Monday, 26 May 2008

John Thornton, the forgotten evangelical

I have just finishing reading Jonathan Aiken's biography on John Newton 'From Disgrace to Amazing Grace.' This is the 3rd Newton biography I have read and my favourite so far. I like John Newton, although he was described as a moderate Calvinist he saw himself as more of a Calvinist than anyone else. He didn't push it but it affected everything he preached. Although an Anglican he could be found with the Independents, and Baptists because he realised that God was at work amongst them.

I have also read several books over the years on the Clapham Sect, esp William Wilberforce. Between you and me I think I enjoy this period of history even more than I do the Puritans. One name that crops up often in these works is John Thornton, a wealthy man who used his resources for the glory of God. Aiken says that he would purchase church vacancies and fill them with evangelical clergymen, some of these churches are still conservative evangelical to this day. Although he was an Anglican he also funded an Independent Bible College. He funded mission work in India, and New South Wales (this is where the Jensen brothers minister and serve Christ, defending the authority of the word of God). Thornton also funded colleges and schools in the States. Thornton was related to William Wilberforce and a friend of John Newton and because of this he was one of the instruments God used to end slavery. Although he may be somewhat forgotten in contemporary Britain the effects of his giving  are still  felt and he is not forgotten in heaven. His earthly resources he used for the glory of God  and now he is enjoying his heavenly treasure.

God Bless

Stephen <><

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Postmodern Christianity?

We had a visiting speaker today from the emergent village John Franke, quite a departure from HTC's usual speakers. A very nice man who describes himself as reformed, evangelical, postmodern and post conservative. He dismissed the idea of truth with a Capital T outside of the Godhead. He affirmed the place of scripture which he believed to be inerrant (as far as a human/divine work can go). he had something of Barthian attitude to the word of God which he saw as being Jesus, preaching and Scripture. He is less sure that the canon is closed.

He also believes that all the different traditions within Christendom have small t truth. I asked him how these small t truth claims could coexist while being contradictory. He argued that it could only be by recognising that we are all finite and that we do not grasp the whole truth as we are affected by both our culture and our tradition.
I realise Christianity is always affected by culture as we do come to scripture from within a framework of our culture. Accepting all the different truth claims within the wider Christian Church does sound very nice and I appreciate we do need to get on with other Christians outside of our conservative evangelical circles. Yet Paul warned the Ephesians elders that savage wolves would come into the flock, how would emergent village deal with the wolves? Paul told Timothy to keep away from those who do not teach sound doctrine, why does Paul see doctrine as important and warn against error if there is no capital T truth.

Rant over. God Bless

Monday, 12 May 2008

Whatever Happened to Heaven and Hell?

The David Crowder band have a line in one of their songs, " Everyone wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die." Is that true? Certainly the last part is, but I don't believe Christians think about heaven all that often.
I was asked recently when the last time I heard a sermon on heaven, I can't actually recall hearing one. Although I have read several Puritan sermons on Heaven, including an excellent one by Edward Griffin (see here). The last time I heard a sermon on hell was in the mid 90's, neither heaven or hell seem to get much of a mention in sermons these days.
I realise we should be like Robert Murry M'Cheyne and only preach hell with tears in our eyes, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't preach it. Jonathan Edwards preached on hell several times, including his most famous sermon 'Sinners in the hands of an angry God.' He always preached on hell as an evangelist, he did the same when he preached or wrote on heaven. Heaven is where God is and so it is the most wonderful place to be, we should speak more about it, and contemplate it also.

May God Bless you!