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baptist minister and PhD student
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My sermon yesterday at Moortown Baptist Church, Leeds, finished with this from Curtis Freeman's wonderful book, Undomesticated Dissent (Baylor, 2017). For the heirs of dissenting Christianity to contribute to the building of a just and good society in the world today, it will demand fostering conscience and recovering convictions, but it will also depend on cultivating communities of resistance. Such communities grasp that seeing the world apocalyptically is not about predicting the future but about living in the light of a revelation that causes the world they inhabit to appear in an entirely new way. They promote habits of an imagination that equips members with the capacity to see the world through the lens of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They read history backwards, seeing their own lives retrospectively in continuity with the story of Israel’s God And God’s servant Jesus. They understand God’s disruptive action in Christ not as a future event but as a reality that is always present and new. or accommodate to institutional structures of secularity but seek a good life together than participates in the new creation and exemplifies what God in Christ intends for all humanity. They recognise that they do... Continue reading
Posted Feb 5, 2018 at andygoodliff
Douglas A. Campbell, Paul: An Apostle's Journey (Eerdmans, 2018), 207pp. The small handful of people who might be longterm readers of this blog, will know that I'm a Douglas Campbell convert, stemming from the two years that he taught me way way back in 2001-2003. He taught me to read Paul's letters and thought that made the apostle come alive and make sense. I've found it difficult to read Paul in any other way since. I'd like to think that if things had been different, and if it was say Wright or Dunn who had been my first teachers, I still would have comes to my senses when eventually reading Campbell. The problem for Douglas Campbell converts is that how do we encourage others to discover the wonders of Paul through his eyes, for his big book, The Deliverance of God is well over a (off-putting) 1000 pages. That problem is now over, for Paul An Apostle's Journey is less than 200 pages. You can read it an afternoon! Paul An Apostle's Journey is a book I can recommend to my congregation - and I will. Campbell has always approached reading Paul as both a life and a thought question,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2018 at andygoodliff
I wonder if you’ve announced anything this year? An engagement, a wedding, a birth, a new job, a graduation? Politicians are announcing things all the time. It's one announcement after another in Luke’s gospel. Angels pop up everywhere – in the temple in Jerusalem, in the town of Nazareth in Galilee, on a hillside outside Bethlehem. Each time the angel has news to announce. Angels after all are messengers. They have a message to announce. If Christmas is anything it's a time of announcement. The wait of Advent is over, there is news now to proclaim. The announcement on each occasion, to Zechariah, to Mary and to the shepherds is first ‘Do not be afraid.’ In a world, in which announcements can often be ones which fill us with fear, that leave us ‘greatly troubled’ or simply terrified, the announcement of the angels is ‘Fear not.’ In Luke’s telling of the story he names some reasons why Zechariah, Mary and the shepherds might be afraid. Yes an angel has appeared, but at the same time, and a source of more on-going fear are the names of Herod and Caesar. Herod and Caesar ruled by making sure they were feared. They... Continue reading
Posted Dec 25, 2017 at andygoodliff
Paul Fiddes, Baptist Theology and Professor of Systematic Theology, University of Oxford has published his first novel. Fiddes' first degree was a double first in English Language Literature and Theology. His theology has retained an interest in the novel as his books Freedom and Limit and The Promised End demonstrate. Continue reading
Posted Dec 20, 2017 at andygoodliff
