Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy: quite a phenomenon

The Millennium Trilogy is going to be filmed in English and the phenomenal success will continue to reach new fans and followers.  I thought that Carey Mulligan was too cute to get the Lisabeth Salander role in an English language production.  I understand that Rooney Mara has been chosen for the part in the remake.  Daniel Craig should do well as Mikael Blomkvist.  Noomi Rapace who played Salander in the original Swedish version will be a very hard act to follow.

There will probably be an increase in dragon tattoos on women's bodies. Tattoos are very fashionable at the moment and the Lisabeth Salander look will probably influence fashion.  It may have already done so.  I know very little about the subject but I'm seeing a lot more on women these days.  Not by choice!

I have inserted some photographs of Stockholm, where LS lived, for lovers of this lovely city.

 Under construction.

I hope that you like these photographs of Stockholm.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Charismatic and Reformed

John MacArthur has equated Charismatic theology (CT) with emotional religion and has even stated that CT, "it's all emotion."  From his perspective Charismatic theology is unsound and unbiblical.  He wrote Charismatic Chaos.  The problem is that his understanding of areas and aspects of CT is unsound and unhelpful.  Some CT is unbiblical and unsound.  There's no denying it, but to state that it's all emotion is quite wrong.  There is some CT that is biblical, sound and even reformed, i.e. it upholds the doctrines and theology of the Reformers (such as Luther and Calvin).  This Charismatic theology is very comfortable with the teaching of  John Owen (the Puritan scholar), CH Spurgeon (the 19th century Reformed Baptist preacher), D Martyn Lloyd-Jones (once Minister of Westminster Chapel in London during the middle and latter part of the 20th century) and John Piper (the Reformer theologian and preacher currently active in the USA).

I would fit into this manifestation of Charismatic theology, as I have come out of a very reformed theological Baptist tradition that was outside of the Baptist Union (which Spurgeon rejected and resigned from) and was influenced by Dr Lloyd-Jones' Westminster Fellowship of Preachers.  This theological tradition held the Puritans in very high regard and esteemed the theology of Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  His sermons and books were recommended reading.  My pastor gave me a copy of Calvin's Institutes of Christian Religion to read, as required reading for a theological student. (The Anglican parish priest and vicar had lent me a copy of Honest to God).

I love the Puritans, their fellow travellers and successors. I really enjoy reading and re-reading the works of Thomas Brooks, John Flavel, John Owen and John Bunyan.  I am grateful to the Banner of Truth Trust,who published Puritan paperbacks, for making these works available and at very reasonable prices.  I benefited from their discounts and offers when I was an undergraduate theological student in the late 1960s and early 1970s. I treasure these books. I am fascinated by the ministry of John "Roaring" Rogers.  It is sad that the Puritan movement produced killjoys, fanatical bigots and some really unpleasant individuals like Matthew Hopkins, self styled Witchfinder General and his close collaborator  John "Bully Boy" Stearne, both from Manningtree, who were responsible for the torture of well over 200 people, mainly women, and the hanging of about 100 folk said to be guilty of witchcraft.  Then there was the iconoclast and vandal William "Smasher" Dowsing, from nearby Stratford St Mary, who destroyed beautiful stained glass windows and what he perceived was idolatry. Dowsing was a bibliophile who acquired a fine library of Puritan literature. (John F. White puts in a good word for him in an essay in Theology Today, 1961.)

It was during the 1960s that I came to see that the spiritual gifts and charismata mentioned in the New Testament, particularly in the Acts of Apostles and 1 Corinthians, were available and being used in the church.
I believe that the Holy Spirit was guiding the Church, the body of Christ and the fellowship of believing Christians into charismatic experience. The Spirit of God was touching lives profoundly and enabling Christians to know God on a more intimate level and to see His love and power at work in the operation of these spiritual gifts.  People were healed.  Demons were cast out. Christians spoke in tongues and prophesied. Miracles happened.  In certain places The Spirit of God manifested Himself in remarkable ways. Wonders were performed by Him to the edification of the saints and to the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Some doubted, especially after some reflection.  It did not fit into their theological framework and religious tradition. There were people who felt it would bring spiritual anarchy.  There was a fear of unknown and uncharted territory.  They allowed that fear and uncertainty to inhibit and limit their spiritual progress.

In some fellowships of a Calvinistic and Reformed tradition, there is an unhealthy lethargy with regard to evangelism and community service.  The church members seem to have very little concern for the lost and the needs of the community. They wish to remain at ease in Zion and guardians of a very dated way of worshipping God.  They take pride in their antique and old fashioned ways of communication, thinking that the Authorized Version still sounds right to the 21st century ear.  Sermons can have a 19th century flavour and Spurgeonic resonance complete with pomposity, verbosity and Victorian world view.

There are theologians and Christian church leaders who consider that the charismatic Christians have produced nothing significant in theology and Christian literature, and that charismatic theology has not really contributed to our understanding of the doctrine of God.  I would argue against this view and would contend strongly that charismatic theology has given the Christian church and faith community a much more dynamic and personal understanding of the Holy Spirit.  He was forgotten and neglected in much Christian living, devotion, evangelism and theology.  He was almost relegated to the third level and lower level of the Godhead.  This may not have been expressed explicitly but it was the reality in some areas of the Christian church; they had little or no experience of His work, ministry, power, gifts, conviction, counsel and guidance in their everyday lives.  It seemed to me that those effective in evangelism, worship, prayer and in seeing mighty works were blessed by an encounter with the Holy Spirit of God.

