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insight

the newsletter of Solas Centre for Public Christianity June 2013

© 2013 Solas - Centre for Public Christianity, 4 St. Peter’s Street, Dundee DD1 4JJ. Phone: +44(0)1382 525021, Email: office@solas-cpc.org

What’s in a name? Written by David J. Randall, Solas Trustee

Romeo and Juliet came from families that were at war with each other. They fell in love and when Juliet asked, “What’s in a name?, she was expressing her love for Romeo as a person, whatever his family name might be. That which we call a rose, if it had originally been called a turnip, would still smell as sweet. However, there’s one biblical story where the answer to the question, “What’s in a name?” would be: a great deal. In the case of Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah and Daniel, the answer would be that God was in their name; “iah” and “el” come from two of the Hebrew names for God. In the year 605 BC, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon overran the small nation of Judah and deported many Jews to Babylon, including these four young men who were later selected for service in the royal palace. Daniel 1:7 tells us: “The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.”

Photo by *Nom & Malc flickr.com

This attempt to eliminate God from their very names signalled a desire and plan to get rid of the God worshipped by the four young men. In their case, the answer to the question, “What’s in a name?” was “God”.

The Babylonian stratagem was very similar to what we observe in today’s western culture. There are people who want to remove God from life – at least from public life. They say that people may believe in God privately but such faith has no place in public life; we don’t do God nowadays!

“They say that people may believe in God privately but such faith has no place in public life; we don’t do God nowadays! ”

The new Archbishop of Canterbury has referred to the appointment of a US Supreme Court Justice about whom a senator commented that the man’s faith would not be a problem as long as it did not affect his opinions! “You might think”, he went on, “that that was so improbably absurd as to be howled down with hysterical laughter, but it was not; it was seen as a serious comment.” In his first speech after being named as Archbishop, Dr Welby “urged Christians not to be afraid to refer to their faith, despite an assumption that they should ‘excise’ their beliefs from their minds when holding public positions (http://www. telegraph.co.uk/news/9679324/Christians-should-not-be-afraid-to-refer-to-their-faith-says-new-Archbishop.html).

Solas, as a “Centre for Public Christianity”, believes that Christianity is, and must not be regarded as, a private pursuit for those who “go in for that sort of thing”. The apostle Paul made the point that Christianity did not start “in a corner” (Acts 26:26). Its foundational events happened in broad daylight, so to speak – on a skull-shaped hill by Jerusalem. Crucifixions were public executions, designed by Rome to show what would happen to people who stepped out of line,


Insight - Newsletter of Solas Centre for Public Christianity

June 2013

and there is the interesting detail in the story of Christ’s crucifixion that the charge on the board nailed to the cross was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek (John 19:20). This faith, which had its origin not in some hidden or secret goings-on but out in the open, is a public faith today too. It can’t be kept hidden away as if it had nothing to do with real life. As is sometimes said, Christ is Lord of all or He is not Lord at all.

“Christ is Lord of all or He is not Lord at all”

If this brings believers into conflict with views or policies that are regarded as politically correct, so be it! Christ’s call is for people who will stand for and stand by His truth, whatever the consequences.

In the preface to Melvyn Bragg’s book about the Authorised Version of the Bible, there are quotations from several reviews. One refers to people who “wish to banish religion from public life” (The Independent) and another to people for whom it’s “fashionable to deride or dismiss the Christian tradition” (The Scotsman). This is the climate in which Christianity needs to reassert its place not as a private pursuit for the religiously minded, but as public truth which is of enormous relevance for social, political, commercial and educational life as well as for private life. Bragg quotes from the writer, David Crystal, who referred to “the good style of the English language [which] has been so influenced by the Bible because of the public presence it had in the 17th century and has had ever since”. It is not only our language that suffers if the Bible’s message is ignored or suppressed. Every part of our life and culture is affected, and the great need is for a renewed attention to Public Christianity.

Melvyn Bragg, pictured for his BBC series on the King James Bible (Photo:BBC)

Report from Tom Courtney I write about Solas Europe with much anticipation of two major projects which are at various stages of preparation. The first is the forthcoming publication of a resource booklet for groups and churches who desire to develop Café Evangelism outreach in their areas. When it is finished, the booklet - Quench: Café Evangelism - will be the result of various people combining their skills with David Robertson, who, as the minister at St. Peter’s Church, has been doing Quench events for a number of years.