Increase or decrease? Wide or narrow? And this week slow or fast? This week we measure our lives as disciples with regard to speed. Each week we have seen that to measure our lives as disciples of Jesus, Is a counter-cultural way of life. The world says increase yourself, promote, sell, grow And the disciple seeks to become less, that Jesus might become greater. The world says take the easiest road, the widest gate, cut corners And the disciples seeks the narrow way, the small gate. Advent has a lot to do with time and speed. We look back in time, we look forward in time, we’re asked to wait patiently, in a world that rushes headlong into Christmas. I acknowledge I am one of those ministers, who makes their church suffer Advent without Christmas, who seeks valiantly, and yes, I know, without much success, to hold their congregation in anticipation and expectation. I am a firm believer, like the writer of Ecclesiastes, that there is a time for everything, and a season for everything under heaven: a time for Advent and a time for Christmas, a time for waiting and a time for feasting, a time for getting ready... Continue reading
Posted Dec 19, 2017 at andygoodliff
Here's the best books (in no particular order) I've read in 2017. Beginnings by Stanley Hauerwas & Brian Brock Protestants: A History by Alex Ryrie Undomesticated Dissent by Curtis Freeman Jox Cox: More in Common by Brendan Cox The Book of Mary by Nicola Slee Look Back in Hope by Keith Clements Still by Lauren Winner Speaking Out - Ed Balls Golden Hill - Francis Spufford When in Romans by Beverly Gaventa Dissenting Spirit by Anthony Clarke and Paul Fiddes Dementia by John Swinton Things Can Only Get Worse by John O'Farrell Continue reading
Posted Dec 12, 2017 at andygoodliff
Increase and Decrease John 3.30 We make measurements all the time. How much water do I need to add? How long does this shelf need to be? How far is it to the post office? How long will it take to get to my holiday destination? Is this dress or pair of trousers the right size? Can I squeeze my car into that gap? Everyday life is a set of calculations and measurements. We all need a bit of basic maths. How’s yours? I want for these four Sundays of Advent to try and measure our being disciples. The gospel requires us to measure our lives. This is what I’ve discovered. The gospels talk about increase and decrease, wide and narrow, slow and fast, light and heavy. See it as an opportunity to look at your life and see if you measure up, and if not, to do something about it. Advent reminds us that Jesus could come at any moment, So we need to be awake and ready. John the Baptist’s disciples are concerned that the flow of traffic going to Jesus is getting bigger, and the interest in John is getting less. John’s agent thinks its time John... Continue reading
Posted Dec 3, 2017 at andygoodliff
Increase and Decrease John 3.30 We make measurements all the time. How much water do I need to add? How long does this shelf need to be? How far is it to the post office? How long will it take to get to my holiday destination? Is this dress or pair of trousers the right size? Can I squeeze my car into that gap? Everyday life is a set of calculations and measurements. We all need a bit of basic maths. How’s yours? I want for these four Sundays of Advent to try and measure our being disciples. The gospel requires us to measure our lives. This is what I’ve discovered. The gospels talk about increase and decrease, wide and narrow, slow and fast, light and heavy. See it as an opportunity to look at your life and see if you measure up, and if not, to do something about it. Advent reminds us that Jesus could come at any moment, So we need to be awake and ready. John the Baptist’s disciples are concerned that the flow of traffic going to Jesus is getting bigger, and the interest in John is getting less. John’s agent thinks its time John... Continue reading
Posted Dec 3, 2017 at andygoodliff
Anthony Clarke and Paul Fiddes, Dissenting Spirit: A History of Regent's Park College, 1752-2017 (Oxford: Centre for Baptist History and Heritage, 2017) I spent three years of my life at Regent's Park College, Oxford, and I remain still a semi-regular visitor. My links to the College also continue as I edit Regent's Reviews. It was interesting then to read this brand new history of the College by Anthony Clarke and Paul Fiddes. Published in the year that the college celebrates 60 years as a PPH of the University Oxford and 90 years since first arriving in Oxford. The College's first home was in Stepney in 1810, then a move to Regent's Park, where it gets its name, in 1856, before a third home in 1927, where it remains in the centre of Oxford. Clarke and Fiddes trace how the College has grown and changed in relation to the preparation of Baptist ministers, broader education and its relation to the churches. Regent's is unique amongst the Baptist Colleges and probably lots of centres for ordination training. It's faced many challenges, including, not unexpectedly financial ones. I was especially interested in the College's most recent history from the time of the Principal... Continue reading
