Thursday, March 15, 2007

New York, Lowestoft, Sheffield

Over the next few weeks I'll be here (for research, learning, idea-thieving) then here (for a mission week) then here (for r and r) and London for some bits in between them all. Hopefully I'll be able at some point to blog some of what I've been seeing/learning/doing. In the meantime however it's likely to go a little quiet here for a while.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Poll Results

Can be found here for anyone who cares.

Given that the poll revealed chronic voter apathy (20 votes in all, and I know that one of them was me and I suspect Ros voted more than once) and the fact that I don't really like democracy anyway, I have decided to ignore the results of the poll. Against the views of 35% of the electorate (7 people, though again, not sure of the exact numerical value of the Ros factor) this blog will not be turning 'pink and fluffy'.

Christian History

Some nuggets from Garry William's lectures today in Reformation Church History.

'If you're going to reform the country you need to teach a protestant version of history.' (Garry Williams on Foxe's Book of Martyrs)

Followed closely by

'This is not an argument for home-schooling' (Garry again - no-one believed him)

And finally, John Foxe should have the final word

'...If men think it such a gay thing in a common wealth to commit to history such antiquities of things profane, and bestow all their ornaments of wit and eloquence in garnishing the same: how much more then is it meet for Christians to conserve in remembrance the lives, acts and doings, not of bloody warriors, but of mild and constant martyrs of Christ, which serve not so much to delight the ear, as to garnish the life, to frame it with examples of great profit, and to encourage men to all kind of Christian godliness?' (John Fox in Acts and Monuments, quoted from Garry's lectures notes, quoted from Betteridge, with the verie ancyente spellynges duly changed by myself, italics mine)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The True Freedom Trust

While debate continues to 'rage' over the future format of this blog (see poll below, and vote if you haven't already, pretty soon we might even reach 20 people) life and studies continue as normal.

Of particular value today was the visit by Martin Hallet of the True Freedom Trust to our Ethics lectures. TFT occupies a fairly lonely position on the issue of same sex attraction, seeking to offer help and teaching for those who believe that the bible prohibits homosexual practice whilst teaching that God does not promise a complete transformation of our sinful sexual feelings (in this life). Martin took all three sessions and displayed tremendous grace, honesty, commitment and not a little humour as he spoke on the issue of homosexuality (or 'same sex attraction' which is his preferred term). His mature godly discipleship shone out, and I for one felt extremely glad that the TFT exists and does the ministry it does. Their website is certainly worth a visit and their ministry is well worth praying for.

Among the challenging things Martin had to say were (my summaries, not necessarily his words);

- We need more conservative evangelicals who are willing to be open about their sexuality. This would provide credible examples of those trying to live under the bible's prohibitions (within the extravagant forgiveness and grace of God), as well as prevent accusations of hypocrisy and secrecy.

- We should avoid appealing to the 'damage' done by homosexual practice since much of this applies to promiscuous homosexuality, not loving committed homosexual monogamy (which is what the debate within the Church is concerned with).

- We must argue from the bible and theology rather than from sociological study. , otherwise people are left open to liberal arguments.

- Human sexuality is extremely complex and we should avoid a simplistic analysis of the causes of particular sexual tendencies.

- Related to which, we should avoid thinking that certain people (including ourselves) will never experience particular sexual tendencies or desires.

- We need extremely good, cogent and compassionate bible teaching on the issue of sexuality. Again, poor theology leaves people vulnerable to liberal approaches to the issue.

-We should reject perfectionism and its promise of full healing/transformation/deliverance from same sex attraction in the here and now. The pastoral consequences of perfectionism can be deep, especially when 'healing' does not occur.

- We must thus broaden our definition of healing to include knowing purpose, meaning, value, love in our lives through God and through his Church, amidst and even because of genuine struggles.

- Protestants need to do more work on the marriage relationship in Genesis 2 and throughout scripture, especially in relation to the sacramental nature of sexual relations. Strong theology in this area makes much sense of God's prohibition of all sex outside marriage, even in loving relationships.