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Posts from October 2006

Reformation Day: A little Scottish Oats With Your Bratwurst?

Today is Reformation Day - Oct 31 - the day we think of Martin Luther fastening his 95 Theses on the gate in Wittenburg. And we think of Protestant Reformers around the world, before and after Luther, including ourselves, those of us who are still involved in the ongoing process to refine the church into what she should be.

I write this from Scotland, a land that also experienced Reformation and exported many of those reformation memories to the colonies. Those memories are usually good, sometimes bad and on occasion, a little ugly. But we have much to be thankful for. Here are some images that the Scottish Reformation brings to my mind.


This painting [link] is a strong image to me. It depicts James Renwick, the last of the Scottish covenanters to be martyred for his beliefs, being taken up to the scaffolding. Before his execution, he sung Psalm 103 (interestingly, part of today's Bible reading on One Year Bible Blog) and read from Revelation 19. He declared his stance against "popery, prelacy and erastianism"and went bravely to be with his Lord.

Quick Translation:
Popery -  Refers to Roman Catholicism and the institution of the Pope as Christ's representative on earth but deeper than than, it often referred to the baroque opulence of Catholic worship and decoration. More on Wikipedia
Prelacy - Def - "one receiving preferrment, an ecclesiastic (as a bishop or abbot) of superior rank".  Often connected with supremacy, or kingcraft. The reformers were against the Crown appointed bishops, the kind of episcopacy set up by Constantine. Many bishops had authority over areas where they did not even live. And these privilege could be bought at a price. Many emerging church voices are still trying to see reform in this area.
Erastianism - assigning an "undue subservience of the Church to the State." like, giving politicans the power to excommunicate or arrest church worshippers . . . or worse . . execute them for heresy. Reformers preached in the fields and often had guns to protect themselves - thus the bloody squrmishes.  One of Renwicks charges was of allowing guns in church services for defence. I share a Sep 7th birthday with Thomas Lieber, who was born in Baden and later latinized his name to 'Erastus', from which we get Erastianism.

Covenanter1 Covenanters Memorial, Orkney. This one is close to home. In 1679, towards the very end of the 50 Years Struggle), over 200 covenanters lost their lives in a ship at Deerness, Orkney. They were the last of the 1200 prisoners arrested in Edinburgh and were the Covenanters who had not died or recanted in custody. They were on their way to work the plantations of America when their ship was dashed on the rocks. The captain decided to let them drown in the lockup below, probably so he could claim compensation for his "cargo". 200 is also the estimate of Covenanters that were executed for their beliefs - thousands more died in battle and from cold and disease, of course.
About 47 covenanters escaped, ending up in Stromness (my town), and eventually went to to work in Jamaica or New Jersey. Tradition says a few stayed in Orkney.


St Andrews Cathedral. When i visited the ruins of this once great building, i noticed a sign that explained how the reformers demolished it [I call it the "Crowbar Crusade"] and I was thinking . . .  what a waste! . . . was this where the Scottish sport of hammer throwing began?Probably not but here's what really  happened.

"On 11 June 1559 John Knox preached a sermon in St Andrews parish church that so aroused the congregation they immediately went to the cathedral and destroyed the splendid fittings and furnishings associated by the reformers with "popery". link

Sorry if these images are depressing. The next one is better . .


My daughter Tamara smells the flowers at St Boniface church during a recent trip to the monastic island of Papa Westry. This 8th Century church is one of the very few pre-reformation churches in Scotland. Orkney only has two churches that survived the Reformation and stay in current use - this one and St Magnus Cathedral. I guess it was too difficult to sail all the way out there to demolish it.

Stbon_int1 This is how the restored church now looks. Actually, you see those tables and benches? They were originally all over the church and apparently were used for eating [Lord's Supper]. The original church looked more like a coffee shop with a pulpit. The style of churches after the Reformation was just pew seating and a pulpit in the front. No tables, no eating in family groups. Church was not as much fun but at least there were no dishes to wash after the service.


Our post-reformation Christmas last year in Scotland. Christmas was banned by the Reformers [those GRINCHES!] for being such a papist display of pagan exuberance, and was only made a "holiday" [ie, give people a day off work] in the 1960's. Thank God for that. There needs to be space for celebration in our life . .  and in our theology. And, like the Reformers, we need to watch out for the influence of Babylon [the ungodly global market system that stands against God's mission and rule] But as we approach our third Christmas here in Scotland, I don't take our freedom lightly. Instead I remember the Reformers insistence that the church be pure and spotless and i try to bring that message into today's context. But there are still many believers who do not celebrate Christmas and we need to respect that.

Anyway, there are some images that come to mind. I would love to see yours.