Posted Nov 30, 2017 at andygoodliff
I remember one member of this church saying to me something like: I’m not afraid of death, what I fear is dying. This is what I want to talk about this morning. We know the difference Christ makes to death, he conquerors it, he removes its sting he breaks it power. 'There is a hope so sure, a promise so secure,' * that means the last word is not death, but life. But what difference does Christ make to dying. How do we die well? I want to tell something of the story of John Ames as we find it the novel Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. ** The novel is one long letter that Ames writes to his young son. Ames is a widow who marries again unexpectedly late in life and then finds that he has not only become a husband, but also a father. The novel begins with Ames discovering his heart is failing, that is, he is dying. So he decides to write a letter to his son. This letter is his attempt to say the things he believes as a father he should teach his son. As he says, ‘I’m trying to tell you things I... Continue reading
Posted Oct 16, 2017 at andygoodliff
This is a sermon I preached on Sunday, not actually knowing that today was World Mental Health Day. It owes a lot, as will be obvious to John Colwell (and at the end to Katherine Welby Roberts). The sermon is one of a series on subjects we often don't talk about in church. Other Sundays have addressed debt, dementia, disability, divorce (yes all D's). It is only quite recently we have begun to talk about mental health openly. Politicians talk about it more now. The royals talk about it more now. Celebrities talk about it more now. A whole industry of books on mindfulness is big business. The recognition that some people struggle with their mental health is becoming much more widely accepted. The stigma and shame that can be associated with it mental illness is slowly becoming less. My friend John is a Baptist minister, pastoring two churches and then for fifteen years was tutor in theology and ethics at Spurgeon’s College, before returning to the pastorate. He has suffered from depression all his adult life. The other side of his depression are periods of mania with feelings of great energy and enthusiasm. He is bi-polar. He says of... Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2017 at andygoodliff
News came through this morning that Robert W. Jenson has died. Here's a quote from a little book of conversations he had with this 8-yr old granddaughter. They're talking about heaven and whether it will be boring: But what the Bible really talks about finally is being taken into the life of God himself, and the life of God is just, as it were, one big excitement, a kind of explosion of excitement (From Conversations with Poppi about God, Brazos, 2006) Continue reading
Posted Sep 6, 2017 at andygoodliff
Curtis W. Freeman, Undomesticated Dissent: Democracy and the Public Virtue of Religious Nonconformity (Baylor, 2017) This new book from Baptist theologian Curtis Freeman emerged from an unplanned visit in 2005 to Bunhill Fields in London, where he discovered the graves of John Bunyan, Daniel Defoe and William Blake (amongst other nonconformists). These three are centrally placed in the courtyard and Freeman began to wonder why these three. The book then offers an exploration into each of their lives and their respected great works - Pilgrim's Progress, Robinson Crusoe and Jerusalem. In this way Freeman tells a story of dissent and the dissenting church in England, which spread to new shores, partly through the works of Bunyan, Defoe and Blake. Freeman is a great story-teller, already evidenced in his earlier work Contesting Catholicity, and Undomesticated Dissent continues to invite the reader into the world of its subjects. In this way Freeman follows the example of his mentor Jim McClendon (and most notably his work Biography as Theology), to whom Freeman dedicates this book in 'blessed memory'. Dissent, says Freeman, is not just the 'courage to say No!', it is also 'grounded in a profound 'Yes!' to Jesus Christ (p.5), and it... Continue reading
Posted Aug 22, 2017 at andygoodliff
