Photo credits

The Embalse de Riano in northern Spain. The picture was taken by .... me!

Sunday, December 22

Christmas good will


Had a row with a neighbour earlier today. 

Not good.

Need to find a way to apologise for my share of blame without setting it off again.

Fishing for a theology of infant baptism

So Jesus made us fishers of men.

Of course there are lots of kinds of fish, and lots of techniques for fishing them.

Historically, as a good Evangelical, I have preached a very clear gospel of salvation by faith which is free but is recognised by repentance, confession, baptism, etc.  the good old 'sinners prayer'.  But that is a very bare gospel.  It is fishing with a bare fish hook.

No fish will voluntarily bite onto a bare hook.  Give the hook a juicy wiggly worm and hang it in the water for one kind of fish.  Wrap out in a fly and skim it over the water for another kind, still others need a line with multiple hooks, or dragged behind a boat, or whatever.

So the good old Evangelical gospel presented bare will have few takers.  The gospel must be presented to the public in a way that is at least vaguely attractive.  I oppose the 'prosperity gospel', but it can work in this way.  I prefer a gospel that comes with compassion for the poor, social justice, a new family, a social club, a rock concert, just being there, helping at a time of crisis.... whatever.  Fish will take and swallow this, and in so doing they will find the gospel inside those things.

But the one that is making me think and change my views the most is the good old trawl net.  You drag it across the sea bed and catch indiscriminately.   All the hook methods rely on an act of will by the fish to want and to take the bait.  The net just takes everything.  Once in the boat, the old boots and seaweed can be separated out, but the act of catching is indiscriminate, regardless of the will of the fish.

Now here's the thing: the fishermen that Jesus knew used nets.  So that is probably what he had on mind when he called is fishers of men.  The Evangelical gospel places hurdles in front of people before they are considered to be 'in'.  The net says ' you're in' .... and the boots (or goats, or tares, depending on your metaphor) are separated out later.

So whereas I have previously always insisted on believers baptism after a confession of faith supported by evidence of repentance - the hook model - I am now becoming more sympathetic towards indiscriminate infant baptism - the net model.

I suppose the moral is to never pin your colours to anything too dogmatically as God will soon come along and make you change.


... Take an engineer to Subway and he builds a bridge with sugar columns.  Can't say no to a challenge!


....... Took me weeks to build!

Thursday, December 19


Just when I'm feeling depressed about my setback and doubtful that I will ever be ordained; when my life seems to have collapsed around me, God sends me the following as the verse of the day on Bible Gateway:

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven - Luke 1:76 - 78

Wednesday, December 18


Bit of a setback on the ordination front.

Like I have said many times, it is not a done deal, but this is a frustrating setback.  Seems the Bishop has got the wrong end of the stick from something in my CV, and says no.

But I do believe that I am called by God, and the format of his letter is just a brusque retort rather than a considered and weighed response.

Its private stuff, I'm afraid, so cant give details.  But I would value your prayers as this will now hand over me for the whole Christmas period.

Tuesday, December 17

Don't ever wipe tears without gloves

It starts with me being a sucker for foreign language films with subtitles. 

Then, to get the light hearted out of the way before more serious comment below: Swedish people speaking in Swedish sound just like British comedians imitating Swedish people speaking Swedish!

More seriously, the title comes from a scene in which a nurse wipes a tear from the face of an AIDS victim, and receives that instruction from a colleague. In a different scene, the scripture is read: "God will wipe every tear from their eyes".

What a contrast between the human reaction and God's!

I now believe that God has never rejected the homosexual, it has only been a human interpretation of scriptures: an interpretation that derives from a natural human fear of difference combined with shallow and careless Bible study.

Thursday, December 12

Deacons. Acts 6:2 is wrong.

Or at least the translation of it is.

Having been brought up in the Brethren, I have been led to believe that a deacon is a person in the church who has a primarily practical rather than spiritual role.  This starts in acts 6, where the seven were chosen to supervise the daily distribution of food so that the apostles would be relieved from waiting on tables.

But the Greek does not mention food.  The Hellenic widows were being overlooked in the ministry.  So the apostles appointed SPIRITUAL men to minister to them probably in homes,  while they dedicated themselves to the more public preaching in the temple.

So the serving tables business is not intended to portray a picture of St Peter carrying a tray of vol au vents.  To serve takes meant to be appointed to a delegated role: to sit at a desk in an official capacity, i.e. to have a formal recognised ministry.  The seven were preachers of the word, not dishwashers.   And this then makes sense of the rest of the passage, which focusses on the outstanding spirituality of the seven.

Which becomes significant when you come to women deacons such as Phoebe later in the New Testament - they too were preachers.

So my Brethren doctrines were wrong about the role of deacon: the anglican position is actually closer to the scriptures on this.  And also the Brethren were wrong about women.

Tuesday, December 3

Feint optimism

My contract had been extended to the end of january.  The workload should start picking up in april, so that only leaves two months in between and they mary decide to keep me on rather than let me go and then find I am unavailable when theo want me again.  Having said that, least time it was august before they called me back in, so who knows.  I may have they joy of using the notoriously harsh and unjust procedures in Iain Duncan-Smith's quasi-Victorian and ironically-titled job centres.