2. Revolution Bob Marley
3. Revolution Nina Simone
4. Revolution, Revolutions Jean Michel Jarre
5. Talkin' 'bout a Revolution Tracy Chapman
6. Children of the Revolution T Rex
7. Revolutionary Etude Chopin
8. The Rebel Jesus Jackson Browne
9. Changes David Bowie
10. Change Tracy Chapman
The word is from Latin and means to turn around. A revolution can refer to the act of revolving, rotating, turning round on an axis or a centre as with a wheel or top or earth on its axis. When a car engine turns over that is called a revolution, a rev for short. When I was a boy vinyl records were more popular than today. The big ones (LPs) were 33 1/3 rpm and the small ones (singles) 45 rpm. Rpm = “revolutions per minute”. Today's CDs have a variable rpm (200-500 rpm).
We're much more familiar with the word in reference to a fundamental change in power or organisational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time. Revolutions of various sorts have occurred throughout human history. Scholars debate what is and isn't a revolution but among the most famous are the various French, American and Russian (leading to communism). Less obvious - Glorious Revolution, 1688 when one king (James II) was deposed and a new king and queen brought in from overseas (William and Mary of Orange). The word is also used for social or intellectual movements such as the Copernican, agricultural, industrial or scientific revolutions.
One dictionary defines it “a drastic and far-reaching change in ways of thinking and behaving” and as you may have guessed that is the meaning that I focused on. I myself knew “a drastic and far-reaching change” in my ways of thinking and behaving when I was about 12. I was born again. It was like a revolution. Everything turned round. I experienced what the Bible talks about when it talks about being born again, when it says If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. The old has gone the new has come. (2 Cor 5:17).
In other words, if you turn from your sin and put your trust in Christ then you'll be made into a new person. Everything will change. Not that you'll become a different person in the sense of your personality changing but all the old ways will go and in will come all sorts of new ways. There will be a revolution of enormous proportions. I'm sure it is more noticeable if like me you don't come from a Christian home. I was brought up to believe in God and believe the Bible was his Word but my parents didn't know God and didn't know much about what was in the Bible. When the revolution came to me then it was quite obvious there had been a big change. If you grow up in a Christian home the change may be less obvious to outsiders. Nevertheless becoming a Christian is a big change – as big a change as any earthly revolution. For me
1. It was like a Copernican Revolution. The Copernican Revolution is the term used to describe the change that took place when Nicholas Copernicus discovered that it is not that the sun goes round the earth but that the earth and the other planets go round the sun. I had thought that everything revolved around me but I discovered that in fact it all centres on God. Have you had a Copernican Revolution? Is God now at the centre of your life?
2. It was a little like the American Revolution and other revolutions of that sort it was all about who was going to rule over my life. There was a time when that old tyrant was ruling but he was overthrown by that powerful revolutionary Jesus Christ. He now rules in my life.
3. It was also cultural revolution, a big change like the agricultural or industrial revolutions. All sorts of changes have come from that one great change in my life.
4. Finally, it was like the Peaceful Revolution of 1989 in Germany or the Glorious Revolution of 1688 here, sometimes called the bloodless revolution. I say that because there was no actual blood shed in my conversion although just as there was some fighting and some bloodshed in the Glorious Revolution and the overthrow of communism came at a price too so in fact blood was shed in order for me to become a Christian too - the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross. If he'd not died in my place then I could never have found forgiveness and I could never have been born again.
So I am saying that a radical revolution has come in my life. There has been a very great change. Now you may say that is very nice for you but what has it got to do with me? It is not just me who has known this revolution but countless thousands of others around the world have had their lives turned around too. They too have been converted. They have been born again. They have come to trust in Christ and so they are a new creation. The old has gone the new has come.
In Bob Marley's song Revolution he starts by singing the slightly different word Revelation. He says “Revelation reveals the truth – revelation” before saying “It takes a revolution to make a solution”. I'm not sure why he does that but God's Revelation, the Bible, makes clear that this revolution that I'm talking about is something that needs to happen to us all. Without this you can't hope to go to heaven. Jesus himself says (Matthew 18:3) I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. To be a Christian you need to change. There needs to be a revolution, a turn around. There are many calls to repent – to change your mind, to undergo a revolution in your head. So Peter says in Acts 3:19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.