Dpl Spurgeon's, M.Th (KCL 1992), DMin (KCL, 2009) General Superintendent, Central Area (1999-2001) Regional Minister, Central Baptist Association (2002-2004) Head of Ministry Department, Baptist Union (2004-2014) Associate Research Fellow, Spurgeon's College (2010-) Publications ‘The Power and the Glory’, Ministry Today 3 (February 1995) ‘The Church as Sign and Agent of the Kingdom’ in Stephen Finamore (ed.), On Earth as in Heaven: A Theology of Social Action for Baptist Churches (Didcot: Baptist Union, 1996) Care in a Confused Climate: Pastoral Care and Postmodern Culture (DLT, 1998) ‘Surviving and Thriving in Ministry’, Ministry Today 19 (June 2000) ‘The Pastoral Care of Pastoral Counsellors‘, Ministry Today 23 (October 2001) ‘Contemporary Models of Translocal Ministry’ in Stuart Murray (ed.), Translocal Ministry: Equipping the Churches for Mission (Didcot: Baptist Union, 2004) ‘Doing or Being: An Old Chestnut Revisited’, Baptist Minister’s Journal 228 (October 2004) With Unveiled Face: A Pastoral and Theological Exploration of Shame (DLT, 2005) ‘Training Ministerial Students in Spirituality’, Ministry Today 33 (Spring 2005) ‘We want it all, and we want it now?’, Ministry Today 39 (March 2007) 'Inclusive Representation Revisited' in Pieter J. Lalleman (ed.), Challenging to Change: Dialogues with a Radical Baptist Theologian. Essays presented to Dr Nigel G Wright on... Continue reading
Posted Aug 17, 2017 at andygoodliff
You can find a copy of this short article in the latest Baptist Minister's Journal (July 2017). Permission kindly given to reprint here. SCM Press recently hosted an event asking the question ‘Does the church really need Academic Theology?’ I wonder what a survey of our churches and Union might reveal.[i] I’m not sure the answer would be a positive one. There is probably still a suspicion of academic theology or sometimes what appears to be an indifference to it. Baptists are generally a pragmatic bunch, we don’t go much in for theological debate. Back in 1981 a small group of then younger Baptist theologians wrote A Call to Mind.[ii] They believed that with all the excitement then about church growth theory and the charismatic movement, there was also a need to think, to engage in the task of theology, not in the abstract, but for the church: for its faithfulness in a changing world, for its confidence in the gospel it proclaimed, and for its wisdom before the questions of the day. It seems to me that 35 years on, more than ever, we need a theological renewal within our Baptist life and mission. The last ten years have... Continue reading
Posted Jul 21, 2017 at andygoodliff
Following last year, Baylor University Press are offering 50% off their back catalogue Including: Steven Harmon, Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future James McClendon, The Collected Works of James McClendon, vol 1-3 Richard Hays (ed.), Revelation and the Politics of Apocalyptic Interpretation NT Wright, The Paul Debate Walter Brueggemann, Ice Axes for Frozen Seas Curtis Freeman, Contesting Catholicity Paul Fiddes et al, Baptists and the Communion of Saints Beverly Gaventa (ed.), Apocalyptic Paul And much more. Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2017 at andygoodliff
I didn't know Alan Kreider, but I know he was a gift to us Baptists in England, during his long stay in the UK, first in London at the Mennonite Centre, and then at both Northern Baptist College, Manchester and Regent's Park College, Oxford. Many Baptists appreciated his gifts theological and historical and his witness to the Mennonite way. He was a friend to us as Baptists. His early book Journey Towards Holiness had its origins in talks given at a Mainstream conference. In 2011 a festschrift of sorts - Forming Christian Habits in Post-Christendom: The legacy of Alan and Eleanor Kreider - was published by Herald Press, in which a number of British Baptists feature - Juliet Kilpin, Sian Murray-Williams, Brian Haymes, Sean Winter, Anne Wilkinson-Hayes and Glen Marshall, a small testament to the impact that Alan and Eleanor had on Baptist life. I hope over the coming days that some of our gratitude as Baptists for Alan's life will be shared by friends and family. See already from Sean Winter and Ruth Gouldbourne. Here's a short (and timely) extract from an essay Alan wrote in honour of his friend Brian Haymes: During my years in the UK I... Continue reading
Posted May 9, 2017 at andygoodliff