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Campi on Reformation

Steve Camp has been building up towards Reformation Day. He has been calling for a special day of fasting and prayer today and has put out a hard hitting series on holiness and Reformation.Today's post is a big one. Still Pounding on Wittenberg's Door - 107 Theses for a reformation in Christian Ministry. Steve has been a prophetic voice in the Christian Music industry for years and is well qualified to lay out a few hard core theses.

The Series over the past week:
The Burden for Reformation and Revival (start here)
The Foundation for Reformation and Revival
The Heart of the Reformation: The doctrines of grace
Truth necessary for Reformation/Revival
The Barrier to Reformation and Revival

Also check out our friends at Slice of Laodicea for their Reformation Day message.

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Green Day Chat and Idiot Club (updated)


Green Day now have an official chat room as part of the new Idiot Club so you dont need to come here anymore to leave messages for Billie Joe. Its US$20 a year so join up when you save up enough. You get to see a preview of their new video which would be cool . . .  IF I HAD 20 BIG ONES!!!!


And is that really Billie Joe commenting on my blog below? How do i know if henrypizza at aol dot com is his email address?  But BJ is welcome to leave messages here if he wants . . . . and maybe send me an early copy of the new album so I can cover it [hint hint] . . .  i'm sure having a deaf old fart with poor music taste like me say it rocks will make it a blockbuster. fur sure!

btw - I REALLY like the “SAINTS” video of Greenday with U2 last month at the Louisiana Superdome. - The Saints are Coming! have u seen it? totally rox!!!! U2 are a fav band of mine and i play their live stuff every Saturday round the house.

Keep going for a good youtube video of Boulevard of Broken Dreams.

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What is the Emerging Church? Full Text.

Critiques of the emerging church don't get much better than this. Scot's talk last weekend at Westminster Theological Seminary is now available. You can get the PDF from Mark at Sacred Journey. Scot's comments on the conference are blogged [thanks joe]

Can I make a suggestion? Let Mark be the guardian of the Full text PDF (holy grail style). Point to him and his PDF link but don't upload the file yourself. That will make it easy for Scot to manage it over the long haul or do a recall or edit . . . or add some more nice things to say about me. Thanks. This is probably a good practice anyway.

Snippet: "Here’s my point: if you narrow the emerging movement to Emergent  Village, and especially to the postmodernist impulse therein, you can  probably dismiss this movement as a small fissure in the evangelical  movement. But, if you are serious enough to contemplate major trends in  the Church today, at an international level, and if you define emerging as  many of us do – in missional, or ecclesiological terms, rather than  epistemological ones – then you will learn quickly enough that there is a  giant elephant in the middle of the Church’s living room. It is the emerging  church movement and it is a definite threat to traditional evangelical ecclesiology."  Scot McKnight

Related: Reformation 1: Scot McKnight at Westminster

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The Skinny on the Emerging Church Forum at WTS

I wasn't there at the Emerging Church Forum at Westminster Theological Seminary but I thought it worth keeping an eye on and i had a few good chats with students and participants. If you took notes or have access to more links [especially audio] then please let me know.

Tony at Sets 'n' Service has the SKINNY [here] and the biggest collection of links to the many lectures. Here are the talks that caught my attention:
- Missiological Trajectories on the Emerging Church, by Dr John Leonard [Art]
- Why God did not spare his Son, Dan McCartney, [Foolish Sage]
- Theology as Mission: Envisioning Christian Faith in a Pluralistic Culture [Foolish Sage]
- How Should Reformed Theology Respond to the Cultural Challenges of the 21st Century? by Dr. Michael Scott Horton []
- What is the Emerging Church? by Dr Scot McKnight [TSK here and here]

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The 5 Books on Emerging Church You Need to Buy

So you want to get involved in the emerging church? Good. For those of you who dont do anything without reading a book [you know who you are], you may need to buy one or two books to get you moving. Here are the top five. My top five. The Canadians have been working on this list of top 5 books recommended by number of emerging church leaders for a long time and now . . .  finally . ..  its online. Aboot time . ..  I mean ABOUT time. Sorry. I love Canadians. Their maple syrup is almost as good as Scottish maple syrup, eh?

My 5  choices [bottom of the list - but the last shall be first] are these:
1. Shaping of Things to Come by Frost and Hirsch, for some missiological background.
2. Emerging Churches by Bolger and Gibbs for some good examples of what church might look like.
3. Out Of Bounds Church by Steve Taylor for a church planters view of the culture.
4. Church Planting Movements by David Garrison to understand church planting principles.
5. Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture, by Michael Frost for the heartbeat of the church planter towards community transformation. I should be reviewing this book in November.

