Skip to content

18

Luther Preaching

Let me try out a couple of statements on you:

Church is God's mission strategy for the world.

Agree? Sure you do. Ok, what about this one - straight out of Romans 10:

Preaching is God's normal means for converting the lost.

Cool with that? Good!

So then, let's put these truths together, and let's say:

The Sunday sermon is absolutely central to our evangelistic task.

In other words, if we want to help our churches be evangelistic, the pulpit should be at the forefront of our thinking and practice.

I suggest that, often, this isn't the case because we think of Sunday preaching as "resourcing the devout" rather than "raising the dead." In this situation preaching is aimed squarely at "the saints" with the emphasis on saints (and not sinners). Preaching here easily becomes an explanation of our requisite beliefs and duties as Christians (plus some motivational prompts, perhaps). In other words our preaching is law.

Result? The congregation feels burdened, the Christians feel like church has nothing to say to their friends and if non-Christians find their way in they feel like it's not for them. Perhaps even deeper than all this, the Christians go away feeling that the good news aint so good, that they need to try harder at this Christian caper and that therefore they're not free to go out into the world because maybe this week their real job is to maintain their position on the holiness perch. All of this is deadly to evangelism - whether or not non-Christians are present on a Sunday!

How should we react to this? Well evangelism must spring from a deep love and appreciation for the evangel. So let's think more deeply about the  gospel - we'll go back to basics:

We are born in Adam according to the flesh.

We are born again in Christ by the Spirit.

Until Christ's return we have Adam's flesh and Christ's Spirit.

We are in Adam by nature and in Christ by grace.

We know our Adamic reality by sight and our Christian identity by faith.

These are the realities behind the truth that we are simultaneously righteous and a sinner.

 These twin realities remain with us until Christ's return - we will live with these tensions all our lives.

Certainly we must proclaim that Christ is stronger than Adam; the Spirit is stronger than the flesh; our righteousness determines us not our sin; grace triumphs over nature; we walk by faith not sight; etc; etc.

But even though God's grace in Christ far exceeds our sinful nature in Adam, the tension is not obliterated in this age.

Therefore I can still be called a sinner, I still have flesh, I'm still an offspring of Adam.

My Christian identity comes to me while I remain in Adam.

All of this upholds the vital truth that God's justifies the wicked. (Romans 4:5)

As Luther says:

– Martin Luther (Luther, WA, 1.183ff).

Since this is so, here's what follows...

God's grace meets us in our sinful natures.

God addresses us as sinners in Adam even as He calls us righteous in Christ.

In ourselves we have sin, only in Christ do we have righteousness.

We are called, therefore, to live not by possession but by gift.

That gift comes to us by the Spirit in the Word.

Therefore...

Preaching means addressing sinners and proclaiming the grace of God to them in Jesus.

This does not minimize the "how much more" of God's abundant grace, it is precisely the context for it.

Preaching is not resourcing the devout but raising the dead.

This is not simply about "evangelistic preaching" at the "revival meeting." It is the true nature of all preaching.

If this is true...

The job of the preacher is not to top up the spirituality of Christians who have righteousness in their grasp and need to beef it up a bit.

The job of the preacher is to address people sunk in sin and failure and to tell them of a Saviour who is beyond them.

Crucially therefore the audience for the sermon is "the children of Adam."

All of which means...

The Sunday preacher does not have to choose between two very different kinds of hearer for their message.

The congregation is not split between those who have made a one-off decision for Jesus and those who are yet to choose for Christ.

The Christian needs to hear of their sin and Christ's salvation. The non-Christian needs to hear of their sin and Christ's salvation.

The same gospel is for Christian and non-Christian alike.

If preachers actually believed this and actually preached like this I believe our churches would be transformed.

Christians would be saved from the hypocrisy Luther spoke of above.

Christians would know their sin and the grace of a gospel that meets them where they really are instead of their prettied-up Sunday best.

Christians would experience the grace of God more powerfully through a gospel that doesn't merely strengthen their resolve but saves their souls.

Christians would hear a gospel that applies to the children of Adam and not just to the religious - i.e. a gospel that's relevant to their Monday to Saturday existence.

Christians would get more of a vision for their vocation out in the world, realising that the Scriptures teach us how to live not just how to function as a Christian.

This will equip us for how we can address our friends with the same gospel. Because it really is the same gospel that answers our friends' problems.

It might even inspire us to think "So and so needs to come and hear about this, we were talking about anger management (or whatever) just the other day."

At the end of the service we might just "go in peace to love and serve the Lord" with gusto - not trying to top up our functional righteousness with a few more churchy practices.

Therefore, we might actually feel free to get out into the world, love our neighbours and maybe even befriend them!

And we could then feel that church is a place we could invite our friends - and maybe even do it.

Those are ten benefits of gospel preaching every Sunday and I haven't even mentioned the fact that non-Christians will very likely be present and may just get converted!

