1—7 October 2007
Issue No. 37
Biblical GRADUATE school of theology
P. E Satterthwaite: A couple of Good Books about the Church
Does the topic of the church interest you? Do you try to keep abreast of at least some of the developments in the church in Singapore and worldwide, and do you look on these developments with hope or alarm (or both)? Is the topic of church renewal a matter of concern to you, as it is to many Christians in the West?
If your answers to the above questions are mainly ‘yes’, then this week and next week I shall be reviewing two books you might be interested to read.
The first of them, The Logic of Renewal, by William J. Abraham (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), is a wide-ranging but (mainly) easy-to-read survey of recent and contemporary proposals regarding the renewal of the church.
In the successive chapters of the book Abraham pits over against each other the views of two different people (not all them still living) who have in different ways addressed the topic.
In c. 1 we find James Draper, a Southern Baptist who insists that a right understanding of how to interpret Scripture is the key to renewal, set over against Dennis Bennett, a charismatic for whom the key was baptism by the Holy Spirit. Chapter 2 presents the views of Lesslie Newbigin, former bishop in the Church of South India, who argued that the church’s primary need was to regain a confidence in God’s self-revelation in Christ as the basis for all true understanding, and those of the Episcopal bishop John Spong, who holds that much of the teaching of the Bible must be jettisoned if the church is to have anything to say to the contemporary world.
Christ, from whom all blessings flow,
Perfecting the saints below,
Hear us, who your nature share,
Who your mystic body are.
Move and actuate and guide.
Diverse gifts to all divide;
Placed according to your will,
Let us all our work fulfil.
Sweetly may we all agree,
Touched with loving sympathy;
Kindly for each other care,
Every member feel its share.
Charles Wesley (1707—1788)
I pray that they may all be one. Father! May they be in us, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they be one, so that the world will believe that you sent me.
(From John 17)
Other chapters present us with Roman Catholic views, represented by the radical Rosemary Radford Ruether and the conservative Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict); with the views of those who emphasise liturgical renewal and the development of a different view of Christian community; with the views of two Anglicans, Don Cupitt, an atheist in all but name whose vision of the kingdom of God is radically secular, and Edward Norman, an Anglo-Catholic for whom the chief problem with the Anglican church today is its too-ready acquiescence in secularism.
Peter Wagner, the theorist of church growth, who sees little future in the established church and has during his career placed his hopes in a number of ‘apostolic’ movements that have taken place mainly on the fringes of the church, is paired with R.R. Reno, who agrees that the church in the West is in a sadly diminished state, but still insists that Christians have no other place to live and perhaps begin rebuilding than amidst the ruins of the church. Also honourably mentioned in this book are Martin Luther King and Oscar Romero, the Roman Catholic archbishop of El Salvador, both of whom saw that the gospel has social and political implications, and both of whom were murdered because of their opposition to unjust social structures. On top of this Abraham has his own proposals: renewal comes from the work of the Holy Spirit, and also from the canonical tradition which is the rich legacy of the work of the Holy Spirit in past generations of the church.
You won’t agree with everything in this book: how could you, when the views presented are so diverse? But the diversity of the book is its strength: almost certainly there will be some writers among those that Abraham discusses that you will want to read in more detail. In general, there is much in this book to stimulate reflection on what it means to be a loyal member of the body of Christ at the beginning of the 21st century.
Bible Lands Study Tours,2007
Tour 1 Nov 19 to Dec 3 (15 days)THE SPLENDOUR OF EGYPT & ISRAEL
Tour 2 Dec 07 to 18 (12 days) FOLLOWING THE FOOTSTEPS OF PAUL
Tour 3 Dec 17 to 29 (13 days) CHRISTMAS IN BETHLEHEM
Estd Cost: $3,900
Registration for Tours #1 & #2 is opened & those interested to obtain details may contact Serene at firstname.lastname@example.org
* Please note that the itinerary for Tour #3 is on the drawing board and shall be ready soon.
Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!
1 Chronicles 16:34
We want to give thanks to Almighty God for answering our prayers. To date He has brought us 24 co-hosts. He has also moved some to donate to the dinner fund even though they are unable to attend. Praise the Lord!
Let's continue to look to Him to fill up the tables. Surely He knows our needs, and He is well pleased if we acknowledge our shortcomings while simply rely and trust Him, waiting upon His goodness alone to bring us the co-hosts and the guests in His good time. So let's pray.
Pray also that all who receive the dinner flyers will be moved to support our cause. Continue to pray for the DOC to seek the Lord for guidance and wisdom to tie up all loose ends. The Lord is our Wisdom!"
Public lectures by Prof. James Houston:
· “Reflections on Screwtape Letters: Lewis’ Insights into our Temptable Natures.” 2 Nov 07 (Fri), 7.30 pm at Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church
· “Till We have Faces: Lewis’ Reflections on the Mystery of Becoming Persons.” 3 Nov 07 (Sat), 7.00 pm at Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church
This week our speaker is Khamh Cung Nung. Next week we may have a guest speaker or Dr Quek if he returns. Come and be surprised - your presence is always welcome.
Countdown to Oct 20th ... Our Fun N Sports Day!
Have you registered yet? The organisers would appreciate very much your early response. This is to facilitate catering for food and planning of activities. So do, do, take action!
Already we have wonderfully generous people among us donating prizes for winners of ticket draws and games. If you chance to have “give-able” items at home that would make someone else happy, why not bring them in to us? The fun is in the sharing!
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. So join us and prove that you are anything but dull!
31 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088454 Tel: 62276815 Fax: 62276816 Email: email@example.com
To access previous issues of BTW please click archives
God of the nomad and the pilgrim, may we find our security in you and not in our possessions. May our homes be open to guests and our hearts to one another so that all our travelling is lighter and together we reach the goal.
- Stephen Orchard