Sunday, January 29, 2006

Books read in January 2006 (3)

1. The Complete Cat in the Hat - Dr. Seuss

It was a delight to sit with my eldest granddaughter after lunch and read to her both The Cat in the Hat and The Cat in the Hat Comes Back. Both are in this centenary volume. One can see why with over 200,00,000 volumes sold, Dr. Seuss is the biggest selling author of children's books. A pleasure to read out loud.

2.Understanding Jihad - David Cook

David Cook gives a comprehensive academic survey of the origins,
meaning and history of jihad. Quranic and hadith sources are examined
as are historic and contemporary Islamic writings.

He is strongly of the opinion that present day attempts to
spiritualise the meaning of jihad are wrong.

"In reading Muslim literature - both contemporary and classical - one
can see that the evidence for the primacy of spiritual jihad is
negligible. Today it is certain that no Muslim, writing in a
non-Western language (such as Arabic, Persian, Urdu), would ever make
claims that jihad is primarily nonviolent or has been superceded by
the spiritual jihad. Such claims are made solely by Western scholars,
primarily those who study Sufism and/or work in interfaith dialogue,
and by Muslim apologists who are trying to present Islam in the most
innocuous manner possible. Presentations along these lines are
ideological in tone and should be discounted for their bias and
deliberate ignorance of the Muslim sources and attitudes toward the
subject." p165-166.

His historic survey is fascinating for it deals with Muslim debate
concerning the ethics of war which parallel to some extent the
Christian just war debate. His historic survey shows how from early
triumph, the spread of Islam was halted. He looks at the effects of
crusades and colonialism and how we have come to the suicide bombings
and terrorism of today's extremists.

Read and learn.

3. War and Grace - Don Stephens

Thirteen brief biographies of people, all but one of whom lived through the second World War. Six became Christians during the war in the most adverse of circumstances. Three Americans, two Germans, two Japanese, one Dutch and five Britons are featured. In all the stories, what comes through most strongly is that the grace of God can reach into the most extreme situations and to the greatest sinners, even war criminals facing death

This is a book that is very hard to put down. Well written, easily read, it moves ones heart to read of how God's grace changes and sustaines lives. A thrilling book I cannot commend too highly.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Blair's great achievment?

Is Cameron Blair's great achievment?

BBC reports that Blair 'also admitted Mr Cameron's attempts to move the party to
the political centre ground presented Labour with a "real contest".
But he said the attempt by the Tories to "reinvent" themselves was an "enormous compliment" to what Labour has achieved.
"This is the first time that the Labour party has ever been in a position where the Conservative party is trying to reinvent itself in order to become the natural party of government," he said.
"The Tories know that they have to pretend they are becoming more like New Labour in order to win.'

I do think that Cameron is a Blair creation just as Blair is one of Margaret Thatcher's legacies. She made him change Labour from a lot of its socialism to get it electable.

So one cannot expect any clear blue water from Cameron. All we will get is the sort of thin pink muddy soup he has learned from the New Labour Recipe Book.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

BBC TV no longer has decent language

Last night we watched Three Men in a Boat on BBC2. I rang up to complain about the gratuitous use of the F word . I pointed out that in my house neither family, friends nor visitors use it. So I do not see why the BBC should introduce it into my living room. It betokens people who have difficulty communicating and accurately expressing their feelings. It spoiled an entertaining programme.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Who runs this country?

The BBC had a poll to see who listeners considered to be the person running the country. Quotes below from their website with my comments in-between.

"European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has been voted Britain's most powerful man in a BBC poll.
Mr Barroso, who is unelected, received 22% of the vote in the BBC Radio 4 shortlist .....BBC political editor Nick Robinson says voters may be using the poll to say Europe has too much power. "

Slight correction needed. The EU has too much power. EU and Europe are not synonymous. I can love Europe and hate the EU.

"Mr Blair got 7% and the chancellor 4%, which was less than the 10% polled by Cabinet Secretary and chief civil servant Sir Gus O'Donnell."

Quite. As a devotee of "Yes Prime Mininster" I voted for the Sir Humphrey as being top dog.

"The European Commission is the EU's executive body and the only EU institution that can propose legislation. That is where the commission has its power, Nick Robinson says. Commenting on the Who Runs Britain? poll, Roger Knapman, leader of the UK Independence Party, congratulated those who voted for Mr Barroso.
"Of course it is the only chance you'll get to vote for him or for that matter against him," he said. "He is now a bureaucrat perceived as the most important man in this country and that is quite shocking." But former Europe Minister Dennis McShane said it was "an urban myth" to suggest that Britain's laws were decided by Europe. "

No myth McShane. Henry VIII got us out of Europe. Traitor Heath got us into the EU. We are no longer a sovereign nation state.

How I came to be a Christian.

The preaching I heard in my youth taught me that one was not a Christian merely because one was born into a Christian family or because one went to church. A personal decision was necessary to turn from sinful selfishness, to give one's life to Christ. This was, one was taught, to be a public act, responding to an evangelistic appeal. My earliest memory of this was when I was taken to hear Billy Graham at Haringey, London, in I think 1954. So, aged 8 I knew I was a sinner who needed to be saved, but I put off making a public profession of faith for the next four years. When I did make a public response, it was in all sincerity. It produced some change in my life, some spiritual zeal, but this did not last. I was never an outwardly rebellious teenager but after some reading of philosophy I had questions that the Christians around me did not answer. I could argue against the existence of physical realities and Christians I knew could not give answers and convince me of physical reality let alone the world of the unseen perceived by faith. I thought my rebellion was more intellectual than moral. I continued to attend church as I did not want to have a big fight with my parents. I knew that once I left home for university I could do what I liked. But the transition from rural home to university in London did not go according to my plan. I found study hard, not the actual content but hard to be confident that I was actually learning well after a gap year out of formal studies. I lacked confidence in myself, so became depressed to the point of being suicidal. That drove me back to Christian fellowship, to seek God as never before for now I believed my life really depended on it. From that point on my commitment became really wholehearted and life changing and I have professed Christ ever since.

So when did I really become a Christian? The answer depends upon one's theological analysis of the above evidence. I was from birth what I would now call a covenant child. I would now teach such a child that trusting in Christ and turning from sin is what one has to do every day. I would not say you are a sinner who needs to make a decision and profess your faith in Christ publicly to become a Christian. I would ask the child if their life showed that Christ was their Lord, if they were seeking to obey him day by day. In other words, I would now be expecting the child of Christian parents to be professing faith, albeit in a way appropriate to their age, from their earliest years. I would expect a regular and public profession of faith, but not require a response to an evangelistic appeal to become a Christian.

I now believe that God regenerates the heart and this is what results in our profession of faith, our conversion. I believe that the children of Christian parents may be regenerate from birth, or even before. They remain sinners who daily need to repent from sin and trust in Christ. Some believers will say they do not remember a time when they did not do this. Others will be able to tell of a time when they began to trust Christ after previous rebellion.

I do not think I was regenerate from my earliest years. I doubt if I was when I professed conversion in all sincerity as I thought aged 12. I am sure that from my experience when I went to university, aged 18, I was a born again, regenerate Christian.

But the past is history. What matters is not my theological analysis of it but whether today I am repenting from sin and trusting in Christ and his work to be made right with God. By the grace of God I am and will continue to do so until the day I meet my saviour, Jesus Christ who is my Lord of my life.