It was good to discover that my article on Bethel Church (January) created a lively debate on the website and led to a few letters in the feedback pages. At least two of the letters imply that Bill Johnson does not believe in the divinity of Jesus and that I was remiss in not being concerned. Johnson clearly states his orthodox views on Jesus as fully God and fully man on page 41 of his book, The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind (Destiny Image).
I underlined in the article that concern about his beliefs about Jesus’ divinity have arisen because Bill Johnson argues that when Jesus performs his miracles he does so as a man filled with the Holy Spirit, using passages such as Acts 10:38, where Peter explains ‘how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him’.
Bill challenges the Church to believe that Spirit-filled men and women can do works of God as Jesus himself promised (John 14:12). Of course there is a healthy debate over whether he makes a correct application of this and other verses, but I believe it’s important to affirm his utter support of the classic Christian doctrine on the humanity and deity of Jesus.
I was saddened to read letters of criticism directed at Bethel Church. It strikes me that churches like Bethel seek to live out the great commission, which of course embraces Jesus’ command to heal the sick in his name. Instead of criticising other churches they, like John Wimber, embrace signs and wonders because of the need in the Church. I, for one, intend to do the same.
I do hope readers aren’t taken in by the feeble comments of some of the celebrities (Tinie Tempah, Kanye West) featured in the March issue. These are not professions of faith in our saviour Jesus Christ. And Donald Trump trying to win the US evangelical vote doesn’t fool anyone with his ‘My mother gave me this Bible’. Let’s not be taken in by any of them.
RELIGION OF PEACE?
In ‘Radical’ (March) Steve Chalke repeats the mantra, ‘[Islam] is a religion of peace’. The truth is more nuanced. Although I disagree with Franklin Graham’s equally sweeping claim that Islam is a ‘religion of war’, the fact remains that throughout Islamic history there has been an interpretation of the Koran and the Hadith that justifies violence against the ‘infidel’. It all depends on how the Islamic texts are interpreted. So don’t let’s be naïve about the origins of Islamic violence. Nonetheless, in fairness to Steve, he is right to urge us, like Jesus, to love our enemies, and his main point about our need to develop an attractive narrative to give meaning and identity to marginalised young people is a compelling one.
I look forward to Steve Chalke announcing his upcoming book tour of various Muslim majority countries such as Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. I’m sure the local Christians will be thrilled, although perhaps not a little surprised, to learn that their day-to-day experiences of living under the reality of the rule of the ‘religion of peace’ can be changed by explaining to their fellow countrymen that they have seriously misunderstood Islam.
It is high time we stopped trying to kid ourselves and face up to the reality of Islam and the threat it poses to the values, including free speech and freedom of religious belief, that earlier generations fought so hard and were prepared to die for.
Thank you for the interesting article on four new theologies (February). It lays out a lot of the arguments clearly and helpfully. Just to be clear, I am not an advocate of Open Theism. In particular, I do not believe that God’s foreknowledge of the future compromises human freedom. I suspect that the confusion has arisen because a) like Greg Boyd, my response to the problem of evil does draw on the Judaeo-Christian tradition of the Fall of the Angels, and b) Lloyd rhymes with Boyd! I am a fan of Greg Boyd’s writings, but I don’t follow him into Open Theism. With thanks, again, for such a stimulating article.
Rev Dr Michael Lloyd (principal, Wycliffe Hall
@Claireylegs @Jeffreylucas’ columns in @Christianitymag are a hidden gem. Latest one on prejudice is a lesson for the whole Church
@plumble_bee After loaning out my other copies I’m delighted to have received this month’s @Christianitymag. Bieber & J.John, what more could I ask for?
@larbertred Excellent take on @realDonaldTrump and his links to the Christian right by @UnbelievableJB in @Christianitymag
@glasgopreneur @samhailes @Christianitymag Finally read your Lebanon article today. That is a serious insight on so many levels, real eyeopener. Very good
I read with interest and surprise the experiences of people finding God in ‘Holy Places’ (February). I don’t think that God lives anywhere; he lives in us. People of no faith at all can have a feeling of awe in these places so I think we must be careful not to give the impression that God is to be found in a particular place. As the late George McLeod said, ‘Glory to God in the High Street’!
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Will van der Hart missed something important in his March article ‘The Poison of Perfectionism’ (March). He encouraged readers to ‘always look for BACP registration’ when seeking counselling. But he didn’t mention contacting a Christian counselling professional. Readers can find them via the Association of Christian Counsellors (ACC). What makes Christian counsellors special is that because of their faith, they are counselling with an underlying hope. ACC is the only Christian organisation holding ‘accredited register’ status with Professional Standard Authority for Health and Social Care.
Tony Ruddle (executive chair, Association of Christian Counsellors)
When I’m not memorising Deuteronomy or writing to modern so-called ‘worship’ leaders to point out their theological errors (I’m nearly through the Mission Praise songbook), I like to play a board game. Scrabble is one of my favourites, and I’m currently the unbeaten champion of the local Diocesan Word Game Society. Imagine my delight, therefore, when I saw the illustrated headline for your piece, The Poison of Perfetcionism.
The spelling mistake there is yours rather than mine, for that is what your design actually said. For a moment I thought it might be a deliberate joke, but I quickly corrected myself. After all, James tells us ‘whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin’ (ESV). If your writers can’t spell ‘Perfectionism’, perhaps they need a dictionary. Rather than a dictionray.
I, for one, like perfectionism. What are we supposed to do? Accept everyone in love no matter how flawed they are? This is a ridiculous notion. Almost as ludicrous as the recent suggestion at our church of starting to use a thing called an ‘overhead projector’. I expect perfection in all things, which is why I am disabusing them of this idea by volunteering to iron all our hymn book pages. I will tell you what I told Secretary Geoff when he tried to introduce Bananagrams at our last Word Game Society meeting. ‘Don’t mess with Scrabble!’
Rev Roger D Votional