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baptist minister and PhD student
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Extracts from Contesting Catholicity: Theology for Other Baptists by Curtis Freeman (Baylor, 2014): Other Baptists are sick, and they know it. This sickness is terminal, and it is shared by others. But there is good news; there is a cure. Other Baptists find the cure for their alterity by participating in the life of the triune God with the communion of saints in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church. (p.23) Other Baptists are committed to continuing reform and retrieving the tradition of the church. Other Baptists have said farewell to the establishment of Christendom in search of a contesting catholicity. Other Baptists long to see their churches take a new direction that is neither conservative nor liberal nor something in between. Other Baptists affirm the beliefs and practices that have shaped the identity and mission of baptistic communities through the centuries, but they also desire to be in continuity with the historic Christian tradition. Other Baptists seek to move beyond modernity, yet they are deliberate about retrieving a connection between faith and practice of the once, holy, catholic, and apostolic church. Other Baptists do not claim to have the final word but rather invite the wider community of Baptists... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at andygoodliff
On the news that J. Louis Martyn has died. Here are some words written by one his former students Beverly Gaventa (in an article from 2005): My introduction to Lou came during my second semester, when I enrolled in his exegesis class on Romans. To tell the truth, I took that course solely because it fulfilled a graduation requirement. My interest in biblical studies at the time was roughly the equivalent of my current interest in professional football. By the end of the semester, I was studying the course offerings for the following year with an eye to 1 Corinthians and the Gospel of John, not to mention digging out my abandoned under- graduate Greek textbook. To say that I experienced a change of mind is too little. I was grabbed by the text, and it would not let me go. More than 30 years later it still will not let me go. What happened? I saw exegesis in the making. Lou would come into the classroom, sit down at the end of the table of maybe 15 students, and pull out from his briefcase a Greek New Testament, held together by layers of electrical tape, along with a file... Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2015 at andygoodliff
A Sermon for the Marriage of Matt Belcher and Aimee Gilroy 23rd May 2015 People often say your wedding day is the happiest day of your lives.* Matt and Aimee, I hope this isn’t. Weddings take a lot of planning and they cost a fair bit of money and they require dressing up on a scale that is rarely repeated again, and getting married is not something you do every day of your lives, hopefully you only do it once. So we might lean towards saying a wedding day should be the happiest day of a couple’s life. Certainly our culture, including the church, puts a lot of energy into encouraging people to find the perfect partner, Mr or Mrs Right and arriving at a wedding day can have taken a lot of heart ache on the way, a lot of soul-searching and questioning, do I really love him or her? and so it might be quite right to say a wedding day should be the happiest day of your life, but as I said, Matt and Aimee, I hope it isn’t. I hope this is a great day, I hope it is a wonderful and happy day, yet I... Continue reading
Posted May 26, 2015 at andygoodliff
As we approach this year's Baptist Assembly (which is a much shorter and will be less well attended) a statement from last year's Assembly has emerged back into the spotlight in the news that one Association of the Union is seeking to dissent from it. Last year's statement sought to find a way to recognise our Baptist principles of local church government and our wider associating as a Union (see here for my reflection on it). The Union changed the ministerial rules to allow a minister and the church in which served (which was already free) to discern whether they could take part in blessing or performing a same sex marriage. According to this news report, the West of England Baptist Association has sought to take the move to disallow any church that comes to the decision to register their building as a place where same sex marriages could take place, by exerting their control of church trust deeds: It appears to say that it would refuse outright permission for any church held by the WEBA Trust Company (the ultimate 'owner' of most of the churches in its region) to be used for a civil partnership ceremony. In 2007, there... Continue reading
