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baptist minister and PhD student
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In Pauline scholarship circles it is fairly well known that Beverly Gaventa is working on a commentary on Romans for the WJK New Testament Library series. Over the last decade or more she has published close to twenty essays on various parts of Romans and most recently her presidential address at the 2016 SBL gathering was on Romans 13. Most of these essays are in edited collections which often are not cheap to obtain. Therefore this little book - and it is little, only 128 pages - When In Romans is a welcome and (also) accessible introduction to Gaventa's reading of the letter. It is dependent on the research she has been doing, evidenced by many of the footnotes pointing to the various essays she has published, but is written for a wide audience. What excites many about Gaventa's work on Romans, is that she sees Paul as an apocalyptic theologian and so reads Paul apocalyptically, which no commentary of Romans, at least post-Lou Martyn's Anchor Bible commentary on Galatians (1997) has yet to do. At some point, fellow apocalyptic Pauline reader, Douglas Campbell, will also provide a commentary on Romans and it will be interesting to see how the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 11, 2017 at andygoodliff
There’s a saying I like, but before I share it, if you have children with you this morning you might want to cover their ears for a moment. The saying is this about children: ‘You never get the one you want.’ [i] The point of this saying is to point out that we don’t know what we’re doing when we have children – we think we know what we’re doing, but we quickly learn that we don’t. I’m not saying people shouldn’t have children, but I’m questioning the notion that we are somehow fully in control of these decisions and what they mean. We might equally say churches never get the minister they want or that they always choose the wrong minister. Some of you might be thinking that this Christmas morning, as you sit there wondering where this is going. Let’s see if I can turn this into something for you go away and think about over your Christmas lunch. We never get the children we want, because they come to us as strangers. Where they share our genes, and we shape their environment and their lives in particular ways, they also come to us unique, and they have... Continue reading
Posted Dec 25, 2016 at andygoodliff
Here are two poems for Christmas written by Paul Goodliff. Every mother is a little lost, heart-abandoned to their new-born child. Indifferent to the waking and the cost, the moment’s awareness, and the hair run wild. But this one, straw-laid and linen-wrapped somehow called forth more than just the wonder and the usual joy. Something more like worship— rapt attention, woven into love just short of lust. The memory of the angel’s glance from heaven to her virgin womb, and the stirring, more than simply chance of hormones or, she might assume, the thought of Joseph and his love, her groom; it struck her then, as also now, that this was different, divine somehow. No, this one was different, it was certain, and so strange. Yes, her heart was won by birth and God’s loving intent that she should be the mother of the Saviour of the world, the one who would redeem — another story, almost entirely, than the one she had imagined or her family might arrange. This one would almost surely break her heart, yet love her to be his willing slave. No doubt about it from the start — the one she bore, her world to... Continue reading
Posted Dec 21, 2016 at andygoodliff
‘And the government will be upon his shoulders.’ I can’t read those words at the moment without thinking of the forthcoming inauguration of President Trump and my expectation of how little he will resemble the one expected in these words from Isaiah. The words we have read from Isaiah 9 were probably written for a coronation, very much like an inauguration, for the new king about to be crowned. They were written in the hope of a new wave of peace and prosperity. They were written in the hope that the new king would be one anointed by God as a wonderful counsellor, a carrier of God’s power, an everlasting father and a prince of peace. In the main the hopes of Israel were ultimately found wanting, very much like our own hopes in those who give the possibility of newness – Kennedy, Blair, Obama, Trump … and so the promises were pushed forward, awaiting fulfilment one day. What does it mean to expect one who will be wonderful counsellor? In the context of Isaiah 9 It is a reference to one who will govern with great wisdom, whose plans and policies will be wonderful for all the people and... Continue reading
Posted Nov 27, 2016 at andygoodliff
