Thought Leaders Series: 2017

Where is our community?

If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. (Mark 3:24-25)

After the death of Jesus the church continued to attract followers in-spite of persecution. But internally, there were doctrinal challenges about Jesus. These questions could be summarised under the following major headers, commonly known as the who and what questions: who was Jesus? What was his purpose?

Even among Jesus’ disciples there were disputes, some captured in the letters – especially those ascribed to John and Paul. Overtime these questions caused major rifts in the church, most notably the spilt between the Western church (Europe) and Eastern church (The rest of the world).

What we refer today as the Bible is a selection of written works agreed by a team of Bishops as ‘sacred texts’. They were compelled by Constantine the Great (Roman Emperor) who was spurred by political motives to unite his subjects under a common faith – Christianity.

Under very difficult circumstances, these Bishops had to come up with a framework which underpinned the faith, a process widely known today as systematic theology. Simply put, systematic theology is an intellectual exercise which tries to marry complex doctrines like the virgin birth, the trinity, teaching, death, resurrection, second coming; to answer the ‘who’ and ‘what’ questions about Jesus.

Once agreed, under the hospices of Rome and the Catholic Church, these challenges were handled effectively at least in Europe. The Pope was God’s emissary, he provided doctrinal and exegetical leadership for the church. Local priests were trained to work under strict guidelines from the church, and supervised by local bishops. Any drift from the Pope’s decree was ruthlessly dealt with as heresy.

After Luther’s Reformation in the 16th century, everything was up for grabs. While the contents of the bible remained as we know it today, doctrines were revisited. This eventually led to brutal wars in Europe, perhaps not dissimilar to what we see within Muslim factions today in the Middle East.

The aftermath of these war of ideas opened up other discussions. Most of which were centred around social reforms for the common man (the social contract), against the privileged positions of the clergy and nobles, who were ‘ordained by God’ to exert rule over the people. The quest for answers against these injustices in society is mostly referred to as the Enlightenment and it kicked-off in the 17th century. Consequently, we had the French Revolution in the 18th century.

While Luther’s Reformation made the bible accessible to the educated classes in Germany through the technology of the industrial printing press and his work on translation, it also gave rise to a new problem which is still with us today. This problem is the absence of central doctrine, teaching and understanding of the Christian faith.

For the Jewish faith (where Christianity develops from), there were Rabbis who were theologically trained. The lineage of these Rabbis had a rich history, they built on the the works of their predecessors, anchoring on their philosophical understanding and interpretations of scriptures. This was a central and important aspect of community life.

For Christianity this was lost. Like the challenges facing Islam today, most of the leaders of the Pentecostal movement were lay men who were hardly educated, let alone theological trained. As long as there were ‘supernatural’ activities – God was with them.

But as to absolutes, the bible is filled with paradoxes. This is evident within texts, and between books within the bible. Our effort to try and force these paradoxes to absolutes is a major flaw in Christian teaching, which once exposed falls apart like a house of cards. For instance, we see Jesus working with people that had faith, and those who demonstrated no faith. In the Old Testament we see hostility between Jews and Gentiles – even a God who sanctions genocides; in the New Testament this becomes a hotly debated subject. However, a cross cutting theme is the fact that Jesus was reconciling the world, seeking and restoring all to one global community (2 Cor. 5:19).

Therefore, the work of Christian leaders in the 21st Century is to avail themselves to much studies, if possible, theological studies at a tertiary institution. This provides a better foundation for handling scriptures and it’s paradoxes. The idea of depending on the ‘Holy Spirit’ for understanding might be fine at an individual level, but extremely dangerous at community level.

Christianity is a faith that draws us into a community – God’s kingdom. It is not this greedy, self-obsessed, capitalist driven, individualistic cult that it is now! Wake up!

In the words of Paul:

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. (Eph. 4:4-6)

Reachout | Revive | Recover

http://www.healingsprings.org.uk

Thought Leaders Series: 2017

Did Jesus die to appease an Angry God, or did he die to demonstrate self-emptying (kenosis)?

