Monthly Archives: October 2013

The Preaching Life – Part 1

Fred Craddock, quoting Bill Muehl, says that Brown Taylor is the preacher for “those who almost didn’t come this morning.” (page xii)

“So come on in.  You who are entering ministry and wonder what it is like inside, come on in.  You who are ministers who have forgotten your call and those trembling beginnings, come on in.  And you who are not ministers but who are standing on the porch, unsure if whether you are seeking or being sought, come on in.  You will be completely free after the last page to go or stay.” (page xii)

On a mother who defended her grown daughter’s ignorance of Christianity “My daughter doesn’t know Moses from Goliath but at least she grew up without guilt.” (page 7)

“Over and over my disappointments draw me deeper into that mystery of God’s being and doing.  Every time God declines to meet my expectations, another of my idols is exposed.  Another curtain is drawn back so that I can see what I have propped up in God’s place, no that is not God, so who is God?” (page 10)

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True Peace

To the ecumenical gathering at Fano in 1934:

There is no way to peace along the way to safety.  For peace must be dared, it is itself the great venture and can never be safe.  Peace is the opposite of security.  To demand guarantees is to want to protect oneself.  Peace means giving oneself completely to God’s commandment, wanting no security, but in faith and obedience laying the destiny of the nations in the hand of Almighty God, not trying to direct it for selfish purposes.  Battles are won, not with weapons, but with God.  They are won when the way leads to the cross. (page 241)

*** It is worth reading the letter Helmut Rossler wrote, as it seems a reasoned defence of a compromised position, and the kind of thing that we state often *** (page 256-257)

Things do exist that are worth standing up for without compromise.  To me it seems that peace and social justice are such things, as is Christ himself. (page 260)


New Monasticism

The restoration of the Church must surely depend on a new kind of monasticism, which has nothing in common with the old but a life of uncompromising discipleship, following Christ according to the Sermon on the Mount.  I believe the time has come to gather people together and do this. (page 260)

Theological work and real pastoral fellowship can only grow in a life which is governed by gathering round the Word morning and evening and by fixed times of prayer. (page 261)

Bonhoeffer Perceives The Reich

A series of speeches where Bonhoeffer seemed to understand what was happening in Germany before all around him:

“If I had been a Jew and had seen such dolts and blockheads govern and teach the Christian faith, I would sooner have become a hog than a Christian” (page 88) (Martin Luther)

“In New York they preach about virtually everything, only one thing is not addressed, or is addressed so rarely that I have as yet been unable to hear it, namely the gospel of Jesus Christ, the cross, sin, and forgiveness, death and lift.” (page 99)

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On a terrifying meeting

Page 211 tells the story of the meeting that Martin Niemoller had with Hitler to talk about the Riechsbishop Muller, a thug who was doing great damage in the German Church.

There are a few interesting things about this for me. The first is that Niemoller is a very brave man, and yet even he was terrified in this meeting.  The second is that he had done nothing wrong, and yet Hitler made this about his failings, all on one thing that he had done wrong.  He claimed that this unprecedented, and deliberately exaggerated the wrong on Niemoller’s behalf.  The third is that the most important thing was not the initial outcome of the meeting, even though that was the big focus at the start. Also Niemoller was the compromise figure, but it was him that got the worst of it, especially when he tried to appeal to Hitler’s better nature, Bonhoeffer was far less easily intimidated because his mind was already made up on the matter.

Finally, there is Hitler’s demand for a compartamentalised clergy, which sticks to its sermons and leaves the important business of running the state to him.

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Inside Out Living

From Tim Keller Ultimate Training Camp, 11th May 2003

This about the parable of the pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14).

It says that there is a basic problem, and then two solutions to it.

The problem is one of righteousness, which may seem something of an outmoded concept, and may belong to another era, but really it is about the basic idea of acceptance, of being taken as we are.  He takes illustrations from the Fisher King, Beowulf (lust for glory), Japanese society (where people disappear if they do not have a job) and says that this is a universal human longing, we may just have psychologised this.

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John Ortberg, 15th September 2013, Transcript is here

Begins by talking about community- that if you have relationships then you are less likely to die in the next year (“Join our house groups otherwise you will die”) and you are more likely to catch cold (“Isolated people are snottier”).  This all comes from a man called Robert Putnam who wrote a book called “Bowling Alone”.

Talked about the first three verses of Genesis, and that already we see God, Spirit and Word – the inner ring at the heart of all social circles.  We must live in such circles of sufficiency.

Community is where we grow.  We can hypothetically believe in Love, but then we can meet real people and suddenly that becomes too difficult.

In community we learn acceptance of each other – it is not for nothing that the two dimensions of the cross point up and across.  This is brought out in Ephesians 2 and John Ortberg says that hear you can insert any kind of hostility instead of Jew and Gentile.

We serve in community.  Volunteering comes from the Latin to give up, and giving up is what God does on the cross.  He is the ultimate volunteer.

Then talks about the kind of community that we need to be – each of us serving and honouring our different gifts, and that is the community of God.

Community is where we are healed and make ourselves accountable to one another. The human is the only animal where we talk about ourselves being naked.  Every other animal does not need clothes.  But we need a place where we can be unveiled to one another.

We die in community

We are resurrected in community

Richard Baxter – The Reformed Pastor

From Pastoral Theology in the Classical Tradition

“See that the work of saving grace be thoroughly wrought in your own souls”

“O sirs, how many men have preached Christ and yet have perished for want of a saving interest in him”

“Lest you unsay with your lives what you say with your tongues”

“Take heed to yourselves because there are many eyes upon you and there are many to observe your falls.”

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An Appetite For Wonder – The biography of Richard Dawkins

The review of Richard Dawkins’ biography in Private Eye 1350 (October 2014) is a scorching analysis of Dawkins as a human being, it undermines his claims to be a disinterested observer of empirical fact, and points at a few reasons he might be so passionately committed to the removal of God (ie it puts Richard himself out of a job).

The first facet of Dawkins to be analysied is a compulsive reductionism.  All the best stories, Dawkins wants to kill.  He lets them out there, and then the the life is squeezed out in a “tundra of colourlessness”.  In other hands a “tale involving a cannonball passing through an ancestor’s parted legs would’ve brought the house down.  Here it’s just some words on a page, with Dawkins using the incident as the basis for a shoulder sagging lecture on the contingent frailty of ‘the event chain that led to our existence'”. So despite claiming wonder, Dawkins actually doesn’t know how to convey the thing, he instinctively wants rid of it, it’s not just God that Dawkins puts in the title of his book and then wants rid of, but wonder as well.

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