Saturday, February 25, 2006

Millennium Now!

Many years ago as a missionary on deputation I came across a quote from Edwards which suggested to me that we are now in the millennium that Edwards expected. I have now managed to find my lost quote.

There is a kind of vail now cast over the greater part of the world, which keeps them in darkness; but then this vail shall be destroyed: Isaiah 25:7. "And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations." Then all countries and nations, even those which are now most ignorant, shall be full of light and knowledge. Great knowledge shall prevail every where. It may be hoped, that then many of the Negroes and Indians will be divines, and that excellent books will be published in Africa, in Ethiopia, in Tartary, and other now the most barbarous countries, and not only learned men, but others of more ordinary education, shall then be very knowing in religion: Isaiah 32:3, 4. "The eyes of them that see, shall not be dim; and the ears of them that hear, shall hearken. The heart also of the rash shall understand knowledge." Knowledge then shall be very universal among all sorts of persons, Jeremiah 31:34. "And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them." - Jonathan Edwards, A HISTORY OF THE WORK OF REDEMPTION, SECTION 4 PART 8, THE SUCCESS OF REDEMPTION THROUGH THAT SPACE WHEREIN THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH SHALL, FOR THE MOST PART, BE IN A STATE OF PEACE AND PROSPERITY.

I also came across this on David Field's blog, which David suggests is Edward's predicting email :-)

There will be so many contrivances and inventions to facilitate and
expedite their necessary secular business that they shall have more time
for more noble exercise, and that they will have better contrivances for
assisting one another through the whole earth by more expedite, easy,
and safe communication between distant regions than now. The invention
of the mariner’s compass is a thing discovered by God to the world to
that end. And how exceedingly has that one thing enlarged and
facilitated communication. And who can doubt but that yet God will make
it more perfect, so that there need not be such a tedious voyage in
order to hear from the other hemisphere? And so the country about the
poles need no longer be hid to us - Jonathan Edwards, Miscellanies -
262. Millennium.

Red Ken

Few politicians make be really angry, but top of the crew is the Mayor of London.

From the BBC url
London's mayor has been suspended from office on full pay for four weeks for
comparing a Jewish journalist to a concentration camp guard.... Mr Livingstone, whose annual
salary is £133,997, said he would announce what action he would be taking next week. ...If an
appeal fails, Mr Livingstone will be responsible for paying his own legal costs, estimated at £80,000.

I have now realised what this sentence on Ken means. Four weeks extra paid holiday.
Oh for a job where you get such a reward for a racial insult and stubborn refusal to apologise!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Books read in February 2006 (5)

1. Oliver Cromwell - J.C. Davis

This is a volume in a series called, Reputations, examining "the reputations of some of history's most conspicuous, powerful and influential individuals". This book certainly prompts me to seek out other such volumes for it is simply the best assessment of Oliver Cromwell that I have read.

The varying reputation of Cromwell since his death is examined then he is considered as to his remarkably swift rise from obscurity, variously as as soldier, man of God, politician and state builder.

As John Morrill has written, the key to understanding Cromwell is his providentialism. Davis agrees that you have to understand the puritan doctrine of providence to understand and judge Cromwell. Students from a secularist age are not qualified to appreciate this man unless they can enter into an understanding of the Christianity centered age that was 17th century Britain. Davis has a true understanding of the period and therefore of the man. Cromwell's reputation is rightly understood and enhanced by Davis.

2.   Grumpy Old Men: A Manual for the British Malcontent   - David Quantick

I saw the author on TV recently and he does not qualify to write as an old man though his grumpiness is well detailed here. The problem for me is that I did not find him particularly funny. He is no Clarkson who is a really funny grump. I found him grumpy about lots of things that do not bother me at all. like booze ads, school reunions and royalty. On the other hand, where I really want to grump, he is silent e.g. The E.U, multiculturalism, the race relations industry, mobile phoners with no manners, feminists, statists, people who do not say "Thank You" etc. I think Quantick should have just taken the easier route for grumping. Start a blog.

3. The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde - Joseph Pearce

Pearce searches for the real Wilde behind his many masks. He writes well and most movingly, with sympathy for this great tragic man.

Wilde is portrayed as a man for whom his art was everything, but led astray by his love of decadence.