So how about it? Tim Keller gives it a go and he does alright, don't you reckon? So can we have a go too? Can we address the whole congregation as the children of Adam - every one of them needing Jesus desperately? Can we see the Scriptures as addressing the problems of life not just the difficulties of Christian piety? Can we do more than resource the devout - can we, by the Spirit's almighty power, raise the dead through the gospel word? If we don't aim for that I'm not sure we have the right to call ourselves gospel people.

Some preaching offers Christ - like a meal in a restaurant. Some preaching offers 'biblical truth' - like raw ingredients at a wholesalers

If you’re a Christian you are “in Christ”. And you can’t get closer than “in”. #EnjoyYourDay

When Christians protest: "Non-Cs will Never believe/understand THREE [or TWO or ONE]" I often find it's They who don't believe/understand it

If you are in Christ, even if He wanted to send you away, God would have to un-knit His own being to do so. #EnjoyYourDay

Jesus encamps around you, the Spirit fills you, the Father beams at you. #EnjoyYourDay

The Greek mind makes vertical contrasts: ideal is above, we are below
Hebrew thinking makes horizontal contrasts: ideal is later, we are now

When we think about the visible/invisible church, is our mindset Greek or Hebrew?

Anyone who says 'Men try to fix things, women just want to talk it out' has never spoken to an older woman about child-rearing ;-)

The Risen Lord cooks breakfast for total failures (Jn 21). He hasnt changed in 2000 years. He loves u just the same. #EnjoyYourDay

God is not just forgiving, He’s Father. You’re not just accepted, you’re adopted. #EnjoyYourDay

Adoption into the life of God, thru the blood of the Son! What kind of God do we have? One who gave everything to have us #EnjoyYourDay

Worship is 24/7, sure, but so is marriage. Setting aside special times to enjoy it does not undermine the ongoing reality - it sustains it.

Priesthood of all believers, sure, but Christ gives different gifts and roles to *help* our corporate priestliness (Eph4:11-13; 1Pet4:10-11)

"We're saved by grace not rituals." Exactly, so take communion every chance u get & let it proclaim to u that grace that u prize.

If minds emerged from purely Darwinian processes how did we ever arrive at a Darwin? Fitness to reproduce does not equal fitness to think.

If you're looking for proof of this, ask yourself who at your high school was considered fittest to reproduce? The honours students?

The Good Shepherd has not retired. The One who gave His life 4u watches over, guides, feeds & protects u right now. #EnjoyYourDay

Good news: God has prepared good works for you to walk in today. (Try to look surprised when it happens). #EnjoyYourDay

Gnostic Gospels: Fan fiction from beyond the fringe.

Actually, as I've thought about it, it's more like Frenemy Fiction

Last night on TV I saw a genuine marriage where the celebrant said "By the power of your love for one another I pronounce you husband&wife"!

Then again, I've also seen baptisms where the minister says "On the basis of your profession of faith, I now baptise you..."!

Jesus does not wish you well on your way to heaven. He is heaven. And you’re in Him. #EnjoyYourDay

Every word of Ps119:25 articulates the nature of the flesh & the Spirit:
My soul cleaves to the dust;
Give me life according to your word.

Jesus doesn’t merely give us a legal status, He IS our legal status. And not just legal- royal and familial and...dare I go further? 2Pet1:4

We say "We need more harvest." Jesus says "You need more workers." (Matt 9:37)

On the plus side, @Stephenfry's comments remind us that we do Not worship Authority-writ-large. We too despise and reject the author of evil

For @StephenFry to treat Christianity without a Fall is not just straw-manning. It's shooting the enemy and calling him "God"

One irony regarding Fry's tirade: He rails against disease, decay and death but only ends up enthroning them as lords of the cosmos.

A much deeper irony: Fry takes aim at the author of evil and Christians rally to defend the monster.

The Father IS Love, the Son IS Grace, the Spirit IS Fellowship (2 Cor 13:14). You have everything you could ever need or want. #EnjoyYourDay

When our champion wins, we celebrate. Thank God we have the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1Cor15:57) #EnjoyYourDay

Jesus does not hit “Snooze” on your sins, to revisit them later. He’s hit “Dismiss”, once and for all. #EnjoyYourDay

What surrounded Jesus' gospel preaching? Matt9:35-38
LOVE 4 the lost,
FAITH to see their true condition,
HOPE for a coming harvest,
PRAYER.

All that harms & perverts comes from a defeated enemy. Your victorious Friend brings fullness & life: even thru this harm. #EnjoyYourDay

Let persecution be our context not our complex.

Arguments about the length of days in Genesis 1 don't get very far. Much better to talk about the *kind* of days they were: "good".

Father, Son & Spirit means Fullness, Poured-out & Poured-in. Divine Fullness is Poured-out for you and Poured-in to you. #EnjoyYourDay

To say "Jesus is the only way to God" is only superficially Christ-centred. Far more fundamentally: "There IS no God except the Jesus-God."

Without the eternal Word of God it's not simply that we lack the vocabulary to speak of God. Without Christ there is no God to speak about.

