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.

Bloggy Special 30


Kung Fu Panda


Took the little boys to see Dreamworks Kung Fu Panda on Monday. Good clean fun. Very post-modern and interesting on that level but mainly good fun for little boys. (Could have done with a few more jokes I guess).

Uriah Ben Shemaiah

(Now Uriah son of Shemaiah from Kiriath Jearim was another man who prophesied in the name of the LORD; he prophesied the same things against this city and this land as Jeremiah did. When King Jehoiakim and all his officers and officials heard his words, the king sought to put him to death. But Uriah heard of it and fled in fear to Egypt. King Jehoiakim, however, sent Elnathan son of Acbor to Egypt, along with some other men. They brought Uriah out of Egypt and took him to King Jehoiakim, who had him struck down with a sword and his body thrown into the burial place of the common people.)

In my reading this morning in Jeremiah I came across a reference to Uriah son of Shamaiah [26:20-23]. The NIV puts it in brackets as it is an editorial addition, probably by Jeremiah. I'd not really given any thought to Uriah before. Matthew Henry criticises his flight into Egypt. The 'in fear' perhaps suggests it but elsewhere in Scripture we are encouraged to flee persecution. Certainly no-one can deny his bold speaking out in the first place, despite the likely consequences. Disregarding this, the servants of wicked King Jehoiakim showed him no mercy in life or in death. Most of us have never heard of Uriah, even though God saw fit to have his story recorded in this way. There must be countless thousands who are just as faithful today and just as unknown. It is an encouragement to know that God will not forget them.

New Photo Series 05

Frog in the garden

Battersea Park etc

video

The holidays are here. The youngest boys had no school last week and the older ones finished Wednesday. We're enjoying the hot weather. The older boys are away on CCIW camps this week. I took them across to Hayes to get the minibus Saturday morning. Later Eleri took the remaining two boys to Battersea Park to see the children's zoo. Sunday was funny with just the two boys and Sibyl here. Her sister and her children also joined us for a while. Even with 14 away on camps and beach missions we had decent congregations on Sunday. There were even 10 or 11 in the Sunday School. It was especially nice to see a Brazilian family back with us who we haven't seen in ages. There are always surprises in Childs Hill.

Note to Charles Darwin


I've been reading about Darwin. You can find this interesting document here. It is a note from his wife Emma.
The state of mind that I wish to preserve with respect to you, is to feel that while you are acting conscientiously & sincerely wishing & trying to learn the truth, you cannot be wrong, but there are some reasons that force themselves upon me & prevent my being always able to give myself this comfort. I dare say you have often thought of them before, but I will write down what has been in my head, knowing that my own dearest will indulge me. Your mind & time are full of the most interesting subjects & thoughts of the most absorbing kind, viz following up yr own discoveries — but which make it very difficult for you to avoid casting out as interruptions other sorts of thoughts which have no relation to what you are pursuing or to make it possible for to be able to give your whole attention to both sides of the question.

There is another reason which would have a great effect on a woman, but I don't know whether it wd so much on a man — I mean E (Erasmus Alvey Darwin, Charles's elder brother. Emma refers to Erasmus 'going before' Charles in doubting religion. See Correspondence vol. 1, pp. 171-2) whose understanding you have such a very high opinion of & whom you have so much affection for, having gone before you — is it not likely to have made it easier to you & to have taken off some of that dread & fear which the feeling of doubting first gives & which I do not think an unreasonable or superstitious feeling. It seems to me also that the line of your pursuits may have led you to view chiefly the difficulties on one side, & that you have not had time to consider & study the chain of difficulties on the other, but I believe you do not consider your opinion as formed. May not the habit in scientific pursuits of believing nothing till it is proved, influence your mind too much in other things which cannot be proved in the same way, & which if true are likely to be above our comprehension. I should say also that there is a danger in giving up revelation

