Interviewing those of different persuasions and mindsets is one of the great strengths of Premier Christianity magazine. I’m glad that Justin, with his gentle touch, got on so well with Derren Brown and had a good time listening to this man, who greatly influences popular culture (Profile, September).
Brown is clearly thoughtful, bright and highly skilled. And pointing to crowd euphoria and manipulation, leading to transient healing through an adrenaline rush, may be fair at times.
Brown wants to show what is possible without faith in God. His mission involves destroying what he sees as unproven. But as Justin’s discussion with him in defending the resurrection proved, no amount of evidence will convince determined sceptics. After all, saying “yes” to God would be somewhat inconvenient to his livelihood and lifestyle.
Brown is an illusionist. God is a miracle-maker. The first does not disprove the second. As a Christian doctor who has written on faith benefiting health, I have much scientific evidence that demands a verdict.
Your interview with Derren Brown was a prophetic call to the Church to continue to expect the gospel to break in with signs and wonders so that unbelievers might believe, but to do so with absolute authenticity, integrity and, therefore, credibility before the eyes of an increasingly sceptical but surprisingly open and spiritually seeking world.
As a church minister and physiotherapist, I have witnessed God bringing physical, emotional and relational healing through both natural and supernatural processes. Whenever I preach on healing, I try to mention the reality of the (God-given) placebo effect, which can account for up to 30% of reported pain improvement, as well as how adrenaline can block pain receptors temporarily. I do this not to lower people’s faith expectation for healing, but to encourage an authentic, credible atmosphere where we thank God for all healing and acknowledge that if God wants to heal supernaturally he doesn’t need our assistance or exaggerated reporting in order to please the minister!
I long for the leaders at large Christian festivals to increase their accountability and credibility on stage when praying for and reporting healings. My suggestions for best practice are to not give public testimony for healings there and then (in order to allow the placebo effect and adrenaline to wear off if present), to have a medically trained Christian on hand to report the healings alongside the person so that the nature of the healing is not exaggerated or misinterpreted, and to always say that no one should come off any medication or withdraw medical treatment until they have reviewed it with their GP.
Rev John Monaghan
The Derren Brown interview just shows that Pentecostalism is a false cult, deceiving the very elect if possible. Brown’s activities are the same as Benny Hinn’s but go under a different title. He is not claiming to con people into believing in a false God. He is showing what a nonsense most Western Christianity really is. Jesus’ teaching is all that counts. All the rest is an opiate for the people.
GOD OF LOVE
I was troubled about much of what I read in David Instone- Brewer’s article “Does God hate sinners?” (September), especially his closing comments: “When the final sentence is decided on judgement day against unrepentant evil, it will be correct to speak of God’s hatred for that sinner.”
Has he not read in 1 John 4:16: “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them”?
Jesus taught and demonstrated by his life that what mattered was love of God and love of neighbour.
It is time we let go of this Janus-faced “God of love and wrath” once and for all, and learn to interpret scripture the way Jesus did, by letting go of anything that denies compassion, inclusion and mercy (compare Luke 4:18-19 with Isaiah 61:1-2 and notice what is omitted and the people’s reaction to it). The Bible verses that speak of God’s apparent hatred and desire for vengeance are the writers describing their own misguided views of God’s character.
BACK TO THE 80s?
Tom Sine’s challenging article “How the Church lost a generation (and how to win it back again)” (September) raised a curious dichotomy. In advocating trying something new for the millennial generation, he harks back to the 70s and 80s more than once.
As anyone who has tried to rekindle an old flame will tell you, it is a path laden with tears and disappointment. What is needed, and has always been needed, is for each generation to walk their own path of discovery to God.
Rather than advocating a return to the 70s and 80s, we should allow millennials to walk their own paths, even if that means not adopting the traditional model of “going to church”, but finding new ways to worship together and to be salt and light to their generation.
@DanCrouch the latest @christianitymag is as ever excellent & diverse. From Derren Brown to ‘A year in God’s time’ & plenty in between. Quality.
@LesVatadvice Well done to @Christianitymag for interview with @DerrenBrown Thought-provoking stuff.
@hopeonthestreet @Christianitymag thanks for balanced, relevant and sensible article re cultural phenomenon that is Pokemon Go by Matt Adcock
@RacheP2410 Great challenge from @stevemclifford in @Christianitymag on deciding leaders; the Bible urges us to look at character rather than gifts.
@theblogofkevin Love the latest @Christianitymag, esp interview w Derren Brown & accidental description of new @alphacourse vid as “atheistically pleasing”
HELP FOR VILLAGES
I often read in your excellent magazine of churches in small towns who are buzzing with congregations of several hundred. They are a good witness to the people around, and their youth leaders encourage large youth groups into the church with imaginative programmes. Some also have programmes for the elderly and millennials.
However, I rarely hear of teams, or even individuals, going out from such churches to help struggling groups of Christians in the villages around them, many of whom have depleted congregations as families travel by car to join with their peer groups in the town.
Could the “successful” churches perhaps send out teams of young people to help in holiday clubs or youth events? Or could individual gifted preachers go to take Sunday services and give the hard-pressed ministers a rest? There are no doubt other outreach events people could think of if they linked with their brothers and sisters, many now elderly, in the country churches.
“Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser…” say the Proverbs (9:9, KJV). Clearly the young man operating the projector in my church is unwilling to grow in wisdom, owing to his reaction two weeks ago.
We are worshipping the Almighty God and Lord of Lords, so is it really too much to ask to have the words to the songs actually available to me at the time they should be sung, rather than two verses later? All I did was point this out to the spotty youth at the computer, but he didn’t seem to take to it terribly well.
I don’t understand how having everyone desperately trying to catch up with the words is better than hymn books so, last week, I took my old hymnal. At least I know I can keep
up with myself that way. Unfortunately, we didn’t sing any of the glorious hymns therein and I suddenly realised why, in an effort to fill the pews with oafs, we no longer need my old hymnal. It’s because hymns today hardly have any actual words to read. You may as well replace the projection with “Hosanna”, “Glory” and “Woooooo” on a constant loop.
I raise this because of the ridiculous article in your recent issue on how we deal with leaders failing. I say, just give them a robust talking to. People need to learn! Mind you, these days I’d have to do this so often I’d probably lose my voice. At least then I wouldn’t have to keep up with the singing.
Rev Roger D Votional
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