We can’t imagine ourselves into a world w/o suffering since WE wouldn’t exist in this other world. More importantly the LAMB wouldn’t exist

The god the New Atheists decry certainly does not exist. #EnjoyYourDay

Jesus is not 'the only Way' like a bridge is the only way 2 an island. He's the only Way like a light beam is the only way 2 see the source

You have nothing to bring God but weakness & failure. Yet this is exactly what He accepts thru Jesus our Saviour #EnjoyYourDay

Whatever you’ve done this weekend, whatever you will do this week, God’s love is as free as the sunshine. (Matt 5:45) #EnjoyYourDay

Reminder to self: Videos don't go viral. People go viral.

As Abraham precedes Moses so the new covenant is older than the old. Galatians 3

Christians are new covenant not old covenant people. This means we are children of Abraham not of Moses. Galatians 3

He’s magnetic, heroic & this world’s true Champion. He knows u by name, prays 4u constantly & longs to see u face to face #EnjoyYourDay

If you like building personalised lighthouses that’s your own lookout.

At our bespoke undertakers, our motto is: It’s Your Funeral

Marmalade: for when life hands you marmals

I respect the makers of colonnades even more when I remember what life has handed them.

Cuba’s big problem has been finding a successor to Castro but no one wants to play second Fidel

I told them "You must stop snorting marijuana" because sometimes you have to say what's right even if it puts joints out of noses.

Your list of passive-aggressive tactics made a glaring omission

If it's all the same to you I'll call you a monist

If it means nothing to you I'll call you Niall

The Spanish must be constantly overwhelmed by their todo lists

Let the dish run away with the spoon, it's the fork that counts.

-I've had no help in thinking up a girl's name.
-Monica?
-Sure, or handle, appellation, sobriquet, whatever. I'm just saying noone's helped

I just made a bad karma joke. It got what it deserved

Warning: there are some bad karma jokes going around

"There's only 1 word to describe my failed attempt at a prosthetic testicle" Shambolic.

Is it worth catching up with the #GreatBritishSewingBee if I haven't seen Great British Sewing A?

I like comparing historical periods now and then

Face facts people: the average Briton is mean

In gritty Channel 4 documentaries, 8 out of 10 youths say they refuse to become a statistic.

Compulsive talking is a bore I must say

81

Baptism

On Sunday we are having Ruby baptised.
Here are some reasons why

1. Because we are children of Abraham so we treat our children the way he treated his (Genesis 17).

2. Because the New Testament never retracts 2000 years of Biblical practice regarding households and the covenant sign.

3. Because the covenant sign (even the sign and seal of "justification by faith") is explicitly for children of the covenant to grow up into (Romans 4:11)

4. Because sacraments are visible words and we want to tell her God loves her.

5. Because we want to surround her with every gospel promise.

6. Because we want to raise her as a Christian.

7. Because she's not a Muslim, a pagan or a neutral. She is ours and we are Christ's.

8. Because "as for me and my *household* we will serve the LORD." (Josh 24:15)

9. Because in the Bible when households rejoice in the Lord, households are baptised. This household rejoices in the Lord.

10. Because we want to pray and worship with Ruby and foreigners to the covenant cannot do that.

11. Because we want to declare to her, to the church, the world and every principality and power that Ruby belongs to Jesus.

12. Because she belongs to Christ's body.

13. Because nothing says "Gospel" like declaring Christ's love to the powerless.

14. Because we want her personal response to Jesus to be a personal *response* to Jesus.

15. Because we think faith is so vital that we must do everything we can to elicit faith - therefore we drench her in God's promises.

16. Because to be credo-anything, the promise must come first. And baptism is a promise.

17. Because we don't so much dedicate Ruby to Jesus, He claims her for His own.

18. Because Jesus said "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them." (Matthew 19:14)

19. Because, as regards our simple trust in Christ, we are meant to be like children, not the other way around. (Matthew 18:3)

20. Because faith does not earn gospel promises, gospel promises elicit faith.

21. Because sacraments are not our declarations to God but His to us. The arrow comes down - and it comes down to the unworthy.

 

 

18

the-thing-movie-poster

We're always making a thing out of things that aren't things. There's a technical term for this but I'm just going to call it thingification. The name's not important. What is important is that it's ruining your Christian life. Let me show you how with reference to 6 things that are commonly thingified.

.

Grace is not a thing.

"Grace, Grace, Grace" we sing. And I think "She sounds awesome, I wish I could meet her." But I can't meet her because there's no such person. There's only Jesus who is given to me by the Father apart from any desert of my own. That's grace. But grace is not a thing. Grace is the gift of a Person and if I want to know more grace I need to train my eyes on Jesus. Then I'll see how freely He's given. At that point I have an experience of grace, but my experience won't be of a thing but of a Him. (For more see here).

.

Faith is not a thing.

"We've got to have more faith" we cry. And so we check the little perspex window on our heart to see if the faith pilot-light is flickering strong. Oops, looks like it's going out. Quick, turn the faith tap to maximum. But  how? What is faith? Again, it's not a thing. Faith is to recognise and receive Jesus (John 1:12-13). He has been graciously given, therefore we trustingly receive Him. But faith is not something we dredge up out of our inner spiritual life. If you want "more faith", don't look for faith - look to Jesus. That's how faith comes. (For more see here).

