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idea november/december 2008

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Editor’s note s the year winds to a close, this issue wraps up our series about Christians in the workplace. Forum for Change has five cluster groups focussing on Christian involvement in the media, politics, business, the arts and education. And of course there are Christians in every other vocation as well, being salt and light everyday, everywhere. Forum for Change is a top priority in the Alliance's vision of "uniting to change society". And it's also a key element of Jesus' Great Commission to share the Gospel as we go out into the world. This doesn't let any of us off the hook. The cover story in this issue (p18) includes first-hand comments from Christians at the top of their field in sport, medicine, law enforcement and more. And we also take a more indepth look at Christians in military service British society (p22), including the tricky calling to be a needs us to be out peacemaker in a time of war. there in every walk Elsewhere, we can read about a church of life in Scotland that is experiencing remarkable growth (p15) and how the Church is reaching out to those with HIV and Aids (p16), as well as a number of stories about this year's remarkable Hope08 initiative (p8 and elsewhere), which has been a real launching pad for churches to work alltogether in communities throughout the UK. And finally, as the Alliance looks forward to 2009 and the challenges it brings, we are encouraged by newly appointed Council Chair Roger Forster (p34) to pray for the person who will become the next leader of the Alliance. As Joel Edwards moves on to his new roles addressing poverty and human rights, we are reminded that in this time of economic instability and political uncertainty, British society needs us to be out there in every walk of life with some good news for a change.

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Council report p4 Parliament p5 Hope08 p8 Events p13 Global p16

11 r story

Everyday, everywhere p18

18 feature In the line of fire p22

22 advent prayer

idea Registered Charity No.212325

Head Office 186 Kennington Park Road, London SE11 4BT tel 020 7207 2100 fax 020 7207 2150 info@eauk.org • www.eauk.org Public Policy Executive Director Dr R David Muir Finance & Operations Executive Director Helen Calder Churches in Mission Executive Director Krish Kandiah Conference bookings Maggie Jones tel: 020 7207 2100 • conference@eauk.org Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland National Director Rev Stephen Cave 440 Shore Road, Newtownabbey BT37 9RU tel: 028 9029 2266 • nireland@eauk.org Evangelical Alliance Scotland National Director Rev Fred Drummond 29 Canal Street, Glasgow G4 0AD tel 0141 332 8700 • scotland@eauk.org Evangelical Alliance Wales National Director Rev Elfed Godding 20 High Street, Cardiff CF10 1PT tel: 029 2022 9822 • wales@eauk.org Email address changes to members@eauk.org

Editor Rich Cline (idea@eauk.org) Contributing Editor Hazel Southam Head of Communications Miles Giljam Advertising Manager Jack Merrifield (j.merrifield@eauk.org) Design PinnacleCreative.co.uk Printer Halcyon Print & Design idea magazine is published bimonthly and sent free of charge to members of the Evangelical Alliance. Formed in 1846, the Alliance is the largest body serving evangelical Christians in the UK, and has a membership including denominations, churches, organisations and individuals. The Alliance’s mission is to unite evangelicals to present Christ credibly as good news for spiritual and social transformation. There are around 2 million evangelical Christians in the UK, according to a 2007 Tearfund survey. 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. Story ideas from members are welcome, and will be considered by the editorial board. Unsolicited material will not be returned unless a stamped, self-addressed envelope has been provided. Articles may be reproduced only with permission from the editor. 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.

Cover and feature images: DesignPics, Tartan and other sources.

The way of Jesus p27

27 culture Talking about change p24 Film clips p29 The Basics: justification p30

24 voice

Your voice p32

34

Last word: Roger Forster p34


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idea november/december 2008

Council emphasises young leaders

media to encourage deeper theological engagement for leaders. Kandiah said that the Alliance is uniquely placed to help catalyse leadership development across the denominations, through resources like Slipstream. “There was a real sense of unity among the

gathered MPs, denominational leaders, pastors and agency directors on the need to work together to support both current leaders and raise up the next generation,” he said. Rev Joel Edwards also gave a farewell speech to the Council, in which he appealed to them to be bold and prophetic. “I hope that the Evangelical Alliance beyond my tenure will continue to present Christ

credibly as good news for spiritual and cultural change,” he said. “I hope that the Evangelical Alliance will be known less for its concerns about the privileged status of Christians and more as a movement committed to the well-being of our world; more leading and transforming than worried and defending.” Charis Gibson

Ian Snares

The Church is facing a crisis of leadership and we need to act. That was the challenge facing 60 leading evangelicals as the Alliance Council met in midSeptember. The Council endorsed a set of potential initiatives to mentor young leaders and use new media to inspire them into deeper theological engagement. Key leadership thinkers Tom Sine, Pete Greig, Ruth Valerio and Richard Tiplady stressed that the Alliance must address the problem of an ageing Church leadership, depleted through factors including exhaustion and depression, and a lack of younger leaders to replace those who are leaving or retiring. Internationally acclaimed author and speaker Tom Sine (pictured with his wife Christine) warned the council that we are facing an “incredible shrinking Western Church”, in which only 17 per cent of members are predicted to be aged between 20 and 44 by 2025. Sine explored ways forward based on research from his book The New Conspirators. “We’re struggling with diminishing resources, but I think there’s tremendous potential in young people,” he said, adding that the Church needs to take young people more seriously and listen to them. “We need to re-imagine succession that welcomes the imagination of a new generation.” Dr Krish Kandiah, the Alliance’s executive director for Churches in Mission, drafted a set of potential initiatives to address the issue, based on recommendations from the Council. These include facilitating mentoring programmes across denominational and cultural boundaries and making greater use of new

Mustard Seed

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Edwards leaves with a challenge In honour of Joel Edwards’ resignation after 20 years of service with the Alliance, the Board hosted a farewell party for him at the Victory Services Club in central London on 17 September. With tropical drinks on arrival, a Caribbean buffet and palm tree centrepieces, the evening highlighted Joel’s Jamaican heritage and included humorous elements with spoof newspapers scattered around the venue and a mock radio interview. Guests paid homage to Joel’s contribution to the Christian faith, both in person and by video tribute. “Joel has a keen sense of biblical justice tempered with a deep sense of God’s grace and mercy,” said Geoff Tunnicliffe, international director of the World Evangelical Alliance. “While he is a deep thinker, he also has the ability not to take himself too seriously. This humble spirit is a great example for other leaders.” Mike Talbot, chair of the Alliance Board, presented Joel with gifts including a cheque to kick-start his role with Micah Challenge International and a safari voucher. Edwards responded by giving glory to God, thanking key people who have influenced him along the way, including a special greeting to Burchell Whiteman, Jamaican High Commissioner to the UK, who was present. “My hope is that the Alliance will not play it safe,” he said. “There is a real challenge for an organisation seeking to be relevant and prophetic: will we be bland or bold, opinion shapers or servants of an old evangelical consensus? Will we take the argument to our culture or argue amongst ourselves?” In addition to his role as a member of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Edwards will take over in January as International Director of Micah Challenge, the Christian campaign urging governments around the world to honour their promise to halve poverty by 2015. Nicole Holmes


idea november/december 2008

ABORTION LAW. The debate on abortion provision in Northern Ireland re-opened this autumn as the TUC overwhelming supported a motion calling for the extension of the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland, backed by a cross-party coalition of MPs. The amendment backed by Diane Abbott MP and her colleagues, who do not represent a constituency in Northern Ireland, blatantly disregards the wishes of the four largest political parties in Northern Ireland.

The four leaders of the largest Christian denominations locally also wrote to all MPs supporting the view of the political parties that debate and decision about the law on abortion here should be a matter for the Northern Ireland Assembly. In media interviews Abbott defended the move citing other instances, like equality legislation, where Westminster has had to

Shahar613 | Dreamstime.com

HUMAN TRAFFICKING. The Alliance and social policy charity Care welcomed the announcement from the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith in late September that the Government intends to introduce a law that will make it illegal to purchase sex from a victim of trafficking. Rachel Davies, Care’s human trafficking officer, said, “At the moment it is perfectly legal to purchase sex from anyone – including a victim of trafficking – so long as this isn’t in an onstreet context where punters will be caught by kerb crawling provisions. This is worrying given that research demonstrates that demand for paid sex in Britain is growing rapidly and trafficked women have increasingly been used to feed this demand. The new legislation announced today should address this serious shortcoming at least with respect to the victims of trafficking.” Nola Leach, Care’s director of public affairs, said, “Whilst we welcome the Government’s announcement, insofar as it goes, we do not believe that it is consistent with women’s rights to sustain a legal framework that allows men to buy sex from women. Although there are a minority of women in the upper classes of prostitution who say they enjoy their work, the vast majority of women don’t consider it to be a fulfilling career. More often than not - due to the abuse, drug use and the chaotic lifestyle - many find it extremely difficult to exit. The current framework serves the interests of the minority not the exploited majority who must be our prime concern.”