Tom Courtney European Co-ordinator and Assistant Director

The philosophy behind Café evangelism fits European culture and we believe the booklet will be used in a variety of ways to motivate the church towards active involvement in effective, persuasive evangelism. Too many times and in too many churches, both the minister/leader and the congregation carry on the church’s ministry inside the “safety” of the church building, hoping that outsiders will come in and discover the gospel for themselves. That may have occurred in centuries past, but in this generation (and probably a few to come) we need to meet this post-everything generation at the doorstep of their lives, presenting the gospel in a reasonable and persuasive way. Quench events are designed for just that – reaching twenty-first century people in their own cultural contexts through non-threatening, relaxed and relevant events. Page 2


Insight - Newsletter of Solas Centre for Public Christianity

June 2013

However it is not a simple task. Not only does it require a lot of prayer, thought and boldness to engage people in their own surroundings - it also takes diligent and focused effort. It is not easy to develop an atmosphere in which people feel sufficiently secure and comfortable to delve into some of the deeper issues of society or even of themselves. That is where we trust the Holy Spirit to do His work. Be sure to consult the Solas web-site to learn how you may acquire a copy for you and your church, and please pray with us that the booklet will be used by many churches and groups who desire to be proactive in persuasive evangelism across Europe. Along these same lines, the second major project in which the Solas team is involved is the development of the first Solas Church-Based Persuasive Evangelism training week, to be held in Dundee, Scotland from September 17 to 23, 2013. The event will be a week-long gathering designed to train and equip pastors, leaders, workers and missionaries in church-based persuasive, effective evangelism. One of the factors behind the training is a shared belief amongst the Solas team that people are more open to the gospel than they have been for 25 years, yet the church is less prepared than ever to meet this situation. Please consult the web page for more information and an application form to attend. To assist the church in becoming more prepared, we are developing the Summer School training event to equip participants to understand and evaluate the cultural context of their own ministry and how to engage effectively with those who live within that context in proclaiming the message of the Gospel. The proposed teaching modules include: • the kind of churches needed in 21st century Europe, • ministry evaluation techniques, • understanding the culture around you, • participation in Café Evangelism – a Quench event, • engaging with the media positively, • the character of the pastor/evangelist. Please pray for the team as preparations continue, and consult the web-site periodically for updated information and registration forms. Limited scholarship will be available.

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Insight - Newsletter of Solas Centre for Public Christianity

June 2013

The God Question Science, God and the Search for Truth WWW.THEGODQUESTION.TV A new international television and DVD series asking if the evidence from modern science points to us being here by chance or by intention. THE BIGGEST QUESTION OF ALL Why do so many people, especially in the Western world, have great difficulty believing in God? For some, human suffering is the issue. Others struggle to relate ‘an old man with a white beard up in the sky’ to the wonders and natural processes revealed by modern science as it unravels the secrets of the universe, the glories of life on earth and the extraordinary power of the human brain to think, to create, to organise and to act. Fearing that atheism might hold the upper hand, many Christians are at a loss about what to say, how to respond to their teenage children and even what to think.

EXPLORING THE GOD QUESTION Now, a new series has been produced to offer the opportunity to as many people as possible, within the church and outside the church, to engage in a serious exploration of the evidence for the existence of God in the light of what contemporary science has revealed about life on earth and the universe at large. The God Question brings to the table some of the foremost scientists and philosophers, theists and atheists of our time in an honest and open effort to allow truth to speak for itself.

COMING YOUR WAY... The producers will be presenting The God Question series at the Solas - Centre for Public Christianity, at 4 St. Peter’s Street, Dundee on Monday 17th June at 7pm. There will be opportunities for Q&A.

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Insight - Newsletter of Solas Centre for Public Christianity

June 2013

Director’s Report David Robertson

In the space of a month I was involved with four very different events which adequately summarise what Solas is about. First up on Feb 21st was a café Quench event in Banchory, organised by the local Church of Scotland. It was a great meeting – the café was small and full. The banter was great, the questions stimulating and a good time was had by all. Most of all we got to proclaim and discuss the Good News with people who might otherwise have never heard it. We love these outreach events and if you want to have one in your area please get in touch. It is a priority for us. Second was Hamilton Road Presbyterian Church in Bangor, Northern Ireland. On the Saturday evening I spoke to a large crowd about proclaiming the Gospel in Europe and how the culture has changed. There were again lots of questions and comments. On the Sunday I preached in Dundonald Presbyterian church in the morning and then again at Hamilton Road in the evening. These were events that were designed to get Christians to think, and also to be user friendly for non-Christians. Solas would like to get more involved in Northern Ireland. If you are from there and interested please do get in touch with us. Thirdly on the 16th of March I had the privilege of going to Glenshee to speak to the Navigators students. This was training and equipping. I was really impressed by the quality of the students. Finally on 23rd of March I took part in The Joshua Project in Dundee. This is one of several local church training projects occurring throughout Scotland. And again it is in our DNA to train and help others to be involved in ‘persuasive evangelism’. Outreach cafes, Church conferences, student work, training and equipping - this is what Solas is for. I am also just about finished the follow up to The Dawkins Letters. It is a response to Christopher Hitchens’ God is Not Great, and is entitled Magnificent Obsession. It is basically an introduction to Jesus Christ and should be suitable to give to non-Christians. Please pray that it would be used by God. Yours in Christ David PS. We welcome David Hartnett, an American in Scotland, who is working part-time as our fundraiser. And we are delighted that Ramon Olivetti has just about finished the new Solas website. It will be online by the time you get this…take a look. PPS. The Solas Facebook page has received thousands of visits. Make sure you are a ‘friend’. One poster by Ally Smith went viral and received over 60,000 hits. Please pray for Al as he continues to develop his particular video and editing gifts in this way.