This is not the Wilde that is flaunted as a homosexual icon. There is no evidence of him being anything other than heterosexual until after his wfe is pregnant. Homosexuality led Wilde into the folly of
sueing the father of his lover for libel. The lost suit led to crimal prosecution and a sentence of hard labour, bancruptcy, loss of wife and sons, ostracism and exile. How pathetic to see the greatest wit
and conversatioanlist of the age reduced to scrounging on the streets of Paris.

Pearce gives us much of the wit and poetry of Wilde. He also traces his on and off love affair with Roman Catholicism ending in death bed reception into the Roman Catholic Church. I would agre with
Pearce's view that had Wilde sincerely converted in his youth, his story would have been very very different.

As it is, Wilde seems to be to late 19th century literature what Geoge Best was to late 20th century football, the greatest ever waste of a talent.

One very minor criticism. Pearce is wrong to write that William of Orange usurped power in England. James II was removed for his Roman Catholicism and the throne offered to William and Mary.

A great read. Enjoy and weep.

4. Revelation Revealed: The Book of Revelation for Today - Gary Benfold

Christians often shy away from Revelation believing the last book of the Bible is too difficult to understand. Gary Benfold does an excellent job of giving us the big picture. When you come to Revelation you should not try and take a close look at the meaning of each verse. Start with an overview of the big themes.

The writer folows the example of Hendriksen seeing revelation not as a continuum but as a series of reprises surveying all of church history several times. He writes well and I believe this book will be of help and encouragment to ordinary Christians as well as those who want to teach revelation to others. He gives both understanding and spiritual challenge.

He has some good illustrations and graphic phrases. "The Lord Jesus Christ hates tolerance!" My only criticism is antipathy to the idea of any Christian political pary or establishment of religion. He seems to expect the state be to be opposed to the gospel.

5. No Moon Tonight by Don Charlwood

''What are the losses on each raid?'
'They say five per cent.'
"Five per cent and we do thirty ops.' He considered this thoughtfully. 'We sort of end up owing something.'

I believe we owe a great debt to the brave boys of Bomber Command who knew they were unlikely to survive. This account from an Australian sergeant navigator tells you what it was like to fly over Germany from Lincolnshire, to kill and probably to die. The author's crew were the first in seven months to actually complete a thirty flight tour of operations from their airfield. In 1941 he had trained with twenty compatriots. 18 were destined for Bomber Command. At the end of the war 12 were dead and one a prisoner. It was, he says, an average group. I am ashamed that my country never gave the airmen of Bomber Command a campaign medal.

Here you really get a feel of what it was like to be so young with no more ambition that to reach your next short leave. Wartime romance is related and the discovery of the village his family came from and his ancestors' graves.

The first time my parents saw the house where I was to grow up, there was a Halifax bomber crashed outside. I played as a boy in the peaceful ruins of the disused former bomber airfield from which men like Charlwood had flown less than ten years before. A different world so well narrated in this book.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Cartoon Controversy

To me, the real question is, why is it wrong to depict Mohammed or any other prophet according to Islam? I understand it is, from an Islamic perspective to prevent idolatry. Muslims would be in danger of worshipping mere men if a prophet was depicted.

There is a huge contrast here with Christianity. Christians have argued against the depiction of Jesus on the basis of the second commandment. but this has been a minority view to say he cannot be depicted because he is God. The argument from the other side is that because Jesus is truly man, representations of his humanity must be allowable.

So Christians who believe Jesus to be God will depict him, but Muslims who believe him to be a mere man would not depict him or Mohammed because they are prophets.

Perhaps the Muslim position is really an acknowledgment that they are in danger of worshipping someone other than God, namely Mohammed?

But to end on a lighter note. Where can I find any cartoons lampooning secularists?

Later I found this.

By publishing these cartoons, we are saying to the Muslim community
in Denmark 'we treat you as we treat everybody else' -
Fleming Rose, Jyllands-Posten

I found this quote on the BBC website and believe it gets to the
heart of the matter.

The secular West thinks it treats all groups with equal respect of
lack thereof. (It doesn't IMO but that is not my point here.)

The Muslims believe they deserve special treatment because their
faith is true. That is hard for the West to understand, especially
when Christians who make similar truth claims do not usually demand
the state to protect them and their faith.

More thoughts.

I fear that as in the UK and the US the largely liberal papers have
refused to publish we are in danger of compromise.

To say these cartoons should not be published is to side with the
Sharia. One may do it out of kindness and tolerance, but it is
nevertheless to observe the Muslim's law.