In the opinion of a significant proportion of Northern Ireland’s population, abortion is a matter of life and death make decisions on legislation in Northern Ireland. The most recent example is the lowering of the age of consent just before the summer recess despite significant opposition. It is difficult to equate abortion with equality legislation or the age of consent, as in the opinion of a significant proportion of Northern Ireland’s population, it is a matter of life and death. ANOTHER EQUALITY BILL. The new Government Equalities office has confirmed its intention to create a single Equality Bill for Great Britain before the end of the current Parliament, with an official announcement expected in this autumn’s Queen’s Speech. Key measures include an end to discrimination based on disability, gender,

news

age, sexual orientation, religion or belief, and gender reassignment. This issue has also recently been raised by Hazel Blears, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, who has issued an independent White Paper stating her intention to “remove the barriers to commissioning services from faith-based groups” while simultaneously making it clear that such faith groups must restrict their activities to come into line with equality requirements such as those mentioned above. But are these aims compatible? The Government’s proposals need to be clarified. The Government has accepted the arguments of the Alliance and other Christian organisations by agreeing not to extend legislation relating to harassment relating to sexual orientation or religion and belief beyond employment to the provision of goods, facilities and services. Even so, the European Commission has recently published a draft directive that implements a harassment clause with a low threshold. If passed, it could force the UK government to introduce something similar. Clearly a lot of work remains to be done. VOLUNTEERING IN WALES. In August, the Wales Council for Voluntary Action issued details for the Volunteering in Wales grants it administers on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government. The guidelines clearly state that political, statutory and evangelical organisations are not permitted to apply for the funds, which can be up to £25,000 a year over three years. This preclusion raised a concern that evangelical groups in Wales with appropriate projects might decide not to apply to the fund, when they were in fact fully eligible. And this at a time when the public's perception of Wales' evangelical churches has been improving, due in part to the good practice and excellent work being carried out throughout the nation. One such example is Bethlehem Church Life Centre in Cefn Cribwr, near Bridgend, which received the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service last year. After querying the WCVA about the meaning of the term "evangelical organisations", the Alliance consulted eminent members of the Welsh Assembly and ultimately engaged the Equality and Human Rights Commission. As a result, the phrase was removed from the guidelines. www.eauk.org/pq

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idea november/december 2008

9/11 issues explored On the seventh anniversary of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, the short film Hope Explored was released to examine themes from inter-faith relations to climate change. Commissioned by the Christian Enquiry Agency (CEA), the film centres on an interview with Christian speaker and activist Dr Brian McLaren (pictured), author of Everything Must Change. Running at just under three minutes, the film features McLaren's personal reaction to his Muslim neighbours in New York in the days after 9/11, which sparks him to look at how Christians treat people from other religions and care for the planet. He also looks at how the gap between the haves and the have-nots combines dangerously with the proliferation of violence and weapons.

"I’m glad we could make a film that recognises that Christian faith is a real hope for the present, just as much as it is a solid hope for the future," said CEA Director Gareth Squire. "Brian’s wider work is very timely, and reminds us that genuine inward personal transformation inevitably leads to transformed decisions and actions, as well as a commitment to being part of the solutions the world needs, not its problems." The film is part of a co-operative project by CEA, Church Army, Christian Evidence Society and Deo Gloria Trust. A series of Hope-themed films has been posted online, and tens of thousands of web users have downloaded them for use in schools, churches, communities and prisons. www.hopeinfo.co.uk

Celebrities and heroes tell their stories A collection of "stories of hope" has been published, drawing together recollections of people from the worlds of politics, entertainment, business and sport, as well as everyday heroes working in some of the most difficult places in the UK and around the world. Andrew Swift, the first-time author who compiled the book, My Reason for Hope, says, "We all need hope and we all need stories of how other people – whether those in the public eye or everyday folk we can relate to – have found hope in difficult circumstances. I believe the stories in this book have the power to drip feed hope into the lives of anyone who reads them." Stories range from Sir Cliff Richard’s account of being “restless deep inside”, until he encountered God during the height of his showbiz career, to Steve Cattell’s story of being labelled “Britain’s most prolific burglar”, before he became someone the police now call on to transform the lives of repeat offenders. The Alliance's Executive Director for Public Policy Dr R David Muir and former General Director Rev Joel Edwards contributed stories to the collection alongside a range of people including Big Brother winner Cameron Stout and Conservative peer Baroness Caroline Cox. And a website lets everyone recount their own inspirational stories: www.myreasonforhope.com

Bible Society

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Ruth takes centre stage Created with the help of refugees and asylum seekers, a new theatre production based on the Old Testament story of Ruth premiered at the Waterside Arts Centre in Sale this October, funded by Bible Society and developed by North West theatre company No Nonsense. Ruth combines the performance with an art exhibition to tell the powerful modern-day stories of women forced to flee their countries to find refuge.

The event was the culmination of a month-long series of arts workshops with women of non-British origin, featuring large-scale sculptures, ceramics, design, puppetry, music and photography. (Pictured are Maha with a traditional doll from her home country and Dan with a mask mould of his face.) The goal is to connect the biblical story with everyday 21st century life. "The arts are seen as key areas where the Bible’s message can be shared openly, creatively and in surprising ways," said Luke Walton, Bible Society's arts development officer. "Ruth and the art exhibition present a visual feast. The production weaves a tale of courage and humanity, and is a wonderful opportunity for schools and family groups to see how inspiring Bible journeys have a continuing tale to tell today." www.biblesociety.org.uk


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idea november/december 2008

Hope for 2009 and beyond n just a ew months the Hope08 o fice will be shutting down as the calendar of events will officially be over. Word and action evangelism, however, will carry on. Hope08 was developed to serve as a catalyst to last beyond these 12 months – a year to inspire and resource church mission in ways that last. James Vaughton of Youth for Christ has been heavily involved in Hope08 projects

We need to actually be out there where people are

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in Bath, including one which daringly provided young people with buckets of blue paint (pictured). Another project, Hope Explored, involved local young people starting a citywide Youth Alpha in September. Vaughton says, “The young people have always done a brilliant job of running this.” Meanwhile, Sladebrook Evangelical Fellowship is making full use of the flexibility of the Hope08 structure by choosing to launch its Alpha course in January 2009. For many churches in Bath, the main focus of activity was Bath’s Biggest BBQ. Every church in the city was encouraged to invite friends and family to a barbecue that was designed “to raise the profile of the church in Bath, and to witness the love of Jesus into our neighbourhoods in a practical way”. And this spirit will live on next year. “When we started planning Hope activities,” Vaughton says, “we realised that

we didn’t want to get to the end of the year and be relieved that it was over. There’s a danger with short-term mission that there’s a massive impact at the time but then nobody in the community remembers what it was all about. We wanted to see long-term initiatives coming out of Hope08.” One project that definitely won’t end in December is the Street Pastors scheme based in the city centre. This has been pioneered by Hayhill Baptist Church and St Michael’s in partnership with Frontier Youth and the local YMCA. The original plan was to create some kind of drop-in environment for people who are out late at night but, as Vaughton says, “It was soon realised that we need to actually be out there where people are.” The project is supported by local police and councils, and more than 100 people have

signed up to volunteer. The second legacy is the new schools’ work initiative being planned by Bath YFC, which first presented the idea at the local Hope08 launch in January and has been fundraising through the year. The money raised is paying for a new youth worker whose role will be to work practically in schools and to build strategic links between the school community and local churches. This job is being funded by local Christians, a decision that was made so as to ensure sustainability. “You can’t guarantee that something will last,” Vaughton says, “but you can think carefully, build solid foundations and avoid short-term contracts. We’re in this to make disciples, not just converts. Surely that’s the aim.” Fritha Wheeler

It’s not over, it’s over to you As the national Hope08 campaign comes to a close at the end of the year, founders Mike Pilavachi, Andy Hawthorne and Roy Crowne are encouraging Christians to continue their word and action initiatives into the next year and beyond. Hope08 was designed to build deep roots in local churches and communities and to help churches start working together. It was also three times as big as was predicted, so the possibility for long-term projects is immense. The office may be shutting down but in early 2009 resources

will begin to be available to keep the work going. Hope08’s Great Ideas publication is being revised and brought out in a new form as a legacy to help keep projects running in sustainable ways. Hope08 has put a lot of work into thoroughly evaluating the year, and the book will incorporate these findings. It’ll look at what worked, what didn’t work and what we know now that we didn’t before. To find out about this when it happens, register with www.hope08.com


idea november/december 2008

Churches must lead fight against poverty "The Bible has revolutionary power to free the poor." This was the message Archbishop Desmond Tutu delivered to a conference of UK Christians and church leaders in London this autumn. The Nobel Prize winner was speaking at an event organised by Tearfund and Jesus House, and he challenged churches to be the hands, feet, eyes and ears of Jesus in the fight against local and global poverty. Drawing on his experiences in apartheid-dominated South Africa, the Arhbishop told more than 800 delegates, “There’s nothing more radical, nothing more revolutionary, nothing more subversive against injustice and oppression than the Bible.” In a rallying call to the Church for more action to help the poor, he added, “I want to thank you for caring as you do. Thank you for being a local church that wants to engage with other local churches, for wanting to make the invisible God visible.” Pastor Agu Irukwu of the Brent Cross-based Jesus House said, “I am one of the believers that the Church is an agent of change for God. The Church, engaged through agencies like Tearfund, working with churches in Africa, working together, can make a difference.”

