Thursday, 27 January 2011

Hope Launch

I haven't blogged about the fact that my church has merged with another to form Uber-Neo-Hybrid-Hope-Church - the smallest multi-campus church I know about. A few other people have been on the case though, particularly leader Phil.

Here's his post on the launch events, plus a great one from Dave, and further reflections from Charles.

Hope Church - aka North Shrewsbury Community Church and Harlescott Grange Free Evangelical Church Amalgamated, or NSCCHGFECA (pronounced Nus-chug-fi-cah).

Friday, 21 January 2011

Accent poll

I thought I'd put a new poll up as the Bible one had been there for months.

Which accent sounds best to you?
The options are limited and not very specific (I prefer Northern to Southern Irish for example) but I thought it would be interesting.

Feel free to leave a comment with reasons for your choice.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Morality in the human race

This is the third in a very protracted series of "Deep Thought" mini-essays. They're a bit longer than my usual posts. This one's not too bad though.

I attended a sixth form debating society meeting once where the topic was “without God there is no such thing as morality, therefore the existence of morals shows that God exists” or something like that. It was a really interesting discussion, and I found that my thinking was challenged, because I would have said the above statement was true, but eventually changed my mind.

I would have probably said something along the lines of “without God, where else could our moral standards have come from?” Now, I’m fairly sure that any society can develop the concept of morality and have moral standards without having any religious/spiritual beliefs at all. I wouldn’t dispute that moral systems can be invented and implemented in society through other things than religion.

However, if you argue that all moral systems are constructs of human society, then no moral system has absolute authority, because it’s all relative. Without God you can say, “it is wrong to kill a platypus for fun, according to the moral code of my society” but what you can’t say is, “it is always wrong to kill a platypus for fun, regardless of the society in which the killing takes place”. In other words, it is impossible to claim that anything is either universally right or universally wrong without a universal standard to compare to. I hope that I is making sense.

Basically, without God there is no such thing as “good and evil” or “right and wrong”, there is only “acceptable within this society” and “unacceptable within this society”. Let’s say we come across an ancient tribe somewhere, who hold among their values that it is good and right to commit murder, as long as the victim was not in pyjamas at the time. We would disagree, and argue that it is not good or right to murder anyone, no matter what clothes they happen to be wearing. However, on what basis can we, the members of society A, persuade members of society B that their moral code is skewed unless we have an external moral code to which we can compare the moral codes of both societies?

Relative morals are like relative tape measures. If my tape shows my foot is 10cm long and someone else’s tape makes it out to me 10km long then how do we know what my actual foot size is? We need a measuring tool that conforms to a universal standard. In the case of morality, I believe that God gives us a universal standard by which all actions can be measured. Without God all you have is relative, unauthoritative rules made up by people.


While I was pondering all this, I thought that someone would probably come up with an argument like this: “there is a universal standard already built in to the human race – pain. Whatever causes others pain is evil, whatever relieves it is good”. That sounds fairly convincing until you come to the question of honesty. Is it more morally right for a man having an extra-marital affair to confess it to his wife, or to keep it a secret? I hope most people would say that telling the truth is the right thing to do, but in this case it would cause more pain.

Monday, 17 January 2011

YFC Staff Conference 2011

This is the fourth time I've been, and the third time I've blogged about a Youth for Christ Conference. YFC employees and volunteers are an interesting bunch, and there's a large portion of both the country and the church represented. There aren't many occasions when I'm surrounded by so many people who are passionate about Jesus and His gospel, so they are usually fantastic events.

This year it started miserably though as I had a bug and was ill on the first night. The hotel rang my room to inform me that I was quarantined for the next 24 hours. So I spent the Tuesday sleeping and reading The Iliad.

After that things picked up a lot. The worship times were great, and speakers were inspired (by God, hopefully). In fact, Steve Brady was possibly one of the best speakers I've heard, and not just because he does funny accents.

I was challenged on a number of levels, which I can summarise in a few questions:
- How can we make evangelism more experiential in order to engage young people?
- How can I make more time for Jesus in my own life?
- Am I remembering my brothers and sisters who are being persecuted?
- How should YFC relate to the church?

I also delivered a 3 minute talk myself on how we talk about Jesus.

So we all left with lots to think about. The hard part is actually putting stuff into action instead of letting it become part of the eternal mulling-over soup.

Thursday, 13 January 2011


Phil Johnson crafts a great expression over at Pyromaniacs: "Ersatz enthusiasm and crass tomfoolery".

Er-satz, Adj. Being an imitation or a substitute, usually an inferior one; artificial.

As an aside (one of those "asides" that takes up most of the post), isn't it annoying when you think you've coined a really great original word only to google it and find it already exists? I refer to my "lexiblography" idea, which frustratingly is already the name of someone's blog! Hence the slight extension for this post.

And then my original strap-line "porridge for the soul", which turns out to be a monthly networking breakfast in Canada. There is nothing new under the sun.

Except grupfrootsplakey; I just made that up.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011


I enjoy language, and I'm actually looking forward to starting my "English Grammar in Context" course. So when I'm reading various blogs I don't just think about what they're saying but how they're saying it. Tim Keller uses a couple of words here which I just love the sound of:

Heterodox - sounds like a society for straight medical practitioners, but just means not orthodox. Unsurprising, but I still had to look it up.

Unction - even Keller put it in "inverted commas" so it must be a strange word. He calls it "a sense of God's presence" which is probably the Christian definition. A web dictionary defines it as "The act of anointing as part of a religious, ceremonial, or healing ritual." Apparently it's also the collective noun for a group of undertakers.

Monday, 10 January 2011


As promised, here's a summary of my new year's resolutions. I'd like to point out that I don't see the new year as being a particularly significant time, and that it's just as good to make mid-April resolutions (or, in fact, better, as you don't tend to be as ambitious in mid-April as you are on January 1st). But I've been resolving over the last week or two and here's what I've come up with:

1) Learn to drive. This has been on my list for donkeys yonks. Time I actually got round to it.

2) Be more sincere. I wouldn't describe myself as a flippant, irrational person, but there are times when I think I should stop trying to be comic and just say it how it is. Ee jee, when you're impressed by someone's effort at, say, painting, it's easy to say "that's rubbish" in a way that they know you're joking and you think the opposite. But it's probably more encouraging to them to just say "that's great".

3) Get up earlier. I often find myself wishing there were more hours in the day, and I always knew this was the solution, but it's hard to implement. So I'm going to try getting up at 7am every week-day and see what happens. If any farmers or milkmen read my blog I'm in for a ribbing.