If the UK were to legislate in such a way that publication would be
forbidden, then the Shari'a gets a toehold in UK law.

A correspondent has responded that the reason behind the U.S
and British newspapers not publishing the cartoons is that we
have thousands of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan and many
other Islamic countries.

Another friend answered this saying that "given the attitude of those papers toward the military and the deployments to the Middle East, and their pleasure in publishing other inflammatory news and pictures [Abu Ghraib], I think I have to disagree with that explanation. I think it's sheer cowardice, excused by multicultural political correctness. "

Bothering me more is the report today, Sunday 19 February, of 16 Christians killed and 11 churches burned in Maiduguri, Nigeria, by anti-cartoon demonstrators.
We know and have visited the city where one man we helped train is a pastor.

I have to say that if i was a Muslim I would be angered by the Austrian court's sentence on holocaust denier David Irving. So much for free speech in the West. What hypocrisy from the country that gave the world Adolf Hitler! No I am not a holocaust denier. I merely think that you should be allowed to be a foolish historian without being jailed for it. Hey, I'm angry about this and I am not a Muslim.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Family Tree

The past month, second son David has been avidly seaching the web for Weeks, Grahams and related names.

A month ago I knew my paternal great great great great grandfather was Robert Weeks, blacksmith of Bristol. Now i know his father John was from the parish Abson and Wick in Somerset. We are back to the late 18th century but have one reference to the 1675 will of a Preacher Weeks and know there were weeks across the Atlantic from 1620.

So far, no-one is in the poor house or jail. But we now know that great grandmother Weeks was illegitimate. Her mother called herself Sarah, Susan or Susanah Lewis. We think she was in the employ of Lord Tradegar at one time and wonder if our forebear was conceived there.

The Grahams go back to great great great great grandfather George, aged 17 when he fought at Trafalgar.

Grandfather Graham was born in Leith so I thought i was half Scottish, but no, I am a 100% pure bred English mongrel as the whole of mother's side hail from Northumberland.

David has also looked at his mother's ancestry and the most interesting possible connection is with the Victorian banking house, Gurney and Overend, which was very big and went very bust.

I am a mystery worshipper!

The famous  Ship of Fools "has an intrepid team of Mystery Worshippers travelling incognito in the British aisles and beyond, reporting on the comfort of the pews, the warmth of the welcome and the length of the sermon."

I decided to do the same, blogging on other churches when away from home, in the pew, not the pulpit.

1. Barton Evangelical Church, Canterbury.

Denomination: F.I.E.C (AFAIK)
Meets in a secondary school, Chaucer School.

The neighbourhood: Residential area

The cast: Service leader - Anne Lyttle. Pastor Tim Saunders - preacher.

The date & time: Sunday, 13 February 2006, 10:30am.

What was the name of the service?
Baptismal Service.

How full was the building?
About three quarters full, perhaps 200 people.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
We received both a greeting and a smile from the person who handed us service sheet and two people greeted us from among the congregation before the service started. This is a very visitor friendly church.

Was your pew comfortable?
A sensible chair but underneath the window it was a bit draughty. Our fault. We declined an invitation to move further in.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
A little quiet chatter but this was not disturbing. People seemed happy to be there.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
I cannot remember exactly as at that point I had not decided to do this. IIRC it was words of welcome. It was not a call to worship.

What books did the congregation use during the service?
None. Everything was Powerpoint.

What musical instruments were played?
A group with guitars and keyboard but I am not sure as to the details.

Did anything distract you?
I always find female leaders distracting. It is a man thing. but apart from this, the lady should just try to just limit her useage of just. It just kept coming out.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Modern, charismatic type. Some clapping. No traditional stuff except, "Jesus loves me, this I know", chosen by one of those baptised. One spontaneous interuption with a prayer.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
20 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 – A clear simple gospel message from Galatians 2

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The gospel. salvation a gift from God to be received by faith. Good references to and illustrations from the contemporary secular world. You can illustrate grace from Denis the Menace.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
"Jesus loves me, this I know"

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
This was not like t'other place at all.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I didn't but if i had i am sure I would have soon been greeted.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
We did not stay for the tea and coffee.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
5. I am not a Baptist and need more traditional hymns. If I was a Baptist, 8.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes! Good to be with those who are communicating the gospel and growing.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Grace is a lady giving Dennis the Menace biscuits because she was kind, not because he was good.