Posts Tagged "culture"

What does it mean for Jesus to live in my heart?

What does it mean for Jesus to live in my heart?

By on Oct 28, 2013 in Blog |

I must admit, I can’t remember how old I was but as folk law often dictates, I remember where I was; sat on the floor in my youth leaders’ house in Liverpool. Looking back, I’m not exactly sure what they were thinking, showing this film to us – but what I saw that night helped crystallize some ideas which came to define my faith in my teenage years. Prisoner Andy Dufresne abuses his privileged access to the wardens’ quarters to play Mozart over the public address system in Shawshank prison where he is serving life for a murder he didn’t commit. The scene sweeps over a vast exercise yard and the inmates stare longingly upwards at the source of this unexpected female voice as her presence resounds throughout the prison. Upon rejoining his friends after his punishment for this stunt, Andy explains that he does not regret his actions and says, “that’s the beauty of music … they can’t get that from you”. He continues, “there’s something inside that they can’t get to … they can’t touch … it’s yours.” I, like many other Christians, made the instant connection between the way Andy felt about the transcendent beauty of the music he connected with and the idea of the transcendent God who lives inside my heart. It fitted beautifully with the idea of God as an internal, faithful companion, a kind of talisman, a good angel who allows beauty to dwell inside me. Somehow I, like Andy, would be able to resist the limiting patterns, places, authorities and injustices of the world and get ultimate justice for myself, if only I could train myself to hold onto, leverage this inner God who no-one else could get to or take from me. But, returning to the movie (*spoiler alert*), when Andy doesn’t emerge from his cell at the proper time one morning, it becomes clear that it is not this musical experience or any other inner meditation which has led to his freedom. His circumstances have been changed by his nightly ritual of digging through his cell wall and emptying it out onto the exercise yard. For years. Just before he leaves, he puts words to this. “I guess it...

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What’s the Point of Apologetics?

What’s the Point of Apologetics?

By on Feb 3, 2013 in Blog |

“You can’t argue people into the Kingdom, it just doesn’t work that way. People just need to be shown God’s love, to have an encounter with the Holy Spirit’s power. Trying to prove God’s existence is a waste of time.” I think this statement captures the feeling that many of us have about apologetics today. Those of us who don’t take this position are probably familiar with it. Apologetics is associated with heated arguments that lead nowhere, arrogant rationality, and a misguided understanding of what motivates human beings to change. Was anyone ever logically persuaded to become a Christian? On the contrary, ask any number of recent converts how they got saved, and you will hear countless stories of God’s love breaking into a person’s life, softening their heart, and showing himself to them. These things speak for themselves. Perhaps there is a small place for defending the faith intellectually, for a few high-flying Christian academics in Universities, but by and large we have more effective ways of spreading the gospel. I want to suggest that we’ve misunderstood the point of apologetics. I believe if we think about it differently, we will see that apologetics is actually an essential way to show God’s love to our non-Christian friends and neighbours – a love enriched with wisdom and understanding. Also, we will see apologetics as something for everyone, to a greater or lesser degree, to get involved with. First of all, I agree wholeheartedly that you can’t argue anyone into salvation. A lot of harm has been done by attempts to do this, and it usually alienates people even further from the gospel. It’s also obvious that hardly anyone has ever become Christian from losing an argument about God’s existence. Second, I agree with the two usual evangelism alternatives: “Just love people” and “They need an encounter with the Holy Spirit.” Once God has touched someone’s life – either in a way that we call supernatural, or through the power of the love of Jesus operating through his church – only then will they be open to the gospel’s message. Belief will come after experience has made belief possible. However, I think we’re often too quick to assume that we...

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Christ as an Alien Time-Traveller

Christ as an Alien Time-Traveller

By on Sep 4, 2012 in Blog |

Although the TV series ‘Doctor Who’ is classed as science fiction, it has a broad appeal beyond sci-fi fans and ‘trekkies.’ It mixes genres of comedy, drama, humour, thriller, and epic—and you never know what mixture any given episode will have. The Doctor, a humanoid from the planet Gallifrey, takes companions from Earth with him on his time-travelling escapades across the universe. Sometimes they have adventures in the past, encountering Caesar or Van Gogh. Sometimes they go shooting into the future, to watch the last few moments of planet earth, or walk the streets of New-New-New-New-New York. One thing you can be sure of about every episode: it will be fun, exciting, and a little insane. The show also is also quite profound. The Doctor, from time to time, has saved the planet earth from destruction—whether from an alien invasion or an impending apocalypse. Sometimes he does so at great cost to himself. Because he will never ever use violence to accomplish his goals, he would much rather sacrifice his own happiness and glory for the sake of the other. His companions undergo character formation as they travel with him, as their eyes are opened to ever widening horizons. When done travelling with him they are never the same again. When they have returned to their lives on earth after a breathtaking adventure, they have to decide how to handle normality. Will they wistfully pine after the thrills of the past, seeing normal life as dull and boring, or will use the wisdom gained from their adventures to bring excitement into daily life? His first companion, Rose, put words to the experience at a time when she thought she’d lost the Doctor. As her mother and her boyfriend try to comfort her, she vents her exasperation: Rose: What do I do every day, mom? What do I do? Get up – catch the bus – go to work – come back home – eat chips and go to bed? Is that it? Mickey: It’s what the rest of us do. Rose: But I can’t! Mickey: Why, ‘cos you’re better than us? Rose: No, I didn’t mean that! She calms down and, through tears, tries to explain: “It was… it...

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