Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Is every argument essentially the same?

Whether we are talking theology (perhaps ESPECIALLY if its theology!), football, favourite TV programmes, what food we like or just about any topic on which its possible to have more than one opinion, isn't every single argument/debate/discussion basically a rehash of the self-same concept?

This concept is that whatever we're talking about we have the same unspoken criteria in play: "this person is wrong because they don't agree with me! If they could just see everything as I do then they'd be okay and I could also then like them..."

So, another way of saying, "the best car to buy is a Ford", is, "the car I own is a Ford..." Or, more pertinently for the theologically inclined, "God is best represented via the Anglican Church", actually translates as, "I am an Anglican!"

Can we ever get beyond this myopia? Do you? How do you do it?

Friday, 27 March 2009

Why do you believe what you believe?

Wherever you're at in terms of belief, whatever your worldview, whatever ideas you adhere to - why do you do so?
I am VERY interested in why people believe the stuff they do (and indeed why they disbelieve...) and I'd welcome your contributions.
I am NOT seeking to belittle anyone or get into any arguments or attempts to 'convert' people. Instead, I would just LOVE to hear your perspectives and why you have them...

Thank you...

Friday, 20 March 2009

What purpose does the Evangelical Church serve?

Given the nature of these posts we can only speak in broad, sweeping terms and yet even this may give us some insights...
Do you consider yourself an evangelical Christian? Have you ever been to an evangelical Church, or have friends who are evangelical?
If so, what purpose do you think this 'arm' of the Church serves? Dave Tomlinson once memorably said that the evangelical Church was excellent for new believers but really poor once they had 'grown up' spiritually/theologically - then they needed to move to a 'proper' Church. Is this true?
I would love to hear your opinions - have you become an evangelical from another tradition or have you perhaps left the evangelical fold? Please tell us your story and perspective on this intriguing, beguiling, frustrating and energetic branch of Christianity...

Monday, 16 March 2009

Can we ever make the effort?

We had some new friends over last week for dinner (one Christian, their partner not...) and it turned into a fascinating evening.
Without going into detail that could prove embarrassing or the breaking of a confidence suffice to say that while facing a difficult life-situation the Christian was feeling increasingly drawn (perhaps understandably) to charismatic Christianity, especially that element that promises health, wealth and prosperity. While the non-Christian wanted to embrace a purely scientific/humantist route (again, quite understandably given their worldview).

What's my point?

Well, how can we ever get to a point where as a community of believers, we'll take the more difficult way of research and study of theology to get ourselves on a firm footing with this God we profess rather than the immediate 'satisfaction' of a I-want-results-and-feelings-NOW 'doctrine'?

I fully realise that I am rather caricaturing this dilemma, time doesn't allow the finesse of detail. The bottom line is, IMHO, that we live in an instant gratification era and so it is no real surprise that the Church has embraced this idea in the way that it views a 'relationship' with God. Is this inevitable though, or can anyone suggest ways in which we as individuals or as a Church community can take more time, care and effort over the faith we profess and not merely be at the whim of every theological offshoot of mainstream secular society?

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Is theology the 'grammar of faith'...

In other words, its wholly possible to speak a language while remaining oblivious to its grammar and even its written form. Likewise (by metaphor) isn't it also possible to have a faith that is broadly unconcerned with the details and only interested in 'getting on with it'?

If this comparison works then does the following hold true as well: yes, you can speak without knowing any grammar and yet when you try to teach someone else to speak this new language (or at least to teach them WELL) don't you then have a problem because you suddenly NEED the stuff you previously thought was irrelevant?

Can you see where I am going?

Faith is, of course, essential and can be enjoyed and lived without a care for the supposed minutiae of doctrine/theology. The trouble, however, comes when you try to talk to other people about this new 'language' of faith and you suddenly realise that without a 'grammar' you are left with mere subjective feelings and perspectives...

What do you think? Is this true?

Lets get this show on the road...

Okay, lets start with some basic stuff to get us going on here:

Would you be kind enough to give your understanding of the word 'Christian', in the context of -

A Christian is a person who...

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Why does it have to be such hard work?

The primary aim of this blog is to share ideas, thoughts and research from my newly started PhD. I will post some stuff I am working on and would REALLY welcome people's thoughts and opinions and insights. Just be true and honest and I can assure you that it'll very much help me as I seek to frame my own ideas.

If you are reading this it is almost certainly because you are someone I respect as a theologian/thinker and someone whose opinion I value. Welcome to my Blog and the journey it heralds and thank you in advance for your help with this.

I have also joined a brand new Church, the first one that Suzanne and I have been involved in together for a LONG time. Its really opened up a LOT of issues for us both and it is providing us with a great deal of 'food for thought' in terms of what Church is, how it works, how people interact, how folk do (or don't do) theology and, of course, it is also a place for us to worship and enjoy our God in, we hope, a meaningful manner...

We have been attending the Church (of the Baptist persuasion) since early January following our move to Lincolnshire in December. During this time I have very pointedly NOT spoken at any of our Bible Studies and I have also not told anyone that I have been a Minister and have had theological training. There are many reasons for this, most of them I suppose you can guess...

Anyway, last night that all changed and while Suze stayed at home with her brother I went to the study alone. There were only five of us there and we got into an informal discussion about the Church and various theological issues - like you do.

To cut a very long story short it struck me that so many of my interactions with others nowadays whether theological or not basically boil down to one central premise - that the person presently talking is usually ultimately saying:

"This is my opinion and its correct - I now want you to follow it too and if you don't then you're wrong..."

This, of course, is an over-simplification and yet it really resonates with me of late that very few people actually, truly want to discuss truth and love and God in any meaningful way and instead merely want to trot out their own well-worn and often ill-thought-out platitudes. I know that this sounds awfully judgemental - believe me its absolutey not meant to be, in fact its meant to be the opposite - a call within myself to speak with grace, truth and honesty and NOT CARE who's 'right' or 'wrong' but rather to explore the truth with others in a spirit of humility and hunger for reality.

I know that this takes time.

I am also HUGELY grateful for this wonderful Church of truly interesting, kind and gracious people.

Its just sometimes so hard to accept that True Talk is so hard to find.

Where do you get it? With whom? Do you appreciate it? How do you nurture it? Do you tell the person how grateful you are for it?

Oh dear, I appear to wittering on don't I? Please forgive me, I haven't ever done this before so its all a bit of an experiment to be honest.

I'd welcome ANY feedback on ANYTHING I write on here and I hope that in some small way that it might provide a bit of a forum for us to think and discuss and consider and reflect and to do some good theology that will lead to some good worship, that'll lead to some good lives led in the service of the Master...

Thanks for your patience and thanks for your support and help...

Monday, 9 March 2009

First things first...

Over recent months I've found a number of very helpful blogs that have given me some real insight into some theological issues that I am interested in...

As I am just now starting out on my own doctoral research in theology I felt that it might be a good idea for me to set up some kind of forum where I could 'speculate aloud', ask questions and engage with other thinking-faith-folk...

So, watch this space and thank you in advance for being willing to help me climb the very slippery and potentially dangerous pole of advanced theological study. Your support and indulgence are great appreciated...

Thank you.