eauk.org/idea â€˘ november/december 2011
A look back at the Biblefresh year
and still a great read
Your pull-out guide inside
Unity movements across the UK
News from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales ideawww.eauk.org/idea nov/dec 2011 â€˘ 1
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12-13 The King’s English
How the KJB shaped our language
14-15 Biblefresh year
A look back at the year that was
17-18 Unity movements
Head Office 186 Kennington Park Road, London SE11 4BT tel 020 7207 2100 fax 020 7207 2150 email@example.com www.eauk.org
to revive our love of scripture. Through various projects and activities over the past 12 months it has brought to life the Word and reminded us that it is a lamp unto our feet. This edition of idea takes an in-depth look at the Biblefresh year. Chair Krish Kandiah shares how we can hear God’s voice through the Bible (p5), while Glen Scrivener of The King’s English tells us how the KJB has shaped our language (p12) and Nick Spencer of Theos writes about the Bible’s influence on politics (p8). This edition also has a four-page pull-out of our Advent Prayer (p19-22). We hope you enjoy this edition. Look out for some changes to the magazine in the not-so-distant future…
19-22 Advent Prayer
Your pull-out and keep guide
Regulars 16 Politics
The Bible and social renewal
News from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales
34 Talking points
A closer look at Sherlock Holmes starring Robert Downey Jr
38 Last Word
General Director Steve Clifford on the shaking of our institutions
Chine Mbubaegbu Editor
How churches embraced Biblefresh
Bound and Gagged Comedy
There are a staggering 6,912 languages spoken in our world. An astonishing 820 of these are found in Papua New Guinea alone. Even in England, where we supposedly share the same national tongue, we often find it difficult understanding the dialects spoken by people from different regions. In the same city, we can find variations in slang and wording depending on our backgrounds. Add to this text-speak, acronyms, business-speak and other types of jargon, and what we have is a Tower of Babel of confusion. It’s clear that language can cause barriers, but the right language can also unite people. Language and the words we choose have the power to evoke emotion, to inspire and to engage. This year, the Alliance has been thinking about the language we use. We’ve been trying to make sure the words we use in our written and spoken communications are accessible and unifying, speaking the truth with confidence and grace. Throughout 2011, the world has been celebrating the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. Royalty, comedians, historians, actors and poets – Christian and non-Christian - have been extolling the translation as a masterpiece of English language and literature. There is something otherworldly about its cadences and its phraseology, its power to tell God’s story in a unique way. But that’s not to say that modern translations such as The Message do God’s story a disservice. They too bring the story to a different audience and tell God’s truths in new and innovative ways. Whether it’s the KJB or The Message you read, Biblefresh has this year been encouraging us all
God is doing something
A look back at the year that was
Cris Rogers, What the Bible means to me
Tim Vine, Keeping his feet on the ground
Evangelical Alliance leadership team Steve Clifford, Helen Calder, Fred Drummond, Elfed Godding, Krish Kandiah, Dave Landrum, Peter Lynas
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idea nov/dec 2011 • 3
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I have found the most recent edition of idea one of the most useful for a long time. Like many readers, I suspect I usually find a fair number of articles/items interesting and stimulating in each edition but in this edition most of the items were of that nature. It has helped show that Islam also has a broad spectrum of beliefs and devotees, as does Christianity, including elements that are described as ‘fundamentalists’ and others as ‘liberals’. Most commentators seem to suggest that ‘militant fundamentalism’ within Islam has been growing in the past decade or so, with “fanatics ... still prepared to die and kill, ostensibly for their faith” as Ruth Gledhill commented. Christianity has had its fair share of ‘fanatics’, notably at the time of the Crusades, but also in recent times with churches like Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas, US, and individuals like Anders Breivik in Norway. The vast majority of Christians would want to disassociate themselves from these individuals and groups exclaiming they are not “true Christians” - and I suspect the vast majority of Muslims would say the same for ‘Islamic fanatics’. Whether fanaticism in Islam and Christianity is growing or not, the moderate majority in each faith should do their best to show that “love of God and love of neighbour in the different traditions are a core concern” as Professor Ian Linden commented. Professor Linden’s comment about what we all need to be liberated from was perhaps the most powerful comment in this edition of idea. We need to be liberated from “an implicit or explicit ideology of rejection, of hardened hearts, an exclusivity masquerading as faith, a perverse idea of holiness as superiority”. People of all faiths are on a journey to discover the true nature of God and the implications this has for their lives. No one faith has got it “all correct” (an attitude that results in exclusivity and superiority) and there is much to learn from inter-religious dialogue.
I am writing as the leader of a small evangelical Anglican church in a majority Muslim area to commend the Alliance for the latest edition’s emphasis on our relationships with Muslims. As someone who has spent the majority of the time since I became a Christian living in urban multi-faith areas, it was the first time that your magazine seemed to scratch where I and many other urban church leaders are itching. I believe that our response to Islam (and our response to the underclass that came to our attention in the recent riots) will be among the defining missional challenges of the next decade. We need as in the title of one of the books you recommended to have a response that is ‘Between Hostility and Naivety’ and is characterised by faith in God not fear of ‘the other. Finally a challenge if I may: any Christians looking to be missionaries in this decade and beyond, don’t forget that our inner cities are far more bereft of Christians than many of the places overseas that people seem to go to, and that a key part of the Islamic world is right here in the UK in our big cities such as London, Birmingham or indeed Bristol.
Clive Barrett, via email
Short-term view I was saddened and frustrated by the absence of other than a cursory historical context to the pieces on 9/11 ten years on. Daniel Webster states that “it was religious beliefs”, “which led to the terrorist attacks and the ensuing conflict”. This is a wholly inadequate and potentially misleading analysis for a complex matter involving other factors. Bishop Nazir-Ali places emphasis on an Islamist ‘world-view’ while making passing reference to western dominance, ‘colonialism’ the ‘creation of Israel’, etc. Granting limitations of space, evangelical Christians are not well served by such a short-term view. We have a duty to be better informed. The history certainly includes “lands lost to Islam” but, by Nazir-Ali’s own assessment that seems insufficient. If Islamist extremism is a problem, which it is, so then is Judaic and Christian extremism; perhaps more so because they have greater ‘muscle’ and seem immune from criticism. David J Carter, director, Middle East Evangelical Concern
Philip J Nott, Bristol
Wake-up call Sometimes I wake in the middle of the night and only reading a book or a magazine seems to get me off to sleep again. It is one way God gives me a wake-up call to read your excellent magazine. However, I have a little moan because when printing appears as yellow on white I cannot read it (p17, Sep/Oct); or white print on yellow (p19); white on white (p27). Do other readers have the same problem as myself, I ask? Also the print on some pages is just too small to read even with good reading specs. The articles in the magazine really made me reconsider my feelings about Islam and Muslims who live in England. We should befriend all people no matter what their race or religion, otherwise how can we be ‘salt and light’? Marjorie Dunn, Otley, West Yorkshire
idea is published bimonthly and sent free of charge to members of the Evangelical Alliance. Formed in 1846, the Alliance’s mission is to unite evangelicals to present Christ credibly as good news for spiritual and social transformation. There are around two million evangelical Christians in the UK, according to a 2007 Tearfund survey.
Editor Chine Mbubaegbu Assistant editor Rebecca Taylor • firstname.lastname@example.org Contributing Writers Sophie Lister, Anna Moyle, Claire Musters, Daniel Webster Advertising Manager Jack Merrifield • email@example.com Design Red & Green Marketing Printer Halcyon Print & Design
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idea is published in accordance with the Alliance’s Basis of Faith, although it is impossible in every article to articulate each detail and nuance of belief held by Alliance members. Articles in idea may therefore express views on which there is a divergence of opinion or understanding among evangelicals. Letters and story ideas from members are welcome, and will be considered by the editorial board, which reserves the right to edit letters and stories for length and style. We regret that we are unable to engage in personal correspondence. Unsolicited material will only be returned if accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope. idea accepts advertisements and inserts to offset printing costs. Advertising in idea does not imply editorial endorsement. The Alliance reserves the right to accept or refuse advertisements at its discretion. Articles may be reproduced only with permission from the editor.
Read the Bible By Krish Kandiah, chair of Biblefresh
Hearing the deafening roar of 12 motorbikes revving up outside a tent packed full of Christian worshippers; seeing hundreds of children laughing and playing barefoot in sweltering heat waiting to hear a Bible story; feeling infuriated not getting a word in edgeways as Richard Dawkins held forth on the BBC’s Bible Special show: Biblefresh has been quite a year for me. Thanks to the Christian bikers turning up to Spring Harvest to distribute the Viral Bibles, the work of one medical student in Burkina Faso, and even the public dismissive retorts of fundamental atheists, one message has come home to me this year: the Church needs the Bible urgently. This, of course, was the inspiration behind the initiative that gathered 120 agencies together from a wide variety of backgrounds, denominations, festivals and churches to work shoulder to shoulder to help the Church re-engage with the Bible. I have been trying to keep my ear close to the ground to pick up some of how this is happening. Christians have been getting creative to get written reflections on the Bible into their local newspapers, or artistic competitions into their local schools. I have seen movies produced and heard about guided tours of art museums and read tweets that show appetite for the Bible is increasing. But while my Bible radar has been on full alert, I have also been dismayed to see Scripture occasionally misused or twisted. As news emerged of Seal team 6’s successful assassination of the world’s most wanted, Osama Bin Laden, a new war was unleashed – a war of words in cyberspace. Some quoted Proverbs 21:15: “When the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.” Others tweeted Proverbs 24:17: “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice.” Many Christians felt caught in the crossfire, desperately seeking to engage more with God’s Word, but hearing conflicting voices. So how can you tell when God is speaking through his Word and when we are putting our words in His mouth?
Baffled by the Bible? Get a Grip!
The Get a Grip tour, run by Biblefresh and sponsored by CPAS, is designed to help Christians tackle some of scripture’s most difficult topics, including sexism, sadism and slavery. The tour will see a host of academics and teachers tackling some of the most perplexing subjects including Sex, Racism and Violence in the Old Testament; and God & Genocide. Alongside the events, Get A Grip booklets have also been produced containing short essays on difficult Bible texts by contributors including Rob Parsons, Joel Edwards and Michele Guinness; as well as essays from writers including Andrew Wilson and Paula Gooder shedding light on violent, troubling, complex or confusing texts. Tickets for the events cost £10, while the Get A Grip booklets are available for just £2 which includes a £1 donation to the Biblefresh Translation Project in Burkina Faso.
28 October - International Christian College, Glasgow 3 November - Cardiff Institute for Contemporary Christianity 7 November - Kings College Chapel, London 8 November - St John’s College, Durham
Here is a quick checklist that may help us hear God’s voice through the Bible: 1. Are you reading the Bible for yourself? Many of us just encounter the Bible second-hand, via our favourite authors or preachers. But accessing the scriptures directly in proper chunks will help us weigh up any references quoted by others. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit, the only infallible preacher, to testify to you as you read. 2. Are you reading the Bible with others? To avoid the risk of scripture reinforcing our own prejudices, it helps to discuss the Bible with people that might think differently from us. Studying the Bible with children, seekers, and even across cultural or denominational divides can help us avoid the group-think tendency, enable us to test our assumptions and discover the root truth. 3. Are you prepared to have your mind changed? I wonder when was the last time that reading the scriptures resulted in a lifestyle change for me. It can be a powerful testimony to our friends and family when we acknowledge that we are now going to embark on a different course of action because of the Bible. 4. Are you travelling beyond familiar territory? Our churches love the epistles, and are familiar with the gospels, but we rarely delve into the wisdom literature or the prophets. This form of selective listening, even censoring of God’s Word impoverishes us. There are rich treasures yet to be mined, and our characters will be more fully formed as we discover the “whole counsel of God”. 5. Are you confident in the heartbeat of the Bible? Preachers use the Bible to promote all sorts of contradictory and controversial doctrines. Trying to remove the layers of opinion and tradition and rhetoric is hard, especially when words are quoted in their original languages, which seems to rubberstamp any sermon and place the speaker beyond dispute. Knowing the heartbeat of the Bible will enable us to get a feel for truth and error that bypasses those Greek and Hebrew courses. The best sermons will resound with that ring of truth that comes from preaching in line with the thrust of God’s Word. Last week I sat having a barbeque in a rainstorm listening to the amazing testimony of one family whose lives have been transformed by the power of God’s word. One lady came to faith, then her husband, her mum, her Dad, and her kids one by one followed her out of atheism, bereavement and alcohol abuse into hope. And this is not the end of the story. As members of this family visit local schools working with those at risk of exclusion because of addiction issues, they are helping the young people see God’s word is life-changing, even in the most difficult of circumstances. Alongside a growing appetite for Scripture, and a developing discernment for the truth of God’s Word as it is preached, I am most excited to hear about the growing confidence in the power of the Bible to bring salvation and hope. As somebody once wrote – God’s Word is living and active.
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Biblefresh survey: make sure your voice is heard...
As we reach the end of the Biblefresh year, the Alliance is launching a survey to get an overview of people’s Biblereading habits and the impact of Biblefresh - and we’d love your help.
The research will look at whether churches have focussed on the Bible more than usual this year, and if those who have taken part feel more confident in their understanding of scripture and its themes. It will also find out what initiatives people have been involved with as part of the national campaign – whether that has been being part of the Viral Bible network, going to Bible-reading groups or attending one of the many biblical theatre productions. Working with Theos, the public theology think tank, we have designed two surveys to measure the impact of Biblefresh. One is for leaders or organisations that held special events, training, reading or teaching programmes on the Biblefresh theme, and the other is for individuals who have taken part in these events or used resources. The survey is anonymous and will only take 10 minutes. biblefresh.com/evaluation
Christians Against Poverty marathons
Christians Against Poverty (CAP) founder and international director John Kirkby is to run 15 marathons in 15 days from the beginning of November to raise funds and awareness as part of CAP’s Remember the Poor campaign.
Get with the Viral Bible Challenge If you are stuck for an interesting way of talking to your friends about your faith and the Bible this Christmas, the Alliance has developed a great new online resource to do just that.