which does not exist on the other side, that is the fear of ingratitude in casting off what has been done for your benefit as well as for that of all the world & which ought to make you still more careful, perhaps even fearful lest you should not have taken all the pains you could to judge truly. I do not know whether this is arguing as if one side were true & the other false, which I meant to avoid, but I think not. I do not quite agree with you in what you once said — that luckily there were no doubts as to how one ought to act. I think prayer is an instance to the contrary, in one case it is a positive duty & perhaps not in the other. But I dare say you meant in actions which concern others & then I agree with you almost if not quite. I do not wish for any answer to all this — it is a satisfaction to me to write it & when I talk to you about it I cannot say exactly what I wish to say, & I know you will have patience, with your own dear wife. Don't think that it is not my affair & that it does not much

signify to me. Every thing that concerns you concerns me & I should be most unhappy if I thought we did not belong to each other forever
I am rather afraid my own dear Nigger will think I have forgotten my promise not to bother him, but I am sure he loves me & I cannot tell him how happy he makes me & how dearly I love him & thank him for all his affection which makes the happiness of my life more & more every day.

[In ink, in Charles Darwin's hand:]
—When I am dead, know that many times, I have kissed & cryed over this. C. D.


In the manuscript of the Autobiography (CUL-DAR26.1-121), Darwin added a pencil note about Emma's letter:
Mem: her beautiful letter to me, safely preserved, shortly after our marriage.
Charles and Emma were married on 29 January 1839.

Hymn of the week 28

We usually sing a children's hymn on Sunday mornings. Yesterday it was this hymn by Ann Gilbert (1782-1866). Born Ann Taylor, her elder sister Jane was the better known. (For another article on hymn writing sisters, see here). Their mother Ann also wrote. More here and here.

Jesus, who lived above the sky,
Came down to be a man and die;
And in the Bible we may see
How very good He used to be.

He went about, He was so kind,
To cure poor people who were blind,
And many who were sick and lame,
He pitied them, and did the same.

And, more than that, He told them too
The things that God would have them do;
And was so gentle and so mild,
He would have listened to a child.

But such a cruel death He died!
He was hung up and crucified!
And those kind hands that did such good,
They nailed them to a cross of wood!

And so He died ! — and this is why
He came to be a man and die:
The Bible says He came from Heaven,
That we might have our sins forgiven.

He knew how wicked man had been,
He knew that God must punish sin;
So out of pity Jesus said
He'd bear the punishment instead.

Hymn of the week 27


We haven't had one of these for a while but this is good, especially the fourth verse. Samuel Medley (1738-1799) was a Baptist minister. After a false start as an apprentice, he joined the Roy­al Navy, becoming a midshipman in 1755. He was wound­ed in bat­tle off Port La­gos in 1759 and dur­ing his re­cup­er­at­ion read a ser­mon byIsaac Watts that led to his con­ver­sion. He then left the navy and studied for the min­is­try under Dr Gifford in Lon­don. In 1767, he be­came pas­tor at the Baptist church in Wat­ford. In 1772, he be­gan his min­is­try at Byron Street, Liv­er­pool. Several of his hymns are still sung today.

Awake, my soul, to joyful lays,
And sing thy great Redeemer’s praise;
He justly claims a song from me -
His lovingkindness, O how free!

He saw me ruined in the fall,
Yet loved me notwithstanding all;
He saved me from my lost estate -
His lovingkindness, O how great!

Though numerous hosts of mighty foes,
Though earth and hell my way oppose,
He safely leads my soul along -
His lovingkindness, O how strong!

When trouble, like a gloomy cloud,
Has gathered thick and thundered loud,
He near my soul has always stood -
His lovingkindness, O how good!

Often I feel my sinful heart
Prone from my Jesus to depart;
But though I have him oft forgot,
His lovingkindness changes not.

Soon I shall pass the gloomy vale,
Soon all my mortal powers must fail;
O! may my last expiring breath
His lovingkindness sing in death.

Then let me mount and soar away
To the bright world of endless day;
And sing with raptures and surprise,
His lovingkindness in the skies.

