RESPONSE TO BILL JOHNSON
I always find it strange (but not surprising) when a man or woman of God doesn’t believe that suffering is a part of the Christian walk with Christ (Profile, Bill Johnson, January). As long as we are in this world and live in the human body, with its sinful nature, we will deal with suffering, whether or not we believe. The Bible does not shy away from the subject of suffering, and it is embraced in the New Testament in regards to our walk with Christ Jesus. Leslie Asaiah-Asher, via Facebook
BLESSED THROUGH BETHEL
I can’t tell you how many ways the ministry of Bill Johnson’s Bethel Church in Redding has benefited and healed my family, friends and even clients. I have been to Bethel several times for conferences, and in 2011 I worked with the leaders of its inner healing and deliverance ministry, Sozo, to host a conference. About half the people in the crowd were not Christians. Several had startling ‘Wow, I just experienced God!’ moments. There is always a plentiful supply of cessationists who declare people like Bill Johnson to be false prophets, but I have never met a single person who could offer a reasonable scriptural basis for denying miracles and gifts of the Spirit in the present day. Those of you who make such accusations should exercise caution, because to label the Holy Spirit’s work as demonic is blasphemy. I suggest you at least lighten up. Perry Marshall, Chicago
MISHANDLING THE WORD
Heretic is a strong word that gets bandied about far too freely. I see Johnson as someone who consistently mishandles God’s word. All you need to do is compare what he teaches with what the scriptures say. Is he always wrong? No, but even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Dave Trigg, via Facebook
IT WORKS BOTH WAYS
While several correspondents (Feedback, December) hint at or cite 1 Corinthians 11 and maintain that Paul requires gender-based role differences, none of them seem to notice that in that particular passage Paul gives advice to men and women on how they should pray and preach. Why would Paul give advice to both genders on how to pray and preach if he required gender-based role differences?
The passage urges respect within marriage (both ways) as a precursor to praying or preaching in church for either gender, and thereby also gives us a hint about how submission and love might work properly within marriage. But the exegesis of the passage is a lengthy affair and would require careful wording in order to avoid a knee-jerk negative reaction from those who have been long conditioned by a patriarchal culture to read the passage in a particular and unhelpful way that, to put it crudely, subjugates women. Neil Douglas, Cardiff
Your responses to the Faith Explored debate between Brian McLaren and Andrew Wilson on Jesus and the Bible (January)
CLUTCHING AT STRAW MEN
Why is it that folks like McLaren can’t seem to put their views up against informed, mainstream Christian orthodoxy, but instead set up straw men out of the wackiest, most uninformed goofiness of Christianity? (It’s a rhetorical question.) Steve Wilkinson, via premierchristianity. com
OUT WITH THE OLD
Old Testament rules (outdated, out of context, vestigial, or just plain silly) in the Christian Bible have been used in the US to justify slavery, support anti-miscegenation laws, to deny women property rights and the vote, to make sodomy a crime, to prohibit alcohol consumption and to mandate the closure of secular businesses on the Sabbath. At the same time, we (and the rest of Western civilisation) found it convenient to largely ignore most of the rest of the mitzvoth, especially in terms of dietary and purity codes. Instead of cherry-picking ancient Levitical proscriptions to support current prejudices, perhaps evangelical Christians should admit these were rules for a radically different time and place that have no place in ours, and spend more time concentrating on the New Testament message. Michael Brady, via premierchristianity.com
It is important to abide in God’s written word – both Old Testament and New – but especially the New, because Jesus came to fulfil the law. We’re dead to the law because of Jesus, but the new covenant of the Spirit does not give us free rein to interpret God’s word in our own ways.
It’s dangerous to only rely on the ‘intent’ of the law. Let me give a personal example. During my teens I had a Christian boyfriend who told me it was ok to have sex before marriage because God is love, and sex is an expression of love. Sensing that there was a problem in that interpretation and wanting to abide in God’s word, I didn’t give in. Ahbee, via premierchristianity.com
TWEET OF THE MONTH
@DrClaireRush 2014 was the year that I discovered @Christianitymag. Looking forward to getting challenging ideas through my letterbox for the next 6 months.
In December we asked you to get in touch if you attended Billy Graham’s UK crusade in 1954
I went to three meetings at Harringay and the rally at Trafalgar Square. On one occasion I went by public transport. I recall that when the underground stopped at the station and the doors opened, one could hear the passengers singing ‘Blessed Assurance’. This became the theme song of the crusade. Cliff Barrows, who directed the choir, introduced a different version of the chorus. In subsequent months, churches that supported the crusade could be identified by the way they sang that chorus.
I understand that churches that supported the crusade were much encouraged by the result and subsequently engaged in their own local evangelism. GE Tucker, Bromsgrove
SINGING FROM THE SAME HYMN SHEET
Billy Graham came to a Youth for Christ rally at Southend-on-Sea, near where I lived, and I heard him there a few years before the Harringay Crusade. Our local group of churches organised a coach to go to Harringay every day of the crusade, and my friend and I signed up for the choir.
It was thrilling to see such large crowds and well-known people on the platform. George Beverly Shea’s singing was very moving, but the highlight was the appeal. As we softly sang ‘Just as I Am’, people poured out of their seats. Whenever that hymn is sung now I can still picture the scene, but the atmosphere at the time was something that is hard to describe: like when the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. Was it the Holy Spirit at work, the angels in heaven rejoicing, or a bit of both? Gwyneth Craze, via email
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