Another Shameless Plug

Last week I was working on the Solihull Presbyterian Church Website. We previously had a single page using borrowed server space from the EPCEW. Now we have our own space.

We opted to install the Joomla! content management system because we want a flexible, usable site that does not depend on people knowing HTML, CSS etc, etc. This way it can easily be kept live, rather than simply existing as a dead online brochure. There is still scope for nerdy-types like me to poke around html files if I want to. But one need not. The nice thing about Joomla!, apart from being FREE, is the powerful backend administrator functions that are made available to control content, categories, menus, some layout, and included functions. It is easy to install 3rd party plugins for podcasting, member forums etc etc.

Another nice thing is the separation of the ‘look and feel’ of the site from content and structure. The look and feel is determined by a ‘template’ which deterimes general layout and graphics. Templetes can be plugged in easily. At the moment I have simply tweaked the standard template that comes with the Joomla! installation. It looks reasonable, if a little functional. However, one day we might get a graphic designer to do something a bit more whizzy.

Go on. Have a look!

Another Shameless Plug

Former Muslims on Islam

The White Horse Inn has a couple of excellent audio interviews with Sam Solomon on Islam. Solomon was formerly an islamic scholar who converted to Christ. Links to the mp3s here and here.

Also on the Nashotah House website (never heard of it before!) there is a lecture by Patrick Sookdheo, another former muslim and now anglican clergyman.

Both men extremely interesting and their messages eye-opening.

If all this is a little worrying, then you need to listen to Ashton Stewart at First Presbyterian Church, Columbia to hear what God is doing in Iran.

Former Muslims on Islam

Fuss over a Cross

I can’t get excited about this issue of whether one can wear a cross at work. Here is the issue: Ms. Eweida is not being forbidden from doing something scripture commands, not is she being commanded to do something scripture forbids. So she should comply with the BA guidelines. There is no issue here.

Some Christians will get upset that Islam is being “pandered to” while Christianity is being oppressed and this occasion is an example of it. Some might want us to jump up and down and set fire to things to express how our sensitivities have been violated. And behind this are certain sections of the media who are willing to offer support for the sake of a good news story.

If we do this, and call for equality with other religions, we demonstrate that our Faith no better than that of others’. We say to the world we are just another bunch of sad, overly-sensitive individuals creating a rammy in the moshpit of ‘faiths’, using worldly methods to gain worthless results. Who really cares about wearing a cross? If my faith depends on it, I am more to be pitied than anyone.

Jesus is Lord. He rules and reigns supreme. There is no other contender. He commands all to repentance and faith.

He is my Lord. The only sign he gives of my salvation and union with him is baptism. It is the only sign I can point to. He calls us to a life of faith working through love. Love is the continuing visible evidence of discipleship. Imagine BA, the government or anyone else trying to prevent that!

Through this news event, Christians are being given an opportunity to look at what is really important and turn once again in repentance to God. Let’s put aside all that hinders and run the real race.

Fuss over a Cross

Shameless Plug

Some people may have noticed that an organisation called Truth In Science has been in the news recently. It is concerned with the dogmatic teaching of the Darwinian theory of evolution as the only way of looking at the available data. In the wake of TiS has come a very august-sounding organisation called the “British Centre for Science Education”, a spokesman of which has recently written to the Times (with a and a reply from Prof Andy Mackintosh of TiS).

The reason for mentioning all this is that my friend David Anderson has now set up a blog to challenge the 2+2=5 reasoning of the very august-sounding “British Centre for Science Education”. Please go and read it and link to it!

Shameless Plug

Reaction to DG2006

Being one with lots of travelling time to fill, I have now listened to all of the addresses from the much-promoted 2006 Desiring God conference on the Supremacy of Christ. Clearly, since I have been driving, I have not taken notes so my comments below are based on my fading memory of once-heard messages. So here are my comments:

David Wells: The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World. Impressive opening. Christ’s supremacy is seen in the first few chapters of Hebrews. This is connected with the suffering that the readers were facing and serves as the essential background to understanding their suffering. The situation is different in the West. Our problems is one of distraction of living in a highly pressurised, intrusive world. Nevertheless, Christ is not only still great, he is incomparable. The victory is locked up and he reigns supreme.

A Conversation with the Pastors Engaging panel discussion. Interaction of Mark Driscoll with the others was a highlight.

Voddie Baucham: The Supremacy of Christ and Truth in a Postmodern World Never heard him before, but liked what I heard. Amusing: Baucham reassured his “not-so-black” audience that it was OK that they were not-so-black. God loves them just the way they are. Tongue in cheek, of course. His approach to apologetics interesting.

Tim Keller: The Supremacy of Christ and the Gospel in a Postmodern World The token presbyterian. I always find Keller interesting, seeking to apply missiological thinking to church in the city. He thinks about how to present the gospel in a po-mo culture. I’m interested in his defeaters of the Christian faith.

