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Time magazine: “Ideas changing the world right now – The New Calvinism”

Mark Driscoll points out that Time Magazine has named New Calvinism as the third biggest idea that’s changing the world right now. He points out what makes it distinct:

Four Ways ‘New Calvinism’ is So Powerful

  1. Old Calvinism was fundamental or liberal and separated from or syncretized with culture. New Calvinism is missional and seeks to create and redeem culture.
  2. Old Calvinism fled from the cities. New Calvinism is flooding into cities.
  3. Old Calvinism was cessationistic and fearful of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. New Calvinism is continuationist and joyful in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit
  4. Old Calvinism was fearful and suspicious of other Christians and burned bridges. New Calvinism loves all Christians and builds bridges

An Extremist Christian Perspective?



Ruth Gledhill writing in her blog for the Times mentions the letter sent out by Dr Alan Clifford of Norwich Reformed Church about Islam. She fears that protests by extremist Muslims against soldiers returning from Iraq may legitimise his perspective. She says the letter is full of ‘extreme negative comment about Islam’. I must admit that I too get rather annoyed when all Muslims are tarred with the same brush and I am not convinced that Allah is any more a false god than the God of the Samaritan woman in John 4 or the God of liberal Christianity, but even if I disagree with them in a number of respects I wouldn’t label Dr Clifford’s views as extreme or illegitimate (which means unlawful). What do you think?

Faith Steps – The Larsons in NW Kenya

The work I do is primarily to support AIM’s work among African peoples.  To help you learn more, I’m going to begin posting more items showing some of AIM’s work. This first one is a video about the Larson family and their work at Kapsowar hospital. It also illustrates the work of our On Field Media team.

Please enable Javascript and Flash to view this Blip.tv video.

Prayer – Stop talking and listen!

One of the things I remember learning in Bible college is that the Holy Spirit dwells in the church as well as in individual Christians. Of course this doesn’t lead to infallibility in any church any more than it does in individuals, because our perfection is yet to come. In my tradition at least, I think we have sadly de-emphasized the importance of the gathered church listening to the Holy Spirit. Of course we have sermons and Bible studies, but so often we seem to be looking for intellectual learning rather than listening to God.

prayer bookA couple of times in our prayer meetings recently I have tried to encourage a more conversational style of prayer which involves much more listening and not moving on from one subject to another too quickly. I came across some very helpful principles along these lines in a book called Prayer: Conversing With God by Rosalind Rinker. I haven’t read the book yet, just a few snippets which are on Google Books. When those present have followed the principles it’s been a real blessing with a special sense of God’s speaking to us as we have prayed.

Since starting this post I’ve found out a little more about this book and its author. Rosalind Rinker went to China as a missionary in about 1926 when she was 20 years old and remained there for about 14 years.  In 1945 she joined the staff of Inter Varsity Fellowship in the U.S. and wrote this book in 1959. She died in 2002. I was most shocked to find that not only is the book well known but in October 2006, Christianity Today Magazine published its list of “The Top 50 Books That Have Shaped Evangelicals” (over the past 50 years). Rinker’s Prayer: Conversing with God was voted number one on that list by CT‘s editors. How many people have recommended this book to me? I guess it’s time to buy a copy and read it.

Missionaries “burning idols” in India



My Google news alert for “missionary” just turned up a news report from the state of Assam in north-eastern India about indigenous Christian missionaries allegedly setting fire to a Hindu temple. According to the report “under the guidance of their pastor they attacked the temple of the goddess Kali and set the idol on fire”. Apparently since the mid 1990s people are being forced to embrace Christianity by coercive methods such as Bible distribution and the use of questionnaires! We should pray for the thousands of believers in India seeking to reach their neighbours with the love of Christ. They face many false accusations and distortions and experience great persecution .

Gates releases more bugs – with a very serious message.

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Bill Gates did a nice job of raising the profile of malaria when he released mosquitoes at the TED conference – take a look here for a detailed report from Ethan Zuckermann 

Beth Rowley – Best Female Solo Artist

beth rowleyIf you are on Beth’s official mailing list you will know that she has been nominated for this Brit award.

Congratulations Beth, keep right on singing, your voice will do all you need!

The Cussing Calvinist?

If you haven't heard of Mark Driscoll before, he's an interesting guy who will provoke your thinking. The NY times have just written an article about him and the church in which he ministers in Seattle. You may be a bit shocked by the first paragraph, but remember that he isn't the first person to have provoked some shock among the religious establishment. Remember that this article is written by the secular press who usually have a strong anti-Christian agenda. Here'a a paragraph to whet your appetite:

 God called Driscoll to preach to men — particularly young men — to save
them from an American Protestantism that has emasculated Christ and
driven men from church pews with praise music that sounds more like
boy-band ballads crooned to Jesus than “Onward Christian Soldiers.”
What bothers Driscoll — and the growing number of evangelical pastors
who agree with him — is not the trope of Jesus-as-lover. After all, St.
Paul tells us that the Church is the bride of Christ. What really
grates is the portrayal of Jesus as a wimp, or worse. Paintings depict
a gentle man embracing children and cuddling lambs. Hymns celebrate his
patience and tenderness. The mainstream church, Driscoll has written,
has transformed Jesus into “a Richard Simmons, hippie, queer Christ,” a
“neutered and limp-wristed popular Sky Fairy of pop culture that . . .
would never talk about sin or send anyone to hell.”

Christmas Scribblings 2008

As we usually do around this time of year, we’ve just sent out a few hundred newsletters.  You may have one coming in the post, but if you just can’t wait or if you don’t usually get one by email, you can open it here and print your own. It’s supposed to be printed on A4 paper and folded into a Christmas card.

We still send a lot out to people we haven’t heard from for a long time and wonder if they reach the people they were intended for.
Perhaps you used to get them but you have moved. We would love to hear
that you are still getting them or if you don’t any more but you would
like to again, do get in touch. Contact info is in the downloadable letter.

If you’d like to get more frequent updates by email please add your address to our email list.

God-forsaken Suburbia

BSECEddie Arthur just posted a helpful link to J R Woodward’s primer on Missional church. Glancing through the huge list of links I came across a useful paper by Todd Hiestand called  The Gospel and the God Forsaken: The Challenge of the Missional Church in Suburbia.

Although Todd is thinking about suburbia in America I think it speaks equally well to the UK context. If you like me are facing that challenge, do read the full paper – it isn’t very long. Here’s how he summarises the challenges which the church should be bringing to life in the suburbs:

There are at least four main ways the default suburban lifestyle needs
to be challenged. First, we need to speak out against the suburban
value of extreme individualism and call Christians back to community.
Second, we need to deconstruct the value of consumerism in way that
leads instead to sacrificial living. Third we need to question the
suburban value of safety and comfort and judge it against the call of
the gospel. Finally, we need to understand how our individualism and
consumerism lead us to neglect the hurting and needy people in our
neighborhoods and cities.

And here’s a taster from the challenge to deconstruct comfort:

Uncritically accepting comfort and safety affects more than just our
personal discipleship and mission. It also has great impact on the
mission of our community. Church communities seeking to maintain and
find comfort for their members will quickly lose the mission they
started with. In his book Exiles, Michael Frost claims:

Timidity squashes our missional impulse. It causes us to
withdraw from any grand sense of purpose for fear of upsetting the
delicate balance of conflicting egos currently residing in each church.
Christians surround themselves with fellow churchgoers, so that their
church’s only goal is to maintain equilibrium. Such timidity and
anxiety leave the church as nothing more than a retreatist, frightened,
ineffective organization.