By way of background, the sacrificial lamb idea was used in the early or primitive church as a metaphor for Jewish audiences who were already familiar with Temple worship and practices, to highlight Jesus’ death and resurrection. It was also used in shaping the minds of gentile converts who were already familiar with similar Temple rituals within their cultural contexts.

Unlike other deities, God neither seeks human or animal sacrifice for communion with humanity. In the early days of Nation forming, the Jews replicated the idea of known institutions from other civilisations, but they incorporated their own spiritual philosophy within such context – hence the first and subsequent Temples. We also see this in their government – from rule by the prophets, to rule through a royal dynasty, and an organised army like the nations around them.

In fact Prophets like Amos will challenge Temple worship much later in their trajectory, drawing them back to a time when all they had was the Tabernacle, while addressing issues around social justice or morality as means of ‘atonement’.

For the Atonement through death formula to stand, there has to be the doctrine of ‘Original Sin’ and an ‘Angry God’, however, Jesus never presented either of these positions to us. Instead, he continually showed us a loving Father who seeks relationship with his children – even before his death on the cross.

Jesus came to show us the Father. He demonstrated and modelled this in many instances, particularly in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

A God that seeks human sacrifice (let alone the innocent death of his son) is not different from the pagan gods, even if we take the view that God died for us through Jesus.

This teaching is erroneous, and leads to grave consequences in our understanding of Jesus’ ministry, and our view or perception of God.

Dear Friends, Jesus’ selfless living, ministry, non-violence stance against opposition, and death in innocence; enlightens our understanding of God. By this he bridges the gap, bringing us at One with God (Atonement). He came to show the Father!

May the words of our mouth, and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in your sight lord. Amen.

Reachout | Revive | Recover

http://www.healingsprings.org.uk

Today @ Healingsprings fellowship

Miracles were not unique to Jesus. In fact, there were mystics before his time, in his time, after his time, drawn from other cultures, and faith.

However, a number of lessons stand out with Jesus. For instance, miracles were acts of love and compassion. He freely offered them. He was not after gains or fame. In the synoptic gospel, he refused to demonstrate any ‘signs’ when his opponents made demands. By the way, their position was based on the signs Moses performed before the elders of Israel and Pharaoh to vindicate his Calling by Yahweh to lead his people out of Egypt.

He also warned his disciples to follow his model on many occasions, for example: ‘freely receive, freely give’. Not to ask for money or favour, but as an extension of The Father’s love and compassion, knowing that “God is not unjust to forget our labour of love”.

To this end, I will be exploring the subject of Miracles from the accounts of the Evangelists (the gospel writers), with a view to recapture it’s essence.

Join us this for Jesus’ Miracles within the series: God was in Christ.

3pm – 4:30pm

The Parish Hall

St John’s Sidcup,

Church Road,

Sidcup,

Kent DA14 6BX

Reachout | Revive | Recover

http://www.healingsprings.org.uk

Today @ Healingsprings fellowship

The Church is not the building, but the people. When Jesus spoke of a kingdom he was talking about people working together in bringing about God's reign here on earth. In fact when the church lost focus of this and became carried away with activities, Paul reminded them writing,

"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" – (Rom. 14:17)

As well as others, the hallmark of the kingdom remains these three elements: righteousness, peace and joy that springs from the very presence of God to his people through Christ. This joy does not deny hardship, persecution or challenges, but it abides and flourishes in-spite of. This joy was what sustained the church through persecution, and empowered it to move from being a minority faith to becoming mainstream.

Following last week's teaching on the Jesus' Ministry, by way of interlude we will be discussing the church and our role in expanding it in our time.

Join us today as we explore the scriptures.

3pm – 4:30pm
The Parish Hall
St John's Sidcup,
Church Road,
Sidcup,
Kent DA14 6BX

Reachout | Revive | Recover
http://www.healingsprings.org.uk

This Sunday @ Healingsprings fellowship

The destruction, collapse, and eventual Exile of the Northern and Southern kingdoms posed major challenges for the elites and people of Israel and Judah.