If i had to change that list, I would take out David Garrison's book and tell you to download the free booklet instead. Here is the PDF  But do look out for his great book if you get the chance.
In its place, I recommend "Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire" by Brian J. Walsh, Sylvia C. Keesmaat. Dang good book that covers globalization, internet and lots more.

I really should be recommending Transforming Mission by David Bosch which is a monumental book and foundational to this whole conversation, but i am assuming you have read it already, or it is a little heavy going if you are new to missiology - in which case 'Shaping of Things to Come' might be more approachable and timely.

And I might also recommend Wolfgang Simson's new book but it doesnt come out until November 10 - at which time i hope to start a discussion on the book.

Related:The Best Book on Emerging Church,
On Emergent Canada
TSK on books
The 50 Books on My Emerging Church Bookshelf

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Natural Daylight Time for Church Going

Church-going during NATURAL time . . . thank you very much. This was one of the reasons to protest daylight saving, according to a 1950's Drive in advertisement in USA.

The arguments against it were global. It was supposed to fade our curtains and stop the cows from producing milk. But it was even worse for the Americans - it threatened to messed up the Drive In business by making people wait longer for their movie, or not go out at all. Thats why the Drive in people produced this anti-daylight savings add in the 1950's. See the whole thing here.

Does anyone know what position the various churches took, if any?

Blogging advice for Godbloggers at Godblogcon

More Godblogcon participants are blogging up: Pajamas Media, Stand to Reason, La Shawn Barber The Right House. Others? Please tag your posts with "godblogcon" and we will find you. More: Skype Puppy,  Emu.

The closest thing UK has to this is the yearly gathering of bloggers at Greenbelt Festival and the various teaching sessions that happen there. The Spirituality of Blogging is what I said at Greenbelt last year regarding How Shall We Then Blog?

Original Post: Godblogcon. Its a Conference just for Godbloggers. Wish I was there! John Mark Reynolds was up to bat first and shared some excellent thoughts on new media and tools. More extensive notes on ThinkChristian and Laura's writings.
Hey . .  does anyone have a comprehensive list of people blogging from the conference?

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Reformation 1: Scot McKnight at Westminster (updated)

Update: Heres Scot McKnight's audio to download [thanks Gideon]. Scot speaks on why Don Carson's book failed to describe the emerging church, why emerging church is different than emergent, why Steve Chalke is not a part of the emerging church, and what the emerging church is all about . . .  in their own words. Its a superb speech - maybe the best I have heard from an American. Well done, Scot!! I look forward to hearing Michael Horton also.

Original: Reformation Day is coming up (Tuesday 31st) and I am giving some thought to the Reformation - past and present. I was raised in a Presbyterian church in New Zealand and i owe my first hearing of the gospel to the Reformed folk. I still tap into a lot of Reformed thinking but find it helpful to step back and take an more objective look at the reformed influences in my thinking today.


A series on the emerging church will run all weekend at Westminster Theological Seminary and it might be worth keeping track of. Scot McKnight, blogger and professor at North Park University,  spoke last night. A summary of his talk called "What Is the Emerging Church? & Misnomers Surrounding the Emerging Church" is on Sacred Journey. and Mark of FoolishSage has a LOT of notes [thanks mark]. Art has some good notes and Emerging Mistake? on Seeking Canaan is worth a read. Denise may post yet.

Scot wrote the excellent article "Future or Fad: A look at the Emerging Church Movement" (pdf), a document that I handed out to missions professionals and Foundation leaders a few months ago in Tennessee, along with the same book that Scot mentioned last night by Gibbs and Bolger called "Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Communities in Postmodern Cultures"

The Skinny? Read on.

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Orkney Voted Number 6 Best Place to Live in UK

It might be a miserable day today because of severe gale force winds, flooding, and buses almost tipping over. But its a great day because Orkney was just voted No. 6 BEST PLACE TO LIVE in UK on Channel 4 for a number of good reasons such as being safe and beautiful and its residents living a long time.
Interesting fact: The NUMBER ONE worst place to live in UK is Hackney, London, just down the road from Walthamstow where we were living but left to move up to Orkney 2 years ago.
Orkney is rated number 2 for low crime, number 6 for educational results and number 4 for low emissions. But then we only have 20,000 people living here. Drawbacks were lack of entertainment and lack of retail therapy. But not having shopping malls is a plus for me and my family. Less stuff to buy or want. Give me the simple uncluttered life. Keep me away from shop windows! Yeah!


Orkney is a great place to live. My family (my mother was a "Clouston") has been in this part of Orkney for about 900 years, apart from a stint in New Zealand, and we are not complaining. My ancestors lived over the hill in Stenness in the 1100's. In the 1600's the Cloustons moved a few miles to Stromness where we now live.
Orkney rocks. The shopping might suck but we buy from the web when we need something hard to find, just like everyone else.

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