Bio 12 Mary Rowlandson


In my reading I recently came across a reference to a book I was unaware of. Published in 1682 in America, it is called The Sovereignty and Goodness of God ... Being a Narrative of the Captivity and Restauration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson.

Relatively little is known about Rowlandson (1637-1711). Wikipedia says she was a colonial American woman born Mary White in England and who lived in the frontier village of Lancaster, Massachusetts. She was the daughter of one of the town's founding fathers and she married Joseph Rowlandson in 1656. Her husband was ordained a Puritan minister in 1660. At sunrise, on February 10, 1676, during King Philip's War, the bloodiest war in American colonial history, Lancaster came under attack by a band of Naragansett Indians. She was the mother of three: Joseph, Mary and Sarah, and was among the hostages taken that day. For 11 weeks and five days she was forced to accompany her captors as they fled through the wilderness to elude the colonial militia, under what she describes as horrible conditions. In simple, artless prose she recounts the stages of the odyssey in 20 distinct "Removes" or journeys. She witnessed the murder of her friends, the death of one of her children, and suffered starvation and depression, until she was finally reunited with her husband. On May 2, 1676, she was ransomed for £20 raised by the women of Boston in a public subscription, and paid by John Hoar of Concord at Redemption Rock in Princeton.
During her captivity, Mary's youngest child, Sarah, died, while the remaining two were separated from her; nevertheless, Rowlandson continued to seek guidance from the Bible - the text of her narrative is replete with verses and references describing conditions similar to her own. She saw her trial as a test of faith and considered the "Indians" to be "instruments of Satan". Her final escape, she tells us, taught her "the more to acknowledge His hand and to see that our help is always in Him."
Until recently, it has been assumed that she died before her narrative was published. However, more recent historical research indicates that Mary Rowlandson re-married after the death of her husband and lived as Mary Talcott till January 1711, thus reaching an age of approximately 73 years.
The book, however, not only became one of the era's best-sellers, going through four editions in one year, but also earned her an important place in the history of American literature. Her book is a frequently-cited example of a captivity narrative, an important American literary genre used by James Fennimore Cooper, Ann Bleecker, John Williams and James Seaver. Because of Rowlandson's intimate relationship with her Indian captors, her book also is interesting for its treatment of cultural contact. Finally, in its use of autobiography, typology, and in its homage to the Jeremiad, Rowlandson's book helps the reader understand the Puritan mind.

A tough-minded, independent woman, she never lost her faith in God while dwelling in a "lively semblance of hell." A modern writer has said "Her voice is singular — one of the first strong voices of a woman writing about her experience in North America — and her memoir became a model for later writers, who often wrote about periods of crisis that were also times of spiritual transformation." Below is the extract that struck me. There is more here.


By their noise and hooping they signified how many they had destroyed (which was at that time 23) those that were with us at home, were gathered together as soon as they heard the hooping, and every time that the other went over their number, these at home gave a shout, that the very earth rang again. And thus they continued till those that had been upon the expedition were come up to the Saggamor's wigwam; and then, oh the hideous, insulting and triumphing that there was over some English mens scalps, that they had taken (as their manner is) and brought with them. I cannot but take notice of the wonderful mercy of God to me in those afflictions, in sending me a Bible: One of the Indians that came from Medfield fight, and had brought some plunder, came to me, and asked me if I would have a Bible, he had got one in his basket, I was glad of it, and asked him if he thought the Indians would let me read? He answered 'yes' so I took the Bible, and in that melancholy time it came into my mind to read first the 28th Chapter of Deuteronomy, which I did, and when I had read it, my dark heart wrought on this manner, that there was no mercy for me, that the blessings were gone, and the curses came in their room, and that I had lost my opportunity. But the Lord helped me still to go on reading, till I came to Chapter 30, the seven first verses; where I found there was mercy promised again, if we would return to him, by repentance; and though we were scattered from one end of the earth to the other, yet the Lord would gather us together, and turn all those curses upon our enemies. I do not desire to live to forget this Scripture, and what comfort it was to me.

