Billy Graham went to heaven this morning. Not without his faults and failures, the Arminian Graham was a man of God and for the most part, a faithful preacher, as the sound bites all testify. Plenty of material here at NBC.
Bonhoeffer uses a similar phrase 'worldly Christianity'. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.
I woke up Sunday feeling rather gloomy. I don't think for any reason. I just get like that sometimes but rarely on a Sunday. Anyway in those circumstances you just have to press on which I did and felt a bit better by the evening. I preached in the morning from Acts 13 on principles of biblical mission. It was perhaps a little too abstract. A new couple of Ghanaians came. Hope we see them again. We had communion in the evening and then I preached on that interesting episode at the end of Matthew 17 concerning payment of the Temple tax. Lots of people misisng today for various reasons. Half i=od us rather slow to get there in the morning. Winter drags on.
1.Thomas Chatterton Almighty Framer of the Skies! O let our pure devotion rise, Like Incense in thy Sight!
2. Thomas Hardy And ghosts then keep their distance; and I know some liberty.
3. Thomas Gray The curfew tolls the knell of parting day, The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea, The ploughman homeward plods his weary way, And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
4. Sir Thomas Wyatt Farewell love and all thy laws forever; Thy baited hooks shall tangle me no more.
5. Thomas Moore 'Tis the last rose of summer, Left blooming alone; All her lovely companions Are faded and gone
6. Thomas Blackburn The unleavened man did not cry out Or turn his face away; through such men in a turnip field What is it that you say?
7. Thomas Nashe Adieu, farewell, earth’s bliss; This world uncertain is; Fond are life’s lustful joys; Death proves them all but toys
8. T S Eliot Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity, He’s broken every human law, he breaks the law of gravity.
9. Thomas Traherne In all Things, all Things service do to all: And thus a Sand is Endless, though most small. And every Thing is truly Infinite, In its Relation deep and exquisite.
10. Thomas Hood I remember, I remember, The house where I was born, The little window where the sun Came peeping in at morn.
Mondays in February are being spent in ministerial studies. On February 5 I was in Westminster Baptist Church for the first Westminster Fellowship of the year. We had invited Peter Sanlon to speak on the Trinity, which he did in a very well informed and helpful way. One member of the fraternal is particularly concerned about the whole matter of the subordination of the Son which is a doctrine that is easy to mis-state. He wasn't sure even of Sanlon's own stance, though that appeared to be a little unfair. A very stimulating day. Pity there were not more of us.
Then last Monday (February 11) I was at the Seminary for our latest TSG meeting discussing Owen on Apostasy. We had elected to use the Banner paperback abridged and edited by R J K Law. You obviously lose something but it is a lot easier to read. We all agreed that Owen has done a very thorough job and has some interesting things to say on the subject. Nicely led by Brad Franklin.
Then next Monday (February 19) I am speaking at the Evangelical Library on David Brainerd. Do come and join us if you can.
1. John Keats ("Beauty is truth, truth beauty,”– that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know)
2. John Dryden (Happy the man, and happy he alone, He who can call today his own)
3. John Clare (Language has not the power to speak what love indites: The soul lies buried in the ink that writes)
4. John Donne (Therefore, send not to know For whom the bell tolls, tolls, It tolls for thee)
5. John Gray (The garrulous sparrows perch on metal Burns. Sing! Sing! they say, and flutter with their wings)
6. John Masefield (I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky; and all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by)
7. John Betjeman (Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough! It isn't fit for humans now, There isn't grass to graze a cow. Swarm over, Death!)
8. John Milton (They also serve who only stand and wait)
9. John Updike (The sky is low. The wind is grey. The radiator Purrs all day)
10. John Newton (That I am hers, and she is mine, Invites my feeble lays; But Saviour, that we both are thine, Demands my highest praise)
I struggled with a bad cold all last week. (I think may be you cope less well with these things as you get older). Anyway this made preparation difficult but we got there and things mostly went okay, except for a coughing problem in the evening that forced me to ask one of the students to come up and read (thankfully he was the only one to choose from as the others were preaching elsewhere). I think that's only ever happened once before. (I had my son Rhodri to read that time). Anyway I decided to take a text in the morning - Hebrews 2:3. It was good to focus on one verse. It preached quite differently to how I imagined it and included a biblical theology of salvation that people appreciated. Sermon here. We then had lunch together which was great. I enjoyed discussing some offbeat theories of the cross and the moon landings with two Nigerian sisters in the congregation. In the evening I was quite short and we were again low in numbers. A lady across the road managed to miss both morning and evening services but arrived for lunch and to give a hearty Amen to the benediction.
Still amazing these many years later
We were a select few and mostly female last Wednesday (things change from week to week). We looked at Leviticus 20 a rather sordid chapter in some ways about adultery, incest, bestiality, etc. It is easy to get tripped up trying to exegete accurately. I'm still not sure about the penalty of burning for a certain sin but it may well be that this burning followed stoning, which many still have problems with but I don't think there's any easy way round that (even if we see this as a maximum penalty rather than a minimum one). We all prayed after having listed matters for prayer. We finished a little earlier than usual.
I was down near Baker Street on the upper deck of the bus the other day when I saw a blue plaque I had not seen before although it must have been there for some years. I was initially confused by the reference to Lennon and Harrison and not to the others but, of course, that is because Starr adn McCartney are still very much alive. The address is 94 Baker Street, the site of the now dissolved Apple Boutique clothing store, owned in the 60s by Apple Corps Ltd, a company formed by the band. A blue plaque to Lennon was already there and was replaced with a new one naming Harrison, following his death in 2001.
The BBC's Silent Witness is now in its 21st seasson. It has its strengths and weaknesses but is a nice watch on Monday and Tuesday evening or when we can catch it. Last week was a surprisingly pro-life double episode, knocking euthanasia and disregard for the weak and vulnerable. The One Day episodes featured actress Clarissa Mullery, who plays Liz Carr. Liz Carr was born in 1972 and is an actress, stand-up comedian, broadcaster and international disability rights activist. She has used a wheelchair since she was 7 due to a rare condition called arthrogryposis multiplex congenita. This link is current at the time of blogging but it will go out of date.
For more on the writing of the programmes see here. Tim Prager is unsurprisingly the father of a child with a disability and presumably a Roman Catholic. The programmes did have plot flaws (SW seems to be consistently down on the police) but comments such as unbelievable propaganda and gratuitous show it got under the skin of the "atheist lobby" at least.