Thought Leaders Series: 2017

The correct way to approach the Old Testament is to engage it as a collection of historical writings, commentaries, and views of Jewish thinkers of the Divine.

Treating it as ‘the word of God’ gives the notion of finality, thereby, hindering us from continuing the painstaking work of theology as these scholars themselves did in their time. It also presents the view that God has stopped working with, and through us today.

The New Testament consists of the accounts and correspondence of followers of Jesus. People who themselves were busy trying to make sense of all they had seen, heard, or were experiencing.

In fact, among Jewish thinkers in Roman occupied Palestine there was a real sense that the perpetuation of evil and injustice that they were experiencing will eventually lead to an end to human existence. For Jesus however, heaven had met earth, hence the call for ‘Repentance’, as he envisioned and articulated the possibility of God’s kingdom here on earth.

Like any revolutionary idea, this kingdom stood firmly against the existing structures and institutions. Its values will eventually overcome the existing structures through their kindness and love for all regardless of race, class, or gender.

It was a none-violent struggle, a battle of ideas, costing the lives of many. It would later be made mainstream. Curtailed and modified, so it fits with the old power structures of Rome. This is largely the version of Christianity practised today.

Reachout | Revive | Recover

http://www.healingsprings.org.uk

Thought Leaders Series: 2017

Unlearning to Learn Anew – putting on the Veil of Ignorance.

Building on the work of Emmanuel Kant and other leading minds in discussions on Social Contract, John Rawls applies the concept in his seminal book: A Theory of Justice.

For Rawls, our personal biases and prejudices often affect our political position. Therefore, for true freedom and justice to prevail, we need to actively minimise them by assuming a position of ignorance (the Veil of Ignorance).

This discipline is important in Christianity, especially in leadership. Every aspect of the faith should be revisited with the “Veil of Ignorance” in order for the faith to breathe and revitalise.

To Veil of Ignorance is similar to the term being “Born Again” which sadly has been largely misunderstood. Jesus was in fact asking Nicodemus to unlearn all he had learnt, to put on the “Veil of Ignorance” in order to be a part of the new movement. The knowledge he had accrued through years of active participation in the religious system was suddenly an hindrance to his spiritual growth. What Jesus was advancing needed an open mind, if you may, a blank canvas.

Jesus highlights this position on many occasions, perhaps most notably when he challenged the actions of the leaders stating,

“… thus making void the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this.” – (Mark 7:13)

The Judeo-Christian faith was never, and has never been concrete, hence we see the plea for Reformation at various points in history through the prophets and much later Jesus Christ.

The Born Again experience is therefore a state of mind and a way of life, not an event. It is an attitude of re-evaluation, critical thinking, rethinking, unlearning, learning; and dare I say, being humble enough to learn from other disciplines and faith. Thus Galloway notes:

“The question of God – the basic question of theology – is not the special concern of the ‘religious’ or those who happen to like that sort of thing. It arises out of the structure of human existence and is thus the most fundamental and universal concern of all mankind. Theology, therefore, is as public a discipline as philosophy or natural science. It belongs, in the first instance, in the university rather than the seminary” – (1973, p. 16)

This is what we see in the life of Jesus as he questioned the very foundations of the Jewish faith: Temple rituals, Sabbath, moral and legal codes, culture, and traditions.

Dear friends, if there has ever been a time when the World is willing to listen again to what we have to offer – it is now! When these Jephthah[s] arrive and after the goosebumps they feel when they encounter the Holy Spirit, they will still need to be taught.

My question to you – what are we teaching them? We have inherited lots of stuff that are now having detrimental effects on our psyche and faith.

We have to unlearn, to learn anew.

Reachout | Revive | Recover

http://www.healingsprings.org.uk

Thought Leaders Series: 2017

Old Habits Die Hard.

The word anti-intellectualism is nowadays synonymous to Christianity, especially Evangelicals and Pentecostals.

By way of background an anti-intellectual is simply a person who believes that intellect and reason are less important than actions and emotions in solving practical problems and understanding reality.