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Theologians unite at conference Evangelical theologians from a broad range of backgrounds met in Nottingham this autumn for a mini-conference organised by the Alliance and St John’s College, Nottingham. The purpose was to explore evangelical approaches to hermeneutics (how we interpret the Bible). Many issues were looked at, including the doctrine of Scripture, the practice of preaching and women in ministry. The aim was not so much to reach consensus on every issue, but rather to learn from one another and try to understand in a deeper way the insights that each other brings. The Alliance's Head of Theology, Dr Justin Thacker, said, "It was fantastic to see such a wide range of evangelical theologians come together, united in our love for Scripture and dedicated to exploring further how we go about this business of interpreting the Bible. We didn’t reach agreement on every issue, but we certainly grew deeper in our understanding and appreciation of one another’s perspective." The Alliance hopes to build on this and host similar events in the future.

e m o s w o h s i h t s I ou? y e e s h c r u h c of your

Four steps to help people in church with sight loss Recognise the Need Register Online at www.torchfoursight.org Get the Church Pack Prepare for Now and the Future

Christian resources for blind and partially sighted people worldwide

www.torch-foursight.org Registered Charity number: 1095904

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idea november/december 2008

Turning ladettes into ladies

Design Des Pics

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New members

mediamatters

The Alliance welcomes 10 churches and organisations... Churches: Tipton Family Church, Tipton, Dudley Ministere De La Parole De Foi, London i61, Conwy Emmanuel Chinese Church, London Christ Church, Brighton, East Sussex Organisations: Shine Ministries International, Erith, Kent Michael Jaxin Foundation, London Living Leadership, Orpington, Kent Gospel for Asia, York Blessed To Be a Blessing, Sunderland

FREE MEMBERSHIP FOR STUDENTS. The Alliance is now offering free membership for one year to students, followed by a (suggested) discounted rate of £5 per year for the following two years. www.eauk.org

Teenagers in Kingston upon Thames were invited to change from being ladettes to ladies in September by Youth For Christ’s local charity Oxygen. The ID project targets young people aged 11 to 15 who have been identified by a school as being in need of extra support. The aim of the scheme, which is funded by the school and co-ordinated by Oxygen, is to provide a safe, supportive place within the school day through playful, positive, creative and participative activities that will help young people improve their social skills and their self-esteem. In Kingston, Oxygen is taking a group of young girls through a specially created Ladette to Lady programme designed to help the students learn about themselves and make more positive lifestyle choices. A weekly workshop offers skills development, discussion and personal journaling, while activities give the girls the unique opportunity to experience different lifestyle options including a camping trip, community action project and pampering day. Oxygen was established in 2001 by 20 churches across Kingston Borough who came together with the support of the local youth service and other youth work providers to serve and build relationships with young people. www.yfc.co.uk

by Charis Gibson, Senior Press Officer

C

hristianity is going tabloid. While our press office is used to taking calls from the high-brow end of the media spectrum, we’ve had increasing interest recently from more populist media. Recent requests for appearances on daytime TV programmes have included The Wright Stuff and Trisha; Reveal magazine asked us to set up an interview for a feature; and we had numerous conversations with Wildcard Productions in the run-up to their Channel 4 series Make Me a Christian. We’re acutely aware that there are plenty of possible pitfalls with this kind of request. The topics for discussion we were offered on these occasions weren’t particularly illuminating: sexuality, virginity, sex addiction and sadomasochism. As Christians are often portrayed as either bigots or prudes when sex is discussed, we had to prepare carefully when we decided to field an interviewee. And to be honest, Make Me a Christian was pretty painful viewing. Our best efforts to dissuade producers from portraying Christianity as a set of rules and regulations fell flat. Despite the setbacks, however, we’re keen not to miss opportunities to reach a different audience from the norm, and are excited by the tabloid passion for telling interesting personal stories. So we’ll continue to work with tabloid producers and reporters when we feel we can. If media bosses start thinking that religion can attract mainstream audiences, and the Church continues to engage to help with content, we might be able to see some genuine innovation that will help the Gospel hit primetime. www.eauk.org/media


idea november/december 2008

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HOPE FOR THE FUTURE. A programme launched by Christian disability charity Through the Roof is working to help disabled children in developing countries fulfil their God-given potential. This autumn, the charity’s Integr8 project helped a team of teachers travel to southern India to provide training to local educators. One Integr8 team member was 17-year-old Abigail, who has Asperger’s Syndrome as well as dyspraxia. As part of the training programme, she shared her personal experience of disability. One delegate said that Abigail “inspired and challenged” the attendees to provide appropriate support for disabled children. Team leader Tim Wood said, “During our trip, we delivered training to around 120 teachers, community workers and Christian leaders, equipping them with new skills and strategies to help disabled children fulfil their potential. If each of those teachers were to use these new methods to make a difference to just five children, our trip will have benefited 600 disabled children.” According to the World Health Organisation, 98 per cent of disabled children in developing countries do not receive an education. www.throughtheroof.org

Trans World Radio God’s Word in today’s world Trans World Radio in the UK produces and broadcasts a huge variety of quality Christian radio programmes for teaching, encouragement, entertainment and outreach. The schedule includes daily Bible studies, family programmes and slots by many well known preachers and evangelists. You can listen to TWR on digital television, on your radio or on-line. Tune in today, or call 0161 923 0270 for your free listening guide. Trans World Radio, PO Box 606, Altrincham, WA14 2YS Telephone: 0161 923 0270 Email: info@twr.org.uk Web: www.twr.org.uk

Alan Saunders

A special event saw more than 3,500 people from across Greater Manchester gather in the Manchester Velodrome to hear international speaker J John and special guests. Advertised around the city on the sides of buses, The Game of Life event was designed to reach as many people as possible, responding to the challenges of the economy and crime in everyday life. Debra Green, director of City Links, which helped organise the event as part of the Hope08 initiative, said, “As the home of this summer’s Olympic heroes in the Great Britain Cycling Team, the velodrome was the perfect venue. None of us may be Olympic gold medallists, but we are all racing to keep up with life today, so it was fantastic to have a speaker of such experience coming to inspire and encourage people in this race. His storytelling brought an evening of fun and laughter, with the chance to discover spiritual meaning in a way that makes sense of everyday life from the credit crunch to family problems.” At the end of the event, 750 responded to J John’s message. “Many people’s understanding of Christianity is a misunderstanding,” he said. “It is my commitment to show how faith in Jesus is not only reasonable, but relevant and vitally important.” www.citylinks.org.uk Alan Saunders

TTR

Facing the game of life

Listen to TWR TODAY in your own home ... On the TV:

Satellite channel 0138 On-line: www.twr.org.uk Call 0161 923 0270 for a free listening guide 1467

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Pwllheli, Wales 30 March â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 4 April 4 April â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 9 April New Word Alive is a bible holiday week for all Christians. Uniting around the essential truths of the gospel, we join together for a week of fellowship, great teaching and worship. Come and join us! To request a brochure visit www.newwordalive.org or call 02074075863


idea november/december 2008

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At the Godblogs gathering at the Alliance in September, Christian bloggers came up with 10 cyberspace commandments designed to help guide those involved in online communication. The event was organised to explore the ethics of today's most popular form of public comment, and attendees ranged in age from 18 to 87. The commandments are designed to help bloggers consider the social impact of their comments. Krish Kandiah, the Alliance's executive director for Churches in Mission, said, “During the Godblogs event, we discussed ideas about how to communicate a code of best practice to evangelical bloggers. These commandments are virtual rather than set in stone, but are offered to the blogging community as a way to link the Ten Commandments with the art of blogging." The commandments have been posted at the Alliance website, and bloggers are invited to offer feedback and make suggestions for improvement.

Engage Conference 8 Nov, Cheltenham Anyone interested in gaining practical insights into how to mobilise the Church to engage with the community is invited to this conference, hosted by Care for the Family. The event will address challenges facing families in the world today and equip churches to be transformational. “Life is busy and for that very reason the Engage conference will do more than just talk about good ideas,” says Rob Parsons, executive chairman of Care for the Family. “It will introduce ready-made programmes that you can use in your church and community - immediately.” Topics will include money matters, drugs and the community, relationship and team building, and life in the workplace. www.engagetoday.org.uk/conference

Fusion Weekend 21-23 Nov, Oxford For students interested in exploring just how big God’s mission really is, Fusion is hosting an event called When Heaven Kisses Earth. The weekend will offer a mix of worship, ministry and friendship. “The Fusion Weekend is designed in such a way that students from across Europe encounter a much bigger vision for how God wants to use them to love the universities,” said Rich Wilson, Fusion's national team leader. “Our prayer is that they then go back to their local churches with a passionate desire to serve and see the campuses transformed by the good news of the Kingdom.” www.fusion.co.uk

Simon Richardson

A challenge for bloggers

MORE THAN A FEAST FOR THE EYES. Throughout October, the Springs Dance Company has been touring the UK to offer a fresh view of the communion. Living the Eucharist was designed to provide a thoughtful approach to the sacrament and a close encounter with Jesus as Christians share the bread and wine together. At the recommendation of David Bintley CBE, artistic director of Birmingham Royal Ballet, the company was commissioned to create a work that highlights the message that the invitation to the table came from

events Climate Change Conference 25 Nov, Cardiff Tearfund, UCCF and the Alliance's staff in Wales will host the one-day conference Does God Believe In Climate Change?, exploring the relationship between climate change and social justice. This will be an opportunity to consider a Biblical response to the affect of climate change on world poverty. It is aimed at church leaders and members, while the evening session will tackle the same questions for students and young people. “Can it be just and fair for an overindulgent Western world to consign poorer communities to deprivation and even destruction by contributing to global warming through irresponsible levels of carbon production?” asks Elfed Godding, the Alliance's national director for Wales. “What should the response of Christians and governments be?” Speakers will include Sir John Houghton, cochair of the Scientific Assessment Working Group of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and Dr Dewi Hughes, theological advisor for Tearfund, among others. www.eauk.org/wales/events.cfm

Jesus, and the meal is a reminder of His continual presence and His desire to be with us. With choreography by Suzannah McCreight, the production was created especially to be performed in cathedrals. Featured dancers include Claire Talbot and Stephen Moynihan (pictured). The company will also tour this Advent with their production The Journey of the Magi, and dates are now available to book its spring/summer performance Five A Day. www.springsdancecompany.org.uk

Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism 8-9 Dec, Oxford This two-day conference will consider the ways in which evangelicalism and fundamentalism have expressed themselves in the social and historical conditions of early 20th-century Britain. The central issue being addressed is the question of how fundamentalist evangelicalism became between 1901 and 1950. Speakers will include Professor Hugh McLeod FBA, of the University of Birmingham, and Justin Thacker, the Alliance's head of theology. The Alliance will be contributing a paper that explores the 1910 split between the Student Christian Movement and the Cambridge Inter-collegiate Christian Union. www.eauk.org/efb/events.cfm

Young Leaders’ Retreat 11-12 Dec, Warwick The Alliance is hosting this invitation-only retreat to help build relationships between current, influential younger leaders. The goal is to give these leaders a vision for the future. David Kinnaman, president and strategic leader of the Barna Group, will be the keynote speaker. Over the course of the retreat, he will discuss themes in the book he co-authored, Unchristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity and Why it Matters. The event will explore negative perceptions that exist among young people, how to respond in Christ-like ways and ultimately how to reframe evangelicalism for the next generation.