Another week


It's been a slightly odd week in that Eleri and the two youngest have been away in Llangrannog for the Urdd camp so I've been 'looking after' the three oldest - basically feeding them and keeping them out of mischief. It's been Arts Week in their school so things have been unusual for them too. they seem to have enjoyed it.
On Monday I had an Evangelical Library committee. We seem to be making progress slowly but surely. We have a major task on hand at present putting everything on one floor for the moment.
On Tuesday I met up with my good friend Paul Pease, pastor at Hook Evangelical Church, down on the southbank by the eye (he can't come north of the river any more :-)). We used to meet weekly when he was in West Kilburn but that was many years ago. He is now in quite a different set up to me and we are still very different in some ways but with core beliefs meshed and many shared experiences we can talk and talk and talk. And we did. We also played 'who is this?' on each other's i-pods. Good fun. In the evening I had the church officers meeting here which is another sort of fellowship and also very good.
Wednesday night it was the midweek meeting, looking at Deuteronomy 8.
Nothing very special then the rest of the week. Tried to read, downloaded and burned some CDs, worked on certain projects and preps for Sunday, etc.

ABBA


Eleri, Rhodri and Sibyl went to see the movie 'Mamma mia' last night. Rhodri talks about it here. He ventures his Abba favourite. Here's mine. The opening 20 seconds of the song and video are just great. And (as my father might put it) "'ark at that piano". This is about as good as pop music gets.

PS (and I might regret this) What's your favourite?

Fraudulent link

We aim to inspire (however inadvertently). Do check this link out here. Thanks Andrew.

New Photo Series 03

Millennium Bridge, Newport City

Do you get these?

I'm sure I'm not the only one who gets these things. I try to spend only a second on them but this one caught my eye. It was in Comic sans font so I thought it might be genuine(!)
Dear Abbey Customer
Due to multiple attempt error while trying to login in to your online Abbey Account. We believed that someone other than you is trying to access your Account For security reasons, we have temporarily Flagged your Online Access and your access to online banking will be restricted if you fail to Verify and re-confirm your membership details.
...
The irony is that my spammer gets things I want but couldn't spot this! Ah the joys of e-mail.

Bloggy Special 29


Outsiders

I enjoyed watching a documentary about the late oscar winning film director Anthony Minghella this week. We have been aware of Minghella in our house since Truly, Madly, Deeply and it was an interesting and informative if slightly hagiographic account (St Anthony of Minghella it seemed he was). During the course of the programme (and this was a very small part of it) a case was made for him being an outsider based on his being of Italian parentage growing up in the Isle of Wight. It struck me because this same week I saw an interview with Meera Syal in the Daily Mail headlined "I've felt like an outsider all my life, says Meera Syal". In the article she proceeds to try and explain herself as one with the "ability to stand back and see the bigger picture" and puts it down to growing up in two cultures, etc. The article suggests that she has found some sort of equilibrium now by marrying her husband Sanjeev Baskhar, the key thing about him being his similar background (but she was married to journalist Shekhar Bhatia and that didn't work out so I don't think one can be simplistic).
Personally, I think it is the other way round. I think that certain people tend to be objective, tend to feel like their on the outside looking in. They tend to veer to certain careers, understandably. I have those same tendencies and for a long time I tended to see it in terms of being different - growing up in a border county, neither English nor Welsh; being working class but going to university; being Baptist but Reformed, etc, etc. At some point (I forget how now) I came to see that it was just my perspective that made me feel like an outsider and no matter how much on the inside track I became I would always feel like an outsider, which I do.
I put this up
1. Because it's on my mind
2. It may help someone who keeps feeling like an outsider to see why and not get frustrated
3. It may help make sense of this odd blog but perhaps not

New photo series 01

Kilburn Carpetshop

Arhosiad byr




I spent the day in Newport on Tuesday as my father is ill in hospital in the Gwent. He didn't seem too bad. He was telling people about my book, like any proud father. It is always nice to be there even though I am a stranger. It holds a lot of memories. I enjoyed having a cuppa in the market. I notice the bookshop has gone. Do people in that part of the world read? I travelled by coach at a reasonable price adn time. It makes for a long day though.

