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AndyGoodliff
baptist minister and PhD student
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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 2 days ago 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
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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
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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
Today Steven Bouma-Prediger and Brian Walsh describe a scene of folk receiving communion. This Sunday is Communion Sunday for Edna and her children in the wooden pew at the little pink church in Waxahachie. As the minister speaks the words of the institution ('This is my body ... this is my blood'), the choir begins to sing the familiar evangelical hymn 'I Come to the Garden Alone.' The chorus ('And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells I am his own') provides the backdrop was a silver tray containing plastic cups of grape juice is passed from person to person down the pews. Upon drinking the symbolic blood of Jesus, each person says to his or her neighbour, 'The peace of God.' In the company of those partaking of communion and passing the peace, you notice an elderly woman. This woman had been homeless, living in her car, when she was killed by the tornado that raged through town. But now she is among those celebrating the Lord's Supper. Behind the nameless woman, seated on the aisle near the back, you see Moze, an unexpected presence in this segregated white church. Furthermore, the Klan had... Continue reading
Posted Apr 9, 2017 at andygoodliff
As holy week is about to begin tomorrow, one final hymn, from nonconformist Philip Doddridge (1702-1751). My God, now is your table spread, your cup with love still overflows: so may your children here be fed as Christ to us his goodness shows. This holy feast, which Jesus makes a banquet of his flesh and blood how glad each one who comes and takes this sacred drink, this royal food! His gifts that richly satisfy are yet to some in vain displayed: did not for them the saviour die may they not share the children's bread? My God, here let your table be a place of joy for all your guests, and may each one salvation see who now its sacred pledges tastes. Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2017 at andygoodliff
Today's extract comes from the Baptist Anne Wilkinson-Hayes as she reflects on the Lord's Supper in light of the work of Alan and Eleanor Kreider. "Oh by the way," concluded the worship leader at the end of the service I was visiting, "There's communion on the tables at the back - help yourself on the way out ... if you want." I was stunned, and all the more the fact that everyone around me seemed to accept this statement as normal. But was it any worse than the service I attended on a freezing cold Christmas Eve in a beautiful twelfth-century building, where the liturgy was pared down to the absolute minimum, conducted at speed and with all the soul of a fast-food outlet, without even the perfunctory "Have a nice day"? What have we don etc the expression of sharing the Lord's Supper that makes it such a pale shadow of the Kreiders' aspiration to 'joyful communal thanksgiving'? I have had good experiences of communion. The church were I was a member in Australia had an unusually rich liturgical life for a Baptist church. The Eucharist was very much the focus and climax of the beautiful liturgy, but the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 6, 2017 at andygoodliff
Sam Wells explores how to receive communion. Where the majority of Baptists will sit and remain in their seat to receive communion, perhaps something to think about here. One local congregation found it difficult to decide whether they should sit, stand or kneel to receive communion . Kneeling seemed appropriate to some, because it embodied humility. But some said that, without an altar rail, it asked too much of people with disabilities. It seemed that sitting was the posture that stressed equality, because everybody looked and felt much the same. But it was felt that, besides being too comfortable, remaining in one's seat suggested that God made the whole journey, with almost no response from his people. Standing in a circle became the norm. It stressed the differences of height, age, and physical ability, and it made it necessary for some to rest on the strength of others. Though some said they felt unworthy to stand, others pointed out that Christ had enabled, even commanded them to stand. and that standing was a symbol of the resurrection. By standing in circle, the congregation realised they did not just eat of one body - they were one body. Samuel Wells, God's... Continue reading
Posted Apr 5, 2017 at andygoodliff
Today we listen to a small extract from an early book by Will Willimon on the Lord's Supper. A friend of mine says he's skeptical of my emphasis upon the Lord's Supper as a meal, as a time of fellowship and life, to the exclusion of some of the former stress upon Holy Communion as a time of sacrifice and death. "At Holy Communion, are we coming to the table or to the altar?" he asks. In recent years, we have rediscovered the ancient emphasis upon the table. The old altars, which were pushed against the back wall of the sanctuary and placed on high steps away from the people in the Middle Ages, have been converted to small tables , brought out into the light, set in the midst of the congregation, as they were in the early church. My friend questions some of this. He does not mind the recovery of the Lord's Supper as a meal, but he wonders if, beneath our current emphasis upon the fellowship and the joy of the sacrament, we may be avoiding some of its more threatening, more challenging implications. He reminds me that a table is more accessible than an altar.... Continue reading
Posted Apr 4, 2017 at andygoodliff
Jeremy Begbie, reflecting on the Eucharist from the perspective of music, considers how the Lord's Supper stabilises and destabilises. The repetition of the Eucharist stabilises. Here God regularly re-calls the Christian community to know again the transforming power of the cross - here the Church's generative and inexhaustible theme is heard and sung again, here 'the Lord's death is proclaimed' (1 Cor. 11.26). At every Eucharist, in being opened to Christ by the Spirit, we are opened to his past, bearing upon us. However, the very same eucharistic repetition also destabilises. To be opened out repeatedly to Christ's past is to be opened out to a future anticipated in him, and thus to experience a re-charing of God's promise of a new future. It is to be incorporated into a forward momentum of the Spirit which activities in us an increased longing - 'until he comes.' To speak of stabilising and destabilising here is not to speak of a dialectic of opposites set against each other, or of successive phases of a process (as if we first 'look back' and then 'look forward'); in music, the accumulated tension at an upper level is generated by the repeated 'return' to the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 3, 2017 at andygoodliff
From a sermon by the late John Webster delivered at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Maundy Thursday 2001. ... The memorial which is instituted tonight and which we are commanded to continue is a memorial not of the Last Supper, but of his death. Maundy Thursday is about Good Friday. And to continue week by week, day by day, to celebrate the Lord's Supper is to lodge at the heart of the Church the single fact of the death of the Lord. This means, immediately, that there is an inescapable backward reference in every act of gathering for the Lord's Supper. The Christian Eucharist is a memorial. But what is a memorial? Clever theologians sometimes take me to one side with a kindly look in their eyes and explain to a poor benighted Protestant like me that in the Bible remembering doesn't mean calling to mind something past, but rather reactivating or re-enacting the past so that it's powerfully present among us now. But though I'm open to argument, I don't in the end think that's really right. It's not right because whenever we start talking in terms of making something present, we cannot avoid taking away from the uniqueness and... Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2017 at andygoodliff
Rowan Williams again. For every year (I think) of his time as Archbishop, Rowan gave lectures for Holy Week in Canterbury. Many have now been published - Tokens of Trust; The Lion's World; Being Christian; Meeting God in Paul; Meeting God in Mark and most recently God With Us: The Meaning of the Cross and Resurrection Then and Now. Today comes from the chapter on Eucharist in Being Christian. One of the most transformingly surprising things about Holy Communion is that it obliges you to see the person next to you as wanted by God. God wants that person's company as well as mine. How much simpler if God only wanted my company and that of those I had decide to invite. But God does not play that particular game. And the transforming effect of looking at other Christians as people whose company God wants, is - by the look of things - still sinking in for a lot of Christians, and taking rather a long time ... Rowan Williams, Being Christian (SPCK, 2014), p.51. Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2017 at andygoodliff
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In the last month and a bit, four new books from British Baptists have been published - history, theology, ministry and spanning 17th, 18th and the 20th century. Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2017 at andygoodliff