Available from November, the Viral Bible Challenge follows Biblefresh’s Viral Bible campaign success where Bibles were passed around the country’s festivals, theatres and even other continents (see more on page 14-15) this summer. Mirroring the current ‘Geocache’ online phenomenon, the Viral Bible Challenge will enable users to track Bibles placed in locations around the UK that have been posted online. Organisers hope that this will help people use any spare Bibles they may have in their house to start conversations with their friends about the importance of the Bible in their faith. viralbibleproject.com
John, who turned 50 in October, will run a route taking him through the cities of Edinburgh, Nottingham, London and Bradford. He will eventually do his last marathon in Auckland, New Zealand, on 27 November. Taking up the marathon challenge to demonstrate a serious point, John says that now more than ever, we need to remember the poor, particularly in times of economic hardship and job losses. John said: “Now is the time when the Church and Christianity are more relevant to solving the problem than at any other time in history.” And he said that despite the economic cuts making life difficult for everyone, it is the poor that feel the effects more drastically. John said: “We may have to cut back but that price is a lot less than having your house re-possessed. We may be pushed but the last thing we should do is stop supporting the poor.” By the end of 2011, CAP will have helped 49,000 people through its debt counselling services and centres since starting 15 years ago. Recent research undertaken by CAP among their clients showed that before they were able to get help, as many as 76 per cent of people sacrificed meals. Around 28 per cent of people did this regularly. The Alliance will be following John on his marathons during November – look out for more on our website.
Top stories published recently on the Evangelical Alliance website: 9/11
The Alliance profiled remembrance events that Christians in the UK and the US were taking part in on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 with a link to our special Sept/Oct edition of idea.
Following the story as it broke, Alliance news pages covered church and individual responses to regions hit by the violence that included prayer and practical help, youth work and clean-ups in affected areas.
The Alliance released a statement calling for abortion providers to not be the only route of counselling and advice for women in support of an amendment tabled at the House of Commons.
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news Inspire Awards 2011
This year we have had more than 100 nominations for the categories of most inspiring individual, church and project as part of the Evangelical Alliance and Inspire magazine’s Inspire Awards. The awards ceremony is to be hosted at Westminster and supported by a number of Christian MPs including Gary Streeter, chair of Christians in Parliament and Steve Webb, minister of state for work and pensions, who will speak at the November event. Entries have ranged from projects run by Christians on sink estates with those battling with addictions, to Christian projects giving food parcels to families
who have no money to eat to a church abbey running a skateboarding event for young people. The inspiring individual category received the most nominations. Nominations included a survivor of domestic abuse speaking around the UK and overseas, challenging the Church to do more; a woman from Manchester helping those from the homeless community gain confidence and learn to act and appear in award-winning films to a man who tirelessly works to provide community services to the deprived communities in his town. Christine Deponio, who was nominated for her work in running a respite centre for the terminally ill, said: “It was a huge surprise, it really was. I’m kind of a one-man-band. And I don’t look for anything. I just do what God wants me to do.”
Adds Chine Mbubaegbu, acting head of media at the Alliance: “The awards are a fantastic opportunity to honour the work of those nominated through the event – these great stories are ones that we need to get out into the public to show all that Christians are doing in their communities.” eauk.org/idea/inspire-awards.cfm
Alliance Biblefresh initiatives nominated for national media awards
The Alliance’s Biblefresh and Viral Bible projects were chosen as finalists at the Premier 2011 Christian New Media Awards (CNMA) in October. At the time of going to print, winners were yet to be announced, but with the Alliance’s Biblefresh team shortlisted for Best Christian Organisation and Biblefresh project The Viral Bible a finalist in the Most Creative use of Social Media category, being recognised by the awards was something the teams were delighted about. Said Sara Hyde: “We are absolutely thrilled that The Viral Bible Project has been nominated for a CNMA. It’s a privilege to receive this recognition for the innovative, creative work the Alliance is involved with and we hope our nomination encourages more people to get
immersed in the freedom-bringing, life-giving word of God.” Biblefresh co-ordinator Helen Budd added: “The Biblefresh website has been a one-stop shop for all Bible resources this year. From books to training courses, drama productions to iPhone apps, we have tried to cover the vast array of Bible resources which are available in the UK. We are thrilled to have been selected.” The awards will be co-hosted by the Alliance’s Krish Kandiah and Premier’s Woman to Woman presenter Maria Toth. Kevin Bennett from Premier said: “There
were over 1,200 entries to the awards this year. Just 71 made it to the shortlist. The Creative Use of Social Media category puts a spotlight on… [those] demonstrating innovative or creative ways of using social media and websites nominated for Best Organisation had a site that clearly communicates their message and engages their audience.”
news in brief... TWELVE SGM Lifewords, specialists in evangelistic resources and creators of the TWELVE initiative that supported Biblefresh this year, are giving away free Christmas cards and a 2012 calendar. Together with the Christmas story, cards are themed with 12 chosen words to tell the story of the Bible. Danielle Welsh says: “This is an opportunity to share the Christmas message, and spark imaginations about the story the Bible tells.” To claim your calendar, tell SGM how you would sum up the Bible in 12 words. 12words.org
Homestay hospitality for the Olympics As part of the More Than Gold initiative helping Christians get involved in the Olympics in whatever way they can, churches are being encouraged to host families during the Games. With hotel and accommodation prices likely to be at a premium, as part of the More Than Gold Homestay programme, Christians in London and other venue cities are being asked to help in providing a pick up and welcome for people, provide bed and breakfast, look after guests and help them get around to Games events. morethangold.org.uk/hospitality
Worship album reaches number 9 on i-Tunes chart Worship album Spirit Break Out featuring Tim Hughes, Ben Cantelon, Al Gordon and other musicians, had managed to climb to number 9 on the i-Tunes chart as idea was going to print. The album produced by Kingsway is a live worship album and encompasses contributions from those at Worship Central – the school of Alpha International and Holy Trinity Brompton. Says Tim Hughes: “Our vision is to see the name of Jesus lifted high all around the world… from the streets to the stadium. It’s all about Jesus.”
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Biblical influence: How Scripture shaped Great Britain Our political system owes a lot to the Bible, writes Nick Spencer, research director at think-tank Theos and author of Freedom & Order… This year has reminded us that political stability is a precious thing. The so-called Arab spring, with uprisings in Egypt, Libya, Syria and beyond, has shown how far from political security and freedom many countries are. The English August, with riots of a very different nature in London, Manchester, Birmingham, and beyond, further emphasise how we should not take our own political stability for granted. Much as many dislike the idea, the fact is that British political stability owes much to the Bible (and not just the King James Version). To say this is not to claim that we owe all our political freedoms to the Bible, or to maintain that the Bible has always been used on the side of the political angels. Neither statement is true. Rather it is to assert that our political system – with its commitment to justice, the rule of law, political equality (indeed basic human equality), and toleration – has grown up in profoundly biblical soil. Take the idea of human equality. Founded partly on the ‘image of God’ of Genesis 1 and partly on the universality of the gospel, the conviction that all humans are of equal worth has had an incalculable impact on national politics. The radical 14th century priest John Ball based his aggressive egalitarianism on it and is remembered for his famous rhyming couplet: “When Adam delved [dug] and Eve span,/ Who was then the gentleman?” The Christian philosopher John Locke wrote a highly sophisticated defence of equality in his first Treatise of Government, which he subsequently used to defend a limited and contractual government. Perhaps most influentially, the evangelical abolitionists of the late 18th century deployed the full range of texts – Genesis and the image of God; Exodus and the liberation from slavery; Christ and the golden rule; St Paul and the idea that “there is neither…slave nor
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free… in Christ Jesus” – to insist that enslaved Africans were every bit the equal of supposedly superior white Europeans. This commitment to fundamental equality is relatively easy to trace back to biblical Christianity. Other political virtues have a more chequered history. It would be quite wrong to claim that the British commitment to democracy was drawn straight from the Bible. Clerics, particularly those of the established Church, opposed the extension of the franchise at almost every turn, pointing out that direct scriptural warrants for democracy were few, and that democracy held out the genuine risk of the people making the wrong choice (not so absurd a suggestion when you remember what happened in Germany in 1933). That recognised, it is fair to say that democracy could not have taken root in the way it did in Britain without the Bible and, in particular, without the determination to place a small, readable translation in everyone’s hands. The man most responsible for this, William Tyndale, was actually a hard-line political authoritarian, but these views were seriously undermined by his overwhelming desire to make the scriptures accessible to everyone. In doing so he created a kind of spiritual democracy that prepared the ground for political democracy many years later. Early 19th century radicals argued that if God considered even the humblest man competent to judge for himself the means of eternal salvation, and government was simply the means of temporal salvation, it followed that government should involve the people in the formation of its laws. Perhaps, the most subtle and unrecognised political impact of the Bible is the way it helped form first England and then Britain as political - as opposed to geographic or ethnic - entities.
When Pope Gregory sent his missionaries to the English people in 597, the English people did not exist. Conceiving of them as a single unit and sending his clerics to them was a momentous move on Gregory’s part, causing one recent historian to observe that “the English owe their existence as a people, or at least the recognition of it, to the papacy”. Much the same thing happened 1,100 years later when Protestantism helped forge a common identity following the Act of Union in 1707. In the words of the historian Linda Colley: “Protestantism was the foundation that made the invention of Great Britain possible.” In each of these instances, the formation of a political identity did not happen overnight. It took generations of work by historians, legislators, hymn writers and the like to forge that identity. What is noticeable, however, is how often they drew on the notion of biblical Israel as a nation in order to achieve their goal. At times this business of forming a national identity through biblical language and logic sailed very close to the heretical wind. National enemies were regularly identified as Assyrians. Britain was often compared to Jerusalem. More worrying was the way Isaac Watts published a translation of Psalms in 1719 in which he rendered Israel as “Great Britain”. Such examples should remind us the biblical politics of the past is hardly without blemish, and that we should not be held captive by it. Rather we should recognise and celebrate the enormous (and overwhelmingly positive) impact that biblical Christianity has had on our national political life – while acknowledging its shortfalls – and then work to ensure that its mark on our future is no less constructive or significant. Freedom and Order: History, Politics and the English Bible is published by Hodder & Stoughton
Churches urged to back trendy ad campaign
Mike Elms from ChurchAds.net said: “This year we have a very simple DRESS but dramatic idea IT by showing the UP meeting of Christianity and A Fabergé egg, a Swarovski crystal high street perfume bottle and a replica consumerism, with Christ in the Damian Hirst skull - luxurious CHRISTMAS middle. With recent STARTS items not usually associated with WITH events in the UK CHRIST the nativity scene. Until now. and with millions A Christian poster campaign this year re-casts of people heading for shopping centres in the the nativity scene with trendy 20-somethings, final few days before Christmas, there will be no designer fashions and luxury gifts highlighting better time to remind people that - behind all the the increasingly consumer culture which consumerism - Christmas starts with Christ.” surrounds the festive season. The Christmas Starts with Christ campaign is In the poster, the brainchild of Churchads.net, now in its third year. It aims to re-tell the the shepherds are represented by a cycle courier Christmas story in modern, secular contexts to and plasterer; the Wise Men are shown as three capture the general public’s attention. successful entrepreneurs and their gifts are iconic To maximise the impact of the message, ‘treasures’ of modern culture. ChurchAds.net is urging individuals and churches But in the middle of the sharply dressed to make a donation to a National Christmas nativity players, the baby Jesus remains its clear Advertising fund to raise enough money to cover focus with the message: “However you dress it the placing of posters at bus stops, buy airtime up… Christmas starts with Christ.” for specially-commissioned radio ads, and for the The image was shot by Max Oppenheim - a first time ever buy colour ads in national and prominent London-based photographer whose regional newspapers.” previous clients have included designer Paul Any individual or church can donate to the Smith, the Independent newspaper and global National Christmas Ad Fund by visiting the website. company Virgin. christmasstarts.com
Festive treats Roll on Christmas
In a new interactive nativity play on Facebook, you can cast your buddies in a chaotic, festive animation – their faces stuck on loo rolls depicting the usual Bethlehem characters. The game is the brainchild of Ship of Fools and the Bible Society. Ship of Fools editor Simon Jenkins said: “Roll on Christmas is a two-minute farce about how the story gets lost in the madness that is modern Christmas. Our cunning plan is that this comedy game will entertain Facebookers, but also send them away with an idea in their heads about why it all went so badly wrong.” shipoffools.com
Meaningful chocolate tree decorations
A Christian company has launched a new set of nativity-themed chocolate tree decorations to share the true meaning of the Christmas story. The Meaningful Chocolate Company – behind The Real Easter Egg – hopes the Fairtrade chocolate decorations will reach those who are unaware of the Christmas Bible story on which the festive season is based on. David Marshall, from the company, said: “The Meaningful Chocolate Tree Decorations are an opportunity to buy a gift that allows the telling of the Christmas story at home. The card also includes and invitation for people to go to church to hear the Christmas story. So, not only is it educational, it’s also a piece of evangelism.” For more details or to place your order by mid-November, visit the website. meaningfulchristmas.co.uk
TEL: 0845 054 0067
Filter Coffee Systems on FREE LOAN
if you consume 75 cups of coffee per week. ideal for after-service and mid-week meetings.
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WHEN YOU TRANSFORM A CHILD’S LIFE IN JESUS’ NAME YOU BEGIN TO CHANGE THE WORLD
SPONSOR A CHILD 10 • idea nov/dec 2011
This Christmas, become part of this unique ministry by visiting www.compassionuk.org or calling 01932 836490.
Sponsoring a child through Compassion is a powerful and enduring way to tackle world poverty. Compassion supports the most vulnerable children and, through individual sponsors, helps them break the cycle of poverty, replacing it with hope for the future. For just 70p a day, you can ensure a child in desperate need has access to education, healthcare, food and clothing. Working exclusively through local churches in 26 developing countries, Compassion also provides the opportunity for every child to hear the good news of Jesus Christ.
