It seems so long since I responded to Adrian Warnock. But my last post on Mark Driscoll prompted me to respond on a post by Adrian which I found sad (again), it is on some teaching by his pastor Tope Koleoso: Receiving the Holy Spirit. Lots of the normal techniques of selected Bible verses dotted all over the New testament rather than proper exegesis of any. Even though there is a reference to 1 Corinthians 12 the impact is totally ignored in that Paul makes it clear that we are all different and should not all expect the same gifts.
Sadly the the post repeats the same views and methods we have heard from Adrian many times:
You will be able to talk in tongues and this is how we know you have received the Holy Spirit. Poor Paul so much of his teaching still ignored today.
This is all about you. An incredibly individualistic re-interpretation of the gospel (there is essentially no recognisable gospel here).
No mention of the purpose of the Holy Spirit in terms of other people (the fruits of the Spirit from Galatians for example or the teaching of Jesus which gets barely a mention).
Hiding from the impact of the Bible. The Well in John 4 is mentioned but of course the way that passage demolishes New Frontiers understanding of Male Headship is not mentioned.
We have programmed what it is to become and be a Christian. It is now 4 simple steps that will happen exactly like this: (Repent of your sins; Be Baptised in water; Be Filled with the Holy Spirit; Be Added to the Church). As always limit God to our pre-determined pattern (ignoring for example the many people who receive the Holy Spirit before Baptism in Water and for whom Water Baptism is a response to what the Holy Spirit has already done). Or those who serve the Church for many years before receiving the Holy Spirit (depending on your understanding of the events in Aldersgate Street this might well include John Wesley).
The utter sinfulness of doubt. You cannot receive the Holy Spirit until you drive away your doubts.
I feel like a good, biblical lament at this waste. Waste of the wonderful gift that is Scripture. Waste of the enthusiasm and dedication of these devoted Christians. Waste of the 50% of humanity that they believe have nothing to say and who cannot help correct this bad theology & exegesis.
As an alternative I would suggest reading the 4 passages from the Lectionary today. They don't need a lot of explanation, simply a challenge to respond:
Oh how I wish this wasn't needed. However, there is a fairly new blog called "Are Women Human". The posts have generally been excellent and do a good job of pointing out the impact of "complementarian" thinking.
On Tuesday I had a moment of silent nervous panic. I was leading the service of Holy Communion at the Methodist Council and took a proper look at the "congregation".
Among those gathered were people who have served the Church in senior positions (lay and ordained) for years and years. There are young people whose commitment puts me to shame. There are people who were involved in the selection process for ministers when I went through it. There were people who trained me. And lots more.
It is the sort of thing that put me off responding to God's call for years. The sort of thing that not so many years ago would have had me going bright red and lapsing into even more incoherence than usual.
But this time a quick gulp to myself and on we went.
I had similar feelings when moving to my current appointment and discovered how large the congregation in Syston would be compared to the churches I have served before.
I had similar experiences (but coped so much less well with them) when I first started training as a local preacher with services that only demonstrated how loving, gentle and kind Methodist people can be.
Also when I first led a house group, when I was first a Church Steward and the list goes on and on.
It is at times like these that I look back and am reminded of the long journey of change that I have been on and of the people who have been important to me on that journey.
At the moment these sorts of experiences are being explored right across the Leicester North Circuit, we are approaching the end of the first week of the course Just Walk Across the Room and I am delighted by the feedback from the small groups (2 groups still to meet for the first time, one tonight and one tomorrow morning). The numbers are up even from the sign-up sheets (and those numbers exceeded our expectations). Not only that but people have been very positive about the experience and very encouraged by the stories that are being shared.
Being nervous about speaking & leading is quite normal, but what a wonderful thing it is when we are able to share and learn from others ,as well as have our own responses (faltering though they seem) affirmed by others. Already I have been hearing some fantastic testimonies where people have shared the difference someone made in their life. It is very special when we see these from the other side and watch someone hear of the difference they made in a friends life.
Today the Leicester North Methodist Circuit started the Just Walk Across the Room course. By that I mean the whole circuit. Every Church in the Circuit is preaching this course for four Sundays and we have 7 "small" (well actually many of them are not very small any more) groups meeting across the Circuit on different days and at different times..
