Andrew Wilson speaks about his new book Unbreakable as well as writing, devotions, evangelism and the life of the local church.
As mentioned, you can also pre-order my upcoming book 321 – The Story of God the World, and You.
When John Piper was asked about Halloween he summarized these varying approaches…
How to write something that satisfied all such groups?
Well, you can’t. So I decided to write something for the friends of Christians – friends who would have little understanding of Halloween’s origins or the gospel. That’s the target audience. Therefore I’m not trying to convert Christians to ‘trick or treating’. I am trying to engage trick-or-treaters (and their Facebooking parents) with the gospel.
Originally the video was going to be an animation with silhouetted figures playing the part of trick-or-treaters. We ran out of time for that and so decided to film it. On the day, I told the parents to bring children in whatever costumes they were comfortable with – a pirate or a spiderman would be perfect. I also brought some spare pumpkin costumes just in case. As it happened, the parents did a wonderful job on wardrobe and make-up as you can see. And my videographer and soundtrack artist were incredibly good at evoking the mock-horror.
What we ended up with was a really quite scary first minute of film that went beyond what I’d imagined with words and a basic animation. But I’m glad for how the film has turned out. I think that initial impact grabs folks and hopefully pulls them into the gospel material. Remember – this is for non-Christians. Non-Christians.
So I want to make clear, my intention is not to open the doors for Christians to go trick-or-treating. I want to open the doors for trick-or-treaters to come to Christ!
Interestingly I’ve had complaints in the other direction too. One person so far has thought I’m too hard on paganism. I think they made some good points. They asked Why do we “mock” these spiritual beliefs (witches, paganism, etc)? Is it really Christian to mock? Would we similarly ‘mock’ Muslims or Hindus? That complaint led to a really fruitful conversation. But I mention it just to say that the video is not at all trying to compromise with spiritual darkness but to unmask it.
Here’s the bottom line for me: if you’re not sold on the whole “mocking the darkness” angle (which I think is the true meaning of Halloween… see links below) then please don’t get involved in Halloween just because we made a pretty video. I’m persuaded that Halloween can be engaged with positively, but if you’re not persuaded then don’t practice.
Romans 14:14 is the verse here:
I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean.
Just cos I made it rhyme, doesn’t mean I’m right. If you’re a Christian wondering what your approach to Halloween will be this year, our video hasn’t solved anything for you. You can’t short-cut the reading, thinking and praying part.
If you want some pointers in the direction of Christian engagement with Halloween, James Jordan is my top tip on a starting place. Peter Dray has also written a great paper (delivered first as an evangelistic talk). The Oxford Concise Dictionary of the Christian Church has good entries on “All Saints Eve” and “All Saints Day” (which deny that ancient Christians simply adopted pagan practices). CS Lewis’s introduction to the Screwtape Letters gives sound advice on neither thinking too highly nor too little of evil powers and gives a great defence of holy mockery. He quotes Luther:
“The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn.” (Martin Luther)
Alan Rudnick writes from an American perspective and Steve Utley from a British one. Michael Spencer and Anderson Rearick might be a step too far for some, but they’re fascinating for showing how attitudes have changed on this issue.
If you’re after a video for how Christians should engage Halloween, then check out Ed Drew’s video. Our video is designed to reach non-Christians. And to that end I ask that you get busy sharing it this week. If we really want to oppose Satan then, as Luther says “Christians should face the devil with the Word of God.”
In The Atlantic, Crispin Sartwell writes refreshingly about his atheism as a faith position.
Atheism embodies a whole picture of the world, offering explanations about its most general organization to the character of individual events.
Ironically, this is similar to the totalizing worldview of religion—neither can be shown to be true or false by science, or indeed by any rational technique. Whether theistic or atheistic, they are all matters of faith, stances taken up by tiny creatures in an infinitely rich environment.
It seems to me that both atheists and Christians need to recognise this truth. The Dawkins-style New Atheists are such logical positivists that they shift the whole argument onto an extremely rationalistic footing. They decry “Faith Heads” as fleeing all rationality and define faith as “belief in the absence of evidence.”
In response, many Christians spend their time correcting this false view of faith (and it is false). But all of a sudden the Christian position becomes an insistence that faith is belief because of evidence. The trouble is, it’s not evidence in general that calls forth faith. In the Bible it is ‘the Word’, ‘the gospel’, ‘the grace of God’, ‘the preaching of the cross’ that causes faith. Faith comes by hearing the word of Christ. You can call that “evidence” if you like but I think both the Christian and the atheist have good reasons to dislike that equation!