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Insight - Newsletter of Solas Centre for Public Christianity

June 2013

European Leadership Forum a management and leadership consultant, a good friend from Latvia, a leader in the Christian Heritage (Cambridge), the producer of “The God Question” film, and the list goes on and on.

Seven hundred and fifty participants from forty-three different nations; it was like getting a drink of water from a fire hydrant! Such were the thoughts and perceptions from the three of us from Solas – CPC, who attended the ELF (European Leadership Forum) in Wisla, Poland this past week. David Robertson participated in numerous seminars and round table discussions covering a host of topics, related mostly to church-based persuasive evangelism from various perspectives. David Hartnett attended many seminars focused on fund raising and writing proposals for foundations, while meeting with a host of different people engaged in evangelism across Europe. I was involved in the foundational apologetics focus group, with the opportunity to network with a diverse group of people from Bulgaria, Romania, Spain, Ukraine, the UK, Norway and a handful of other countries. All three of us enjoyed a superb jazz concert with Bill Edgar, Ruth Naomi Floyd and their bass player, in addition to the plenary addresses by Os Guinness and Becky Pippert, We had significant conversations with many different people, covering a range of topics such as ministry initiatives, partnerships and co-operation, funding, and evangelism training. We had strong previous relationships with many of the people with whom we spoke – like one from Spain who I have known for as long as we lived in Spain, along with a few from Scotland. On other occasions, the Solas team made the most of individual relationships to introduce one to the other, including the president of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance, an apologist from Norway, a missionary working with artists, many from Romania, a Greek PhD candidate, some working with L’Abri Fellowship,

As the ELF drew to a close, both Davids and I were very encouraged with all we had learned, the many new contacts and friends we had made, the challenges that were extended to us from management and leadership gurus, and the support and confidence placed in Solas by the leadership of the ELF. But perhaps, most importantly we realized, that at its young age, Solas is touching upon a great need across Europe. Much apologetic activity and training occur through institutions and specialized training courses or seminars prepared and delivered by strong, committed believers, who are well prepared in the task before them. Solas, from the beginning has sought to centre the ministry in church-based persuasive evangelism, encouraging the church to move outside of its four walls into the market place to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Having now returned to Dundee from Poland, we are convinced more than ever that that is the direction, the

niche, as it were, where Solas must continue to concentrate its greatest energies – that of doing, training and promoting church-based persuasive evangelism across Europe. There is a lot of work to be done in processing the vast amount of perceptions, thoughts and information gathered from the ELF. Your prayers would be much appreciated, as we keep you informed with our progress. Blessings, Tom - Solas European Director

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New Book, Quench: Café Culture Evangelism A new book has been added to our shop section. Written by David Robertson and edited by David J. Randall and Thomas. J. Courtney. “The people of Europe are more open to the gospel now than in the last twenty-five to thirty years, but the church is less prepared than ever before to proclaim the gospel in today’s European culture.” David Robertson Quench; Café Culture Evangelism desires to change that trend – not as a new concept, a new evangelism programme, or another gimmick guaranteed to rejuvenate evangelistic zeal. It is an approach to people, urging the church to go outside her four walls and into the market place to share the gospel in a natural setting. With Quench, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The principles for café culture evangelism are firm, but they need to be adapted for each culture. This book is designed to help people of various cultures think through the issues and nuances of their own situation, as they determine how best to utilize Quench: Café Culture Evangelism.

Conference Media We hope you found the Confident Christianity Conference helpful if you were able to come. Why not share the conference with other members of your fellowship? By purchasing the DVD set you could run the talks again at a series of midweek events. The Powerpoint presentations are all recorded clearly on the DVD and the talks would be an excellent discussion starter for either home group or fellowship events. If you missed the conference altogether and would find it difficult to find time to watch the DVDs, then you could buy the audio and listen in the car or whilst you jog! The talks are available in a variety of formats either as discs or downloads. Order online at: http://www.solas-cpc.org/index. php?option=com_content&view=article&id =145&Itemid=5

Solas membership Do you want to be a part of this exciting network that is already making a tremendous impact within the public square? Becoming a member only takes a few minutes and has these additional benefits: •

Access to members only resources and reports.

Conferences and resources at a discounted price.

10% discount at CLC Bookshop – Dundee (112 Nethergate, Dundee, DD1 4EH)

Click here to become a member today. Solas does not have huge financial resources and all donations would be welcome in supporting the work of promoting the gospel as public truth. If you would like to donate please make cheques payable to Solas (Centre for Public Christianity) and send to Solas - Centre for Public Christianity, 4 St. Peter’s Street, Dundee DD1 4JJ Alternatively you can send donations through paypal by clicking on the logo

Solas Insight - June 2013  

The quarterly newsletter of Solas Centre for Public Christianity

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