Blog

Thinking theologically about faith, church & culture

Study Theology? That couldn’t be for me – could it?

By on Jul 4, 2017 in Blog |

Some thoughts from Zoe Barr, KST graduate:   CS Lewis the famous author and theologian is quoted as saying “If you don’t listen to theology, that won’t mean you have no ideas about God, it will mean you have a lot of wrong ones”.  Growing up in a Christian family and being in church my entire life has been a huge blessing to me in my own faith. However, even some years into my faith I have found myself looking for a deeper understanding of God and some tools to tackle some of the more difficult questions that life throws at us. In 2013, I heard about Kings School of Theology (KST), a part time theology course run by the Salt and Light Network which Life Church is a part of. “The courses are aimed at those who want to deepen their Christian faith through study, lead with more depth, think with more clarity, serve with greater purpose, and know more of God. Courses last for three years and combine five teaching weekends per year, local mentoring and personal study facilitated through an online forum. Teaching weekends take place in centres around the Midlands (e.g. Derby, Oxford) and low-cost accommodation can be provided. KST is an affordable option for those who want to grow in their Christian faith through study.” (KST website) When you enrol on KST you are given the option to pick a particular bias to your study and these include Biblical Studies, Transforming Mission or Worship and Spirituality. This means you can tailor your learning to your interests or things you’d like to grow in. I chose the Transforming Mission track and I had the opportunity to learn about how Christians can engage with culture, transform communities, and make disciples. We spent time looking at the challenges of communicating the gospel in our current culture. Following this track helped keep my learning closely linked to a practical application rather than just learning for learning’s sake. Studying theology led me to ask a lot of questions about things I’d often avoided thinking about! Initially this questioning felt uncomfortable, something to be endured, tolerated at best. However, one of the things God has been teaching me is to...

Read More
“Are we there?”

“Are we there?”

By on Sep 9, 2014 in Blog |

Are we nearly there yet? Many journeys this holiday season have been peppered not with the classic, “are we nearly there yet?” but with my 4 year olds favourite, “Are we there?” As we hurtle at speed down the road I like to reply, “Yep, here we are. Everybody out!” In that moment in the seventh minute of a seven hour car journey I’m faced with a choice. I can– like many parents – either dread the next four hundred and thirteen minutes longing to be at our final destination or I can cherish the multiple toilet stops, myriad packets of sweets, innumerable Jacobs cream cracker crumbs scattered throughout the car, dispersion of fruit and banana skins I will later find, countless rounds of iSpy, who am I? and our family favourite ‘ketchup car’ (rules below*). Do we cherish the journey or long only for the destination? Do we wish this life away and long only for the new heaven and new earth? Or conversely do we think only of this life and the race marked out before us without ever glimpsing the prize? Hebrews 12:1-3 calls us to fix our eyes on Jesus and to run with perseverance not growing weary or losing heart. The word perseverance (hypomonē) can be translated as patience, endurance, steadfastness and constancy. Admittedly none of these sound like much fun but they do sound good for me. And there does seem to be a balance – the need to run the race and to know to where we are running. The classic Christian phrase “in the world but not of it” carries the sentiment that we should get out of here as quickly, unscathed, unaffected and as well as we can. It feels like the ‘in the world’ is a melancholy realisation requiring a feat of endurance to make it through, and then one glorious day to leave. In John 17:14-19 we see the opposite. Jesus says that the starting point is ‘we are not of this world’. The truth of being set apart, belonging to a different kingdom is not the ultimate goal, it is the believing disciples now reality. So what does Jesus make of the ‘in the world’ bit? He...

Read More
What is the fire for?

What is the fire for?

By on May 26, 2014 in Blog | 1 comment

Are Charismatics and Cessationists both missing something about the Holy Spirit? I tend to stay clear of public theological controversies in the media, particularly those centred on the other side of the Atlantic, but even I couldn’t avoid reading about the Strange Fire conference hosted by John MacArthur towards the end of last year and its aftermath. MacArthur’s basic thesis is that the rise in charismatic manifestations in certain sections of the church is unbiblical, divisive and at worst, a huge deception. The relative merits of the theological positions have been well rehearsed elsewhere (for example here). As a card-carrying charismatic since the age of seventeen (despite being in a cessation-preaching church at the time), I have had little time for the debate. Ever since reading Jack Deere’s Surprised by the Holy Spirit my experience became married to a robust theology of the gifts of the Spirit in the present age. Sure, as Deere points out, there are charismatic abuses and excesses and some strange stuff at times; I personally find the cultural associations between charismatic worship and individualistic need-fulfilment and prosperity Gospel rather disturbing. However, I am convinced that the cessationist case is more founded in experience, or perhaps lack of it, rather than consistent exegesis of the relevant texts. Mind you, there can be some pretty strange practices in non-charismatic worship as well; people wearing vestments and funny headgear performing elaborate ceremonies at altars has always struck me as looking pretty odd, particularly in the light of the New Testament. It is a legitimate question to ask which is more odd: someone prostrating themselves on the floor under the anointing of the Holy Spirit (with or without accompanying noises), or someone bowing whilst wearing an ornate flame-shaped hat symbolising the anointing of the Holy Spirit? So it is easy to dismiss MacArthur as sincere and well intentioned, with a concern for right doctrine and a care that God’s people are not misled, but nevertheless wrong on the gifts of the Spirit.  It is also easy to dismiss the ballyhoo surrounding Mark Driscoll’s flash-strike on the conference as more to do with North American hubris and publicity for his book, rather than contributing anything meaningful to a theological...

