Month: February 2012

What preachers can’t ignore

The environment in which I was discipled as a Christian was one that was very strong on preaching and very good at training up younger men to be preachers. To that end it was also very strong on teaching men (and women) the principles of exegesis and hermeneutics. All of this was galvinised by a strong sense of the supremacy and God-giveness of Scripture, to which I remain entirely indebted through both the teaching and example of those men.

It is interesting, however, that in that same environment there was a certain antipathy to systematic theology. Not by explicit repudiation of the discipline as much as by an implicit neglect. Now this is, to some degree, understandable given the history of UK evangelicalism. Most of the old guard trained in a day when theological colleges were rife with liberalism and graduating with one’s evangelical beliefs still in tact was as much about pulling up the drawbridge and holding on tight for three years as anything else. Theology was mostly liberal speculation; evangelicals were marked by their desire to hold to the infallible Scriptures, to get back to the source and take it on its own terms. That era produced some great evangelical preachers (Stott, Lucas) and some fine exegetes (Wenham, Kidner, Marshall, Bruce) but not exactly a glut of evangelical systematicians. (In fact one wonders if the strengths of British evangelicals in encouraging men in biblical studies in that era via initiatives like Tyndale House had a direct impact in discouraging a high regard for systematics). Continue reading

Back to school

Another school year has just started. How can parents help children gain the most from this year’s schooling?

Schools build into children’s minds a matrix of facts, experience, interpretation and ideology that shapes belief and behaviour. Children with a biblical worldview filter, arrange, and apply what is learnt to begin to think God’s thoughts after him (quoting scientist and Christian, Johann Kepler).

Parents can help children develop such a worldview. That means children not only gain knowledge and skills, but come with a right attitude to learning, laying a foundation for life.

Parents equip children for learning and life when they give God his place in learning and life, helping children to think about and talk about the truth that this is God’s universe. Parents are called by God to help children see that everything they learn about, everything they study, is part of what God has created, sustains and rules. Continue reading

Christianity is a crutch

(The Kiwifruit blog would like to welcome our newest blogger, Chris Spark. Chris is a minister at St Barnabas Anglican Church, Fendalton, Christchurch. –Ed)

You have probably heard it said: ‘Christianity is a crutch’. People have said this and things like it for quite a while – they usually mean that Christianity is for weak people who can’t stand on their own two feet. People who can’t deal with the reality of life need a crutch to rest their lives on. And Christianity is one such crutch, they say.

I agree. Christianity is a crutch.

Christians are, after all, lame. And I don’t just mean that they are eye-rollingly cringe-worthy (though sometimes they are that, too). I mean Christians are lame in the sense that, by being Christian, they are actually admitting to being lame – unable to stand on their own two feet. Think of Jesus’ call: ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.’ (Mat 11:28). Christians have answered that call, and by doing so they admit they are weary and need someone else to give them rest. Continue reading

Marriage manifesto

This past weekend I had the humbling privilege to lead a marriage retreat at Howick Baptist church where I serve as the Associate Pastor.

I say ‘humbling’, because, other than parenting, there is no other subject which so clearly reveals my own sin. I am currently struggling to think biblically regarding marriage and to put into practice all of the principles we worked through together over the weekend. I say ‘privilege’ because it is a tremendous privilege to serve God’s people and seek to minister the truths of God’s Word.

The weekend culminated with my preaching a kind of ‘Marriage Manifesto’ at HBC on Sunday morning. On one hand we didn’t look at anything new. In fact, I simply tried to articulate from Scripture what God says marriage is supposed to be.

I actually don’t believe there has ever been a time since Genesis 2 where everyone actually held to a biblical view of marriage. Perhaps there have been times when a particular society seemed to uphold biblical norms on such things more, but in general I believe marriage has been under attack since sin entered man’s heart back in Genesis 3. Continue reading