Digidisciple: Living biblically in a digital age
by Dr Bex Lewis, The Big Bible Project
“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavours of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage. “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colours in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill.” Matthew 5:13-14, The Message Over the past few weeks a conversation has grown on The Big Bible Project among more than 40 ‘digidisciples’. A ‘disciple’ is one who, by following Jesus, grows in their faith in Christ and in so doing models and teaches Christians the precepts of the Bible, prayer, doctrine, relationship, Christian living, service, and worship. A ‘digital disciple’, or, as The Big Bible Project calls it, a #digidisciple, seeks to live out their Christian faith in the digital space, whether they are a ‘digital infant’ (thanks to Rev Kate Bruce for that concept), or are fully immersed in the digital worlds. These are people seeking to be ‘generous with their lives’, opening themselves up, engaging with others online. If we think about when the Bible was first written, it would have been the focus of discussion and reading, rather than individual study. Taking ‘The Big Read’ for Lent as a starting point, The Big Bible Project has sought to encourage ‘bigger Bible conversations’, including in the online spaces. To enable people to join in these online conversations, the project educates in the digital spaces, while encouraging thinking about what it means to be in the digital spaces. How does the Bible inform your behaviour online? Have digital tools increased your biblical literacy, or changed the way you engage with the Bible? This concept of the online as space, culture, environment or world is key when we consider what our #digidisciple(s) have to say. As Christians we live 24/7 for God, in whatever spaces we live in or engage with. There is no such thing as ‘virtual’ and ‘real’ worlds: only online and offline physical space. The connection between the two is different for each individual. We need to take seriously our Christian presence both online and offline. Are
we the same person, living by the same values in both ‘spaces’? What should those values be, and what particular challenges does the online environment offer to Christians? We also need to think about the particulars of specific digital spaces, whether that be Twitter, Facebook, Google +, blogs, forums, or Second Life, although all are affected by the increasingly mobile and interactive nature of the digital space. We have asked our #digidisciple(s) to blog on a regular basis, allowing us to share their journey in the digital space(s), from whatever denominational perspective they hold. We want to encourage users to flood the online spaces with positive Christian material, demonstrate the whole-life and biblically-inspired nature of our faith, while not ‘Biblebashing’. We’re working with those we feel have an ‘authentic’ voice, and are prepared to share the ups and downs of their journey as they seek more of God in the online spaces. People blog about the things they are already passionate about and the passion comes across in the blog post, whether offering practical help or deep theology. People need to remember that it’s not always about ‘putting a plug’ on what already exists, technology makes new expressions possible. In these straightened times, we need to share content with each other, encourage each other, and think about how “digital” has changed the conversation, and the new issues we have to contend with. The first #digidisciple post focused up the popular phenomenon of ‘frape’ (‘Facebook Rape’, where ‘amusing’ status updates are posted upon those who have left their Facebook accounts open), taking issue with both the terminology and the practice, finishing with: “Blessing people is something that disciples should be doing, it’s something we should seek to do and so if you are a #digidisciple then it’s something we should be looking to do online as well as off.” #Digidisciple(s) have recently explored whether real community and real interaction with God can take place online, sought for ways to disconnect to find space to connect with God physically, provided both practical advice and theological reflections upon various social media tools, and have reflected upon events in the news, specifically the UK riots, and the place of social media in these. An important element of the #digidisciple posts is the comments that are exchanged upon blog posts. As Pete Phillips finished off his post: “As Jesus said: ‘It is by your love that they shall know that you are my disciples’” (John 13:35). It’s a conversation that’s only just beginning…
Want to become a #digidisciple? Visit The Big Bible Project website or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, email address and Twitter handle, plus a sentence describing your ‘focus’ and how often you’ll commit to providing a blog post. bigbible.org.uk/digidisciple
BOOK ONLINE FOR 2012 Rob Parsons SH2012_65x186_Rob_Parsons.indd 1
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Quoting the King by Glen Scrivener
What is the most famous verse in the Bible? Think of your instinctive response. Was it John 3:16 by any chance? If so, we may have understood the Bible and our faith too narrowly. Consider these contenders for the mantle of ‘Most famous Scripture’: “By the skin of my teeth.” “No rest for the wicked.” “Salt of the earth.” “How the mighty are fallen.” “The Spirit is willing, the flesh is weak.” “In the twinkling of an eye.” “Turn the other cheek.” The list runs into the hundreds. Sometimes the sayings are a misquote of the Bible: “Money is the root of all evil.” Sometimes they are paraphrases such as “pride goeth before a fall” or “going the extra mile”. Often we use a summary of Bible stories: “Giant killing”, “The writing is on the wall”, “The good Samaritan.” In most cases the Scriptures “put words in our mouth” even though “we know not what we do!” This year I have been blogging my way through 365 biblical phrases. If the general public ranked this list according to familiarity, I wonder where “God so loved the world” would come? I doubt it would make the top 100. Tyndale was fluent in eight languages, a genius of translation and That’s the first thing I’ve learnt this year: The Scriptures are a true reformer. It was his passion to make the “plow-boy” know the Scriptures that cost him his freedom and then his life. The KJV is sometimes also secular. called ‘the greatest book written by committee’. Yet, for the most part, We commonly think of the Bible as the Church’s book. Yet it doesn’t those 54 scholars could not improve on the work of a young evangelical really belong to us. It is the word of God to the whole world. who gave his life for the gospel. Professor of inguistics David Crystal claims that the Bible has given Yet if we’re looking for a hero in this story, that position is us at least twice as many famous phrases as Shakespeare. That would be already taken... remarkable in itself. But I would put the impact differently. The Bible has given us Shakespeare! Or to say it another Christ is supreme way, the Bible does not merely outshine “The Bible has given us at least twice as Shakespeare, Shakespeare works by its light. Trawling the Bible for quotable And so do we all, whether we know it or not. many famous phrases as Shakespeare.” quotes was a painstaking business The Scriptures have given us a grammar, (though a “labour of love”!) My target a vocabulary, a story and categories of was 365. In the end I found more than thought that continue to shape us. It has “turned the world upside enough. But at one point I nearly “gave up the ghost.” As I finished down!” Therefore it’s not a case of pointing to this verse or that, or of Malachi, my tally was just 167. Given that the Old Testament contains counting up cultural references. The Bible is not just the loudest voice three quarters of the Bible’s verses, the outlook was bleak. in the linguistic chorus – it’s the founding member, composer and Yet, as the Good Book says: salvation was at hand. When I turned conductor all in one. Whether the rest of the choir is paying attention to the gospels I hit pay-dirt. The words of Jesus gave me well over half is another matter. the phrases I needed. The second lesson I’ve learnt is this: The King James Version And this holds true no matter who compiles the lists. It seems that, is derivative. in all the Bible, it’s the words of Jesus that tower above the rest. By itself, This year I have marvelled at the beauty of many ‘King James the Sermon on the Mount provides 40 sayings. Those three chapters of phrases’. On closer examination, the great majority turn out to be Matthew have yielded as many phrases as all the Scriptures from Tyndale phrases, or from the Geneva Bible, or the Bishop’s Bible. Actually Leviticus to Job – 16 books in total. Jesus speaks around five per cent there were seven English translations before the KJV. But none were of the Bible’s content but provides most of its enduring phrases. more influential than William Tyndale’s. How do you account for that? That is the question for our world – Computer analysis has revealed that more than three quarters of the shaped as it is by this book. How can we explain the extraordinary impact King James Version can be traced directly to Tyndale. Many times we can of this unschooled Rabbi? Surely He is the Word of God made flesh. wish he was followed even more closely. Consider Tyndale’s matchless Indeed Jesus is the true King of the King James Bible. translation of Genesis 3:4. The serpent tempts Eve saying, “Tush, ye shall Glen Scrivener is an evangelist working for Revival Media. He is blogging, not die”! phrase by phrase, through the King James Bible at kingsenglish.info.
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The King’s English God forbid the powers that be Forgetting the begetting of the KJV. It’s put words in our mouth for 400 years, Turned the world upside down so here’s my three cheers. As a sign of the times, I’ll sing its praises, Shout from the rooftops one hundred phrases. Miserable comforters may cast aspersions, I’ll do this in remembrance of the Authorised Version. Like a fiery dart I made haste to start, Then fell by the wayside, was cut to the heart. In the beginning, it seemed easy game, How the mighty are fallen, I was put to shame. This labour of love turned a worldly care, My dream became my cross to bear. I wished to wash my hands of the suff’ring, To find a scapegoat, pay a peace off’ring. The years of plenty gave way to famine, I counteth the cost, had to re-examine. I’d girded my loins then bitten the dust, Put my house in order as needs must. I’d led myself like a lamb to slaughter, Success was as likely as wine from water. With this thorn in my flesh, crying “Woe is me”, With weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. I got carried away, knew not what I did, Twas a task that mastered, a bottomless pit. Beside myself, sore tempted to chuck it, My tally remained just a drop in the bucket.
Twas a beast of burden, grievously borne, I needed shelter from the storm. I could not find what I did seek, The Spirit was willing, the flesh was weak.
Twas my road to Damascus, my burning bush. For this doubting Thomas needed a push. Behold the Man! From heaven He came, The Word become flesh, one and the same.
It’s written, “Pride goeth before a fall”, And for me that writing was on the wall. At my wits end, thought none could save it, This task was Goliath and I was David.
With tender mercies He casteth out fear, And said unto me, “Son be of good cheer. I suffer fools gladly, and that’s where you’re standing, This task indeed passeth your own understanding.
The time was short, my days were numbered, This stumbling block had me encumbered. The kingdom of God may come with great power, My grapes had become decidedly sour. The sweat of my brow began to glisten, He that hath ears, let him listen, There’s a time for everything, but first check, That it’s not a millstone around your neck. I fear it’s too long to fight the good fights If it takes 40 days and 40 nights. Tis vanity of vanities, but I should have figured, Doesn’t it say “No rest for the wicked”? In sackcloth and ashes, and laughed to scorn, I wished to high heaven I’d never been born. I was stiff-necked, hard hearted with feet of clay, Awaiting my own private judgement day. Then, before I gave up the ghost, The Lord appeared with heavenly host. As fast as you can say “Let there be light!” In the twinkling of an eye, like a thief in the night.
“You’re sore brokenhearted and none too smart, But clearly a man after my own heart. Dearly beloved, to me you belong, And I will grant you to speak in tongues.” So the truth set me free, Alleluia, Amen! Out of the mouth of this babe who’d been born again, Phrases were fruitful and multiplied further. The Lord as my helper, my cup runneth over. O me of little faith, I didn’t fall short. Just look at what my God hath wrought! By the skin of my teeth? No we’ve done it in style, And even gone the extra mile. So long live the King – Jesus we mean. But thank God King Jimmy has sown the seed. So verily, verily we say unto thee, Happy birthday KJV. Glen Scrivener
BOOK ONLINE FOR 2012 Clive Calver
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“All in all, the mood in the UK this year really has all been about the Bible.”
Bikers, bloggers and the Bible Spearheading the national Biblefresh campaign, the Alliance has been encouraging Christians to refresh their Bible passion throughout 2011. Purely and simply – re-discovering the excitement of its words and making it relevant in people’s lives - for good times and bad. And with bikers, bloggers and British festival goers all getting involved with us during the year, Rebecca Taylor looks at how the work has been making the Bible fresh for thousands both in the UK and abroad. Starting just over a year ago, the Biblefresh campaign was launched involving a large movement of 120 churches, agencies, colleges and festivals. Charged with the task of re-igniting people’s passion for the Bible, the campaign has provided practical steps for churches on reading, training, translation and experience. Using this year’s 400th anniversary of the King James Bible (KJB) commonly thought of as a time when the Bible was brought to the masses in a new way as inspiration, the range of projects by each Biblefresh organisation has been wide and varied. It has meant that Biblefresh has brought both scripture to life and engaged those who might never have picked up a Bible before. According to Alliance and Bible Society research, Christians – including church leaders – were struggling to read the Bible regularly and were unfamiliar with difficult texts. Something had to be done, so Biblefresh was born. During the year, Alliance projects like The Viral Bible have helped re-live Bible verse revelation moments for people. The Get A Grip tour
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of talks on difficult passages this autumn is set to help with tricky texts that need more discovery. The Alliance has also been raising funds for communities in Burkina Faso as part of its Bible Translation. Project meaning those desperate for the Bible in their language will now have one in their own tongue. Support for making the Bible fresh for people has come from many different forums during the campaign this year. Comedian Frank Skinner and presenter Gyles Brandreth were part of the endorsement of The People’s Bible - a campaign run by the Bible Society. Stoke-on-Trent MP Fiona Bruce took part in a Bible ‘readathon’ at local Methodist churches. As part of The Bush Theatre’s 66 Books performances, writers Kate Mosse, Jeanette Winterson and the Archbishop of Canterbury wrote responses to particular books of the Bible. All in all, the mood in the UK this year really has all been about the Bible. Frank Skinner said: “People used to have it [the Bible] in their homes and read it, and then they had it in their homes and didn’t read it and now they don’t have it in their homes [at all]. So it’s about due for a revival.”
Making the Bible ‘viral’ and capturing the passion of how verses can literally change lives has been one of the massive successes of The Viral Bible Project. Donated by Hodder, 180 Bibles were given out at some of this year’s festivals as well as 60 Bibles for individual professions, including versions such as the ‘Laywers’ Bible’ and ‘Medics’ Bible’. Launching the campaign at Spring Harvest, Bibles have travelled to Glastonbury, Soul Survivor, New Wine, The New Testament Church of God annual meeting, CLAN festival in Scotland, Greenbelt, and the Asian Mission Partnership, reaching some 120,000. With people highlighting verses that have hit them hard and helped them deal with life then passing them on to the next person in a different location, a ‘viral network’ has been created. As well as travelling the UK, Viral Bibles also have gone as far afield as Malawi, Rwanda, Canada, The US, New Zealand, Greece, Turkey, Austria, Croatia and Indonesia. As each Bible has a unique code and people posted their locations and verses, texts have been charted on their journeys, creating a blur of Google arrows on an interactive Biblefresh map. The Alliance’s Krish Kandiah, who is chair of the Biblefresh Executive Committee, said: “It is inspiring to read which parts of the Bible had encouraged, challenged and provoked people in their Christian faith. Our hope is that as Christians grow in confidence in knowing the Bible they will be more willing to pass it on to others.”
“Biblefresh has both brought scripture to life and engaged those who might never have picked up a Bible before.”
A new challenge
The Viral Bible Challenge (VBC), a new phase of the Viral Bible Project, will be launching this month. VBC will help people who may have unused Bibles in their houses start conversations about inspirational verses with their non-Christian friends. Based on the ‘Geocache’ phenomenon where objects are ‘tracked’ the VBC will create an interactive map through users posting online locations of where they have placed objects, in this case a Bible. Users can download an insert to stick in the front of their book, register online to create a viral network and compete to get the most entries in their Viral Bible.
This Biblefresh year has been one to remember and through the success of its projects it has made the Bible relevant, alive and accessible. Margaret Hyde, who took a Viral Bible to Rwanda, says: “It’s been a great way of linking up in a really diverse way – and it really shows the unity of the gospel – that it is there for everyone.” viralbibleproject.com
When it came to making the Bible not only fresh and relevant but also available to those who historically have had no access, the Alliance Bible Translation Project has meant people were also able to reach out globally through its fundraising appeal. The Bible Translation Project has been raising money for Bibles to be translated into Bissa Lebir and Bissa Barka, the languages of the one million Bissa people in Burkina Faso. Burkina Faso is one of the world’s poorest countries and with the Bissa only having the New Testament in Lebir, the Bible Society has been working to translate the Old Testament into the same language with Wycliffe Burkina Faso taking on translating text into Barka. Bibles already translated are making a huge difference and with more languages on the way, communities will have a way of understanding scripture without barriers. Philomene Ouedraogo Compaore, 62, a farmer in Niaogho who now has a Bible in her own language says: “What I have learned from the Bible has been incredible, if you haven’t got a Bible you don’t know what’s wrong and what’s not. Without the Bible, life is dark. Before, there were things in my life that I shouldn’t have been doing…but the Bible has shown me the right way to go. It’s changed my life.”