.

Prayer is not a thing.

"I need to work on my prayer life" we say. And we mean it. But so often what we mean is "I need to improve at this spiritual discipline because my lack of proficiency reflects badly on my stature as a Christian." Or maybe we want to improve because we want to "improve our relationship with God." In some ways this motivation is even worse because it pictures "my prayer life" as the thing that connects me to God, rather than Christ. Then it becomes very important to focus on "my prayer life" but as something quite separate from focusing on Christ our Mediator. So we force ourselves to go to the prayer meeting and hear someone pray: "Please may God bless this work..." And we think, "Huh? I thought we were praying to God? Are we? Or are we performing a thing called prayer in front of one another?" Perhaps the pray-er does manage to address God but then mixes up the Persons. At that point you have to ask: Has prayer become a thing that we do. Should it not be an enjoyment of our adoption before the Father through union with the Son in the joy of the Spirit? But so often, don't we find that prayer becomes a thing we must get right. And a thing that stands between ourselves and communion with God? (For more see here).

.

Bible Reading is not a thing.

"I must read my Bible" we vow, "every day, come rain, hail or shine." Well alright but why? Another spiritual discipline to master? A duty to tick off the list? If we manage it, is there not a sense of "Phew, job done!" But what if "Bible Reading" isn't a thing in the Christian life. What if Bible Reading is simply how the Father speaks His word to us in Christ and by the Spirit. What if Bible Reading is not a thing we need to get right but a word in our ear from our gracious God? (For more see here).

.

The Sermon is not a thing.

"What did you make of The Sermon" we ask each other after the service. Suddenly The Sermon is a thing - a thing in between the preacher and the congregation. It's a production that we then pass comment on. And from the preacher's point of view the same thingification can happen: "we prepare and deliver a sermon" rather than "herald God's word to a congregation." Unfortunately this thing arises in between preacher and people - a thing that will be dissected and focused upon by both sides. But really there is no such thing. There's only God's word coming down through the preacher's lips. There's only a congregation hearing the voice of the living Christ. The Sermon is an artifice. It is not a proper object of our attention - only the Christ which it proclaims. (For more see here).

.

Discipleship is not a thing. (Updated)

"The church has woefully neglected discipleship" they lament. We all give a hearty 'Amen' then we look in our Bibles for the word "discipleship" and, shock horror, it's not there. The word "disciple" is certainly there, but discipleship? No, the Bible is not interested in disciple-craft. Jesus does not want us to be good at the art of following Him. He just wants us to follow Him. Yet, might it be that discipleship is one more concept that takes us away from Jesus Himself and makes us dwell on a thing in abstraction from Christ? It's worth considering. (For more see here).

.

What do you think? And are there other aspects of the Christian life we thingify?

2

RU in Christ? Yr sin is crucified forever, yr righteousness is raised eternally & UR ascended to God's right hand. 2Cor5:17-21 #EnjoyYourDay

"You're so obsessed with the Christ, the Son of God, but what about the other members of the Trinity?" <- said far too often

NB: We do not honour each person of the Trinity by providing equal air time for the Three. There is a way to honour God - with a capital W

My editor keeps writing "OUTSTANDING" in the margin of my manuscript. So kind considering all the corrections I need to make but haven... oh

Nothing's intractable. Nothing's a lost cause. Jesus said “My Father is at work to this day, and I too am working.” Jn5:17 #EnjoyYourDay

The God of Easter is not into repair so much as resurrection. Therefore death is not a diversion, it's the way.

I think Emma may be my favourite gospeller. Cant think of anyone else who uncovers our desperate need then offers Christ quite so powerfully

What holds the world together? Money? Power? The strong/weak nuclear force? No, the God-Man thru Peace-Making-Sacrifice #Col1 #EnjoyYourDay

Is it my imagination or are liturgical churches more able to hold diverse races/classes/personalities together - on a Sunday at least?

If so might it be that ditching liturgy doesn't so much reach 'the people' as reach 'the people like us'?

You are completely unnecessary but entirely loved. #EnjoyYourDay..

If Billy Graham had his time over he'd be an evangelical Anglican. But of course!

In Jesus, God is not on your back. He's at your side (Ps 16:8) #EnjoyYourDay

Painting the nursery. I hear Muslim designers make 1 deliberate mistake cos only Allah is perfect. Well I believe in total depravity so...

You won’t find gold chasing rainbows. But there’s a Golden One who wears the rainbow – Ez1:28 – He’s come to find you #EnjoyYourDay

Oxford's Professor of Church History says evangelicalism is all about "our choice for God." Unfortunately he's right

#ENGvSWI A Swiss goal here would please the neutrals

As the Father has loved Christ - eternally, paternally, unreservedly, unremittingly - so has Christ loved you. John15:9 #EnjoyYourDay

Faith = dependence. Therefore the "strongest" Christian is the one who feels their weakness the most.

