What Lent disciplines do we need to embrace?

One of the constant temptations of evangelicalism is to decide that we have all the answers and so do not need to listen very carefully to what others say. A parallel temptation is to have the same attitude to God. He has revealed himself in Scripture and has made his will evident—so surely we just need to get on with it? Ironically, this attitude is potentially made worse by recent research on church growth. The Centre for Church Growth in Durham has identified key strategies and practices that lead to growth—so surely all we need to get on an implement them, don’t we?

This attitude is evidenced in four tendencies:

Individualism Evangelicals are not unique in this, but we have often valued strong leaders and heroic individuals. If there is a sense that God has raised up a ‘charismatic’ (in terms of personality) leader, then evangelical culture often makes it hard to ask appropriate questions, and shared leadership doesn’t appear to come naturally.

Modernist rationalism. Evangelical commitment to doctrinal expressions of faith can be very helpful in clarifying issues and positions. But it can also be a sign that the underlying philosophical assumptions are highly rationalist, and assume that the autonomy of the sensing subject at the centre of the process of acquiring knowledge. This rationalist approach can also mark some evangelical approaches to the interpretation of Scripture. As long as we have mastered the text, and have the appropriate techniques of interpretation, then we can have complete certainty about what texts might mean in new contexts. In this approach, there is little room for ambiguity or uncertainty.

How does the Spirit help resolve critical questions about the Bible?

In my previous post, I highlighted the dilemma we find ourselves in when there is a dissonance between our experience of hearing God speak through Scripture and our experience of engaging in more reflective study of the same texts. I characterised these two sets of experiences as follows:   Immediacy — Delay Clarity — Ambiguity Relevance … Continue Reading

What are people ‘really’ celebrating at Christmas?

Around this time of year, there comes a recurrent debate about what people are ‘really’ doing when they celebrate Christmas. A while ago, there was a programme on Radio 4 exploring the origins of the tunes of carols. For example, the tune for Good King Wenceslas was originally a spring carol celebrating the fertility of nature. It is … Continue Reading