I have never seen a whole Methodist Circuit run with something like this on this scale before. We have people from every Church signed up for the small groups and I have just placed a 4th bulk order for the books. Some of the groups have grown so large that we have been encouraging people to switch to another as they are too big for anyone's home.
The process of choosing this course had started before I joined the Circuit and I was delighted to join the circuit staff and discover this.
Last week we had a training evening for 14 people who are leading the small groups and it was a lovely atmosphere with people getting excited about the material. Meanwhile I was getting even more excited at working with these lovely, enthusiastic, committed and talented people that God has called.
One of the amazing things about this process is how supportive the Circuit has been at every stage. The Circuit Leadership started that going with a commitment to get support not just to run the course but also to commit finances to it. The Circuit Meeting provided their full support. The Local preachers and worship leaders were also enthusiastic. The right people volunteered to be on the small organising group. We have had prayer support from many people. We found places all over the circuit to run the small groups and both leaders and hosts of those groups. Now we have more people signed up for the small groups than we dared to expect and I keep running out of books.
Yesterday I had one of my wisdom teeth removed at the Leicester Royal Infirmary.
As I am now very old and also as my operation was cancelled in December (a shortage of surgical sets) I was first on the list this time.
The staff were all very friendly and efficient. This was my first ever general anaesthetic and although it must cost the NHS a lot more to remove my wisdom this way, it was much ore comfortable for me. I am very glad I made that choice.
Thanks to codeine tablets I got a good nights sleep (two stretches of 4 hours, one from each tablet). However, as I was told to expect my mouth is very swollen this morning.
Sadly we have builders in today so not too much peace around. Although much kudos to the Leicester North Circuit for being efficient and thoughtful in getting jobs done. Among other things the last inspection noted that the dividing wall to next door was not complete in the loft and one of the chimneys needed re-pointing. So we have already had some jobs done and yesterday they put up scaffolding for the roof work. I have to say rather them than me, it is a very cold day and we have the most inaccessible roof hatch in the world.
There are helpful reminders and clarifications in the letter from Alison Tomlin (President of the Methodist Church in Great Britain) such as the resolution passed in 1983 (that is still valid today):
“The Conference records its distress in recent times of antisemitic actions against the homes and places of worship of Jewish people in Britain and elsewhere, notably Western Europe and the Soviet Union. It confesses that Christian history and belief have been gravely disfigured by sinful prejudice against Jews and urged Methodists and local Methodist churches to resist and condemn expressions of antisemitism, and encourage relations of love, respect and dialogue with Judaism and Jewish people.”
It is good to see that despite some of the rhetoric that floats around the internet that behind the scenes progress has been made.
One of our sons was explaining the Methodist Church to a friend. They got to the point where the friend asked "So don't Methodists have a Pope then?" to which the (slightly inaccurate, but enjoyable) response was "no we have a Council, it is a bit like the Jedi Council".
Love that, especially as I am off to the Jedi oop's I mean Methodist Council in a couple of weeks.
The daily blog post has seen a huge jump in page views (daily average for January is double that for December).
The weight loss is going great so far. I have lost 1.9kg which puts me ahead of target by 0.9kg. It happened in large part because I cycled not just everyday but much further than expected at 126.5 miles in the week.
The third resolution, which I have not written about during the week (except for a few tweets), has also gone well. I have kept to the daily reading schedule set for me by YouVersion. In fact it too has been easy this week. I find using YouVersion to read the Bible on my htc Desire mobile phone works really well. I always have my phone with me (and there are few places with no signal round here) so it is very convenient. I also find the text very readable on the phone, not at all tiring. For some good reflections on these readings see Will Grady's blog posts: Summary, and thesetwo.
We will see how these continue over the next few weeks as obviously the first week of the year is not very typical. Mind you the next few are not either. Next week is more normal, for example 3 evening meetings). The following week I have my rescheduled wisdom tooth operation so will be off work for a few days. The week after that includes Methodist Council for two days and the week after that the District Retreat. Meanwhile this Sunday is my first covenant service of the year (but I only have two this year, which is half the previous minimum I have had since I became a minister). Later in the month we start a Circuit wide "Just Walk Across the Room" campaign which will keep me busy
Anyway off now to a coffee morning, some visits and delivery of Just Walk Across the Room materials around the Circuit.