Thursday, 5 January 2017

Keeping The Name Evangelical

I've heard a few presentations recently where the speaker has suggested the term Evangelical is redundant as a word because it has lost all meaning. I understand that, in many ways I agree with it as its used to speak of charismatics who are in no sense evangelical in their theology but are united by a common experience with continuatists/charismatics who are. Similarly it can be used in the media to refer to church going people who like modern music. Most worrying for me is people like Steve Chalke who have abandoned an evangelical understanding of the Atonement, Scripture and Christian Ethics but want to keep the name Evangelical because they see themselves as "good news people".
So why do I want to keep the term?
Part of the reason is something similar to what a Church of England vicar said when I asked him how he could remain in the CofE, his reply was, well its our church, the creeds are ours not the liberals.
So similarly I want to keep the term because it truly applies to me rather than to the people it is misapplied too.
More importantly, its a biblical word, the word Gospel is an English word but the Greek word euangelion and its various forms point to the word evangelical, it sums up for me the message of Jesus which is the good message that evangelicals love.
It has historical precedence, it was a term used in derision of the first Protestants, the Lutherans. It speaks of their good message of faith without works through the saving work of Jesus in contradistinction to the Roman Catholic understanding that salvation is through Christ, a works righteousness and the words/ceremonies/church of Roman and the extra grace of the Saints.
Of course in the UK the word has been used in a variety of ways, in the C18th it was used of Anglicans whose theology was like the Whitefield's and the Wesleys. Only later applying to those with the belief in the New Birth and who held to a high view of Scripture. The term has been used slightly different in the UK than in the US but there is no some crossover.
However if I/we are going to keep the term as it has stretched beyond meaning we probably need to add words to it, I use conservative evangelical.
God Bless
Stephen <><

Sunday, 1 January 2017

The Challies Challenge

Last year a number of my friends took Tim Challies challenge to read either 50 or 100 books in a year. I knew I couldn't do 100 so I aimed at 50 which I changed to 52 but reached 55. I learn't some important stuff about myself, I often quote C S Lewis about reading books from previous centuries but found that I read mainly living Americans, predominately Gospel Coalition or T4G types (I realise that is really only one type). Very little British stuff and very little things from previous centuries. I decided that as soon as I hit my target I would go back to reading bigger books and so in the middle of November I started reading Andrew Fuller's works, its the bigger book I own. This year I am aiming a lot lower, a few books from previous centuries and a couple of commentaries. 

My top 5 books this year:

1) John Flavel Works volume 1- loved this as each sermon is focused on Christ, its saturated. Currently on volume 2.
2) Dangerous Calling - Paul Tripp- I had to keep putting this book down to pray- that's got to me a good thing,surely. He beat me up a lot and I loved it.
3) Thomas Schreiner's The King in His Beauty- a truly biblical theology that concentrated on one theme throughout. I like his writing but wanted him to go deeper, I shall definitely try his commentaries. 
4) Fool's talk by Os Guiness- a young girl invented a word that summed this up- thinkative, some great quotes in there but he just stretched my mind. Never read him before but I shall be reading him again.
5) Centre Church, Tim Keller started the year with this and loved it, Keller always approaches something with a different slant, challenged my thinking and my theology, helped my preaching and increased my desire to do ministry in either a council estate or a large city. 

Stephen Barton <><