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3 Reasons Why I Love the Church

31 Jan

“I love Jesus but I hate the Church.” she said defiantly “The Church causes nothing but pain. I’m going to learn about Jesus on my own.”

These were the words of a girl I was discussing Christianity with. Clearly, she had not had the best experience of the church. As upsetting as it is she’s not alone.

Maybe you’re like this girl. Maybe you keep away from the Church thinking it has nothing to offer but hurt. Maybe you do attend Sunday service, but the Church has hurt you so bad you’ve lost the love you had at first.

Why should you love the Church. What does it have to offer?

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Response to a Post-Evangelical Manifesto

25 May

In response to the Evangelical Manifesto Raffi Shahinian wrote a Post-Evangelical Manifesto. Having read his document, and having read some helpful and challenging posts on Shahinian’s website, I want to make a few comments and ask a few questions which I hope Shahinian will respond to:

Dear Raffi Shahinian

I don’t write as one who has read the Evangelical Manifesto. I also confess yours is the only “post-evangelical” definition I’ve ever read. Yet there are some things that concern me in your Post-Evangelical Manifesto. Perhaps I have misunderstood them and if so I hope you correct me.

I ask these questions as a brother in Christ and in the spirit of love, desiring we both come to understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ more as a result.

Post Evangelical?

My first question is: if evangelical means “Gospel person” why would you want to be post-evangelical? You may want to reform the way Gospel people behave but surely you don’t want to be post people having the Gospel at the centre?

Evangelicals Never Unpacking Truths?

No Evangelical I know recites their doctrinal basis never unpacking those statements in full. Most evangelical churches preach through the Bible, preaching each passage (Old Testament or New) in light of Jesus’ great work and then applying it to the congregation.

Here is the metanarrative set out as God has ordained. In light of this I’m very interested to know what you think Evangelicals have missed out in their unpacking of these brief doctrinal statements.

Fighting Yesterday’s Battles

In some ways I would say Evangelicalism is too obsessed with the “big issues” of the day. We spend more time talking about homosexuality and women preachers than we do talking about the things that actually matter to average Joe. Which big issues do you think we miss?

A Political Christianity?

I heard someone once say “In the Koran I find no guidance for Muslims in the minority. In the Bible I find no guidance for Christians in the majority”. The Bible assumes we will be despised for the Gospel (2 Tim 3:12).

The nearest we get to politics is Paul saying we should pray we might be able to live a quiet life (1 Tim 2:1-2). That’s hardly a call to arms! Whilst obviously Christians in politics must act in a Christian way, I am unsure that we are called to act firstly on politics.

Love beyond tolerance

I emphatically agree that we must have a love beyond tolerance. What is love? Jesus bearing our sins (1 John 4:10). Thus it is essential for us to preach the Good News of sins forgiven and the way to God open that some in the world may come to know him and make it to the next. Excellent point!

Jesus saved all creation

I agree Christ saves creation as well as me, but evangelicals constantly remind me of the corporate nature of church and salvation as well as the individual. Maybe evangelicals in your area are different. Yet the individual should not be missed out. It is essential to the whole: “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God” (Rom 8:19)

Shaped by postmodernism!?!

You say that post evangelicalism is “shaped by the postmodern critique”. It scares me you are shaped by anything of the world. When the church has associated with the world it has always turned out bad:

  • When associated with Modernism the authority of Scripture was undermined by Liberalism.
  • When associated with Gnostic thought “secret knowledge” and an opposition to God the Son made flesh developed.
  • When too close to Judaism the Gospel to the Gentiles was hindered (Gal 2:11-14).

Christians should engage with and evangelise our postmodern culture with Scripture, but I would never say we should be informed by postmodernism

Do forgive me if I have misunderstood your points I welcome clarification. Apologies also for my brevity which may limit the usefulness of my comments.

May we both glorify the name of Jesus in our culture.

Yours in Christ

Tim Wilson

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Class Boundaries vs. the Supremacy of Christ

8 May

The middle class Christian

I have some disastrous news: The church has gone middle class.

Let me evidence this claim:

  • Our church in rural Cheshire has 300 odd members. We co-planted a church in the local council estate years ago. Few attend and few go to help.
  • A church in Kent and a church in Newcastle advertised for a pastor. The Kent church was flooded with applications. The Newcastle church had one.

It’s certain. The church is middle class.

So what?

How many people have been educated at a red-brick University? Not many. Say 0.1% of the population? Yet this is most evangelicals only mission field. No wonder our numbers are so few.

This has never been our way:

  • Whitfield preached as workers came out of the coal mines.
  • The Reformation was so popular amongst the populace Luther had to hold off a Marxist revolution.
  • Paul’s converts were rarely wise or of noble birth (1 Corinthians 1:26-27).

I’m not saying leave the academy. Wesley, Whitfield, Luther, Calvin and Paul were all well educated. Yet I do say gifted middle-class pastors should give up their suburban dream and move to the city. They should consider preaching to drug addicts and prostitutes as their master would.

We must give up our prejudices. The gospel is for everyone, not just undergraduates.

(Picture by iambigred under the Creative Commons Licence)

A Calvinist-Methodist’s Response to Two Cheers for the Resurgence of Calvinism

29 Apr

John WesleyArminian McCall gives an excellent article on the strengths and weaknesses of New Calvinism. Coming from the unique perspective of a Calvinist attending a Methodist church I’d like to offer some thoughts for Calvinists based on this article.

New Calvinism

McCall hits New Calvinism on the head. There is a desire for sound doctrine and holiness. Unfortunately many of his criticisms are valid too. Nevertheless, it’s not the New Calvinism I really want to discuss today. It is rather a New Weslyanism.

New Wesleyanism?

There are many problems in the Methodist Church, but I doubt they would be solved by me posting them. Instead I exhort Calvinists to offer the same prayers for Methodists as McCall offers for us.

Calvinists love the Wesleys. Despite them being being the chief reason for Arminianism’s success, we’ve never stopped singing their hymns and quoting their sayings (how many times have you heard that “Give me that book” quote?). Why?

Because they preached the Gospel. And very well too. So why aren’t we praying more Arminians will be like that?

I’d love to see Arminians come to see the great truth of the Sovereignty of God in salvation, I pray for it. Yet Arminianism is probably going to be here till Jesus returns.

If that’s the case I hope that there is a New Wesleyanism where the Methodists will preaching Christ, the Scriptures, faith and holiness with power again and bring many to Christ.

As head of Methodist Evangelicals Together this is my Dad’s aim. Calvinists, why don’t you pray for his success in reviving and reforming the Methodist Church?

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