Monday, 11 July 2016

NEW

Thanks to my wonderful typesetting team, *Apostolic Theology* (the book) looks amazing inside (so if you encounter any incredibly tired Northern Irish people who look like they've pulled a few all-nighters wrestling with headers, roman numerals, and line spacing, it may be them). And thanks to Dan (from 4114 Design) it looks amazing on the outside as well.

And now, you can have a proper look inside too, and see some of what's there. Follow the links below to find the Table of Contents, Warren Jones' Foreword, a sample chapter, an excerpt from another chapter, and all the incredibly kind reviews and recommendations that have come in.


If you're going to AblazeUK, you can pre-order a copy on the book page, and, until the end of Thursday (14th July), if you do that, you'll get it at a 33% discount (which, alas, is only available if you're either going to Ablaze and can collect it, or know someone else who is who can collect it for you).

Thanks to all who have pre-ordered copies so far, and to those who have paid a higher price to send copies to Actionoverseas as well!

*Apostolic Theology* (the book) Sample Content (including Warren Jones' Foreword)

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Thursday, 30 June 2016


It's nearly here! An introduction to Christian Doctrine which is committed to the 5 Solas of the Protestant Reformation (Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Christ Alone, Scripture Alone, To God's Glory Alone) and the 4-fold message of Pentecostalism (Jesus is Saviour, Healer, Baptiser in the Holy Spirit, and Soon-Coming King), as well as the Apostolic Vision of the Eternal Purpose of the Triune God for Christ, the Head, and the Church which is His Body.

If you're going to the Apostolic Church centenary convention, AblazeUK, this summer, (or know someone who is) then Apostolic Theology the book is now available for you to pre-order to collect at Ablaze. Plus, we have two special AblazeUK offers on the book. Either you can get it at a 33% discount, or, pay the full price, and not only will you get a copy, but a second copy will be distributed to an overseas church leader through Actionoverseas (the missionary arm of the Apostolic Church UK). Please only use the pre-order if you're going to Ablaze and can collect it there (or know someone who is who can collect it for you) - they won't be posted out! When you pre-order here online, you'll be taken to a secure checkout before you enter any details. (If you want a link to share for others to order, then  www.apostolictheology.org/book is the place to go.)



A few more Recommendations and Reviews

If it is true that theology underpins our every thought and action, then it follows that our theology should be as sound as it can be. Jonathan Black's 'Apostolic Theology' is an outstanding and contemporary contribution to our understanding of what the Scriptures say to us about the essential foundations of the Apostolic Church, a global movement of churches which is both evangelical and pentecostal, and which recognises that the fivefold ministries of the New Testament era are present in the church today. The publication of 'Apostolic Theology' coincides with the centenary of the Apostolic Church in the UK and in it Jonathan, with great care and skill, describes core doctrines and fits them into a matrix of theological understanding, giving each due weight, proper attention and appropriate balance. The result is a thoroughly researched and well-written book that will underpin apostolic thought and action for years to come. I know you will enjoy 'Apostolic Theology' as a contemporary volume of apostolic values and I commend it to you.
-Tim Jack, National Leader, The Apostolic Church, United Kingdom; former National Leader, The Apostolic Church, Australia


Review of the chapters on the Trinity and on the Church:
There has been a spate of systematic theologies written by Pentecostal scholars in recent years, but this one is unique in more ways than one. It is an exposition of the “tenets” of faith of a classical Pentecostal denomination little known outside the United Kingdom: the Apostolic Church, but it draws deeply from the Christian tradition especially the Church Fathers, both East and West, as well as the heritage of the Apostolics themselves. Jonathan Black thus shows that the early Pentecostals were more catholic in their theological vision than many modern Pentecostal theologians realize. It is a work that will surprise both Pentecostals and non-Pentecostals alike.
- Simon Chan, Professor of Systematic Theology, Trinity Theological College, Singapore


Review of the chapter on Christ's Abiding Intercession:
The writer has opened up the subjects of this chapter in such a way as to encourage the reader’s interest to know more. The concept of Christ being busy on behalf of His children is well worth meditating upon. Although English is not my first language I was able to grasp the truths being discussed and indeed enjoyed being taken deeper in my understanding of these truths.We should be grateful to God for this kind of writing which brings Apostolic theology to the more ordinary person. I look forward to being able to read the whole book.
-Peter Washen, General Secretary, The Apostolic Church, Malawi.

