far more directly to the needs of our mission field in Wales. 

But, however rich and applicable the content was, it was nothing compared to the feedback I received from our church ministry team who left feeling; valued, uplifted, empowered, inspired and confident in the gospel.

And this is what EQUIP is all about.

I fear that Church leaders and Pastors are far to quick to dismiss EQUIP because it does not have the theological depth of other conferences but this is not what EQUIP is about.

Although it is a real blessing for Pastors, the focus is not on us.

The Welsh Leadership Forum designed EQUIP to help and support the hundreds of volunteers who help run our; Youth Clubs, Sunday schools, and home groups. It is for our ministry leaders, elders and deacons, volunteers and our wives. 

EQUIP provides a fantastic and affordable opportunity for our closest and most committed church members to network and learn from their peers, rather than receiving second-hand, filtered information that we gather from a plethora of Ministers conferences that we attend.

Noddfa EQUP

Some of the Noddfa Church crew at EQUIP

 

We are a relatively small church in the Welsh Valleys, yet managed to bring ten people to the event over the two days and it was a pleasure to support and share in their learning as “Pastor”.

I know that they will all be better and more confident in their ministries as a result of this week.

My wife returned home filled with practical ideals for Sunday school and was excited to share them with the wider team, it was lovely to see her face beam with such enthusiasm that I have when returning from other conferences. She thoroughly enjoyed the conference and I pray that others from the church will come with us next year.

I pray that next year many more Pastors will embrace the conference and bring their weary and hardworking flock to the good grass and still waters of the EQUIP conference so that they to maybe refreshed.

Welsh Leadership Forum EQUIP

Come Lord Jesus! A Biblical Theology of the Second Coming of Christ

Come Lord Jesus! A Biblical Theology of the Second Coming of Christ by Stephen Motyer APOLLOS (IVP) London 2016

This well researched study has been a companion of mine for the last few weeks, taking in a chapter at a time when the moment allows.

The book attempts to stimulate thought on what is a contentious (and thus often neglected topic), the Lord’s second coming.

Motyer achieves this ambition in a surprisingly accessible way, inviting all to come to the relevant scriptures (fourteen passages in total), putting their millennial dispositions aside and letting God’s Word speak for itself without influence.

The book is honest and conversational in approach with helpful footnotes to explore. The study is split into two parts; the first sets the Biblical foundations of the subject in the Old Testament, the second part progresses the applications and foresight of Jesus’ second coming found in the New Testament.

There are many key themes throughout the study that are applied to the selected scriptures. In particular the ‘meaning of time’ and how to interpret the various visions, either as Chronos (‘time’ on a watch) or Kairos (we had a great ‘time’).

Motyer helpfully welcomes into the discourse various views from renowned scholars such as Augustine and Martin Luther to the more contemporary Dale Ralph Davies and N.T. Wright, attentively explaining any misguided exposition in a respectful and considered manner.

Motyer’s conversational approach and personal references throughout made me feel as if he was guiding me through the study, rather than presenting his findings. With that said, despite the enjoyment of the journey, it was not a ‘page turner’ that could be read in just a few sittings. I say this not as a criticism; the magnitude of the topics discussed should be digested slowly and devotionally, if we are even to begin to comprehend the profundity of God’s redemptive plan.

Motyer has been exceptionally honest and loving in his approach. His exegesis is superb and I believe that he met his own challenge of writing a biblical theology of the second coming that is true to scripture without excluding or offending readers from whatever eschatological positions that they may have.

Motyer does extremely well to tackle the hugely complex and profound subject matter of the second coming and packages the content in a way that is not restricted solely to the scholarly elite. But I do feel the book is better suited for the Pastor’s shelf rather than the broader Christian market. I certainly gained a lot from this book and I am very grateful to Motyer for his prayerful insight.

And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.” Revelations 21:5

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