So when I speak about a September Revolution I'm saying to you "Now is the time for change. Now is the time for revolution. Now is the time for repenting."
1. Stop thinking everything revolves around you and start seeing that God needs to be at the centre of what you do.
2. You've spent enough time following the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in you, Satan. Don't you see that tyrant is doomed. The ruler of this world has been thrown down by Christ and he has as much of a future as poor old Louis XVI who they sent to the guillotine in the French Revolution or poor old Tsar Nicholas II whose body they soaked in acid and burned in the Russian Revolution.
3. Big changes are needed in your life – in the way you think, the way you speak, the way you live. The Bible says that by nature you have a heart of stone. You need to have that stony heart torn out and a new fleshy heart put in its place. You need a new heart and a new spirit. The axe needs to be put to the root of the old true and a new tree put in its place.
4. It's not a matter of starting some sort of war or shedding your blood. All the fighting and bloodshed needed has already been done by Christ on the cross. On the cross he fought against sin, death and Satan and was victorious. He paid the price – his own life blood – to set people like us free. All you have to do is look to him and you'll be free. All your sins will be taken away and you'll have the power to begin again, to turn round and start all over again. You will be a new creation in Christ.
Very practically, how does the revolution begin? Recognise how very sinful you are, how you've broken God's law. Confess your sins to him, ask for forgiveness in Christ. Trust only in him. Do this and you'll be saved. But be warned, it will change everything. It's like a revolution – a September Revolution!
Happened to see this Friday. Al Murray is a genius and streets ahead of BBC's alternative Jonathan Ross (although neither programme can be recommended because of the content). To see the genius with this clip you really have to wait until 2:11 where out of nowhere Murray launches into the seven ages of man speech from Shakespeare's As You Like It. It's another example of the low and high brow that I find so amusing.
I wanted to put this clip up as soon as I saw it on TV but it wasn't on youtube at first. Good fun if, like me, you find the mixture of high brow and low brow irresistibly amusing (BTW it's the key to Monty Python).
In his opening address, "Westminster Theological Seminary: Its Purpose and Plan," J. Gresham Machen set forth the school as the successor to Princeton Seminary, which had been recently reorganized to include modernists on its Board:
[T]hough Princeton is dead, the noble tradition of Princeton is alive. Westminster Seminary will endeavor by God's grace to continue that tradition unimpaired; it will endeavor, not on a foundation of equivocation and compromise, but on an honest foundation of devotion to God's Word, to maintain the same principles that the old Princeton maintained. We believe, first, that the Christian religion, as set forth in the Confession of Faith of the Presbyterian Church, is true; we believe, second, that the Christian religion welcomes and is capable of scholarly defense; and we believe, third, that the Christian religion should be proclaimed without fear or favor, and in clear opposition to whatever opposes it, whether from within or without the church, as the only way of salvation for lost mankind. On that platform, brethren, we stand. Pray that we may be enabled by God's grace to stand firm. Pray that the students who go forth from Westminster Seminary may know Christ as their own Savior and may proclaim to others the gospel of his love.
Though an independent school, Westminster Seminary proved crucial to the founding and development of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Most of the church's ministers have graduated from Westminster, and its founding faculty, all of whom were ministerial members in the OPC, were active and prominent churchmen. In the words of Charles Dennison, the two institutions developed "one of the most amazing relationships in Presbyterian history.”
"In the lounge next to my office hang the portraits of a number of the founding faculty of my institution, Westminster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. There is one of John Murray, the dour-looking Scotsman with the glass eye. Legend has it that you could tell which eye was the real one because that was the one which did not smile."
"You have been a warm friend and counselor to us, one and all, giving individual counsel whenever we sought always out of a rich wealth of knowledge and inspiring reverence for the written Word.
You have been a faithful presbyter, spending untold days in the service of our beloved church, both in its assembly services and as a member of many of its committees.
You have been a gracious reprover, a hearty encourager, and an un-bitter dissenter in our deliberations.
To many of us you have been a patient teacher and more, for you have taught us exactness in the study of Holy Scripture, and a deep reverence for its high doctrine.