BOOK ONLINE FOR 2012 Vicky Beeching SH2012_65x186_Vicky_Beeching.indd 1
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Antiseptic effect: The Bible and social renewal by Dr Dave Landrum
When evangelicals start talking about ‘public morality’, the effects are often incendiary. The reactions usually involve criticisms about ‘moralising’, ‘judgmentalism’ and of course ‘Bible-bashing’. And herein is a problem. If the Bible is all that we believe it is, and yet we cannot refer to it in our social commentary, then we are reduced to talking in code and smuggling in value judgments by other means. Over time, this ‘Bible-blushing’ will have inevitable effects on our national life. Having very little space for the Bible in our national conversation (and consequently very little place for the God of the Bible), means that we have very little space for the language of values and virtues. This means that it’s increasingly difficult to talk about right and wrong. In the film The Book of Eli, the hero played by Denzel Washington is seen journeying across a land that has long forgotten the Bible. It’s a brutal and lawless place. A place where the strong dominate the weak, and where there is no justice. Surely that couldn’t happen to us – could it? In this 400th commemorative year of the King James Bible, while we celebrate its immeasurable contribution to our culture, our national life is showing signs of disease. As Tony Blair once observed: “My generation enjoy a thousand material advantages over any previous generation. And yet we suffer a depth of insecurity and spiritual doubt they never knew... Mine is the generation with more freedom than any other but less certainty in how to exercise it responsibly.” The results: an economy wrecked by greed, a society shattered by self-indulgence and political institutions degraded by corruption. And this summer many of our cities saw some of the worst and most widespread social disorder that this country has experienced. Anaesthetised by the nanny-state and incentivised by the free-market, it seems that many of our urban young now see themsleves as being outside of society. Isolated and insecure, they live their lives through the fantasy of computer games or through other people via celebrity culture. But there is hope. The law-keepers vastly outnumbered the lawbreakers during the riots. Prayer teams, street pastors, community leadership and an army of brush-carrying city restorers show that the legacy of the Bible lives on in our communities. The post-riots analysis blamed family breakdown, the loss of fatherhood, lack of discipline in schools, the collapse of a sense
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of common good, consumerism, and the rise of individualism and human rights culture. These have long been highlighted by many Christian commentators, but have largely fallen on deaf ears. However, what has been described by one secular commentator as ”the all-too-predictable outcome of a three-decade liberal experiment which tore up virtually every basic social value” may now provide Christians with a renewed voice and a more attentive audience. Or will it?
Social healing The Bible gives us wisdom for identity, peace, justice, freedom, and how we should organise and prioritise our relationships. Importantly, it communicates the gospel, and as John Stott observed: “The gospel has an antiseptic effect upon society.” This social healing is related to the historically proven dual impact of the gospel – that some may be saved, but all will benefit. Although many around the world are discovering that the Bible is indeed public truth, the West is guilty of what Chief Rabbi Dr Jonathan Sacks describes as ‘attempted deicide’ – trying to kill God. Seeing a direct link between the mass looting and the loss of a biblically informed Judaeo-Christian basis for public life, he has identified what he calls ‘signs of arteriosclerosis [hardening of the arteries] of a culture, a civilisation grown old’. He sees the need to shore up our social institutions such as marriage, families, communities, and to talk again about ethical codes and standards in public life. As history attests, the Bible is a very good place to find resources for social renewal. If we are to experience a re-moralisation of society similar to that which was secured by William Wilberforce and the Clapham Sect in the 19th century, then we need to start seeing the Bible as being more than just inspiration for art, achitecture and literature. The Bible has to be understood once again as a living text with a relevent, dynamic and hopeful message.
As part of his UK visit, Pope Benedict gave a speech to our gathered social and political leaders in the place regarded as the epicentre of our national culture – the Great Hall in the Palace of Westminster. He concluded his speech by asking: “What will be the ethical basis upon which we make our political decisions?” As if to answer this vital and challenging question, during the National Prayer Breakfast in the same venue in June, the director of the Message Trust Andy Hawthorne OBE gave a speech in which he showed numerous examples of how Jesus transforms young lives and how “the Bible works”. Now that’s a message we can all build on. Once the link is made between the poverty of aspiration that many of our young people are experiencing and ‘Bible poverty’, we will truly be able to say that “on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned”. (Isaiah 9: 2)
What does the Bible bring to public life? 1. It tells us who we are. We are God’s children, made in His image, and created equal and unique. This has profound implications to politics and society. 2. It tells us what’s happening – and describes God’s rescue mission. It shows us that we live in a fallen world, and that the Lord has provided a way to safety through His son Jesus. 3. It tells us what time it is. It locates us in the unfolding story of the ‘now but not yet’ Kingdom of God. Dave Landrum is the Alliance’s director of advocacy
Gather: God is doing something By Chine Mbubaegbu
Unity movements where church leaders from across towns, cities and regions work together in friendship are helping to change their communities. God seems to be doing something very special where Christians are working together… Kingdom not empire. That’s what groups of Christian leaders who have come together under the banner of seeing their towns and cities reached with the gospel have at the back of their minds. From Lincoln to Liverpool, Manchester to Middlesbrough, Bath to Bournemouth, unity movements have been springing up in clusters across England. Until now, what God has been doing has been a hidden work. The vibrant movements that are building upon a shared sense of territory to cast aside theological differences and reach their geographical areas with the Good News of Christ have been going unnoticed nationally. Research by the Alliance’s England ambassador Roger Sutton has identified around 40 of these lively movements across England. Now, the Alliance – so inspired and passionate about what we have seen – is helping to bring these unity movements together under the title of ‘Gather’. It will be a meeting together of those who believe that when churches and leaders put down their differences and start to form friendships, pray together and undertake mission initiatives for the sake of their local areas, God commands the blessing. Gather will help equip these unity movements, share stories of best practice and foster relationship between the leaders across the UK from city to city, town to town. Its sole aim is that through learning from each
other and building on the already great work that individual movements in cities have been doing over the years, we can impact the UK as a whole – together. “What would happen if other cities and towns were inspired to start unity movements themselves and eventually all the major towns and cities had vibrant prayer-focussed friendship-based mission and vision,” asks Roger. “Could we see a fundamental change in the social and spiritual landscape in the UK?”
A sense of place Together for the Harvest in Liverpool was founded in 1998 when church leaders in the city felt the importance of having strong uniting relationships. They dreamed that, together, they would see a harvest of people turning to Christ in the Mersey region and see society changed by the adoption of biblical values. At the heart of movements such as these is the regular meeting together of leaders in prayer and friendship. Each week in Tyneside, up to 30 leaders of churches join together to pray. Roger, who has spent time visiting many of the unity movements over the past year, said of Together in Christ Tyneside: “There is a strong bond of love and affirmation among the leaders of the churches there and they have much to teach others about the values of honouring each other in Christ.” It’s the same thing in Southampton where the unity movement there has developed ‘Love Southampton’ – part of its mission strategy following Hope 08. The network manages to bring together a wide
“We have seen things happen that have been possible only because of our unity.”
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feature variety of evangelical expression. Once a term they gather leaders to a big lunch with a speaker and once a year about 40 of them go on a retreat. They aim to develop father figures for the city, have an emphasis on kingdom not empire, pray and forge good friendships. When one of the churches faced a difficult time in recent years, a number of leaders in the city stood in support with them. One Voice York (OVY) was first formed in 1990 to plan a major mission in York, but began to see growth when a weekly prayer meeting between church leaders was formed in 1999. Recalling when the weekly prayer meeting was started 11 years ago, David Casswell, who co-chairs OVY with Graham Hutchinson, said: “We said it doesn’t matter if noone else joins us, we will commit to it. We wanted to pray, not for the churches in York, but the Church in York; for the city, those in authority, business, schools – and for revival. “One Voice York was a charity, set up to promote the gospel, but now it has become a network based around prayer. Over the years, many have joined us, so now each week, 30-plus leaders are praying together. It is an important time for individuals to hear from God, relate to others, and receive encouragement. “And out of this prayer, we have seen things happen that have been possible only because of our unity. We have invited our local Civic, council, health, and education leaders etc. to address breakfasts and have assured them of our prayers. This has opened doors of communication and understanding which has given One Voice York considerable favour and respect when we want to do things in the City. It has also enabled them to understand the place and impact that the Church already fulfils. “We are still asking, ‘What could God do in a City where leaders pray together?’ We want to see more, we know there is more - and know that much depends on our unity and perseverance.”
Gather “What would happen if other cities and towns were inspired to start unity movements themselves and eventually all the major towns and cities had vibrant prayer-focussed friendshipbased mission and vision,” asks Roger. “Could we see a fundamental change in the social and spiritual landscape in the UK?” The Alliance is helping to help gather these unity movements together, so we are holding a conference at Swanwick Christian Conference Centre on 22-23 February. To book your place, visit www.wegather.co.uk
Something for everyone – Bible teaching, worship & fellowship – all in the wonderful setting of the Lake District. No Convention registration or booking fee – just find your own accommodation and come along! Week 1 14–20 JuL simon manchester JohN 14-17 other speakers include: Christopher Ash and Ian Coffey
Week 2 21–27 JuL steve brady EphESIANS other speakers include: Calisto odede and Dominic Smart
Week 3 28 JuL–3 Aug jeremy mcQuoid 1 ThESSALoNIANS other speakers include: Mike Raiter and Chris Sinkinson
Keswick Ministries, Skiddaw Street, Keswick, Cumbria CA12 4BY
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Running the race Advent reflections 27 November â€“ 24 December 2011
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Running the race Advent reflections on the birth of Jesus The Christian life is like a race, and we are called to run it. The race will throw up various challenges; we will encounter hurdles along the way, but the Jesus whose birth we celebrate at Advent, is with us throughout the course. The coming few months will see the nation prepare to host the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, and as a Church we must also prepare to take up the opportunity this presents to show God’s love in every situation we encounter.
These daily devotionals will look at different aspects of Jesus’ birth and remind us to prepare for His coming again by committing our lives to Him and loving our neighbours. The prayer guide has been written by the team at More Than Gold – the umbrella organisation working to encourage and equip churches to make the most of the opportunity resented by the Olympic and Paralympic Games 2012. For more information, please see www.morethangold.org.uk
sun 27 nov CoMe loRD Jesus
Mon 28 nov enCouRAgeD Along THe wAy
Tues 29 nov ligHT oF THe woRlD
Matthew 25:1 - 13 Keep watch because you do not know the day or the hour. Reflect: Today is Advent Sunday. Advent is a time of waiting – waiting prayerfully and expectantly for the One who comes. He came that first Advent, the promise is that He will come again but He also comes today to meet with you as you wait on Him. Pray: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. Come Lord Jesus!
Hebrews 12:1 – 3 We are surrounded by such a great
Matthew 5:14 - 16
wed 30 nov buRDens liFTeD
Thu 1 Dec ARe we ReADy?
Fri 2 Dec PRess on
Matthew 11:25 – 30
Matthew 26:36 - 44
Philippians 3:10 -14
sat 3 Dec siMPly ConFess
sun 4 Dec welCoMing THe nATions
Mon 5 Dec PeACe be wiTH you
1 John 1:9
Tue 6 Dec leT us Run
wed 7 Dec RunneRs in TRAining
Thu 8 Dec blessing sPoRTing FACiliTies
Psalm 84, Philippians 3:12-14
Hebrews 12:1 And let us run with perseverance the race
Psalm 115:15 May you be blessed by the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. Reflect: Think about different sports facilities near to you; such as football stadiums or golf courses, community facilities like swimming pools or gyms or school sports halls or fields, or specialist sports from archery to mountain biking. Action: Pray God’s blessing on these sports venues and clubs. Pray for participants, spectators and those who serve as employees or volunteers. You may also pray for a 2012 Olympic venue close to you.
Reflect: For Christian in The Pilgrim’s Progress the breakthrough came when he reached the Cross and was rid of that great burden on his back. You will never win the race running in that overcoat. Let the Holy Spirit reveal today anything that needs to go – good or bad. Pray: The invitation to all who are heavy laden is to come, lay your burden down and receive your rest in Christ .
Reflect: Sin entangles. We don’t notice it at first... but before too long, sin – the selfish thoughts and behaviours that seem harmless at first – tangles our hearts and minds, chokes the life out of us. Confession is good for the soul. It resuscitates us, it begins the process of restoration and healing, of living again. Pray: Let us confess our sin to our gracious Father in heaven, and to trusted friends, and in doing so let us receive the kiss of forgiveness, and the healing of our souls.
Reflect: Pause for a moment. Take five... or ten if you can. Read Psalm 84. Then read Philippians 3v12-14. And finally, read Hebrews 12v1. This is the pilgrimage of faith, the race of life that we set our hearts on, towards. Friends, let us run! Act & Pray: If you can, go outside and run for a minute (or an hour, depending on how fit you are!). And once you’re out of breath, stop and pray. Ask Jesus, who has run and won this race of life, to give you strength to run too.
crowd of witnesses. Reflect: Consider those who have had an influence upon your life; who have cheered you along in the race of life. Give thanks for those who have encouraged you along the way. Pray: For those preparing for the Olympics, especially the athletes’ encouragers – their coaches and family members. And for the More than Gold Homestay programme offering hospitality to athletes’ families.
Reflect: With less than eight months to go, as a nation we should be encouraged that the preparations for the Olympic and Paralympic Games 2012 are well ahead of schedule but as a Church in this nation are we ready to take the opportunities for mission the Games present? Reflect & Act: Being ready for Christ’s return is just as much to do with being ready to take the opportunities this day has to offer.
Reflect: In a few months, people from every nation on Earth will come to the United Kingdom to watch and participate in the 2012 Olympic Games. But these ‘people from every nation’ are also already here, living among us. Jesus calls us to go and make disciples of every nation... we don’t have to ‘go’ very far to find them. Pray: For those preparing to welcome athletes, coaches and families from other nations. And let’s pray for ourselves as well, to express the welcome of God to those from other nations already in our streets and communities.
marked out for us. Reflect: Our Christian journey is often described as a race. We need God’s help as we endeavour to run well and those currently preparing for the Olympics model to us the commitment needed to run. Pray: We pray for all hoping to participate in the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. We ask that God may help them in their physical and emotional preparation. May they know His strength, protection and peace. Amen
Reflect: Each of us has a sphere of influence whether at work, college or with our neighbours. We have the potential to change the spiritual climate through what we say or do. You are today the light of the world, for Christ is in you, the hope of glory. Pray & Act: Who can you encourage today? A smile can make all the difference. Pray for all with whom you will have contact.