Faced with defeat, destruction of infrastructures and institutions, how do you sustain and rebuild a nation? How do you create new narratives when the prevailing one fails to hold water?
In a strange way instead of wallowing in defeat, The Exile afforded them the opportunity to debate, challenge old paradigms, and to come up with a roadmap for nation building. 
When the opportunity came, they seized it! Some returned to Palestine, started capturing and documenting their oral history and culture, addressing loose ends in theological understanding, and providing new narratives to old and new challenges, some based on what they gleaned from other cultures. 
Perhaps most importantly they realised that they lacked military might (By strength shall no man prevail, 1 Sam. 2:9), so they invested in knowledge acquisition. This also meant moving away from the central authorities of the monarchy and priesthood, and making the people sustainers of the Nation. No need for kings, prophets or oracles. Rather, the people were to be educated, and the Text made accessible to them. So the synagogues became the centre of knowledge transfer and community life, the home a hub for reinforcing such knowledge. 
They designed a curriculum, and embarked on an educational system which many argue is the blue print for Western education. The Community was bound to One God and Covenant; hence the term ‘gentiles’. This curriculum is what we know today as the Old Testament. Scribes and Rabbis will be trained to maintain this system, commentaries will be added to the original Text, and the Text will be revised and edited a few times; leading to the version we have today. 
By the time of our Lord, these radical reforms would have sustained the Community through wars, natural disasters, famine and various military invasions. 
Jesus will come on the scene, make further reforms, then commission his disciples to move it beyond the Community and into the World. To this end Paul argues that,

“in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.” – 2 Cor. 5:19

Join us on Sunday as we continue with my series: God was in Christ, when I will be speaking on: Incarnation, Nativity and Second Coming.
3pm 

The Parish Hall 

St John’s Sidcup,

Church Road, 

Sidcup, 

Kent DA14 6BX
Reachout | Revive | Recover

http://www.healingsprings.org.uk

Healingsprings fellowship: JuneSeries2017

JuneSeries 2017: Reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:19)
We stand in solidarity to Reconcile our brothers and sisters in the Congo with social and economic justice.
This Sunday we will be showing the Award Winning documentary: When Elephants Fight.
Following the doc we will take questions from panel members with a view to stir up a call to action! 
Refreshment will be provided, and we have opportunities for networking and collaboration. 
Join us as at 3pm as we continue the work of Reconciliation entrusted to us by Jesus.

This Sunday @ Healingsprings fellowship

The Reformation is in many ways synonymous with the present socio-political climate in Europe at the moment. 

For instance, like Brexit, Luther’s Reformation was propelled majorly by social and patriotic goals as to ‘spiritual’ ones. Perhaps he did not see a dichotomy between the spiritual and social. 
Hence it gained traction with the people and the nobles, who were keen to brake ranks with the authority of the Catholic Church at the time – the first institution, and symbol of European cooperation. 

But unlike Brexit, broadly speaking, Luther’s Reformation was a movement towards the emancipation and enlightenment of the Germans. This was the same with other counter Reformation initiatives.  
Writing on the Reformation in England, Owen Chadwick argues that, 

“[m]any clergy were ignorant, simple, poverty stricken, and generally ‘unreformed’. Others, more capable of decision, were convinced that the Church needed reform.” – (The Reformation in England to 1559, p.135)

I say this to emphasise that the Church cannot be devolved from the daily challenges facing humanity, locally and globally.
This brings me back to two themes captured by Paul on the subject of Reconciliation in 2 Cor. 5:19. For Paul, 

“in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.”

First and perhaps foremost, the role of Christ as The Reconciler, bringing divinity into humanity. Secondly, our role as the Church through the power of the Holy Spirit in the continuation of the work of reconciliation here on earth.
Join us this Sunday for my new series: God was in Christ.  

This Sunday I will be examining Core Teaching About Christ.
3pm 

The Parish Hall 

St John’s Sidcup,

Church Road, 

Sidcup, 

Kent DA14 6BX