Posted Apr 25, 2015 at andygoodliff
Who will roll away the stone? Mark 16.1-8 Easter Sunday 5th April 2015 Belle Vue Baptist Who will roll away the stone? Jesus is not asking the question this time. The women disciples are. Who will roll away the stone? Jesus is hidden behind the stone. Jesus who has died is hidden behind the stone. Jesus in whom they had hoped, with whom they had lived, and to whom they had followed as Lord. Who will roll away the stone? Who will roll away the stone so they can at least give his body the honour its due and they can cling just one more time to him, before he becomes just a memory. And if these women are asking the question, so are we, who will roll away the stone? Jesus you called me and I followed Jesus you promised and I believed Jesus you gave me faith and hope – small like a mustard seed, but you planted me in soil ready to grow. but … but now there is this stone in the way … this big stone that I can’t move. A stone that represents my cynicism – I can’t get past that you’re just too... Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2015 at andygoodliff
This year's Easter Icons is in the street. For several years it was hosted in a church, last year we were in a empty shop in a shopping centre, this year we've gone on to the streets. 14 pieces of 'art' in and around Southend High Street, even one at the end of the Pier, that seek to tell the Easter story. There's a website here to accompany the trail. Continue reading
Posted Apr 1, 2015 at andygoodliff
Mark 10.35-45 Palm Sunday 29th March 2015 Belle Vue Baptist Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with baptism I am baptized with? A question appropriate at the beginning of holy week where we will remember Jesus in the upper room, in the garden, in the courtroom, on the cross and then in the tomb. Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with baptism I am baptized with? Throughout Lent we have been faced with the challenge of following Jesus and none more so when he asks us this question. What makes a mature Christian? Sometimes we like to talk about so and so being a mature Christian and often this can mean they’ve been following Jesus a long time. Well in Mark’s gospel that doesn’t mean much. James and John have been following Jesus from near day one. Three years in the company of Jesus. Three years of hearing Jesus teach and watching him work. We might think they are ready for graduation, they must be reaching the advance levels of the stages of faith, they are surely ready to be called ‘mature’? James and John approach Jesus, they want to speak to... Continue reading
Posted Mar 29, 2015 at andygoodliff
Brian Haymes is organising a one day discussion of Curtis Freeman's Contesting Catholicity on Tuesday 7 July at Didsbury Baptist Church, Manchester. Freeman's book is a very important book and should be on every Baptist minister's reading list. Its great to hear that there are those in the UK reading it. If you want to go to the day, please let Brian know at brian [dot] haymes [at] ntlworld [dot] com. Continue reading
Posted Mar 26, 2015 at andygoodliff
We pray for those like John the Baptist, a voice crying out, grant them the gift of truthful speech We pray for those like Andrew who responded to your call to follow grant them the gift of perseverance We pray for those who listen to your teaching grant them the gift of learning We pray for those like Simon’s mother in law, who respond to your grace with service grant them the gift of joy in serving We pray for those like the man with leprosy, who are made outcasts, grant them the gift of being accepted We pray for those like the paralysed man, who are forgiven grant them the gift of thankfulness We pray for those like Levi who are loved by you, and hated by others, grant them the gift of loving We pray for those like the Pharisees, who only see in black and white grant them the gift of grace We pray for those like Jesus’ family who feel helpless grant them the gift of trust to let go We pray for those like the crowd who listened to your parables grant them the gift of sight to find your kingdom We pray for those... Continue reading
Posted Mar 19, 2015 at andygoodliff