Reflect: The athlete will never achieve anything without perseverance. Paul talks of straining towards what is ahead. It’s tough sometimes and the best of us are tempted to give up but the encouragement today is to press on – keep listening, keep holding on to the One who called you. Pray: When the going gets tough, help me to press on and take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
Reflect: On the day He rose again, Jesus appeared in a locked room full of His frightened friends. “Peace be with you,” He said to them. “As the Father sent me, so I send you. Receive the Holy Spirit.” And then He breathed on them. Wow! Pray & Act: Welcome Jesus, the Prince of Peace, into the ‘locked rooms’ of your life. Alone, or with friends, visit some places of fear and intimidation in your locality and pray ‘Peace be with you’. As the Father sent Jesus, so He sends us.
Fri 9 Dec PeRseveRe
sat 10 Dec MoRe THAn golD iniTiATives
sun 11 Dec ResT
when it’s hard to keep going James 1:12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Reflect: As we think about perseverance, we may be convicted about times when we have felt like giving up. Let us say sorry and ask for God to help us keep following Him whatever circumstances we face. Pray: Lord, we are sorry when we have sometimes felt more like giving up than keeping going. May we remember Jesus’ perseverance, even when opposed by others, and seek His help. Amen
Revelation 2:3: You have persevered and have endured
hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Reflect: We pray for perseverance for those involved in More Than Gold initiatives. Pray: Loving Father, we pray for all involved in the More Than Gold initiative – trustees, church leaders, ambassadors, teams and volunteers and ask that you would strengthen them over the next months. May they have godly wisdom as we pray that God’s will is done and His kingdom comes through More Than Gold. Lord, in your mercy – hear our prayer. Amen
Reflect: Advent is all about the anticipation of Jesus’ arrival. The word itself means ‘coming’. Perhaps as we eagerly await Him, He is awaiting us. Why don’t you come to Jesus afresh now? What burdens do you bring with you today? Pray: Pour a glass of cool water. Are you weary? Is there an area of your life where you’re losing heart? Drink and ask Jesus to refresh you.
Mon 12 Dec PeACe
Tue 13 Dec FeARless
wed 14 Dec “Do noT be Anxious”
Reflect: 2011 has been a year of unrest; riots and wars have dominated the headlines. As the nations gather in the UK next year for the Olympics, let us stand as people of peace in our families, neighbourhoods and nation. Pray: For peace during the 2012 Olympics, for this nation to embrace those visiting with warmth not fear, and for the plans of those who may seek to do harm to be thwarted.
20 • idea nov/dec 2011
Reflect: Whatever stigma we face for following Jesus, it’s likely nothing compared to the threat facing millions of our brothers and sisters around the world. Thank God today for the freedom He’s given us, and pray for Christians around the world facing the rejection and suffering Jesus once knew. Pray: Father, please protect our brothers and sisters facing danger because they follow your Son. Give them the strength to follow and share His love with others despite the threat.
Reflect: In the race there are many things that can hinder us and prevent us from moving forward. Fear can prevent us from fulfilling our God-given potential. Pray: Sit and reflect. What are the fears holding me back? Lord you love me and I can trust you. Help me to move forward confident that in you I will find peace.
advent prayer Thu 15 Dec we will win
Fri 16 Dec eyes oF FAiTH
sat 17 Dec oPPoRTuniTy
Reflect: Jesus kept his eyes on His prize - us! So we can fix our eyes on our prize - Jesus! He’s the author, pioneer, source of our faith; its perfecter, finisher, completer. There at beginning and end! Cheered on by forerunners, we’re in a race already won, so we can – and we will - win. Team Jesus - together, we’re more than gold. Pray: ‘Father, thank you for Jesus’ example. Keep my eyes fixed on Him.’
Reflect: A baby, life’s author, life’s source – Jesus, born to die. But without death, no resurrection! Some saw the supreme conundrum of history with their own eyes, but we see through eyes of faith. As witnesses of this fact, we carry more than gold. More Than Gold seeks to share this morethan-gold at 2012’s more-than-golden opportunity. Pray: ‘Father, bless evangelistic opportunities at the Olympics and Paralympics.’
Reflect: Jesus, the Author of salvation. No other, just Jesus. Unique, only and perfect. If He wasn’t perfect, He wouldn’t go near the imperfect to make them... perfect, more than gold, like Him. That’s us! Christmas is another more-than-golden opportunity to share the Author’s salvation message. The Author with all authority in heaven and earth... Pray: ‘Father, who do you need me to send Christmas cards to?’ Action: Pray for the people God leads you to send Christmas cards to.
sun 18 Dec A HoPe AnD A FuTuRe
Mon 19 Dec A lisTening goD
Tue 20 Dec seeking
Jeremiah 29:11, galatians 4:4
Jeremiah 29:12, Luke 1:13
Jeremiah 29:13, Luke 18:27
wed 21 Dec looking To Jesus
Thu 22 Dec sHARing Jesus
Fri 23 Dec “THe winning line”
Reflect: God’s plan for the redemption of the world was to send Jesus. God has a plan for you. God promises you a hope and a future. Pray: Thank you Creator Father for making me in your image. Thank you that you have a perfect plan for my life. Thank you that you have set your hope in me. Help me to live to my full potential as your child.
Reflect: How can we learn to fix our eyes more and more on Jesus today? Take time to stop and worship. Give thanks: for Jesus – His life, His death, His resurrection, His ascension; for the gift of forgiveness and adoption into the family of God; for His intention to transform us from one degree of glory to another. Pray: Lord Jesus, fill me afresh with your Holy Spirit so I can point others to you today. Amen.
Reflect: We have the promise that when we call on God, He will listen. God has not forgotten you. Look for signs today of God speaking to you. Pray: Pray for a listening heart; ask God to show you His glory. Pray for the Olympic Torch Relay; as the Olympic flame is carried through this land Christians will be praying for the light of Christ to fill this nation. God will be listening.
Reflect: As the Christmas story unfolds, we see how the offer of a place to stay was so important to Jesus’ parents. Pray: for those offering hospitality to the homeless in your community this week; for all the arrangements being put in place to provide accommodation for athletes’ families and for overseas mission teams ahead of and during the Games. Action: Who could I offer hospitality to this Christmas time?
Reflect: We come confidently to God knowing He is waiting. This is the communion of prayer. Be bold, bring large petitions to God, for there is nothing He cannot do. Pray: Forgive me when I don’t believe you will answer prayer. I dare to pray that every person involved with the Olympic flame will be touched by your Holy Spirit.
Reflect: Imagine racing, full speed ahead towards the wrong goal. It would be really embarrassing to have spent a lot of energy getting somewhere that was a huge let-down. There is a King who reigns with grace, mercy and peace. Racing to Him is never a disappointment. Pray: Thank you that you are the fulfilment of all I can imagine. While I may not always understand you, I know that you will never let me down.
sat 24 Dec giving My besT Matthew 2:9-13
Reflect: Running the race involves determination, endurance and focus. There are ups and downs but think of the joy at reaching the winning line. Think about the joy of seeing Jesus, offering your gifts and falling at His feet. What will it be like when we see Him face to face? Pray: Lord like the Magi I bow before you, overjoyed, offering the best that I have. You have given all for me. You deserve my best.
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idea nov/dec 2011 • 21
by Fred Drummond, prayer and supporters director, Evangelical Alliance
God is wonderfully creative. Just think of some of the amazing sounds that delight us. Close your eyes and imagine some of these sounds – a baby crying, leaves rustling, waves crashing, an encouraging whisper. All of these sounds add to our experience and enrich our lives. Our hearts are lifted by the wonder and diversity of God’s creative genius. I began to wonder what sounds might please God. What about a heavenly choir announcing good news to a bunch of shepherds? Think about that choir, its magnificent tone, its word-perfect proclamation of eternity-shaking news to a small select crowd. I love the Message translation that says: “At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises. ’Glory to God in the heavenly heights, peace to all men and women on earth who please Him’.” As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the shepherds talked it over. I think that must be one of the great understatements in history. What a conversation it must have been between these shepherds. I am sure they told the story over and over again. God must have been thrilled by both by the choir and the reaction. I think that there is another sound that will bring pleasure to God. Imagine if, leading up to this Christmas, there were Christians from all over the UK praying with one voice and heart. As the people of God we can bring pleasure to God as our prayers rise to His throne. Our desire with Advent Prayer is to galvanise Christians to pray leading up to
Christmas. It is a call to focus on Jesus and to call on Him to heal and bless our land. This year’s leaflet, found in the preceding pages, is a sign of our commitment to two things: firstly, to work together. Unity is central to us because we think that it is central to the redemption plan of God. The world will believe that the Father sent the Son when we are one. Therefore, unity is a key. The Advent Prayer material was written by various people from across the UK. Each person has a heart for prayer and is involved in a prayer ministry. They each bring their own insight and passion and I am grateful to God for each one and for what they brought to the project. Secondly, our belief is that prayer should be at the heart of all that we are seeking to do in the name of Jesus. We are weak, flawed and failing individuals. God has chosen to love us and invite us into the wonderful journey of discipleship that relies upon Jesus’ forgiveness and grace. The mystery is that we are powerless but we can do all things in Him. So knowing that we are the loved children of God, we seek Him and call on Him to heal and transform our land. One of the most encouraging things that I see in the UK today
is the growth in prayer. Christians are turning afresh to their saviour both individually and corporately, using various forms. We are being prompted by the Holy Spirit to turn to God. This year’s Advent Prayer guide encourages, challenges and calls us to pray that God may transform our nation in the coming year. There are many things that we could focus upon. One of the main events of 2012 will be the Olympics. What an opportunity. What a challenge. Think of the amount of people who will visit our shores. It will call for energy and creativity. Could the love of God’s people have an impact not just in the UK, but on those from all over the world? There are a whole host of other topics covered in the prayer guide. There is encouragement to persevere; there is the call to step forward in faith and see God at work. Also we are reminded about the joy of our salvation. God has done wonderful things for us and Holy is His name. It would be really exciting if Christians from all over the country prayed throughout Advent. What might happen if at some point in every day during the period, we all took a short time to reflect and pray? As life becomes more hectic, we could all stop, consider and call upon God. Imagine the sound of thousands of voices raised up in adoration and intercession. What a beautiful sound that would be. To encourage you church or prayer group to take part you can make a bulk order by following the instructions on the booking form or downloading a free copy by visiting www.eauk.org/advent
22 • idea nov/dec 2011
news New Testament Assembly celebrates 50th birthday
by Nezlin Sterling
The New Testament Assembly (NTA) celebrated its 50th anniversary with a reception at the House of Lords. The church, founded by the late Bishop Melvin Powell and the late Bishop Ethwall Bernard, has been celebrating its anniversary throughout the year, with events including a ball attended by more than 500 members, a young people’s conference and an international conference with delegates from Ghana, Jamaica, the US, Canada, India and Malaysia. Lord Carey of Clifton was among those who spoke at the House of Lords reception held on 19 September, which was also attended by representatives from other organisations including Christian Aid and Natwest bank, which sponsored the event. Lord Carey said: “As a former Archbishop of Canterbury, it gives me great pleasure to host the New Testament Assembly in the House of Lords on its 50th anniversary. The church is now a significant presence in British society and I look forward to celebrating its achievements.”
The event was chaired by Rev Esme Beswick MBE and organised by the Revd N J Sterling. Highlights included a presentation of the history, achievements and present engagements of NTA by Rev D A Powell, senior pastor of the Tooting NTA; and the launch of a young people’s training and mentoring programme. The New Testament Assembly has strong community links and has positioned itself at the cutting edge of society. Over the years, it has worked ecumenically with the historical, other Pentecostal and independent churches across the UK.
Senior leaders attend the New Testament Assembly’s 50th anniversary event at the House of Lords
The Alliance has welcomed new members…
In 1979 NTA established its Theological Institute which in partnership with the University of Wales until 2010 offered Certificate and Diploma courses at Higher Education. The Institute’s programmes are now validated by the University of Winchester. NTA takes seriously its role in public life and has throughout this year and beyond been engaging with churches, government, statutory and non-statutory agencies to appropriately meet the needs of its congregants and the wider community. Bishop David Greaves, NTA’s current presiding bishop, said: “It is exciting times for the New Testament Assembly. God has favoured us with many gifts and talents and above all with men and women of integrity and spiritual stamina. We look forward to the future with great expectation.”
ORGANISATIONS Asian Concern, Musselburgh Hebron Bible College, Manchester Life Association, Derbyshire Watchmen International, Walton-on-Naze CHURCHES Christ Temple, London City Chapel, Beckton, London Elim Family Church, Eastbourne Family Life Christian Centre, London Life Church, Burnley Living Word Ministries International, London Queen Street Christian Centre, Chester Reading Vineyard Church, Reading Rock Generation, Dagenham Ruwach Christian Ministries, Haywards Heath The Potters House Christian Fellowship, Bromley The Rock Church, Nottingham Triumphant Global Ministry, London CORPORATE SUPPORTER Indigo Coffee Company, Burford
‘Whether there exists a supernatural creator, a God, is one of the most important questions we have to answer.’ - Richard Dawkins
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The Bible – more than just spiritual ‘McNuggets’
by Stephen Cave
I remember sitting with the Alliance’s leadership team as we discussed the idea of Biblefresh. I recall saying that it could potentially be one of the most significant contributions the Alliance would have made to the Church for quite some time. I was mainly thinking about the synergy created if we could encourage the largest possible number of agencies to unite behind it, instead of the all too common ‘doing our own thing’ mentality. While it did succeed in bringing together a fantastic number of agencies, the significance of Biblefresh is even greater, primarily because it helped us address positively what has become one of the biggest elephants in the Christian room - we have stopped reading the Bible! We have all kinds of aids and notes, but at best they have become substitutes for spending time with Scripture itself, letting God speak. As one of my colleagues says, we have treated the Bible like spiritual ‘McNuggets’ - we take a little piece at a time and rarely engage the whole message.
And yet some recent surveys have shown us just how crucial a role Bible engagement plays when it comes to growing strong, generous, mission-minded Christians. We need look no further than the Alliance’s own 21st Century Evangelicals survey which pointed out that when it comes to maximising the effectiveness of Christians, one thing stands out above eveything else - the amount of time they spend reading Scripture.
Three barriers to Bible engagement:
The complete Bible ...