Yr suffering is achieving what yr safety never cd: maturity (Rom5) in fellowship w Father (Heb12), Son (Phil3) &Spirit (Rom8) #EnjoyYourDay

Apologetics is like good works #wonderful
OTOH
Apologetics is like good works #dreadful

Sound reasoning is a wonderful fruit of the gospel
Sound reasoning is a dreadful root for the gospel

'ALEXANDER ELLIOT ANDERSON SALMOND' is an anagram of: 'Eediot annexes land an' - Lo! - Drams roll!' And what have YOU done today?

In all your affliction He shares (Isaiah 63:9). With all His affection He cares (John 15:9). #EnjoyYourDay

Oscar Leonard Carl Pistorius is an anagram of S.A. CALL DOOR STORIES CRAP: I RUN!

On trial, he claimed he had two personas: Oscar Nestorius 

 

Jer33:15-21 If, this morning, the sun sinks back down into blackness then Christ's love can fail you. Otherwise... #Enjoyyourday

Jesus is the true expression of humanity. It's second nature to Him

Every blessing that belongs to Christ is yours. Every curse that belongs to you is His. #EnjoyYourDay

A spinal injuries nurse just told me: quadriplegics often cope far better than those with more minor injuries. They're grateful to be alive

Which story do we fit our own suffering into? "I was on the up until this setback..."? Or "I was headed for the pit until God..."?

Does yr listlessness, lovelessness or laziness disqualify u? No "Blessed are the poor in spirit 4 the kingdom belongs 2 them." #EnjoyYourDay

No matter what u've been called in the past, u have a new name in Jesus: Hephzibah. It means "My delight is in her" (Is62:1-4) #EnjoyYourDay

It’s important for someone to sit Wales down and say: “Scotland and England both love you very much. NONE of this is your fault.” #indyref

 John11: Martha got truth, Mary got tears, Lazarus got triumph. Jesus knows how to meet your needs #EnjoyYourDay

God's power + wisdom = a bleeding Sacrifice. Does that add up for you? Then you're being saved. 1Cor1 #EnjoyYourDay

In Jesus, your past cannot destroy you & your future cannot derail you. #EnjoyYouDay

God's love isn't a warm fuzzy, it's a blood sacrifice made 4u in all yr wickedness. So BE a sinner loved by Christ & #Enjoyyourday

Your Father warned you there'd be days like this. He also promised a Future Glory that far outweighs every ounce of suffering #EnjoyYouDay..

The Essence of Evangelism: "What do you make of Jesus? ...I know but what do you make of *Jesus*? ...Totally but what do you make of JESUS?"

A couple of paraphrases of 1 Peter 3:15 coming up... One is more faithful to the original than the other...

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason you're so darned cool, clever, credible AND Christian!"

"Always be prepared to tell people it's JESUS who got you through the hard times. Cos if u suffer well, clinging to Christ, people will ask"

Every tear wiped away. Death, mourning, crying & pain abolished. All creation renewed. Jesus face to face. #ComingSoon #Rev21 #EnjoyYourDay

Preached on "baptism saves you" this morning at Worthing Tab (1Pet3). Just preparing "Mary the mother of God" (Luke1) for tonight. #baplican

Very glad communion is the preacher's great safety net - proclaiming Jesus' death far better than we ever could.

Exaggeration is the deadliest of all sins. #NoExaggeration

As far as musical roles go, Yul Brynner isn't competitive. He knows it's all about the Thai king part

"lift our eyes to your Son
enthroned on Calvary;
and as we behold his meekness,
shatter our earthly pride;
for he is Lord for ever & ever."
-- Common Worship refrain after Psalm 2

In Christ you have peace, in the world you have trouble, but take heart: Christ has overcome the world. (Jn16:33) #EnjoyYourDay

#HeForShe rightly makes gender equality a male issue too. It rightly says stereotypes can enslave. But what Positively do our genders mean?

#HeForShe works when #He stands up for #She not when #He abandons #He-ness and #She abandons #She-ness.

- “Guevara was easy. Name another one.”
- “Given”
- “Ah, Two Che”

I always wanted to manage Slade but someone else got the Nod.

I could get used to this Man Pampering. It sure saves on bathroom breaks.

Everywhere I go I see automated crazy people. Maybe it’s psychos’o-matic

My boss hates over-familiar greetings so f I catch myself saying an absent-minded "Hiya", I always follow up with a devastating karate chop

Beelzebeadworker: crafty devil!

I envy clocks. They have time on their hands

I hate milkmaids and all their kind. Sorry: dairy intolerant

If you like Pop, you'll LOVE Bublé Rap.

Some modes of execution are so lame and inefficient. I recommend old style stonings: only bolder.

Of COURSE it's called 'nominative determinism', what else could it be?

"Do unto others..." Just saying.

- HEY 'I.S.' - JUST REPEATING YOUR INITIALS MAKES YOU LOOK RIDICULOUS.
- THIS IS ISISISM!
- SEE?

Am I dominated by negativity? I'm thinking No

Coeliacs: there's gluten for punishment

I've started copying out the newspaper on my body. People say I have too much Times on my hand

My dad keeps remarrying faster than my mum. Always one step ahead.

Don't you just wish that cheese would jump into your mouth? If only briefly

Misanthropes hate do-gooders and all their kind

If you still don't know what vicarious means, I've got two words for you.