The latest edition of the (Baptist) journal Review & Expositor (February 2015) contains a set of essays by Baptists on Hauerwas with a reply by Hauerwas. Contributors include Curtis Freeman, Barry Harvey, Elizabeth Newman, Ralph Wood, Mark Medley, Jonathan Tran and Kyle Childress. Freeman writes about Hauerwas' Baptist project, seeking to encourage Baptists to move beyond the confines of their often narrow theology. This has been taken up by several Baptists, Freeman being the best example - see his Contesting Catholicity. Continue reading
Posted Feb 18, 2015 at andygoodliff
Most of the time we read only a few verses, maybe a chapter, but rarely if ever do we get the whole story from beginning to end. This morning we had a go at hearing the whole of Mark's gospel from beginning to end. We heard it through twenty-five different characters (there was room for many more) recounting their encounter with Jesus as Mark's gospel tells it. A door stood at the front of the church and through the service, different characters telling us of the Jesus they met. Out of the door came John the Baptist, Andrew, Levi, Jarius' daughter, the Syro-Phoneician woman, a child, Peter, Judas, the woman who anointed Jesus at Bethany, Pilate, Joseph of Arimathea, Mary Magdalene and many more. Mark's gospel is full of encounter, never really stopping, before Jesus is meeting another life. We got a vivid sense of all the myriad of responses to Jesus that the gospel of Mark presents you with. We thanked God for the gospel, we said sorry for so often making it dull and we prayed for others through the eyes of the different characters with their need for faith, courage, welcome, mercy and so on. We sang... Continue reading
Posted Feb 15, 2015 at andygoodliff
John Bell and Graham Maule of the Iona Community wrote a series of excellent imagined conversations between Jesus and Peter (originally written in the 1980s, but published as a set by Wild Goose, 1999). This is my attempt to write one between Jesus and Mary as part of a service today which will engage with the BMS resource Dignity. Mary: Jesus? Jesus: Yes Mary? Mary: You never seem to care what anybody thinks. Jesus: What do you mean? Mary: Well here we all are – us women – and here you are. Most rabbis have no time for women disciples. Most rabbis seem ok encouraging the men to pray ‘Thank God I’m not a Gentile, not a slave and not a woman.’ Jesus: Mary I’m not most rabbis. Anyone the scriptures say: “God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Mary: Jesus, do you remember Peter’s mother-in-law? How you healed her and immediately she was rushing round the house trying to make you a meal and she kept telling Peter what to do, he went bright red. Jesus: Yes that was funny. Do you remember when I healed... Continue reading
Posted Feb 8, 2015 at andygoodliff
The first thing to say is Doug Campbell is to be congratulated on the length of his new book, at under 500 pages it is half the length of his otherwise wonderful The Deliverance of God (DoG). Framing Paul is still not a short book, because likes it predecessor, Campbell once again seeks to make his argument as thorough and tight as possible. Framing Paul seeks to solve the issue of when, where and why of Paul's letters. Campbell reconstructs the life of Paul from the letters that are present within the Bible. Like the pre-history to DoG, Campbell has been working around these questions for a long time. Over the years he has published several articles that seek to anchor the life and letters of Paul in history and has had a working timeline for well over a decade. As a student of Campbell's at King's in the early 2000s, much of what the book argues was already in place then, although Campbell has continued to fine-tune the argument in the years following. Campbell's language of 'framing' (borrowed from Derrida) indicates that his aim is to discover the 'Pauline story that frames the letters' (p.12), that is, the Pauline... Continue reading
Posted Feb 4, 2015 at andygoodliff
Yesterday today was Education Sunday and so I had a go at asking What has the church got to say about education? The style of the sermon was inspired by open letter Stanley Hauerwas wrote Christians beginning college. Every weekday since September we take Kirsten to school. She will be doing this until at least 16 or 18 and then she might go on to university. Getting an education is just what happens, so has the church got anything to say about school? The rest of the sermon is going to come in a form of a letter, a letter to someone just starting their education. Dear Kirsten, you are just beginning your education in school and learning to love it and at times loathe the idea of it. I pray that as each year goes by, you will learn to love it more than loathe it, that you will see that anything worth doing takes effort, and learning is worth doing; that not everything can be done for you, or simply given to you. I pray that as you come to see the great diversity of ways at looking at our world – through geography, chemistry, physics, biology, maths;... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2015 at andygoodliff