Parti Pumdeg

video

Y Mabolgampau

video

Penblwydd Pumdeg



It was the London Welsh School's sports day last Friday (Y Mabolgampau). I missed it last year as I'd booked myself into a day of conference in St Helen's. It was combined with a party for the children marking the fiftieth anniversary of the school. The sports (weirdly) were on astroturf. My two boys were in the losing white team. Being a small school the competitors were often mismatched but no-one minded too much. Gwion excelled in throwing the welly. Very impressive.
The children's party included a proper entertainer (Papalarny) who was very good and much enjoyed. Gwion doesn't think I'm funny any more. There was also cake and food to eat and the singing of Penblwydd Hapus to the school!
We were home in time to grab a bite to eat and then out for our clubs at church. Ali, one of our deacon's wives, spoke at the younger ones and her son Pieter kindly agreed to speak to the older ones so I didn't have too much to do.
Most of the family went off for a school barbecue and fundraiser on Saturday. They used to have the sports at that event but as I'd done my paternal duty the day before I skipped the barbecue.

Pre-millennialists

While I was in Oxford the other day I was encouraged to see a man witnessing to a nice young couple (Michael and Iona) in the main street. Michael is a student at Oxford but thinks he hasn't got soul. So much for modern education.
Having admired John Thistlewaite's bold witness I was immediately brought back to earth with a bump as firstly he was from Worcester not Oxford and had come up for the day, which is so often the case with street evangelists. It's not wrong, it just makes me wonder why.
The other thing was his raptures (unintentional pun) over some pre-millennialist scheme he'd been sold and that he was eager for me to hear about. I told him I was a minister and pretty much a-mill (although I'm quite eclectic and basically believe everything is getting better - and worse). I tried to explain why I think the Devil is now bound but he couldn't see it. So John went from hero to zero in about 10 minutes with me. There we are.
Then this morning a minister I know (Martin S) who is mildly Calvinistic and pretty pre-mill 'phoned to ask me about the availability of pastoral training. Although he was keen to avoid anything to a-mill he didn't try to argue me into his pre-mill view but took our difference as a given. That seemed a better approach to me.
Last Wednesday I also met a very pro-modern Israel Jewish believer who goes door to door in our church's name. Again we are miles apart on some of these eschatological issues but we can work together. Once more, a better pattern surely?

You don't exist

I happened on this new item today and a 16-year-old schoolgirl who is unable to leave the country, open a bank account or get a job - because she does not officially "exist".
A BBC news site says
"Jade Jacobs-Brooks, of Harlow, Essex, was born during a holiday in Spain and due to a mix-up she does not have a valid Spanish birth certificate.
This means that she is unable to register her birth in the UK and is unable to get a passport.
Jade was turned down for a Saturday job because she was unable to prove her ID.
Her parents Victor and Linda have spent 16 years trying to get the necessary paperwork.
'So upsetting'
Unless she can produce a Spanish birth certificate she will have to undergo a £750 Life in the UK citizenship test - usually required of non-English speaking immigrants.
Jade said: "It's so upsetting feeling like I don't exist in this country. My life is on hold at the moment. I can't get a job, a driving licence, go abroad, get married. I couldn't even go on a day trip to France. I have been really angry at times but I'm prepared to do whatever it takes to be allowed to live a normal life."
Jade was born in September 1991 at the Veya Baja Hospital, near Alicante on the Costa Blanca.
A few days after leaving hospital the family went to Orihuela civil registry office to register Jade's birth, but received the wrong paperwork.
'Rigorous over passports'
Despite the initial mix-up Jade should still have been able to obtain a full Spanish birth certificate - if she had a certificate from the Veya Baja hospital confirming her birth, but was told: "There is no mention of her."
Like all UK residents, she can get treatment on the NHS, go to school and holds a National Insurance number. The Home Office said they were unable to comment on individual cases but said a citizenship test may be the best way to resolve the issue."
It struck me as a crazy story and made me think of Christians who lack assurance. Perhaps there are other applications.