PhD (Harvard, 1971) London Mennonite Centre (1979-1991) Theologian in Residence, Northern Baptist College (1991-1995) Director of the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture, Regent's Park College, Oxford (1996-2000) Associate Professor of Church History, Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Indiana (2004-2009) Professor of Church History and Mission, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (2008-2011) Publications English Chantries: The Road to Dissolution (Harvard University Press, 1979) 'The Servant is not Greater than His Master": The Anabaptists and the Suffering Church', Baptist Quarterly 29 (1982) Journey Towards Holiness (Marshall Pickering, 1986) 'The Search for Roots', Anabaptism Today 1 (November 1992) 'Abolishing the Laity: An Anabaptist Perspective on Ordination' in Paul Beasley-Murray (ed.), Anyone for Ordination? (Monarch, 1993) Worship and Evangelism in Pre- Christendom (Grove, 1995) 'Lessons from Intentional Communities: Mennonite Perspectives', Theology Themes (Autumn 1995) The Change of Conversion and the Origin of Christendom (Trinity, 1999) (ed.) with Jane Shaw, Culture and the Nonconformist Tradition (University of Wales, 1999) 'When Anabaptists were Last in the British Isles' in Alan Kreider and Stuart Murray (eds.), Coming Home: Stories of Anabaptists in Britain and Ireland (Pandora, 2000) 'Christ, Culture and Truth-Telling' in Paul Fiddes (ed.), Faith in the Centre: Christianity and Culture (Smyth and Helwys, 2001) (ed.),... Continue reading
Posted May 9, 2017 at andygoodliff
Apparently the Archdeacon of Oxford thinks street preaching should be outlawed. Presumably he'd have arrested Paul in the Agora as nuisance. It is a joke, a lie and a scandal that the BMA now insists on talk of 'pregnant people' not 'pregnant women'. The ultimate mysogyny. The Cof E bishops need to curb the sometimes a bit sinister networking control exercised by Holy Trinity Brompton. In Prague: can't help feeling sad that the Czechs seem to have exchanged communism for a cult of the sinisterly-sentimental John Lennon. Prague: why do Czechs always fall for shallow Anglo-Saxon fads: Wycliffe, Britpop etc? The Church, as a militant mother, must reclaim Mothering Sunday from the American 'mother's day'. In 20thC was restarted in Nottinghamshire. Tattooed ladies belong in fairgounds. And even there one moves on fast to the gypsy fortune-teller. Sussex campus: fifty years after 1967 it still has the odd hippy. Maybe the right potion has kept them young and alive. Why do trails of soccer supporters at railway stations look so grim, stunned, mesmerised, hopeless, infantilised? Dispiriting to see English schoolchildren in uniform unisex baseball caps. Cricket caps for boys, berets for girls is our own culture. Bonkers fascist headmasters with... Continue reading
Posted Apr 19, 2017 at andygoodliff
1 English Baptist Records 2 Brian Brock and Stanley Hauerwas 3 Lauren Winner - Girl Meets God 4 Chris Ellis 5 Alan Greider - The Patient Ferment of the Church 6 William Cavanaugh - Torture and Eucharist 7 Michael Northcott - A Moral Climate 8 Barry Harvey 9 Daniel Izuzquiza 10 Kim Fabricius 11 Ruth Gouldbourne 12 David Ford - Self and Salvation 13 Robert Jenson - Conversations with Poppi about God 14 Steve Finamore 15 Miroslav Volf - Against the Tide 16 David Goodbourn 17 Keith Jones - A Shared Meal and a Common Table 18 Rowan Williams - Resurrection 19 Vincent Donovan - Christianity Rediscovered 20 William Cavanaugh - Being Christian 21 James K. A. Smith - Desiring the Kingdom 22 Charles Spurgeon 23 Scott Bader-Saye 24 Norman Wirzba - Making Peace with the Land 25 Eugene Peterson - Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places 26 Isaac Villegas - Presence 27 Walter Brueggemann - Cadences of Home 28 Rowan Williams - Being Christian 29 John Webster - Confronted by Grace 30 Jeremy Begbie - Theology, Music and Time 31 Will Willimon - Sunday Dinner 32 Sam Wells - God's Companions 33 Anne Wilkinson-Hayes 34 Philip Doddridge 35 Steven... Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2017 at andygoodliff
On this Holy Saturday, and final day of Lent, we listen to a theologian of Holy Saturday, Alan Lewis and an extract from his book Between Cross and Resurrection, completed just before his death from cancer in 1994. Like baptism, the Eucharist is profoundly personal and individual, the promise to each recipient of bread and wine that this is Christ's body broken, his blood spilt, specifically "for you." And communion, like baptism, is by definition communal: we, being many, are one, just as the loaf of many particles is one; for Christ himself, who comprises many members, is one, and we participate in him (1 Cor. 12.16-17). But above all, like baptism, the Lord's Supper is cosmic in its scope. As is understood increasingly today, through an ecumenical deprivatizing of the sacrament, this is a meal for all humanity, a messianic, doxological banquet proleptic of eschatological festivities, when humanity shall comes from east and west, north and south, to eat together at one table in God's kingdom (Lk. 13.39; cf. 1 Cor. 11.26; Lk. 22.15-18), and when every creature shall be reconciled and gathered up in hymns of praise and glory to the Maker of heaven and earth (Col 1.20;... Continue reading