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news

idea november/december 2008

Archbishop to deliver Temple Address

TBWNN

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Exploring the future of the media The Christian Broadcasting Council is shifting its focus to younger generations with a heart to work in the media in the future. CBC's annual conference and media awards will have the theme Generation Speaks to Generation: Learn from History, Embrace the Future. "We have a legacy of trailblazers who have helped establish Christian media in this country, and there is much to learn from them," said Olave Snelling, chair of the CBC Executive. "Equally, there is much that the younger generation can contribute to this ever-changing digital scene."

Speakers at the conference, which will be held in Manchester 21-22 November, will be from both the older and younger generations, focusing on those who have broken new ground in the media. Confirmed speakers include Rev Jonathan Oleyede of Global Day of Prayer, Chip K (pictured) of bandwithnoname, Chris Cole of Cross Rhythms and the Bishop of Liverpool Rt Rev James Jones. For more information about the conference: tel 0870 209 6105 or visit www.christianbroadcastingcouncil.co.uk

The Rt Rev John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, will deliver the Alliance’s Temple Address on 27 November, speaking on tolerance, immigration and community cohesion. The Archbishop, a migrant from Uganda, is well-known for his insightful and challenging way of communicating Christian values; the aim of the Temple Address is to place Christian values at the heart of political, media and public debate. The event will be attended mainly by influencers in the fields of politics and media, while the address itself, and supporting material, will be made available to the general public via the Alliance website, through engagement with the press and with some regional events. The topics of immigration and community cohesion will be key themes guiding the Alliance's work over the next several months, through information, events and ministries. Another major Alliance focus will be emerging leadership, coming from a recommendation made by the Council (see p4). These resources will be highlighted through the Alliance's Slipstream website: www.eauk.org/slipstream

two exciting new resources from the

Discipleship Explored DVD £30

Watch the trailer online

range

The Real Christmas (tract) £2.50 for 10

www.thegoodbook.co.uk/christianityexplored or call us on 0845 225 0880. Also available from Christian bookshops.


idea november/december 2008

news

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It was whirlwind stuff, and it’s changed our lives

MBC

had been dissatisfied with church for years. I had been frustrated. There came a point where I wanted to leave.” You may have felt like this and indeed know others who have done. You might even contemplate saying it. But these are not the words of a disillusioned churchgoer; they are in fact comments from the senior pastor of one of the UK’s fastest-growing churches. All this changed when he moved to Edinburgh. Four years ago Morningside Baptist Church, Edinburgh, was a church that – like many – had weathered some storms and had what seemed like a healthy church attendance of 260 people each week, with membership running at a similar level. Today, 750 people attend a Sunday service, including 150 students. There are 400 members. The place teems with children. The congregation has moved to a larger building, which it has outgrown in two years. Now it’s planted a daughter congregation back into its old building. Senior pastor, Rev Karl Martin (pictured), is sure of the key to the church’s growth. “We are obsessed with the Word of God and the Spirit of God,” he says. “We know that He wants to do something in our lives. He wants to transform us to transform the world. That leads to dynamic social action. That will always happen. God will send you out to make a difference. That’s what I teach week in, week out. “When we gather, it’s just gathering. Everything we do is just church. People are imbibing it. People are making a difference. People find it deeply attractive.” One of those people was Ken Keith, who visited Morningside with his family for the first time nine months ago. He wanted his 13-year-old step-daughter, Ashton, to “know the difference between right and wrong”. None of the family were Christians but, nonetheless, Ken had shopped around a few local churches and “got depressed”. He got no further than Morningside thanks to the “warm welcome and vibrancy” he found there. Ashton took part in the youth group and Ken says she “came back delighted”. After just a month, the whole family had become Christians. “It was whirlwind

MBC

Obsessed with the Word I

stuff,” says Ken. “It’s been quite a miracle and it’s changed our lives.” Before attending church, Ken and Teresa’s relationship was on the rocks. “I don’t think we’d be living under the same roof if we hadn’t gone to Morningside,” Ken says. “But now our relationship is superb and blossoming.”

Centre of the community Alice Clegg was looking for a local church when she moved house in Edinburgh two years ago. Other mums whom she met on the school run recommended Morningside. “I’ve always been one to go to church locally,” she says. “Morningside is at the centre of the community, and it’s easy to invite people along. Why’s it a

good church? I think it has really good social action, but it is also Spirit-filled and the preaching’s good. It’s all three all the time.” Karl Martin says that he often worries that people will attend Morningside because of him - that the cult of celebrity will take over. He needn’t worry. Alice says, “Karl is a good communicator, but he points to Jesus. It’s not about him, it’s about God.” And of course it’s God who is at the heart of the growth at Morningside. “What we do is about articulating the possible,” says Karl, “telling people that we are the Church of Jesus Christ, and therefore we are supposed to grow.” He goes on to explain, “We have an obsessional missional focus. We want to resource the city and the country. We exist for those who don’t yet believe. We can’t just clutch hold of our ‘get out of hell free’ cards.” The church has travelled far in the last four years, and so has Karl. A born leader (“I always wanted to change the world, do something significant”), he has long shaken off the desire to leave the ordained ministry and loves being at Morningside. “It’s great fun; it’s vibrant. I wake up every morning very excited and knackered,” he laughs. “But there’s an incredibly expectant atmosphere.” HS


global

idea november/december 2008

Churches at work in the margins

Maggie Sandilands / Tearfund

In Congo, Dusabe (21) says, “I was without hope. I was alive, but I was in despair and did not think I could ever be healed. Now I have been made well.”

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he Church plays a key, yet unrecognised, role in reaching the most marginalised communities living with HIV, says relief and development agency Tearfund. And responses to HIV by local churches and faith-based organisations among marginalised communities are transforming lives. At this autumn’s International Aids Conference in Mexico, Tearfund issued a call to decision-makers to reassess the potential that the Church has to reach marginalised groups and help overcome stigma and discrimination among communities. Tearfund’s report, Working on the Margins highlights exceptional work by churches with women affected by sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, male groups in urban and rural Uganda, and with hijra (transgender) communities in India. Contradicting stereotypes of the Church as judgmental and reluctant to face up to the realities of HIV in their communities, Tearfund says that, far from shying away, in many places

church responses to HIV are reaching marginalised groups. And through this the Church itself is being transformed. The report acknowledges that the Church itself has contributed to stigma and that challenges remain around issues of gender and sexuality, but it also illustrates that where the Church engages with these challenges it is in a key position to overcome stigma and transform harmful attitudes. “Collaboration, mutual respect and understanding between governments, international agencies and civil society, including people who are living with HIV, is essential if we are going to halt the spread of HIV,” says Veena O’Sullivan from Tearfund’s HIV team. “Tearfund believes that where the Church has overcome stigma it is playing a significant role in the response to HIV in many affected and marginalised communities because it is local, trusted, invests in relationships and is a powerful agent of change,” she adds. In Congo, Tearfund works with HEAL Africa to provide a community for people who cannot return home due to violent conflicts. Around the world, Tearfund responds to HIV through projects to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the virus, change the behaviour of children and young people, care and support vulnerable people and their carers, treat opportunistic infections and improve access to antiretroviral therapy. www.tearfund.org

Where the Church has overcome stigma it is playing a significant role in the response to HIV

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Get involved ACET, the Christian HIV and Aids charity, has produced a free resource pack to help churches mark World Aids Day this December, stressing the vital role of church-led education in HIV prevention. The pack, Facts for Life, focuses on ACET’s HIV prevention work, which currently reaches more than 1 million young people with sex, relationship and lifestyle education based on Christian principles and delivered by church-based volunteers. Chief Executive Peter Fabian says, “Much of the focus on HIV and Aids work has been on treatment and care, and both of these are important. However, through our rapidly growing Facts for Life programme, ACET is also offering relevant health, relationship and sex education in schools, colleges and prisons delivered by local church volunteers. These sessions are designed to reach each new generation and prevent them becoming infected in the first place. We are calling on more UK congregations to talk about HIV and Aids - issues many have traditionally found it hard to talk about.” Facts for Life contains service ideas, presentations, stories and encouragement from around the world as well as a challenge to the local church to get more involved. Fabian adds that nearly 7,000 people are infected with HIV and nearly 6,000 die of Aids every day. “In response to these awful statistics, which represent thousands of individual tragedies, we hope and pray churches will pray, give and take action in their local community this year,” he says.  For a free copy of Facts for Life, contact: tel 020 8568 7770 or email enquiries@acet-international.org