Review of the chapter on Sons in the Son: Theosis and Adoption
In this chapter, Jonathan Black provides an accessible and instructive orientation to the Apostolic doctrine of salvation, and especially its focus on believers' deifying transformation through Spirit-effected union with Christ. No doubt, many readers will be surprised by what Black describes. But he takes pains to show that the doctrine is not only deeply biblical but also vibrantly resonant with traditional Evangelical and Patristic teaching. Black's careful work is sure to bring to light aspects of Apostolic spirituality and theology that have never been fully appreciated, and just so to provoke readers both inside and outside the global Pentecostal movement to new lines of theological reflection and construction.
-Chris Green, Associate Professor of Theology, Pentecostal Theological Seminary, Cleveland, Tennessee 

Book now available for pre-order (and a few more recommendations)

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Saturday, 25 June 2016


Because God wishes the voice of teachers to sound forth in the church, as it is said concerning the ministry of the Gospel, Eph. 4:11, therefore the work of teaching is not undertaken in vain.
(Melancthon, Preface to the Loci)

The theologian's task is not to divert the ears with chatter, but to strengthen consciences by teaching things true, sure and profitable.
(Calvin, Institutes, 1.14.4)

On the Teacher's Task

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Thursday, 23 June 2016


A few reviews have come in for a few chapters of Apostolic Theology - the book. And so far, it looks like people are liking what they've been reading. Warren Jones is writing the foreword and he's quite enthusiastic about the book's contents too.

Next week I should be able to post some sample content, and hopefully pre-order details too. But for now, here are some recommendations for a few of the chapters. (A few more people around the world are hopefully reading chapters too, so there might possibly be some more to come in the next fortnight or so.)

Oh, and all the information about the book will end up at www.apostolictheology.org/book


Review of the chapter on Christ's Incarnation:
'Jonathan Black takes us on a tour of key scriptures and important thinkers from church history, steering us through heresies and councils, hymnody and creeds. The destination is the truth that from the manger to the ascension, the person in action is God the Son himself. Jonathan leads us to wonder at the glory of Jesus Christ, but also leads us to great enjoyment and comfort, showing how all this was 'for us and for our salvation'. I hope many will read and benefit from this rich but accessible introduction to the incarnation.'
- Daniel Hames, Curate, St Aldates Oxford, and Lecturer in Systematic & Historical Theology, Union School of Theology

Review of the chapter on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit:
In this chapter, Jonathan Black has mixed the grand theology of this subject with the pastoral care required for its necessary application. To be 'filled with the Spirit' is not just an intellectual exercise worth exhausting ourselves over, or an experiential phenomena worth revelling in. It is more - a Trinitarian, eschatological, breaking-in on a believer's life: assuring us, empowering us, loving us, lifting us. Oh to be 'filled with the Spirit.' On this, a most Pentecostal of subjects, Jonathan Black, helps us through the issues, with his characteristic precision, to reflect upon and add to some great writings on this theme. You are heartily encouraged to read and absorb this, and, far more, reach up to the One who desires that you be 'filled with the Spirit.'
- Craig Hopkins, Pastor, The Apostolic Church, Brackla Tabernacle, Bridgend, Wales