The news has come that Barrie White, the Baptist historian and former Principal of Regent's Park College, Oxford died on Saturday 12th November 2016. I'm sadly too young to have any memories of Barrie White in his prime. Hopefully others will fill that gap. White was Principal of Regent's Park College, 1972-1989 and in the 1970s and 1980s the leading Baptist historian of his generation, especially of Baptist 17th century beginnings. His doctoral work completed in 1961 was published as The English Separatist Tradition: From the Marian Martyrs to the Pilgrim Fathers (Oxford, 1971). His other major work was The English Baptists of the Seventeeth Century (1983, 1994), but alongside that was as editor of three volumes of Association Records of the Particular Baptists. There would have surely been other book-length pieces if dementia had not taken its toll on his mind from the early 1990s onwards. White remains one of the most important non-conformist and Baptist historians and will be remembered alongside the likes of W. T. Whitley, E. A. Payne and G. F. Nuttall. He was honoured in 1999 with a festschrift, Pilgrim Pathways, edited by William Brackney, Paul Fiddes and John H. Y. Briggs. Here are some... Continue reading
Posted Nov 17, 2016 at andygoodliff
Adam Curtis is a BBC documentary maker whose films seek to explain and explore our world. His most recent is a BBC iplayer only film called Hypernormalisation. [i] Curtis begins with the claim: We live in a strange time. Extraordinary events keep happening that undermine the stability of our world. Suicide bombs, waves of refugees, Donald Trump, Vladamir Putin, even Brexit … and no-one has any vision for a different, or a better kind of future. He goes on to say ‘We’ve constructed a simpler, but fake world into which we’ve all bought …’ and where ultimately ‘nothing ever changes.’ Curtis says This has allowed dark and destructive forces to fester and grow outside. Forces that are now returning to pierce the fragile surface of our carefully constructed fake world. It is a bleak analysis. I said to a friend this week who recently had a baby, What kind of world are we bringing our children into? To which she replied, ‘utterly terrifying.’ And another Baptist minister friend was asking this week 'What in heaven's name are we to do with what the Hell is going on around us?' [ii] Now this might be overstating things, But it is certainly... Continue reading
Posted Nov 13, 2016 at andygoodliff
On this day in 2000 James McClendon died. He was one of a few Baptists to offer us a systematic theology and in my opinion it is the most important we Baptists have so far. Here lies some of the opening lines from each of his 3 Volumes. From Ethics: Theology means struggle. It may begin as Bonhoeffer said in silence, but when the silence is broken, a battle begins. This seems regrettable; in matters of great moment, the human heart yearns ceaselessly for secure truth, and it is easy for us to believe that unchallenged beliefs are self-evident truths. A little reflection, however, will show that this is not so; in fact we very often have believed without doubt or contradiction what turn out to be mere falsehoods ... Thus when we set out upon Christian theology or ethics we must be reconciled to the fact that here as elsewhere hard truth is not available without hards struggles. From Doctrine: In shaping its teaching, the church seeks simply to be the church, so that Christians may be a people who find in Christ their centre, in the Spirit their communion, in God's reign their rule of life. From Witness:... Continue reading
Posted Oct 30, 2016 at andygoodliff
On Tuesday morning a few of us gathered for morning prayer. We read from the Psalms, from 2 Kings and from 1 Timothy. The 1 Timothy reading included the verses we have read this morning: ‘I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man’ (1 Tim 2.12) and elsewhere in 1 Corinthians it says, ‘women should remain silent in churches’ (1 Cor. 14.34). What do we do about these verses? Violet Hedger was the first woman to be accepted for training as a Baptist minister. The year was 1922. She trained at Regent’s Park College, although the principal, Henry Wheeler Robinson, (who had became principal after she was accepted,) did his best to pretend she wasn’t there. In fact, where as all the other male ministerial students had their examination fees paid for by the Principal, which was the custom, Violet had to pay her own. It was only in 1990 Paul Fiddes, who was the then current Principal at Regent’s Park, wrote Violet a cheque to cover those fees. The cheque was for £5! Following her training, Violet went on to be a Baptist minister in Derby, Halifax, Chatham, and Chalk Farm. It... Continue reading
Posted Oct 16, 2016 at andygoodliff
A short interview with Tim Carter, who has just published The Forgiveness of Sins (James Clarke, 2016) You seem to have an obsession with sin! As your new book and your previous book are about sin. What led you to write both the first, and then this new book? Actually, I prefer to think that I have made progress in moving from writing about sin in the first book to writing about forgiveness in the second: that feels like I am moving in a positive direction! Actually something that bugs me about the church is that we have been given an amazing message of forgiveness, yet we are very good at making people feel guilty… The first book grew out of a sense of dissatisfaction with the way in which people seemed to assume that St. Paul must have had a really negative view of human nature because he talks about people being enslaved to sin. In that book I tried to argue that Paul refers to sin as a power in the specific context of the debate concerning justification by faith rather than by works of the law: he wanted to define the human plight in a way that... Continue reading