Oxford

I've been promising myself a trip to Oxford to check out the Benjamin Beddome archive for some months now and I finally grabbed an opportunity last Thursday. Rhodri tagged along for trip #1 of his world tour of the UK. We headed off not long after 8 am to Baker Street. I met a South African lady who attended the church recently, which was a good providence. I hope we see her again.
We caught the Oxford Espress in Baker Street and were in Oxford by 11 am, a little later than anticipated. I then headed for Regents Park College's Angus Library, where various Beddome items can be found.
The current librarian (Rev Emma Walsh) is new to the job so, understandably, isn't yet as knowledgeable as the previous librarian (Mrs Mills) but she was very helpful indeed. There is something time transcendent about a good library. What a joy!
I had no time for the Bourton church minute books but consulted his will, a letter he wrote, a manuscript notebook compiled by his grandson (?) and one or two other things. I noticed again that there are around 30 or 40 of his hymns written in his own hand on scrap paper in a bundle and a set of notebooks (in another hand) containing hymns he wrote with texts and dates, which I must consult further some time (there are also notes to an unprinted sermon).
I also consulted the volumes containing all 225 printed Beddome sermons (several of which I do not have access to at present) and wrote down the texts. I also looked through the catalogue of his library, which is also housed in the Library. He had around 600 volumes, mostly in English but with some in Latin (and one in German). Puritan authors predominate - Arrowsmith, Owen, Goodwin, Sibbes, etc. I also noted polemical publications (from both sides) connected with the baptism debate and commentaries by Calvin. He had two works by Richard Bernard who I am also interested in so I took out Beddome's copy of Bernard on conscience - Christian see to thy conscience. It is an original 1631 edition. Beddome has added his name in two places near the front. These words also appear which I am unable to attach a meaning to as yet "perlect minse Junie 1776" [perlect = having read]. Beddome would have been 59 in this year. Anyway with nearly 20 pages of notes I've got plenty to keep the Beddome site going for a little while.
We headed back on the bus to baker Street. Rhodri then left me to go to an end of term do with his English class. Dylan was out at a concert in Hyde Park (someone had got some free tickets)and the little boys had just returned from a party at a friend's house when I arrived back mid-evening.

Sunday School Link

Someone pointed me to this link here which may be of interest.
(Reading, Writing and Redemption is broadcast on BBC Four, 3 July at 2100BST)

Lion King



All 8 of us (Sibyl's very much part of the crew these days) headed into town yesterday to see Lion King. I am not a great fan of the musical genre but this was pretty impressive stuff with brilliant sets, good singing, decent tunes, some great lines, a fine story and wonderful percussion. Other arts such as puppetry and ballet were drawn on to present a stunning show, quite African in many ways.
Lion King has been part of our lives since the cartoon came out when Rhodri was eight. He knows the dialogue almost by heart (this one differed a little from the cartoon with scripted ad libs, etc). Apart from the underlying humanist outlook and one or two jarring misjudgements with the dialogue, it was great to be in a packed theatre with an enthusiastic audience to see a top rated West End show - a rare and expensive treat.

Lost Beatles Tape

I was pleased to come across an interesting radio programme yesterday. Sixties star Helen Shapiro presented the story of a lost TV interview with the Beatles that was recorded in April 1964 and recently found languishing in a rusty film can in a garage in South London. Experts say it's the earliest surviving interview where Lennon and McCartney talk about how they met and discuss the song writing process. There is only 9 minutes of footage and they rather spun the whole thing out to make a 30 minute programme but, if your a Beatles fan, it was very interesting on several levels. Check it out here.

