A Silhillian Call

The following is a submission to our denominational prayer letter and will be published shortly. However, I thought I should publish it more widely. Is there anyone else who is willing to consider this ‘Macedonian’/Silhillian call?

There is much to give thanks to God for as we seek to plant a church here in Solihull: a growing congregation (averaging 22 over the last couple of months), and people responding positively to the ministry of the Word. However, there is one matter that has been on our minds and in our prayers for some time, which we have mentioned before, but about which we have seen little movement. It is the gathering of a core group to work with us.

Whatever method is used in church planting (parachute/pioneer, “strawberry plant”), a vital milestone is the gathering of a core group of people who are on Christ’s mission together in their locality. So for us, in addition to sharing our biblical and confessional values, three things are essential to be involved in the Solihull mission:

  • to have some spiritual maturity,
  • to have a shared sense of vision for the planting of churches in this part of the West Midlands,
  • simply to be available (i.e. living locally, making time for prayer and work).

We continue to be on the lookout for such people who are already in the locality.

However, I want also to plant a thought in the minds of readers of this newsletter. Is there anyone reading who is willing to consider talking to us about moving to Solihull to join us in this mission? In suggesting this I am reminded of Ernest Shackleton’s (perhaps apocryphal) advert in a London Newspaper in preparation for an Antarctic expedition:

Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success.

In Solihull, like Shackleton, we can guarantee no benefits, only the hard slog of church planting with the prospect of “Well done, good and faithful servant” from the Lord Jesus at the end.  Core group people need to be content with that.

Will you please pray that God would give us such people, and also whether or not you are such a person that God is calling to Solihull?

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A Silhillian Call

Church Steps into the Abyss

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland failed last night to uphold a Biblical position on homosexual practice, and has rejected the appeal of dissenters from the Aberdeen Presbytery. The judgment of God is already on the Church. It leaves the evangelicals that remain within her in a difficult position and we can only pray for them that God would give them wisdom.

The sadness that many will feel can be heard in the tone of the statement made by Rev Ronald Morrison, minister of Alness Parish Church, which can be heard here.

Church Steps into the Abyss

Storm Approaching in the Church of Scotland

Louis Kinsey’s blog makes for interesting reading. If you want to follow the progress of the current debate on homosexuality in the C of S ministry, from an evangelical point of view, then he’s your man.

In his latest post, he quotes an article by Steven Reid in The Scotsman who defends the biblical view.  On the whole he does an excellent job given the constraints, arguing theologically that sexuality is rooted in the creation order.

What caught my eye was the quotation of Rev. Prof. William Loader, who argues for homosexual clergy, who said:

In the current discussions about homosexuality, some issues should be clear from the start. One is that the Bible roundly condemns homosexuality and homosexual activity. Of this there is not a shadow of a doubt. Its writers deplored homosexual acts as a deliberate perversion of human nature, a flouting of God s intention in creation.

I take my hat off to him! There is nothing worse than trying to deal with someone tries to argue that the Bible permits homosexual behaviour. At least Prof. Loader doesn’t try such a fool’s errand. Of course, while he accepts that the Bible teaches what it teaches, he does not accept its authority, arguing that the writers were simply ignorant of homosexuality. Steven Reid tackles this too, and I would recommend reading the rest of the article here.

The key session at the Church of Scotland begins on Saturday at 6.30pm. For those not watching “Tonight’s the Night” or “Britain’s Got Talent” the debate can be followed online from here.

Storm Approaching in the Church of Scotland

The FoCC Petition: Why Sign?

A few days ago I put up a post pointing to the Fellowship of Confessing Churches web petition. Rosemary helpfully pointed to a couple of posts from Carl Trueman on the Reformation 21 website where he was critical of the evangelicals in the Church of Scotland and that he is not going to sign their petition.

Since then there have been additional contributions on the Ref21 blog from Phil Ryken, Rick Phillips and Iain D Campbell. Here is a quick summary…

The Aberdeen Appeal

Phil Ryken disagrees with Carl Trueman and believes his contribution is unhelpful. He sees the homosexual issue as a watershed for any church and appeals to Romans 1:26-28 as evidence. The effect of the CoS falling on this issue would have repercussions worldwide. (I guess he is thinking of some kind of domino effect in mainline denominations.)

Concluding Unhelpful Postscript

Trueman responds by affirming the character of the men leading the FoCC but gives more historical background to the role evangelicals have played in the CoS over the last few decades. It is not pretty. Crucial doctrinal battles have been lost or simply not fought which have left them in the position they now find themselves. What Trueman is calling for is full-blown Presbyterianism amongst the evangelicals where they are willing to stand for truth not only in their pulpits but in the presbyteries and committees. (I think this historical analysis is very helpful, but it would be useful to hear from someone who has actually been in the CoS during this period to see how they have viewed it.)

Why I Signed, Too

Rick Phillips explains. He supports the petition and reflects on how easy it is to critcise the timing of particular stands that have been taken in the history of the church. Divisions that occur because of differences over the wisdom of timing have hurt the church in the past.

Out and About in Scotland

Iain D Campbell has also signed the petition and believes it is a useful way of expressing support for men who are in the fight. However, he wants to make sure that the right perspective is kept. The gospel is continuing to go out in Scotland in places where the fight is local and pressing.

The FoCC Petition: Why Sign?

Slow Reconversion

I spent a few moments this morning catching up on blogs I have negelected to read over the last few weeks. I’m still about a month behind.

An article in the Spectator by A. N. Wilson, the novelist and biographer, caught my eye. Wilson had what he described as “a road to Damascus experience” in his conversion to atheism 20 years ago. However, he says, “My doubting temperament, … made me a very unconvincing atheist.” There has been a slow return to Christianity since then. Here are a couple of paragraphs:

When I think about atheist friends, including my father, they seem to me like people who have no ear for music, or who have never been in love. It is not that (as they believe) they have rumbled the tremendous fraud of religion – prophets do that in every generation. Rather, these unbelievers are simply missing out on something that is not difficult to grasp. Perhaps it is too obvious to understand; obvious, as lovers feel it was obvious that they should have come together, or obvious as the final resolution of a fugue.

I haven’t mentioned morality, but one thing that finally put the tin hat on any aspirations to be an unbeliever was writing a book about the Wagner family and Nazi Germany, and realising how utterly incoherent were Hitler’s neo-Darwinian ravings, and how potent was the opposition, much of it from Christians; paid for, not with clear intellectual victory, but in blood. Read Pastor Bonhoeffer’s book Ethics, and ask yourself what sort of mad world is created by those who think that ethics are a purely human construct. Think of Bonhoeffer’s serenity before he was hanged, even though he was in love and had everything to look forward to.

These are great observations. I do not have an ear for music (well, not for classical – as someone brought up on the rock music of the seventies, I have an ear for that), and there have been moments when I have completely poo-pooed classical as nonsense. Now that I am a bit older and wiser I realise how pompous is that form of “nothing-buttery” (as Prof Donald MacKay of Keele would have said). There is something there even though I do not know it or understand it. Atheists are in the same category, I think, hanging on to the “nothing-buttery” of materialism.

Read the whole article here, and thanks to Bish for pointing me to it.

Slow Reconversion

More on FoCC

For those who want more background on the emergence of the Fellowship of Confessing Churches in Scotland website a few days ago, you might want to read this article (though I know nothing about the site that published it).

we could be seeing is the first major wave of a Second Reformation

Think so?

More on FoCC