Posted Sep 20, 2016 at andygoodliff
Kris Kandiah has posted on Christian Today 11 books every Christian should read before they turn 25. I thought I'd construct my own list, a little bit less 'evangelical' perhaps. Krish's list looks a bit serious, so I deliberately included some lighter books. Being Christian - Rowan Williams, SPCK - This is wonderful small book with four chapters on baptism, eucharist, bible and prayer. Its readable, profound and gets at the heart of being Christian. Surprised by Hope - Tom Wright, SPCK - Christianity has been skewed towards a gospel of heaven when you die, and Tom helpfully corrects that reading with a much bigger gospel and a much better reading of the New Testament. Worshipping Trinity - Robin Parry, Paternoster / Cascade - Who is God? is the most important question we can ask and the church has confessed that God is Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is one of the most accessible ways into the doctrine of the Trinity I know and it is framed around worship. It should leave every reader writing to Hughes, Redman and co. for worship that more faithfully confesses the Christian God. The Provocative Church - Graham Tomlin, SPCK -... Continue reading
Posted Sep 13, 2016 at andygoodliff
Great to see this new book from Tim Carter, a Baptist minister in Horsham and a New Testament scholar. He first book was on the language of sin in Paul, published as Paul and the Power of Sin (Cambridge, 2002) and based on his PhD. This new book The Forgiveness of Sins (James Clarke, 2016) explores the language of 'forgiveness of sins' as it is found in the New Testament and early church fathers. Tim is one of a very few Baptist ministers in pastoral charge of a church (see also Ed Pillar, Simon Woodman) who also continue to research and publish academically. We need more like him. Continue reading
Posted Aug 30, 2016 at andygoodliff
Regent's Park College (1960-1962) DPhil (Oxford, 1972) Chaplain, University of Birmingham (1962-1968) Doctoral Studies, St. Hugh's, Oxford (1969-1972). Supervised by Morna Hooker Tutor, Heythrop College (1973-2001) Minister, Heath Street Baptist Church (1987-2011) See here for some reflections on the 50th anniversary of her ordination as a Baptist minister in 2013. Marie was the fifth woman to be ordained in the Baptist Union. Publications The Concept of Spirit:A Study of Pneuma in Hellenistic Judaism and its bearing on the New Testament (1976) 'The Prophetic Spirit in the Fourth Gospel', Heythrop Journal 24.4 (1983) Sacred Space: An Approach to the Theology of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Sheffield Academic Press, 1992) 'Hebrews' in John Barclay and John Sweet (eds.), Early Christian Thought in its Jewish Context. Festschrift in Honour of Morna Hooker's 65th Birthday (Cambridge, 1996) 'Priesthood and the Epistle to the Hebrews', Heythrop Journal 38.1 (1997) 'Hebrews 13.9-16 Revisited', New Testament Studies 43.2 (1997) Why Bother with Hebrews?', Heythrop Journal 43.1 (2002) Reading Hebrews and James: A Literary and Theological Commentary (Smyth & Helwys, 2002) 'Hebrews' in Mills and Wilson (eds.), Mercer Commentary on the New Testament (Mercer, 2003) Continue reading
Posted Aug 19, 2016 at andygoodliff
I popped into London this evening to share in a Shakespearian liturgy at St. Martin-in-the-Fields. Seeing More Clearly with the Eyes of Love: A Liturgy for voices based on Shakespeare's play "A Midsummer Night's Dream." The liturgy and accompanying music was written and composed by some of the faculty at Regent's Park College, Oxford. This was a liturgy; we were a congregation and not an audience, that is our voices responded and shared in this act of worship. Woven into the liturgy were voices from A Midsummer's Night Dream, excerpts from Song of Songs and the letter to the Ephesians, five freshly commissioned poems (performed on this occasion by the poets themselves), pieces of music, prayers of intercessions, and two symbol actions. The amount of ideas and voices was overwhelming, too much to take in on one occasion. A friend who was one of the multiple voices and was participating for the third time in the liturgy said she was just beginning to be hear it properly. Having a copy of the liturgy allows time to return more slowly to the words. I confess I don't know A Midsummer Night's Dream as well as I should, so there was much... Continue reading
Posted Aug 3, 2016 at andygoodliff
Paul Fiddes has put together a group of people to create 'a liturgy of voices based on Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream, called 'Seeing more clearly with the eyes of love'. The liturgy weaves together excerpts from the play with elements from the traditional Christian liturgy in order to explore Shakespeare's own theme of clarifying the vision which belongs to love. The liturgy includes newly commissioned music and new pieces written and performed by five contemporary poets (Micheal O'Siadhail, Sinead Morrissey, Michael Symnnons Roberts, Lawrence Sail and Jenny Lewis), based on characters in the play. The liturgy is being performed in Stratford and London. Holy Trinity Church, Old Town, Stratford-upon-Avon - Tuesday 2nd August 5.30pm St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square - Wednesday 3rd August, 7pm Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2016 at andygoodliff