Too many of us read Scripture in fragments. From topical reference Bibles to verse-ofthe-day emails, we’ve parceled Scripture into bite-sized fragments. We’ve made the Bible feel more like a reference book than a story. We’ve refashioned God’s Word in the image of our sound-bite culture and lost sight of the bigger story. Too many of us read Scripture without a sense of context. We all know the Bible is an ancient book, the product of a world vastly different from our own. But if we are to discover the Bible’s implications for our lives today, we have to bridge the gap between its world and ours. Too many of us read Scripture in isolation. Many of us treat Bible-reading as an individual pursuit. We have private devotions and personal quiet times. The Bible was the product of a very different mindset. Its books were mostly written to whole communities, to be read during public gatherings. Our response to overcome barriers to Bible engagement has led us to develop a Community Bible Experience (CBE) based on three C’s of engagement:
24 • idea nov/dec 2011
We have the facts to back up the case, so what is the problem? What is it that hinders how we engage with the Word?
We need to clear away some of the clutter that’s collected around the Bible. Study notes, cross-references, and verse numbers have a role to play; but they encourage us to read in fragments instead of the entire story. Understood in context ... Before we can ask the question ’What does this passage mean to me?’ we need to ask, ‘What did it mean to the original audience?’ Experienced in community. Recovery movements understand that great undertakings are far more likely to succeed when they are group efforts. Our Bible experiences will be more meaningful when we share them. CBE features a new Bible edition, The Books of the Bible, without chapter and verse numbers, cross references, or study notes. We restored the natural section breaks and arranged the books more chronologically. We included introductions that reveal the context and literary structure of each book. But it also features a different community approach to reading and sharing Scripture together. CBE is our contribution, just one many that are trying to re-engage Christians with Scripture.
We’ve refashioned God’s Word in the image of our sound-bite culture and lost sight of the bigger story. That very question prompted a two-year journey at Biblica (formerly International Bible Society). For more than two centuries now, we’ve translated and distributed Bibles all over the world. We’ve been privileged to serve as stewards of the New International Version (NIV), the most widely read contemporary English version of the Bible. But we’ve come to realise that it’s not good enough to ask, ‘Do people have the Bible?’ We also have to ask, ‘What kind of experience are they having with the Bible?’
For me one of the great encouragements from Biblefresh is hearing about churches who attempted one initiative, such as Scripture Union’s E100, and were so impacted they now want something else to help with even deeper engagement. Their lives and churches are changing as they encounter the reality that the Word of God is living and active. But there’s more. Millions today do not have God’s Word in their heart language or struggle with Bibles in an old language. Funding translation has arguably gone off the Church agenda - and while it is an expensive task I’m not sure that’s the whole story. Think about it, if you have lost a real passion for the Bible yourself why would you be overly concerned for others to have it? But when your Bible becomes alive again, you will want others to have the same experience. We do want to see churches grow a stronger generation of Christians, but it is not all about us. There are so many others still to get the Bible in their own language, and we hope this new passion for the Bible will awaken in us a real desire to see those great needs met. Stephen Cave is executive director for Biblica Europe. He was formerly the Alliance’s advocacy director and national director for Northern Ireland.
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idea nov/dec 2011 • 25
How churches renewed their love of the Bible
Churches around the country have been taking part in Biblefresh projects inspired by the national campaign with great enthusiasm this year, Claire Musters finds out the highlights from around the country. Biblefresh has been taken up by churches right across the denominations. The Methodist church created its own handwritten Bible, undertook marathon Bible readings and festivals and supported the Big Read 2011 projects. Ichthus churches took part in a reading around Mark and each congregation chose another Biblefresh initiative to be involved in. Baptist, URC, Anglican and non-denominational churches, as well as groups of churches together, have also got behind Biblefresh.
Essential 100 partnered with Biblefresh this year and was particularly popular. Its carefully selected 100 readings (50 from the Old Testament and 50 from the New Testament) ensure a good grounding in the overall story of the Bible. It can be used individually, but is even more powerful when a whole church gets involved. As the Ichthus church in Southcroft testifies: “It has been amazing to see the discipleship that’s been happening as people are taking hold of the Word themselves and we are hearing testimonies of people reading something in their Bible time and then it directly impacting the way they behave/react.” Newfrontiers’ Sutton Family Church also took up the E100 challenge. “The Pastors preached through the passages on a Sunday then everyone worked through them in more detail during small group time during
26 • idea nov/dec 2011
midweek small groups.” One church member said: “It was good to dig deeper into areas of the Bible that I hadn’t really read properly,” while another remarked: “It was great to go through the E100 challenge as a church as it meant everyone was spurring each other on to read more of the Bible.” The biggest impact of E100 was how it got people actively into the Word again and invigorated them to try approaching the Bible in a different way. Charmaine, who has previously struggled to read her Bible, decided to try The Message translation. Now she is constantly sharing testimonies at house group of how she has got new revelation and how this has impacted the way she is treating those around her. Most significantly it seems to have made her prayer life totally come alive.
Written for small groups, this online resource was launched by the Bible Society. Each session involves looking at a Bible passage in a reflective and engaged way, and leads to the group deciding on what spiritual practice to explore next. The idea is to connect the Word of God to daily life, and to work out what discipleship looks like in our own specific contexts. Jo, who has been a part of two very different Lyfe groups, said of her experience: ”My first one was with two other mothers of preschool
feature children. Our meetings were chaotic to say the least, but we still felt that we were able to connect with God and each other and found it encouraged us to think creatively about how we could nurture our faith in this phase of our lives. I have also been a part of a Lyfe group with three women who have never read the Bible before. It has been amazing to watch them encounter God through His Word, and the non-directive approach of the material has suited them perfectly, allowing them to respond and explore what they have read without feeling they are coming up with the wrong answers to set questions.”
Outside the box
There have been some very untraditional approaches to connecting with the Bible too. For example, the Churches Together in Sidmouth held a Foods of the Bible exhibition, which included examples of Passover food provided by the local butcher. Teddington Baptist Church ran a photo competition to find the best shots that illustrated different Bible verses. Local businesses sponsored prizes and the public voted for the winners. Richard Littledale, pastor, commented: “One of the constant roles of the preacher is to bridge the gap between Bible and world – helping people to see God in their world and their world in the Bible. To an extent this exhibition has done my job for me.” SGM Lifewords ran the Twelve initiative throughout 2011, which challenged people to think about how they would tell the story of the Bible in only 12 words, and encouraged them to respond creatively through art, storytelling and interactive workshops. A staggering 3,000 shoeboxes filled with 3D images of Bible events were displayed in Peterborough Cathedral. The brainchild of Diocesan director of education, Dr Stephen Partridge, the boxes illustrated every book of the Bible. Church schools, parishes, organisations and individuals of all ages in the Peterborough Diocese contributed to the display. In one week more than 800 children with their teachers from schools across the diocese visited the Cathedral to view the display and to attend a series of workshops on the Bible. At venues across the country, people have been writing a pair of verses to help create the People’s Bible. The whole British public has connected with this project which, using digital pens, has created both a paper and online copy. This has been a great way to personalise the Bible, especially for those to whom the Bible didn’t mean very much. The King James Bible Trust has hosted a wealth of events, including exhibitions and readings from the Bible, as well as a Composition Award that looked for new choral compositions incorporating the KJV. Their most ambitious project, YouTube Bible, brought together people from around the world to form a complete reading of the King James Bible on the video-sharing site.
Christ IN ALL THE Scriptures 4 – 7 May 2012
BIBLE BY THE BEACH
Members of the public have been holding events too. In Gloucestershire, a group of local Christians held a Bible Party. It included speakers, choirs, exhibitions, a biblically-themed cake competition, children’s activities and donkey rides. The organisers said: “It was hard work … but we are glad to have done something to celebrate the word of God, which has become such a treasure in our lives.” The KJB Trust will host a Service of Celebration at Westminster Abbey on 16 November to acknowledge the place of the King James Bible in our culture and its continuing significance. One of the winning pieces from the Composition Awards will be played. A spokesman for the Trust said: “We have been delighted by the impact of our work and the work of Biblefresh, which aims to make the Bible more accessible and the history and importance of it clearer.” This year certainly has been an exuberant celebration of God’s Word. As Krish Kandiah, the Alliance’s director: churches in mission and Biblefresh chair, said: “Not only have we seen unprecedented coverage on television and radio, celebrating the impact the KJV has had on Western cultures, we have also seen an unprecedented coming together of churches, festivals, theological colleges and mission agencies to help Christians across the UK to trust and treasure the Bible. Long may our appetite for God’s Word continue to equip the Church for every good work.” biblefresh.com 12words.org thepeoplesbible.org lyfe.org.uk
Stephen Gaukroger / Alec Motyer Rico Tice / Andy Hawthorne Graham Daniels & many more FOR INFORMATION: 07590 047061 / firstname.lastname@example.org www.biblebythebeach.org
Congress Theatre, Eastbourne
BIBLE BY THE BEACH
23/9/11 08:26:46 idea nov/dec 2011 • 27
Northern Ireland news
What next for Northern Ireland? by Peter Lynas Black taxi tour in Belfast, but much has changed in NI. Young people don’t have any recollection of the ‘troubles’. Credit: Belfast Visitor & Convention Bureau (BVCB).
It’s 13 years since the Belfast Agreement and much has changed in Northern Ireland. Check points, bag searches and bomb threats are largely a thing of the past. Young people don’t have any recollection of the ‘troubles’. But many of the old divisions remain. Schooling is mainly segregated and the voting is still largely on sectarian lines. Serious changes are needed, so you would expect the Executive to be keen to get to work. Elections were held in May but it is unlikely that we will have final Programme for Government (PfG), the document setting out the plan for the next four years, until 2012. What themes should dominate the next PfG? That was the question posed by a senior official at a meeting of the Churches’ Public Policy Network convened by Evangelical Alliance NI. We discovered at the meeting that no church or faith group was part of the pre-consultation process for this key over-arching government document. Had we not called a meeting for another purpose, we would not have been part of the process. In response we have submitted a document entitled Seeking Peace & Prosperity. Based on Jeremiah 29:7, it argues for a different way of doing policy. Northern Ireland has survived the 13 years since the Belfast Agreement, but it is time for another significant step forward. More of the same will not work. The economy, which dominated the previous PfG, is important but it should not be the sole goal and measure of success as we seek the peace and prosperity of Northern Ireland. True prosperity includes all that makes life worthwhile – wellbeing, family, relationships and the welfare of others. Policy can, and should, motivate, encourage and support better relationships which will promote wellbeing, increase social mobility and reduce the social and economic costs of weak and fractured relationships. We worship a God who is a relational being,
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a community of persons. All human beings are made in the image of this relational God. Fulfilment is ultimately found in relationships, with others and ultimately with God. True peace is built on just and inclusive relationships. Human rights discussions must be held within the context of a relational society, where rights are protected and exercised while recognising responsibility towards others. Advancing social transformation and the inclusion of all is essential to a peaceful, prosperous and fair society. Too many of the most vulnerable in our society continue to suffer from disadvantage, exclusion and high levels of poverty. The prophets rail against those who forget justice and right relationships. Instead Christians are to seek the peace and prosperity of the city. Whether or not people warm to the language of the ‘Big Society’, the economic climate means that government will have a more limited role for the foreseeable future. The effect of current cuts are being felt even more deeply in Northern Ireland, where reliance on
state spending is higher than average. There will be a larger role for non-state players – the mediating institutions. Churches and faith-based organisations have the largest capacity to fill this growing gap, with 45 per cent of people regularly attending church and the average evangelical volunteering two hours each week. This equates to more than 50 million volunteer hours each year in Northern Ireland. As evangelicals, we offer a prophetic imagination that will serve not only to critique the prevailing state of affairs but also to offer hope for the future. We are called to seek the peace and prosperity of Northern Ireland. It is a calling we take seriously. We have sent our submission to all the ministers, permanent secretaries, special advisors, party researchers and various faith groups. By the time you read this we will hopefully have had follow-up meetings to persuade the politicians to embrace the changes we are calling for. You can view our submission on the Northern Ireland section of the Alliance’s website.
We shall go to the ball... by Judith Hill
The girls had never worn formal dresses before; the guys had never cruised about town in a limo. But then a truly Cinderella story unfolded as a north coast community organised a formal for the young people of Sandelford Special School in Coleraine. The initiative was spearheaded by Causeway Coast Vineyard, who got the idea from a church in America. Kids Pastor Dave Pavey said it made them think: “Could we do something like this here?”. And that’s exactly what they did. People donated dresses, free limo rides and local hairdressers volunteered their services to style and cut hair on the night. “It was eye-opening,” Dave said. “The community totally got on board. I guess we all wanted to create a formal that was even better than your average formal. These young people had never been to one before. We only found out afterwards - but for many of them this was the fulfillment of a dream.” On the big night a ‘get-ready party’ was held where the young people stepped into their eveningwear and got their hair and make-up perfected. Then three limos rolled up and took
the excited teenagers on a tour around the town, before dropping them off at the hotel. Once there a drinks reception was held, official photos taken, before the meal was served and then an awards ceremony took place where everyone was a winner. Then it was time to dance into the night. Gemma has severe learning difficulties and has to be in a wheelchair to keep her settled. Her mum described it as “a miracle” that she was able to sit still for two hours and have the time of her life. “Some of these young people had never been out for dinner before,” explained Dave. “And so this was such an affirming night - to let them know how much they were valued by God and the local community. The joy that was in the room that night was almost tangible.” tellitincolour.com
Alliance criticises government for attempts to redefine marriage The Evangelical Alliance is encouraging Christians in Scotland to respond to the Scottish government’s consultation on redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships and to allow religious ceremonies for civil partnership. From the outset, the Alliance - among other groups - has publicly criticised the Scottish government’s intentions to redefine and devalue marriage and called on them to maintain the established societal definition of marriage which has universally stood the test of time. The Alliance will be submitting its own response to the consultation, which was launched in Septemeber, but we also strongly encourage Christians in Scotland to have their say before 9 December deadline. Marriage is the bedrock of a stable society, allowing children to be produced and raised by a committed mother and father. Marriage is God-ordained and overwhelming sociological evidence points to the benefits of marriage for children in terms of emotional security, educational achievement, health and other life prospects. Marriage has already been undermined in our society and the consequences are easy to identify. At this time of social fragmentation and instability, any attempts to redefine the traditional value of marriage will further damage the well-being of our society. The Scottish government’s justification for allowing same-sex couples to marry is a supposed commitment to equality, but it is important to understand that while not identical, civil partnerships provide the same responsibilities, rights and status to marriage. Allowing a same-sex couple to marry will not give them any significant rights or status under law. The number of civil partnerships in Scotland continues to drop every year. Last year only 465 same-sex couples decided to have a civil partnership. It is estimated that a small minority of those who would consider a civil partnership would choose instead to get married. It is crucial that the government acknowledges the widespread concerns throughout Scotland over any attempts to redefine marriage at the behest of a tiny
minority for largely political reasons but which will have massive consequences for society as a whole. Before the consultation deadline, the Evangelical Alliance will be co-ordinating meetings between evangelical leaders and the Scottish government to build effective dialogue and make sure the voice of the evangelical community is heard. If you would like any further information on how to respond to the government consultation or contact your MSP please email Alistair Stevenson (email@example.com) or ring the office on 0141 548 1555.