Review of the chapter on the Resurrection of Christ:
It was a great delight to get stuck into the chapter on the Resurrection of our Lord. Jonathan has the gift of getting right to the heart of the matter without skimping in arguments grounded in the Word of God. In an age where the Lord's resurrection is no longer very politically correct, Jonathan powerfully and relevantly reminds us that Christ's resurrection is the essential foundation of the message of the Good News and of the Christian faith. I can't wait to get a copy of the full book for my holiday reading!
- Éric Maréchal, President, The Apostolic Church, Belgium

Some People Like Bits of the Book :)

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Friday, 20 May 2016



Robert P. Menzies is already an established name in Pentecostal scholarship. His work on the baptism of the Holy Spirit has had a significant impact and provided a substantive Pentecostal defence of the doctrine of subsequence. Now, in Speaking in Tongues: Jesus and the Apostolic Church as Models for the Church Today (Cleveland, Tennessee: CPT Press, 2016), he’s turned his attention to the related issue of speaking in tongues. In his new book, Menzies takes a wide-ranging look at what the Gospels, Acts, and Paul have to say on the matter. Some of the texts he examines might not be the first ones that pop into your head when you think of Bible passages about tongues, but Menzies does an incredible job of showing not only their relevance, but how deeply embedded the issues involved in any doctrine of tongues are in the New Testament. For those who imagine that tongues are a concept limited to Acts and 1 Corinthians, one of Menzies main section headings might come as a bit of a surprise: part two of the book is entitled ‘Jesus and Tongues’.

Menzies looks at both the connection between tongues and the baptism of the Spirit, as well as looking at the gift of tongues in its own right. Finally, having examined the Biblical materials (as the New Testament scholar that he is), Menzies doesn’t leave us in the ancient Mediterranean world, but concludes with some 21st century theological reflection on the value of tongues .

What makes this book even better is its accessibility. Menzies is well-respected New Testament scholar, but this book isn’t couched in the technical jargon that so much NT scholarship is hidden behind. He gives us good scholarship here in a straight-forward, readable way. So hopefully this book should be easily accessible to Pentecostal pastors who might be put off by overly technical works. If you can cope with reading a decent commentary (like maybe the Pillar New Testament Commentaries or the New International Commentary on the New Testament series), you’ll have no problem whatsoever reading this book.

One last thing: Menzies concludes each chapter with a testimony. And really, I think this adds to the strength of the book. The testimonies he gives are well-connected to the issues he’s been discussing in the chapter, and (for the most part) very well highlight how the New Testament scholarship connects with the life and mission of the church. And the order is significant too: first serious biblical study, then experience. The Pentecostal faith is grounded in Scripture, and our experience interpreted in light of what the Bible teaches.

This is far and away the best book I know on the subject of speaking in tongues. I think those who read it will look at tongues in a fresh light, and I hope it will be widely read and have a significant impact.

Speaking in Tongues: A Review of Robert Menzies’ New Book

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Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Robert Menzies tells this story in his new book:
Some years ago a Chinese house church leader, Brother Zhang, spoke in a chapel service at our Bible school. After an inspiring service, he met personally with Sister Mei, who explained that she felt called to take the gospel to her people, a largely Muslim group. I still remember Brother Zhang's words of exhortation. He said there are 'three fears' that you must overcome if you are to share the gospel with your people. First, don't be afraid of 'poor living conditions'. Second, don't be afraid of 'difficult work' (that is, ministering among unresponsive people). Finally, don't be afraid of 'going to prison'. He concluded, 'If you overcome these fears, the Lord will use you in a powerful way.' Sister Mei was greatly encouraged by these sobering words. I, conversely, was amazed at how different his words of ministerial advice were from anything that I had heard in the West; this, in spite of the fact that they seemed to echo the words of the apostles.
Robert P. Menzies, Speaking in Tongues (Cleveland, Tennessee: CPT Press, 2016), pp.4-5

Evangelistic Encouragement - Chinese Style

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Tuesday, 17 May 2016


So, I got sent the "final" version of the artwork for the cover of Apostolic Theology (the book). The accompanying email tells me that it uses 'bright colours and a lot of different fonts as this makes it more interesting for the readers.' The dove and the cross were added to make sure people would know it's a Christian book. And apparently all the titles with my name add gravitas.

