Monday, December 28, 2009
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Yet another celebrity (that I've never heard of) has come out as 'gay' and been lauded in the media as 'brave'.
- There's nothing brave about marrying a woman when you know you prefer men.
- There's nothing brave about being unfaithful to her with men.
- There's nothing brave about taking solemn vows that you know you're not likely to be able to keep.
- There's nothing brave about telling your teammates when you know that if any of them express disapproval, warn you of the serious health consequences or even crack a joke they'll be visited by the police and accused of a hate crime.
- There's nothing brave about breaking your wife's heart.
- There's nothing brave about saying you've always been in love with her and are still in love with her when you plainly don't understand what it means.
- There's nothing brave about putting 'the way I want to live my life' above everybody else's hurt.
- There's nothing brave about treating sex as if it's the most powerful thing in life that cannot be resisted and somehow justifies whatever you want to do.
There are loads of brave men and women in our land today - men and women in marriages that are not all they hoped for, coping with stress they'd never expected, remaining faithful and working hard at what they have. They don't leave, they don't pout, they don't expect anyone to give them a medal. And no-one does: the BBC doesn't laud them for their bravery, they don't have articles written about them. And they don't hurt anyone by their selfishness. And there are others who bravely cope with betrayal from those they loved and should have been able to trust. They rebuild their lives; they seek new partners. They raise their children, refusing to teach them any bitterness towards the mum or dad who left. There are single men and women who are also sexual beings with powerful sex drives who yet practice long-term abstinence because they believe it to be right and proper and good.
They're brave - and this unknown blogger salutes them.
I wish Mr. Thomas well. And that means I wish him genuine repentance and faith in Christ - not because he's gay but because he's a sinner. I wish him to see how wrong his unfaithfulness and lying has been - not 'wrong to his sexuality' but wrong to his wife and to God. I wish him to see it not so that he can endure further years of torment (which is a strong word to describe 'not being able to have sex with who I want, or having to lie about it when I do', don't you think?) but because without seeing, and feeling, his wrong there's no hope for repentance and no hope for forgiveness. There is hope, for while 'neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who preacise homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God', the Scriptures can say 'And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.'
There's hope for all of us.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Hmm -what a buzz my comments on the Banner of Truth article by Stuart Olyott have caused - though not half so big a buzz, I gather, as the article itself.
Look - here's where the rubber hits the road. The other Sunday one of the elders here prayed for me just before I went out to preach, like this: 'Lord, he's prepared the sermon. The altar is built, the sacrifice is made. But we need your fire to descend.' (The imagery, for any Biblically illiterate who read this blog, is taken from 1 Kings 18.) Now - was said elder right? Or was the altar and the sacrifice (the time spent in preparing the sermon and crafting it) enough?
Friday, December 04, 2009
I opposed indulgences and all papists, but never by force. I simply taught, preached, wrote God’s Word: otherwise I did nothing. And then, while I slept, or drank Wittenberg beer with my Philip of Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that never a prince or emperor did such damage to it. I did nothing: the Word did it all. Had I wanted to start trouble… I could have started such a little game at Worms that even the emperor wouldn’t have been safe. But what would it have been? A mug’s game. I did nothing: I left it to the Word.
Olyott says he should have written:
I opposed indulgences and all papists, but never by force. I simply taught, preached, wrote God’s Word: otherwise I did nothing. And then, while I slept, or drank Wittenberg beer with my Philip of Amsdorf, God, working with his Word so greatly weakened the papacy that never a prince or emperor did such damage to it. I did nothing: God did it all. Had I wanted to start trouble… I could have started such a little game at Worms that even the emperor wouldn’t have been safe. But what would it have been? A mug’s game. I did nothing: I left it to the Lord, having pleaded with him to accompany his Word.
(Banner of Truth magazine, December 2009)
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Of course there are many places where Luther got it wrong, and some of them Banner wouldn’t write about (infant baptism, anybody?). But this is a different issue.
Famously, Luther wrote ‘I simply taught, preached, wrote God’s Word: otherwise I did nothing… I did nothing: the Word did it all.’
Not so, says Stuart: ‘The truth is that he did nothing and the Word, on its own, did nothing either. Yes, the Word, on its own, did nothing. When the gospel has success, we can’t write about it as Luther did.’
The error, says Stuart, is called ‘mediate regeneration’ and it ‘did terrible damage to the Lutheran movement’ and ‘is on the march once more…[and] has taken over vast sectors of British Evangelicalism…. If we don’t wake up, it will soon take us over completely. From then on, gospel work in this country will be ruined.’
Strong words. What on earth is he talking about? WHO is he talking about?
The error is this: ‘the Spirit, or the principle of new life, is shut up in the Word… Just sow the seed and people will get converted! If they don’t, it will be because they have persistently resisted the appeals of God’s Spirit coming to them through that word. His power is resident in the Word, but that power has been resisted. Where the gospel has little success, there is a human explanation.’
Stuart goes on to argue that the Holy Spirit does not Work through the word, but that (normally) his operation accompanies the Word; sometimes, however, he can work without the Word.
It is, I think, (some of) our Anglican brethren that Stuart has primarily in his sights, including the Proclamation Trust, though they are not mentioned. ‘The great emphasis among those of this mind-set is therefore on what they call ‘Word Ministry’.’ And what it leads to, among other things, is ‘Most British preachers study more than they pray.’
I can only speak for myself. I ‘came under the influence’ of the Proc Trust in the early 90s. They taught me a great deal about careful exegesis. About structuring sermons. About care to make sure that the sermon said what the text said. About using illustrations. About compelling introductions and conclusions. They're all good things.
I shuddered a bit when one of their star preachers (rightly much respected) told me that all-night prayer-meetings in Korean churches were a sign that they hadn’t shaken off Buddhism properly (!); but generally, I lapped up what I heard.
And gradually, ever so gradually, I began to realise that I was putting my confidence in the sermon: if I structured it right, exegeted the text right, illustrated it right – then that’s all that was necessary. Nice of you to show up, Holy Spirit – but we don’t need you thanks. We’ve got your Word.
And that’s not right. Is it?