Sisterly agreement: sororarity #BadPortmanteaux

Veni Vidi Vici sounds best in Latin. Unless you’ve just won at conkers. 

15

Emma Watson and #HeForShe are still trending strongly after her speech at the UN

TRANSCRIPT OF SPEECH

The essence of #HeForShe seems entirely praiseworthy. Gender equality is everyone's issue. It has to be.

I subscribe to @EverydaySexism on Twitter and am constantly shocked by the abuse that women are routinely forced to endure at the hands of men. It disgusts me and it makes me triply resolved to teach men what real manhood is - not degrading or objectifying women, but honouring them. It seems obvious to me that a woman's greatest hope of liberation and flourishing is for the men in her life to learn self-control - especially sexual self-control - and for those men to empower and bless the women in their lives. In other words it seems obvious to me that the cause of gender equality is advanced precisely where men are taught to be what men are supposed to be - sacrificial, Christ-like servants who will die for their women. Call me naive but I think a return to the Bible is a woman's best hope for equality.

For this reason I take #HeForShe to be a well-intentioned move in the right direction. Of course it's easy to be cynical about the zeitgeistiness of it all - a young, 20-something celebrity calling us to click on the latest website - but we can forgive it that. I think the goal is noble.

But then those goals become completely undermined by a couple of other commitments evident in the speech. At one point she says: "“It is time that we all see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals." Hang on a minute. I'm all for opposing gender stereotypes - which Watson does well in the speech - but let's not oppose the distinctness of gender itself.

Emma WatsonThe irony is that undercutting "he"-ness and "she"-ness with a single spectrum will not turn out well for the cause of women's liberation. If I am positioned on a spectrum according to my personality type, my preferences and my actions, then who will protect "an end of the spectrum" and on what basis? Spectrums get dominated - they always do - and they get dominated by the strong over the weak. Do women really want to abandon the particular protection of a given identity - one which they can proudly claim as "born that way" - and adopt a spot on a sliding scale?

As an example - you could make an argument for abolishing a men's and women's draw at Wimbledon. Why have these 'opposing ideals' - it's a spectrum after all? You could spin this as an argument for equality, couldn't you? "Let every tennis player identify simply as a tennis player and let their tennis speak for itself?" What would happen at Wimbledon? Men would win and women would be utterly squeezed out. The spectrum does not favour those who are weaker physically nor those who have historically been oppressed. The spectrum will only exacerbate inequalities and force the weak to fight a losing battle to be honoured.

The greatest example of this in the speech came at 4:52

I think it is right that I should be able to make decisions about my own body

It prompted the first and loudest bout of applause. It was chilling to me to see a talk on equality garnering such enthusiastic support for the oppression of the weak. What a travesty for women to applaud the 'rights' of the strong to eliminate all those little girls, simply because the strong can. 

I hope though that we can see how this pro-choice slogan fits perfectly with a 'spectrum' mentality. Richard Dawkins identified the chief problem with the pro-life position as 'The Tyranny of the Discontinuous Mind'. Dawkins insists that we not think in binary catergories - life or non-life - it's all on a spectrum. The status of the child in the womb is not on an on-off switch but on a dimmer. We must be pragmatic about when we accord the child the right to protection.

In other words, it's a spectrum. With this spectrum it's very obvious that there is a strong end and a weak end but, crucially, it's down to those at the weak end to prove themselves worthy of honour and protection. This is where it heads when we don't have God-given categories like 'life', like 'man', like 'woman.' Without these givens (and hear the word grace in the word 'given') we must earn and prove everything.

"He For She" is a great idea. But it's completely undercut if you make "He" abandon his "He"-ness and "She" abandon her "She"-ness. These have been given to us, not as 'opposing ideals' but as a complementary pairing. We are called, in all our distinctives, to a one-ness of love and mutual respect. #HeForShe works. #SHEEEHEEEESH does not. The spectrum is a spectre - it's the tyranny of the continuous mind.

1

Steven Holmes' brilliant article begins...

A woman (Christian) I know told me a few weeks ago that she objected to being asked to tick a box on equal opportunities forms that said ‘heterosexual’. Married for over twenty years, she felt that ticking that box implied that she had erotic desires for people other than her husband, people defined by a particular characteristic (being male); this was not her experience of her own sexuality, and she resented being forced to suggest that it was.
In the culture I live in this self-narration is deeply counter-cultural; but the culture I live in is weird, or better WEIRD, and that is extraordinarily important.
The ‘WEIRD’ acronym was coined by psychologists who realised, rather late in the day some of us might feel, that performing psychological experiments on sample groups who all shared a particular characteristic might distort the results quite badly. Many psychology sample groups are only students, or only people in contact with universities (I receive at least one invitation a week to take part in a psychology study via the university email list); more pointedly, a huge majority (95%+?) of psychological studies have been carried out by Western universities on Western people. Something like 12% of the current population of the planet lives in a classic Western society: Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich, and Democratic’ (‘WEIRD’); 88% are not WEIRD, and so are normal. Historically, of course, the situation is even more lopsided: until the nineteenth century, no-one was WEIRD.