Rather than insist that Christianity is also evidence-based, I think it’s much more fruitful to show that atheism is also a faith position. This article does a great job of that – do read it.
What fascinated me was Sartwell’s conclusion. He gives reasons for his ‘faith position’ – the suffering of the world:
Genuinely bad things have happened to me in my life: One of my brothers was murdered; another committed suicide. I’ve experienced addiction and mental illness. And I, like you, have watched horrors unfold all over the globe. I don’t—I can’t—believe this to be best of all possible worlds. I think there is genuinely unredeemed, pointless pain. Some of it is mine.
By not believing in God, I keep faith with the world’s indifference. I love its beauty. I hate its suffering. I think both are perfectly real, because I experience them both, all the time. I do not see any reason to suspend judgment: I’m here, and I commit. I’m perfectly sincere and definite in my belief that there is no God. I can see that there could be comfort in believing otherwise, believing that all the suffering and death makes sense, that everyone gets what they deserve, and that existence works out in the end.
But to believe that would be to betray my actual experiences, and even without the aid of reasoned arguments, that’s reason enough not to believe.
I’d love to chat with Crispin because it seems to me that belief in the evil of evil is a great reason to be a Christian. It’s the Christian who can love beauty, hate suffering and think of those things as “perfectly real.” It seems to me that the materialist account of the world does not see beauty and suffering as “perfectly real”. I write about this in my upcoming book 321 – check out the pre-order page here.
Why are we outraged by evil and suffering? We are outraged. We should be outraged. But why? This question is easy to answer for the Christian but difficult for the atheist. Remember what Dawkins said: ‘at bottom … [there is] no evil, no good.’ For him evil and good are surface-level experiences, not deeply connected to the way things actually are. The nastiness of this world might be unpleasant, painful, grotesque or maladapted to survival. But if, at bottom, there is no evil and no good, then for Dawkins those things are not wrong – not on the deepest level.
Yet when we experience the horrors of this world, we experience them as evil; we feel that they should not be; we cry out for a solution, for justice; and we grieve them as realities that don’t belong. Therefore, even as suffering strikes, the Christian view is not disproved but upheld. For the Christian, evil can never be ‘one of those things’. It is a profound violation of the way life ought to be.
When Christians say ‘God is love’, they don’t then conclude that ‘everything is lovely’. It’s not. But the God of love makes sense of our outrage at everything that is unlovely. He gives us the right to call a bad world ‘bad’. There is much more to be said about suffering in chapters 4 and 8, but for now the point is simply this: the God of Jesus helps us to understand our experience of both good and evil. This God allows us to make sense of the goodness of good and the evil of evil.
Check out Sartwell’s article here
Check out 3-2-1 here
If Nicea fought to prevent an added "I", the Reformation fought to remove an extra "S" pic.twitter.com/aJVpkOqal8
— Glen Scrivener ن (@glenscrivener) October 7, 2014
Today u COULD build yr flesh-powered CV or u cd be freed by knowing the surpassing greatness of Christ-yr-righteousness #Phil3 #EnjoyYourDay
As u wait 4 the mercy of Jesus…God is able 2 keep u from falling & 2 present u b4 His presence w/o fault & w great joy #Jude #EnjoyYourDay
3 ways to account for the problem of evil: Karma, Chaos or Christ. Only Christ lets u face the depths of the problem and hope for a solution
The first step in dealing with the problem of evil is making sure it’s a *problem*.
“You’re so vain… You probably think this Psalm is about you.”
How does God feel about u? Indifferent? Fed up? “The LORD *longs* 2b gracious 2u. He rises up 2 show u compassion.” Is30:18 #EnjoyYourDay
The LORD keeps no record of your sins! In Him is all your forgiveness so u can reverently serve Him (Ps130) #pardon #purpose #EnjoyYourDay
We’re so keen to prove to atheists that we are *also* people of evidence. It’s more fruitful to show that they are *also* people of faith
We feel misunderstood but we don’t even know ourselves or what’s best 4 us. Yet “whoever loves God is known by God.” 1Cor8:3 #Enjoyyourday
In Luke22, it’s not Peter’s faith that “faileth not”, it’s Jesus’ prayer! In the sifting we fall, in His lifting we’re carried #EnjoyYourDay
#Luke22: By Satan we’re sifted, ruthlessly, mechanically. By Jesus we’re lifted, personally, prayerfully. Jesus is stronger. #EnjoyYourDay
For Paul in Athens, “the Unknown God” was the very opposite of a “point of contact”. It was a point of utter confusion.