1. The Work of Theology by Stanley Hauerwas (Eerdmans) - latest collection of essays; topics to include humour, writing theology, the Holy Spirit and a response to Nick Healy's critical introduction 2. The Nazareth Manifesto by Sam Wells (Wiley-Blackwell) - Wells on community engagement, justice and poverty and the importance of being with. 3. A Free Corrector: Colin Gunton and the Legacy of Augustine by Joshua McNall (Fortress) - great to see another book on Gunton's theology to join work by David Hohne, Bradley Green, William B. Whitney, Hans Schaeffer and Lincoln Harvey. 4. Lila by Marilynne Robinson (I know this is already out, but waiting for ppb) 5. Into Your Hand: Confronting Good Friday by Walter Brueggemann (Cascade) - This is Brueggemann on the seven words from the cross, which will be a good addition to ones on my shelf by Hauerwas, Seitz, Rutledge, Willimon and Radcliffe 6. Blue Labour edited by Ian Geary and Adrian Pabst (I. B. Tauris) - with essays by Luke Bretherton and Maurice Glasman and a number of Labour MPs 7. The Crucifixion by Fleming Rutledge (Eerdmans) 8. Paul and the Gift by John Barclay (Eerdmans) 9. The State of Believing by Pete Ward... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2015 at andygoodliff
1. Stations of the Heart - The year began by reading Richard Lischer's account of his son Adam's dying. A powerful and challenging read. 2. Born of a Virgin? - This is an excellent detailed exploration by Andrew Lincoln, Professor of New Testament at the University of Gloucester, on the question of whether the New Testament affirms a doctrine of the virgin birth and whether it is a necessary doctrine. 2. Honey From the Lion - The referundum on Scottish independence dominated 2014, in Scotland at least, the rest of the UK only took notice during the last four weeks, which probably says a lot about the Scottish-English relationship. Honey From the Lion was Doug Gay's well-timed engagement with the question of the ethics of nationalism. Gay argues for the possibility of an ethical nationalism and came out in favour of Scottish independence. This was a book on how political theology should be written. 3. Beyond Old and New Perspectives - A collection of essays edited by Chris Tilling responding to Douglas Campbell's The Deliverance of God, plus responses to the responses from Douglas himself. The soul of Pauline theology is currently a battle between Douglas and Tom (Wright) -... Continue reading
Posted Jan 3, 2015 at andygoodliff
What time is it?* On Christmas day I want to ask what time is it? Most of you are probably thinking why didn’t someone give him a watch for Christmas. What time is it? We read this morning from the apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians and there he says ‘when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman’ (Gal 4.4). What time is it? Paul says it is the time of Jesus, the Son. We live in a ‘present evil age’ (Gal 1.4) says Paul, but now the time has fully come and God has sent his Son, born of a woman. Into our world, God has interrupted time, and has begun a new time: the time of Jesus. The author of the story enters the story and begins to write a new chapter and give the whole story a new end. The whole of time now finds its meaning in the birth of Jesus. The phrase ‘the time has fully come’ could mean that everything had happened that needed to happen in order for God to see his Son, God’s plan from the beginning of creation through Adam and Eve Abraham and Sarah... Continue reading
Posted Dec 25, 2014 at andygoodliff
Stephen Cottrell has written some fantastic books in recent years - The Things He Carried: A Journey to the Cross The Nail: Being Part of the Passion Christ in the Wilderness: Reflecting on the Paintings of Stanley Spencer The Things He Said: The Story of the First Easter All written for Lent and Easter. Walking Backwards to Christmas is his first book for Advent and Christmas. It's brilliant. In resembles The Nail as it offers a series of monologues from different characters in the story. However rather than telling the story from beginning to end, he tells it from the end to the beginning, beginning with Anna in the temple (Luke 2), and the journeying backwards through Rachel (a mother who has lost a child to Herod's massacre), Herod, Casper, David (a shepherd), Martha (innkeeper), Joseph, Elizabeth, Mary and back further to Isaiah and finally Moses. Cottrell's inspiration comes from a painting by Albert Herbert, pictured on the front cover called Nativity With the Burning Bush. Cottrell's imaginative imagining of each character's feelings and choices pushes the traditional story in new directions. Particularly powerful are the chapters on Anna, Rachel, Martha, Elizabeth and Mary - the grief and pain, the... Continue reading