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Being a Christian every day, everywhere The Alliance-facilitated Forum for Change is encouraging Christians to make a difference in the workplace, developing what it means to be Church outside the four walls of the building. In the final part of our series, Hazel Southam looks at how ordinary people are sharing their faith in everyday waysâ&#x20AC;Ś


idea november/december 2008

cover story

Chris Summerton doctor

he last words of the book of Matthew read, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Go then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptise them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.” It’s easy to think that this really only applies to people who have a particular calling to hot places inhabited by large spiders. But it applies to all of us. And we don’t have to be Billy Graham attracting thousands to international stadia. St Francis of Assisi said, “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” One person who’s enabling others to achieve this is Rev Chris Duffett, national director of the Light Project. Three years ago he launched a foundation degree in evangelism to “encourage people to consider

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Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible

how they share their Christian faith”. Since the doors opened, some 50 students have gone through the Light Project’s doors. Currently there are nine people on the course and interest is growing. “On the whole Christians are still strong on the programming style of evangelism,” says Chris, “which often means letting the Church do it maybe through an Alpha course or an evangelism day. The day-to-day evangelism needs to grow more in the British Church. People can talk to their neighbours. That’s how people see Jesus. We’ve grown up thinking that evangelism is done by the professionals. People don’t see evangelism as a day-to-day activity, but it is.” Practicing what he preaches, Chris heads out into his neighbourhood in Chester making balloon animals for children and chatting to people about God. Over the last eight years he’s made 3,000 animals and given them away free. “Most people ask me why they are free,” he says, “So I talk about

I work as a consultant in gastroenterology at Trafford General Hospital, Manchester, the birthplace of the NHS. I am also involved in medical education and am a professor at Salford University. I became a Christian as a first-year medical student, so my faith and work are woven together. I have been aware of God’s presence in shaping my career path and forming my character through difficulties. In my final student year, I was seriously ill, an experience that gave me a valuable patient perspective. Research shows that 50 per cent of patients want spiritual care from their doctor. Illness raises serious questions about life and meaning. I have many opportunities to talk about faith and have seen several patients find God. Other conversations are part of a journey towards Him. Praying for people on the ward has been part of my witness. God’s healing involves medical tools, but also prayer. I see no inconsistency between the two. I encourage junior doctors to explore spiritual issues: to look at patient needs in a broader way and invite a dialogue. Being a disciple in medicine has exciting opportunities, such as promoting God’s standards in medical care, spreading the presence of Jesus and changing organisational structures for the good. I believe that God has placed me here for the purposes of His kingdom. The challenge is to keep walking with Him on a day-to-day basis and to keep connecting with the good works He has prepared for me.

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Debbie Flood rower I was brought up in a Christian family and decided to commit my life to Jesus in the youth group at Guiseley Baptist Church, Leeds, when I was about 17. God is the centre of my life and is a part of everything I do, which includes my sport. Sir Steve Redgrave commented on the BBC that as an athlete training for the Olympics the motto “Higher, faster, stronger” becomes your whole existence. In many ways it must, but as a Christian athlete, God must come first in my life. Rowing has taken up a lot of my time over the past 11 years, and it takes real discipline to set aside time to grow in my relationship with God. I got a silver medal in Athens in 2004, then trained for four years, six or seven days a week, two or three sessions a day - all for a six minute race in Beijing. We came second again. It was a great disappointment not to get a gold medal, especially as we led for three quarters of the race. But I never pray to win; I always pray that I will be able to do my best in any race. My life is in God’s hands, and God’s gift to me has been my potential to achieve this standard, so I try to use that ability as best I can. I really believe that God put me in rowing to be a witness for Him - to glorify Him through my racing but also to honour Him with my actions and the way that I behave win or lose. It is an honour and a privilege to be able to represent my country at the Olympics, but an even greater honour to be representing Christ in my team.

the free gift of Jesus given to the world. Some people want to find out more and then we can talk. Some people have even asked me to pray for them.” Another person living out his faith in his neighbourhood is 30-year-old Sam Stephens, who runs a recruitment consultancy in London. At the beginning of September, Sam organised and hosted a picnic for 14 surrounding streets on Bishop’s Park. Some 250 people came. Everyone brought food to share, and a giant tug-of-war was held, won by the triumphant Harbord and Inglethorpe Streets team. “I am always banging on at church about how we should be more outwardlooking and do less navel-gazing,” says Sam. “I just know that these events are a little picture of heaven where everyone is included and everyone has an invitation. We didn’t have the aim of bringing people into the church. But creating community is a wonderful thing. It’s what church is. Because this went so well, we’ll probably organise a Christmas carol evening singing on the 14 street corners. And we’ll definitely do it again next year. It was great fun. There was a good sense of community, which you don’t always get in London. It’s easy for people to feel isolated. I suppose what we were trying to do was to create the feeling of a village, of a parish, here in London.”

Work is a starting point Businessman Mike Carson uses his work as the starting point for telling people about Christ. Today Mike runs MCA, a company specialising in transforming business through transforming the lives of its leaders. You may think that this is thinly veiled evangelism, but it’s not in the classroom that Mike talks about his faith. It’s everywhere else. To date, he’s brought 80 work colleagues along to evangelistic events, including Alpha. “I invite people because Jesus tells me to,” he says simply. “The driving force is that I hear Jesus saying, ‘Tell people about me’. There’s a compulsion to tell people. Sometimes I have to keep that in check.”

While working for his former employers, a well-known international consultancy, Mike mentioned his faith to many of his colleagues. One person’s story sticks in his mind. “I had gently witnessed to one colleague. She had not invited me to share at a deeper level, so we left it,” he recalls. Some time later, his colleague, who we’ll call Sally, suffered a personal tragedy that made the headlines in national newspapers. Overnight it seemed her world had fallen apart. “She got out of London for a few days to escape everything,” says Mike. “When she arrived at her destination she saw a church and thought, ‘I need to pray’, which was extraordinary. So she stopped her car, went into the church and started to pray. The priest came and chatted to her. It turned out that he had written to The Times only that day saying that people should be praying for her.” She later told Mike, “I have fallen in love with Jesus.” So he invited her to an Alpha course in his home town in Hampshire and then helped her to find a church near her London home. Mike isn’t worried what his colleagues


idea november/december 2008

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Graham Norman police sergeant

I sometimes wish I could just sit and eat my sandwiches. But it’s worth giving up my lunchtime

will think of him. “It’s not about me,” he says. “In this pluralistic world, we have to go for it because everyone else does. There’s a whole atmosphere of ‘you believe what you believe and I believe what I believe’. That allows us to share and we have to take advantage of that.” Jo Trott, a biology teacher at the Abbey School in Reading, is “taking advantage of that”. For the last decade, Jo has run a lunch-time Christian group for 11- to 13-year-old girls at the school. In

that time, several hundred pre-teens have been through her doors. “The motivation is to give the girls who are Christians somewhere they can meet together and meet other Christians who don’t necessarily live near them,” says Jo. “They may be the only girl from their church at the school, which can be isolating. And I run the group to show the other girls that the Christian faith is neither what you learn in RE nor dull and boring. Often other girls come. “I sometimes wish I could just sit down in the staff room and eat my sandwiches. But it’s worth giving up my lunchtime. I see them grow in their faith. When they start off you can tell they are just repeating what their parents say, but after two years they are thinking for themselves. It’s becoming their faith.” So will she carry on missing lunch to run the Christian group? “I’ve probably got another 10 years ahead of me,” she laughs.  For ongoing information about the Alliance’s Forum for Change, and contact points in various vocations, visit: www.eauk.org/forumforchange

I have been in the police force for 17 years. I work in the Prolific and Priorities Offenders Unit, which manages the top 50 offenders in Lambeth. They’re all thieves, and we try to prevent reoffending by finding them jobs, training and accommodation. But the scheme has both carrot and stick elements, as we also assist in putting them before the courts if they re-offend. The job really is a blessing as it is very much about looking after vulnerable people. Nearly all the offenders have appalling backgrounds where they’ve been abused or neglected in some way. People tell them they’re worthless and, honestly, society would like to see most of them locked up permanently. But Jesus loves them and sees them as completely worthy. So I try to show them that love. They find it very strange that a police officer is kind to them and tries to help them. Some of the offenders I work with have become Christians. This doesn’t mean they won’t re-offend, since the rebuilding of lives takes a lot of time, commitment, friendship and mentoring. I work closely with a local church where a ministry for ex-offenders is run by exoffenders. And my own church – Grace Vineyard, Purley – is also supportive. They once bought one of my offenders who couldn’t read an iPod so that he could listen to the Bible. I see people waste their lives through drug addiction. The development in gang culture worries me. Young people are searching for respect, fellowship and love. And that’s what I believe man and woman are made for. But it is found in Jesus. My faith helps me to carry it all and guides me. I try to look at these guys like I imagine Jesus would look at them: full of love and hope.

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Christians in the line of fire Armed conflict is a sticky subject for a Christian. On the one hand, doesn’t Jesus call us to be peacemakers? And on the other, shouldn’t we stand up for what’s right? Hazel Southam reports… n Thursday, 6 November, as belated fireworks are still going off around the capital, hundreds of Christians will be heading for St Clements Dane Church in London’s Strand. The reason? To pray for Britain’s armed forces. They’ll be praying for everything from the welfare of the families of those who have been killed or injured to the provision of enough chaplains. They’ll also ask God to “put His angels around our troops”. But can a life that could lead to killing be considered a vocation from God? How do those in the military square their religious faith and work? For Major Mark Goodwin-Hudson, there is no question at all. Mark found himself relying on prayer when his squadron of the Blues and Royals were in Iraq last year. One day, he joined 68 soldiers on a flight on a transport plane out of Basra.