Anti intellectualism is alien to Judeo-Christian culture or history. In fact as well as others the term ‘Teacher’ was one of Jesus’ titles. Judges, Kings, Priests, Rabbis, Prophets, the disciples, and even Paul were all seasoned intellectuals. We can still see this today in the priority the Jews give to academia, and the position they hold in most professions in leading economies.

Anti intellectualism crept into Christianity by stealth. As churches became elitist, break away faction (who were mostly from the poor and underclass) started reorienting towards the idea of “being led by the spirit”. These poor uneducated well meaning leaders were solely dependent on “signs and wonders” as they lacked basic education, not to mention theological training. Doctrines, exegesis, and interpretation became skewed; and those who dare question them were ostracised from their congregations.

One of these breakaway factions is the Pentecostal movement, which came out of the Methodist movement. As this group attracted the poor and underclass, they found affinity with the oppressed, especially those within Black communities in the West and developing World – owing to their common struggle.

Much later some within the movement saw the need for theological education and training, but by this time habits had been formed which made their way into the curriculum as doctrines. Besides, most people within the movement did not see the need for training or education as all they needed was prayer, fasting and “signs and wonders” to vindicate their activities.

For those who have “eyes to see”, when we fast forward to the 21st century we see the damaging effect of poor theological understanding, epitomised in anti intellectualism. As a result, ignorance and mediocrity prevails.

Jesus challenged Nicodemus,

“Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? – (John 3:10)

Reachout | Revive | Recover

http://www.healingsprings.org.uk

This Sunday @ Healingsprings fellowship

The question: why is there evil in the World is one that has been with us for a very long time. Different cultures and traditions have their explanation, in fact some do not even see these problems as ‘evil’, but as part of a complex system of self-regulation of the Universe. 

For some of the Jewish prophets recorded in the Old Testament the Messiah will bring about God’s judgement on his enemies, and a just rule here on earth through Israel. For others, there will be new heavens and earth. 
In Judeo-Christian tradition everything hinges on the Genesis story, especially chapter 3. Paul’s formula for human salvation is centred around Christ. For Paul, Jesus is the Second Adam that brings the whole of humanity back to God. And his resurrection is the seal of our promise of eternal salvation (1 Cor. 15:12-19). Hence he 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)

In light of this I will be crystallising my subtopic: Incarnation, Nativity and Second Adam.

Join us on as we continue with: God was in Christ.

3pm 

The Parish Hall 

St John’s Sidcup,

Church Road, 

Sidcup, 

Kent DA14 6BX
Reachout | Revive | Recover

http://www.healingsprings.org.uk

What is the point with the Old Testament?

With the understanding of our New Covenant in Christ, many people question the role of the Old Testament in Christianity. 
The answer to this pertinent question can be captured in Paul’s challenge to Timothy,

[do] your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth. (2 Tim. 2:15)

At the time of writing, Christianity was still at its formative state, hence there was no text known as the New Testament. Clearly this admonition was for the study of the Torah, Mishnah, Midrash, and other classical Jewish writings. 
Paul himself had studied under Gamaliel, a known Rabbi with intellectual lineage to back his teaching and worldview. With a view to assert his authority, Paul gives us a preview of his credentials when he notes,

“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia,but brought up in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today.” (Acts 22:3)

Paul, and by proxy Timothy, were both baptised or filled with the Holy Spirit; yet he exhorted Timothy to study these texts. 

Dear friends, Paul was passing on old Jewish culture or tradition, in this case: lineage of knowledge or philosophy, and excellence in vocation. For example, like Jesus, Paul’s studied the equivalent of a degree in Theology; while Gamaliel would have stood on platforms as a Professor of Theology. 
In fact when the gospel writer asserts that Jesus,  

“taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.” (Matthew 7:29); 

they were highlighting the fact that he was doing something unique with the text; in other words, shifting from his lineage. The same is done about John the Baptist when the writer notes that ‘he shall be called John’, and that he was, ‘in the wilderness until the day of his showing to Israel’.