Read the whole thing

 

For more articles on the subject, from me...

I choose not to be straight

Why we should go after “straight Christians

Podcast: Why we must be sexual sinners and shouldn’t be straight

The idolatries lurking within some conservative Christian world-views

And from others...

The novelty of our modern views of sexuality

Against heterosexuality

8

Blown AwayYou may know that Emma and I have three little ones who are with Jesus (for more read here). But today we can announce that we have a fourth little one who is with us - in utero at any rate. It looks like this little one might see the light of day! In other words, we're pregnant! But I put it like that because, well, that's kinda how pregnancies are it seems: incredibly precarious and surrounded by uncertainty and death. But that's where the life and hope is.

We're taking a while to get used to the "life and hope" stuff - this pregnancy has been 'touch and go' at many points and Emma and I have been stuck down some very deep pits in the past. We're also aware that we have travelled with many other couples through childlessness and the news that we're pregnant will, understandably, be received by some with grief as well as joy.

These sorts of things always seem to get missed off the Facebook Status Updates. And that's probably why we've mainly avoided Facebook during struggles with childlessness. Those status updates aren't wrong - simple expressions of "We're pregnant!" aren't wrong - but it's struck me powerfully today that they're by no means the full story. And it's worth giving space for that full story at points.

All that being said, now is a time for rejoicing. And as we allow others in on our news, you help us find our bearings. Now is the time to say "The Lord has been good." And you have no idea how good He's been! Not many years ago I thought I'd have to bury my wife, now we've got a nursery to decorate. The Lord is so good!

So with the bigger story in mind, and in fellowship with one another, celebrate with me what God has done:

Some wandered in desert wastelands,
finding no way to a city where they could settle.
 They were hungry and thirsty,
and their lives ebbed away.
 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
 He led them by a straight way
to a city where they could settle.
 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
 for he satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things." (Psalm 107:4-9)

 

11

Daniel Rowland"I like this tune," I said to my translator above the noise of the choir, "What are they singing?" He almost had to yell: "This is a very popular hymn in Malawi. It's called Just because you go to church doesn't mean you're going to heaven." "Oh" I said, watching the choir dance up and down the aisle, singing the chorus for the 50th time. Someone slid into church late, hoping to go unnoticed. He failed. Perhaps I'm imagining it, but some of the singers seemed to direct their words pointedly at the late-comer:

Just because you go to church doesn't mean you're going to heaven.

Well, it's true. And certainly you can understand the urge to sing it where nominal church attendance abounds. But it doesn't really capture the dominant note of the Bible. You see the Bible, more often than not, speaks of church as heaven.

"You have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly,to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven." (Hebrews 12:22-23)

Because you're going to church you are going to heaven. You see that's also a biblical truth - a central one. I don't mean that every church-goer is guaranteed paradise, I mean that - right now - church is paradise. Forget the final reckoning for a moment, church is heavenly - that's the overwhelming witness of the Bible.

Daniel Rowlands, one of Wales' mightiest preachers, would watch his congregation walking to church on a Sunday and remark: "Here they come, bringing heaven with them."

That's the emphasis in the Bible. And yes, some who came to Rowlands church may be in hell right now. But not because they didn't taste heaven in church, they did (Heb 6:4-8). Everyone did - that's what church is. 

There can be an unhealthy preoccupation among evangelicals with distinguishing the visible church from the invisible elect. We're always looking past the tangible concreteness of our actual brothers and sisters, gathered around the word, the bread and the wine. We want to say "Yeah, whatever, those are just externals. The real issue is down deep in your soul." And so we encourage the spiritually serious among us to be deep-soul-divers, trying desperately to plumb their own depths. All the while it's church - in all its ordinariness - which actually does the deep work in us. The word exposes and heals us, the bread and wine nourish us "deep down", our brothers and sisters en-courage us in ways that nothing else can.

Church is heavenly. Whatever heaven we seek which is not intimately tied to church might just turn out to be a false spirituality. I fear that - in that false sense - there are some people so heavenly minded they're of no churchly use.

 

Why am I married? Not because I’m inclined to love the institution but because I met someone. Why am I a Christian? Same answer.

Disgusted to read the behaviour of men on @EverydaySexism feed. True sexual liberation requires sexual self control - esp the men.

Your success at ‘sin management’ does not define you. Christ does: “Holy”, “Without Blemish”, “Free From Accusation” Col1:22 #EnjoyYourDay.

Yesss! "Left Behind Movie" has just added me on Google+.
#eRaptured #CaughtUpInTheCloud

Sins cleansed, darkness conquered, creation liberated, bodies raised, tears wiped away and Jesus. Face to face, Forever. #EnjoyYourDay

If it's anarthrous shouldn't it lose the "an"? But if 'arthrous' shouldn't it be thearthrous? Guess that's why they call em Grammar Nasties

I'm a slave of the Liberator. There's freedom nowhere else.

New word for ontological naturalism: Solidsism. Like solipsism it's impossible to argue against once you grant the premises. #Solidsism

In the end, arguments against both solipsism and solidsism are immaterial. But to the solidsist, that should be a clue.