Read More
#Wanted#  Spiritual Parents

#Wanted# Spiritual Parents

By on May 19, 2014 in Blog | 1 comment

Recently my encounters with young people in the church and my experience of being a father has led me ponder the idea of father figures and discipleship. This got me to thinking about my own experience of being a young man in the church and the how I matured under the discipleship of several men I would consider to be spiritual role models. In my church I recently encountered a 30 year old who asked if he could spend some time with me and my family, as he wanted to gain a better understanding of how to do family. He wanted to know about fatherhood: the good, the bad, and the bits we don’t often talk about. When asking him about his upbringing it was clear that this was not a happy part of his life, losing his father whilst he was young. This led me to question the role of men in the church when it comes to nurturing, encouraging and helping other men develop strong spiritual character. If I were to look for examples in the Bible where God seems to have used this type of relationship, and the effect this had on those people, there are numerous examples two of which are: Elijah called Elijah to follow him and started the discipleship process with great benefit to Elisha (1 Kings 19:19), and in the New Testament Paul disciples Timothy with success taking interest to see him grow and mature. Paul was a father figure (1 Corinthians 4:17, 1 Timothy 1:2). I would also like to add that I don’t believe our need for spiritual guidance and character affirmation ends when we reach 20. In a recent conversation with a church leader in his mid forties I realized he was looking for affirmation and identity, much I have often done. He was saying how he really wanted to find someone from the older generation who would invest time with him to work with him and help him strengthen and deepen his relationship with God. You may well be thinking that our identities and security should be rooted in God (incidentally I would agree with that), but I would suggest that having someone to dialogue with is part...

Read More
Rest – where does it fit into a Christian’s life?

Rest – where does it fit into a Christian’s life?

By on May 7, 2014 in Blog |

Finding enough rest is an issue I have battled with since I was a young child. I struggle to find time to rest and even when I am resting I feel lazy and can only think about the list of things that I should/ could be doing! Part of the reason I have decided to write about rest is because of this difficulty. It is something that has been highlighted within my study at KST and is having a huge impact on my life. In September 2012 during our module on Genesis, Dave Perry spent some time teaching on the Sabbath (Genesis 2:2-3): what this meant for people at the time and importantly what it means now. The key point that struck me was this: ‘God is so effortlessly in control of his world, he can take a day off!’ For the last year and a half I have taken 24 hours ‘rest’ each week, generally falling sometime between Saturday and Sunday. When I say ‘rest’ I mean that I’ve put away anything related to my job. I have found this an extremely helpful and refreshing discipline – it allows me the time to ‘switch off’ from the work which can become all encompassing. However, here’s the bad news: I often do not feel ‘rested’ after this break, as I fill it with jobs like cleaning the house or completing assignments! Rest is not only relevant in the specific context of the Sabbath, it actually ‘becomes a powerful theological theme throughout the Bible. Joshua 21:44 says “The Lord gave them rest on every side…”; Mark 4:38- “Jesus himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion…”; Matthew 11:28 “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”. What is rest? The dictionary defines rest as “cease work or movement in order to relax, sleep, or recover strength”. What does it really mean to rest? What does this mean in a Christian context? We don’t want to cease to do the work of God. Does this mean ceasing from ‘secular work’? (if there is such a thing?!) Does it mean taking family time and not attending church ‘meetings’? I’ve been thinking about what...

Read More
10 Reasons to Consider KST

10 Reasons to Consider KST

By on May 6, 2014 in Blog |

  Have you seen our student blog posts and wondered whether KST is for you? Prospective students are welcome to visit us for free to see KST in action (see taster days), but if you’re unable to make it, the following is for you… We asked our current students to review a recent teaching weekend and asked them:   “What was the highlight of your weekend at KST? Here is a selection of their replies: 1. “The sense of community on the course”. 2. “Having time to worship and pray together”. 3. “The teaching and fellowship time with others”. 4. “Finding out that things in my life have been used by God even if I did not know at the time, and that I am part of something bigger than a local church – God’s kingdom”. 5. “The spontaneous sharing of communion during the lectures”. 6. (From a 2nd year student) “Realising how far I had come since this time last year. Meeting up with friends”. 7. “Studying soteriology with Steve Jones – it raised lots of things to chew over. He helped me to reflect on the nature and content of mission in a new way”. 8. “Great teaching, but also loved the way we all passionately engaged in conversation about our last assignment over coffee, then over lunch and even in our free time. It is a privilege to be part of KST”. 9. “Really good to have time and space to catch up with people. I didn’t know much about the book of Revelation, but Steve Thomas took the fear of the unknown out of it”. 10. “The topics all came together more than I expected them to and left me with a fresh sense of how awesome God is (in the real sense!) and challenged me to re-prioritise my own worship of Him and rethink my approach to the great commission”. KST offers a fantastic learning environment, which is about more than just accumulating knowledge. Our courses are truly transformational – helping you grow in Christ as you apply your heart and mind to study. If you are interested in studying with us please contact...

Read More