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The Holy Spirit punched me in the stomach with the urgent command, ‘Pray!’” he recalls. “So I walked up the whole fuselage to a seat at the far end praying with the authority of God to annihilate whatever the powers of darkness had planned for us. As we touched down at a remote northern desert strip, there was a series of very loud bangs and the plane veered off sharply to the left. A wing of the plane had been torn off and the side of the fuselage was on fire. We had been ambushed. “The immediate threat was that we would meet a storm of machinegun fire and that the fuel tanks would explode. Inexplicably, there was no machinegun fire, the plane did not blow up, and we all escaped without casualties.” For Mark, this was an answer to prayer. He found himself in similar need of prayer when he was sent to “snatch an insurgent leader” who was described as a 21-yearold psychopath. “He had kidnapped and personally shot in the head from behind 18 Iraqis who had been working at the airport,” Mark recalls. “He was known to be leaving Basra in a convoy of six pick-up trucks and heading for safety in Iran. I had two helicopters with 22 men in each and another helicopter with two men. As I prayed about this, the Lord rebuked me for my lack of love for this man, murderer though he was. Jesus died for


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Paratroopers board a helicopter in Iraq, while (below) Christian soldiers gather for communion.

murderers. I was told to pray that he would not be killed. Up to this point, every subject of a ‘snatch’ had died in the inevitable ensuing firefight.” Mark continues the story: “As his convoy left Basra, they split up into a group of two and a group of four. I placed my two helicopters to intercept the second group while I sent the third helicopter, with two SAS men, to deal with the first group. They flew the helicopter so that it sat a few feet above the lead car and turned it over with the down draught, disorientating the occupants. The second car vanished. A door of the first car opened and out came a man. It was our man. He was bundled into the helicopter and taken to a secure place, alive.”

AFCU

The Holy Spirit punched me in the stomach with the urgent command, “Pray!”

camps are not bullied. We have to have Christians in these scenarios to be salt and light, to stand up for what’s right and to hold their colleagues to the values and standards that are written down for the services.” For those who argue that killing cannot be consistent with a Christian faith, she has a simple answer: “‘You shall not murder’ that’s the correct translation. It’s tragic that we have to have armed forces, but the situation is that we do have terrorists and we do have regimes in various countries who do not have our best interests at heart. If we were all living God’s way this wouldn’t happen.” An opposing view comes from the director of the London Mennonite Centre, Vic Thiessen, who spent several years counselling American soldiers who wanted to leave the services during the first Gulf War. “It’s my belief that there’s an incompatibility [in being a soldier and a Christian],” he says. “Jesus’ words ‘love your enemies’ were the most quoted words in the first two centuries of the Church. Now Christians have learned to equate being part of your country’s defences and military force with being a good Christian person. “Since the 4th century, Christians have been involved in the military and thought that it was your duty as Christians to defend the state you’re in. But I would argue that [fighting] doesn’t keep you safer. People haven’t begun to explore the non-violent possibilities to war.” What no one is debating is that we need to pray for peace even as we pray for those serving in the military, as is planned for 6 November. Arguably, many thousands of lives will depend on those prayers.  For information about the Armed Forces Day of Prayer on 6 November: tel 01252 311221 or visit www.pray4ourforces.org.uk  Throughout November, the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity is hosting a series of lectures on Christian approaches to armed conflict, led by former Air Force pilot Peter Dixon. For details: tel 01732 456054 or visit www.licc.org.uk

Christian service

AFCU

God may well be answering the prayers of many servicemen and women like Mark, but should they be fighting in the first place? Views differ. For Lt Col (Ret) Val Hall, executive officer of the Armed Forces Christian Union, there’s no doubt that Christians should be serving in the military. “It’s up to Christians to be in these scenarios,” she says, “to be in the prisoner of war camps and ensure that prisoners are not mistreated, that they are not beaten, that guys in our training


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idea november/december 2008

Talking about...

change Whether we are talking from a pulpit or over a garden fence, Tony Watkins helps us to give relevant answers to the big issues raised by contemporary popular culture… othing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes,” said Benjamin Franklin. He could have added change to his list. All around us, things are in flux. New ideas spring into life, products become obsolete, established companies collapse. And we grow inexorably older.

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We live in a world where things change faster and faster, a world where more and more of yesterday’s certainties are up for grabs today. And then some event comes out of the blue and leaves nothing in our lives untouched, as in the film Incendiary, the story of a terrorist attack and its impact

onnected with one use of change, the we respond. eatened by change. new jobs or ruptured asy to handle. We situation, we feel w what’s expected of us, whereas the new makes us feel lost, alienated or even disabled. We easily end up fighting hard to hold on to the status quo, even when we shouldn’t. Finally letting go can feel almost like a bereavement, with feelings of anger, grief and despair. We handle change best when we’re in a supportive environment, with others helping us make sense of the changes and adapt to them. When we feel like we’re facing them


idea november/december 2008

culture

Josh Brolin and Elizabeth Banks star as George and Laura Bush in Oliver Stone’s controversial biopic W.

Lionsgate

Stone’s controversial biopic, W. Living in his father’s shadow, Bush (Josh Brolin) was not only failing to make anything much of his life, he had sunk into alcohol abuse. He needed the deep desire to grow as a person before he could transform his lifestyle and become who he is today. For many of us, working life is fundamentally about change. Doctors, cleaners, teachers, union reps, managers and accountants are all trying in different ways to improve something, bring order out of chaos or make the world a better place. To do so is to reflect the God who made us. Some people, of course, positively relish things being shaken up. Either the idea of everything being the same day in, day out has no appeal, or they are deeply aware of the inadequacies of the current situation. Politicians and governments are naturally preoccupied with changing things, sometimes even breaking the rules to get what they want. Which of course often results in regime change.

alone, they become an even greater challenge. There’s a powerful metaphor of this in the harrowing film Blindness. When people mysteriously start going instantly blind, the connections between people break down and society soon crumbles. Their inability to adjust isn’t just because of the enormity of what’s happened, but because the connections between people were not strong enough to start with.

Essential for growth Change may be difficult and uncomfortable, but it is essential for an integrated life. Growth is all about change, and unless we are content to become stagnant or decline, we need to embrace it. George W Bush’s life was well and truly on a downward course, according to Oliver

Real transformation usually requires patience and perseverance In Body of Lies, Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio play CIA agents attempting to bring down an Al-Qaeda leader by framing him as an ally of the USA. It sounds like a legitimate goal, but the snag with trying to change things in unconventional ways is that you don’t always get the result you want. Governments want quick results, but real transformation usually requires patience and perseverance. In the BBC’s Saturday evening family drama Merlin, the young wizard (Colin Morgan) is desperate to change things in the kingdom of Uther Pendragon (Anthony Head) where magic is banned. But he knows that if he is to succeed, he must keep his magical powers under wraps, especially from the young Arthur (Bradley James). He knows his time will come.

A crucial question But not all change is good, which raises a crucial but very difficult question: how do we know what change to embrace and what to resist? We should always be humble enough to admit that we might be wrong about something, and be prepared to re-evaluate it. Refusing to countenance the possibility that things should be different is woefully arrogant. However, there’s a difference between being innovative in the way we do things and abandoning the underlying principles and values. Methods always need to be adapted for different contexts, and the rate of change in our world is such that we probably need to review them frequently. But beliefs and values should be true for every context, assuming that they’re the right ones, of course. We sometimes forget that it is possible to change outward forms without jettisoning the essentials. Unlike most religions, Christianity has been marked by incredible change - not in the beliefs (at least in mainstream churches), but in the way churches function in all their different contexts. When a church fails to do adapt its methods to the surrounding culture, it easily becomes an irrelevance, or even a barrier to people hearing its message. When a church abandons its beliefs, it always becomes both. We should have the courage to see change not as something to be feared, but rather as something to actively engage in. We need to identify what should change, and work out how to transform things while remaining true to our principles.  Find out more about the issues raised in this article at www.damaris.org/ideamagazine  ToolsForTalks.com provides a one-stop shop to help teach the Bible in the language of contemporary culture. The site contains quotes and illustrations taken from the latest films, music, magazines and TV – updated weekly. Tony Watkins is resources and training co-ordinator for the Damaris Trust

25


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idea november/december 2007

advent prayer

27

Walking the way of

Every year we tell ourselves the same thing: this Christmas will be different. We say that we won’t let the pivotal point of the Christian calendar - phase one of God’s rescue mission for humanity – be crowded out by the frenzy of preparations and parties or buried under the piles of wrapping paper. This year, we tell ourselves, we’re going to put Christ back into Christmas and dig out the real meaning from the packaging. We know that spending Christmas on the fast-track conveyor belt of consumerism isn’t great for our health, and it’s certainly not good for the environment or our brothers and sisters

Your free copy of the Alliance’s 2008 Advent Prayer, sponsored by Feba, is attached here. You can order additional copies at www.eauk.org/adventprayer or tel 020 7207 2100.

Jesus Advent can open us to a radical revolution in our own values around the world. Yet despite our good intentions, we so often end the Christmas season feeling slightly bloated, slightly guilty and very much in need of some detox – spiritual as well as physical. If we really want our Christmas to be different this year, we could do worse than start with Advent, the church’s traditional time of preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. Imagine how different our Christmas might be if we were to spend each day of Advent taking time to pray, asking God to help us prepare for the coming of the King and recommitting ourselves to the values and lifestyle that Jesus demonstrated. These values include simplicity, hope, service, compassion, contentment and faith. Just the kinds of things that should be on our mind in the run-up to Christmas. This year’s Advent Prayer guide is designed to help us do just that. Daily reflections are grouped in pairs, contrasting the destructive values of the world with the values of God’s kingdom, which bring renewal to us and to the world. The guide provides a creative way to pray, to resist the world’s values and to refocus on God’s word and His purpose for our lives.