Oh good. If Brazil lose I hear the authorities will calm the crowds by reading to them all about their famous Rio Tact. #Riotact

#Irenaeus in a word? Handy

At the British Museum see Babylonians, Persians, Greeks&Romans. At yr local church join the Son of Man’s eternal kingdom #Dan7 #EnjoyYourDay

 

In marriage - focus on your sin and their potential, not the other way around.

Whatever needs forgiving is forgiven. Whatever needs fixing will be fixed. Whatever needs facing, Christ faces with us. #EnjoyYourDay

Good news, you don’t need to “find your identity in Jesus”! Christ IS your life. #Col3 #EnjoyYourDay

It’s not just your sins – *you* have been transferred to Christ. Now you inhabit the realm of the Beloved Son. Col1:13f #EnjoyYourDay

Words don't merely map the world, they make it and move it.

When Jesus came to the Jordan He didn’t Judge the failures, He joined them: entering our filth to bring us 2 His Family #Matt3 #EnjoyYourDay

- What do we want?
- More unity!
- On whose terms do we want it?
- Ours!

 

Are you a Christian? Jesus is yours and you are His. Song of Songs 6:3 #EnjoyYourDay

I just typed "Why does Google homepage say it's 2013?" into the Google homepage. I got an error message and now my computer's frozen.

I'm expecting GoogleTroopers to knock at my door any minute and arrest me for gross insubordination.

I'd like to take this opportunity to restate my appreciation for, and allegiance to, our Google Overlords. Long to reign over us.

PROPHECY: Manpering will become a thing (ie Man-Pampering). This will be huge. You heard it here first.

Vindicated! “Manpering” exists already. Buoyed by my prophetic success I now predict the rise of microblogging and reflexive photography

So Germany looking to swiftly knock out France before turning their attention to world domination. #DontMentionTheWorldCup

Neymar no more :(

Weeping then joy, anger then favour, mourning then dancing, the pit then the heights Ps30 One morning soon will be The Morning #EnjoyYourDay

If a scientist explained their data with recourse to the miraculous: 50 others would, understandably, set about finding a better explanation >

< But all science rests on a miracle: the comprehensibility of the cosmos. It's the *Christian* who steps forward to explain the miracle

Gal2:20 Your "I" (active subject) has been crucified & no longer lives. Your "me" (passive object) is loved and laid hold of. #EnjoyYourDay

According to the sermon on the mount, our Father in heaven: shines, sees x2, knows x2, forgives, feeds, clothes, gives.

Let's hope the Commonwealth Games can lift us from this sporting yawn-fest. Am I right?

“The sin beneath all our sins is 2trust the serpent's lie that we cannot trust the love&grace of Christ&must take matters in2 our own hands” (Luther)

#5LeviticalOfferings: Old life condemned, New offered to God, Guilt cleansed, Recompense made, Peace secured. #ChristHasDoneIt #EnjoyYourDay

"To die" is not a valid bucket list entry. Unless you're Jesus. Then it's item number one.

Peter took Jesus aside: "It's just that, as bucket lists go, "Dying" feels a bit brief. And maybe lacking in ambition?" (Mark8:32 amplified)

Also sad to be missing #EMA2014 - but #EMO2014 would be interesting too. You could sing #EMOhymns like And can it bleed, Meekness and Misery

Other #EMOhymns: Here is blood vast as the ocean, Mourning has broken #EMO2014 #EMA2014

#EMOhymns Sell out my soul, Cries triumphant ever raining, #EMO2014 #EMA2014

#EMOhymns When tears like a river (It is hell), My hope is built on nothing. #EMO2014 #EMA2014

By @rockbadger: Praise Goth from whom all bleedings flow #EMO2014

By @SamAllberry: Frown Him With Many Frowns, Lord For The Tears, There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood

By @celticmoose: O for a thousand tongue piercings to sing

By @CamPotts1: I cry alone, no hope is found.

"Jesus the Name high over all, in hell or earth or sky. Angels and men before it fall, and devils fear and fly." #EnjoyYourDay

God's YES resounds from heaven at Christ. His AMEN booms back on our behalf&the Spirit seals us into the circle of trust 2Cor1 #EnjoyYourDay

The big news here in Ireland: Garth Brooks has cancelled his Dublin gigs. Fans can get their money back. Their self-respect remains forfeit

Just learnt that the two-day wedding celebration I'm at has used 66 bottles of wine. Just 10% of the John 2 quantity!

As Word of God Jesus doesn't just keep God's promises, He *is* God's promise to you, earthed forever into your humanity. #EnjoyYourDay

When life feels beyond u remember it always is. "But this happened that we might not rely on self but God who raises the dead" #EnjoyYourDay

Since Adam, sinners have been desperate to look righteous. With Jesus you have the Righteous One happy to be numbered with transgressors

It always astonishes me how content Jesus is with people thinking He's a sinner. I *am* one & I'm mortified to be outted

 

Twitter widget by Rimon Habib - BuddyPress Expert Developer