We honor you in our hearts. We respect you for your scholarship and wisdom. We are grateful to our God for you, Professor Murray. But we are compelled to say more: we love you dearly, and it is with deep sorrow that it appears that we may not see your face or hear your voice in future assemblies. We pray God that He may lay His hand on you for a most useful and happy ministry during your retirement years in your native land. We "thank God on every remembrance of you.""
It was good to be at the London Inreach Project meetings last Saturday. The initial meeting was held at the LCM's Cafe Eterno where the church regularly meets. I was not able to be at that as I was obliged to attend the meeting of the trustees of the Project who gather annually. I am not a trustee but attend with our treasurer Peter Jermyn as chairman of the management committee. I managed to get a cuppa at Cafe Eterno before heading then for the Chinese Church in Shaftesbury Avenue where I chaired our preaching meeting.
As a matter of fact, one of the Davenport tales, the story of Connecticut's "Dark Day," has become so much a part of the state's lore that the event's bicentennial was remembered by special ceremonies in the House of Representatives of the Connecticut General Assembly on February 27, 1980. Although the memorial occurred somewhat prematurely because the legislature would not have been in session on the actual anniversary date, legislators were reported to have listened in hushed fascination as House Speaker Ernest Abate of Stamford recounted the legend of his illustrious fellow-townsman from an earlier time.
They say that during the first two weeks of May in 1780 the skies over much of New England had been so dark that people had difficulty conducting their daily affairs because of reduced visibility, even during the sunniest days. Many of the good Puritan folk saw in the lowering heavens a sign of God's displeasure. While the actual cause of the unnatural lack of light has been lost to history, both widespread and unchecked forest fires spreading their leaden smoke over the land and a complete eclipse of the sun, especially on the ultimate "Dark Day," have been cited by chroniclers as possible sources of the phenomenon.
Be that as it may, as the Connecticut General Assembly began their deliberations on May 19, 1780, the chambers of the State House in Hartford grew so dark that it seemed as if the sun had been turned off. Reports came from those who had been outside that the streets of Hartford, too, had been reduced to inky blackness. In many homes candles flickered in windows, birds were silent and disappeared, and fowl retired to their roosts. To many members of the legislature, devout Puritans as they were, it appeared that the promised Day of Judgment was at hand.
Probably as much out of general consternation as out of inability to conduct business in the dark, the House of Representatives adjourned. In the Council, however, it was a different story. There, advice on how to proceed under such trying circumstances was sought by the members from their most respected colleague, Abraham Davenport. With scarcely any hesitation, the worthy Stamford lawmaker answered: "I am against adjournment. The day of judgment is either approaching, or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for an adjournment; if it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. I wish therefore that candles may be brought." That settled it. The candles soon dispelled the dismal gloom, deliberations continued, and a bill amending an act regulating the shad and alewife fisheries passed the Council that very day.
Needless to say, news of Colonel Davenport's decisive words received wide circulation. Not only did their repetition become a source of pride for his fellow citizens in Connecticut, but they also inspired John Greenleaf Whittier, one of New England's best-loved poets, to celebrate them in verse many years later, thus perpetuating the legend well beyond its time of origin. The final lines of Whittier's "Abraham Davenport" (1866) summed up the sentiment attached by the folk to Davenport's speech that black day: And there he stands in memory to this day, Erect, self-poised, a rugged face, half seen Against the background of unnatural dark, A witness to the ages as they pass, That simple duty hath no place for fear.
Revered throughout Connecticut for his courage and foresight during the famous "Dark Day" episode, Abraham Davenport spent his final years as Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas. In this capacity Davenport once again affirmed the value of devotion to duty, even under dire circumstances.
As the story goes, the venerable Chief Justice was "struck with death" (i.e. suffered a serious heart attack) while hearing a case in Danbury. Since the trial was only well-started at the time of his illness, the judge refused to be relieved from the bench until the case went to the jury. While in obvious and severe pain, he heard a considerable portion of the trial, gave the charge to the jury and even called the jury's attention to an article in the testimony which had escaped the notice of lawyers on both sides of the case. Once he had discharged his judicial obligations, however, Justice Davenport immediately retired to his chambers, lay down on a couch and died. The people of Connecticut would not soon forget the example of Abraham Davenport.
