Scotland: Crucial debate


The view down the Royal Mile - Edinburgh. (photo: iStock)

The view down the Royal Mile – Edinburgh. (photo: iStock)

On 30 September David Robertson participated in a debate with the Revd Scott McKenna, in his Mayfield /Salisbury Church of Scotland in Edinburgh.

This debate had arisen because of Mr McKenna’s sermon on YouTube in which he declared that Christ dying for our sins is ‘ghastly theology’. David Robertson, who is Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, wrote a response to which McKenna objected. The two men met and had a good conversation and decided to hold that conversation in public.

The subject of the nature of Christ’s work on the cross as substitutionary atonement is crucial for Evangelicalism and drew many to come and listen. Over 250 people gathered on a Wednesday evening to hear this theological discussion.

David Robertson reflected on the debate, answering a number of questions for en.

en: How would you describe the strength of the evangelical view of the cross?
DR:
The liberal gospel cannot stand before the biblical gospel. The narrative is usually that an evangelical biblical understanding is a dumbed-down fundamentalism that is easily swept away by the enlightened, compassionate learning of the liberal interpretation.

The trouble is that contemporary liberal theology is a house of cards. When it comes into contact with a more robust, solid biblical theology it is easily blown apart. There were so many examples of this in the debate itself. (You can read the full transcript at http://www.theweeflea.wordpress.com/2015/10/0 8/a-theological-conversation-with-scott-mckenna/) The liberal often uses a simplistic version of theology/history and language to confuse people. Scott, for example, at first declared that the doctrine of the atonement came about through Anselm, but during the debate he said it was invented by Calvin! Scott tried to claim that the Church Fathers supported his view, but was unable to substantiate his claims (at this point I was very thankful for the habit I have had for many years of reading ten pages from the church fathers each day!).

en: What do you think the debate says about the Church of Scotland?
DR:
Sadly, I think the liberal establishment of the Church of Scotland is rotten to the core. I don’t say this because… (click here to read more)

en

This article was first published in the December issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, visit us online or subscribe to en for monthly updates.

Gay rights supporter turned pastor and spiritual hunger in Egypt…(December issue highlights)


Out now in the December issue of Evangelicals Now…

December issue cover

December issue cover

• Spiritual hunger in Egypt

• Churches in Greece bring hope to refugees

From gay rights supporter to paster in USA

The December issue is out now! Read it online or enjoy the printed paper with your morning cuppa!

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The Bible hunter (book review)


ConstantineCONSTANTINE TISCHENDORF:
The Life and Work of a 19th Century
Bible Hunter
By Stanley E. Porter
Bloomsbury. 200 pages. £16.99
ISBN 978 0 567 658 029

The name ‘Constantine Tischendorf’ is unfamiliar to most British evangelicals, and one suspects that a biography about a man whose most famous achievement was the discovery of a fourth-century manuscript would not seem the most exciting story, at least compared to a biography about a Christian MP who freed the slaves (William Wilberforce), or an evangelist who led multitudes to Christ (George Whitefield) or a pioneer missionary (such as William Carey).

Neither was Tischendorf a kind of evangelical ‘Indiana Jones’, battling evil men and ancient trap-doors to recover some priceless ancient artefact. However, his story is important, not least because what he did and later wrote is even more relevant today than at its original publication, as we face attacks upon the integrity of the Bible from atheist and especially Islamic propagandists, the latter at ground level in schools, colleges and on the streets.

Admirably lucid

Porter is Professor of New Testament at McMaster Divinity College, Canada, and is obviously also an able and popular writer. The book is admirably lucid, accessible and engrossing. The author is doubtless aware of how such a topic, dealing with admittedly technical issues, can be a great turn-off for the average reader and he has managed to present the story in such a way as to grip the layman.

Apart from the bibliography in Part III, the book is divided into two main sections, the first part looking at Tischendorf’s life, then his work, and the second part being a re-publication of Tischendorf’s seminal work When Were Our Gospels Written? Such is the strength of this work in terms of continued usefulness that Porter has only added… (to read more click here)

Dr Anthony McRoy, scholar in the field of Islamic Studies

This article was first published in the August 2015 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, articles or reviews, visit our website or subscribe to en for regular updates.

Are we thought-criminals?


photo credit: iStock

photo credit: iStock

‘Whether he wrote “Same sex marriage is not biblical”, or whether he refrained from writing it, made no difference.

