This has been flagged up and I think it is great... just got to think of the best way of getting it into a sermon.
AND THOUGHTS ABOUT APLHA....
Also with some of us having had a conversation about how to lead a session for Alpha about Why Jesus died? my mind is turning to these things, prompted by Giles Fraser's Thought for the Day this morning (23rd Sept), which you can download from the radio 4 website. I thought it was really helpful. He was, of course, challenging conventional (Psub) readings of the work of Christ.
Download Giles Fraser's talk here
The Church where I serve has just launched Alpha, we are using some but not all of the Alpha material and Nicky Gumbel's explanations, neither is it my job to explain why Jesus died, I will deliver the Does God Heal Today session. However, I think that it is important that we are aware of how people, intelligent people, thinking people, hear the message of Why Jesus died and how we can help with careful explanations and illustrations. I have discovered one man's blog as he journeys through the Alpha experience. Whilst I am yet to read everything he has written, I think it is important to keep reading his thoughts so that as Christians, we become more conscious about the ways in which we are describing the gospel.
...AND THAT TALK I DID ON THE TRINITY
When I was teaching the Trinity, I was able for a moment to become objective about what I was saying and strangely enough, it was all prompted by a light-hearted, tongue in cheek skit in which characters in a Wild-West saloon share ideas that this Trinity character who is rumoured to be part chicken - it's ridiculous isn't it, but if the ridiculous can have us just for a few seconds climb inside the head of someone from a different culture and ideology who remains confused about this idea of the Holy Spirit manifesting himself as a dove at Jesus' baptism and somehow derive from this that the Trinity is part chicken, it has got to be a good thing. Our faith is robust enough to be questioned, to be wrangled over. It was with part-embarrassment that I shared this clip and I remember being glad that they had not pushed the joke too far in presenting one of the three feet as a chicken leg at the end. I realise on reflection that this was my sensitivity. We need strong and confident apologetics, we need humility and the ability to explore the truth with those seeking, not implying we have it all sorted out, we need a faith that is beyond head level and more a demonstrated way of life. This ministry thing is all a lot messier than I thought it was going to be. Your faith is challenged again and again and again as you unpick what you believe and why you believe it in order to make it reasonable and attractive to others.
Much of it becomes in the end a philosophical question about our starting point.
I realise why I find Barth so helpful, it is much to do with the fact that God and revelation and the scriptures are the starting point, I begin there. The wisdom of the world really does seem only foolishness compared to this. I also see why God, to so many, will seem so very foolish but then God always told us that this was how it was going to be in the first place.
Oh well, for the while this minister keeps muddling through... a whole host of things... how to make the Harvest service a bit more cutting edge? What it will really be like for my two girls growing up as daughters of a vicar and how I can help them remain engaged with the world around them and full of faith? How I can convey the joy of following Jesus in the days of a society that is unaware of its Christian heritage and for the most part, understands Jesus as a cute baby in a manger on a Christmas card? In some ways there is nothing to unlearn - this can be a good thing but on the other hand there is the challenge of finding fresh and plausible analogies, illustrations and explanations for this truth that can change your life.
... and now to write a sermon for Sunday on the Virgin birth - expect more blogging!
...and surreal though it seems, tomorrow I will see the Archbishop of Canterbury...maybe he can help... then again ... with all that apophatic theology of his....?