1. Chestnut Mare
2. Turn Turn Turn
3. My back pages
4. The bells of Rhymney
5. Mr Tambourine Man
6. I'll feel a whole lot better
7. All I really want to do
In a most interesting and thought provoking paper Dr Stephen Lloyd of Biblical Creation Ministries looked first at The New Testament and Creation focusing chiefly on agony and death but also on the flood and, very briefly, Adam, and pointing out the difficulties with the "bad stewarding view" that sees the groaning of creation not as death and the other effects of the fall (these being something that was part of the original creation) but the general malaise upon the world caused by sin.
Equally interesting though largely cautionary and negative was Professor Helm's paper, raising questions regarding the intelligent design argument and its prosecution. See here for the fine paper more or less as given. I particularly liked this
Apologetics, the business of offering apologiae for the Christian faith or for some part of it is, presumably, a part of the missionary and evangelistic calling of the Church. That strategy is set by the Great Commission. It is (where the words are understood in a comprehensive sense), 'the preaching of the Gospel'. The New Testament also indicates the manner of such preaching: 'I am among you as the one who serves', (Lk 22.27); 'The servant is not greater than his master', (Jn 13. 16); 'I was with you in weakness and fear and much trembling', 'Not in plausible words of wisdom....' (I Cor 1.3-4 ); ' 'For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake' (2 Cor. 4.5); 'To the Jews became I as a Jew, in order to win Jews' (I Cor. 9.20). The New Testament is full of such expressions. The Church fulfils her mandate when her preachers preach Christ, in the manner in which Christ should be preached. Matter and manner together. That, in a nutshell, is the strategy.There is not, as part of that strategy, something in addition, a revealed apologetic system. I’d say, there is no more a revealed apologetic system than there is a revealed way of heating church buildings. But there is a revealed Gospel and a revealed way of spreading it. This way of spreading it is, naturally enough, often given to us in Scripture in the form of examples.If the preaching of Christ in the manner in which Christ ought to be preached is the Church's strategy, what, then, are the tactics? I’d say Apologiae, defences, is one type of tactic. In the case of tactics, there are no separate ends, but the means, the apologetic tactics, are justified by the ends. This, surely, is clear enough. Paul preaches, delivering his apologia for the Gospel, differently in Lystra and Athens than in Antioch and Thessalonica. So what is Paul doing? What are his tactics? They differ from place to place.
Finally the bow-tied Dr Jason Rampelt of The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion addressed the subject of Authority: Bible and Science. Though very engaging and thoughtful the underlying assumptions which appeared to give more ground to the unbelieving scientist than is warranted left the more conservative members of the audience much more concerned than they were with Professor Helm's negativism. If you examine the Faraday site as against the BCM one you might gather how much more favourable to theistic evolution the former is. It was nevertheless good to hear what Dr Rampelt had to say.
1. Louis Chauvain (1908)
2. Robert Johnson (1938)
3. Brian Jones (1969)
4. Jimi Hendrix (1970)
5. Janis Joplin (1970)
6. Alan Wilson (1970)
7. Jim Morrison (1971)
8. Ronald McKernan (1973)
9. Peter Ham (1975)
10. Kurt Cobain (1994)
I am standing upon the foreshore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength, and I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come down to meet each other. Then someone at my side says, 'There, she is gone.' Gone where? Gone from my sight, that is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side, and just as able to bear her load of living weights to its place of destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her; and just at the moment when someone at my side says, 'There, she is gone,' on that distant shore there are other eyes watching for her coming and other voices ready to take up the glad shout, 'Here she comes'.
Quammen is a journalist so his book is easy to read and probably as accurate as any although hardly anything like neutral in its treatment. Skipping over the voyage of the Beagle, largely he presents a man who comes over as a thorough scientist and a hopeless sceptic, his agnosticism and atheism growing over the years. In the anniversary year of the Origin of Species here this 2006 biography is a good one to get hold of and read.
PS I've just set up a Machen blog if you're interested. It's a mainly a list of links. See here.