Paul’s opening at the Areopagus: The one thing you guys know about God… you don’t know God.
Jesus and Joshua walk into a bar. Barman says “Sorry Jesus, we don’t serve your type in here.”
Because Jesus is LORD, this day is not ruled by fate, chaos, karma or death. It’s ruled by love. #EnjoyYourDay
“My friend knows that the world is sinking sand but she won’t come to Jesus, the Rock.” No she doesn’t. If she really knew, she’d come.
“My friend sees Jesus as the Son of God but he won’t ‘bow the knee’.” No he doesn’t. If he saw Jesus truly he wouldn’t be able 2 stop bowing
God is certainly determined to be glorious. All He does displays His glory. But His glory is not self-focused, it’s an outgoing radiance
The pulpit at St Columba's, Edinburgh. Whoever built this believed in preaching, amiright? pic.twitter.com/b7xHTMwrnw
— Glen Scrivener ن (@glenscrivener) October 11, 2014
Didnt dare use the pulpit today. Spoke from a lectern beneath while it quietly judged me: “That’s no preaching laddie. That’s barely a chat”
Jesus will transform our lowly bodies to be like His glorious body. In the meantime, we eagerly wait Phil3:20f #EnjoyYourDay
Whether it’s the power of His resurrection or the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, today is 4 knowing Christ Phil3:10 #EnjoyYourDay
I’m so much more ‘new media’ that you all. How so? I’m going to the Christian New Media Awards as Emma’s +1 #cnmac14
Love it! pic.twitter.com/pZDLYKAEF1
— Scrivolity (@scrivolity) October 17, 2014
Romans5-8: Jesus rose to a life beyond death/sin/law/judgement into peace/righteousness/freedom/hope. This is your life now. #EnjoyYourDay..
Without God, you can feel proud for the good things in life, or lucky. But you can’t feel blessed or thankful. Not really
Jesus is God’s eternal “LIKE” coming down from heaven. So be free from every other need for affirmation and #Enjoyyourday
God’s love is not shallow or distant. He’s entered the depth of our humanity & brought us 2 the height of His divinity #EnjoyYourDay..
Holman Hunt continues his earlier trajectory, this time with the door knob on the outside and Jesus inside. Somewhere pic.twitter.com/af5CW489IA
— Glen Scrivener ن (@glenscrivener) October 17, 2014
If you are a Christian your very element is now light and love, freedom and forgiveness. Col1:12-14 #EnjoyYourDay
“U were washed, u were sanctified, u were justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ & by the Spirit of our God” 1Cor6:11 #EnjoyYourDay
Faith is not the condition of the gospel, it’s the fruit of the gospel.
Therefore preaching a free gospel does not negate faith, it creates it.
Jesus joined the transgressors (Isaiah 53:12) so you could join the Trinity (Galatians 4:6). #EnjoyYourDay
— Scrivolity (@scrivolity) October 6, 2014
- You’ve lived 30 years on Loch Ness and never discussed the monster?
– It never came up.
At tonight’s antenatal class we learnt that the baby is rotated at the point of delivery. Must remember: righty-tighty, lefty-loosey
Mount Snowden: sneaky peak
Over-worked toilet cleaners get time off in loo.
One of the most audacious surgeries is to pluck the cheek nerve. It’s second only to castration. That really takes balls.
Every Welsh town loves its sheep, but none more than Lambpetter.
They’re friendly *and* the most multi-talented of insects: the pally moth
Wait, is reification a thing now?
— Scrivolity (@scrivolity) October 8, 2014
— Scrivolity (@scrivolity) October 16, 2014
You want More demonstrative pronouns? You’re persistent, I’ll give you That
— Scrivolity (@scrivolity) October 17, 2014
This Dalek seems to be a Painter-Decorator-Exterminator. A three-pronged service pic.twitter.com/Eeb3wxr7To
— Glen Scrivener ن (@glenscrivener) October 17, 2014
— Glen Scrivener ن (@glenscrivener) October 3, 2014
“I hate myself, I’m ugly” usually means “I think I deserve to look better than I do.” If u really hated yourself, u’d be Glad you were ugly
The LORD is compassionate & gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love which stretches from everlasting to everlasting. #Ps103 #EnjoyYourDay
A perfect description of how the flesh and the Spirit interact: “My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!” Ps119:25
Feeling lost? Don’t try to find yourself. Finding a lost person aint much of a find! The good news is someone from Home has come to find you
In all yr suffering, know the LORD Jesus wooing u from the jaws of distress to a spacious place of freedom&feasting. Job36:16 #EnjoyYourDaY
Psalms 14-16 are a powerful law-gospel presentation. ‘No-one seeks God’; only ‘clean hands’ will do; then at last a Man conquering sin&death
Jesus knows out worst and loves us anyway. Therefore we have nothing to lose, nothing to fear, nothing to hide and nothing to prove #freedom
In the pub, if u give me an empty glass it’s a demand (my round! I must pay). If u push a full glass it’s an offer to be received & enjoyed…
…Jesus gives us a law filled full with his perfect obedience and gracious presence (Matt5:17). It’s an offer to be received and enjoyed.