You don’t get to choose God. You don’t get to decide what God is like. You don’t get to pick your role in the story. Your life is not of your choosing. Your salvation is not of your doing. Instead God calls. God is who God is. God invites. God make yours life possible. God saves. That’s been the recurring message as we’ve look at the call stories of Abraham, Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. The Bible calls us to re-write our biographies, with God as the subject of every sentence. This is not straightforward because we are taught to believe that every sentence should begin ‘I.’ Most of our lives are centred around ‘I’. We have accepted the narrative that we get to make our lives up, that we are the author of our stories, we are the creator of our destinies. We have come to believe that we can be anything we want to be, we can do anything we set out to do, if we desire it enough, if we want it enough. This is the formula for almost every Disney movie: whether you’re a panda, a rat, a snail or a car. [i] The Christian gospel... Continue reading
Posted Jul 17, 2016 at andygoodliff
[This sermon is part of a series looking at call narratives in the Old Testament. This week it was Jeremiah 1.1-10. Following Thursday's EU referendum I try within to offer some response] The book of Jeremiah begins with the words: ‘The words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, one of the priests at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin.’ Not anything particularly special, its not to dissimilar to how other books of the prophets begin. But – you knew there was a but coming! - it says Jeremiah is from Anathoth. Not a well known place, but it has a minor history in the story of Israel. Anathoth is the place where the priest Abiathar is banished by king Solomon (1 Kings 2.26) for not supporting Solomon’s claim to the throne. Here in Anathoth, a rural village, away from the urban centre of Jerusalem and all that is going wrong there, as king after king fail to rule in the ways of Moses. Here in Anathoth, it is not forgotten, a memory, a story, a covenant is passed on and now 400 hundred years later, Jeremiah comes to Jerusalem as one carrying the word of the Lord with warning and ending.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 26, 2016 at andygoodliff
Here's 5 articles I've appreciated on the EU referendum. I will be voting to Remain. What is the EU for? - Jonathan Chaplin EU and International Development - Rowan Williams Brexit and the Destiny of the EU - Adrain Pabst Europe's Pentecost - Sam Wells From Babel to Brexit - Alison Milbank Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2016 at andygoodliff
This coming weekend: Don’t miss a 50% off summer sale from Baylor University Press this weekend (June 10th-12th). The sale is intended for graduate students, but anyone with the code may order! Use discount codeBJUN at, which applies to books published before 2015. Happy shopping! For those Baptists who wanted to get Jim McClendon's 3-Volume Systematic Theology or Curtis Freeman's Contesting Catholicity or Fiddes et al on Baptists and the Communion of Saints or David Bebbington's one volume Baptist history - this is a great opportunity! Other authors in the sale include Richard Hays, Walter Brueggemann, Beverly Gaventa, Ephraim Radner, Matthew Levering, Richard Bauckham, Rowan Williams, John Howard Yoder, Amos Yong, Rudolf Bultmann and lots of others. Continue reading
Posted Jun 6, 2016 at andygoodliff
The latest Pacific Journal of Baptist Research is available. The journal is a free download. It is the journal of the Baptist colleges in Australia (Maylon, Morling, Vose, Whitley) and New Zealand (Carey). It began in 2005 and has lots of hidden gems within its archives. A previous edition honours Stanley Grenz. More recently an issue was dedicated to responses to Curtis Freeman's Contesting Catholicity. The latest edition seeks to honour Paul Fiddes and I was generously invited last minute to write a short editorial that gives some context to his work. Inside are three articles engaging with Paul's work on the atonement, the Trinity and covenant. Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2016 at andygoodliff
On the sad news of the death of John Webster. Here is a small section from Ivor Davidson's chapter entitled 'John' in the very recent festschrift written in Webster's honour. Quite a few moons ago, I had occasion to introduce a public lecture by John Webster. In the usual way, I took a quick look at the CV I had been sent to see what he had been up to since the last work of which I had known. As I ended up saying to the folk who gathered that evening, looking at John's resume can, in honest, by bit depressing: you are confronted with all the themes on which you suspect there is little point in trying to say much ever again ... It is not just the range [of John's work], but the sheer quality across that range - the depth of learning, the precision of thought, the distinctiveness of approach, the elegance of style - that makes John's work so exceptional. For those who knows its author, all of it has been done by probably the most unassuming scholar they have ever met. John is firm in his convictions, no question, and crystal clear in presenting them.... Continue reading