Posted Apr 14, 2017 at andygoodliff
Today is Good Friday. The Old Testament scholar Patrick Miller is our thirty-ninth person in these forty days of Eucharist. ... taste and see the bread and wine that mark the goodness of God, a goodness that stands over against all suffering and tragedy and evil and wickedness that mark and mar human existence. For that too is the meaning of the death of Jesus we remember on this occasion as we eat bread and drink the wine. That strange willingness on the part of one who is the transcendent ground of all that is to take into God's own self the pain and suffering of the human lot. That is indeed scandal and foolishness - except for those who have also experienced the pain and suffering. For Jesus represents and stands with all of them in his death even as he represents and stands with God in saying No to all that. 'This is my body which is broken for you' - and for all broken bodies and minds. 'Taste and see.' Patrick Miller, Stewards of the Mysteries of God: Preaching the Old Testament - and the New (Cascade, 2013), p.130. Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2017 at andygoodliff
Today is Maundy Thursday and we listen to the preaching of Stanley Hauerwas. Often his sermons will end with a connection to the Eucharist. Here are some of them. Wheat becomes bread, and through the Spirit, bread becomes the body and blood of Christ. God is present here in this meal in a way God is present nowhere else. We are that wheat; we are that bread, which the families of the world need if they are to know God. We are the people on which the peace of God depends. We are God's eucharist; we are those children for which creation had been longing. In the celebration of this meal, God lifts up as he lifted Christ at the cross, so that the world might see the beauty of God's creation made real in a people at peace with their world. How can we not hunger to share this meal and share if often? May God continue to make us hungry for it. So now let us come to the table, the table to which we have been led by this cross, the table where God welcomes us as friends, to handle his Christ. Here God invites us to... Continue reading
Posted Apr 12, 2017 at andygoodliff
Today's extract comes from Richard Lischer moving memoir Stations of the Heart, which tells the story of the final months of his son Adam's life has he battles with cancer. Late one morning, when Adam and I were sitting in the lower level of his house with nothing to do, he started talking about the Eucharist again. It was another of his monologues that began from a standing start, with no introduction. 'If you have cancer and you want to give to God a taste of the hell you are going through, you get down on your knees in front of a cross and tell him about it. Then you come to the altar and give God everything you have, and God gives you everything He has. That's how Father Steve puts it.' We were no longer discussing the composition of the communion elements like a couple of scholastics; he was gathering steam like a street preacher, and he was good at it: 'You say, "This is my body," and you bring it to the altar like a piece of bad meat, and God says, "No, this is my body." You come naked, and God dresses you. You come hungry,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2017 at andygoodliff
This strange Communion scene comes from near the end of Graham Greene's novel Monsignor Quixote (thanks to Kim Fabricius for suggesting it). Father Quixote led them down into the shadows of the great church lit only by the half moon which shone through the east window. He walked firmly to the altar and began to say the words of the old Latin Mass, but it was in an oddly truncated form. He began with the response 'Et introibo ad altare Dei, qui laetificat juventutem meam.' 'Is he conscious of what's he doing?' Professor Pilbeam whispered. 'God knows,' Father Leopoldo answered. The mass went rapidly on - no epistle, no gospel: it was as though Father Quixote were racing towards the consecration. Because he feared interruption from the bishop? the Mayor wondered. From the Guardia? Even the long list of saints from Peter to Damien was omitted. 'When he finds no paten and no chalice, surely he will wake,' Father Leopoldo said. The Mayor moved a few steps nearer to the altar. He was afraid that, when the moment of waking came, Father Quixote might fall, and he wanted to be near enough to catch him in his arms. 'Who the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2017 at andygoodliff