Church, Manchester, Faith, Punk

Archive for June, 2007

the end of the world is upon us

It seems at the moment that the Christian blogging world is caught up in a debate about PSA (see here, here and here). This is a very topical issue in evangelical circles that requires clear thought and excellent knowledge of the bible. Unfortunately very important issues like this usually fly over my head at a very rapid speed because a) I am just not that bright b) they use a lot of long words and c) its really not very interesting. So I will offer nothing on this debate in particularly apart from to say that you blogging theologian dudes should listen to some music, drink some wine and think about something else for a bit. Please keep arguing though; I am picking up some useful stuff.

Anyways, as I have already stated I am a music nut. This week I have been doing serious damage to my eardrums with Bloc Party’s album “a weekend in the city”. The song “Hunting for Witches” is causing considerable excitement in the Simmonds household. Well, I like it and everybody else is tolerating it.

Hunting for Witches is not their best song by any stretch of the imagination but the lyrics are quite striking. They are not particularly subtle or nuanced but they are an interesting glance at modern day post 7/7, 9/11 paranoia. Take for example the references to the middle classes desire to lash out cultures we don’t understand and the daily mails attitude to asylum seekers.

Why write about this on a Christian blog? The themes of paranoia, Armageddon, and disillusionment are coming through loud and clear in popular music at the moment (muse, my chemical romance, hard fi, the editors, arcade fire etc etc). This is the culture we live in. The end of the world is nigh. What does the church have to say about it?

The church is incredibly relevant to this sort of cultural atmosphere if we took the time to apply it correctly. What better answer is there to this paranoia and sense of impending doom than a Godly community that is led by a warrior who is on your side and wont stop fighting until he has finally won?


The Arcade Fire and the Church

I am a music nut. Music provokes something in me. If its music I like then the reaction is positive (largely!) and if its music I dislike then usually the reaction is anger, frustration, or throwing stuff at the radio/worship CD.

Currently the album with the most spin time is Neon Bible by The Arcade Fire. It is such a simple album that you wonder why other artists cannot come up with something that is equally good. The favourite track at the moment is Intervention. Real shiver down the spine stuff. The vast church organ, the simple melody and the utterly claustrophobic lyrics.

It is the chorus that gets me:

Working for the Church while your family dies / You take what they give you and you keep it inside / Ever spark of friendship and love will die without a home / Hear the soldier groan / “We’ll go at it alone”

I think we are hearing the words of a guy who has walked away from some sort of church background. There is a real feeling of bitterness that comes through to me very clearly. Obviously the interpretation of song lyrics is subjective but if you look at the lyrics for “antichrist television blues” and “windowsill” you will see that religious theme come through again.

I find the representation of church, god and faith in modern culture fascinating. I don’t profess to be an expert but I am interested! I think the western church, particularly the reformed charismaniac church, needs to pay more attention to this stuff. Why? Because people listen to this and it informs opinion against us. I often hear apologist preachers talking about Dawkins and other such intellectual “opinion makers” but rarely do they look at popular culture.

Slowly but surely the UK is turning its back on the church and God. This is reflected in how the church and God is represented in culture.

Atheists, healings and mumbo-jumbo

I recently had a read of Terry Virgo’s blog about how a lad was healed of dyslexia. Read it and see what you think. To cut a long story short, this guy (18 years old) had been memorising the Bible from audio tapes. Through this, God changed him, and he became passionate about Jesus, went on a church camp.There a prophetic guy leans over and says “The letters will be where they are supposed to be and God will make you see things you never thought you would.” The guy runs to the nearest book, starts reading and discovers he is no longer dyslexic! I think read this and think “that is awesome!” So I send the link over to a mate of mine who isn’t a christian. He is in fact a committed agnostic! His reply is as follows:

1. I think the human mind is an incredible thing

2. I think spontaneous remission is uncommon, but when it occurs, it is a wonderful think

3. I think that if people want to claim miracle, there needs to be independent assessment

4. I wonder what you’d think if a homeopathist/hypnotist/buddist/healer/witch claimed the same miracle?

5. Why is it that when these things happen, it’s always “he had the worst possible…”?
It’s always the worst druggy/worst gangster/worst cancer, etc.

FWIW, a quick google reveals that people to experience spontaneous remission from dyslexia,
and it’s entirely possible that the “prophet” perceived this unconsciously.

How’s that for a sceptical viewpoint?

I wasn’t surprised because I know him and he is a lot smarter than me! So I called him a “heathen scumbag” and he compared me to a witch! Good times. He denies this and claims that I am in fact more like Gillian McKeith.

Why am I blogging this? Does it say more about my faith/blind stupidity or his lack of faith/clear intellect? He has challenged me to come to an understanding of what is “special” about science, which I will do. I think this stuff sharpens us. Faith needs to be challenged otherwise it becomes weak. Now that people seem to be getting healed more frequently, maybe we that believe such things are possible need to put more effort into verifying these healings. We live in a very cynical culture so the gospel needs to be presented in an appropriate way.


I have recently become a deacon.

I am scared too!

I have heard various horror stories about deacons (power crazy nutjobs who hire and fire church leaders on a whim etc etc) but have never been in a church with deacons before. So I was a little surprised/confused/thought my elders were winding me up when I was asked (Vix was also asked to become a deaconess).

My church (churchcentral in birmingham, uk) is a part of the newfrontiers group of churches. So you could probably describe us as evangelical, reformed, charismatic (charismanic according to Mark Driscoll), happy clappy, bible bashers, etc etc. These sort of churches dont tend to have deacons because of the baggage associated with them.

The bible is fairly clear on the role of deacons, which is simply to serve the church like elders except without the authority or responsibility of being an elder (sweet!). Acts 6 lays out the role of a deacon (without using the word deacon):

Acts 6
The Choosing of the Seven 1In those days when the number of
disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the
Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily
distribution of food. 2So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and
said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of
God in order to wait on tables. 3Brothers, choose seven men from among you
who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” 5This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full
of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. 7So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests
became obedient to the faith.

I like the fact that the word of god spreading and more people getting saved (including priests!) is tied to the fact that deacons were appointed.

Paul lays out the required character of Deacons:

1 Timothy 3:8-13

8Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not
indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9They must keep hold of
the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10They must first be
tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as
deacons. 11In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.

12A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children
and his household well. 13Those who have served well gain an excellent standing
and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.

In reality in means very little. I am a deacon already and have been for a couple of years. I (with Vix) lead the student work at churchcentral on behalf of the elders so it seems that all we are doing is apply good biblical terminology and recognising a good biblical leadership system.