To this end the Old Testament serves the following primary purpose:
1. It provides us with materials to explore the rich history, culture, context and worldview of the Jews, for the purpose of understanding and teaching 

  1. It shows us the theological progression of the Jews, and the intersection by Christ, in his effort to Reconcile the ‘Gentiles’ into a New Covenant
  2. It gives us an understanding of what the New Testament writers were trying to achieve in their effort to bridge the gap between Judaism and what we know today as ‘Christianity’ 

  3. It gives a blue print for the Christian faith. Which can be best described as a universal form of Judaism whose vision is for a kingdom bound by a common faith and destiny that is centred around Christ, as to a kingdom bound by heritage.
    Father, enlarge our hearts. Give us a vision for humanity. We ask through you son Jesus Christ. 

To a blessed week!

Today @ Healingsprings fellowship

Our God is sovereign!

Not just in principle, but also in practice.
And that we have been endowed with Free Will, a gift that can either add value to our lives and humanity at large, or diminish it. 

Last week, I examined Prov. 11:14 & 15:22; using 1 Kings 22:1-40 as our Case Study. During the course of my talk, I stressed the importance of quality advice and guidance in fulfilling our purpose.

So, today I’ll be building on that foundation, this time with a closer look into the life of Micaiah, someone I see as an outlier. As with most of the prophets of old, I believe that those at fringes of their calling are about to be rewarded for their values, faithfulness, and vision.

So, we continue in the strength of our theme for 2016: Our Year of Plenty (Gen 41:46-49), as we plant seeds of prayers, prophetic declaration, and thanksgiving for 2017 (Our Year of Restoration).

We march in the light of Nahum’s assertions: 
(For the Lord is restoring the majesty of Jacob, as well as the majesty of Israel, though ravagers have ravaged them and ruined their branches.) – Nahum 2:2

Join us!
3pm (light refreshment afterwards)

The Parish Hall 

St John’s Sidcup,

Church Road, 

Sidcup, 

Kent DA14 6BX

The Challenge of Our Times

Like the current Brexit debate which hinges on 3 core positions: hard Brexit, soft Brexit and no Brexit; the disciples were faced with similar challenges after the death of our Lord. 

By way of background, Judaism was not originally a missional faith. Converts were meant to be attracted to the faith through the actions of the Jews, and God’s glory in their midst. But during the time of our Lord there was already a missional drive by the Rabbis, hence Jesus’ rebuke to the Pharisees (Matthew 23:15), for the negative impact of their efforts.

It is also important to note that Jesus was a prophet of his time. In otherwords, he addressed issues of his time, challenged the ‘ideals’, and reinterpreted scriptures. Jesus didn’t come to set-up Christianity (as many would love to believe), but rather to reform the Jewish faith, and to open its doors for mission to the wider-world. In fact, most of what we know today as Paul’s teaching or insight are from Jewish commentaries on the Old Testament (the Talmud and Mishnah). 

Equipped with the Holy Spirit, the apostles (who had the mandate to ‘go’ and tell the world about the messiah) were still caught between: hard Judaism, soft Judaism or no Judaism. But they were never shy of these debates. The sharp end of their arguments are evident in most of the letters in the New Testament. 

As we know through history, Judaism has always moved with the times. From the invisible God who communed with the patriarchs, the Tabernacle, the temple, destruction of the temple, the exile, the second temple; the faith has always been resilient, adapting to the forces of change and pace of human advancement.

These changes were led by people with inspired vision, people with strong convictions, radicals – willing to go against popular opinion. 

In the same vein, the faith we know today as Christianity needs to keep evolving dear friends. We need to challenge the status quo. Ask the difficult questions. Revisit scriptures, and interpret them in light of the speed of change in our world. The reformation was not meant to stop after the efforts of the reformers, rather, it should be part of our DNA.

Are you willing to stand up and be counted?