‘The Thought Police would get him just the same. He had committed – would still have committed, even if he had never set pen to paper – the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed for ever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you.’ (George Orwell, 1984, updated).

Voicing criticism

A British Values monitor, part of the Prevent counter-terrorism strategy, said in mid-September that voicing criticism of homosexuality ‘might be breaking the law’.

Polly Harrow said people can believe homosexuality is wrong in their heads, but speaking it out loud could be illegal.

Harrow, Head of Safeguarding and Prevent at Kirklees College in Huddersfield, made the comments on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme in a report on the Government’s counter-extremism policy.

Harrow was asked by the BBC’s Sima Kotecha whether a Muslim who believes that homosexuality is wrong should be accepted. She replied: ‘If that’s what you think and that’s what you believe and you want to hold that in your head, that is your business and your right. But bear in mind that if you speak it out loud you might be breaking the law.’

British Values

Harrow has the task of promoting British Values in the college in Huddersfield. She will raise any concerns about students and refer them to police if necessary.

She says that the British Values strategy is seeking ‘not just tolerance but acceptance of difference and of others’.

The college has received funding for her to carry out the work because of Government concerns over pupils being pulled into terrorism.

Government’s position

Harrow’s comments clash with… (click here to read more)

Christian Institute/The Daily Telegraph/en

This article was first published in the November issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, visit us online or subscribe to en for monthly updates.

ISIS, medical ethics and the well-being of pastors…(November issue highlights)


Out now in the November issue of Evangelicals Now…

November issue OUT NOW!

November issue OUT NOW!

• ISIS begins executing captured Christians

• A Biblical approach to medical ethics in the age of advanced technology

• Reflections on the results of the FIEC pastors’ well-being survey

The November issue is out now! Read it online or enjoy the printed paper with your morning cuppa!

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The church that escaped


Yemeni fighters gather around military vehicles at the entrance of the airport in the port city of Aden. Photo: Press Association Images

Yemeni fighters gather around military vehicles at the entrance of the airport in the port city of Aden. Photo: Press Association Images

When we read the news about the Middle East there is not much to rejoice over.

There are wars and rumours of wars and many displaced people. An example of this situation is the country of Yemen.

Yemen is the poorest country in the Middle East, with a population of around 24.5 million. However, it has also been the home for many Somali and Ethiopian refugees over the last 20 years. Since March 2015 there has been prolonged fighting and bombing in the country. The political situation is complicated as Houthi rebels fight pro-government forces. Furthermore, a Saudi-led coalition which supports the ousted president is regularly bombing key targets in the country.

One of these has been the city of Aden, due to its location as a port and being the main city in the south. Buildings and homes have been devastated and many civilians have lost their lives in the fighting. There is no electricity, no water, no fuel – and no food, as nothing is grown locally and the humidity and temperature is unbearable. The situation is desperate… but here is a story from earlier this year of God’s amazing rescue.

Jabi’s story

Jabi came to Yemen as a refugee during the Ethiopian/Eritrean war in the 1990s. He served as a member of the Ethiopian navy. The ship he was on ended up being scuppered along the Yemeni coastline. The Yemeni government in their kindness took these naval seamen and allowed them to be refugees in the country. The United Nations High Commission of Refugees had a camp in the foothills around Taiz where many of the seamen started their new lives in Yemen. Jabi moved to Aden to look for work after being in the camp for some time. While in Aden he became very unwell with typhoid and malaria and was close to death. Two of his friends shared with him about Jesus but he just ridiculed them and laughed at them. However, unknown to Jabi,.. (to read more click here)

Evangelicals Now

This article was first published in the October issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, articles or reviews, visit us online or subscribe to en for monthly updates.

Muslims turning to Christ and the World Cup…(October issue highlights)


Out now in the October issue of Evangelicals Now…

October issue en - cover page

October issue en – cover page

• How a whole church escaped a war zone

• Muslims turning to Christ in Iran

• How to use the Rugby World Cup for outreach

The October issue is out now! Read it online or enjoy the printed paper with your morning cuppa!

You may subscribe to have regular access every month to all of the articles for the ridiculously cheap price of £0.84 a month – £10.00 per year!

Faith and foibles (book review)


Amy CarmichaelAmy Carmichael: Beauty for Ashes
By Iain Murray
Banner of Truth. 192 pages. £6.50
ISBN 978 1 848 715 523

What if you had a flash of foreknowledge and suddenly realized there was a future ‘Amy Carmichael’ sucking her thumb in your church?