It is written by Jon Kuhrt, leader of the community mission team at Livability (the new name for the merged Shaftesbury Society and John Grooms). This team works to equip local churches to transform their communities through mission, to show God’s love in practical ways that really make a difference. Accordingly, the prayers in this year’s guide have a distinctively outwardfacing and action-oriented focus, reminding us that during Advent we remember the Lord who is coming again but who in the meantime calls His Church to be His agents for change on earth. Yes, this Christmas can be different. In the 1960s, Martin Luther King called America to “a radical revolution of values”, and the Alliance, recognising that values are fundamental to our attitudes and actions, has focused over recent years on hope, trust and tolerance. This year’s Advent Prayer guide can help us to consciously renew our commitment to those values that characterised the One whose birth we celebrate at Christmas, and which can speak so powerfully of Him to others. Not only would we benefit personally, but we can keep on sharing the real spirit of Christmas by looking for ways to take those values into our communities throughout 2009.

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Maggie Harding, a former Alliance staff member now working for Livability, encourages us to get into the real spirit of Christmas...


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idea november/december 2008

The appeal of cinema crosses most of society’s boundaries. And since films often examine important themes, they can spark lively conversation with neighbours about something more important than the weather. The following aren’t for family viewing, but they can ignite discussion about significant issues...

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Optimum

Film clips

HUNGER (15) is a challenging dramatisation of the 1981 Maze hunger strike, brilliantly directed by Turner Prize-winner Steve McQueen. Much of the film plays without dialogue, but at the centre is a stunning, unedited 20-minute conversation between Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender) and his priest (Liam Cunningham), progressing from witty banter to a strained discussion of religious beliefs and political realities. This is a film that’ll get people talking. And thinking (31 Oct).

Metrodome

Artificial Eye

INCENDIARY (15) draws on terrorist attacks of recent years to tell the deeply personal story of a working class woman (Michelle Williams) struggling to cope in the aftermath of an horrific London bombing, complicated by her relationships with a wealthy neighbour (Ewan McGregor) and her late husband’s boss (Matthew Macfadyen). It’s a bit gloomy, perhaps, but really gets into the mind of someone desperately trying to put her life back together and move forward (24 Oct).

WALTZ WITH BASHIR (18) is quite possibly the first ever animated documentary, as Israeli filmmaker Ari Folman accompanies his friends’ vivid recollections of military service with beautifully animated dramatisations. There’s real power in these men’s efforts to find the truth through reluctantly recalling their frontline experiences during Israel’s 1980s war with Lebanon. What emerges is an inventive, personal look at the pointlessness of war (21 Nov).

Pathe

New Wave

THE WARLORDS (15) recounts a true story from 19th century China in epic style, following three military leaders (played by superb megastars Jet Li, Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro) who take a blood oath to work together, then have their partnership tested by the complexities of the political system around them. The film is big and raw, and perhaps tries to fill in too much detail, but holds our interest by focussing on the characters and their moral dilemmas (7 Nov).

WHAT JUST HAPPENED (15) takes an insider look at the chaos of Hollywood, following a bigwig producer (Robert DeNiro) through events that could be his undoing, from encounters with primadonna movie stars (Bruce Willis and Sean Penn, hilariously lampooning themselves) to marriage and money trouble. What’s clever here is that it’s actually a recognisably real story of a man grappling with his integrity in a society that doesn’t seem to need him any more (21 Nov).

Looking

culture

THE SILENCE OF LORNA (15) sees Belgium’s award-winning Dardenne brothers turning their skilfully naturalistic filmmaking to a gripping story of human trafficking, as the young Albanian Lorna (Arta Dobroshi) receives European citizenship by marrying a Belgian junkie (Jérémie Renier), but can’t go through with the rest of her handler’s vicious plan. Yes, it’s a very bleak film, but it vividly explores an unseen side of a seriously important issue (28 Nov). RC

new job, training or planning your activities for 2008? for a

For these and a wide range of other services, to meet both your spiritual and more practical needs, please check out:

www.eauk.org/anb

29


30

the basics

idea november/december 2008

In our 11-part series looking at how the Alliance’s Basis of Faith is Good News for our neighbours, John Piper discusses…

8. The justification of sinners solely by the grace of God through faith in Christ. John Piper is pastor for preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

This series is not a commentary on the Basis of Faith, neither is it an explanation of how the Basis is interpreted by the Alliance. Rather, it focuses on the relevance of the Basis to spreading the Good News.

od has done the most deadly work to destroy hopelessness and futility and provincial cowardice. He gave up His Son to torture and death. A perfect life, a perfect death and the decisive work have been accomplished. But there are millions who are numb to hope because of the God-belittling things they have done and how ugly they have become. They don’t lift lofty arguments against God’s truth; they shrug and feel irretrievably outside. They don’t defy God consciously; they default to cake and television. Except for the periodic rush of sex and sport and cinema, life yawns. There is no passion for significance. For many, no passion at all. There is a Christian version of this paralysis. The decision has been made to trust Christ. The shoot of hope and joy has sprung up. The long battle against sin has begun. But the defeats are many, and the plant begins to wither. One sees only clouds and gathering darkness. The problem is not perplexing doctrine or evolutionary assaults or threats of persecution. The problem is falling down too many times. Gradually, the fatal feeling creeps in: the fight is futile; it isn’t worth it Along with this hopelessness and futility, especially in an age of terrorism, provincial cowardice captures many Christian minds. They fear that it may sound conceited to call every people group in the world to trust Christ or perish. It seems too global. Too sweeping. Too universal. To say it takes their breath away. And, worse, it brings down the wrath of the tolerant. What could be more arrogant than to think that the infinite variety of need in all the cultural groups of the world could be met by a single Saviour?

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Clear answers

Next issue:

The Holy Spirit

It is astonishing that the biblical Gospel of justification by faith alone answers these three human failures: the hopelessness of unbelievers, the feeling of futility from falling down and the fear of making global claims for Christ. The biblical, historic, Protestant doctrine of justification by faith alone can be summarised in

the following four points: 1. To be justified, or “declared to be in right standing with God”, means that Christ has borne all my sin in His death on the cross, and that I am now clothed in the righteousness of Christ who lived a perfect life of obedience to God. 2. Faith alone is the sole means of justification. In other words, it is faith only, and not our deeds in any way (whether the external manifestation or the internal God-glorifying motive behind them), that connects us savingly to Jesus Christ. 3. Faith is not the means of justification because it is a good work. Faith is the means of justification because faith receives God’s gift to us of His own righteousness in Jesus Christ. Faith is not the same as Christian obedience. However, while it is faith alone that justifies, the faith that justifies is of such a nature that it will produce love for people and a life of genuine, though imperfect, holiness in this world. 4. Therefore, this “clothing” of Christ’s righteousness, which is ours in Christ as a gift when we first trust in Him, is different from our growth in holiness, which happens throughout the rest of our lives as the Holy Spirit works within us. To the numb and listless sinner, feeling beyond all hope of godliness, the Bible says, “To the one who does not work but trusts Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness” (Romans 4.5). God justifies the “ungodly”. This truth is meant to break the back of hopelessness. The connection between the sinner and the Savior is trust, not improvement of behavior. That comes later. It’s this order that gives hope. “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Romans 3.28). The basis of this wild and wonderful hope (the ungodly being declared righteous) is “Christ for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10.4, literal translation). Through faith alone, God counts the ungodly as righteous because of Christ. “For our sake [God] made [Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the


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I N T E R NAT I O NA L

righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5.21). Let all who are paralysed by the weight of sin and the powerlessness to change turn here.

A Gathering of God’s People to revere His name, hear His voice, apply His plumb-line, receive His healing and be equipped for His service.

Gutsy guilt To the fallen saint, who knows the darkness is self-inflicted and feels the futility of looking for hope from a frowning Judge, the Bible gives a shocking example of gutsy guilt. It pictures God’s failed prophet beneath a righteous frown, bearing his chastisement with broken-hearted boldness. “Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me. I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against Him, until He pleads my cause and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out to the light” (Micah 7.8-9).

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What W hat is God God saying sa aying and doing turbulen rbulent days? days? in these turbulent J e s u s i s c a l l i n g H i s p e o p l e to a r i s e to g e t h e r a n d b e H i s l i g h t s h i n i n g i n t h e d a r k n e s s. Come and join us as we worship, pray, hear God’s hear t and respond to His voice. Come and be inspired, encouraged, healed, equipped and strengthened to fulfil God’s purposes for your life and for this generation.

God justifies the ‘ungodly’. This truth is meant to break the back of hopelessness.

© by John Piper, Desiring God www.desiringgod.org

 The Alliance’s full Basis of Faith can be found at www.eauk.org/faith

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This is courageous contrition. Gutsy guilt. The saint has fallen. The darkness of God’s indignation is on him. He does not blow it off, but waits. And he throws in the face of his accuser the confidence that his indignant Judge will plead his cause and execute justice for (not against) him. This is the application of justification to the fallen saint. Broken-hearted, gutsy guilt. For the squeamish fellow afraid of making global claims for Christ, the biblical teaching on justification by faith alone explodes his little world. It says: The deepest problem to be solved is the same for every human being, because every human is a descendant of Adam. And the problem to be solved is that “by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners”; “one trespass led to condemnation for all men”. The only solution to this universal condemnation is a “second Adam” who provides “the free gift of righteousness” to all who hear the Gospel and believe (Romans 5.17-19). Therefore Christ, the second Adam, the giver of righteousness, is the only global Saviour. Embrace as your treasure the gift of justification. There is no part of your life where it is not immeasurably precious.