Some would argue that when the Holy Spirit breaks into a new area or in new territory then there are signs, wonders, mighty acts and evidence from reliable witnesses that the same New Testament Holy Spirit ministry occurs. It is anecdotal evidence but there is a clear testimony to the wonder working ministry of the Holy Spirit of God.  There is further evidence in changed lives and conversions.  Miracles and mighty acts of God have been proclaimed, but some will always doubt in the face of the facts.

The key question is: does God the Holy Spirit still work powerfully and wonderfully in the Church today, among God's people, in mission and in the world in the 21st century?   I believe He does, and Jesus is glorified, praised and worshipped. People are convicted of their sin, converted to Christ and counselled in the way of truth in Christ Jesus.  Praise God.

Thomas Brooks' "Heaven on Earth" is now available by pdf on the link below:

Thursday, 12 August 2010

The gifts and call of God are without repentance

Romans 11:29

29αμεταμελητα γαρ τα χαρισματα και η κλησις του θεου

This text has been used as pretext to justify the restoration and return to ministry of someone who considers that their anointing and gifts should allow them to resume a ministry that was discredited and exposed as hypocritical, deceitful, abusive and really nasty.

Think about the serious implications of this false interpretation.

Does this mean that a gifted preacher who has committed sinful acts against children and vulnerable people should be allowed to return to his former ministry?  Surely our justice system, the sex offenders register, the church authorities and social pressures would not allow it.

The Scriptures testify to occasions when people and churches were removed from positions of authority, respect and influence. Saul was rejected by God for his disobedience and he did not manage to restore his reputation and position before God.  Ananias and Sapphira were punished and taken from the early church for their sins.   In Revelation we read of the churches who were warned and lost their testimony.  Their candlesticks were removed and the witness of churches in Asia Minor faded away.  We know this from the sad events in church history in the Middle East.  Once thriving Christian communities in Alexandria, Antioch, Ephesus and Berea disappeared. 

If a minister has lost the respect of outsiders and is not without reproach, then how can he have the right and the gall to function as an overseer and shepherd of the flock?  Out of love for his flock and concern for the testimony and integrity of the church in his community and the wider witness to the world, that God wishes to reach, surely he should step aside and do no further harm.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Again the England football team have been let down by wrong goal line decisions!

Sack that linesman! He does not deserve his match fee for such a woeful decision.  The ball was not completely over the goal line. Fact. The television technology empirically proves that the linesman was wrong.  There is no doubt about it. None at all.  Surely there must have been some reasonable doubt in his mind, or does he need an eye test?  Should he have gone to Specsavers? The linesman nearly robbed England of a well deserved victory, but Stevie Gerrard saved the day and scored two magnificent goals.  Capello was not celebrating at the time and looked rather indifferent to the skill and flair of his captain when he drove the ball into the net.  There was no Latin warmth or Italian passion in his body language when Gerrard showed his class in scoring both goals.  So cool? There's a chill in the air. Rather icy? Where's the Latin passion?  Gerrard was certainly passionate when he celebrated his successful strikes.  He was calling on the crowd to raise the temperature and to get behind England.  Well done Stevie and thanks.  You were the man of the match. Without you it would have been a big disappointment.

Off to Orford

Today I went from Orford to the Ness, where the MOD once kept us away.  It was a highly restricted area.

Some of the land is below sea level

and it is site of considerable scientific, geographical, historical, industrial and political interest/significance.


Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Joyful journeys in Suffolk and North Essex

Yesterday I had a truly joyful day out in Suffolk and North Essex.  I visited the Constable Country, the Gainsborough countryside near Sudbury, the quaint historic village of Castle Hedingham and went home through the Rodings. The weather was perfect. Dedham was too crowded so we went to Stoke by Nayland, Nayland and on to Castle Hedingham.  I love the road from Sible Hedingham to Wethersfield; such sweet countryside and pleasant pastures can be seen along this quiet B road.

I love to spend time in the churches of Stoke by Nayland and Castle Hedingham.  I experience such peace and contentment there. I have so many happy memories of the times when I have been in these special historic and beautiful buildings. The architecture is magnificent and these sanctuaries have a great deal of historical significance.
Castle Hedingham, Church of St Nicholas
Stoke by Nayland Church
Misericords, Castle Hedingham
Looking to the west windows, Castle Hedingham
North window, Castle Hedingham
South Porch, Stoke by Nayland
Castle Hedingham Lady Chapel with the Good Shepherd mural

Yes, I am fascinated by these misericords at Castle Hedingham.  They are wonderfully carved in English oak and help us to connect with a bygone age. 

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Michael Moore tells the truth about the Afghan tragedy

Michael Moore has eloquently put the case against the Afghan war, which he thinks is insane and a lost cause.
He sincerely cares about the death of American soldiers and the anquish of parents grieving over the fatalities and severe injuries.

It is very sad to hear about the tragic loss of life in Afghanistan.  Let's pray for peace and reason to prevail.

Mr Obama, please reconsider your decision to keep the troops in Afghanistan.
Bring the troops home and stop spending so much money on expensive weapons and vain warfare.


River Stour