Uniting to Transform More than 130 leaders from across Scotland gathered for a one-day conference to encourage, support and pray for one-another and significantly explore what a united Christian witness in Scotland might look like. The breadth and depth of evangelicalism in Scotland was represented on the day providing a key space for different church groups to build relationships and networks. The gathering, which took place in September, came on the back of recent decisions made at the Church of Scotland Assembly towards the ordination of ministers in same-sex relationships. While many conversations among evangelicals within the Church of Scotland have centred on whether or not to leave the denomination; the conference instead focused upon how we can unite for effective mission and the re-evangelisation of the nation in these changing times. The Alliance believes it is vital that the wider Church comes together to seek God’s kingdom and make His name known. We hope that this and future gatherings will provide an environment for this to take place. There were four sessions throughout the day led by church leaders, including Gordon Kennedy, Alan McWilliam, Alasdair Black and Jim Ritchie. Each session provided space to hear from those gathered, exploring issues such as God’s vision for the Church, how we share the truths of the gospel in the 21st Century culture and reaching un-churched youth and young adults. The talks are available to watch on the Alliance Scotland website, as well as a report of the day currently being produced.
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Wales news Pathways to wholeness: A fresh perspective on mental health Mental health is a big issue in Wales. A recent report suggests that depression has hit an all-time high, or maybe that should be low, in the life of the nation. This means that this year’s Gweini conference will have an extra bite. Taking place on 15 November at Glenwood Church in Cardiff, the conference aims to see the Church develop a response to mental health in today’s society. Speakers include Ian Stevenson, Senior NHS nurse and founder of the Welsh Spirituality and Mental Health Special Interest Group, and Ruth Coombs, manager for influence and change at Mind Cymru. And the conference couldn’t have been more timely. Last year, doctors in Wales issued more prescriptions for depression than there are people in the country, according to a Welsh government report. A total of 3.5 million prescriptions were issued in Wales in 2010, in a population of three million people. By contrast in Scotland in the same year, 4.3 million prescriptions were issued among a population of 5.2 million. In England the most recent figures, for 2009, showed there were 39.1 million prescriptions compared to a 52.5 million population. And as if that wasn’t enough, Platform 51 (formerly known as YWCA) has released a report indicating that half the women in Wales have mental health problems. The report, entitled ‘Women like me; supporting wellbeing in girls and women’ was based on evidence found in a poll of more than 2,000 women and girls in England and Wales, surveys of more than 450 service users and focus groups involving more than 170 women. Within Wales 35 per cent of women experiencing problems have taken at least a week off work, 22 per cent have self-harmed and 33 per cent have lost friends as a result of their issues.
Events in Wales this autumn look at how Christians can do their bit on issues of mental health and human trafficking
Jim Stewart, Evangelical Alliance Wales’ government liaison officer, said: “Wales’ mental health map is very complex but the needs are all around us. Many churches are already very involved in their communities and I hope this conference will enable us to have a greater understanding of the issues many people in Wales are now facing. Jesus came to offer hope to those in dark places and that remains our ministry today.” gweini.org.uk
Put an end to human trafficking More than 200 years have passed since the UK parliament abolished slavery. Strange and disturbing therefore was the news in September that 24 male slaves were rescued from a Bedfordshire property. This worrying story illustrates the fact of global human trafficking; a multi-billion pound industry that captures people and keeps them against their will. In October, Evangelical Alliance Wales hosted a series of meetings on human trafficking. The guest speaker was Terry Tennens, UK executive director of the International Justice Mission (IJM). IJM is a human rights organisation that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. The organisation grew out of a group of Christian lawyers who sought to rekindle the social engagement of evangelical Christians. IJM lawyers, investigators and aftercare professionals work with local officials to ensure immediate victim rescue and aftercare, to prosecute perpetrators and to promote functioning public justice systems.
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IJM staff work in their communities in 15 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America to secure tangible and sustainable protection for victims of injustice through implementation of national laws through local court systems. During the conference, delegates from all over Wales were informed of the extent of human trafficking and its dreadful consequences for individuals and their families. Jim Stewart, Evangelical Alliance Wales’ government liaison officer, said: “People who came to the meetings – both Christians and nonChristians – were moved and inspired by the work that IJM is doing around the world. Our hope is that people in Wales will collectively make a difference in the lives of many who have been trapped in this dreadful industry, and that the church will be one of the leading lights.” By Gethin Russell-Jones
NIV Archaelogical Study Bible (Zondervan)
Here’s our pick of the best books and resources to help you in your Bible reading…
Reading the Bible
Getting the Best from the Bible by Selwyn Hughes (CWR) Combining reflections with practical guidelines, this book helps readers relate the Bible to everyday life.
Here’s one of the striking illustrations of the Gospel of John which form part of illustrator ‘Vietnamthemovie’s’ project to display the biblical narrative as you have never seen it before. vietnamthemovie.co.uk
Why Trust the Bible?,
by Amy Orr-Ewing (IVP) Respected theologian Amy OrrEwing answers 10 tough questions on the historical accuracy of the Bible, its origins and purpose.
Bit Part Players of the Bible-Act 2
A Visual History of the English Bible by Donald Brake, (Baker Books) Bible collector and expert Donald L. Brake tells the dramatic story of the creation of the King James Bible.
The People’s Bible: The remarkable history of the King James Version,
by Derek Wilson (Lion Hudson) Tracing the history of the creation of the Authorised Version, this book re-tells the epic tale.
by Ray Markham (CWR) Ray Markham tells the stories behind the stories of some of the lesser-known characters in the New Testament.
God’s Dangerous Book
by Nick Page (Authentic) This is a book about how the Bible was put together, charting how it has been used since its creation for good and ill.
Eat This Book
by Eugene Peterson (Hodder Faith) The art of spiritual reading from the translator of The Message.
The Bible and Modern Science 12 November A Christians in Science day conference in London to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. Register your place at cis.org.uk
Bible Study Guides
The Lion Handbook to the Bible by Pat Alexander and David Alexander (Lion Hudson) This popular handbook has sold around 3.5 million copies. The perfect companion to your Bible.
The Bible Book by Book
by Cris Rogers (Lion Hudson) A clear, succinct introduction to each book of the Bible, developed particularly with young people in mind.
Lent for Everyone series
by Tom Wright, (SPCK) A devotional written for each day of the Lent period.
The One-stop Bible Guide
by Mike Beaumont (Lion Hudson) Mike Beaumont attempts to demystify and simplify the Bible.
Bible course H+
The Bible Society’s new ten-part course for Bible interpretation and discipleship, targeted at anyone eager to deepen their biblical understanding. hplus.org.uk
Getting your kids through church without them ending up hating God Care for the Family has partnered with key Christian organisations, including the Alliance, to resource parents, church members, youth workers and church leaders as we address together the issue of young people leaving church. Coming to cities around the UK during November 2011. gettingyourkidsthroughchurch. org.uk/events
Gweini annual conference 15 November Pathways to Wholeness: the Church’s Response to Mental Health in Today’s Society. gweini.org.uk
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Biblefresh Saturdays at London School of Theology With upcoming lectures by Conrad Gempf, Robin Sanderson and Antony Billington. Those interested can either book online or contact the Open Learning Department on tel: 01923 456230 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. lstbiblefresh.org
by Mark Stibbe (Lion Hudson) The Bible story retold in just 100 verses – 50 from the Old Testament and 50 from the New.
Get a Grip 3 November, Cardiff; 7 November, London; 8 November, Durham Want to help your church get to grips with the whole Bible? Want to tackle some of the Bible’s hot potato issues? Get a Grip are one-day events with expert input, panel Q&A, workshops and inspiring teaching to help you do just that. biblefresh.com/get-a-grip
A visual feast packed with more than 500 colour photographs, text maps, charts and study notes bringing the biblical world to life.
The 100 Verse Bible
What the Bible means to me I became a Christian in my late teens. I had grown up in church but was never too convinced by the whole thing. But one day found myself reading the gospels and it was while I walked through the stories of Jesus I found someone compelling and inviting. I can honestly say that it was through reading the gospels that I came to faith. Jesus’ words and actions, which challenged the systems of the time, drew me in. Reading these stories made me realise that it was the world that had gone mad and Jesus was calling people to come into their right mind. Over the last 10 years I have grasped that what we need to try to do with the Bible is first understand what Jesus was trying to do with it. Jesus was a rabbi who had been brought up to study the Torah, the first five books. In Matthew 5:17 Jesus tells his disciples that he had not come to abolish the Law (Torah) or the Prophets (rest of the Hebrew scriptures); he had not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. When Jesus says he has come to fulfil them,
ECT A! F R PE T IDE GIF
he means in the sense of being the messiah but also to fulfil them in showing what it looks like to live it out in flesh and blood. Jesus had come to show what it looked like to live out God’s Torah, His holy scriptures, in the day-to-day life of religious and political empires, death and illness, prostitutes and sexual immorality, greedy tax collectors and poor peasants. The Scriptures are an intoxicating God story that dares us through each passage to be the change we long for. Everything Jesus said and did shed new light on an old out of date book. The Torah had been written while in the desert for a group of nomads. Jesus’ followers didn’t live in the desert, they lived in the city. They didn’t camp in tents or need to know how to go to
the loo outside the village; sanitation was no longer an issue. Jesus had to take an old and out of date text and bring it alive once more for his generation and we today are still doing the same. Jesus studied the Torah because he wanted to embody it; he wanted to become more like his father. Jesus knew his Torah off by heart, he knew it inside out and back to front, he could quote any section at any time and because of this he could hang an old text in new ways for his generation. The scriptures for me are this beautiful challenge to be constantly thinking, constantly changing, constantly challenging and constantly dreaming of a new kingdom right here on earth. Cris Rogers is the author of The Bible Book By Book
A five-minute introduction to each book • Illustrated with photos and maps in full colour • Provides notes on style, background, location and key points of interest • Lists author, date, type of book, key characters, major themes and further reading
Available from all good bookshops, Marston Books direct on 0800 121 8830 or www.lionhudson.com/monarch
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ISBN 978-0-85721-016-6 £14.99
Is your church looking to develop it’s Christian Youth Work? Bible based Simple uniform Fun and Games D of E Award Ages 4-18 Resources Awards Camps
The Campaigners are an interdenominational and uniformed organisation, providing children’s ministries, now in our 90th year. Website: www.campaignersew.org.uk Email: email@example.com Tel: 02476505758 Charity No 1124155
Member of the Evangelical Alliance A6 advert:Layout 1
Certificate, Diploma and Degree level (University validated courses)
08/07/2011 14:49 Page 1
· 3 keynote sessions plus times for worship, prayer and Bible study · 50 optional seminars and workshops, including a Messy Church stream · Exhibition and shop, plus showcases and a creative area · Hand in Hand schools stream for primary school teachers on Saturday morning
Flexible Part-time Study Scripture Union • Barnabas for Children • Messy Church • Children Matter • CGMC • X:site • Elevation • Arise Ministries • BCM International UK • Bible Explorer (Walk Through the Bible) • BIG Ministries • Cliff College • Crown Financial Ministries • CWR • Centre for Youth Ministry • Family Time • Friends and Heroes • Future Builders (Children Worldwide) • Girls’ Brigade (GB) • GO Ministries • GO TEACH • GodVenture • Grace for the Next Generation • Growing Through • Kingdom Dance • Kingsway Music • Lion Hudson • London City Mission • Moorlands College • Mothers’ Union • Mustard Seed Games • Oasis College • Oddments Theatre Company • One Way UK • Open the Book • Orison • Powerpack Children’s Ministry • Pray for Schools • Prayer Spaces in Schools • Pulse Children’s and Youth Ministries • Relive Resources • ROOTS for Churches • schoolswork.co.uk • Taylormation • The LIFE Exhibition • Through the Roof • Tricks for Truth • Urban Saints
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talking points Looking for conversation starters, Sophie Lister finds relevant themes in popular culture…
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
In a world without God, reason can have no real relationship with ideas about right and wrong. 34 • idea nov/dec 2011
The world’s most famous detective needs no introduction. He has featured in four novels and 46 short stories, not to mention numerous spin-offs and adaptations. Having been played by 74 different actors in more than 200 films, he holds the record for being the most frequently portrayed fictional character of all time. Recently he invaded our television screens in a new, contemporary incarnation. And this December, he returns to cinemas in yet another action-packed adventure. Sherlock Holmes, as Arthur Conan Doyle famously learnt when he attempted to kill off his creation in The Final Problem, just won’t die. He is constantly being reinvented and re-imagined, finding new things to say to audiences down the years. Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes (2009) brought us Robert Downey Jr as a slovenly, anti-social version of the sleuth, ably assisted by Jude Law’s debonair Watson. Handy in a fight and always ready with a quick retort, the two used logic to overcome a supernatural menace. In the second instalment, they face a far more daunting challenge. Holmes’s nemesis, Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris), having lurked in the background of the previous film, has stepped out of the shadows. With an intellect to match Holmes’s own, but entirely devoid of all morality, he sits at the centre of a criminal empire. To bring him down will be to strike a significant blow for the cause of law and order. But in the quest to defeat the villainous mastermind, can Holmes keep his own head above water? The common thread through Sherlock Holmes’s adventures, both in Conan Doyle’s stories and in the many incarnations that have followed, is the sense of an ongoing war between order and chaos. As Martin Freeman’s Watson was told in the TV series Sherlock (2010): “Most people blunder around this city, and all they see are streets and shops and cars. When you walk with Sherlock Holmes, you see the battlefield.” The battle in question is a secret one, being waged beneath the radar of most ordinary people – but it is real, nonetheless. Sherlock Holmes stands on the front line, attempting to hold
Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows is out in cinemas on 16 December.
back a tide of anarchy. His opponents are the criminals who threaten civilised society, and his weapon of choice is cool-headed logic.