32

your voice

idea november/december 2008

Choose unity I don’t normally feel constrained to respond to magazine articles, especially an “advertisement feature” in idea, but I felt my blood begin to boil reading Denis Alexander’s pitch for his book Creation or Evolution: Do We Have to Choose? (Sep/Oct). I come to this subject as an independent Christian video producer who happens to make internet videos for the Edinburgh Creation Group, as well as a number of other clients. ECG has speakers with PhDs who would hold different views to Mr Alexander but still are scientists of integrity. Coming from a fairly agnostic viewpoint on this subject, I have found these talks fascinating. There are many enigmas surrounding this subject, so I found it disappointing that Mr Alexander chose to attack Christians who held views different from his own, rather than to concentrate on challenging the New Atheism and those who would support it. He suggests for instance that those who would support creation science are neglecting preaching the Gospel. But I am sure you can find people of many persuasions who seem to get caught up with the minutiae of their pet interests rather than preaching the Gospel. I can assure Mr Alexander that the proponents of creation science I have met are the most active people I know in personal evangelism and challenging the culture. This kind of generalisation is not helpful. Surely the spirit of the Alliance is about working together within diversity of opinion regarding non-core issues. We need to be concentrating on confronting Dawkins and his ilk rather than making negative comments about fellow workers. Stephen Carter, Musselburgh

Bearing the cost Stephen Low (Your Voice, Sep/Oct) is right to say that Luke 15.11-32 can be used to teach penal substitution, but not the way he uses it, which seems to teach the opposite of the parable of the prodigal son. God is like the father who welcomes his repentant son home without asking anything from him. Jesus’ hearers would have been aware that in doing so, the father writes off a third of the property

that should have supported him in his old age. Forgiveness is costly, but the father bears that cost on himself. In the same way, God freely forgives and accepts us, because He suffers the cost of our forgiveness on Himself, in the person of His Son, who came to give Himself as “a ransom for many”. Bob Allaway, London

Artful scepticism Even as an art-lover, I’m sceptical about James Gray’s belief that art could be a useful way to evangelise people (Your Voice, Sep/Oct). Firstly, images more than words are open to a range of interpretations. How will we make sure that people get the correct Gospel message if it’s not spelled out (if you can forgive the pun)? Art has an ambiguity that words do not have, I believe.

We also have to be aware that people may only admire the aesthetics of Christian art and focus solely on the use of colour or quality of artistic techniques. Any message contained in the art could simply be ignored. And we need to be aware that the Bible is sceptical and often hostile to the use of images or sculpture in worship. This is the traditional evangelical viewpoint. That’s why many older churches had paintings whitewashed during the Reformation; many statues were removed, too. The focus was on the

Letters should be sent to idea@eauk.org or idea, 186 Kennington Park Road, London SE11 4BT. Be sure to include your name, address and phone number. The Editor reserves the right to edit letters for length and clarity. We regret that we are not able to engage in personal correspondence. Everyone who has a letter printed on this page will receive a thank you gift.

Word alone. So, although I agree with Gray that we do live in a visual age, I do not believe relying on art to evangelise is a good thing. Graeme Kemp, Wellington, Shropshire

Broad or narrow? After digesting the letter from Daniel Mills (Your Voice, Sep/Oct), Joel Edwards’ Last Word in the Jul/Aug issue required a second reading. The question of homosexuality needs to be answered with the strict prohibition of the Old Testament law coupled with the confirmation of St Paul’s letters and the absence of a direct mention in the teachings of Jesus. This last point is interpreted by the American bishop Rt Rev Gene Robinson as an indication that Jesus approved of being gay. How wrong can you be? Fifty-five years ago I was faced with the same choice as the bishop: I had to choose between the broad path of life that leads to destruction or the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life. Choosing the latter meant to acknowledge my sin before God, accept Jesus as Saviour and Lord of my life, be baptised in water and be baptised in the Holy Spirit. Continuing to study God’s Word in Matthew 7, after the broad and narrow path choice comes Jesus’ straight warning of wolves in sheep’s clothing, good and bad fruit, the rejection of some who prophesy, do wonders and cast out demons in His name, and finally building on rock or sand. Perhaps Jesus’ strongest word on the subject is in Revelation 22.15, talking about the New Jerusalem: “Outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practises a lie”. When Joel or any of us is confronted by this issue, we need to respond with the love and directness of Jesus with Nicodemus (“You must be born again”) or with the rich young ruler (“Take up your cross and follow me”). The Gospel trumpet must make a clear sound. Charlie Wassell, Tewkesbury

FOR THE RECORD: We apologise that Oliver Smith’s comments were cut off at the bottom of page 23 (Sep/Oct) due to a production error. His final sentence should read: “I trust that my own testimony, used covertly, empowers students for their own lives.”


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34

last word

idea november/december 2008

Communicating true spirituality Newly appointed Alliance Council Chair Roger T Forster urges us to draw on the Holy Spirit as we work to transform society... od has been good to the Alliance. Of course, God is good all the time, but over the years I have been involved with the Alliance, God has given us leaders to meet the challenges and needs of both the Alliance and the society in which we are placed. Whether called general secretaries or general directors, there was nothing about these men that was just general - or ordinary or mediocre. Rather they were generals in the Spirit leading us forward. This succession of Alliance leaders comprises distinct individuals with key differences that enabled them to accomplish diverse objectives within the Alliance and also to have an impact outside. Over the past 50 years, the scene has been filled with theological debate, division and bureaucratic readjustment, and also of course evangelism, growth and social-political engagement. These issues and many others have needed the right hand on the tiller to guide the Alliance through the stormy stretches. Over the past 10 years, Joel Edwards has steered us into the 21st century. He leaves us with a huge hole to fill and a legacy we must not squander. Joel has had to encounter many of the above named issues, and it is the challenge of Christian citizenship and its transforming impact on our secular society which stand out in Joel’s contribution to the Alliance. Joel’s book An Agenda for Change is an essential read for those who wish to know where we are at in our journey with God. In this short and readable book, Joel suggests four key things we must do if we want to transform our society: prayer for revival, evangelising the four UK nations, active engagement and involvement, and acting strategically. I think Joel is right. Such an agenda for our Alliance at this time is crucial if we are relevantly to serve our members, the churches and society at large.

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member church, organisation and beyond. Not just prayer, but Spirit-inspired prayer. Second, evangelism is crucial, and I would qualify that as Spirit-led evangelism. The Gospel is not known now as it was in these islands. The Spirit’s words, not dead letters, are what are needed to increase its communication. Jesus said, “My words are spirit and life” (John 6.63). There is good news that sounds like bad news: evangelism that is easily mistaken for fund-raising, celebrity promotion or entertainment. It is the Holy Spirit who comes to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment because it does not believe in Jesus. We need Spirit-led personal and public evangelism. Third, activism in society is helpfully summed up by Joel as Christian citizenship. There appear now to be more Christians consciously engaged in the secular scene. This means more people who see their involvement as a mission for change. To be salt and light, as Jesus challenges us, is to enlighten and disinfect some of the dark, corrupt areas of our nation’s life. This too needs the Holy Spirit’s involvement. The mission of Jesus began 4,000 years ago with Abraham. His mandate was to bless all the families, or nations, of the earth. Paul explains this blessing as God’s presence by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 3.14). Transformation will only be effected in our culture by the Spirit’s presence, carried into it by believers. And finally, we strategise, as Joel exhorts us to in An Agenda for Change, by agreeing together in the Spirit to oppose the unrighteous agreements of the enemy. The enemy hates and therefore attacks all Holy Spirit agreements. Unity is not achieved by human effort; it is God-given. But as Paul says, we must guard it (Ephesians 4.3). When Jesus prayed in the upper room for unity, He prayed to God not to us. Within hours, the Father answered through the crucifixion, where all selfish and demonic divisions were executed in Jesus, and the result of His prayer - oneness - was given to us. The Son of God has not waited 2,000 years for His prayer to be answered; this gift is to be received and prized. It is only in this Spirit-given unity that agreements will be effective and God’s presence manifested through whatever signs and wonders He chooses. So what can the Alliance do to fulfill the platform for action we have inherited from Joel? We must somehow show our society – a society increasingly interested in spirituality – that we have true spirituality. And this is God’s spirituality in the Holy Spirit.

Evangelism can be easily mistaken for fund-raising, celebrity promotion or entertainment

Inspired by the Spirit Into these four items, I believe Joel expects us to read the phrase “in the Spirit”, which the apostle John writes four times in the book of Revelation. First, prayer for revival is an obvious necessity. Whatever the plethora of meanings the word revival is given, it is the Spirit who gives life and revives. We need Him in greater measure, intensity and presence in order to pray for Him (Luke 11.13) and by Him (Romans 8.26). Fervent Spirit-inspired prayer has great power, as James indicates in his example of Elijah, who “prayed with prayer” (James 5.17, literal translation). What can we do in the Alliance to stimulate such prayer? We need this kind of praying at the heart of the Alliance and in every

 Roger T Forster is the leader of Ichthus Christian Fellowship, London, and author of God’s Strategy in Human History (Wipf & Stock, 2001).


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idea November / December 2008  
idea November / December 2008  

In this edition: 'Being a Christian every day, everywhere', 'Christians in the line of fire', 'Talking about change', 'The Basics: Justifica...