If Jesus’ cross was worth it ‘for the joy set before him’, how much more will our little crosses be worth it. #futuresbright #EnjoyYourDay
“You need to Get your identity in Jesus” is not the gospel. The gospel is “Jesus has purchased u, body & soul, at the cross… He’s Got you”
Behold He comes, riding on the clouds, shining like the sun, at the trumpet call. #MaybeToday #EnjoyYourDay
Why does the *resurrection* prove that Jesus is Lord? Because apart from Christ, death is Lord.
We all want to take charge without taking responsibility.
The cross is Jesus taking charge *by* taking responsibility.
< Since this is so, there is no way to give responsibility for our sins to Jesus without giving Him charge of our lives. It's the same thing
Everything heads for the grave but one man came back. He’s worth investigating. Check out church tomorrow. Ask me for suggestions near you.
In Christ, today’s sins will be forgiven, mistakes redeemed, sorrows soothed but yr labours 4 the Lord will endure (1Cor15) #EnjoyYourDay
Don’t you wish you could be new? Free from the slavery of sin? In Jesus it’s happened. #Rom6 #EnjoyYourNewIdentity #EnjoyYourDay
Let’s re-purpose a Luther quote…
Preaching happens far above the preacher in Christ’s own communicative grace, and far beneath the preacher in an evident love 4 the hearers
<< Preaching doesn't really happen on the preacher's level. It's not a polished performance in the hands of 'a communicator.'
Preaching requires an effusive love of Jesus and an evident love for people, but beware of a substitute love: a mere love of *preaching*
#Rom8 Here’s what belongs to you: Creation, The Spirit, Christ, All Providence and the eternal, unloseable love of God #EnjoyYourDay
ALL your sin laid on Christ. ALL His righteousness given to you. #EnjoyYourDay
The top reason for a preacher to use non-Christiany language is to reach *Christians* with the gospel. We need to hear the good news afresh
Don’t feel like u ‘deserve’ 2b forgiven? U don’t! That’s why it’s *forgiveness*. But “thru Jesus forgiveness is proclaimed to u” Acts13:38
Jesus is able 2 save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. #Heb7 #EnjoyYourDay
The three Persons are not triplets. There is a shape to God’s life. From Father through Son by Spirit and, so… OUT…
“Preachers: Is *Jesus* the prize you hold out in the gospel? Or is He merely the ticket you get to something else?” (@mike_reeves)
I will bring u out, free u, redeem u, take u as my own. I will b yr God & bring u2 the promised land, I will give it 2u. Ex6 #EnjoyYourDay
“That moment you realise you shoulda listened to God and now you’re naked in public!” #FirstWorldProblem
If you seek your life you end losing it. You become less of a self – merely selfISH
Hey @KendalChristianBookshop, can I get an RT, Kendal?
We all know that dropping a church piano down a quarry gives you A flat minor. Not many realise that Gsus provides a major lift. #1PUN
Looks to me like English coastal towns are just copying French beaches… #Plagiarism
I find breathing techniques inspirational #1PUN
No-one can be sure who invented the omelette au poulet. It’s a chicken and egg thing #1PUN
Lost my job as a cowboy. I had 99.7 head of cattle but just couldn’t round them up.
Don’t follow links to http://timex.com . It’s just clock-bait
Usually introverts love my video games but they hate my new bespoke update: Personal Space Invaders #1PUN
I’d love to join your miniature Hindustani band tonight. Unfortunately I can’t get a baby sitar #1PUN
If you think I’m going to remake an 80s horror B-movie you’ve got another thing coming #1PUN
I’m a career fisherman. Always angling for a promotion
Life coaches eh? First it’s “Reach for the sky” but then “Don’t be a hero.” You complain and they stab you & take your wallet. #LifeCoaches
To lose one MP may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose both looks #Reckless.