Posted Dec 22, 2014 at andygoodliff
May the things that make for hate decrease and the things that make for love increase May the things that make for war decrease and the things that make for peace increase May the things that make for greed decrease and the things that make for generosity increase May the things that make for speed decrease and the things that make for patience increase May the things that make for fear decrease and the things that make for welcome increase May the things that make for poverty decrease and the things that make for equality increase May the things that make for loneliness decrease and the things that make for community increase May the things that make for slavery decrease and the things that make for freedom increase May the things that make for the damage of creation decrease and things that make for the care of the world increase May the things that make for indifference and apathy decrease and the things that make for concern and compassion increase May the things that make for lies and pretence decrease and the things that make for truth-telling increase May the things that make for enmity decrease and the things that... Continue reading
Posted Dec 14, 2014 at andygoodliff
A few weeks ago, I was at a conference in Amsterdam, where a Baptist theologian named Curtis Freeman offered some lectures titled ‘Undomesticated Dissent’ which were reflections on what it means for a people whose story is Baptist, who were birthed in dissent from the status quo, who refused to conform to the imposition of religion from the state. Freeman said that Baptists understood dissent to mean - a deep suspicion of the powers - a fierce conviction of the lordship of Christ - a hopeful imagination of God’s coming kingdom I share this because perhaps John the Baptist was the first Baptist. He was certainly one, like Elijah before him, who dissented from the accepted order of the world. When Luke introduces us to the adult John, he lists the powers of the day – Casaer, the governor of Judaea Pontius Pilate, the local kings Herod and Philip, the high priests Annas and Caiaphas and then he names John son of Zechariah, who was living in the desert (Luke 3.1-2) Luke’s point is to identify John as God’s alternative ‘power’ in the world, John is the one to whom the word of God comes. John is one who expresses... Continue reading
Posted Dec 1, 2014 at andygoodliff
This evening saw Regent's Park College honour Paul Fiddes with two festschrifts. Paul, Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Oxford - a title uniquely conferred on him in 2002 - and former Principal of Regent's Park College and current Director of Research, is the pre-eminent Baptist theologian at work in the world today. It was then more than fitting that the contribution he has made to the task of theology, both with academia and the church be recognised. The evening was a planned surprise of which Paul had no prior knowledge - rarely do you see him stuck for words, but his speech in response was brief, demonstrating how touched he was by the presence of friends and colleagues and the two books. Jürgen Moltmann, who taught Paul for a year back in 1976, started the evening by giving a lecture on behalf of the Centre of Christianity and Culture based at Regent's (celebrating 20 years this year, having been birthed by Paul in the early 1990s). Moltmann named Paul as a 'radical Baptist.' The evening then continued to present Paul with the festschrifts, which included a speech from Rex Mason, former tutor in Old Testament at Regent's.... Continue reading
Posted Nov 25, 2014 at andygoodliff