Posted May 26, 2016 at andygoodliff
Today is a day in which we take joy in the life and mystery of God. Properly speaking every Sunday is a day in which we take joy in the life and mystery of God, for we do not worship a different God on other Sundays, but this day we give ourselves to consider what it means to know God as God has made himself known. The church names today Trinity Sunday and it is the day given to saying why we say these three – Father, Son and Spirit – are one. As Christians have read the Bible they have found it testifies that God remained all powerful and transcendent, and yet Jesus, who died and was raised by God, was somehow God; moreover the Spirit, poured out on the Church, is also God, and yet there is only one God.[i] One God, three persons. I want to ask this morning, what is God’s name? How do we address God? I want to suggest we answer it in three ways: [ii] theologically – in other words, we listen to what God says; christologically – in other words, we listen to what Jesus says; and pnuematologically – in other words,... Continue reading
Posted May 22, 2016 at andygoodliff
You can’t tell the story of Jesus without the Holy Spirit This is the point that Luke wants to make clear. The story of Jesus is the story of the Holy Spirit resting on the Son.[i] The Spirit comes upon Mary and in her womb conceives a Son. The Spirit comes upon Jesus like a dove while he is praying at his baptism. The Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness and out again. The Spirit fills Jesus for his ministry – ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.’ The Spirit, as cloud, covers Jesus at his transfiguration on Mount Tabor. The Spirit is the agent through which Jesus’ whole life is offered to God. The Spirit is the one through whom Jesus is raised. One early church father called Gregory says this: Christ is born; the Spirit is the forerunner. He is baptised; the Spirit bears witness. He is tempted; the Spirit leads him up. He works miracles; the Spirit accompanies them. He ascends; the Spirit takes his place.[ii] The Holy Spirit and Jesus come together. From conception to ascension the Holy Spirit rests on the body of Jesus. The truth of Pentecost, the miracle of Pentecost, is the... Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2016 at andygoodliff
Whatever we make of the Baptist Union's Council statement on same sex relationships last month it will not be the last word. Those Baptists who feel they are unable to affirm any kind of same sex relationship and who see this as a victory for a perceived 'majority', will find that the statement will not be the last word. In fact it may well be that the statement will galvanise those who seek to affirm same sex marriage to be more open in their conviction, and will also lead others, not affirming themselves, to more vocal as well, in arguing that an affirming position be acceptable within the Union. That is, rather than drawing a line in the sand, the statement has ignited a bigger conversation. Those who affirm same sex marriage amongst BUGB Baptists are more numerous than the conservatives realise; not a majority within the Union, but then I challenge the view that the conservatives hold the majority either. (I'm not convinced that speaking in terms of 'majority' is helpful, because it smacks of democracy rather than communal discernment). I suggest that many sit in the middle between the two extremes, and find themselves pulled by both Bible... Continue reading
Posted Apr 12, 2016 at andygoodliff
The entire Christian faith hinges on the words ‘He is risen.’[i] We talk about the centrality of the cross, in fact for some Christians the cross is all that matters, everything else is like window-dressing. But without the resurrection the cross is just a death; We might sing of the power of the cross, but the power of the cross is powerless without the resurrection. Without the resurrection the gospel is no news; without the resurrection the words of Jesus are an impossible dream; without the resurrection the church is a bunch of delusional do-gooders who’ve wasted too many opportunities for a Sunday lie-in; without the resurrection Jesus himself is just a tiny footnote in history; without the resurrection death is still the last word on life; without the resurrection the only way to overcome evil is to fight fire with fire; without the resurrection our past is a prison and our future is fate; without the resurrection your bank balance and your BMI is all that matters; without the resurrection the possible election of President Trump would mean the end of the world. I say again the entire Christian faith hinges on the words ‘He is risen.’ As the... Continue reading
Posted Mar 27, 2016 at andygoodliff