— Glen Scrivener ن (@glenscrivener) September 23, 2014
Barry, Nate and I talk apologetics. How do we co-ordinate faith and reason – revelation and philosophy? Our answers are vital if we are going to be faithful to the gospel.
Do get in touch if you have any comments, queries or objections. We’d love to hear from you.
And here’s the hilarious Harry Hill take down of Brian Cox. Enjoy…
We also announce the winner of our book giveaway…. listen in!
We’re always making a thing out of things that aren’t things. There’s a technical term for this but I’m just going to call it thingification. The name’s not important. What is important is that it’s ruining your Christian life. Let me show you how with reference to 6 things that are commonly thingified.
Grace is not a thing.
“Grace, Grace, Grace” we sing. And I think “She sounds awesome, I wish I could meet her.” But I can’t meet her because there’s no such person. There’s only Jesus who is given to me by the Father apart from any desert of my own. That’s grace. But grace is not a thing. Grace is the gift of a Person and if I want to know more grace I need to train my eyes on Jesus. Then I’ll see how freely He’s given. At that point I have an experience of grace, but my experience won’t be of a thing but of a Him. (For more see here).
Faith is not a thing.
“We’ve got to have more faith” we cry. And so we check the little perspex window on our heart to see if the faith pilot-light is flickering strong. Oops, looks like it’s going out. Quick, turn the faith tap to maximum. But how? What is faith? Again, it’s not a thing. Faith is to recognise and receive Jesus (John 1:12-13). He has been graciously given, therefore we trustingly receive Him. But faith is not something we dredge up out of our inner spiritual life. If you want “more faith”, don’t look for faith – look to Jesus. That’s how faith comes. (For more see here).
Prayer is not a thing.
“I need to work on my prayer life” we say. And we mean it. But so often what we mean is “I need to improve at this spiritual discipline because my lack of proficiency reflects badly on my stature as a Christian.” Or maybe we want to improve because we want to “improve our relationship with God.” In some ways this motivation is even worse because it pictures “my prayer life” as the thing that connects me to God, rather than Christ. Then it becomes very important to focus on “my prayer life” but as something quite separate from focusing on Christ our Mediator. So we force ourselves to go to the prayer meeting and hear someone pray: “Please may God bless this work…” And we think, “Huh? I thought we were praying to God? Are we? Or are we performing a thing called prayer in front of one another?” Perhaps the pray-er does manage to address God but then mixes up the Persons. At that point you have to ask: Has prayer become a thing that we do. Should it not be an enjoyment of our adoption before the Father through union with the Son in the joy of the Spirit? But so often, don’t we find that prayer becomes a thing we must get right. And a thing that stands between ourselves and communion with God? (For more see here).
Bible Reading is not a thing.
“I must read my Bible” we vow, “every day, come rain, hail or shine.” Well alright but why? Another spiritual discipline to master? A duty to tick off the list? If we manage it, is there not a sense of “Phew, job done!” But what if “Bible Reading” isn’t a thing in the Christian life. What if Bible Reading is simply how the Father speaks His word to us in Christ and by the Spirit. What if Bible Reading is not a thing we need to get right but a word in our ear from our gracious God? (For more see here).
The Sermon is not a thing.
“What did you make of The Sermon” we ask each other after the service. Suddenly The Sermon is a thing - a thing in between the preacher and the congregation. It’s a production that we then pass comment on. And from the preacher’s point of view the same thingification can happen: “we prepare and deliver a sermon” rather than “herald God’s word to a congregation.” Unfortunately this thing arises in between preacher and people – a thing that will be dissected and focused upon by both sides. But really there is no such thing. There’s only God’s word coming down through the preacher’s lips. There’s only a congregation hearing the voice of the living Christ. The Sermon is an artifice. It is not a proper object of our attention – only the Christ which it proclaims. (For more see here).
Discipleship is not a thing. (Updated)
“The church has woefully neglected discipleship” they lament. We all give a hearty ‘Amen’ then we look in our Bibles for the word “discipleship” and, shock horror, it’s not there. The word “disciple” is certainly there, but discipleship? No, the Bible is not interested in disciple-craft. Jesus does not want us to be good at the art of following Him. He just wants us to follow Him. Yet, might it be that discipleship is one more concept that takes us away from Jesus Himself and makes us dwell on a thing in abstraction from Christ? It’s worth considering. (For more see here).
What do you think? And are there other aspects of the Christian life we thingify?