Sometimes, it’s made clear that the war between light and shadow is being fought not only on the murky London streets, but within Holmes himself. Richie’s films are relatively breezy affairs, in which Holmes is portrayed as rebellious and eccentric, but essentially a good man. The behaviour of Benedict Cumberbatch’s 21st century Holmes in Sherlock, however, borders on the sociopathic. He is motivated not by a concern for others, but rather by selfish intellectual curiosity, clearly just a whisper away from being a master criminal himself. The Holmes of Conan Doyle’s original stories can be a morally ambiguous figure, too. “My horror at his crimes,” Holmes confesses, while investigating the Moriarty case in The Final Problem, “was lost in my admiration at his skill.” Holmes’s discovery of an intellectual equal in Moriarty raises a frightening challenge to the detective’s rationalistic worldview. As far as Holmes is concerned, logic and reason are the highest good, qualities worthy of the utmost admiration. And yet here is a man who prizes them just as he does, but has chosen to use them in the service of evil rather than good. Moriarty is proof that being intellectually enlightened does not necessarily equate with being moral. Neither can Holmes’s brand of logic, in and of itself, give any imperative towards moral behaviour. In a world without God, reason can have no real relationship with ideas about right and wrong. It’s an unnerving proposition for our culture, which so prides itself on valuing logic. However much we allow reason to reign, and however much knowledge we attain, we cannot force anybody to live a good life. And so we cannot have any confidence that knowledge alone will lead to the making of a better world. Why live a life dedicated to fighting villains, when villainy itself pays better? Sherlock Holmes, so adept at solving complex crimes from the smallest clue, would be unable to answer.
Sophie Lister writes for the Damaris Trust damaris.org
REVIEWS KJB: The Book that Changed the World, A1 Productions In this swashbuckling, epic docu-film DVD, acclaimed actor Jonathan Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones) is our narrator through the story behind the making of the King James Bible. “They were at the centre of a theological revolution,” he tells us as the film charts the making of the famous book whose 400th anniversary we celebrate this year. RhysDavies’ narration adds a sense of intrigue and theatre to Norman Stone’s film, which although forced in certain places, will thrill those who thrive on traditional storytelling. Epic and informative.
Embracing the Poor, RoperPenberthy 2011, by David Adams et al Written by an international task team of theologians and practitioners from Newfrontiers churches, Embracing the Poor draws upon the work they undertook together for two years to combine an understanding of the theology of the poor with good practice in ministry. Those who want to follow the apostolic mandate to ‘remember the poor’ will find in this book a series of helpful articles and testimonies from people who have been at the forefront of Newfrontiers efforts to demonstrate the love of God with the gospel in one hand and practical care in the other. by Adrian Warnock
500 Prayers for Young People, Monarch Books 2011, by Martin Saunders This reference-style prayer book provides you with 500 prayers split up into different categories to give young people inspiration for praying to God through all the circumstances that they encounter. From prayers against procrastination during exam revision to prayers of thanksgiving, this book pretty much has every situation covered. Accessible but not patronising, this book is perfect for solo prayers, as well as prayer time in youth groups. A great present for teenagers.
Higher, Phatfish, 2011 The six-piece Brighton band famous for songs including Holy, Holy (Lift Up His Name) return with their latest offering Higher¸ full of songs written by all of the band members. It’s clear that lead singer Lou Fellingham could sing the song book and it would be beautiful, but her sweet, clear voice packs a punch when coupled with the impact of gospel truths in some of the powerful lyrics in songs such as And Can It Be, and the gutsy Liar? Lunatic? Lord. The title track is extremely catchy, but there are better offerings elsewhere on the album including the stripped-back Wait.
Spirit Break Out, Worship Central, 2011 Believe the hype. This epic live album from the guys at Worship Central including Tim Hughes, Ben Cantelon and Al Gordon captures something of the heart of collective worship. It’s easy to see why this album reached the chart success it did in the early autumn. With songs that have already become familiar to us at festivals and churches throughout 2011, this album includes great songs such as At Your Name, and Spirit Break Out (with a rap twist). A truly great album packed with poignant reflections on the personhood of God and rousing declarations of his glory. A must-have.
The Best Christmas Carols Album in the World... Ever!, Kingsway, 2011 From the haunting opening of O Come, O Come Emmanuel to carol favourite Once in Royal David’s City, the acoustics of the Coventry Cathedral recordings make for some top quality music. It includes many of the nation’s favourites, including O Little Town of Bethlehem and the jubilant Ding Dong! Merrily on High sung perfectly by The Coventry Singers and The Saint Michael’s Singers. There are not many surprises on this album, just traditional carols, sung in a traditional way. You won’t be disappointed, but the hyperbole in the title might leave you wanting more.
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Living the text by Marijke Hoek
Bible open at Romans
Reading, studying and knowing the word of God is a good start. The fruit, however, is to be found in how we collectively live out the meaning of the text. We are, after all, a letter of Christ, to be known and read by all (2 Corinthians 3:3). In his letter to the Romans, Paul elaborately describes salvation, justification, the gift of the Spirit, the sacrifice of Christ, and more. He then appeals that in view of such divine mercy, we become a living sacrifice. In the original Greek, he moves from the individual to the corporate: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies (plural) as a living sacrifice (singular), holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship” (12:1). Our corporate ‘spiritual act of worship’ takes place in the everyday-ness of life in the sanctuary that is this world. It involves our jobs, families, relationships, time, finance, creativity, desires, minds, homes and hearts. This is how we communicate the gospel. So, we need to see the texts shape the community, and the community embody the meaning of the text, writes Richard Hays in The Moral Vision of the New Testament. In the next verse Paul moves to the theme of communal transformation. Aware of the danger to conform to the pattern of the world, he calls for a transformation by the renewing of our mind so that we can discern God’s will. Understanding God’s good, pleasing and perfect will follows the renewal of the mind. The Church, being transformed into the image of Christ, becomes a living metaphor for the
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power of God (8:29). In Paul’s writings, the image we have of Christ comes to expression in his death. It refers to his love, obedience, self-giving and suffering. God’s intent is that the image of the firstborn is reproduced in the siblings. This shared sonship demonstrates the corporate nature of God’s plan in which He is raising a family. At the time, the family structure formed the bedrock in society. Siblings constituted the longest-lasting relationship in the social structures and fulfilled a crucial function. The sibling relationship contributed to the experience of identity and belonging. Siblings shared the economic responsibility and upheld the honour of the father’s house. For Paul, the ‘sibling’ metaphor has a central place in the formation of God’s family, the Christian identity and ethical behaviour.
Communicating the gospel
Paul did not speak in a vacuum but connected with themes and claims in the world in order to communicate the gospel. One example is the adoption metaphor in Romans 8. In Roman legal practice and law, adoption concerned adults. Paul contrasts the newly acquired sonship with the former slavery (8:15). At the time, a person was completely dependent upon the powerful to gain freedom from slavery. The new freedom was often
associated with becoming part of a family and societal structures. A new status, legal position, household, name, values and a new hereditary succession indicate the radical break with the old family, gods, and debts. Following the adoption, the development of the adoptee takes place in a new set of relations and is highly dependent on the family environment in order to succeed. So, Paul adapts a theme in Roman society to communicate the radical and comprehensive nature of salvation. Adoption causes a new individual and a new community identity that is very different to existing social classifications and religious understanding about who constituted the people of God. The adoption theme is carefully chosen to emphasise a prevalent argument in his letter that God is creating one people made up of Jew and Gentile. All are adopted in the Father’s household, all are siblings of the firstborn Son and all will be heirs. This family that lives under a new rule proves to be a powerful display of the Spirit’s liberating and restorative presence. Rays of the redemptive reign of God already invade the world. A first century Roman citizen would have been surrounded by images that celebrated the cosmic reign of Roman rule. In the household of the Emperor, the adoption of sons had at times guaranteed the continuity of the imperial family and reign. Subversively, Paul claims that in this powerful Empire an image is being formed in this adoptive family of God that accords with the likeness, the reign of Christ. His overcoming reign (8:37). So, Paul presents a matrix of ideas that resonates with the world around him. If we are to incarnate the gospel in our time, we do well to engage in the “double listening” John Stott advocated; listening to the world in order to understand and feel its predicament and listening to God’s word to communicate timeless truths. ‘Dysfunctional families’ and ‘fatherlessness’ feature prominently in our time. While much attention is given to the role of the nuclear family, it also invites us to connect the discussions with the idea of the family of God, thus resonating with the ache to belong, to be included, to share a future. Paul sees the central role of the Church in responding to the groans and dysfunction of the world. Connecting with current themes enables us to imaginatively communicate timeless truths and subversively engage with some dominant stories in our culture. And, ultimately, we communicate the meaning of these beautiful texts best in how we live.
Marijke Hoek is the Alliance’s Forum for Change co-ordinator
Keeping his feet on the ground National comedian, former world record holder for the most jokes in an hour, star of BBC1’s Not Going Out and winner of Celebrity Mastermind, Tim Vine is also resident comedian on ITV’s Richard and Judy, Fame Academy and The Royal Variety Show. Taking time out to talk to idea, he tells us how he balances work and faith and how God would like more laughter in the world... idea: Do you think there are challenges for Christians in the media? Yes but there are challenges for all Christians in the world generally. In my business it’s lifestyle challenges. I used to work in an office in Croydon you have to make decisions as Christians wherever you are. How do you find being a Christian in the comedy world? I was thinking about this the other day. I have been doing this for 18 years. I got into it for the buzz of it and I can’t say that that’s gone – I still get that buzz. Laughter is good and valuable. And if I ever wonder why I am doing it I see that it’s a good thing, a healing thing. Off-stage I make people weep. On stage I make up for it!
Before I go on stage I sometimes pray that if someone out there is feeling low their spirits will be lifted.
Do you draw on your faith in your work? Before I go on stage I sometimes pray that if someone out there is feeling low their spirits will be lifted. To be honest, I am often worrying about props on stage and say a quick prayer when I go on. Laughter is a very natural thing like breathing. It’s good for you. I think God would like there to be more laughter. Do you find support from your Christian friends and the church? I did a tour with the comedian John Archer after meeting him at Spring Harvest. It’s good to have the support of friends on tour. I live in the same area I was born in and still go to the same church and have the same friends – it keeps my feet on the ground. Have you been inspired by the Bible in your comedy? Does it impact your work? It inspires my approach to life. In my act I am trying to be as a funny as I can. It has absolutely inspired me through my life and I get comfort and peace from it.
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What is your earliest memory of reading the Bible? I have lots of church memories from a long time ago. When I was about four I remember the chorus “Oh, Oh, Oh, how good is the Lord” and “Trust and Obey”. I also remember reading Journey Into Life when I was on a Pathfinder camp. I have been in the same church all my life. I think choruses are my earliest memory rather that leafing through Leviticus at the age of eight.
Mentoring event Warwick, 19 November Book online
How do you stay fresh in your reading of the bible? It inspires my approach to life. In my act I am trying to be as a funny as I can. It has absolutely inspired me through my life and I get comfort and peace from it. What are you involved with at the moment? I did the Edinburgh Festival in August and during November and December I will be filming Not Going Out, a BBC sitcom starring Lee Mack and that should be coming out at the beginning of next year.
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idea nov/dec 2011 • 37
Truth shining light in the darkness
General Director Steve Clifford asks whether the shaking of our institutions is actually an answer to prayer…
Few of us will forget the summer of 2011. Wrongdoing of epic proportions, a tsunami of violence, arson and robbery which rocked our cities, dominated our TV screens destined to shake the future plans of thousands of young and not so young people who were caught up in it and now face life with a criminal record. I will never forget the scenes on my local high street in West London – overturned cars, looted businesses, burnt-out homes and scores of exhausted police and firemen. All of this next to dog walkers, cyclists and of course fellow Londoners on their way to work on a sunny Tuesday morning. We saw the worst and best of British society that week. Alongside the rioters, there was an army of ordinary people who weren’t prepared to give up their streets. Twitter campaigns started almost immediately with ‘#riotcleanup’ and ‘#prayforlondon’ trending worldwide. Donations were made to local businesses and the Church was at work doing what the Church does best – practically caring for those who had lost everything, visiting the elderly and vulnerable, sweeping the streets, liaising with police and politicians, providing tea and cakes for emergency services and of course, praying. How did it come to this? Was this a freak, chance episode never to be repeated? Or a predicable consequence of a cocktail of ideologies which have left little or no space for God in public life?
The consumerism of today’s Britain tells me that I find my value in the accumulation of wealth and possessions. I am defined by my designer clothes, my flat screen TV or my mobile phone. Secular humanism tells me that I am the ultimate authority on what is right or wrong – I get to decide! Is it a surprise therefore that with such ideologies shaping the mindset of so many, thousands went ‘shopping’ on a warm August evening without cash or credit card? Where does God fit into these events? How do we interpret this week of madness in the bigger picture of Britain at the beginning of the 21st century?
: The aftermath of the riots in west London Credit: Ann Clifford
38 • idea nov/dec 2011
Steve Clifford speaking at a prayer event at Ruach Ministries, London, in the aftermath of the riots.
Could the shaking that is taking place be God at work where the hidden things are now being revealed? The last three years have seen the most powerful institutions and powerbases of our nation shaken. Who would have predicted the financial crisis we have faced with two of our high street banks getting within hours of having to close cash machines due to insolvency? The mountain of debt made freely available whether you wanted to buy a house or secure the latest ‘must-have’ luxury item. Or a nation - Greece, Ireland, Portugal – maintaining unsustainable growth and government spending. Consequences are now being faced by many of us through unemployment, cut-backs on services and the squeeze on bank lending. And who would have predicted the crisis within our political institutions? The ‘cash for questions’ and subsequent expenses scandal undermining our confidence in the democratic structures of those being elected to represent us (most of whom, incidentally, had operated with integrity, yet failed to face and deal with practices which had become common amongst a few). As we reflect on the last few years, let’s also not forget the allegations that have come to light within the Catholic church. Thousands of young lives were damaged, and the reputation of the Church of Jesus Christ was seriously undermined in many communities by the scandals. Alongside all of this, the media world is being shaken. The Murdoch family’s great News International is being exposed as reports come in of allegations of payments to the police, bullying of politicians at the highest level and the invasion of privacy of grieving parents. One is left shaking one’s head and wondering how it ever came to this.
Could it be that we are facing the consequences of attempting to build a society where ‘God’ is a swear word, at best a political embarrassment and of no relevance to 21st century life? Could this really be God answering some of our prayers? Could the light of truth be shining into some dark places of public life? Could the shaking that is taking place be God at work where the hidden things are now being revealed? We are left feeling uncomfortable. For some the consequences have been tragic. But I am glad that lies and deceits that have dominated these places are now being revealed and I wonder if there is more to come. I am delighted that a political debate has now been started as to how we build genuine social cohesion across our fragmented society. I am challenged by areas of my life and work that need attention. And I am praying that we as the Evangelical Alliance, together with other Christians at work in places of influence, will be equipped to engage in the conversation as to the shape of public life which will be trustworthy, marked with integrity and personal sacrifice.
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Published on Oct 26, 2011