Oh, and the kitten is because, apparently, the 'focus group' says people are a lot less scared of kittens than theology!

So, clearly you'll all want a copy now...


Final Book Cover?

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Monday, 2 May 2016




Hi! So, a number of people have been getting in touch to see if (a) I'm still alive, and (b) whether I've abandoned writing. The answers are (a) yes, I'm still here, and (b) oh yes, I'm writing more than ever, it just hasn't been on the blog that I've been writing lately. So I thought it was probably time to reveal the two projects that make it seem as if I've fallen off the face of the earth.

The first is that over the first few months of this year I was lost in footnotes, bibliographies, section headings and page numbers, as I was putting the finishing touches to my PhD dissertation. The title of my thesis is 'The Church in the Eternal Purpose of the Triune God: Toward a Pentecostal Trinitarian Ecclesiology of Theosis drawing on the early theology of the Apostolic Church in the United Kingdom.' It's been submitted, but the journey isn't over yet, as I still have to wait to defend it at the Viva.

Project number two is a wee bit different: Apostolic Theology, the book. Coming 30th July, 2016 (i.e. at the Apostolic Church's centenary celebrations at AblazeUK in Cheltenham). 

‘This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent’ (John 17:3). Jesus tells us that eternal life means knowing the Triune God. And in order to know someone, we need to know about them. Apostolic Theology: A Trinitarian, Evangelical, Pentecostal Introduction to Christian Doctrine is a book to help us know about the God of our salvation. So, if you’d like to know what we believe and why we believe it, this is the book for you. Using the Tenets of the Apostolic Church as a framework, Apostolic Theology sets out the vast sweep of Christian doctrine, helping us to see what the Bible teaches about God, ourselves, salvation, the Church, and the Christian Life.

This book will be useful for everyone: whether you’re a pastor or elder who’s involved in teaching the faith to others, a candidate training for the ministry, a church member who wants to strengthen your understanding of the faith, or someone who just wants to explore what Christians believe.

Some people have been asking about the size and scope - so think, Wayne Grudem's Bible Doctrine, Michael Horton's Pilgrim Theology or French Arrington's Christian Doctrine. (In other words, it's not a full one-volume systematic theology, but about one level down.) 

Other people have been asking what the difference will be from W.A.C. Rowe's One Lord, One Faith. The answer to that one is a few things. Rowe tended to focus on Apostolic and Pentecostal distinctives and not give as much attention to the doctrines we hold in common with the rest of evangelical Christianity (the original idea was that his book was to be used alongside Louis Berkhof's Systematic Theology, so he left it to Berkhof to deal in detail with those). The idea for this new book is that it will be a stand-alone volume, so it covers the whole range of Christian doctrine. Also, One Lord, One Faith was written half a century ago, and so some people find it hard to read now - whether in terms of style or layout. This new book is written at the end of our first century, looking forward to our second.

Anyway, the work isn't finished yet (far from it!), so if anyone would like to pray, I would appreciate it greatly. And that also means that this isn't a return to very regular blog posts (for I still don't really have time to do anything other than work at the book - alas, Ablaze is not a moveable feast!). Hopefully closer to the launch I'll be able to give you a few samples on here.

The Two Projects that make it seem like I've fallen off the face of the earth!

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Saturday, 9 April 2016



That comfort that we shall have in heaven, in the presence of God, and of Christ, and his holy angels, is understood in some little way by the comfortable presence of God to the soul of a Christian, when he finds the Spirit of God raising him, and cheering him up, and witnessing his presence; as ofttimes, to the comfort of God’s people, the Holy Ghost witnesseth a presence, that now the soul can say, God is present with me, he smiles on me, and strengtheneth me, and leads me along. This comfortable way God’s children have to understand the things of heaven, by the first fruits they have here. For God is so far in love with his children here on earth, and so tender over them, that he purposes not to reserve all for another world, but gives them some taste beforehand, to make them better in love with the things there, and better to bear the troubles of this world.
Richard Sibbes, A Glance of Heaven (or, A Precious Taste of a Glorious Feast), Second Sermon, The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes, Vol. 4, 168.