You would probably burst with pride, pat her teacher on the back and enthusiastically congratulate the parents. After all, who doesn’t want a Christian heroine in their junior Sunday school?

Corrective to hero-worship

Men and women of extraordinary heroism feature prominently in our Christian ‘Halls of Fame’. We hold them up as role models, healthy alternatives to the pop singers and athletes our teenagers tend to emulate. But if we’re honest, there are more than a couple of problems with this approach. That is why I think Iain Murray’s new biography, Amy Carmichael: Beauty for Ashes, is a healthy alternative to the normal Christian hero-worship titles.

Though the prolific church historian and biographer doesn’t strip Carmichael of any of her attributes, Murray does introduce us to a woman of faith, foibles, and failings. With an expert pen, Murray allows her voice to speak clearly through her poetry and her passion – while at the same time dealing with her difficult personality.

An awkward colleague

Difficult personality? Really? But she was a missionary! It’s true. Murray graciously but accurately introduces us… (to read more click here)

Catherine MacKenzie is an author of  numerous books and serves as children’s editor for Christian Focus Publications. She lives in Scotland.

This article was first published in the June 2015 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, articles or reviews, visit our website or subscribe to en for regular updates.

Growing doing nothing new


Baptism at Moorlands Church

Baptism at Moorlands Church

Lancaster, 6 March 2005, 10am

In a tiny ‘gospel hall’ in a back street in Lancaster around 20 people begin to gather for the weekly meeting of Moorlands Church. The church is a mainly elderly congregation, who want to see their city reached for Jesus, but have found their numbers and energy dwindling. This morning, however, there is the excitement of a new beginning.

A small team, led by Danny Rurlander, who has moved with his wife Emma and four young children, has joined them with a vision to re-start the church in order to bring the gospel of Jesus to the city and its two university campuses. As Bibles are opened for the first sermon, everyone is conscious that God alone can give the growth through his powerful Word.

Lancaster, 8 March 2015, 10am

In the foyer of the Ripley Sixth Form Academy around 220 people gather over coffee for the morning meeting of Moorlands Church. Young and retired, families and students, people from Britain and the rest of the world from China to the Dominican Republic.

The place is buzzing with children. Bibles are opened with the same conviction with which the work began – that God grows his church through his Word. And the evidence is clear: after the meeting…(to read more click here)

Nathan Weston

This article was first published in the June issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, articles or reviews, visit us online or subscribe to en for monthly updates.

Grace where East meets West


Andrew Sach (L), and Andrew Latimer – with Greenwich Park, Royal Naval College and Canary Wharf in the background

Andrew Sach (L), and Andrew Latimer – with Greenwich Park, Royal Naval College and Canary Wharf in the background

Greenwich, London SE10, is where East meets West at the world-famous meridian.

Every day couples from around the globe make their way to the observatory in Royal Greenwich Park to be photographed holding hands across the iconic line.

Partnership church plant

This September, Greenwich is going to be the meeting place of a different kind of partnership: a new church plant called Grace Church Greenwich, which represents the coming together of two other London churches.

St Peter’s Barge, a floating church started in 2003 to reach out to workers and locals around Canary Wharf, is partnering with St Helen’s Bishopsgate to form this new fellowship. Since its beginning, the church on the Barge has had a number of people from around Greenwich who travel across the river to church, and so it has been a natural area to consider planting into, but the numbers have not been sufficient to start anything. In partnership with St Helen’s, however, the two churches are able to combine forces and give it a go. As the Barge’s senior minister, Marcus Nodder comments: ‘How do you plant churches if you are a small church like the Barge? You take to heart the biblical maxim that ‘two are better than one’ (Ecclesiastes 4.9) and team up with another church to pool your resources!’

Original idea

One of the two new ministers, Andrew Latimer, explains how the idea came about: ‘We at the Barge have had a heart for Greenwich and have been meeting and praying in homes around the area for a while, and so it was a wonderful answer to prayer when the possibility of a partnership came up. Jesus sent his followers off in pairs, so I’ve been convinced for a while about the need for a partner in crime, and was therefore thrilled when the prospect arose of joining with Andrew Sach from St Helen’s to make this vision a reality. Not only are we friends, but he brings lots of gifts and experience which will be a real help.’

Privilege

William Taylor, rector of St Helen’s, is convinced that this is a model which should be… (click here to read more)

James Squire

This article was first published in the September issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, visit us online or subscribe to en for monthly updates.