The book again sorry


So I read the book yesterday and I thought it was okay but by this morning it seemed to me the worst thing I'd ever read but then I came across the review reproduced below and it gave me some renewed confidence. I know Andrew's a really nice guy but we've never met and I'm not paying him for this so hopefully he's not overdoing it too much here. Anyway he says (after referring to speaking to young people over the weekend) ...


One book which was of tremendous help to me in my preparation, however, was Being Born Again by Gary Brady. My first encounters with Gary have been via his excellent and pretty eclectic blog, and I have come to respect his meditations on historic Christianity, as well as his more quirky thoughts on such varied things as hats and soft drinks! Being born again is Gary's latest book to be published by Evangelical Press, with his previous two volumes being commentaries on Proverbs and Song of Songs respectively. The stated purpose of the book is to provide an introduction to the whole topic of the 'new birth' or 'regeneration'. This is a much needed study, given the cloudy thinking on this issue amongst unbelievers and believers alike. Gary writes with the aim of reaching those who are not born again, and of inspiring those who are to appreciate and share their faith.
The book seeks to answer a series of questions which one may have about 'being born again', and does so through the use of solid exegesis, vivid illustration, and copious quotation from other writers. Themes such as the essence or definition of 'being born again', the ruling out of those things which it is not, and an assessment of how it is pictured all serve to give the reader a broad biblical picture of what it means to experience regeneration. Issues including why regeneration is needed, when it takes place, and how it is evidenced are all dealt with in reasonable detail, as is a chapter pleading for those who do not know the Saviour to seek God for salvation.
The procedural basis and suppositional background of the book is Reformed evangelical. The ordo salutis outlined in the book is largely that which can be traced in Murray's Redemption Accomplished and Applied, although this volume is much easier to read than the former. The tone of the text is warm and pastoral without being light, and there are moments of lyricism which are a delight to read. For instance, when writing of the need for regeneration in order to please God it is stated that:
'Faith is a flower that will only grow where the field has been prepared and transformed' [p.86]
Such phrasing (and there are numerous other examples) makes what are at times abstract concepts easier to digest, and lends a flow and fluency to the book which ease the reader through fairly deep theological waters. The same can also be said of the pastoral emphasis of the book, where the author is keen to address the consciences of his readers as well as their heads. Efforts are made to dispel false assurances of regeneration as well as needless doubt - a balance which is difficult to strike in preaching, not to mention the written medium.
Being Born Again is full of helpful quotes and illustrations from a variety of authors, classic and modern. This serves to give the book an air of being well-read, without it seeming bookish or dry. My one regret is that the multiplicity of quotes from other authors do not contain footnoted references that can be followed up. Nor does the book contain an exhaustive bibliography. I imagine that the absence of these two elements is connected with the book's purpose of reaching non-believers and informing young believers about regeneration without cluttering the page or their minds.
All in all Being Born Again is an excellent resource, on a much neglected topic. The author has gone to considerable pains to write faithfully, clearly, and in a God-honouring way about this amazing work of God in the hearts of sinful men and women. I would give this book to a young believer who desires to know more about their faith (perhaps after they have worked through Peter Jeffrey's more basic Bitesize Theology) or to someone who is thinking deeply about their need of salvation. Every Christian who reads this book will find food for their soul, and inspiration to make Christ known to an unbelieving world. (It was a pleasure to recommend both Peter Jeffrey and Gary Brady's books at the youth training day on Saturday).
I close with a quotation which deeply touched me, as the author pleads with believers to pray for the salvation of others. As someone who is currently awaiting and excited about the arrival (DV) of their first child, the following words stirred and humbled me about how I ought to long for new life to spring up in the hearts of those who don't know Christ:
"We must be gentle and show respect and keep a clear conscience, of course, but we should be as eager for new births as most women are to bear their own children. Like Paul we should labour until Christ is formed in others (Galatians 4:19)".