The Holy Spirit and Christ's Comfortable Presence

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Saturday, 2 April 2016


Something amazing happened this year. Good Friday fell on the 25th March. It won't happen again until the year 2157, but when it happens it's a fantastic collision of dates. Why? Well, think about it for a moment. What comes 9 months after 25th March? Why, Christmas of course: the feast of the birth of Christ. So, 9 months before Jesus was born, what happened? The Word became flesh! (The Incarnation didn't begin with Jesus' birth, but with His conception in the Virgin's womb.) So 25th March is the feast of the Annunciation, a day to celebrate the Incarnation of Christ.

And when Good Friday falls on 25th March, we get to celebrate the Incarnation and the Cross together. In fact, that's how it always should be, for the Incarnation and Cross go always go together. As Hebrews 2:17 tells us, Jesus took on our humanity and became like us in all things 'to make propitiation for the sins of the people.' Without the Incarnation there could be no crucifixion. And the Cross was where the Incarnation was heading (and then on into Resurrection life).

In early church , people like Tertullian said that the 25th March was the actual date of the crucifixion. Now, scholars have all sorts of debates over what dates were possible for the crucifixion, but 25th March was the earliest date anyone gave (and that was even before the date of Christmas was fixed, so it wasn't influenced by that). Later the church would point to 25th March not only as the date of the crucifixion and the annunciation, but also of the creation and fall of Adam. How appropriate would it be for the Lord to redeem mankind from the Fall through both the Incarnation and the Cross on the very same date as Adam fell! (Although how anyone could work out the date of Adam's fall, I have no idea.) And because it was so fitting for the Incarnation and the Cross to converge on the day of the fall, the church eventually ended up celebrating 25th March as the day of all the great foreshadowings of the Cross from the Old Testament, like the exodus (well, Jesus was crucified at the time of the Passover) and Abraham's offering of Isaac.

Alas, we won't have such a wonderful convergence of dates again until 2157 (or never again, if the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Patriarch of Alexandria and the Pope fix the date of Easter!). Yet, in the meantime, we celebrate the Incarnation and the Cross together each and every Lord's Day as we gather around the Lord's Table.

Here's Good Friday's Sermon:
A Sermon for Good Friday falling on the Feast of the Incarnation (Psalms 113-114), Leeds, 25th March, 2016.

And finally I leave you with the first half of John Donne's poem from when the two collided in 1608.

On Annunciation and Passion Falling on the Same Day. 1608.
by John Donne


TAMELY, frail body, abstain to-day ; to-day
My soul eats twice, Christ hither and away.
She sees Him man, so like God made in this,
That of them both a circle emblem is,
Whose first and last concur ; this doubtful day
Of feast or fast, Christ came, and went away ;
She sees Him nothing, twice at once, who’s all ;
She sees a cedar plant itself, and fall ;
Her Maker put to making, and the head
Of life at once not yet alive, yet dead ;
She sees at once the Virgin Mother stay
Reclused at home, public at Golgotha ;
Sad and rejoiced she’s seen at once, and seen
At almost fifty, and at scarce fifteen ;
At once a son is promised her, and gone ;
Gabriel gives Christ to her, He her to John ;
Not fully a mother, she’s in orbity ;
At once receiver and the legacy.
All this, and all between, this day hath shown,
Th’ abridgement of Christ’s story, which makes one—
As in plain maps, the furthest west is east—
Of th’ angels Ave, and Consummatum est.

When Good Friday falls on the Feast of the Incarnation (which won't happen again until 2157!)

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