I heard today that David Goodbourn has died. I did not really know David Goodbourn. I remember spending a few evenings with others at Baptist Union Council where he was present. He made lots of contributions to Baptist life and to ecumenism, as well as theological education amongst adults. He will be missed. In October 2013 with knowledge that he was dying he wrote a moving article which was published in the URC Reform magazine. There is a obituary here written by Simon Oxley. PhD (Manchester, 1989) Tutor in Lay-Training, Northern Baptist College - 1973-1985 Dean of the Scottish Churches' Open College, and Assistant Director (College Education) for the Church of Scotland Board of Parish Education Tutor, Scottish Baptist College General Secretary of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland - 1999-2006 Member of the WCC Commission on Education and Ecumenical Formation President, Partnership for Theological Education, Luther King House - 2005-2011 Associate Lecturer, International Baptist Theological Seminary Editorial Board, Journal of Adult Theological Education Trustee, Baptist Union - 2011-2013 Publications 'The Learning Needs of Christian Adults', British Journal of Adult Theological Education (1988) 'Father, it is right and fitting', Baptist Praise and Worship (Oxford, 1991) 'A Churches Open College for... Continue reading
Posted Nov 9, 2014 at andygoodliff
Curtis W. Freeman, Contesting Catholicity: Theology for Other Baptists (Baylor, 2014), 466pp. This is a very very good book and this is indicated by those who have commended it - Sarah Coakley, Ephraim Radner, Carl Braaten, David Tracy, Gerald O'Collins , Robert Louis Wilken and fellow Baptist, Paul Fiddes. This may well be one of the most important books written by a Baptist, both for its vision of Baptist life for Baptists and also for its vision of the church for those of other traditions. The book tells something of Freeman's theological pilgrimage to becoming an 'Other Baptist.' The term 'Other Baptist' having its origins in being the only box Freeman felt he could tick in a list of various types of Baptist. There is something then of the confessional nature in the book. In Freeman's usage it describes a Baptist who is catholic, one who is seeking to chart a way beyond fundamentalism and liberalism. Freeman defines an Other Baptist as one in which there may well be: frustration with both lukewarm liberalism and hyper fundamentalism; a desire to confess the faith once delivered to all the saints, not as a matter of coercion, but as a simple acknowledgement... Continue reading
Posted Oct 23, 2014 at andygoodliff
Centre for Baptist History and Heritage (Regent’s Park College) & The Baptist Historical Society Day Conferences Remaining in 2014 Saturday 22 November at Regent’s Park College 10.00 am – 4.30 pm. “Baptists and the Communion of Saints” Papers: ‘The Communion of Saints and the Mystery of God” by Paul S. Fiddes (Principal Emeritus Regent’s Park College and Professor of Systematic Theology, University of Oxford.) ‘The Communion of Saints and the Re-Thinking of the Church’, by Brian Haymes (Formerly Principal, Bristol Baptist College.) ‘The Communion of Saints and the Vitality of Memory’, by Richard Kidd (Formerly Principal, Northern Baptist Learning Community). This study-day will mark the launch in the UK of a book co-authored by the three speakers: Baptists and the Communion of Saints. A Theology of Covenanted Disciples (Baylor University Press, 2014) This conference is without cost to attend. But please register by emailing secure a place, and bring your own packed lunch (or buy sandwiches nearby): tea and coffee provided freely. Saturday 6 December at Regent’s Park College 10.00 am – 4.30 pm. “Movements for Peace in 1914” A German-British Conference Commemorating the Founding in August 1914 of the World Alliance for Promoting International Friendship through the Churches... Continue reading
Posted Oct 6, 2014 at andygoodliff
Paul Fiddes, Brian Haymes and Richard Kidd, Baptists and the Communion of Saints: A Theology of Covenanted Disciples (Baylor, 2014), 232pp. Baptists have had very little to say, at least, constructively about the communion of saints. Well, that isn't wholly true, as Brian Haymes, one of the three authors of this new book on the doctrine points out. Baptists and the Communion of Saints is written by three friends - Paul Fiddes, Brian Haymes and Richard Kidd. Three friends who have be colloborating theologically together (with others) for over 30 years. The idea for the book emerged from a paper given by Haymes on the communion of saints back in 2006 and from that they decided to write a joint book that looks to see if anything can be said from a Baptist perspective on this doctrine that receives little attention. The big theme of the book is to take a Baptist theology of covenant (which they wrote about first in 1985 in a little book called Bound to Love) and join it with a theology of communion. Each of the authors brings something of themselves to their two chapters - Fiddes his interest in covenant, participation and his recent... Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2014 at andygoodliff