Mark Driscoll: The Supremacy of Christ and the Church in a Postmodern World I have a great respect for Driscoll, his drive, commitment, focus, doctinal clarity. Nevertheless I thought he pitched this wrong. He was trying too hard to be hip and cool and edgy. The message was obscured.

Speaker Panel More discussion. Highlight: Don Carson reduced to tears as he related how his father struggled to pastor a church in a tough situation with little growth. Only when he retired did some kind of revival take place. That’s tough for a pastor to take. Lowlight: John Piper’s criticism of Driscoll for using po-mo “cleverness”. Though I agree with his comment, a public forum was not the place to do it. However, they seem to have made up.

Don Carson: The Supremacy of Christ and Love in a Postmodern World A rich study of love seen in Jesus’ prayer in John 17. Love in the church must be rooted in the intra-Trinatarian love. Worth hearing again.

John Piper: The Supremacy of Christ and Joy in a Postmodern World Piper begins this by addressing the controversy stirred up by his earlier comments about Mark Driscoll. He did not correct or retract. Instead he spoke of how someone had told him later that he too used “cleverness” of a different kind. He accepted the criticism and recognised that we are all in this together. I apprecieted this comment. However, his sermon was extremely difficult to follow and quite philosophical, so I think I understand the criticism he received.

Overall quite a good set of talks, though in some ways came across as a bit bitty. Perhaps that’s the danger of each speaker speaking once.

Reaction to DG2006

Yes I have Been Reading

I realise I have been quite remiss in not mentioning what I have been reading over the last couple of months. So here is a brief list:

Why Men Hate Going to Church by David Murrow. Enjoyable in its observations about American church life. Particularly liked his observation about men warming to projects, with definable end-points, rather than processes. Church life is often process-oriented. However, his solutions betray his church-growth theology.

A Body of Divinity by Thomas Watson. Rock solid study of parts of the Westminster Catechism. Good for the soul.

The Last Things by Herman Bavinck. Survey of death, intermediate state, parousia, resurrection, hell, heaven. Interacts with premillenialist theology from an amil perspective. Good but hard work.

Charles Simeon of Cambridge by H E Hopkins. I really enjoyed this. Simeon is now officially one of my favourite historical figures for his godliness and commitment to the gospel. By no means an unflawed man, which makes this treatment even better.

Rooted in Faith by F G Healey. Written before the 300th anniversary of the Act of Uniformity in England in 1662, it traces out the appearance of non-conformity in the church in England. I was particularly interested in the role of presbyterians within the Church of England (surprise, surprise). Interesting up to and just after 1662. Therefter it declines into modern ecumenical nonsense which, frankly, is depressing.

The Art of Prophesying by William Perkins. Practical help on preaching. Good, though I have found more modern works more useful.

By Faith, Not By Sight by Richard Gaffin. This writer always makes me go, “Wow!” The book is the fruit of a day conference at Oakhill Theological College which I attended in 2004. At the time I went “wow”, and I did it again as I read the book. He seeks to get an answer to the question, “What is the centre of Paul’s theology.” Worth working through carefully.

Technopoly by Neil Postman. I have heard this quoted from many times and have wanted to read it for a while. Written in 1992, Postman investigates the idea that we (i.e. western society) have become the servants of technology, not the other way round. Fascinating and thought provoking. If you are a culture watcher who wants to look a bit deeper, this is a must read.

Yes I have Been Reading

Solihull Presbyterian Church – One Year On

the congregation

We are thankful to God for the number who turned up on the Sunday of our first anniversary – exactly 50 people. We used the occasion to put full-page ads in the local papers last week and invite as many people as we could who we had made contact with over the last year. (I should say that this has been mainly Al Lutz’s work, not mine.) The visitors included a couple from Tates Creek Presbyterian Church in Kentucky, USA, who brought a letter of greeting from the elders there. Tates Creek, planted by Al Lutz in 1984, and this couple in particular, have been very supportive of our work in Solihull.

new members

The occasion was a good time to welcome nine adults and their children into membership (incuding my family).

Dr. John Scott of Chelmsford Presbyterian Church was the visiting speaker and delivered an excellent sermon on John 14:6 (Main headings: how we lost the way, how the way can be found, experiencing the unique Jesus). There were some good conversations about the message with some of the visitors afterwards.

food, glorious food

Of course there was excellent food too.

It was a great day which all of us enjoyed. It is better to worship with 50 people than with the 15-20 we usually are. Imagine what the multitudes in glory will be like! However, our work still continues carrying out the Great Commission. We plant and water as best we can, but God gives the growth. So we look to him to do just that for his name’s sake.

Solihull Presbyterian Church – One Year On