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Showing posts from August, 2009

Athanasius & Evangelism

A little reminder from one of the church fathers on our limitations:
When the idolatry and irreligion filled the world and the knowledge of God was hidden, whose part was it to teach the world about the Father? Man's, would you say? But men cannot run everywhere over the world, nor would their words carry sufficient weight if they did, nor would they be, unaided, a match for the evil spirits. Moreover, since even the best of men were confused and blinded by evil, how could they convert the souls and minds of others? You cannot put straight in others what is warped in yourself... Once more then, it was the Word of God, who sees all that is in man ... who alone could meet the needs of the situation. (Athanasius, On the Incarnation, §14)
Athanasius reminds us that it is only Christ, the Word of God, who can reveal the Father. It is Christ who must draw unto Himself. It is only Christ who can save.
That means its not up to us to convert people. All we can do is present Christ to them. We…

The Poverty of Pentecostal Theological Writing (Part 3)

This time I intend to get to the point. The point is this: many Pentecostal books are somewhat lacking theologically. I'm not talking about academic theology here; I'm talking about books written for Pastors and ordinary Christians. For some reason, there is a lack of books for ordinary pentecostals that are theologically strong.
One reason for this is what Hollenweger called the oral nature of Pentecostal theology. He meant that we tend to prefer sermons, hymns and testimonies as a way of passing on our distinctive theology, as opposed to books.
Another reason is the huge amount of pragmatism that can be found among Pentecostals. What 'works' (or gives the impression of working) is often deemed favourable. The quicker it 'works', the better. Theological writing takes a considerable time to bear fruit (and doesn't directly/immediately contribute to evangelistic programmes), therefore, pragmatically speaking, its not a priority. This means we get lots of '…

The Poverty of Pentecostal Theological Writing (Part. 2)

One reason for the poverty of Pentecostal theological writing is the lack of Pentecostal theologians. 'But', I hear you ask, 'what about all those academic posts you talked about in the last?' Well, the simple truth of the matter is that most of the books coming out of the Pentecostal academy are in areas other than theology. Is it just me, or does the Journal of Pentecostal Theology Supplement Series contain more New Testament Studies books than it does Theology books? We seem to be good at producing New Testament Scholars (e.g. Gordon Fee) and historians, but there are not so many theologians qua theologians among our ranks.
Now in some ways this makes sense. Pentecostalism has always placed a very high priority on studying the Bible, so when Pentecostalism spills over into academia it follows that Biblical Studies would be a more familiar landing place than theology.
Yet, theology is also about studying the Bible, and it's a way of studying the Bible we Pentecost…

The Poverty of Pentecostal Theological Writing

Over the last few days I've read two excellent books. Neither of them was written by a Pentecostal. If you read much theology (or even just look at the bookshelf at the left-hand side of my blog from time to time) then that probably doesn't come as a huge shock. There are not really that many books written by Pentecostals, and among the few that are, there are not many that I'd rate as excellent.
But why? Why can other theological traditions produce such edifying writing while we Pentecostals struggle to produce any writing at all?
Now, before I provoke the wrath of Pentecostal theologians everywhere, I have to admit that more and more books are being written by Pentecostal scholars. However, what writing there is tends to be in the realm of highly academic theology; it's a case of theologians (and biblical scholars) writing for other theologians (and biblical scholars). I'm currently reading Robert Menzies' Empowered for Witness, which is a piece of excellent sc…

At least my French isn't that bad!

The next time I'm feeling bad about my French, I can just remember this unfortunate tourist.
The BBC can usually be relied upon to report on linguistic mishaps. The best ones often involve bilingual road signs in Wales (like the one that informed Welsh-speaking drivers that 'I am not in the office at the moment', or the one that told English-speaking pedestrians to look left and Welsh-speakers to look right).

Spurgeon: Preach Christ or Go Home

The motto of all true servants of God must be, “We preach Christ; and him crucified.” A sermon without Christ in it is like a loaf of bread without any flour in it. No Christ in your sermon, sir? Then go home, and never preach again until you have something worth preaching. [Charles Spurgeon, Exposition of Acts 13:13-49]

The Ultimate Ministry Strategy

I've just begun reading Andrew Purves' The Crucifixion of Ministry: Surrendering Our Ambitions to the Service of Christ, and with compelling writing like this I don't think it'll be very long until I finish it. Purves is a theologian who is clearly passionate about his subject; you can really feel it as you read this excellent excerpt.
... the only mission strategy which will encourage our congregations, usefully employ our clergy, enable history-changing and kingdom-of-God-anticipating ministry, and enable us to evangelize with any degree of faithfulness and power is the preaching that there is salvation in no other name. To ministers let me say this as strongly as I can. Preach Christ, preach Christ, preach Christ. Get out of your offices and get into your studies. Quit playing office manager and program director, quit staffing committees, and even right now recommit yourselves to what you were ordained to do, namely the ministry of Word and sacraments.
Pick up good th…

Reflections on Ablaze UK 2009

Pastor Emmanuel Mbakwe, the National Leader of the Apostolic Church in the UK has posted some reflections on this year's Ablaze UK giving a very brief summary of some of the key points from the sermons and prophetical ministry.

Interpreting Providence: John Piper and a Tornado

John Piper has the story of the tornado which hit a church and convention centre in Minneapolis just as a denominational national convention inside was to begin a discussion of a proposed social statement on human sexuality (the issue in question being whether homosexuality disqualifies someone from pastoral ministry). Piper also offers some biblical commentary on the whole event.
Scott Clark offers a different perspective on interpreting Tornados and warns of the dangers inherent in interpretations of providence. Have a look at the comments to see what he has to say about God's providence in raising up the Reformers.
Christianity Today looks at the statement which came out of that denominational meeting (the one with the Tornado) and what it says and doesn't say. The article ends by warning that: Still, the bigger battle is probably still to come: On Friday [that's today], the gathering will consider a change that would allow churches to call pastors and other church leaders…

The Word Does the Work

Christianity Today has an interview with David Platt, who talks about how confidence in the sufficiency of Scripture is impacting the church he pastors. One of the issues addressed is the prevalence of Biblical illiteracy among Christians today and how a church can tackle such a problem. Believe it or not, a few times a year this church has thousands of people attending intensive Bible studies that begin at 6pm and continue past midnight! The interview is certainly worth the read.

Ablaze UK 2010

Well, Ablaze UK 2009 has been and gone, but if you're already looking for information about next year's Convention, you can visit the Ablaze UK site.

Great Resource for Biblical Prayer

Matthew Henry is famous for his commentary. Now, however, thanks to Ligon Duncan, Henry's work on prayer may begin to gain some more widespread attention. Matthew Henry wrote A Method For Prayer in 1712, and now Ligon Duncan has updated it into an ESV version. How can you have an ESV version of a book? Well, that's the whole point of Henry's Method For Prayer; Henry's point was that better prayers were biblical prayers, and so much of the language comes straight from the Scriptures (hence the possibility of an ESV update).
The idea behind the website is to help Christians learn to pray in a more biblical way. Currently only an ESV version is available, but KJV, NIV, and NASB versions are coming soon, along with translations into French, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Korean (with future plans for further languages). The site also gives the option of choosing between 'Corporate' or 'First Person' prayer, providing versions to be used by congregations or…