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Showing posts from September, 2011

Isn't the Bible unreliable and irrelevant?

I gave one of the lunchtime talks on behalf of the Evangelical Christian Union at Exeter University today. These are public events, with food, a talk and Q&A.

The talk is a mix of Ian McEwan's melancholy stories, John Gray and Brian Cox on the story of progress, the speeding neutrino moment, a smattering of manuscript evidence, an introduction to Luke's gospel, and a bit of the parable of the sons.

Download mp3 including the Q&A (40mins)

I was basically pleased with how it went, feedback was positive and the four questions asked were good questions. I went in with a bit too much material and full-notes which I dipped in and out of - less would have been more helpful. Live and learn. Hopefully I can use a version of this again at other CUs in the South West this year.

The Sub-Atomic Particle That Was Caught Speeding (or, what could convince Philip Pullman to believe in God)

BBC takes five minutes with Philip Pullman in which he speaks of his love of storytelling and plot - which I love, life is a story. We all have a story to make sense of life's big questions - about how we got here, about what (if anything) is wrong with the world, about how to fix things, about where we're going... What's your story?

Ian McEwan gives Bryony Tallis a tragic story that she wants to give a haappy ending, but can just make up a story. Facts and evidence matter. And experience.

Pullman admits that it's not a rational argument that could convince him to believe in God but rather a direct experience (which suggests its his experience of a lack of experience of God that means he doesn't believe) - experience drives so much of what we believe!... and of the stories we love.

 Meanwhile, four minutes with Brian Cox on the particles that might have been caught speeding: Brian Cox on the possible rewriting of a century of physics. I'm guessing we'll fin…

Spirit Break Out and 10000 Reasons

This week I've been enjoying the recent worship albums from Matt Redman and Worship Central. The roots of both albums are the youthful Spirit-filled life of Soul Survivor church and festivals, though both are now more directly connected to Holy Trinity Brompton or it's Brighton church plant St Peters. This is what comes out of the Church of England at it's best.

We've been using some of the Redman songs in church and last week at UCCF Forum, and I'm taken by them - songs like Bless the Lord O My Soul (or, 10000 reasons) are melodic worship songs that allow the heart to be lifted, and Here For You is the heart's cry to meet with God. I also love We could change the world - what if the gospel is as good as it seems...

Spirit Break Out has a slightly different feel - it's a more edgy live album, and features several different lead musicians from the Worship Central collective - and even a bit of Graham Kendrick's Shine Jesus Shine turned into a rap by Myle…

You're Welcome

Why is the church in China growing? The BBC report:
"But in church people feel warm, they feel welcome… they feel people really love them so they really want to join the community, a lot of people come for this." Of course the church grows because the Triune God builds it, but the least you can expect if that's happening is a relaxed and warm welcome. Jesus is friendly and the church imperfectly reflects that.

The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins?

I'm intruiged by Richard Dawkins new teenager-targetted 273 page book (released Sept 15th) which attempts to dispel the beautiful myths that humanity loves - aka the world's religions. Evolution he says is "more poetic than the bible" (so much for it being science then....)

Jeremy Paxman interviews him (from about 37mins onward) on Newsnight. He's persuaded that evolution tells a better story than the old stories we love... I'd have loved to have seen him debate with JRR Tolkein on Fairy Stories. He admits to being affected by Genesis, but wont believe its true... because only "stupid and ignorant people" would believe it... instead he says, believe the better story of science.

The best story should win - and will win - and shouldn't just be the best story but the truest story too - he's right about that. Now we can talk about both the quality of our explanatory stories and the evidence for them.

Further Reading: The Magic of Reality - Richa…

Transformission 2011 - a chat with Mike Reeves

Last week at Forum 2011 I had a chat with Mike Reeves about Transformission 2011, a free one day conference happening on Saturday 22nd October at Belmont Chapel, Exeter, 10.30-4.30pm. Targetted as a launch to a year of united student mission but open to the wider church. No booking required.
Shot on the campsite, hence the chatter and wind noise. Unedited.

#FORUM2011: Leaders in Mission

Today 121 students, six staff and seven Relay from the South West will join with around 900 others at this year's FORUM conference. This is a leaders conference for students, to equip them for mission. A leader in that case isn't someone who has a "job" in a Christian Union but someone who is on mission, influencing others, leading the line to win students to Jesus and see the local churches built.

You'll be able to follow along at #forum2011 and UCCF on Facebook where I'd expect an outpouring of social media. I'm camping so subject to getting access to enough power I'll tweet along.

Teaching will be delivered by CU staff - I'm co-leading a track with Jo Larcombe and Cat Caird on Being Disciples of our Transforming God which will be an adventure into espousal and adoption theology applied to our lives and mission. Worship will be led by Canterbury CU Staff / City Church Canterbury worship leader Olly Knight. And we'll be joined by guest spea…

Plentiful: The Taste of the Gospel

Something about tight-fistedness, smallness, monotony, lack of progress, lack and loss of life grates against us. It feels out of place. Not proof in themselves of how things are meant to be, but a hint engraved on our hearts that this world isn't meant for frustration.

The story validated by the historical life, death and resurrection of Jesus is different. Tracking backwards it says the Triune God created a world in which there is fruitfulness and multiplication, in which emptiness is filled by beings who will spread outwards. The love of the generous Father is like this. A fountain of life, flowed from the hills of Eden and from the heart of the Father to his Son and to the world. He gives his son, and he gives the Spirit. He gives and goes on giving.

When people curve in on themselves he comes out to them, and keeps on coming. And when he wins their hearts he turns them inside out so they cease to overflow with sewage and begin to overflow with spirit-filled life. When invita…